The arrival of summer means that you have made it through another year of school and the challenges that go with it. You got up early, sometimes before the sun rose. You did homework even when you wanted to play video games. You practiced for band concerts even when mostly squeaks came out of your clarinet. We applaud your effort.
Now we’ve got another challenge for you. But don’t worry. It doesn’t involve tests or alarm clocks. We’re kicking off the KidsPost Summer Book Club, and the theme is “Challenge Yourself.” Over the next eight Wednesdays, we’ll explore books in which characters face challenges. One kid can’t read. Another deals with racism. Several struggle to keep families together. They’re experiences that may be very different from your own. That’s where your challenge comes in. Pick up a few of these books, even if they don’t sound like something you would normally read. They can help you understand others’ struggles, a challenge that’s well worth the effort.
By Elana K. Arnold. Ages 6 to 10.
When his mom brings home an orphaned baby skunk from her veterinary practice, Bixby Alexander Tam instantly bonds with the tiny creature. The boy, who’s known as Bat, starts thinking about ways to keep the skunk even though his mother says they must send the animal to a wildlife center. Bat has a hard time getting along with people, so it’s going to take a lot of work to convince his mom that he’s ready to care for an animal, especially one that’s meant to be in the wild.
Why did Julia Marks’s mother make her audition for a summer production of “The Wizard of Oz”? To torture her, probably, though Julia’s turn in showbiz turns out to be way better than sitting at home thinking about the recent death of her dog Ramon. Cast as a Munchkin, Julia learns to embrace her size (she’s a bit height-challenged) and begins to realize that the adults around her — including a peculiar neighbor — aren’t quite what they seem.
By Alex Gino. Ages 8 to 12.
George is a girl who has been labeled “male” since birth. She knows she is a girl, but everyone else sees her as a boy. Even her mother, older brother and best friend have no idea. George is tired of pretending but afraid that others won’t be able to accept her true self. Then she comes up with a plan: If she plays a female character in the school play, maybe others will see that she is, indeed, a girl. There’s only one way to find out.
By Linda Williams Jackson. Ages 9 to 13.
Rose Lee Carter, 13, wonders how much more she can take of her small-town Mississippi life. Rose narrates “Midnight Without a Moon,” set over four months in 1955, and she can’t stand the discrimination, money troubles and violence her family faces; the now-famous murder of a young Chicago visitor named Emmett Till happens nearby. Fortunately, Rose has a best friend and a strong sense of purpose to help her get through this terrible summer.
By Wendy Wan-Long Shang. Ages 8 to 12.
Baseball was the shared love of Peter Lee’s family. But that was before the accident, the one that killed his older brother. Now Peter’s mom is barely functioning, and the family is falling apart. The 12-year-old decides to play baseball again to cheer her up. The plan gets complicated when his old-school dad volunteers to coach the team.
By Marjorie Agosín. Ages 10 to 14.
Celeste’s happy life in Chile changes when a cruel dictator takes over the country. People are arrested, books are burned. Celeste’s parents go into hiding. Celeste is sent to stay with an aunt in the United States, where she is lonely and worried. She makes friends and learns English, but she yearns to return home. When she does, though, she finds her town very changed. Her father is still missing, and it’s up to Celeste to find him.
By Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Ages 10 to 14.
Distracting people is one of Ally’s best skills. Reading is not. As she bounces from school to school, Ally causes a commotion so that teachers don’t notice the real problem. However, Mr. Daniels, a substitute teacher at her new middle school, figures out what’s going on. Ally is embarrassed and convinced that she’s just a dumb kid. With Mr. Daniels’s help, she begins to understand that someone with a learning disability can also be intelligent.
By Jason Reynolds. Ages 10 to 14.
Brothers Genie and Ernie are forced to leave their New York City home to spend part of the summer with their grandparents in rural Virginia. The difference between the two worlds is startling, and so is realizing that their grandfather is blind. At first, Genie considers Grandpop brave because he accomplishes so much without being able to see. Then the boy realizes Grandpop stays in the house . . . all the time. As he and Ernie reconsider their grandfather’s character, they face their own test of bravery.
The Summer Book Club is open to kids ages 5 to 14. Children may read some or all of the books on our list. The books are available at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Northwest Washington and at Hooray for Books in Alexandria, Virginia. Most are also available at libraries in the Washington area.
To join the club, children must be registered by a parent or guardian. To register, a parent needs to fill out our form at wapo.st/kidspostbookclub2017 or send the child’s first and last names, age and address to KidsPost Summer Book Club, The Washington Post, 1301 K Street. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. (Immediate family members of Washington Post employees are not eligible to join.)
The first 500 kids to register will receive the drawstring book bag at left. Bags will be sent out beginning in July. KidsPost also will publish a list of the club’s members at the end of the summer. Any parents who do not want their child’s name published should inform us of that when they sign up.