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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Water Cooler: Summer reading for kids

UPDATED: Tue., July 13, 2021

“Tar Beach” is written and illustrated by Faith Ringgold.  (Penguin Random House)
“Tar Beach” is written and illustrated by Faith Ringgold. (Penguin Random House)

With homework on pause for summer vacation, it’s a great time for kids to dive into recreational reading. Here are a few suggestions to start with, but don’t forget to check with your local libraries and bookstores for additional suggestions and summer reading programs.

“Come On Rain!” written by Karen Hesse and illustrated by Jon J. Muth - As Tess walks around her block, observing the drooping and parched plants that are struggling in summer heat, she hopes for rain more than anything. When the clouds roll in and the rain finally starts to pour, she and her friends are ready to greet the rainstorm with a big celebration.

“Blackout,” written and illustrated by John Rocco - It’s a hot summer night in the city and all the sudden all the power goes out. With the power stopped, so does the rest of the normal activities like cooking and answering emails. A family sits down to play a board game to pass the time, and soon they notice the rest of the neighborhood has journeyed outside to eat ice cream and mingle. A small boy starts to appreciate the blackout for its ability to slow down life and bring people together.

“Summer Days and Nights,” written and illustrated by Wong Herbert Yee - It’s a hot summer day and a little girl is off to find some things to do. Her day becomes filled with fun summer activities like catching butterflies and sipping lemonade. When nighttime falls, she spots owls and frogs. At night she dreams about all the summer days and nights to come, recalling all the small but special details about the season.

“Tar Beach,” written and illustrated by Faith Ringgold - Cassie has always dreamed of being free to go wherever she likes. One night when she’s asleep on the rooftop of her family’s apartment building in Harlem, lovingly referred to as “tar beach,” her wish comes true as she dreams that she is flying high above the city.

“The Night Is Yours,” written by Abdul-Razak Zachariah and illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo - A lyrical story about a young girl named Amani and her father who hosts a giant game of hide-and-seek with the other kids who live in her apartment complex. Amani searches for the hiding children with the big, bright moon as her guide.

“And Then Comes Summer,” written by Tom Brenner and illustrated by Jaime Kim - A celebration of all things summer, like toasting marshmallows with friends, staying up late, swimming in the lake, chasing ice-cream trucks and organizing lemonade stands.

“Jabari Jumps,” written and illustrated by Gaia Cornwall - Jabari has finished his swim lessons and passed his swim test. He’s more than ready to jump off the diving board, but as much as he tries to hide it, he’s still a little afraid. Jabari works to overcome his fears because he is determined to make the big jump.

“Fireflies in the Night,” written by Judy Hawes and illustrated by Ellen Alexander - For the young science lovers out there, this book provides an approachable introduction to the magic and the science about those glowing insects that are a staple of summer nights.

“The Golden Glow,” written and illustrated by Benjamin Flouw - Fox loves to spend time in nature, documenting rare sightings and specimens in his botany book. He prepares for an outing and thinks through what to pack in his knapsack for his adventure. For this special overnight trip, he’ll need a sleeping bag, a map, a compass and a few other items.

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