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The Best Books to Help Avoid the “Summer Slide”

For most kids, summer is a well-deserved break, after a year of hard work, where, amid camps, vacations and summer jobs, school is happily forgotten. However, there is always the fear of summer digression, otherwise known as the “summer slide,” when students’ time away from school leads to a loss of some of their hard-earned knowledge.

An easy way for children and teens to keep learning while out of the classroom is to keep reading. Even if your child is not an avid reader, setting small goals, such as reading for 20 minutes each day, are a great way for kids to practice self-discipline while allowing themselves some time to relax and be entertained without using electronics. Schools often assign summer reading, but break is a great opportunity for students to explore books of their own choosing, and there are plenty of engaging options beyond their summer curriculum.

Whether your child is preparing to take the college exams or you’re just worried about the rough transition back to school in September, here are highly recommended books to keep their brains active, while still enjoying vacation.

For Middle School:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

If this author’s name sounds familiar it’s probably because a number of his works have recently been adapted for TV. Amazon’s “Good Omens” and Starz’s “American Gods” are both based on works by Gaiman and great reads for older kids and adults. Like Gaiman’s other popular children’s novel (and now movie) “Coraline,” “The Graveyard Book” is a fun and slightly scary tale for any pre-teen.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

This popular survival story is a great piece of realistic fiction about a young boy’s struggle in the Canadian wilderness after surviving a plane crash. With its fast-paced narrative, Paulsen’s book is sure to thrill any adventure seeker.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams’ comedic space adventure is a great way to keep middle schoolers entertained, especially if they are fans of the “Artemis Fowl” and “Percy Jackson” books.

Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

This great historical book about a young girl acting as a spy in Egypt is full of suspense, drama and action for young readers to enjoy while they learn about the ancient world.

For Freshmen and Sophomores:

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Believe it or not, this 1968 novel, set in a dystopian San Francisco, was adapted for the screen and re-titled “Blade Runner,” which went on to be a classic, starring Harrison Ford. Though the movie is great, the book is well worth a read as teens will enjoy this staple of science fiction literature.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Originally written in Portuguese, Coelho’s award winning book tells the story of a young boy who sets off on a quest to meet his destiny.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

This work of historical fiction follows the real life story of the Mirabal sisters as they lived and rebelled in the Dominican Republic during the Trujillo dictatorship.

For Juniors and Seniors:

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

For fans of magical realism or books by John Green, King’s YA novel takes place over the course of one boy’s summer vacation. By day, he deals with the difficulties of growing up, while at night he dreams of the Vietnam War and the POW grandfather he never knew. With her inventive take on young adult fiction, King has a great repertoire of amazing books for teens to enjoy.

Kindred by Octavia Butler

This poignant book on time travel, written by Butler in the 1970’s, has remained popular for both its exploration of science fiction and its historical look into the American South. A great read for any history buff or sci-fi lover who is in need of a good read.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Based on a true story and later turned into a movie directed by Sean Penn, Krakauer tells the tale of a recent college graduate who leaves behind everything to venture out alone into the Alaskan wilderness.

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