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A Little Light Summer Reading List (For A Former Kindergartner)

We are getting ready for summer around here!

Planning for a move in early summer means no making big vacation plans or promises to the kids of specific activities like play dates or swim lessons. All is not lost, though! We can totally plan some books to read.

Haven is graduating from Kindergarten next month (I don’t remember graduating elementary school levels when I was a kid…) and is an avid reader. Since she learned to read, the independence has made it her very favorite thing to do. We try to embrace it, and we really want her to excel even further over the summer. So, this summer we are doing a Kindergarten version of a Summer Reading Challenge! Let’s get our book on!

Summer Reading Challenge, Kindergarten Version! | Painting Sunny

Here is what we’re planning to read, so far. Keep in mind, this is in addition to the many little books we normally read before bed or on the weekends, that are quick easy reads. This challenge is focused on some chapter books and series, which I’m hoping will keep our interest up and challenge the girl’s vocabulary. Our initial list is below, sorted by “Reading Together Time” books which would mean a grown-up reading them aloud (she isn’t quite up to reading those on her own, yet) and “Independent Reading Time” books that she could read through a chapter by herself, or with just a little help on tough spots. Her grandmother is an expert in these things (2nd grade teacher and literacy advocate) so some suggestions came from there… and probably so will some copies of the books.

Reading Together Time

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (at least the first book)

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (I already own all the books, so we will go for the whole series since they are short)

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (at least the first book)

Independent Reading Time

Junie B. Jones Series by Barbara Park and Denise Brunkus (some of the series)

Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne (some of the series)

Cam Jansen Series by David A. Adler (some of the series)

The Boxcar Children Series by Gertrude Chandler Warner (some of the series)

I’ve never actually read any Harry Potter myself, so that will be new to me! I’ve been warned to stick with the first couple books and see how things go, as it gets a little scarier and advanced for a kid as the storyline moves along. I’m very excited to read with her some of my own childhood favorites, such as Little House on the Prairie and anything by Frances Hodgson Burnett!

Haven’s kindergarten teacher also recommends reading the same simple and quick books over and over, so we will do that too. I’ll have her pick a few favorites beforehand, and will make sure they are out in a prominent place so she is likely to pick them up regularly.

Grandma June also suggested the online system MobyMax, as a tool to keep her learning over the summer and prepping for next year – Haven loves doing those sort of activities which are “games” to her, so I think that will be a great option too!

Any suggestions for rewards/incentives as we finish books? Would rewarding books with more books be too obsessive? Any other books you all can recommend my adding to the lists? Does Harry Potter get scary?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.

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Fun Size Reviews of Recent Reads

How about some tasty little bites of book reviews? In the past, I’ve reviewed books excessively in-depth. Then, life got crazy and the books piled up. Literally. See below.

I just can’t skip reviewing these books, so thought I would try my hand at being concise and thoughtful. It would be a first, for me. So, here we go!

Brief Reviews of Eat, Pray, Love & Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks & Dune Road & Where We Belong | Painting Sunny

The Immortal Life of Henriette Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

On the list of favorite things I have ever read, this makes the cut. The Immortal Life of Henriette Lacks is an enthralling read about ethics, race, economic class, and just a great example of meaningful research. Who can read this book and not finish feeling a deep caring for the Lacks family, a broader perspective of the medical industry, and a bit of an author-crush on Rebecca Skloot? I had to check her bio several times to confirm that it was, in fact, her first book. Anyone who has ever had a question and a nagging instinct to follow up on it, will understand the basis for this research. Rebecca has made more tremendous strides in our current-day conversation on race than one person usually does; and all without coming across as self-righteous or judgmental. I find this book, and Ms. Skloot, a bit inspirational. I would love to get coffee with her.

It’s kinda like: Stiff, Spook, or Bonk by Mary Roach (Yes, I love my nerdy research girls.)

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Yes, I know reviews of this book have been done to death. I had seen the Julia Roberts movie replayed on cable, of course, but hadn’t actually read the book yet. I found it for $1 at a book sale, and figured it was worth reading just to have an opinion about it. Honestly, Eat Pray Love is a good book. Overplayed in the media, yes, but good. It was interesting to see what was different in the book, and it is well-written. Elizabeth seems authentic, likeable, and while a little daring, also a little but of a regular person. It does make you feel like you could also change your life if you only were willing to take the leap. I dare you not to be Googling Bali vacations as soon as you put the book down.

It’s kinda like:  The Happiness Project (and apparently two books I haven’t read but people say are similar: Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home In Italy and Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m taking people’s word on that.)

Dune Road: A Novel by Jane Green

I am a long-time reader of Ms. Green, and imagine I will continue reading her books until either she stops making them, or I lose my eye-sight. There are a lot of authors like that, for me. Not only do I enjoy their work, but after reading so many of their books they have a comfortable, distant, but familiar presence in my life… kind of like that cousin of yours, who you love, but lives really far away so you never see? You know what I mean. In any case, Dune Road was alright. I enjoyed sitting down with a cup of coffee and observing as Kit’s life evolved. The most enjoyable storyline centered on Kit’s relationships and their ever-changing nature, particularly with her ex-husband and her sister. If you have never read Jane Green before, I would point you to a few of her previous novels to get started. Personally, I found The Beach House, Second Chance, and Babyville: A Novel more engaging. Jane Green is an author who is easy to feeling connected with, and I believe will remain a staple of the Chick Lit bookshelves. Seriously, read The Beach House on your next day off – you won’t regret it.

It’s kinda like: The other books by Jane Green listed above, Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner, or Flirting With Forty by Jane Porter (Why do all their names start with Js? Conspiracy theory, anyone?)

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

Emily Giffin is also a classic-factory within the Chick Lit genre, and a current back-hone of it I’m sure. With bestsellers being made into major feature films (such is the case with Something Borrowed), her books are certainly popular and worth reading. Where We Belong is a good book, particularly suitable for a beach read on vacation, as that easy but enjoyable read while you’re on a long flight, or a relaxed weekend. However, I think that (similar to the Jane Green review above) I would recommend other books by the author ahead of this one. It just didn’t resonate the same way with me. Ms. Giffin’s step in a different direction, exploring different topics and relationships, was what was most enjoyable.

It’s kinda like: Her other books as mentioned above, The Undomestic Goddess by Sophia Kinsella, and Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner.

As usual, these are just my own humble opinions based on my reading experiences. Anyone else read the above, and have a differing opinion? Crushing on Rebecca Skloot? Want to add a few recommendations to my reading list?

Happy weekend, everyone!

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.