In the summer, nothing sounds better to us adults than a good book and a beach chair. But kids? Why pick up a dusty old tome when there are video games to play?
There are, of course, a few solid reasons to hand them a book instead of a screen. First, reading can result in improved mental health and has been proven to foster empathy. It’s also a great way to boost focus, memory and vocabulary — not to mention, it’s cheap (and quiet) entertainment. Most importantly, it can help combat the dreaded summer slide, the classroom knowledge kids lose over the summer. Need we say more?
We all have that book that turned us into lifelong readers; perhaps it was “Little Women,” “Charlotte’s Web” or “Harry Potter.” If your child has yet to discover their own life-changing book, show them this extra-special reading list.
Not only have we compiled a list of new and classic reads, we also included an adventure to go along with each book, because if there’s anything more exciting than developing a love of reading, it’s seeing our favorite stories jump off the page through music, theater, film and other portals.
The suggestions are ordered by date of the corresponding event.
Read it: “The Three Little Pigs” by Patricia Seibert
Teach your little one about hard work and patience with “The Three Little Pigs.” If you don’t own a copy of this classic fairy tale already, consider picking up Patricia Seibert’s version. It’s delightful and — unlike some renderings — doesn’t include any scary pictures.
Do it: “The Three Little Pigs” Tiny Tots Concert by the Seattle Symphony
Dates: June 8–9
Once you’ve read the book, attend this interactive musical version performed by members of the Seattle Symphony in a fun string duet, complete with animal sounds.
Read it: Comic books!
Ages: Varies, but mostly tweens and teens
For kids who aren’t interested in dense hardbacks, consider indulging them with Marvel and DC. The stories might be about super characters, but they are grounded in human struggles, with more emotional depth than you’d think. Bonus: They feature incredible artwork.
Do it: Toy and Geek Fest
Dates: June 30–July 1
Meet actors, artists, writers and other comic book superstars at the Toy and Geek Fest. With the fest featuring interactive displays, meet-and-greets and cosplay contests, your comic-crazed kid will be occupied for hours. Be sure to check out the Facebook page to see which Marvel and DC artists are making an appearance — and leave enough time to read their work before attending.
Read it: “Winnie-the-Pooh” by A.A. Milne
Ages: Tots and older
Get back to basics with the classic story of a boy and his bear. We’re all familiar with the Disney version, but the original book is truly a treasure. Whether you’re reading it to your child for the first time or revisiting it with older kids, “Winnie-the-Pooh” always delights.
Do it: “Christopher Robin,” the movie
Date: opens Aug. 3
This much-anticipated movie takes place after Christopher Robin has grown up. Stuck in a demanding job, Christopher has forgotten the joys of life. Luckily, Pooh shows up to help him rediscover his youth.
Read it: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
What better way to get your kids hungry for books than a classic like this one? For generations, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” has eaten its way into our hearts. It’s only right for us to keep the tradition alive.
Do it: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” at Seattle Children’s Theatre
Dates: Sept. 13–Oct. 21
Once you’ve read the book again and again all summer, take the littles to see the caterpillar come to life on stage. Featuring 75 puppets, this show at Seattle Children’s Theatre is certain to be an incredible spectacle.
Read it: The “Goosebumps” Series by R.L. Stine
Ages: 8 and older
If you have a kid who loves haunted houses and ghost stories around the campfire, get them started on the spooky “Goosebumps” series. With the series’ seemingly endless lineup of scary stories to choose from, they’ll be reading under the covers with a flashlight all summer long.
Do it: Young Author’s Day with special guest R.L. Stine
Date: Sept. 15
After a summer full of scares, meet the mastermind himself — and learn how to create your very own scary stories. The Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association is hosting R.L. Stine for its annual conference and free Young Author’s Day in September.
Read it: “StarTalk, Young Readers Edition” by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Ages: Tweens and teens
Based on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s popular podcast and talk show, this book tackles challenging STEM topics with a funny, fresh and relatable flair. It’s sure to satisfy even the most curious minds.
Do it: Neil deGrasse Tyson at The Paramount Theatre
Dates: Nov. 26–27
It’s a long wait, but so worth it. After spending the summer memorizing awesome fun facts from “StarTalk,” take your kid to see Neil deGrasse Tyson in the flesh. Each night features a different topic: The first discusses science literacy, and the second is about adopting a “cosmic perspective.”
More ways to get kids reading (and writing!)
Head to your local library: Never underestimate the power of your local library. Most libraries have summer reading programs designed to turn even reluctant kids into voracious readers (and many libraries even have a summer reading program for adults!). If you already have an avid bookworm on your hands, consider sending them to a more freeform book club; many libraries host community-led book groups.
Head to your local bookstore: Like libraries, independent bookstores stay active with readings, book groups and other events. Check with your local indie bookstore to see what kinds of kids’ programs they have available. And while you’re there, take a spin through the children’s and young adult sections so your kid can pick out their own reads.
DIY: If you’re up for it, start a family book club, or if you have a summer road trip in your future, ditch the car radio for an audiobook.
Get writing: Local writing organizations such as Hugo House and the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association host classes and writing conferences for kids. Looking for something longer? Check out ParentMap’s camps portal.