Once upon a time, long ago and not so far away, I lived on this magical street called Library Place. And yes, it had an actual library on one end of it.
I was about eight, and my parents (don’t call DYFUS!) used to let me and my sister (Meena, a year-and-a-half younger) walk down the block by ourselves and idle the hours away at the library, which back then was my favorite place to be. Summer was particularly fun, because without the weight of school and required reading on our slim shoulders, we could really indulge in those stacks of super-exciting reads of our own choosing.
I remember at the time that this particular library, the one on Library Place, had all these summer reading contests to motivate kids to read as many they could through that three-month break — with the prizes being a free book, a personal pie at Pizza Hut, or even just the simple gold star. I always loved having that record of all those books I devoured over the course of the summer, piles of Baby-Sitters Club monthlies that had built up during the school year, Judy Blume’s Fudge series, The Secret Garden, Bridge to Terabithia, Anne of Green Gables. (Yes, I know, I’m obsessed. But they were so good!)
Sadly, after third grade, we moved away from the magical Library Place, and while we still spent many summer hours at the library in our new town, it was never quite the same.
Recently, though, I’ve rediscovered my passion for the library, in particular the stately, long-standing Jefferson Market branch of the New York Public Library, which sits primly on Sixth Ave., not far from school. I spend hours before or after class perusing my options (and when I’m home, downloading eBooks and audiobooks from NYPL.org), and have managed to build up a fun summer reading list for myself. Here are my picks:
Go the F**k to Sleep, by Adam Mansbach
With his first “kids’ book,” novelist and poet Mansbach serves up a deliciously wicked take on the picture book, complete with lovely kid-friendly illustrations and a rhyming lyrical voice. Your little one will never be the wiser, but this sure will make that bedtime story a hell of a lot more fun.
The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, by Uma Krishnaswami
Okay, so I’ll admit it: I haven’t actually read this yet. But boy were Dhonielle and I excited to see it when we came across it in Barnes & Noble the other day. And it’s at the top of my kid lit list. In the book, Bollywood-obsessed Dini, 11, is not happy about her family’s move from Tacoma Park, MD, to sleepy Swapnagiri, India. But maybe it will all be worth it if she can meet her favorite matinee idol, Dolly Singh.
How I Saved My Father’s Life (And Ruined Everything Else), by Ann Hood
In this middle grade tome by the author of The Knitting Circle and The Red Thread, young miracle-worker (at least that’s what she thinks) Madeline Vandemeer deals with divorce and dashed hopes — but can she keep the faith? A fun, flavorful read for middle-graders and grown-ups alike.
We’ll Always Have Summer, Jenny Han
The final installment in New School alum Jenny Han‘s delicious Summer series, book three sees beautiful Belly finally having to choose between her childhood pals Conrad and Jeremiah. If you haven’t read the first two, definitely start from the beginning — but all three will fit very nicely into your summer beach bag.
The Art of Forgetting, by Camille Noe Pagan
When her best friend Julia suffers from a brain injury, magazine editor Marissa learns how fragile the ties that bind can be. Fellow freelance writer Pagan knows of what she writes: a magazine writer who focuses on health and nutrition, she was inspired to write the story while researching an article on brain injuries. But science aside, Pagan deftly touches on the nerve-filled center of a friendship, loved and lost.