Child's Play, The Citizen, June 2017 Ideas for Summer Reading

Gregory K. Moffatt, Ph.D.

Summer often brings us hours at home with children, time for sitting beside the pool, or leisurely spending time on a beach, on a cruise, in airports, or in a summer cabin.  Several times over the years I resolved on New Year's Day to read a book a week.  I’ve never regretted it when I’ve done that. 


Students come into my office, which is lined with bookshelves, and ask if I’ve read all of those books.  Yes, I have, but what they don’t know is that those books are only the ones I’ve kept and also don’t include the books on my Kindle. 


You don’t have to read a book a week, but even one or two books over the summer will be a choice you won’t regret.  Here are some categories that include some of my favorite books. 


For children, these books can’t miss.  When my son was young, I read aloud to him all of C.S. Lewis’ seven-volume set The Chronicles of Narnia.  Both of us enjoyed this experience.  For very young children, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, The Lorax and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess can easily be read at bedtime.  The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain can be read a chapter at a time.


For teens and adults, these books are amazing and everyone should read them at some point in life.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, andAngela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt are so good it will be hard to put them down. 


These biographies are unbelievable - The Diary of Ann FrankMan’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, Night by Elie Wiesel, and the story of John Adams as told by the best historian ever, David McCullough.


Good humor can be found in Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon Days and WLT: A Radio Romance as well as in Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story


Malcom Gladwell’s books Blink and Outliers are unbeatable.  Why are All the Black Kids Sitting in the Cafeteria Together? is a wonderful read on culture and race written by Atlanta’s own Beverly Tatum.  You also won’t want to skip the classics Frankenstein by Mary Shelly and The Animal Farm by George Orwell.


For the more adventurous adult reader, I recommend A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, Plato’sRepublic (sometimes called The Polity), The Plague by Camus, The Trial and The Metamorphosis by Kafka, and any short stories by Edgar Allen Poe, Jack London, Mark Twain, or Stephen King. 


From classic literature, my list includes Homer’s IliadBeowulf from English classic literature, and The Inferno by Dante.  If you venture into these classics, you might want to select an annotated translation.  Cliff’s Notes or some other reading aid might also make these books more enjoyable to read.


You probably have noticed that many of these books have been made into movies.  There is a good reason for that.  They are fantastic books.  But don’t skip the book for the movie.  Movie makers only have about ninety minutes to present a story and often much of the best parts of these books are lost in translation.  As the old pompous cliché goes, the book is almost always better than the movie.


Plus, you won’t cheat yourself out of the pleasure of holding a book in your hand while your imagination plays the story out in your mind.  I enjoy watching movies that are based on books I’ve read because it gives me a chance to see how the movie makers translated the imagination of the author into film.  Often, the images that were in my head as I read these books were craftily transitioned to the big screen when the book made it to film just as I’d imagined. 


I wish I had more space because this list doesn’t even scratch the surface and I’m sure many of you readers are saying to yourselves, “Where is….” – your favorite book.  For more of my favorites, you can visit my web site ( and click on the Resources link and find many more books, including some of my own.  Happy reading!

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