According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and Scholastic.com, nearly two thirds of eighth graders cannot read at the eighth grade level.
The Center for Education Policy (CEP) paints an even bleaker picture for boys who are “lagging behind girls in all states.” In some tests, boys are behind by double digits. Girls outclassed boys in reading at the lower, middle, and high school levels.
While the origins to this reading problem are complex, all the solutions include one thing: reading.
For parents looking for summer reading ideas, the child’s teacher is the best first stop. Most educators circulate summer reading lists within their communities. The Houston Area Independent School Library Network (HAISLN) publishes a massive list on its website. Twitter has the #SummerReading hashtag and Goodreads, an Amazon company, keeps customer-generated lists on Listopia.
A snapshot of children’s books on Goodreads showed the top nine books for “Best Middle Grade Novels for Summer Reading 2014.” Middle grade is generally considered fourth through eighth grades. The list is public and subject to change. An Amazon link is provided for additional information on each book. The following quotes are from Goodreads.
Brainwashed (Crime Travelers, #1)
“A group of international teens race through Paris to sabotage the Good Company’s global kidnapping ring. Reads like Jason Bourne, but for kids.”
Sky Jumper (Sky Jumpers, #1)
“12-year-old Hope lives in White Rock, a town struggling to recover from the green bombs of World War III”
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school [because] … Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.”
Assassin? (Jimmy Coates, #1)
“Eleven-year-old Jimmy is on the run [from] the mysterious organization that kidnapped [his] parents and he has no idea why. Except that it might have something to do with his new fighting capabilities. And the fact that he might not be entirely human. . . .”
“Anonymous sticky-notes, a scheming bully, and a ruined summer send almost-fourteen-year-old Wendy down a trail of secrets and self-discovery.”
New Zigon – The Founder’s Curse (New Zigon, Book #1)
“Have you ever done something without thinking, and have it change your life forever? That’s what happened to 14-year-old John Brown on his eighth grade field trip.”
Stormbreaker (Alex Rider #1)
“Finding himself in the middle of terrorists, Alex must outsmart the people who want him dead. The government has given him the technology, but only he can provide the courage. Should he fail, every child in England will be murdered in cold blood.”
Jimmy Coates: Blackout (Jimmy Coates, #7)
“Jimmy Coates seems like an ordinary boy, but he’s not. He’s genetically engineered to grow into the perfect government assassin. Speed, strength and deadly instinct – it’s all in the blood. He has to fight not to kill, while his government fights to kill him.”
Al Capone Does My Shirts
A boy moves to Alcatraz for his dad’s job. “You get to Alcatraz by being the worst of the worst. Unless you’re me. I came here because my mother said I had to.”