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Metro Parent Summer 2011 Reading List

Kids ready to hit the vacation books? We asked two southeast Michigan libraries for the best in tomes for children ages 3 to 17. See the top picks!

Vacation is here, and for many kids in southeast Michigan, that means leafing through some fun reading, for once! But whether your children are bookworms or sulking over summer reading assignments, there's bound to be a book that grabs his or her interest.

To get you started, Metro Parent got in touch with two local libraries, the Ferndale Public Library and St. Clair Shores Public Library, to hunt down the best in classics, new releases and "undiscovered gems" for kids ages 3-7, 8-12 and 13-17. Check out our lists for your pre-school, elementary, middle or high schooler right here. Feel free to add your favorites to the comments section below!

Ages 3-7

Classics

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch: This book tells the story of a mother's love for her son throughout the years. The story is written in song format and is sure to warm the hearts of parents and little ones.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: A story full of creative creatures and ideas, Where the Wild Things Are encourages children to stretch their imaginations and will add a new dimension to story time. Join Max and the Wild Things on their adventures through Max's imaginary forest to discover that home is where the heart is.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff: Who knew mice could be so greedy? In this charming picture book, a mouse takes advantage of a young boy's kindness by demanding a long list of items he needs to go along with his cookie. Your little one will be giggling along with this rodent's silly antics.

New releases

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead: When much-loved zookeeper Amos McGee takes a sick day from work, his animal friends travel from the zoo to keep him company. This adorable story shows the meaning of true friendship and is complete with delightful, realistic illustrations.

Elephant and Piggie Series by Mo Willems: The ultimate best friend duo! Gerald the elephant is cautious and rational while his friend Piggie the pig is a fun-loving risk-taker. Each book in the series is a hilarious new adventure that children will look forward to reading over and over again.

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont: In this colorful tale, a little boy goes on a painting frenzy, painting all over the house and himself! Written to the tune of "It Ain't Gonna Rain No More," this entertaining story will have your kids singing along with every swipe of the paintbrush.

Yoko Writes Her Name by Rosemary Wells: Yoko, a Japanese kitten, is a kindergarten student who reads and writes in Japanese. When she writes her name on the board, her classmates tell her that she won't be able to go on to first grade because she can only "scribble" her name. After some wise words from her mother and the help of her teacher, Yoko and her classmates recognize the value of knowing more than one language and appreciating different cultures.

Undiscovered gems

Perfect Square by Michael Hall: This creative story focuses on a square and all the possibilities that the shape presents when it is cut, hole-punched, folded and more. Your child will love watching the square transform into a variety of figures, such as a fountain, bridge or mountain. Great for teaching kids about the importance of imagination.

Alphabeasties: And Other Amazing Types by Sharon Werner: This is no ordinary alphabet book! Alphabeasties presents the alphabet using animals made up of different typefaces of the same letter. More than just pleasing to the eye, this book is written in a fun-to-read, rhyming style. Kids will enjoy lifting the flap to discover what alphabeastie is hiding underneath!

All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon: Written in a concrete verse poetic style, this story explains the importance of water to people and other living things all over the planet. The elegant writing is accompanied by brightly colored digital illustrations.

Ages 8-12

Classics

The BFG by Roald Dahl: Sophie, a young orphan girl, is kidnapped from the orphanage at night by a giant. Not only does she suddenly realize that giants are real, she discovers that many of them eat humans like her! Luckily for Sophie, she was kidnapped by the BFG – the big friendly giant – who shows her how he sends good dreams to children. Sophie and the BFG devise a plan to stop the other giants from eating humans.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School (and other Wayside School books) by Louis Sachar: Wayside School was supposed to be built with 30 classrooms on one floor, but instead, it was built 30 stories high with one classroom on each floor! Equally zany are the kids and teachers at this unique school. From a teacher who turns kids into apples and a boy who is sent home before lunch every day, to a nonexistent 19th story, these silly books will keep kids reading chapter after chapter with uproarious laughter.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: Harry, a boy wizard, discovers he is able to cast magic spells and is sent off to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he meets best friends Ron and Hermione – along with a slew of other magical folk. The series encompasses seven years of Harry's life and the various epic challenges he and his friends must face as he ultimately attempts to destroy the Dark Lord Voldemort, the evil wizard who killed Harry's parents and left him with a burning, lightning-bolt shaped scar. The writing and imagination in this series is absolutely exquisite.

New releases

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney: Greg Heffley, a "wimpy" middle-school kid, is the hero of this series especially popular among boys of the same age. His mother makes him keep a diary of the daily events that happen in his life – and, through this diary, the reader sees the struggles that Greg experiences at school and how he views them with the aid of cartoons. Greg's amusing recollections of his life's drama will have kids laughing from cover to cover.

Kane Chronicles Series by Rick Riordan: Siblings Carter and Sadie Kane haven't seen each other since their mother's death when Sadie moved in with their grandparents, prompting their Egyptologist father to bring the family together. When their father is exiled for angering the god Set after an experiment gone wrong, the siblings band together to journey across the world to end Set's wrath and discover the secrets of Egypt in this thrilling adventure series.

Clementine (and other Clementine books) by Sara Pennypacker: For the younger readers of this age group, spunky 8-year-old Clementine provides a relatable character with a sweet personality. Despite the troublesome situations she often finds herself in, such as getting sent to the principal's office and a disagreement with her best friend, Clementine's positive attitude and good sense of humor help her make things right once again.

Savvy by Ingrid Law: Mibs and her family are very unique, to say the least. On their 13th birthday, each family member has acquired a "savvy" – a special power that allows them to control an aspect of the natural world. Mibs is about to celebrate her 13th when tragedy strikes and her father winds up in the hospital. Determined to save her dad, Mibs sets out on a journey that teaches her about maturity and strength.

Undiscovered gems

For Boys Only: The Biggest, Baddest Book Ever by Marc Aronson and For Girls Only: Everything Great About Being a Girl by Laura Dower: These books are chuck-full of trivia, how-to and puzzles kids can use for hours upon hours of enjoyment. Learn how to wage battle against an alligator in case of an attack, how to make an awesome movie, and just how much the world's priciest cars cost in the boys' version. In the girls' version, learn how to host the greatest sleepover of all time, how to get a summer job, and how to save the world!

A Million Miles from Boston by Karen Day: Twelve-year-old Lucy is looking forward to spending her summer in Pierson Point, Maine before middle school starts – as it is the place she can completely be herself. Her mother died when she was only 6, and Lucy feels more connected with her here, something she needs – especially since her father's girlfriend is becoming more involved in their little family and Lucy's bothersome classmate, Ian, is also vacationing at Pierson Point. Over the course of the summer, Lucy learns the importance of family and being yourself.

Ages 13-17

Classics

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit: a human-like creature who is half as tall as a human. He and 13 dwarves are recruited by Gandalf, a wizard, to locate and recover treasure that was stolen by the dragon Smaug. Bilbo and the dwarves must face a variety of obstacles on their journey, such as trolls and a hobbit-eating Gollum, before they can reclaim the treasure.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton: Three orphan brothers must face a series of trials as they attempt to find their place within a society riddled with prejudices. Two gangs, the Greasers and the Socs, have split many of the boys' peers into two groups who hate and kill each other. Ponyboy and his brothers struggle with gang involvement and violence aplenty as they try to stick together and rise above the vices and hatred of their society.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: A classic and expertly written coming-of-age novel, To Kill a Mockingbird tells the story through the eyes of Scout, a girl about to reach adolescence. Her father, Atticus, is a lawyer defending an innocent black man accused of rape in a violently prejudiced southern society. Scout realizes how cruel people can be, but through an incident in which her life is saved, recognizes there is still justice even in the racist society in which she lives.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Hester Prynne is living in 17th century Puritan America when she is charged with adultery and forced to stand on a platform in front of her Boston community with a scarlet letter "A" on her chest and a newborn baby in her arms. Hester refuses to say who her child's father is, and accepts a life of isolation while Roger Chillingworth, Hester's supposedly long-lost husband, attempts to find out who baby Pearl's father is himself. Meanwhile, Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale, a much loved minister, is suffering from declining health and put under the perverse Chillingworth's care.

New releases

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: Junior is a Native American boy living on the Spokane Reservation. He transfers from the reservation school to a school dominated by wealthy white kids in hopes he can advance his dream of becoming a successful cartoonist. Junior faces antagonism at both his new school and on the reservation from family who believe he is rejecting his roots. Underlying the story is the message of determination.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, living in a future which seems to have reverted to barbaric means of entertainment, is chosen to represent her district in the hunger games. This means she is forced to participate in a battle to the death broadcast on live TV against another kid between the ages of 12 and 18. Despite her agility and skill with a bow and arrow, Katniss is sure she will die, leaving her mother and younger sister to starve. Katniss's admirable strength and bravery make her a solid protagonist in this powerful story.

The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong: Ben and his younger brothers are whisked away on a yearlong sailing adventure when their father buys a boat. Still recovering from their mother's death, Ben's father thinks that the change of scenery will be beneficial for the boys and himself. Just as everyone is getting used to being in such close quarters, Ben's dad mysteriously disappears and the boys are left to fend for themselves as they attempt to find their father.

Undiscovered gems

Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls: How to Start a Band, Write Songs, Record an Album, and Rock Out!! by Carrie Brownstein: Learn how to do it all with this guide written with the help of experienced female musicians. Learn how to play an instrument, get the word out about a show, self-defense and much more with this comprehensive guide.

Poetry Speaks Who I Am: Poems of Discovery, Inspiration, Independence, and Everything Else by Elise Paschen: Over 100 poems ranging from classic to modern fill this book with selections that will make your teens smile, laugh and maybe even bring a tear to their eye. Included is a CD with 44 tracks with poems read aloud, most exclusive to this book and read by the author. This spectacular collection of poetry will be a great addition to your young adult's summer reading list.

How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion by David H. Wilson: If your child is looking for a humorous read this summer, this book will not only satisfy their funny bone; it'll also educate them about robotics. Wilson, a roboticist, presents readers with hilarious how-to information detailing how one can defeat an attack, should they ever be confronted by a rebellious robot.

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