In an effort to increase youth readership, Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear today announced her Top 10 Summer Reading List as a part of the First Lady’s Reading Recommendations Initiative. “Educators have long known that reading over summer vacation leads to improved performance when school resumes, and fosters a lifelong love of reading,” said Mrs. Beshear. “My books for this list include some summer-themed selections and many tales of friendship, mystery, adventure and self-discovery.”
Mrs. Beshear introduced the Reading Recommendations program in the summer of 2009 and issues reading lists four times per year.
2012 Summer Reading List
(1) The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant (Ages 3-6)
This story echoes themes of family and togetherness for young readers by simply describing a summer that the relative came to stay. All summer the relatives hugged, played music, laughed, danced, tended the garden and ate up all the strawberries. The ending is bittersweet but true to life, in that when summer ends the relatives must leave—but it is okay, because the family knows that the relatives will return next summer.
(2) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (Ages 9-12)
This Newberry Award winning novel tells the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe. Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers in their search for Meg's father, who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government. Follow the group on their adventurous travels and uncover the mysteries along with them.
(3) Friends by Helme Heine (Ages 4-8)
This work is a tale of true friendship between a distinctive group of animals Charlie Rooster, Johnny Mouse, and Percy the Pig do everything together; they ride bikes together, play games together and even do their chores together. When night falls, they learn they must part ways, but discover they can still be together in their dreams.
(4) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Ages 14 & up)
This novel follows 15-year-old Charlie and the challenges that face many teenagers as they go through high school. Composed only of letters Charlie has written, this book depicts his struggle with trying to fit in and wanting to run away from it all. The dilemma of passion versus passivity is notion many young adults face and this read will be relatable to teenage readers.
(5) A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (Ages 14 & up)
A contemporary classic, this novel is centered around the friendship between two young boys – John Wainwright (the narrator) and Owen Meany – and the toll an accidental death takes on their lives. During a little league baseball game, Owen hits a foul ball that kills John’s mother. Concepts of faith, friendship and fate are explored through the novel as the boys grow up and Owen develops a particularly unique take on life.
(6) The Horseshoe by Suzanne Hall Nelson (Ages 5-8)
Kentucky author Suzanne Hall Nelson delivers a wonderful, rhythmic story about the life of a horseshoe. Told from the horseshoe’s perspective, the story begins at the farrier and ends with the horsehoe’s running in the greatest race of all—the Derby. A great read for young horse enthusiasts and animal lovers.
(7) Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (Ages 5 & up)
This classic work of prose, poetry and pictures will enlighten the minds of readers of all ages. Whether it is a parent reading it to a child or a young adult reading it on their own, this collection offers important life lessons through creative characters and wording.
(8) Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (Ages 9 -12)
The story follows a young and adventurous girl named Abilene who is sent to Manifest, Kansas by her father in the summer of 1936. Abilene’s father grew up in Manifest, and in her attempt to learn about her father’s childhood, she discovers the town’s mysterious history full of lively and puzzling characters—and long-held secrets.
(9) The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood (Ages preschool - 8)
A charming tale about a mouse’s simple love for strawberries, this book is filled with vibrant illustration and humorous expressions that are certain to bring a smile to any face. The little mouse is worried when the hungry bear shows up, but he finds a solution that makes everyone happy in the end.
(10) The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway by Ernest Hemingway (Ages 16 and up)
Ideal for brief summertime reads, this is a definitive collection of Ernest Hemingway's short stories. This collection includes memorable stories such as "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," "Hills Like White Elephants," and "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.” Advanced readers can discover lesser known gems of this brilliant author’s works or simply be introduced to Hemingway’s uniquely stylistic writing.