Have Book, Can Travel: UT Center Offers Summer Reading Ideas for Kids

School’s out, and vacation time is upon us. Whether the family is planning a vacation or staycation, kids can do some vicarious globetrotting this summer by reading books.

Teachers, libraries, parents, and others can learn more about great books for kids at The Best New Books 2013 workshop on July 19 at the East Tennessee History Center. UT’s Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature and the Knox County Public Library are co-hosting the workshop. For more information, visit the center’s website.

“Summer reading is important for kids so their skills stay sharp and they’re ready to hit the ground running again when school starts back up in the fall,” said Miranda Clark, director of the Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. “Plus, reading is pure pleasure. It gives you the chance to imagine, explore, and think—even ‘vacation’ without leaving your couch.”

The center’s mission is to celebrate and promote literature and to encourage reading through outreach to children and their parents, to current and future teachers and librarians, to members of the community, and to scholars across disciplines. The center is housed in the School of Information Sciences in the College of Communication and Information.

The center recommends these books for tots and teens who are interested in taking a vacation via books this summer:

Beginning readers

Dodsworth in Tokyo by Tim Egan. Dodsworth’s duck companion is surprisingly well-behaved during a visit to Tokyo, although he does fall into the koi pond at the Imperial Palace and becomes the center of attention at a Sanja Festival.

In Andal’s House by Gloria Whelan. Kumar, a young boy living in present-day India, faces bigotry when he goes to visit a classmate from a higher caste family.

Let’s Go, Hugo! by Angela Dominguez. After conquering his fear of flying, talented artist Hugo the bird makes a new friend and explores his beloved city of Paris.

A Long Way Away by Frank Viva. A picture book that can be read front to back or back to front. Start from one end and journey from outer space down to the sea; start from the other end and journey from deep in the sea out to a distant planet.

For Intermediate Readers 

Racing the Moon by Alan W. Armstrong. In 1947, eleven-year-old Alex and her impulsive older brother Chuck befriend an army scientist who shares their interest in rockets and outer space travel.

I’m Not a Plastic Bag: A Graphic Novel by Rachel Hope Allison. A wordless graphic novel and accompanying information describe how human consumer waste is affecting the earth, specifically by traveling to garbage patches in the oceans such as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. There, a huge accumulation of floating waste items such as plastic bags and bottles are ingested by and entraps animals, endangering a number of species. This book includes ideas to help alleviate the situation.

For Middle Grade Readers

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen. The difficult star of the reality TV show Expedition Survival disappears in the Florida Everglades, where they were filming animals from the wildlife refuge run by Wahoo Crane’s family, and Wahoo and classmate Tuna Gordon set out to find him, but they must avoid Tuna’s gun-happy father.

Fenway Fever by John H Ritter. Twelve-year-old Alfredo “Stats” Pagano and Boston Red Sox pitcher Billee Orbitt work together to break a potential curse at Fenway Park.

Summer at Forsaken Lake by Michael D Beil. Twelve-year-old Nicholas and his ten-year-old twin sisters, Hetty and Haley, spend the summer with their great-uncle Nick at Forsaken Lake. With their new friend Charlie, they investigate the truth about an accident involving their families many years before.

The Plant Hunters: True Stories of Their Daring Adventures to the Far Corners of the Earth by Anita Silvey. This book introduces readers to explorers from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who traveled the world to discover, collect, and transport new and unusual plants in the name of science.

The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure by Martin Sandler. In a true story, three men are sent by President McKinley in 1897 to drive two herds of reindeer across parts of Alaska to feed stranded whalers whose ships were trapped in ice.

For Young Adults

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer. A girl, having traveled with her mother to an animal sanctuary for bonobos in the Congo, struggles to survive with the animals after revolution breaks out and she and the chimpanzees are forced to flee into the jungle.

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill. Julia, a clumsy but intelligent junior in high school, gets paired with her personal nemesis, Jason, on a school field trip in London. When Julie gets several romantic texts following a wild party, Jason agrees to help her track down the sender if she is willing to break a few rules.

Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall. In an adventure reminiscent of Homer’s Odyssey, fifteen-year-old Odilia and her four younger sisters embark on a journey to return a dead man to his family in Mexico, aided by La Llorona but impeded by a witch, a warlock, chupacabras, and more.

Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn. After a high-profile art heist of three van Gogh drawings in her home town of Seattle, sixteen-year-old Violet Rossi finds herself in Japan with her artist father, searching for the related van Gogh painting.

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard. Bria, an aspiring artist who just graduated from high school, takes off for Central America’s La Ruta Maya, rediscovering her talents and finding love.

Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City by Guy Delisle. Guy Delisle uses the graphic novel format to portray daily life in Jerusalem, presenting a realistic picture of the many cultural aspects of this city that means so much to so many.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)

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