Wow, it feels like just yesterday I was writing my summer book recommendations column, and now it’s already time to start thinking about going back to school! Whether you are looking forward to or dreading it, these books can help get you “in the mood” for another year of teachers, homework, and classes!
- Did you know that reading for fun has one of the biggest impacts on whether you’ll do well in school? That’s some school prep I can definitely get behind — and so can Elizabeth Gorcey and Liv Amiri, the mother-daughter team behind Read, Read, and Read, a celebration of all the places books can take you!
- If your school does science fairs, you probably know the stress and excitement that comes from choosing a project every year. You can find inspiration in How to Be an Engineer, which is full of projects like building bridges, catapults, and even a robot arm! In addition to step-by-step instructions, you’ll find lots of photos and profiles of inspirational engineers, like austronaut Mae Jemison and chemist Stephanie Kwolek. For even more ideas, check out How to be a Scientist in the same series.
- And what if … your science fair project could send you back in time? That’s what happens to 13-year-old Charley Morton when she attempts to duplicate Leonardo da Vinci’s design for a time machine in Edge of Yesterday by Robin Stevens Payes. You can follow up Charley’s adventures through time in the second book, Da Vinci’s Way, coming soon.
- Of course school isn’t all about classes and learning. Relationships with your friends and other classmates make up a big part of your school experience, too. If you’re frustrated with cliques and constantly worrying whether you are in the “in” or the “out” group, check out Cliques, Phonies & Other Baloney by Trevor Romain and Elizabeth Verdick. This book can help you be true to your authentic self, find friends who are the right “fit” for you, and even get “out” of a bad friendship group. The same authors have also written Stress Can Really Get on Your Nerves, which can help you pinpoint the source of your school (or non-school) stress and make a plan to tackle it.
- To get to an even deeper level of relaxation, pick up a copy of This Moment is Your Life (and So is This One): A Fun and Easy Guide to Mindfulness, Meditation, and Yoga by Mariam Gates. It includes tons of ideas to help you relax, from exercise moves to journaling to deep breathing, with plenty of illustrations and even space for your own notes.
- If sports are a big part of the school experience for you, you might enjoy the Zach & Zoe Mysteries by Mike Lupica, which features twins Zach and Zoe solving sports-related mysteries. In the first book in the series, The Missing Baseball, the twins are on the hunt for a missing, signed baseball, and in The Half-Court Hero, they make it their mission to find and thank the mysterious benefactor who is making repairs to their favorite basketball court between practices. If you enjoyed the first two mysteries, you can continue with the third book in the series, The Football Fiasco.
- Have you ever been homeschooled? In the novel The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty, 12-year-old Lucy has been homeschooled since a lightning strike left her with genius-level skills. Even though she’s smart enough for college, her grandma wants her to pass one test first: going to middle-school for one year, where she must also make one friend and join one activity. Check out this book about what can happen when you step outside your comfort zone!
- In Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina, Merci enters sixth grade knowing she’ll be different from her classmates, who have bigger houses than hers and don’t have to do community service hours to make up for their tuition costs. But things really get rocky when her classmate, Edna, targets Merci just because Edna’s crush was assigned to be Merci’s “buddy” in class. Things are hard at home, too, where Merci’s grandfather is starting to forget things he’s always known. Can Merci’s family help her get through the toughest year of school so far?
- If you’re reading this, you can probably take going to school for granted. But not all girls throughout the world or history have been able to do the same. This Noble Woman: Myrtilla Miner and Her Fight to Establish a School for African American Girls in the Slaveholding South by Michael M. Greenburg spotlights one woman who fought for the right for all girls to get an education. Although she came from a poor family herself, Myrtella was dedicated to establishing a school for African American girls in the South during the time of slavery, and she fended off stonings, arson, and other threats to make her dream a reality!
What about you? Do you have favorite books that get you in the “back-to-school” mood or help get you through the stressful days? Have you read any of the books listed above? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Long lazy days, family trips and later bedtimes all make summer great for reading. I was a voracious reader and often raced through my huge stack of library books before our next visit. Then I scoured my parents’ bookshelves for things that might interest me.
Whether the girls you care about love reading or are more reluctant, New Moon Girls back issues are great summer reading. The magazines are full of relevant articles that don’t go out of date.
So, as long as you didn’t subscribe during the years you choose packs from, you’ll be giving your girls a new-to-them helping of community, creativity, compassion and courage.
Order by July 9 for savings up to 50%!
P.S. For an extra special gift, our classic collection packs of issues from our first 15 years are awesome!
Summer — it’s finally here! And whether you are out of school for the year or still eyeing the finish line, we’ve got you covered for some great summer reading. Bring some of these books on your summer adventures, or enjoy them on a lazy afternoon on your front porch, lounged out on your couch, on the beach, or anyplace else the warm weather takes you!
Fiction – Stories That Take Place in Summer
- 12-year-old Lucy has always been close to her dad, so she’s thrilled when she learns he’s coming home early from the Vietnam War … until she realizes that his missing arm isn’t the only thing about him that has changed. To give her dad some space, her family sends her to spend the summer with her uncle, which only reminds her that she doesn’t fit in with her dad’s superstitious family. Then she befriends Milo, whose dad is still in Vietnam, and they work together to unravel the mystery of the purple heart and soldier’s helmet they found in Lucy’s back yard. Read Everything Else in the Universe by Tracy Holczer to see whether Lucy finds the answer to her biggest question — whether her dad will ever be the same again.
- For another take on the Vietnam War, check out She Loves You, Yeah Yeah Yeah by Ann Hood, which takes place in the summer of 1966. Trudy’s once-popular Beatles fan club has dwindled to just three members, and she struggles to find common ground with her best friend who has become a cheerleader. She’s sure that meeting Beatles member Paul McCartney, her true love, will turn things around, and she plans an unforgettable journey with the remaining members of her fan club.
- 14-year-old Florence and 11-year-old Russell think they’re lucky — they’re both on the SS Athenia on their way back to the U.S. after spending their summer vacations in Europe. But then a German torpedo hits the ship, and the kids must take lifeboats to find other vessels if they have any hope of survival. Torpedoed! A World War II Story of a Sinking Passenger Ship and Two Children’s Survival at Sea by Cheryl Mullenbach is based on the real-life survival of the children aboard the SS Athenia the day that Britian declared war on Germany.
- In The Jigsaw Jungle by Kristin Levine, 12-year-old Claudia just thinks her dad is having a late night at work … until he doesn’t come home at all. Just before she receives a mysterious envelope containing a jigsaw puzzle piece in the mail, her dad tells her he’s gone away to “think things over.” She spends her summer piecing together a scrapbook in an attempt to understand what’s happening to her family in this story based on the author’s real-life experiences.
- If you’ve ever spent the summer with the Penderwick sisters — Skye, Jane, Rosalind, and Batty — then get ready to return to Arundel for the summer, this time with the youngest sister, Lydia, in the lead. She has grown up hearing about the adventures at the Arundel mansion, and now she gets to spend the summer there for her sister Rosalind’s wedding. Soon, she’s exploring spooky hallways and sheep-filled fields, with adventure around every corner. The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall is the last book in the Penderwicks series. To start from the beginning, track down the first book, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy.
- Are you going to summer camp this year? Whether you’re heading outdoors or sticking close to home, you can enjoy summer camp adventures with Wendy L. Brandes’ series following friends Claire, MJ, Nina, and Emily as they survive fights with friends, getting in trouble with camp counselors, mishaps while rafting, and more! Books in the series include Emily’s Pranking Problem, Claire’s Cursed Camping Trip, Nina’s NOT Boy Crazy! (She Just Likes Boys), and MJ’s Camp Crisis.
Non-Fiction – Things to DO and Learn This Summer
- Summer reading is great … but sometimes you want to get out and DO something in the summer air! How about crouching in the grass or nuzzling up to a tree leaf to examine some of the creepy crawlies that come out at this time of year? But before you go bug-hunting, make sure to brush up on your bug facts with Wicked Bugs: The Meanest Deadliest, Grossest Bugs on Earth by Amy Stewart, where you can read about centipedes a whole foot long or beetles that can fire stinging liquid at 1,000 shots per second. Fascinating, gross, creepy, or all of the above? Read the book and decide for yourself!
- Will you be heading out to the wilderness for camping or hiking this summer? If so, make sure to tuck a copy of A Pocket Guide to Wilderness Safety Skills in your backpack. It’s chock full of information that can help you out in a pinch, like how to build an emergency shelter, how to read a compass and map, and how to cook and store food outdoors. And it’s all encased in zippered, waterproof plastic, so that it will stay safe in any condition!
- If rainy days have you cooped up inside, grab a copy of Rainy Day Unicorn Fun by Dana Simpson, a Phoebe and Her Unicorn Activity Book. The 140 puzzles inside, which include mazes, word games, dot-to-dots, and more, are sure to keep you busy till the sun is shining again!
- If you’re looking for more to do with the extra time that you have off of school, check out The Big Book of 100 Little Activities by Laura Minter and Tia Williams, where you can learn to make a track for toy cars out of masking tape, cornflour “goop,” homemade chalk (your summe sidewalk will look AWESOME!), and more, all with supplies that are easy to find. With this book at your side, you may not find yourself uttering, “I’m bored!” all summer long!
What about you? Do you have favorite reads that take place in summer, or books that help you fill the summer days? Have you read any of the books listed above? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Fiction – Stories About Beautiful Girls
- Sometimes being true to yourself involves taking some big risks. In “Amal Unbound” by Aisha Saeed, Amal is forced to become a servant when she accidentally insults a member of her Pakistani village’s ruling family. At first she thinks she will have to put aside her dreams of becoming a teacher … but the longer she works for the Khan family, the more she realizes there are even bigger issues at stake — like the cruel ways in which the Khan family weilds its power. She knows that she needs to learn to work with others — including those who resent her for being a “favorite” at the estate — if anything is ever going to change. Author Aisha Saeed says about the book, “There are brave girls all over the world. They may feel afraid sometimes, like Amal. But doing the right thing despite the risks it may involve is the bravest thing there can be. It is my hope that this story shines a light on brave girls everywhere.”
- In “Length of a String” by Elissa Brent Weissman, you’ll meet not one but two beautiful girls. Imani has always wondered where she came from, because she is Black and almost everyone she knows is White. But when her great-grandmother dies, she finds her diary about fleeing the Nazis in World War II and moving in with an adoptive family in New York. Knowing she is not the only member of her family who has been adopted helps Imani, but she still wants to know more about her biological family. As her Bat mitzvah approaches, can she find a way to make peace with the missing pieces?
- Ten-year-old Katy is told that only boys can join when she tries out for the 1958 Little League baseball team. But why should she take no for an answer, when everyone knows she’s the best pitcher around? Instead, she takes lessons from the Civil Rights Movement and follows the example of the great female baseball greats who have gone before her as she pursues her sports dreams in “Out of Left Field” by Ellen Klages.
- Annie Brown is used to coming in “second best” in comparisons with her best friend, Savannah, who is the most-valued player on the track team, gets straight As, and won the school spirit award. But when Annie gets the opportunity to audition for a kids’ web show, she’s sure she is the perfect fit. After all, she has been writing “As-Seen-on-TV” type commercials for her own inventions for years. In “Annie B., Made for TV” by Amy Dixon, can Annie keep her friendship with Savannah alive even when it looks like Savannah might get the leading role that is perfect for Annie?
- Judy Moody isn’t afraid to be herself, even when herself is always changing, and that’s what gives her inner beauty! In her first book, “Judy Moody Was in a Mood,” she gets to explore what makes her unique through her teacher’s “About Me” collage project. She pursues fame in book 2 (“Judy Moody Gets Famous“) and sets out to save the world in book 3, “Judy Moody Saves the World.” And if you can’t get enough of Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody series, more books will be out soon, including “Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party.” Whether you’re a long-time fan or new to the series, these books can help you remember there’s beauty in being moody!
- Often, it is our friends’ inner beauty that draws us to them — and the people who see OUR inner beauty that are true BFF material. If you and your bestie want a way to always remember the special friendship you share, check out “All About Us: Our Dreams, Our World, Our Friendship,” a journal that you can write in together. The journal is full of activities to do together, like designing outfits, taking quizzes, and comparing notes about your one-of-a-kind friendship.
- Looking for some inspiration from other beautiful girls? Then read “Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women” by Kate Schatz, where you’ll meet Trisha Prabhu, who invented an anti-cyberbullying app when she was 13; Jazz Jennings, a transgender girl who stars in her own TV series; and Ify Ufele, the youngest designer to ever debut her creations during Fashion Week, among many, many others. No matter what your interests, you’re sure to find someone to connect with among the dozens of girls from diverse backgrounds and time periods featured in this book.
- For even more inspiration, turn to Hannah Alper’s book, “Momentus: Small Acts, Big Change,” which includes interviews with change-makers and activists from around the world. It also features tips on what YOU can do to make change. And it was all written by a 15-year-old girl whose path to change-making started at age 9, when she created a blog about her passion for animal rights and the environment.
- And if all this inspiration has you ready to ACT, turn to “Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All” by Elisa Camahort Page, Carolyn Gerin and Jamia Wilson or “Putting Peace First: 7 Commitments to Change the World” by Eric David Dawson. “Road Map for Revolutionaries” gives you the real deal on protests, boycotts, politics, and more. (What will happen if you are tear-gassed or arrested at a protest? How will you keep yourself safe on the road to revolution? What are your rights as an activist?) And “Putting Peace First” will introduce you to kids and young adults who have stood up against gun violence, unfair treatment by police, and the separation of kids with disabilities from those who are able-bodied. THEN it will help you examine your heart, speak up, and take steps to change the issues YOU are passionate about. And that’s pretty beautiful!
What about you? What are your favorite books featuring real or imaginary girls with inner beauty? What books do you know of that can help your inner beauty shine? Share your recommendations in the comments!
- “The Way to Bea” by Kat Yeh features both poetry AND letter writing. In it, seventh-grader Bea uses poetry to express her emotions about growing apart from her best friends and feeling ignored at home as her parents focus on their jobs and a new baby. Although Bea writes her poems in invisible ink and hides them in a secret spot, to her surprise, someone writes her back! Now she’s determined to find the identity of her secret pen pal. Do some of her old friends miss her, too? Is it the kind librarian at school? Or the boy Bea has a crush on? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
- If you’re ready to pick up a pen and try your own hand at poetry, or if you’re an experienced poet looking for some new tricks to try, check out “Catch Your Breath: Writing Poignant Poetry” by Laura Purdie Salas. The book includes instructions on writing different types of poetry (haiku, free verse, and more), bios of famous poets for inspiration, and lots of writing prompts to get you started!
- When 11-year-old Reenie has to live with her grandmother after her mom dies, her new paper route helps her adjust to life in a new town. It also brings her to the home of Mr. Marsworth, the town recluse. Determined to reach him when he doesn’t answer his door, she starts leaving him letters — and he writes back! In “Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth” by Sheila O’Connor, the entire novel is told in the letters between Reenie and Mr. Marsworth — complete with different handwriting for the two writers — as they try to concoct a plan to keep Reenie’s brother out of the Vietnam War.
- In “Hope in the Holler” by Lisa Lewis Tyre, Wavie also finds herself adjusting to a new life after her mom dies of cancer. But she soon learns that her aunt Samantha Rose took her in to get an extra Social Security check in the mail, not because she cared about her. Seeking a way to escape her situation, Wavie finds out that she was almost adopted by another family as a child. Is it possible that family might still want her? And will a hopeful letter to the family that could-have-been be enough to change everything?
- Have you ever written a letter or a diary to someone who you know will never receive it? In “The Night Diary” by Veera Hiranandani, 12-year-old Nisha writes to her Muslim mother, who she lost when she was just a baby, about the way her life and her country is falling apart. It’s 1947 in India, which has recently been freed from British rule and is now facing Partition, or division into two different countries — one for Muslims, and one for Hindus. When Nisha’s father, who is Hindu, finds himself in the part of the country that is now Pakistan and under Muslim rule, the two of them become refugees fleeing to a new home. Through her letters, Nisha searches for a way to put herself back together even though her country has been ripped apart.
What about you? Have you read any of the books listed above? Do you have favorite books featuring poetry or letters? Tell me about them in the comments below!