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FernLeaf's 2021 Summer Reading List for ALL Ages!

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

Boy reading outside: FernLeaf Community Charter School 2021 Summer Reading List for all ages

It's been quite a year for our students here at FernLeaf. For ALL students around the world. While FernLeaf students have thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic that began in March of 2020, it has, nonetheless, put unprecedented pressure on our kids, our teachers, our families and our educational goals and expectations.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, with "reduced instructional and learning time, which are known to impede student performance," children are more likely to be behind in their academic progress.

Academic fluency is one of the central aspects of the FernLeaf mission. Additionally, keeping our kids engaged and curious throughout the year - the ENTIRE year - is also an important goal at the school.

Enter a summer reading program! Well, maybe not an official program, but an opportunity for students of ALL ages to keep up with their reading skills and have FUN while doing it!

According to, students who find some time to read over the summer will " not only retain information learned the previous year, but also to grow in knowledge and critical thinking skills for the coming year." Students who do NOT read over the summer are found to lose at least 2 months of reading development. This is often referred to as "summer slide" or "summer learning loss."

Boys reading on lawn: FernLeaf Community Charter School 2021 Summer Reading List for all ages

Before school ended, FernLeaf staff shared their Summer Reading List Favorites that will satisfy your wishes for your child's continued educational growth, and your child's wishes for a fun summer! Win-Win!

SIDENOTE: Head over to Facebook and Instagram and share your summer reading list selections with our community!

First up, below is a chart that will help you see what grade level your child might be reading at. If you are a FernLeaf parent, refer to your child's most recent progress review for a current "guided reading" level. This "level" can then be used as a guide for you and your child when you're choosing a summer reading book to enjoy. The closer a book is to your child's level, the more likely they will read it all the way through!

Here are the FernLeaf Staff Recommendations for Summer Reading:

NOTE: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which just means FernLeaf will receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase through our link without any additional cost to you! This compensation then goes back into our school to make it an awesome place for our staff and for your children! Thanks for supporting the work of our Teachers and Staff!

Kelly Anderson | I recommend "Holes" by Louis Sachar. "This book is a perfect read for a good set of laughs, making heartfelt connections with the characters, and to reflect on how we treat ourselves and others. I have read this book many times as a read aloud, in small reading groups, and just for fun at home! Stanley Yelnats is the main character and is accused of stealing a famous pair of sneakers. He finds himself at Camp Green Lake where a waterfall of fun, unfortunate, and suspenseful events fall into place. I hope others can enjoy this book over the summer as well." It's well suited for Grades 4-8th.

Molly Luplow | "Enemy Pie" by Derek Munson. "In this funny yet endearing story one little boy learns an effective recipe for turning a best enemy into a best friend." Best for ages 5-9.

Bryan Gillette | I recommend "Yes, My Brother Wears a Dress" by Indigo Sterling. It's a picture book with an important message AND it was written by one of our parents (and the characters are 2 of our students!). This is a picture book.

Bryan Gillette | I also recommend "Be You!" by Peter H. Reynolds. It is a good picture book to set up some aspirations for the summer. Each page is a short meditation on how to be the best version of ourselves. I could see this being used as a discussion prompt for dinner table conversations or bedtime snuggles. This is a picture book for ages 4-10.

Chris Stanfield | "Anti-Racist Baby" by Ibram X. Kendi. "I remember walking in on my wife reading this book to our two children at bedtime. I had to fight back the tears of laughter. I guess I just assumed that all babies were anti-racist and this book was perhaps too much. Well, the adage had never been more appropriate - never judge a book by its cover. Here’s a book that people of all ages can benefit from. I would recommend beginning by discussing what race and racism is. Additionally, explore the concept of justice. How do we define fair and unfair? This book reveals the differences between recognizing unfairness, experiencing unfairness, and acting upon unfairness. For younger readers, this book provides a wonderful opportunity to discuss cultural, ethnical, and race differences. Below is a list of questions that readers can consider.

  • What is kindness?

  • What is antiracism?

  • Are kindness and antiracism the same?

  • What does advocacy look like?

Families of young learners (K-2) can use these topics to explore family customs, traditions, and values. Many classrooms encourage students to share such information as a way to show the similarities and differences that exist in an inclusive community. This, in my opinion, is a wonderful way to accept our differences as humans and build respect towards one another."

Mary Rutkowski | "Flip-O-Saurus by Sara Ball. "This is a book and a creative activity in one - you get to create your own dinosaurs! (Bonus points if you draw your creation.) Emerging readers will love the interactive layout, more advanced readers can learn more about what each part of those long dinosaur names actually means. Great for siblings to read together, or for advanced readers to model sounding out brand new words. I’ve never met a kid that didn’t want to pick up this book! There are prehistoric animal and dog versions, too." Best for grades K-5.

Kathleen Askew | "Mr. Tiger Goes Wild" by Peter Brown. "This is one of my favorite picture books for grades K-2."

Molly Luplow | "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis. One of America's top 100 most-loved novels as selected by PBS's The Great American Read!

Molly Luplow | "The Mysterious Benedict Society" by Trenton Lee Stewart. Best for grades 3-7. "Great cast of characters, lots of cool puzzles and mysteries. This book reminded me of some of the better children's books I grew up with, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Phantom Tollbooth."―Rick Riordan

Kathleen Askew | "Wildwood" by Colin Meloy. "Colin is the lead singer of the Decemberists. It is a great adventure story and the vocabulary he uses in the book is remarkable! The content is appropriate for grades 5 and up, but the reading level is more middle school."

Vic Wiesel | "Hatchet" by Gary Paulsen. "It's the story of a middle school aged boy dropped in the Alaskan wilderness after a plane crash. A wonderful story of grit and creative thinking. Would be a good summer read for 5th and 6th graders.

Vic Wiesel | "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer. "A nonfiction story about a young man who decides to try and survive by himself for a winter in the Alaskan wilderness. Great as a summer read for 7th and 8th graders."

Leah Banford | "Three Times Lucky" by Sheila Turnage. The first book in the Mo & Dale Mystery Series. "An irresistible Southern narrator—a literary descendant of Scout Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird." —Newsday

Sarah Bachler | "Elephant & Piggie Books" by Mo Willems. "For emerging readers I recommend the Piggie and Elephant series." They're fun, repetitive and will create fluent readers while also creating a lot of laughter along the way.

Sarah Bachler | "The Bad Guys Book Series" by Aaron Blabey. These are hilarious and fun books for those kids ready to dip their toes into the world of chapter books!

Sarah Bachler | "Ivy & Bean Book Series" by Annie Barrows. Another book series for kiddos ready to begin reading chapter books.

Nicole Rule | "Zen Shorts" by Jon J. Muth. "Think of this book as the zen version of Aesop's fables. A giant panda bear, Stillwater, moves next door to a family with 3 kids and tells stories that have a moral. We've returned to these stories again and again in helping our kids learn to be kind, generous, thoughtful and more!"

Nicole Rule | "Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks" by Calef Brown. "It's a book of poetry that is so catchy, our kids (ages 12-6) walk around the house reciting them!"

The following are recommendations for FernLeaf's English I students - these are high school level books.

Lauren Stanfield | "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie. "Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live."

Lauren Stanfield | "Atomic Habits" by James Clear.

"No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving--every day. James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results."

Lauren Stanfield | "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry" by Fredrick Backman. "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different."

Lauren Stanfield | "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck.

"The timeless Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece following a humble farmer’s journey through 1920s China returns with this beautifully repackaged edition that celebrates its nearly ninety years as an American classic."

Lauren Stanfield | "Looking for Alaska" by John Green. "Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A modern classic, this stunning debut marked #1 bestselling author John Green’s arrival as a groundbreaking new voice in contemporary fiction."

Lauren Stanfield | "I am Malala" by Malala Yousafzai. Malala is the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. "Her powerful story will open your eyes to another world and will make you believe in hope, truth, miracles and the possibility that one person -- one young person -- can inspire change in her community and beyond."

Lauren Stanfield | "Four Hundred Souls" edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain. "A chorus of extraordinary voices tells the epic story of the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present."

Lauren Stanfield | "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier" by Ishmael Beah. "In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he'd been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts."

Kids & Teacher Reading on blanket: FernLeaf Community Charter School 2021 Summer Reading List for all ages

Here is the North Carolina Children's Book Award Nominees for 2021. This is yet another great place to get book suggestions for your summer reading adventures!

Whether you choose a summer book from our FernLeaf summer reading list above or you head to your local library and find something off the shelves, just keep reading FernLeafers!

Oh, and don't forget to share your summer reading list selections with all of us over on Facebook and Instagram.

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