Natalie Standiford talks about reading during the summer and writing about her favorite season


”The Secret Tree,” by Natalie Standiford, is one of the books on the reading list for the 2012 KidsPost Summer Book Club. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)
June 15, 2012

There’s something different about reading during the summer. The days are longer, and even with swimming, vacations and bike riding, there just seems to be more time to curl up with a good book. That summer feeling — of endless possibilities, of the freedom from homework and schedules and maybe even from bedtimes — inspired our choice of books for this year’s KidsPost Summer Book Club, the theme of which is “The Joy of Summer Reading.”

Natalie Standiford grew up in Maryland — just outside of Baltimore — and is the author of “The Secret Tree,” one of the books in this year’s club. We talked to her about what makes summer reading — and writing about summer — so special.

What are your fondest memories of summer reading as a child?

“The best thing about summer was I had all day to do nothing but read. . . . I read in the hammock in our back yard, on my towel during adult swim at our community pool, in my bedroom and on the cool floor of our playroom. If I found a really great book, I’d read late into the night, then dive back into the book the first thing in the morning to find out what happens next.


Natalie Standiford is the author of “The Secret Tree,” one of the books on the list for the KidsPost Summer Book Club. (Tobias Everke)

“My mother took us to the public library every week. The best was picking out books to take on vacation with us to Bethany Beach. I loved looking at the stack of library books on the nightstand next to my bed at the beach house we rented, reading them at night while moths fluttered by the lamp and the ocean roared outside.”

What makes summer such a magical time to write about?

“There’s no school, so kids have more freedom in the summer — which means my characters can have more freedom, too. More freedom means more time for adventures! In summer, people spend a lot of time outdoors, and that’s magical, too: long, lazy days, warm nights filled with barbecues, lightning bugs and starry skies.”

What was your favorite book as a child?

“I loved so many books it’s hard to choose. I loved E.B. White’s books, especially ‘Stuart Little,’ and I remember spending one summer reading all the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ books, one after the other.

Your book is about a tree, which is something so symbolic of summer for so many kids — swinging from trees, climbing trees, hiking in the woods. Did you have a special tree that you hung out around when you were a kid?

“We had a beech tree in our back yard that I loved. One day my sister and I decided to decorate it by taping marbles to its leaves, but our father made us take the marbles off because the tape wasn’t good for the tree. We always had a hammock in our back yard, hung between two tall pine trees. And we spent hours making tree forts in the woods across the street from our house.”

— Tracy Grant

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