Ah, summer. Just the word evokes images of hammocks, beach chairs, and — at least in our literary corner of the country — stacks of books. Unfortunately, as parents, the endeavor of encouraging kids to do their summer reading (and to try to gently nudge them into worthwhile books) can interrupt our own blissed-out reading time.
So here's the strategy: We asked some of our favorite literary lumaries from our bookish region, from Seattle City Librarian Marcellus Turner to
Poser author Claire Dederer, to get opinionated their top picks for summer reads for kids and adults, from classics that should be rediscovered to wonderful new releases. Slip a stack of these by your kids' bedside and that hammock time might be easier to find than you thought.
Photo courtesy of Claire Dederer
Author of the bestselling memoir Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses , with essays appearing in the The New York Times , The Atlantic Monthly , Vogue , The Wall Street Journal and more. For the kids
When I was a kid, summers gave me the time and space to explore adult books. Some of my peak reading experiences came in middle-school summers, when I read a slew of grown-up books that were somehow just right for my age.
The language was challenging for me at first, but the story of a witty, headstrong girl falling love was infinitely relatable. by Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice
Two daughters of a wildly eccentric family living in a castle and, once again, falling in love — I devoured this book the first time I read it in seventh grade, and I still read it every few years when I'm feeling blue. by Dodie Smith: I Capture the Castle
The perfect book for a romantic teen to get lost in: hoop skirts, battles, Rhett, Scarlett. This ate the July between sixth and seventh grade for me. by Margaret Mitchell: Gone with the Wind
For the parents
If you haven't gotten to by Roxane Gay: Bad Feminist Bad Feminist yet, now is the time. A whole mess of terrific, irreverent essays about the current state of, well, womanhood.
Photo courtesy of Deb Lund
Author of the Dinoseries picture books ( All Aboard the Dinotrain , Dinosailors and Dinosoaring , to name a few) and many more. Deb also provides guidance and support to child- and adult-writers alike, in person and through her popular blog.
For the kids
With so many amazing local children's authors and illustrators who I've known as peers and friends and admired for years now, much of my reading time is dedicated to their words. As a children's author, teacher, and school librarian, I know how lucky I am to live here in "Kidlit" Land. The titles below are an assortment — just a sampling — that would be on my summer reading list if I hadn't already read them.
This local author's new book is an inspiring read for parents and children. Teens will enjoy reading and sharing the stories of other young people who have made a difference in the world and learning how they can make a difference, too. by Laurie Ann Thompson: Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters
Award-winning local authors and gracious teachers Bonny Becker and Kirby Larson are well-known in the world-wide children's literature community. Aside from their titles for tweens listed above, young children will be captured by the language in Bonny's exquisite by Kirby Larson; Hattie Big Sky by Bonnie Becker: Magical Miss Plum bear books, and dog-lovers will enjoy Kirby's picture books of true dog tales.
Novels in verse have become more and more popular in recent years, and by Stasia Ward Kehoe: The Sound of Letting Go The Sound of Letting Go is truly a family story of trial, growth and redemption. It's a winner.
Fantasy for older readers? No debate there. Janet Lee Carey's books are time- and teen-tested. by Janet Lee Carey: Dragon's Keep
Photo courtesy of Hannah Viano
Author and illustrator of the popular ABCs book, S is for Salmon: A Pacific Northwest Alphabet, Viano strives to mix natural history and art in accessible ways through public art projects, education, and site-specific installations. For the kids
For kids 3-10, this is a classic that I read as a kid and still holds a position on our home bookshelf. A kid and his dad gripe about the loud messy people who come to the island each summer, but through an adventure in his own back yard he discovers that all summerfolk are not the same. by Doris Burn: The Summerfolk
It peeks into diverse whimsical lives in all manner of dwellings. by Carson Ellis: Home
For middle readers and read alouds, it's awesone sci-fi chapter book with amazing illustrations that bring to life the book's incredible creatures and environments as a young girl searches for the truth about her past. I read this on the Alaska ferry with my son last summer. by Tony Deterlizzi: In Search of WondLa For the parents
A beach read for adults, this was recommended to me by one of my favorite artists, Jenny Vorwaller. A young artist trying to make it in New York City heads to the Bonneville salt flats to race a motorcycle and finds her own way in the art world and its characters. by Rachel Kushner: The Flamethrowers
Photo courtesy of Jenny Hayes
Author of fiction, reviews, interviews, personal pieces, technical writing and more. Here are some places where you can find her writing. For the kids
Series by Maryrose Wood: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Book I: The Mysterious Howling kicks off this series, as Miss Penelope Lumley leaves the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females to become the governess of three children who were literally raised by wolves. If you like audiobooks, the recording of this one features some great "ahwoos"; if you're reading it yourself, you can have your own fun vocalizing.
I've enjoyed Wolitzer's work for adults, so when my daughter was done with her book about kids at a Scrabble tournament, I snagged it. Great for word nerds of all ages, but also full of compelling, original characters, each with a different perspective on the competition. by Meg Wolitzer: The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman
The adorable dog Mr. Lunch takes his professional bird-chasing skills to Venice in a canoe borrowed from an elephant. What's not to love? by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh: Mr. Lunch Borrows a Canoe For the parents
Each of the stories in this collection feels like its own little novel, immersing you in its world, sometimes leaving you there long after you've finished reading. by Kelly Link: Get in Trouble
Photo courtesy of Jim Lynch
Author of three novels set in Western Washington: Truth Like the Sun (finalist for the Dashiell Hammett Prize), Border Songs (winner of the Washington State Book Award and Indie's Choice Honor Book Award) and The Highest Tide (winner of the Pacific Northwest Bookseller Award). For the kids
This the book that turned me into a voracious reader and made me want to write. So while it's a somewhat famous book it's a secret to most modern kids. by Wilson Rawls: Where the Red Fern Grows
A wonderful story for younger kids about the beauty of independence and being different. by Kevin Henkes: Shelia Rae The Brave
The man was an entertaining genius. ; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ; James and the Giant Peach ; BFG ; etc. by Roald Dahl: The Witches
I read some of this hilarious series over my daughter's shoulder. Ten years later she still swears by it. by Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events
A beautifully told and moving story. by Sharon Creech: Walk Two Moons For the parents
These are a few ideas of pretty dazzling novels that have come out in the past couple years. by Ben Fountain; Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Karen Joy Fowler; We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Richard Price: The Whites
Photo courtesy of John Martin
Founder of BoysRead (and a ParentMap "Someone You Should Know"). He writes middle-grade and young adult novels, and works with educators and parents to motivate reluctant readers. For the kids
Recommended for young boys, this is a very fun to read out-loud book for the entire family. It's multicultural and exposes children to a really cute and exotic creature. by Aaron Shepard: The Adventures of Mouse Deer
The Adventures of Tumtum and Nutmeg s eries by Emily Bern: This is my series-everyone-should-know pick. They are super fun to read for younger boys and girls. However, the story plots are full of the kind of adventure that boys especially love.
Avi is one of the most prolific young adult and middle grade writers. by Avi (forthcoming in August 2015): Old Wolf For the parents
Choosing a top pick for adults is an impossible question to answer without knowing anything about the reader's preference. However, being the egomaniac that I am, I love to give my opinion to others rather they want it or not. My titles are geared for men. We can't get them to read anything. Below are two books they should at least try:
by David Finkel The Good Soldiers
by Philip Caputo A Rumor of War
Photo courtesy of Karen Finneyfrock, Photo by Kyle Johnson
Author of poetry and young adult fiction — her latest book for teens is Starbird Murphy and the World Outside. For the kids
In the summer, I follow the same philosophy for reading that I do for eating: read local.
For teenage readers, this historical Seattle love story will allow you to eavesdrop on conversations between the old adversaries of Love and Death while letting you settle into your own love story with language. by (Seattle native) Martha Brockenbrough: The Game of Love and Death For the parents
The voice in this memoir is so observant, self-reflective and witty, it’s like taking your funniest friend out to lunch every time you open it. It’s full of thoughts about Seattle, parenthood, marriage and the body, and the writing feels conversational and effortless. by Claire Dederer: Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses
Photo courtesy of Kirby Larson, Photo by Meryl Schenker
Author of the young adult historical novel Hattie Big Sky (the 2007 Newbery Honor Book), as well as many other novels for kids and teens. For the kids
Set in the 70s, this story brims with baseball, heart and hope, tackling a sad topic (death of a sibling) with grace and honesty. by Wendy Wan-Long Shang: The Way Home Looks Now
I was very close to my grandfathers so I loved the connection between Micah and Grandpa Ephraim, and the magical world of the Circus Mirandus; this story would be perfect reading under a shady tree with a glass of lemonade! Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley:
She claims this is her last Penderwicks book, so you won’t want to miss Series by Jeanne Birdsall: The Penderwicks The Penderwicks in Spring; reminiscent of classics like Little Women, these books also feel fresh and new and perfect for today’s readers.
This brother and sister team, best known for the by Jennifer Holm and Matt Holm (forthcoming August 2015): Sunny Side Up Babymouse and Squish series, has created a poignant semi-autobiographical graphic novel. For the parents
I cannot wait to read:
by Annie Barrows The Truth According to Us
by Judy Blume In the Unlikely Event
Photo courtesy of Marcellus Turner
Oversees The Seattle Public Library, which includes the world-renowned Central Library and 26 new or renovated branches. For the kids
Leo is uninterested in the lavish Italian meals his Nonna prepares for the family every Sunday, always claiming that he’s just not hungry. In order to bring him to the table each week to eat, Nonna decides to feed Leo stories of her Italian heritage. This picture book will leave you and your little one craving stories about your family’s past, providing a delicious opportunity to talk about heritage and culture — maybe even over some macaroni! by Caroline Adderson: Eat, Leo, Eat!
This unusual and exceptional tale, written by a local Seattle author, is represented through a series of letters from the main character, 12-year-old Sophie Brown, capturing her recent move from bustling Los Angeles to her great-uncle Jim’s farm. She comes to care for five magical chickens and, through their many escapades, Sophie is able to find her place in her new community. by Kelly Jones: Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer
Though this book is not a secret (it won the Newbery in 2000), this is a story worth recommending every year. Bud is a hilarious, yet poignant, character who is forced to navigate the difficult Depression era — as an orphan no less. His unique perspective on the world will have readers of all ages alternating between laughter and tears as he embarks upon the quest to find his family. by Christopher Paul Curtis: Bud, Not Buddy
Twelve-year-old Hannah West is a Seattle sleuth who is constantly on the move solving mysteries in neighborhoods throughout the city. Her adoptive mother earns her living as an artist and house-sitter, which is why the two are technically homeless! Written by a local author, you will love reading about sites in Seattle and, perhaps, you might even have the opportunity to visit some of the places mentioned and really bring the story to life! Series by Linda Johns: Hannah West
Chico Bon Bon is one wacky monkey who loves fixing things. His tool belt is filled with tools we never knew existed, but he can’t live without them — certainly not on his many bizarre adventures! The cartoon style illustrations and comical characters will wake you and your little one right up after an afternoon nap. You can even have a chat together about the tools you use in everyday life, as well as brainstorm new ones! Series by Chris Monroe: Monkey with a Tool Belt For the parents
A riveting historical novel about the life and loves of horse racer and pilot, Beryl Markham, a woman ahead of her time by Paula McLain: Circling the Sun
The exciting sequel to the fantasy debut by Erika Johansen: The Invasion of the Tearling The Queen of the Tearling that twists dystopia and fantasy into something totally new.
An epic fantasy debut with literary chops and the history and culture of China as a launch pad for riveting world-building! by Ken Liu: The Grace of Kings
Possibly the next big teen dystopian hit! by Sabaa Tahir: An Ember in the Ashes
Read this charming hard science fiction book about an astronaut stranded in space before the movie comes out in the fall! by Andy Weir: The Martian
Author and intricate paper-cut illustrator of various children's books, including How to Be a Cat, Collect Raindrops: The Seasons Gathered and Apple. For the kids
English lake holiday with no adults! Or at least little involvement from the “natives." Plenty of grog and chocolate and sailboat pirates. You’ll want to don a red cap and learn semaphore. The first chapter is slow, it’s an old book, but bear with it and then never stop. Series by Arthur Ransome: The Swallows and Amazons For the parents
Read the same book as your children. Reading out loud while having a blanket picnic, or set up a tent, make a tent, in a boat, in a hammock, in a pool of shade on the side walk, in the blueberry patch. The days are fleeting.
Photo courtesy of Sean Beaudoin
Author of Wise Young Fool and the forthcoming short story collection Welcome Thieves. His stories and articles have appeared in the Onion, The New Orleans Review and Glimmer Train, among many others. For the kids
Anthony is a young rocker with a crush, an ineffectual teacher and a song that just went viral. Perfect for the cousin who will spend all of August endlessly retuning their guitar. Breakout by Kevin Emerson:
Too hot for you? Here's rainy Seattle in the 1920s, late night in jazz clubs and a young couple whose romance is toyed with by unseen hands. by Martha Brockenbrough: The Game of Love and Death
Packed with apocalyptic action and refreshingly diverse characters, this is the sequel to by Matt de la Pena: The Hunted The Living, and the perfect way kill time at the beach between sets of waves.
Any good summer day needs a scary ghost story to make you cower even in the brightest of sunshine. A Guiginol filled with reapers, weird technologies, and just the right number of exorcisms. by Courtney Alameda: Shutter
The true story of one of the most fascinating aspects of WWII, a city surrounded, Nazi resistance and the composition of the elegiac Leningrad Symphony. by M.T. Anderson (forthcoming September 2015): Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad For the parents
What summer is complete without a sweaty, Southern rumination on family, poverty, and the liberation of never giving in to authority? Joe by Larry Brown:
An impossible deep dive into the contradictions of Hollywood, the equivalent of doing laps with William Holden in Gloria Swanson's pool. by Matthew Specktor: American Dream Machine
Can't afford a vacation? The most transportive and other-worldy of authors. by Michel Faber: The Crimson Petal and the White
The follow-up to the Patrick Melrose novels. Like spending a decadent July in Florence. by Edward St. Aubyn: On the Edge
Crisp, evocative meditations. Short stories as they should be, which is unlike any others. by Lydia Davis: The Collected Lydia Davis
Photo courtesy of Shin Yu Pai, Photo by Kent Barker
Author of seven books of poetry, including Haiku Not Bombs. , Sightings and Works on Paper Her work has appeared in publications throughout the U.S., Japan, China, Taiwan, The United Kingdom, and Canada. For the kids
A comic young adult novel and coming of age story about a Korean-American boy trying to make sense of his upbringing in suburban Connecticut, which easily trumps by David Yoo: Girls for Breakfast Fresh Off The Boat for its intelligence and hilarity.
A beautifully illustrated children's picture book about the life and work of poet E.E. Cummings. Well-researched and extremely thoughtful in its biographical narrative of the poet's development. Enormous Smallness by Matthew Burgess: For the parents
A book of visual poems on fatherhood. by Douglas Kearney: Patter
Photo courtesy of Stacey Levine, Photo by Alice Wheeler
Author of novels and short story collections. Her novel Frances Johnson was shortlisted for the Washington State Book Award in 2005, and her collection My Horse and Other Stories won a PEN/West Fiction Award. For the kids
A boy named Wilfred discovers that his pet moose may have a separate life! Beautifully painted and collaged illustrations, characters with noodle-thin legs, and vocabulary-building words like like "perilous" and "compromise" make this book a subtle treasure about the ins and outs of friendship. by Oliver Jeffers: This Moose Belongs to Me
With gentle and lush illustrations that echo Matisse's cutouts (and reproductions of the artist's works), the book describes the artist's discovery that paper cutouts of birds can "capture the feeling of soaring." by Samantha Friedman: Matisse's Garden For the parents
For busy parents who need to compress their reading into 20-minute segments, short, dense chunks of poems, plays and even manifestos make great reading.
This book of poetry was translated by Seattle's own Don Mee Choi, a former UW Bookstore employee and English instructor. The poems are rich enough to roll around in your mouth for days, elixirs of beautiful, yet direct language. They ponder our commercially-packed world and bodily ailments. "Are you afraid of this wine? Why are you afraid? Are you afraid of that bread? Why are you afraid?" reads one poem; another observes: "Green-strawberry-summit cloud/While-hair-clode encircles god's neck." by Kim Hyesoon: Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream
If you read manifestos as historical documents, they're especially interesting. Maybe by summer's end you'll impress or anger your friends at dinner parties with having read a section of
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx (1848), or the Manifesto of Surrealism by Andre Breton (1924). The latter is a beautiful think-piece and an education about art in itself. And yes, you have to cut the Surrealist dudes some slack for having lived in a male-directed era.
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Kuehnert, Photo by Jessie Tierney
Author of two young adult novels, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and Ballads of Suburbia, and a young adult memoir forthcoming from Dutton in 2016. She’s a staff writer at Rookie , an online magazine for teenage girls, and lives in Seattle. For the kids
These lush and poetically written books based on the mythology in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Orpheus, Persephone, Jason and the Argonauts) but set in the modern day take us from the streets of Seattle and Brooklyn to the California coast, the wilds of the Olympic Peninsula and the fantastical realm of the underworld. The books are linked, but they don’t have to be read in order. Teens will devour them all because they’re filled with music and a truly diverse set of characters who are dealing with very real issues surrounding friendship, family, and figuring out who you are. by Sarah McCarry: The Metamorphoses Trilogy
When 16-year-old Maggie’s mom remarries, she is uprooted from big-city Chicago to a rural Irish town by the sea. A coming of age story about first love and first loss set in the early 90s and filled with music from that era. by Jessie Ann Foley: The Carnival at Bray
Before the last movie comes out, read or reread the story of Katniss and her fight to survive and bring revolution to Panem, a dystopian version of our country where the rich who dwell in the Capitol watch the children of the impoverished Districts fight to the death in the annual games as entertainment. Trilogy by Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games For the parents
The story of three girls, two who are on the inside of a juvenile detention facility and one on the outside, a ballerina on the verge of achieving her dream — to attend Julliard. Part ghost story, part mystery and full of magical realism, this is a powerful portrayal of how teenage girls can be caged by society, the criminal justice system, and each other. by Nova Ren Suma: The Walls Around Us
Teri Hein and Melat Asefa at the ParentMap Superheroes Photoshoot 2015, Photo by Will Austin
Executive director of the Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas (BFI, formerly 826 Seattle) and a ParentMap 2015 Superhero. For the kids
Terrific mystery that is super kid friendly with a twist at the end! by Kate Milford: Greenglass House
The protagonist is a ingenius, resourceful, clever girl, great role model and the book manages to be equally enjoyed by boys and girls (and Daryle is volunteer at by Daryle Conners and Elise Allen: Gaby Duran and the Unsittables BFI!).
Three books set in the late 60s/early 70s in both New York City and in the south — an era not much written about in children's literature but such an impactful time. Terrific writing, historical fiction, dynamite African-American writer Series by Rita Williams-Garcia: Gaither Sisters For the parents
He is such a brilliant, funny, irascible character who is a personal hero of mine for his commitment for doing the right thing. Really sticks up for what he believes, isn't afraid to make people mad and can really crack a good joke. What more is there? by Barney Frank: Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage
This came out a few years ago but I just discovered it. I think it might be categorized as food writing but it is so much more. Terrific writing from a real maverick and, like Barney Frank, she's pretty irascible and her own person. by Gabrielle Hamilton: Blood, Bones and Butter