Read Across America, which encourages adults to read to children, was celebrated Wednesday, but there is no reason to close the book on it.
Here are five titles that adults and children can read together or on their own, suggested by Elaine McGrew, Youth Services Supervisor for the Lorain Public Library System, of which the Avon Branch Library is a member:
- “Clementine” by Sara Pennypacker: Clementine has a good heart, but the third-grader also has a way of getting into trouble because, in her words, “Spectacularful ideas are always sproinging up in my brain.” Spectacularful ideas like cutting off her best friend’s hair and replacing it with a style she designed herself, drawn with a Flaming Sunset permanent marker! Booklist suggests this humorous first-person tale as one to read aloud to a roomful of children. And if this story is a hit with your young audience, you might want to try Pennypacker’s “Clementine” sequels.
- “Because of Winn-Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo: Readers of all ages have enjoyed this best-selling, award-winning novel (and the movie based on it) for years, making it a great choice for children and adults to tackle together. Besides the friendship between 10-year-old India Opal Buloni and the title character dog, who helps introduce her to a cast of eccentric small-town characters, the book explores the girl’s relationship with her preacher father, who is raising her as a single parent.
- “Nim’s Island” by Wendy Orr: This tale of adventure features Nim, a young girl described as a modern-day Robin Crusoe. She and her scientist dad live on a deserted tropical island, but they still have access to all the high-tech amenities they need. Nim is even able to go it alone – well, she does have the company of a marine iguana and a sea lion – while her dad sails away on a work-related trip. The story combines action, humor and fantasy and is recommended for students in grades 3-6.
- “When You Reach Me” by Rebecca Stead: This story’s 1979 setting will ring true for readers of a certain age, who just might enjoy this mystery as much as the upper-elementary students who make up its target audience. Sixth-grader Miranda is enjoying life in New York City, which includes hanging out with her best friend Sal. But things change dramatically when Sal suddenly shuts her out and Miranda starts receiving mysterious letters that command her into action.
- “Mockingbird” by Kathryn Erskine: Ten-year-old Caitlyn is struggling to deal with her older brother’s death in a school shooting, her father’s resulting grief and her own Asberger’s Syndrome. Caitlyn discovers that she is looking for closure and the book takes us on her journey to find it. A 2010 Booklist review states: “Allusions to Harper Lee's ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, the portrayal of a whole community's healing process, and the sharp insights into Caitlyn's behavior enhance this fine addition to the recent group of books with narrators with autism and Asberger’s.”