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Arts & Entertainment

Does your kid need a summer reading list?

What books will your child be reading this summer?
What books will your child be reading this summer?

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Summer is here, and for kids all around the city, that means summer vacation. And summer vacation means no school, which all too often leads to learning loss.

To battle brain fade, many public libraries are ramping up for their annual summer reading clubs, an initiative that is going strong in Los Angeles. For example, the Los Angeles Public Library launches its program today with the theme "Dream Big, Read."

Mara Alpert, one of the librarians in the children's literature department at the L.A. Public Library, makes several book recommendations that will keep your children occupied this summer, and their brains active so they don't forget what they've learned in school.

"For many years, public libraries have had the summer reading club, which is a way to keep the kids reading all summer long, to help fight that summer learning loss, and also to give them something to do –- to give them the opportunity to read for pleasure, which doesn't always happen during the school year." she said. "Every library, no matter what city you're in, has a summer reading club."

According to Alpert, the "Dream Big, READ" theme is one that many libraries throughout the country will share.

For younger children:

Z is for Moose
By: Kelly Bingham and Paul O. Zelinsky
Mara says: "It is an alphabet book. Moose is super excited about being in this alphabet book, and so he keeps showing up all along – 'Is it my turn yet, is it my turn yet?'"

A Dog is a Dog
By: Stephen Shaskan
Mara says: "'A dog is a dog, whether it's naughty or nice, whether it suns on the beach, or glides on the ice. A dog is a dog if it's skinny or fat. A dog is a dog unless it's a' ... and then the cat takes off the dog suit. And as we go along, the cat turns out to be a squid. In a lot of these books, imagination is really what we're promoting."

Crazy Concoctions: A Mad Scientist's Guide to Messy Mixtures
By: Jordan D. Brown
Mara says: "Because you really want to stay busy all summer, and who doesn't? This one's great because it teaches kids how to make various kinds of scientific stuff. Gloopy glop, fake silly putty – the important safety rules are laid out very well, very logically. There are recipes in here for fake snot, and then there are recipes in the back for things that are edible."

Titanic Sinks!: Experience the Titanic's Doomed Voyage in this Unique Presentation of Fact and Fiction
By: Barry Denenberg
Mara says: "A lot of books about the titanic will also use photographs of her sister ship, but this author only used photographs from the Titanic. So the facts are very carefully presented. ... It's just a really fascinating book about something we think we all know. Kids are really into the Titanic. It's one of the super popular topics that kids go through."
Amazon Link

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again
By: Frank Cottrell Boyce
Mara says: "[It's] reintroducing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to our current crop of kids. It's a lovely book, it's a great new family, there's mom and dad. Dad worked in a factory that made widgets and his fingers got too big, and so they fired him, and mom is just a regular mom, and there are three kids."
Official Website

For middle schoolers:

Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka
By: Jon Scieszka
Mara says: "This is basically the book that I hand any boy over the age of 10 who walks into the children's literature department." She says parents can read it too: "Just don't be drinking coffee at the same time, because I did that, and it really hurts when it comes out of your nose when you're laughing."

For high schoolers:

Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I
By: Robin LaFevers
Mara says: "It is a big, fat, historical fantasy ... about a young woman named Ismae who is being forced to marry somebody when she is very young. She ends up in the convent, [and] if you have the capability, they will train you to be an assassin. Poison is her specialty. There's this political thing, and there's all the awesome clothes, and there's a romance with the guy that she's supposed to be spying on. There are battles, there are betrayals, and it is a big, meaty, lovely book."


Mara Alpert is Children's Librarian at Los Angeles Public Library.