The theme for this summer is Finding God in your Summer Reading. Each week I will suggest some books that will relate to this theme.

Have fun reading,

Diane St. Laurent
Director, Christian Education, St. Davids

Week 1

Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger is a picture book that deals with the topic of bullying so even the youngest reader can relate. God’s message of love and forgiveness is there as well. There is a copy in our library in the Christian Formation Office.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is a book for readers of all ages. It is about a gorilla, elephants and a dog. It is a story of friendship, hope and dealing with adversary. This book could lead to family discussions about God’s love for all God’s creatures.

Week 2

Here are two books that might want to make their way onto your summer reading list.

Oh, No! by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann is a fun book for young readers. Frog, Mouse and their friends each take a turn falling into a deep, deep hole. The book has repeating rhymes with added suspense for excitement.  It would be interesting to ask the reader how God could help these animal creatures.

Booked by Kwame Alexander is a story about a young soccer star, Nick Hall, whose dad is a linguistics professor. Nick loves soccer, but hates words. Life gets complicated for Nick and the author does a great job telling the story. I suggest that this might be a family read as it offers many opportunities for discussion.

Week 3

As the weather heats up, it is a wonderful idea to curl up someplace cool with a great book.

You might want to try one of these suggestions.

Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco is a story based on the childhood of the author. The grandmother helps her granddaughter overcome her fear of thunder by creating thunder cake. The illustrations are amazing. When you finish reading, there is a recipe for thunder cake. Reading a book and eating cake seems like a perfect summertime activity. Adding ice cream is always an option.

Restart by Gordon Korman is about a boy named Chase who had a head injury after a fall. When he awakes, he finds that he cannot remember anything. When he returns to school, he discovers that he was a terrible bully. Life gets very confusing as Chase not only tries to find out who he was, but also who’s he going to be. Lots of openings for discussion for middle school readers and adults.

Week 4

Perhaps one of the blessings of all this heat is that it is easier to let outside work wait and just cool off with a good book.

The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is a wonderful historical fiction story about two children who evacuate London during World War II.  Ava’s mother is humiliated by Ava’s deformed foot, but Ava manages to escape London with her brother Jamie to a safe place with Susan. Life changes for all of them and it is easy to see where God’s hand is in all of this. This book is for anyone third grade and older. I read it as an adult and found it very powerful. My fourth grade granddaughter loved it as well.

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey is a classic as well as a super read-aloud. The Mallard family moves to Boston and encounters some difficult situations. It was published in 1941 but its message of caring and looking out for each other is timeless. I did read that Robert McCloskey had some ducks living in his bathtub so he could have accurate illustrations.  Yu will enjoy getting to know “Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack” as well as Mr. and Mrs. Mallard.

Week 5

Some books spark the imagination and some make you wonder about how people manage to connect in this busy world. Here are two examples.

Press Here by Herve Tullet is a book which gives the reader the power to help tell the story. The illustrations are simple-just a red, blue and yellow dot. It is an interactive story where the reader gets to press the dots and watch magic unfold. I have watched three and four year olds share this book, but I have also seen accomplished readers enjoy the magic again and again. This is one book I would highly recommend for everyone’s personal library.

I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda is a true story about how one letter changed two lives. It started as  a school assignment requiring the students to write a letter to someone in a foreign foreign country.. Martin lived in Zimbabwe and received a letter from Caitlin from Hatfield, Pennsylvania. That letter began a correspondence which impacted the writers in unexpected ways. This is a book that is well worth the time for many readers.

Week 6

Perhaps it’s because I have been to picnics where the theme is Christmas in July. Perhaps I am just really wishing for cooler weather. Whatever the reason, my book suggestions this week have to do with Christmas.

Marjorie Holmes wrote Two From Galilee.  It is a story about Mary and Joseph who share a special gift from God as well as love for each other. They face many difficulties as they begin their lives together. It is a fictional story, yet it offers the reader a glimpse as to what life might have been like in those days in Galilee.

Soon the stores will start displaying Halloween costumes so you know that Christmas trees are not far behind. It might be a good time to read Itsy Bitsy Christmas by Max Lucado. The Christmas story is told by two mice who wonder if a king is really coming to Bethlehem. The illustrations are bright and colorful. Plus it’s never too early to remind children of the real meaning of Christmas.

Week 7

Some authors write books for readers of all ages and Jacqueline Woodson is a perfect example.

Younger readers will enjoy The Other Side. It is a story that takes place when segregation was the law. Two young girls become friends even though they were supposed to always be separate. The fence that divides them turns out to be the one thing that brings them together.  This story completely reinforces my belief that we are indeed, all God’s children.

Brown Girl Dreaming has been awarded many prized including being a Newbery Honor Book and a National Book Award winner. It is written in free verse and tells stories from Ms. Woodson’s childhood. It is a compelling collection of stories that leave the reader amazed and wanting more.

Week 8

Summertime reading should include reading some of the classics.

One of my favorite children’s book classics is Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. It is a great read aloud and the pictures can lead to much discussion about how things operated long ago. I have read this to my grandchildren and have completely ignored them when they ask exactly what is was truly like in the olden days.

One of my choices for a classic read for older readers is The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank. I read it as a young adult and found much more to think about as I reread it as an adult.  Remembering the Holocaust is not easy, but perhaps it is in that remembering the reader is convinced that these things must never happen again.

Week 9

One of the first words that my children and grandchildren seemed to say and understand was the word “mine”. As they  used that word, my response was often: “No that toy belongs to me, but I’ll share it with you.”  I admit this made more sense to me than it did to them. Mine by Jeff Mack uses just the word “Mine” as two mice come to understand that sharing is really the only answer. This is a great book especially for those children who think they can’t read, but they soon realize that they can certainly read this book.

Many, if not all parents have had the discussion with their children about needs versus wants. In Dyamonde Daniel, Almost Zero by Nikki Grimes, the subject comes up again. The main character demands that her mother get her a certain pair of sneakers because it’s her “job to get me what I need and I need those sneakers.” This tirade doesn’t work out as the main character had planned and she actually had to live for a while with just the clothes she needs.  Circumstances lead to  an outreach to others and an awareness that God wants us to help one another receive what is needed, This is a great book to read aloud.

Week 10

Vacation Bible School is proving to be an exciting time to sing God’s praise, get a little messy in Science class and enjoy making new creations in Crafts to name a few. I have also used this opportunity to share books related to the theme of the day-a perfect time to find God’s message for us.

When we read Early Bird by Tone Yuly, the theme was “Find Adventure on the River”. In this book, there are new experiences for bird just as we celebrate the new adventures on our lives, knowing that God is always with us.

Another theme was “Finding Acceptance on the River”. In Ducks Don’t Wear Socks by John Nedwidek, Emily is a very serious girl who can’t understand why Duck dresses the way he does. Yet acceptance of their differences leads Emily to appreciate Duck in new ways.  It was easy to use this book to connect to the fact that God accepts us all as God’s children.

Week 11

I know that all my teacher friends are busy setting up their classrooms. Teachers are so important and can really change lives. This book, Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea celebrates the relationship between students and a very special teacher. The connections these students make with this teacher and with each other are heartwarming, funny and sad. God is in this book on so many pages. There are two sequels to this book which are just as good.

Sometimes, younger readers get a little worried this time of the year. They worry about the basics like “Will my teacher like me?” or even more important “When will I eat lunch?’ The book Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes is a perfect read. It opens the door to those conversations.  You might want to read it with your child earlier in the day.  That way, you don’t have their worries turn into whines right before bedtime


As I write this final summer book review, it is 90 degrees outside and it certainly doesn’t feel like summer is coming to an end. However, the school year begins this week for many, and hopefully there will be time for a couple of good books.

There is plenty of advice about getting your child ready for school. How To Get Your Teacher Ready by Jean Reagan has a different focus. The children help their teacher to be ready for the school year. It’s funny and we all need that extra laugh before the school year begins.

A book that is a classic for this time of the year or any time when a child needs a reminder that he/she is never alone is The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.  In the book, the mother raccoon kisses her cub’s paw. The cub then places that paw on his cheek as a physical reminder that his mother loves him even when she is not beside him. It is certainly easy to make a connection to our faith as you read this book.

I wish everyone a great school year and Sunday School year. There will be plenty  of books around and I promise to share any that I would recommend. Please feel free to offer your suggestions as well.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
— Psalm 37:4