With the school year in full swing, some families may use weekends or holiday vacations to go on a quick trip or adventure. For some, traveling is possible, but for others, there is an escape that is much simpler and right within reach: a great book from your local library or nearest bookshelf.
As a seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher at Valor Academy of Ohio, providing my students with books they can enjoy and learn from is a top priority. While I do love a great vacation, reading a book is both enjoyable and a good opportunity for students to continue learning, growing and sharpening their literacy schools all year long. As educators, it is our job to encourage reading and provide recommendations to spark an even greater interest in literature.
Visiting your local library is a great start. The Columbus Metropolitan Library has branches across the city, with each location offering activities to encourage youth literacy. Events include author visits, book groups and reading challenges.
Once a child has selected a book to read, parents could try pairing it with a local activity. For example, if a trip to the zoo is on the calendar, check out a book from the local library about animals and habits. If the family is visiting a park, grab a book about nature and native plant species.
Reading is fun, but it is even better when the child can see the progress they are making – helping build their confidence and furthering their love of reading. There are plenty of ways to track a child’s progress, including making a fun and colorful scrapbook or log that keeps tracks of books read as well as developing a brief summary of each book. This is a fun activity that can create healthy reading habits and ensure they are ready to continue learning when the school year starts.
For those planning a trip to the library or craft store to pick up materials for their scrapbook, here are my book recommendation for students broken down by grade-level:
Books for Elementary School Students
These three books demonstrate the courage it takes to conquer your fears, while meeting people along the way to help get you there.
- Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
- Llama Llama Sand and Sun by Anna Dewdney
- Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach by James Dean
Books for Middle School Students
In middle school, students start the journey of finding their identities. For that reason, here are the three books I recommend to help with that process:
- One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
- American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
- Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
Books for High School Students
For high schoolers, check out these books that are fun, adventurous and self-identifying:
- The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
- Tracers by J.J. Howard
- On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
McKenzi Whitmer is an educator at Valor Academy of Ohio where she teaches seventh- and eighth-grade English.