With summer vacation looming, many of us are faced with the question: How will I keep my child from vegging in front of a screen until school starts? Here are ten books that will help your children's minds grow and their imaginations soar with the added bonus that you won’t have to strap them down to read. Once they start them, they won’t be able to put them down.
1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis.
This well known series follows the adventures of the Pevensie children and their friends in the world of Narnia. Primarily known for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, this series has seven books exploring the many realms and time periods of the world. These books teach children about the need for a grace and a Savior, bravery, honor, and adventure. Warning: After reading, you may find your child crying, “For Narnia and Aslan!” anytime you ask them to do their chores.
2. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
This book is part space adventure and part political drama. It follows the journey of Andrew Wiggin as he goes through space school to fight an overwhelming alien enemy. At the same time his brother and sister take on alter egos as online political commentators in order to discuss the world’s big issues. Your student will find themselves immersed in a dystopian world discussing power, isolation, education, and friendship. Without knowing it, this book will help your student begin thinking about these big issues.
3. The Giver by Lois Lowry
In a black and white world, truth and emotion give the world color. The Giver follows Thomas, a young man whose future job is to experience emotion on behalf of his community in order to guide the ruling council in its decisions. He is forced to understand the importance of emotions, truth, the sanctity of life, and the importance of acting on what is right. While dystopian, this story ends in hope. Your student will learn about the consequences of doing the right thing while living in a world where “right” is questioned.
4. Redwall by Brian Jacques
In an abbey inhabited by mice and other woodland creatures, a young mouse struggles to follow the peaceful path of the brothers living there. In the first book of this series, that spans hundreds of years, Matthias discovers and steps into his role to protect Redwall Abbey, fulfilling prophesy and solving puzzles in order to thwart the evil rat, Cluny the Scourge. This series whisks children away to a small world filled with food, friendship, and courage. They will brave strange lands with the courageous mice and learn to always go “A and B the C of D”: Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.
5. Bridge To Terabithia by Katherine Patterson
This book may break your child’s heart, but first they will fall in love with Jesse and Leslie, two lonely children who escape to the woods and create an imaginative world called Terabithia. They talk about friendship, handling trials, falling in love, death, and dealing with loss. After reading this, your child will be filled with questions about life and death, or they will need time to process it all. Either way, this book is a good launching point for deep discussions.
6. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
Bilbo Baggins is dragged into an adventure when a wizard vandalizes his front door and the graffiti attracts a group of homeless dwarves desirous of regaining their home in a land far over misty mountains cold. Bilbo is conscripted as their resident burglar, despite having never left his home town in his life, and promptly bumbles his way into trouble. He meets trolls, elves, giant spiders, brave men, a dragon, and a slimy something hiding from light in a cave. Filled with riddles, adventure, and wonder this book is a fantastic introduction to Middle Earth.
7. The Book Thief by Markus Zuzac
This historical fiction piece follows orphan, Liesel Meminger and her life as a foster child in Germany during World War II. This book is written from the perspective of Death who has ‘met’ her brother and mother, but just watches her. She struggles to settle in, but, with help of her foster father and a Jew they are hiding, Liesel learns to read and sets out to collect books. From World War II and the Holocaust to the struggles of being young and book banning, The Book Thief covers a lot of ground.
8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Meg Murry is angry about everything, but mostly how people talk about her family, as if it was her dad’s choice that took him away. Soon she is whisked off into a world of space travel and time dilation to save him, finding out that things were much worse than she thought. Meg, her little brother, and the local basketball star, who is freakishly good at chemistry, are sent on a quest by the gregarious Mrs. Which, to save her father and a world from an entity known as IT. In a space exploration novel meets dystopian world, A Wrinkle In Time introduces children to the importance of family and thinking for yourself.
9. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Told like historical fiction, but actually biography, the Little House series follows the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder from toddler all the way through young motherhood. She taps for maple syrup, meets Indians, survives on the prairie with her family, and has dozens of adventures over the course of nine books. These books teach about life on the frontier and what had to be done to survive. It is the story of a real family that struggles with everything from moving and school to crop failure and death. There is a lot of love and they always end up, for better or worse, back around the family hearth.
10. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
This is the autobiography of Corrie Ten Boom and most importantly the story of God’s faithfulness to her and her family in a concentration camp during World War II. Heartbreaking and inspiring, this book walks through the lives of the Ten Booms as they turn their watchmaking business into a way to hide Jews. After being discovered, they are punished, suffering indignity, disease, and death in the internment camps. God is faithful to them through all of this. An amazing testimony, this book will help your child think about what they believe and how they can speak about the truth of God in their life.
These ten books and their respective series are the tip of an iceberg. Once your child is whisked into the world of reading, they may never return. If you haven’t read these yourself, pick up one this summer and lead by example. The adventure is well worth it.