The SDSU National Center for Children's Literature recommends the top books for sharpening reading skills and keeping kids' attention.
Kids from SDSU's Childrens Center holds up books that are part of the Library's extensive children's literature collection.
School’s out for summer! And what would summer vacation be without a good book?
SDSU’s National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature has new recommendations to help parents pick the best books for kids—ones that will not just sharpen reading skills but keep their attention, too!
What to look for in a good kids' book
Alida Allison, professor of children’s literature, said there are a few things parents should look for when choosing a book for their child.
First and foremost, a good book should stimulate imagination.
“Just by putting your kids on your lap and reading to them, you can teach them about other worlds and fire their imagination,” said Allison, who helped create the center’s Book Review Service in 2003.
Parents should look for themes that carry messages and morals of compassion, identity and empathy, Allison said.
Books should also carry some aspect of expanding knowledge.
“Reading a fictional story based in ancient Greece will stay with a child much longer than reading something from a textbook.”
Top 24 books for kids to read this summer
Graduate students, professors and librarians with the SDSU Children's Literature Program Book Review Service combed through hundreds of the recently released children’s books and put together a list of the top 24 books for kids to read this summer.
Parents can also make use of the SDSU Library’s extensive collection in their children’s literature section.
“All of the books that have been reviewed over the years are now part of the collection,” said Linda Salem, assistant librarian for SDSU’s juvenile collection.
“We really want to encourage parents to bring their kids into the SDSU Library and really take advantage of the wonderful donation that SDSU’s National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature has made. “The Jungle Grapevine
Nearly 30 years old, SDSU's Children's Literature Program is one of the oldest programs of its kind in the country and is the leading institution in the nation for the study of children’s literature.
Here are a few of the recent recommendations and hundreds more are available on the SDSU National Center for Children’s Literature website:
Picture Books - Fiction (ages 3-8 years old)
by Alex Beard
Alex Beard’s anthropomorphic jungle animals create laughs and chaos in this wonderfully colorful fable about the consequences of haphazard gossip. The Jungle Grapevine is a wonderful story revealing the perils of idle gossip and impressing upon readers that everyone can contribute to it. Whether gossiping directly to one person or repeating it to ones self, someone is always listening!
Mother Goose in California
by Doug Hansen
Doug Hansen spent over twenty years illustrating this charming ABC book which features some of California's most recognizable landmarks and beloved creatures. Each page is brimming with careful detail, wonderful imagination and abundant playfulness. These rich and ornate ABC scenes deepen an appreciation for the diversity and splendor of the Golden State. This is a highly original, captivating book, sure to please anyone with an interest in California's history, flora and fauna, rhymes, or fine illustrations.
Picture Books - Non-Fiction (ages 3-8 years old)Dinosaurs Roar, Butterflies Soar!
By Bob Barner
Put two fascinating creatures together and see what happens. That’s not just Barner’s idea, it’s what nature did on Earth some 165 million years ago. Barner’s colorful pastels and paper-cuttings help make this complex story of evolutionary biology something delightful for kids. He brings in some advanced notions and vocabulary (e.g., herbivores, ancestors, fertilized, plummeted) but keeps the information manageable. Barner also presents as certain the idea that an asteroid caused the dinosaurs’ extinction. Isn’t that something we don’t really know? Well, let the little children read this book, and if it excites them, maybe later they’ll do research and help us all learn more.
Tony and the Pizza Champions by Tony Gemignani
Tony is no ordinary pizza lover—he earned himself the nickname “Tossing Tony” because of his acrobatic dough tossing tricks. When Tony receives an invitation to the World Pizza Championships in Italy, he travels across America to build a team worthy of the competition. Based on a real pizza team, this story emphasizes hard work and cooperation through the joy of playing with food. Providing hours of fun for pizza-loving children, the book includes interesting pizza facts from around the world and even offers a pizza dough recipe as well as step-by-step instructions on how to toss the dough.
Middle grade - Non-fiction (ages 7-11 years old)
Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia by Sy Montgomery Inventions
This book tells the story of Tom McCarthy, a wildlife biologist, and his team as they conduct field research in Mongolia on the elusive snow leopard. There may be fewer than 7,000 snow leopards living in the wild and the book relates an important message about their conservation. By the end of the book, the reader will come to appreciate the enormous commitment on the part of the people who study the leopards.
by Glenn Murphy
What a cool book! Inventions begins with a definition of the very word before proceeding to catalog the greatest inventions from prehistory to the digital age. The layout of each page is complex and richly illustrated with blueprints, exploded diagrams, historical timelines and information on each inventions importance. From cover to cover, Inventions will fascinate and stimulate the imagination of the budding scientist, history buff, or artist.
About SDSU’s National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature
SDSU’s National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature is one of the oldest programs of its kind in the country. With more than 1,200 enrollments annually in its undergraduate and graduate classes, SDSU has the largest program in Children's Literature in North America.
The Best New Children's Books for Summer - KPBS Radio