Is there anything better than reading under a tree in summer? I spent hours as a child reading under, in, and swinging upside down from trees and I still love it…..although I prefer a blanket and cushion and a child or two of my own for the purpose now.
I was talking about what book to read next with D,9, as we finished up Heidi the other day, and my mind started chugging along at 3am later that night (early the next morning?) making a list of books my children and I have loved. I mostly put this together out of self defense so I could get some sleep!
Here are 25 (actually more, since some are entire series) books to read under a tree this summer with your own kids. They’re in no particular order other than that in which the one my rambling brain produced them. a quick suggestion: If you plan to be reading under many different trees this summer, you might want to grab a Kindle or an iPad and load all of these books onto it, for portability in your pleasure reading as well as all that other Wi-Fi cruising. Happy summer!
Mountains, goats, and friendships, all set in sunshine and innocent times. I still love it!
2. The Wind in the Willows
Picnic in a boat under willow trees with Mole and Ratty and laugh at puffed-up Mr. Toad’s adventures.
3. The Story of Dr. Doolittle
You’ve probably seen the Eddie Murphy movie version, but it doesn’t compare to the book.
4. 5 Children and It
Imagine finding a cranky and ancient Sand-Fairy while digging at the beach. It gives you each a wish that will end at sunset…..but not at all the way you expected.
5. The Famous Five series
Adventures that aren’t too terrifying for little ones (while still keeping older kids sucked in), incredible picnic inspiration, and stories that suck you in….not to mention words like “plimsoles” that you’ll want to add to your vocabulary. There is nothing a parent can object to in these classic stories by Enid Blyton, and loads to love.
6. The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be
True stories of a quirky dog and the boy who loved him. Ever seen a dog with driving goggles before?
7. Owls In The Family
Another true story, set in the 30s on the prairies, about the two Great Horned Owls raised by the author as a boy. I had to convince my son that trying to find a pet owl would be a bad idea around our hens after reading this hilarious book.
9. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
More great stories, and some river adventure to boot.
10. The Hobbit
This one will get your kids wanting to hike, explore caves, and of course look for treasure. I think that The Hobbit is the best of the series for all-ages enjoyment.
11. The Prince and the Pauper
I was fascinated as a child by the idea of a double, and to be the secret double of royalty grabbed my attention and kept it. A wonderful adventure, maybe better for 10 and up but you know your child best.
12. Peter Pan
Seriously? You’ve never read the story to your kids? Do it, as soon as possible….it’s so much better than the Disney version.
13. Treasure Island
Pirate treasure, the Black Spot, and a menacing adversary. What more do you need for weeks of play afterwards?
14. Tarzan of the Apes
Again, the book makes the movie look really, really awful. It just can’t compare to the story when read aloud together. You also may not know that it was entire series, so there are more to enjoy next!
15. Lost in the Barrens
By the same author as #6 and #7 above, this one will keep even the most cynical boys on the edge of their seats. Two brothers are stranded in the frozen north when their canoe crashes. How will they survive?>
16. James and the Giant Peach
Don’t be surprised if you find your little ones talking to insects after this story!
17. Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books
So many great choices collected from around the world that I can’t even begin to tell you which one to start with. A word to the sensitive: these are original, slightly gruesome versions so you might want to skim them first for your own kids. Mine like theirs as full of terrible come-uppances for evil stepmothers as possible!
18. King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table
Do all of yourselves a favor and read these. But buy some foam swords or pool noodles to do battle with first.
19. Homer Price
A doughnut machine that won’t quit? This and other adventures of Homer Price take place in the kind of small town America that maybe only exists in our collective imaginations. It’s from the author of Ping and Blueberries For Sal, written to the 8-12 crowd (or younger if you’re reading aloud). There’s a second book, Centerburg Tales, if you enjoy this one.
20. The Secret Garden
A Little Princess by the same author is a great winter read, but this one demands grass and plants nearby to enjoy. Hidden gardens, hidden people crying, and honest, friendly company make this one of my own all-time favorites.
21. ” target=”_blank”>A Wrinkle in Time
Star Trek and Dr. Who fans will love this if they haven’t already had the pleasure. When their father, a scientist, disappears, the kids go in search of him with the help of some strange and in some cases invisible friends to alternate dimensions. There are five terrific books in this series.
22. The Boxcar Children
Homeless and running away from an evil family member, this is the first book in a big series and it’s so much fun! If you can find a big crate, appliance box, or empty out the family trailer before reading this, your children will get a lot of imaginary play out of it.
23. The Prisoner of Zenda
Best adventure story ever, in my book. My 10-and-up readers especially enjoyed it. The king of Ruritania is drugged and to keep his position, they have to find a stand-in for his coronation.
24. Robinson Crusoe
Trapped on a deserted island with a crazy man!
25. The Three Musketeers
Swordplay, honor, and friendship, plus some awesome cloaks to throw around dramatically while making sweeping patriotic declarations. What more do you need?
If you have suggestions for more great reads, please share in the comments. We’re always looking for new stories!
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