Booking the summer with good reads

Three weeks ago, we asked readers to suggest old and new favorites - books to while away the muggy summer days and read by flashlight after dark. You responded in reams. Here are some of your selections, from a chronicle of Iwo Jima and an Ayn Rand poem to tales of talking trucks and captive dragons. It's a range to entice both teens and toddlers, and entertain adults who read along.

The Old Man and the Boy

By Robert Chester Ruark

This is a wonderful story of a grandfather sharing wisdom with his grandson. It shows how people related to one another and the environment years ago, and the respect they had for both. The way Ruark shares these experiences is enlightening and sometimes quite humorous.


By Louis Sachar

My son and I are halfway through this book. I read, he fiddles, but doesn't want me to stop, so something is keeping his attention. (Ages 11-15)

Carole Williams, Maryland


By Leon Uris

This story shows the tremendous courage and perseverance of Israel under siege and how people survived behind a great leader.

Merlin Dahlke, Port Orchard, Wash.


By Ayn Rand

This book is very short, a prose poem in simple language, very unlike Rand's long novels. It's an inspiring story of someone struggling to rediscover his individuality in a world which has beaten it out of him.

Phil Coates, San Francisco

Lost in Place: Growing Up Absurd in Suburbia

By Mark Salzman

This story depicts a high school male whose insecurities are hilarious in hindsight, including his exploration into martial arts wearing his father's bathrobe and a wig. (High school)

Farewell to Manzanar

By Jeanne W. Houston

This memoir of a Japanese girl reflecting on her experi-

ence in a US internment camp during World War II offers readers insight into Japanese-American culture and a much-forgotten aspect of American history. (Middle school to high school)

Liz deBeer,

Fair Haven, N.J.

Bartholomew and the Oobleck

By Dr. Seuss

I remember going to the exact spot in the public library to look for this, my favorite book, when I was 5. During the weather unit in science last spring, I read it to my fifth-grade students, and they were delighted.

For readers from preschool to elementary school, I also recommend all of the books by Quentin Blake, Eric Carle, Don Freeman, Leo Lionni, William Steig, and Brian Wildsmith. For children of all ages, I suggest Robert Sabuda's pop-up books and "Fables" by Arnold Lobel.

Jayne I. Hanlin, Creve Coeur, Mo.

A Wrinkle in Time

Two-part invention

By Madeleine L'Engle

As a long-retired high school assistant librarian, I would be happy if everyone could enjoy these books. The first is a tale for younger students, and the second a sensitive story of L'Engle's marriage and life in New York apartments and the Connecticut countryside.

Last Lion

American Caesar

By William Manchester

I recommend this author to the history buff or extra-gifted student who can really concentrate. Manchester writes about Winston Churchill and Douglas MacArthur in these books.

Laura Hook, Sequim, Wash.

Huckleberry Finn

By Mark Twain

I would hope that no young person escapes high school without having studied this book - although it has been dropped from many reading lists for reasons too obvious to recount here.

The Way to Start a Day

I'm in Charge of Celebrations

The Other Way to Listen

By Byrd Baylor

These wise, wonderful works are good for little ones as "read aloud and look" books; older readers will reflect upon the deeper meanings.

Jim Walker, Massillon, Ohio

Because of Winn-Dixie

By Kate Dicamillo

When 10-year-old Opal saves a mutt from the grocery store in her new Florida community, it opens doors for her to meet new people and come to terms with her mother's abandonment of her. The story is told with great humor and makes a good read-aloud. (Ages 10 and up)

Memories of Summer

By Ruth White

Sisters Lyric and Summer and their dad move from Virginia to Michigan in 1955 to pursue a better standard of living. The girls are in their teens, and immediately after the move, Summer begins to change. The story chronicles her descent into madness and how her family tries to cope. Beautifully written, the book has a compelling theme for teens. (Ages 10 and up)

Silent to the Bone

By E. L. Konigsburg

When his baby sister is hurt in a mysterious accident at home, Branwell goes silent; he can no longer speak. Branwell is arrested and held in a juvenile behavioral institution while his sister is hospitalized. Branwell's best friend, Connor, visits him and struggles to find a way to communicate with him and figure out what happened. Excellent characters and a good plot will keep students reading. (ages 10 and up)

Lyda Mary Hardy Gunnison, Colo.

Bud, Not Buddy

By Christopher Paul Curtis

Bud goes from foster home to orphanage, carrying his possessions in a beat-up suitcase. The 10-year-old has been disappointed so many times that he has more nerve than is safe. Searching for his absent father, he launches an amazing adventure. (Ages 9-12)

The Gate in the Wall

By Ellen Howard

Ten-year-old Emma is a penniless orphan tired of working all day at the mill. Searching for an escape, she goes to work for an old woman on a boat. At first, Emma is fearful of her new boss; then she learns more about what makes a place feel like home. (Ages 8-12)

Thomas in Danger 1779

By Bonnie Pryor

The first story in the American Adventures series, this book about Thomas takes place during the Revolutionary War. Thomas hasn't seen his father since his family was forced to leave his burning home. He knows one thing for sure: The British soldiers and the native Americans who help them are his enemies. Then Thomas overhears a secret conversation, and the next thing he knows, he's kidnapped. (Ages 8-12)

Sunny Strong, Edmonds, Wash.


By Anthony Horowitz

A completely preposterous espionage thriller with a 14-year-old protagonist. It's the first in a new series and should keep kids turning the pages from beginning to end. (Grade 6 and up)

flags of our fathers

By James Bradley

Current interest in World War II will entice readers of nonfiction to try this adaptation of the adult title. The story of the Iwo Jima flag raising and the young men pictured in the well-known photo will appeal to the middle school reader.

Jean Grout, Exeter, N.H.

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

By T.S. Eliot

With the popularity of the musical "Cats," it is certainly worthwhile to see the lyrics of most of the songs in their original setting. The first illustrator was Edward Gorey. I began reading the poems to our son when he was 2, and he responded. I started by only reading part of one at a time and substituting the names of our cats when possible. Now he is four and has favorites among the poems.

Owl Moon

By Jane Yollen

This award-winning book is a description through the eyes of a child of a winter night hike to look for a great horned owl. Excellent for reading to small children, the book could probably be read independently by kids up to about fourth grade.

Big Truck and Little Truck

By Jan Carr

The story of how a little farm truck has to work without his daddy truck as a teacher and companion, and how the little truck learns to do his jobs. I think little folks can really relate to the story. This book is for little ones and readers up to about third grade.

Michael Stewart, Jefferson Township, N.J.

The Light in the Forest

By Conrad Richter

Indians capture a pioneer boy, then raise him as a warrior's son. When the boy is 15, a treaty demands the return of white captives to their original families. But by now True Son is an Indian in his heart. He returns to his Indian people, but the brief sojourn with his family has changed him, and he hesitates in battle against pioneers. Trapped between two cultures, where will he find his home? This is a poignant look at pioneer culture from the outside.

C. Christ, Evanston, Ill.

Honus and Me

By Dan Gutman

Imagine traveling back through time to meet the man whose picture is on the baseball card you are holding! This book includes plenty of baseball history, and two sequels for enthusiastic readers. (Ages 10-12)

My Father's Dragon

By Ruth Stiles Gannett

Follow Elmer Elevator in his dramatic quest to rescue a captive dragon. Keep track of how the items in his backpack are put to perfect use along the way! Two sequels follow with more comical adventures. (Ages 8-10)

A Long Way From Chicago

By Richard Peck

Each chapter is a short story chronicling one summer's adventures in the life of a brother and sister who spend each summer with their exceptional Grandma Dowdel. The book takes place between 1929 and 1935, and builds up to a sequel.

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief

By Wendelin Van Draanen

Sammy is a quick-thinking, daring seventh-grader who finds plenty of problems to solve at home and school. She's struggling to solve a mystery before the thief she discovered finds her. There are five sequels and, yes, you will want to read them all! (Ages 10-12)

Nancy Piersall, Victorville, Calif.

the secret garden

By Francis Hodgson Burnett

In my class of second-graders, I have 12 copies of this book, so as I read it aloud, the children share a book with a partner. The pictures are colorful and inviting. As a follow-up, I show the video of this story, and the children compare the book with the tape. Most of the time, the book wins.

Elizabeth Walling, Keyport, N.J.

And more reader suggestions ...

anne of green gables

ByLucy Maud Montgomery

commander in chief: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War and other books

By Albert Marrin

Harry cat's pet puppy

By George Selden

A girl of the limberlost

By Gene Stratton-Porter

it's like this, cat

ByEmily Neville

knight's castle

By Edward Eager


By Thor Hyerdahl

Shh! We're writing the constitution and other books

By Jean Fritz

tess of the d'urbervilles

By Thomas Hardy

To kill a mockingbird

ByHarper Lee

The phantom tollbooth

ByNorman Juster

The Trumpet of the swan

ByE.B. White

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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