By Chris Vasquez
Summertime is around the corner; it’s a time for barbecues, beaches and books. Yes, I said books! Forget the summer movie blockbusters and read!
We here at Exemplary English hold fast to 12 Tenets of English Language for learners, with my personal favorite being the adage “40 before 40.” “40 before 40″ is the recommendation that learners should read and write for a collective 40 minutes each and every day before they turn 40 years old.
We believe that a learner following the adage “40 before 40″ not only helps him/her develop strong reading and writing habits, but also helps broaden his/her knowledge base AND helps him/her develop strong verbal communication skills. With that said, the question for most parents remains:
“How do I get my child to read over the summer when I don’t even read?”
That is where the “I do, we do and you do” model comes into play.
The “I do, we do and you do” model simply provides a structure for parents to become active participants in their child’s learning experience. With this model, you read to your children, then you read with your children and, finally, they read to you. After each 30-minute reading session, both you and your child should take ten minutes to write a short summary of the reading and discuss the what each of you found interesting.
This model not only allows each participant to reap the benefits of “40 before 40,” but it also helps foster a deeper relationship between you and your child. If you’re like me, my daughter’s education and enrichment are paramount. I don’t want her to waste a lot of time on video games or mindless television programming. That is why I compiled this list.
The Criteria for this list is not strict. I chose stories that I knew—and liked—at a younger age. I did this for two reasons:
First, these stories should have just as much of a sense of familiarity to you as they do for me, and second, these stories have proven themselves as timeless classics. I also chose stories based on their merit—Newbery Medal winners, books that have elevated language and themes, and books that have left their indelible mark on the landscape of society and literature as a whole. I did this to promote a healthy yet cosmopolitan view of the world for our children.
Finally, I chose books that I felt all could enjoy. That said, here are some books for you and your young reader to enjoy:
5th Grade Summer Reading List:
- The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett:
First published in 1911, this masterfully written story is about the transformative power of love and nature, as Mary Lennox goes from being a spoiled child to a sweet young girl–all because of love and a magical secret garden.
Mary, the catalyst for the change in those dwelling in this cold Yorkshire manor, brings love to her sickly cousin Colin. I chose this story for its elevated language, themes and overall craftsmanship of the author.
This story is one that you and your child can enjoy for years to come.4
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl: First published in 1964, this wonderful book has been adapted to the screen twice and has inspired its own line of Wonka chocolates and candies. This timeless story is about a boy, Charlie Bucket, who has very little, but dreams very big when he hears of a contest to enter the famous Wonka Chocolate Factory. When Charlie finds a golden ticket, he gains entry to a world that is beyond his imagination. Roald Dahl creates a world of unforgettable characters in this fable-like story about a boy and the eccentric Mr. Wonka.
- Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell Published in 1960, this Newbery Medal winner will challenge the hearts and minds of the young reader as they are privy to the thoughts of Karana, a young girl left on the island Galas-at, alone and with little experience outside of the tribal structure. Karana exhibits fortitude and the will to live as she is left on the island to fend for herself. Although it is about one person’s journey through life, this story provides a glimpse into the world of the indigenous people of coastal California, and reading it can lead to some great discussions between you and your young reader about survival and the human will to live.
- Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM by Robert C. O’Brian: A Newbery Medal winner in 1972, this book has many of the elements of the hero’s journey as popularized by Joseph Campbell. The reluctant hero, Mrs. Frisby, is thrust out of the comforts of her home and into a world of danger and heroism. It is only through her alliance with Nicodemus and the Rats of NIMH, with their human-like intelligence and increased strength, that she can save her home from certain destruction And now for Numero Uno…
- The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank This heart-wrenching book, published in 1947, is taken from the diary of a young girl named Anne Frank as she hid for two years during the Nazi Occupation of the Netherlands. This story is about strength of spirit and the will to survive in the face of unspeakable adversity. This story warns against the consequences of prejudice and persecution, and gives a face to the many victims of the Nazi régime. This story is a must-read at any age.
I hope that you and your young reader have a great time exploring your local library and bookstores for these great stories. In addition, I hope that this gives a completely new meaning to “summer fun.”
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