Books for summer reading | Recommended kids books
We’ve asked local school librarians give us their top pick books for summer reading.
Keeping little minds engaged for at least some of the time over the summer period will help reduce ‘summer slide’.
Bearly There – Aleesah Darlison
Bearly There is a delightfully told story about a much loved teddy bear called Bearly There and his very attached owner, Blake. Bearly There is Blake’s constant companion and is beginning to show signs of wear and tear.
Blake’s proud Aunt Phelicia makes the decision for Blake that he needs another bear so she gives him a brand new one called Winston. However, Winston is very possessive of Blake and treats Bearly There with disdain.
Fortunately, there is a day of reckoning and Blake is not so easily swayed to abandon Bearly There. Winston gets caught out with his skulduggery towards Barely There and it is a tribute to Bearly There’s virtuous qualities that he is able to forgive Winston and be inclusive towards him.
Bearly There is an ideal story for early childhood readers and lends itself to a discussion around a variety of themes including loyalty, kindness and forgiveness.
Reviewed by Grant Hastwell
Our Librarian Won’t Tell Us Anything – Toni Buzzeo
As a teacher librarian I am used to being asked hundreds of questions every day and guiding students to have the skills to find the information they seek. It is the best part of my day when students can successfully answer the questions buzzing around in their brains. This is why I love Our Librarian Won’t Tell Us Anything. I use this book every year when introducing skills and pitfalls of research and information literacy.
It is a fun, rollicking story that values libraries and teacher librarians and the contribution they make to the ongoing education of the children in our care. As the students work in the library together, they also learn the valuable lesson that collaboration and communication make learning more enjoyable and successful.
I am confident that librarians, teachers, students and parents would enjoy reading this book.
Reviewed by Marilyn Fry
Head of Learning Centres
How to Bee – Bren MacDibble
Set in a future that is unfortunately easily believable, bees are extinct and farms use children to pollinate the crops to ensure enough food. Peony lives on a farm with her grandfather and sister. Her life is hard but happy as Peony works as a pest, and longs to become a prestigious bee. Peony’s mother lives and works in the city, but one day arrives at the farm determined to remove Peony from everything and everyone she loves.
This dystopian novel for 10-12-year-old’s is an excellent, intense read. Through Peony’s fierce determination to return home, the themes of family, friendship and kindness are explored. However, the novel doesn’t shy away from the more confrontational themes of greed, abuse and consequence either. This book presents children with meaningful life experiences that may challenge and extend their thoughts and emotions around what is important to them in their own lives.
Reviewed by Donna Vine
Ivan I. Dear: A Wire Wizard – Peta Poletti
Ivan I. Dear: A Wire Wizard is a wonderfully original book from New Zealand Author Peta Poletti. A story for young readers (3-7 years) that encourages thinking and originality, with a “snip snip” of his pliers and a “twist twist” of his wrist, Ivan solves all sorts of problems – just like that. However, sometimes things can go haywire and unforeseen problems occur!
Full of silly humour and skilfully illustrated by Scott Pearson, this book is excellent for young readers to dive in and absorb Ivan’s creativity. Well-placed repetition allows listeners the opportunity to join in when Ivan is read aloud, and the giggles from the audience as they uncover Ivan’s inventive solutions are infectious.
Reviewed by Ms Carol Milne
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone – Jaclyn Moriarty
I’m always amazed by how diverse and individual each student’s taste in literature can be, however I have one excellent book recommendation that truly has something for everyone. It is set in an imaginative world full of extraordinary characters getting up to all sorts of adventures.
The book follows 10-year-old Bronte who learns her parents have been killed by pirates and left her some very specific tasks to undertake. If Bronte does not carry out these tasks carefully then there will be disastrous consequences.
The tasks lead her to connect with some terrific characters, including her 11 aunts, and take the reader on a very enjoyable and thought-provoking journey.
The story makes us think about how well we know people and how they may influence our lives. It is well written, entertaining and possesses a great ending. The book would make a wonderful companion for the summer school break for boys and girls around 10 years of age and above.
Reviewed by Megan Stuart
Coordinator of Information Services
Marsh and Me – Martine Murray
Set in the late blush of the Australian summer, this novel takes us into the pre-adolescent world of Joey M. Green. Joey, like many children his age, feels he just isn’t good enough…at anything! He does, however, have a place to visit where he can be whoever he wants to be, to shine… ‘The Hill.’ When Joey finds that someone has built a treehouse there, he sets out to discover who it is. He gets a surprise to learn a wild-eyed young girl is the architect and creator. After a disastrous first meeting, the two become hesitant friends and over the course of this beautifully written story, help each other to learn the value of their place in the world.
I was drawn in immediately to follow along with Joey on his journey of self-discovery. I feel this story would appeal to both boys and girls from ages 10 up and has been popular amongst our students. A great summer time read!
Reviewed by Elaine Varley
Room on our Rock – Kate and Jol Temple
‘Room on our Rock’ is a cleverly written book showing there are two sides to a story. The book tells the story of a mother seal and her pup who are searching for a new and safe place to live. They come across a seal family of three living on a rock. When reading the book from front to back, you read a heart-wrenching tale of the seal family believing there is no room on their rock for anyone else. The mother and her pup are clearly not welcome. Read the book from the back to the front cover and you get a different story. This time the three seals warmly welcome the mum and pup to their rock. The text is simple and the pictures support the story when read either way. An excellent book for showing sharing and compassion.
Reviewed by Maria Vicsai-Stones
The Fall – Tristan Bancks
Tristan Bancks’ latest novel is a gripping story of suspense and tension suitable for children 10+. Sam’s hero is his Dad, a crime journalist; the only problem is Sam has never met him. Imagine Sam’s excitement when he learns that he is going to stay with his Dad following an operation on his leg. However, the longed for visit doesn’t go the way Sam imagined. Late one night, Sam hears loud noises coming from a neighbour’s apartment. When he goes to the window to investigate Sam witnesses someone falling from the sixth floor balcony. Sam goes to wake his Dad, but his bed is empty and he is not in the apartment. As the mystery unfolds Sam learns more about himself, his hard-working Mum, and develops a longed-for relationship with his Dad.
Reviewed by Astrid Roberts-Weiss
Teacher Librarian (Primary)
The Little Refugee: The inspiring true story of Australia’s Happiest Refugee –
Anh Do and Suzanne Do
The loveable Anh Do delighted readers with his best-selling autobiography The Happiest Refugee, and this picture book version allows younger readers (and older ones!) to experience part of that story.
Written with his wife Suzanne, and illustrated by one of Australia’s most-loved illustrators, Bruce Whatley, The Little Refugee follows Anh’s journey from happy child in war-torn Vietnam, to refugee on a dangerous boat journey, through to becoming class captain of his Australian primary school. Anh’s capacity to find joy and hope in the worst of circumstances shines through the text.
Written from the child’s point of view, students of all ages can connect with the text, however the story is particularly poignant and personal for the students of St James College who are themselves refugees.
Reviewed by Lee Bess
Wishtree – Katherine Applegate
Red is an oak tree that is the neighbourhood’s Wishtree. From the safe harbour of Red’s branches, Bongo the crow and her animal friends watch over the neighbourhood. The non-human protagonists have very recognisable human characteristics and, with the story being told through their eyes, the themes of tolerance, intolerance, friendship, kindness and humility are explored in a safe place. A charming whimsy pervades this quiet friendship book and the illustrations add to the fun. The holidays are the time to enjoy the descriptive writing: a sky is described as ‘freckled with stars’; a crow’s eyes are ‘like morning blackberries, dark and dewy’. This story promotes acceptance and empathy and is full of quiet wisdom, but does not shy away from some thorny issues of modern life. A book for sharing!
Reviewed by Catherine Herzig and Deborah Ponting
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – JK Rowling
My favourite book would have to be Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Whilst (arguably) it’s not the best book in the series, I love it for the excitement that it ignites in so many readers. I’ve never known a book to captivate an audience quite like this one. Reluctant readers worldwide have picked up this book and then found themselves caught up in the world of Harry and his friends at Hogwarts. All of a sudden, readers find themselves at the end of the series and realise that this book has allowed a love of reading to awaken within them.
Reviewed by Sarah Schnetker
Librarian and Deputy Principal
Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery
This is the story of Anne, an orphan who is adopted by Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert of Green Gables on Prince Edward Island. I love this book and the ongoing series, as they are written so beautifully and descriptively that I can be transported to another time and place. Many have come to know and love Anne through the movies and various different TV series. It is one of the all-time classics and has now been adapted for young children, a great summer read for ages 5 – 99!
Reviewed by Kim Mamata
Thelma the Unicorn – Aaron Blabey
Thelma believes there’s nothing special about being a pony and is sure that she’d be much happier, if only she was a unicorn. Her good friend, Otis, assures Thelma that she is perfect just the way she is, but Thelma is unconvinced. She soon finds herself on an incredible adventure which promises all she’s ever hoped for and more!
Written so cleverly in a rollicking-rhyme, this fast-paced story is one that readers will want to share over and over again. Its heart-warming message of self-acceptance is tucked away in themes of true friendship, contentment, loyalty and fame.
For an extra treat, watch as Aaron reads Thelma the Unicorn on this YouTube clip: It’s absolutely brilliant!!!
Once – Morris Gleitzman
Once introduces us to 10-year old Felix, a Polish Jew who is on the run from German Nazis during the Holocaust. It is a gripping tale that is impossible to put down – perfect for the summer holidays!
Although this series contains themes not normally found in children’s books, I greatly admire Morris Gleitzman for respecting children enough to know they are capable of handling truth, and for having the courage to write it. Morris takes us on an epic journey through some of history’s most horrific events, yet we ‘experience’ it all from the perspective of Felix, an incorrigible optimist who relentlessly sees good in everyone and hope in every situation.
I urge all my Year 6+ students to read this series – in fact, I think most adults would really enjoy it too. As soon as you’ve finished reading Once, you’ll want to read Then … and continue through all six books. Then you’ll join me and countless other fans as we eagerly await the seventh and final book in this series, Always … Please hurry up Morris!!!
Reviewed by Janette Meulen
Prince of Peace Lutheran College – Junior Campus
A Song Only I Can Hear by Barry Jonsberg
Told with Barry Jonsberg’s characteristic humour and warmth, A Song Only I Can Hear tells the story of thirteen-year-old Rob Fitzgerald and the challenges of being a quirky, anxious teenager in love with the unattainable Destry Camberwick. As Rob deals with first love (albeit at a distance), his annoying, gruff, sweary but loving Grandad and his newly discovered talents for soccer and Shakespeare, his life is complicated when a mysterious stranger begins sending him weird challenges via text message. A delightful read with some moving and surprising twists, A Song Only I Can Hear is recommended for ages 12 and above.
St John Fisher College, Bracken Ridge