Summer Reading 2018: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

As we head into summer, we wanted to take the time to look back and look ahead to share trends we’ve noticed in our writing about children’s and young adult literature this year. We’ve loved each of the books we’ve written about this year. We’ve found that these great stories and works of nonfiction have […]

Matthew surfboardAs we head into summer, we wanted to take the time to look back and look ahead to share trends we’ve noticed in our writing about children’s and young adult literature this year. We’ve loved each of the books we’ve written about this year. We’ve found that these great stories and works of nonfiction have renewed us when we needed it most. We hope this post sparks something new for your summer reading and as you consider new titles for your classroom library collections for the fall.

As we look back at our posts from 2017-2018, we noticed that we’ve written more this year about children’s and young adult literature with themes of global and cultural understanding such as our entries on The Night Diary, Escape from Aleppo, Marwan’s Journey, Room in Your Heart, The Boy Who Asked Why, Islandborn, Why Am I Me? and Wishtree. We increasingly believe that literature brings people together. We believe that the stories we share with young people can open new understandings and that powerful characters have much to teach us about ourselves, others, and the world. We also believe young people are capable of incredible compassion and empathy when given the spark to build a better world. Stories are the greatest spark we know for building compassion and empathy.

We also wrote about more books of poetry and novels-in-verse than we had in years past including With My Hands: Poems about Making Things,  Rebound, World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and A Place to Start a Family: Poems about Creatures that Build. Poetry speaks to us in different ways than other forms of literature and we believe all children should have access to poems that make them think and wonder every year. 

We’ve also been drawn to books that play with traditional formats giving readers something unexpected like the wordless picture book, Lines, the graphic picture book, Grace for Gus, and the nonfiction picture book, Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around the World. These books made us linger on the pages to closely attend to details that we didn’t want to miss. Experiencing something unexpected as a reader is always a motivation to read and keep reading.

We love biographies for the ways they inspire us to continuously ask ourselves who will I be. This year we wrote about individuals whose achievements include literary works, sports fame, and the arts including Becoming Madeline: A Biography of the Author of The Wrinkle of Time by Her Granddaughters, Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery, and Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression. Over the summer, your students are sure to be asking themselves how can I be the best version of me. Compelling life stories help us figure out our own life journey.

Finally, we also found that we have been writing about books that celebrate joy, positivity, and beauty in the world including The Word Collector, Round, What Do You Do With a Chance?, After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again, Windows, The Antlered Ship, Love, and I Am Loved. We need books that build a culture of happiness in our classrooms. Reading these books this year made us laugh, smile, and appreciate the good in the world.

If you are able to take a look back at your own classroom reading life this year, what did the books you read aloud or shared with students do for you? More importantly, what did they do for your students? Did you push new boundaries of cultural or global understanding? Did they books you shared make children want to linger on the page a little longer or did they clamber to hear one more page? Did the books you chose spark smiles across the room?

In keeping with our annual tradition, we also wanted to close this school year with a summer send-off of a collection of links from other sources designed to keep you and the children and young adults in your life happily reading over the next several months. Many of these are printable book lists that you can take straight to your local library or bookstore. We wish you a joyful, peaceful, and productive summer filled with opportunities to sit back and read.


Katie, Mary Ann, Erika, and Grace,,,

2018 Summer Readings Lists

Reading Rockets: Get Ready For Summer!

Collaborative Summer Library Program

ALA: Library Summer Reading Programs

ALA: 2018 Notable Children’s Books

The Horn Book – 2018 Summer Reading Recommendations

Children’s Choices 2018 (International Literacy Association and Children’s Book Council)

Teachers’ Choices 2018 (International Literacy Association and Children’s Book Council)

Lee and Low Books Diverse Summer Reading Book List, K-8

We Need Diverse Books Summer Reading Series

Children’s Book Council: Building a Home Library

Great Kid Books: Berkeley School Libraries K-5 Summer Reading Suggestions Based on Fountas and Pinnell Levels

Enhancing Summer Reading White Paper

PBS Parents: Fun Summer Science Projects for Kids

Audiobooks for Families

We love audiobooks for long car rides with the family. Many public libraries now have downloadable audiobooks that you can listen to on an MP3 player, iPad, or iPod. Check in with your local public library and share the details with parents and students before the year is over. You might want to search for some of the books included in these lists below.

The Audies Awards 2018 (Audio Book Awards)

2018 Notable Children’s Recordings (American Library Association)

2018 Notable Young Adult Recordings (American Library Association)

Resources for Teachers/Parents

Literacy Tips for Parents (Reading Rockets)

Summer Reading Loss (Reading Rockets)

Summer Reading Loss: School Library Journal Interview with Dick Allington

American Library Association Great Websites for Kids

The Cooperative Center for Books for Children Bibliographies

50 Bilingual Spanish/English Integrated Books (CCBC)

International Children’s Digital Library

Free digital PDFs of children’s picture books from around the globe in their original language. There is an iPad app that allows for easy viewing on your iPad.Start With a Book

School Library Journal article on Range, an app that locates free summer meals and libraries as safe havens

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