Top 10 Best Summer Books

This Top 10 list was almost impossible for me to make. Not only does summer encompass so many great topics, there are inumerable books which aren’t season specific that COULD be summer books. I am purposely leaving out some of my very favorite summer-toned books because they can be in a category by themselves. So hopefully we can look forward to a “Top 10 Beach Books” and “Top 10 Historical Fiction Books” and “Top 10 Baseball Books” etc. There are so many great titles out there, but I had to narrow it down somehow. The great news is that while I was perusing Amazon to refresh my brain and get the links for these books (click on pictures), I came across at good dozen or so books that I’d never heard of but which seemed very, very promising. So I’ll be checking those out at the library. For now though, I love the challenge of thinking “If I had only 10 summer books on my shelf, what would they be?” So in no particular order I offer these titles:

 Jamberry by Bruce Degan. This is an ode to the little children again as this book is full of fun rhymes and exciting berries… an excellent accompaniment to any berry-picking, canning, or pie making adventure.

 On a Summer Day by Lois Lenski.  There’s just no two ways about it, Lenski’s seasonal titles are perfect in every way.  I wish so much that these would be reissued; too many good books get lost in the out of print bins.

 Fireflies! by Julie Brinckloe. This book just captures the essence of summer all around. You can feel the warm night air and the excitement induced by the fireflies. Included is a great lesson in respect for nature.

 Blueberries For Sal by Robert McCloskey. This was my very favorite book as a little girl. I wasn’t alone in that sentiment as this book has delighted children for a few generations now. It really is a must-have.

 Summer Story by Jill Barklem. You can expect a Brambly Hedge book in each of my seasonal Top 10 lists simply because they are so great at telling a lovely story, hilighting the season, and delighting the eyes with intricate, detailed artwork. I am sad that I don’t actually OWN any Jill Barklem titles yet. She’s one of those authors who rarely turns up in second-hand sales.

 Thundercake by Patricia Polacco. Now that my friend pointed out a troublesome title by Polacco I will refrain from singing her glories, but she still does have some great books that shouldn’t be missed. Polacco is famous for her pastoral scenes of Russian peasantry. This particular book has all the great suspense of a pending thunderstorm and dealing with the fear that accompanies it. A bonus for including the real recipe for cake too! (I’ve never tried it; it includes tomatoes and I just can’t wrap my brain around that.)

 The Raft by Jim LaMarche. Jim LaMarche is a superb illustrator. The story in this book isn’t exactly full of wonder and magic but I chose this title because it has some excellent points that I like to emphasize with my own children. Nicky is sent to spend the summer with his grandmother who lives on the river. He is a bored, probably spoiled child who thinks it’s going to be boring. His world is opened up to all the wildlife on the river and the concept of drawing. This book is an excellent one for introducing the idea of nature journaling to children. Probably better for the over 6 crowd.

*****So these next three titles WERE going to be included in a whole ‘nother post featuring narrative style books. What this means is that these titles don’t tell a story in the traditional sense but they are the author’s memories or just sort of meander through a moment or season without a particular apex. This doesn’t mean they are bad stories, but they are to be appreciated on a different level I think… and there are more where this came from.*****

 Roxaboxen by Alice McClerran. I love this book. I love the sentiments it evokes and the memories from my own childhood it conjures up. I love how superbly ‘dead-of-summer’ it is. I love the ode to free, unconstructed play and imagination. Summer in our house this year is regrettably FULL of plans and structured activities and events. I’ll be sure not to overschedule next year as I long for those long, free open days when children have to figure out what to do…

 Island Boy by Barbara Cooney. My dear friend gave us this book when we were living on Whidbey Island and it’s struck a chord in my heart ever since. There is something different about island life and I love the history in this particular book. That, and the fact that I adore anything that Barbara Cooney has ever been a part of, make this a winner.

 Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey. I suppose this isn’t strictly summer since it spans several seasons but the climax does sort of hit with a hurricane. This book is a delight and McCloskey is one of my favorites for a good reason!

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.

~Wallace Stevens