The long days of summer are perfect for kids to get in lots of extra reading – especially since lots of young readers fall behind in their reading level during the summer. Getting kids to love reading is in large part due to finding the right books to read. Here are this English major’s suggestions on great books for all ages.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (All Ages)
Originally written in French, this book has sold over 140 million copies world wide. It appears to be a children’s story, but when you get older it takes on much deeper meanings. The tale begins when a pilot crash-lands in the Sahara desert. He is visited by the Little Prince, a small boy who lives on the tiny asteroid B-612. He asks the pilot to draw him a sheep, and confused, the pilot obliges. When the pilot asks about the sheep, the Little Prince begins the story of his adventure to the desert. He describes his Rose, whom he loves dearly, the various adults that inhabit nearby asteroids and their weird quirks, a Fox, whom he tames and a Snake who ultimately takes him home. I first read this whimsical story in high school, and I continue to love it to this day.
Fun Fact: In 1993, an actual asteroid was found and named B-612 in honor of the Little Prince’s home.
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (Ages 14 and up)
Published in 1951, this book has become popular with teen readers for the angst and sarcastic nature of the protagonist, Holden Caulfield. While residing in a mental health facility, Holden tells the story of his expulsion from prep school. He decided to spend three days in New York before going back home to tell his parents the news of his failure. He stayed in various hotels, complaining to anyone who will listen about how much he hates phony people and just generally being a moody teenager. Holden also talks about old girlfriends, visits past teachers and admits to his little sister Phoebe that what he really wants to do when he grows up. Salinger has this great way of making readers simultaneously hate Holden, yet also relate to his troubles.
Fun Fact: Salinger decided to never let another one of his books to be made into a movie after a director made large changes in the plot of one of his past works.
The Giver by Lois Lowry (Ages 8 and up)
In this dystopian novel, Jonas is a boy who is different from others in his group, which leads to his ultimate fate. His eyes are pale compared to others in the town, and sometimes Jonas can see objects – an apple, a girl’s hair – “change” when others never notice. At the Ceremony of Twelve, when the children of the Community are given their jobs by the elders, Jonas is given the job as the Receiver of Memory, a painful task that will cause him to be isolated from his family. He learns from a kind old man who is the current Receiver of Memory. The “Giver,” as the man likes to be called, teaches Jonas to feel happiness as well as sorrow, pain as well as the past. Eventually Jonas objects to the oppressive order of the Community and makes a plan to escape.
Fun Fact: A film adaptation was given the green light in December of 2012 and will be made into a movie in due time. Make sure to read it now!
Bloomability by Sharon Creech (Ages 10 and up)
Domenica Santolina Doone, or Dinnie as she is called, is used to her nomadic life in the US. Her family is always picking up and moving to find a new “opportunity.” Dinnie gets an opportunity for herself when her aunt and uncle take her to Switzerland with them to an international boarding school, where her uncle is the headmaster. Dinnie becomes a student at the school, making new friends, trying new things and opening her mind to new “bloomabilities”. She deals with homesickness, as she learns that her sister married a marine and had a child while Dinnie was abroad and that her family has moved yet again. She takes comfort in writing in her journal and eventually learns to love her new life.
Fun Fact: Sharon Creech writes her books so that the characters in her different novels sometimes interact with each other outside of their respective story.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Ages 14 and up)
This Pulitzer Prize Winner about a post-apocalyptic wasteland will make you cry. The story is told in third person as a father and a son travel south in hopes of surviving the winter. They are both slowly dying. The only possession that the father has is a revolver with two rounds, to ward off cannibals and any other potential threats. The father teaches his son how to use it and tries to keep his son hopeful, saying that “the good guys are carrying the fire”. They journey onward, wishing for a better life.
Fun Fact: British environmental campaigner George Monbiot placed this book in higher importance regarding environmental awareness over both Walden and a Silent Spring.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, author Arnaud Malon.
Emily Thomas is a beijijngkids intern from Indiana, US. She is a junior at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Emily enjoys desserts, animals, and writing funny blogs.