There are many things I associate with summer. The bright sunshine, the boom of greenery, the sound of water (I’ve always been fond of swimming), but if there is one thing that truly stands out in my mind, it’s reading. Like most students growing up, I was assigned a list of books to read over the summer break. Unlike most students however, I couldn’t wait to run down to the local library and start checking them out. Summer reading was a glorious opportunity to cultivate my love of literature and allow my imagination to soar.

Right now, schools are in the process of closing for summer, which means students are also being assigned reading lists – just as I was. While I hope there are many students who share my passion for literature, it’s possible that quite a few see this reading as a drain on their free time. So, how do we change that? How can educators foster student engagement when it comes to summer reading? Well, it starts by assigning books that are creative, well-written, and most of all, fun to read!

Here are just a few books teachers should consider adding to their students’ summer reading list:

Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel (470L)
From writing letters to going swimming, telling stories to finding lost buttons, Frog and Toad are always there for each other—just as best friends should be. Explore reading and friendship with this celebrated book by Arnold Lobel.

Holes by Louis Sachar (660L)
This classic adventure is a must-read for any budding student. When Stanley Yelnats is wrongfully convicted of stealing a pair of shoes, he’s sentenced to Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s something strange going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. Follow Stanley as he tries to dig up the truth in this tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark & Katy Wu (730L)
Who was Grace Hopper? A software tester, workplace jester, cherished mentor, ace inventor, avid reader, naval leader—AND rule breaker, chance taker, and troublemaker. Throughout her life, Hopper succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations. Discover how she became a role model for girls everywhere who are fascinated by math and science!

Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry (830L)
Inspire your students with this beloved Newbery Medal-winning story. Set in the Pacific Islands, the novel follows a young native boy named Mafatu, the son of the chief of Hikueru Island, Tavana Nui. Mafatu is afraid of the sea but resolves to conquer his fear by setting out on a journey that will change him forever.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (1140L)
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine: The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, which are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. This book honors the memory of Henrietta Lacks while also shining a light on her extraordinary contribution to science.

There are so many opportunities to be found in good reading, and we shouldn’t miss this chance to enrich our students’ language skills. So, consider including one or more of these books in your students’ summer reading. Better yet, share a book which inspired you when you were their age. Let their imaginations bloom as they fall into the pages of a great story. After all, there’s no better way to begin a new chapter in their learning journey than with a book!

We hope you are all staying healthy and safe during this difficult time. For more free educational resources, or ideas on how to promote healthy SEL, simply follow this link!