Book recommendations to stop the summer slide

As we head into the second month of the seemingly endless summer vacation and cries of “I’m bored,” “There’s nothing to do” and “Do we have to go to the beach again?” (Okay — that last one is probably you) ring in your ears, what better way to beat the summer slide, get out of the house — but back into some AC pretty quickly — and engage in some good ole’ analogue technology, than a trip to your local library or bookstore. My rising second-grader is thankfully something of a book junkie, mostly credited to his great teachers at our local CPS school, and now that he’s enjoying chapter books both independently and with us taking turns in reading. Here are a few of his favorites.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – J.K. Rowling

This has been on his shelf since he was born — I bought a box set of these amazing stories back in my college days — and have been waiting for him to be ready. I was worried he’d be frightened by the story, but he loved every single second. The magical world created completely captivated him, and being allowed to watch the first movie in the series afterwards blew him away.

Jasper’s verdict: I loved that Harry Potter won the battle against Professor Quirrell and Lord Voldemort. It’s great when the good guys win.

George’s Marvelous Medicine – Roald Dahl

I don’t think Roald Dahl has quite the same following here in the USA as my British homeland, but as my favorite childhood author, the hardest decision was which book to share with Jasper first. I’m still not sure how wise it is to share a story about trying to bump off an annoying granny, but the colorful language and fast-moving story had Jasper howling with laughter.

Jasper’s verdict: I thought it was funny when the medicine made the grandma really tall. But I’d never do that to my grandma!

The Adventures of Captain Underpants – Dav Pilkey

I’ve all but given up trying to stop the tidal wave of fart, butt and poop jokes in my household — the three- and seven-year-old boys are bad enough, but my husband is easily the worst. I gave up trying to read this with him as I was going deaf from him guffawing in my ear, but anything that has a kid turning off the TV in favor of a book can’t be a bad thing. And at its heart, it’s a story about the friendships that bind us together through tough times — a cute message when you ignore the toilet humor.

Jasper’s verdict: I liked the silly jokes that George and Harold tell, and it made me laugh when Captain Underpants did silly things.

Gangsta Granny – David Walliams

David Walliams is another British author, who many consider to be the contemporary Roald Dahl. His love of language shines through, and he’s not afraid to shy away from difficult subjects (other titles from him include ‘The Boy in the Dress” and “Bad Dad”). Gangsta Granny tells the story of an ailing Grandma who needs her Grandson’s help to steal the Crown Jewels! I won’t spoil it for you, but the end was hard to read — there must have been a lot of dust in the room. Definitely a thought and question provoking story to read together for now.

Jasper’s verdict: This book was funny but a bit sad, too. I like that there’s some of the same characters in lots of David Walliams’ books.

Dr. Doolittle – Hugh Lofting

A wonderful classic that takes me back to my own childhood. It’s magical mystery journey across the world that requires complete suspension of disbelief – something that’s a lot easier to come by when you’re seven. And when you’ve finished reading it, you can share the movie (we preferred the original version in our family) the next time there’s a rainy afternoon.

Jasper’s verdict: My favorite animal was Polynesia, the parrot. The push-me-pull-you was pretty funny, too.

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