(D) Ages 10-12, (E) Ages 12-15, (F) Ages 15-18, (G) Ages 16 and up, Resources
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Simple Summer Reading Challenge for Tweens and Teens

It’s time for summer reading!

Do your tweens and teens have summer reading assignments for school? Perhaps a classic or two and maybe a contemporary “buzz” book?

Summer Reading … Not Just for School

Summer reading for school certainly serves a purpose, but so does summer reading that builds family relationships and family culture. When tweens and teens are already reading assigned books for school, we might hesitate to require more reading. After all, there’s a place for pool time and summer camp and visits with grandparents, too.

But what if you asked your tweens or teens to read just ONE extra book this summer? A book of your choice?

Simple Summer Reading for Tweens and Teens

Parents, this is a golden opportunity to find out more about what makes your tween or teen “tick.” What is he interested in? What sort of books does your daughter enjoy? Wouldn’t it be fun to go out for ice cream in a few weeks and just chat about your favorite books together?

There are two rules for this simple summer reading challenge for tweens and teens:

  • You pick a book you think your tween or teen would really enjoy.
  • Your tween or teen picks a book he or she thinks YOU would really enjoy.

Don’t pick books for each other that seem like the stereotypical “good choice” or “classic that everyone should read.” No. Pick books for one another that you have already read and you are dying to talk about with the other person.

NO JUDGMENT until after reading the chosen book, even if you think your child’s suggestion is not your cup of tea.

Does this mean that you, as a parent, might end up reading a Wimpy Kid book because your son loved it? Yes. No eye-rolling until after you’ve read it. You might laugh in spite of yourself!

Does this mean that you, as a parent, might want to recommend Oliver Twist because you love Dickens, but instead you will recommend something like New Kid or The Season of Styx Malone because that’s more what your son would like? Yes.

Does this mean you can’t recommend Anne of Green Gables because you loved it at the same age, and you think your daughter will, too? No–this is exactly the sort of book you should recommend! Not because it’s an “everyone should read this” title but because you loved it so much at the same age and you can’t wait to gush over Gilbert and laugh at Ann-with-an-E together.

Here’s how this is playing out in my family. The books my kids have recommended to me:

  • The Prince Warriors by Priscilla Shirer
  • Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome (book #2 in the Swallows and Amazons series)
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (this is actually a re-read for me, but since I first read it 7 years ago, I wasn’t able to remember enough details to discuss it with my son. Ergo, he’s asked me to re-read it.)

What books did I pick for my kids’ simple summer reading challenge?

  • 13 year-old daughter: The Story Girl, Emily of New Moon, and/or Anne of Avonlea, all by L. M. Montgomery (we enjoyed listening to Anne of Green Gables this past fall, but I honestly think she will enjoy Emily of New Moon or The Story Girl even more than the Anne series. She’s a voracious reader, so she’s taken on all three!)
  • 12 year-old son: Watership Down by Richard Adams (confession: he’d already started, and was enjoying it, but wanted more time to read it… so I let him continue–hard to argue with someone wanting to read a book like this!)
  • 12 year-old son: Rascal by Sterling North (this twin LOVES animal stories. Gentle Ben and White Fang are two of his favorites, so I think Rascal will be a great complement.)

Looks like a great list to me! I’ll need to brush up on Watership Down and whichever L. M. Montgomery book gets read in order to actually chat about these with my kids. But they are LOVING seeing their mother actually read one of their recommendations for a change.

What books will you pick for your kids? What will they pick for you?

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  1. What a great idea. My kids would be thrilled. My daughter and just both read Thimble Summer. That was super cute.

    • You might want to check out The Saturdays (also by Enright). My kids and I just finished listening to that one!

  2. Mary Lee Sonke says

    I love this! My 13yr old daughter had started reading some of the books that my book club is reading. It’s been really fun to talk about books like”Rebecca” and “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” My 17 yr old son has been recommending books that he read years ago like “The Railway Children .” I recently finished “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” and asked my 9 and 12 yr olds boys to read it. They didn’t hesitate to pick it up. I love talking about books in a casual way with my kids…who read more than me. Thank you!

    • You’re welcome! I love talking books with my kids, too. It’s part of our family culture.

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