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As summer wanes, librarians suggest making time for great books

CHARLES TOWN –  With just six weeks before Jefferson County students go back to school on Aug. 22, there’s still time to devour a good book or two.

[cleeng_content id="187427205" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]Beyond the enjoyment of an engaging novel, summer reading also keeps young minds sharp and imaginations active, according to area librarians. When we asked for reading suggestions, they happily offered a number of titles sure to keep kids happily occupied in these last few idle weeks.

Beginning readers would enjoy the “Elephant and Piggie” books by Mo Willems, which use simple language to tell funny stories. Also recommended are “Hi! Fly Guy” by Tedd Arnold, the slapstick escapades of a housefly, and all the classics by Dr. Seuss.

For elementary school readers, the “Geronimo Stilton” book series by Elisabetta Dami offers fast-paced and action-packed adventures through the eyes of a mouse protagonist.books

The “Big Nate” series by cartoonist Lincoln Peirce, combining humor with comic strip illustration, is popular with boys who aren’t big readers. If your kids are into graphic novels, try the “Squish” series by Matt and Jennifer L. Holm. Squish may be an amoeba, but all kids can relate to his school, family and social problems.

Some other classic books for elementary schoolers are Beverly Cleary’s “Ramona Quimby” series; Laura Ingalls Wilder’s historical fiction semi-memoirs, the “Little House” series; E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web”; “A Wrinkle in Time” and sequels by Madeleine L’Engle; and “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

For slightly older children, Jack Gantos’ “Dead End in Norvelt” is an enjoyable read. The semi-autobiographical novel follows young Jack, who is grounded for the entire summer and loaned out to an elderly neighbor to type obituaries for the town newspaper. The job leads him through a maze of history and into a murder mystery.

Kids near middle school age also might enjoy “Bat 6” by Virginia Euwer Wolff. It is a historical fiction book about the girls on a sixth-grade softball team in 1949. Tensions still run high in post-World War II Oregon and conflict arises between a Japanese-American girl just released from an internment camp and a player who lost her father at Pearl Harbor.

Middle- and high-schoolers who like fantasy and adventure should pick up “The Lightning Thief” and its sequels by Rick Riordan. The books follow 12-year-old Percy Jackson, a demigod, who must go on a quest to prevent war between Zeus, Poseidon and Hades.

Another good fantasy read is the “Tiger’s Curse” series by Colleen Houck, about a girl who has to break a 300-year-old Indian curse with the help of a white tiger.

And when looking for fantasy novels, don’t forget about J.R.R. Tolkien. “The Hobbit” is a story about a mild-mannered hobbit who gets swept up by a party of dwarves on their quest to reclaim their lost kingdom and slay a dragon.

Teens who enjoy science fiction should check out the “Divergent” trilogy by Veronica Roth. In dystopian future Chicago, society is divided into factions based on human virtues. The protagonist is 16-year-old Tris, who does not fit neatly into a single faction. Her struggle to fit in, reconcile loyalty to family with choosing her own path and to be true to herself should resound with many adolescent readers.

On a similar note, it’s never too late to catch up on Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” trilogy. The books follow Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers for the nation’s annual Hunger Games in place of her younger sister. Katniss must fight for her life in the media event in which 24 teenagers go into the arena and only survives.

One last suggestion for young adults is the “Janie Johnson” series by Caroline B. Cooney. It begins with “The Face on the Milk Carton,” when 15-year-old Janie looks at a milk carton and sees her own face in the “missing child” photograph. Her search for answers about who she really is unravels a web of secrets surrounding her life.

Children too young for school can still benefit from reading this summer. For babies and toddlers, look for board books such as “Peek-a-Who?” by Nina Laden, “Trucks Go!” by Steve Light and “Barnyard Dance” by Sandra Boynton – a rhyming chant about dancing farm animals.

Some good picture books for the 3-to-7 age group include the “Lyle the Crocodile” series by Bernard Waber (about a loveable city-dwelling crocodile), “The Monster at the End of This Book” by Jon Stone (starring Grover of “Sesame Street”), the “If You Give…” series by Laura Numeroff, and timeless classics such as Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” Ludwig Bemelmans’ “Madeline” and Margery Williams’ “The Velveteen Rabbit.”

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