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Summer reading recommendations, courtesy of WORD Bookstores

With school out this month for kids, the eternal question returns: What to read?

As the children’s manager at WORD Bookstores in Greenpoint, Aubrey Nolan is no stranger to getting that question.

The bookstore is such a proponent of children’s literature that it is opening a store devoted to kids’ books as well as toys, crafts, clothing and more, two doors down from its original Brooklyn location later this summer.

We asked Nolan to give her picks for summer reading for kids of all ages, with both recent releases and a couple classics thrown in for good measure. Here are her suggestions.

Picture books

Photo Credit: Cuento de Luz / Enchanted Lion Books

“The Lonely Mailman”
By Susanna Isern, illustrated by Daniel Montero Galán, translated by Jon Brokenbrow
Destined to be read again and again, this moving picture book tells the story of a faithful, diligent postman (postbadger?) who never receives a letter of his own — until his fellow forest creatures learn to appreciate that he is a quiet yet necessary part of their community.
Perfect for: young introverts and peacemakers

“The Gold Leaf”
By Kirsten Hall, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
A golden leaf appears in the forest, and it’s like nothing any of the animals have ever seen. So naturally, each of them wishes to have it as their own. Throughout the gorgeously illustrated pages (accented with shimmering gold), they learn that the beauty of the natural world belongs to no one, and can be appreciated and celebrated by everyone.
Perfect for: young nature lovers

Ages 6-10

Photo Credit: Nobrow Press / HMH Books for Young Readers

By Lorena Alvarez
Scary, strange and vibrantly colorful, this comic (for ages 7-10) tells the tale of Sandy, a chronic daydreamer who prefers drawing in the margins of her notebooks to paying attention in class. When a mysterious new student notices Sandy’s artistic talent, she is flattered — until she realizes there is something strange and sinister going on.
Perfect for: the child who wants to read something a little spooky

“The Hundred Dresses”
By Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin
This beginning chapter book (for ages 6-9) is an enduring classic originally published in 1944. Its story of overcoming one’s prejudices and assumptions is not one to miss, and once read, will never be forgotten by any child.
Perfect for: teaching empathy, mindfulness and acceptance

Middle grade (ages 8-12)

Photo Credit: Amistad / Walden Pond Press

“Clayton Byrd Goes Underground”
By Rita Williams-Garcia
The lines of this electrifying novel are infused with music — more specifically, the blues, which Clayton and his grandfather have always loved. Never have words on the page had so much movement — just like a classic blues riff.
Perfect for: young musicians and music enthusiasts

"Orphan Island”
By Laurel Snyder
“Nine on an island, orphans all. Any more, the sky might fall.” And with that intriguing premise, we are introduced to an island where everything is perfect, but only if its young inhabitants follow certain rules. When headstrong Jinny decides to rebel, the equilibrium of her beloved home is thrown into disarray, and she is the only one who can restore its balance.
Perfect for: the inquisitive child

Young adult

Photo Credit: Balzer + Bray / St. Martin’s Griffin

“The Hate U Give”
By Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter attends a private school in a wealthy neighborhood and lives in a poor neighborhood, never feeling fully herself in either world. The precarious balance between her two identities is not just disrupted, but shattered entirely when she witnesses the shooting of a childhood friend at the hands of a policeman. An urgent, compelling and topical read, it more than lives up to its hype.
Perfect for: teenagers with an interest in activism and social justice

“I Capture the Castle”
By Dodie Smith
The story of the eccentric Mortmain family unfolds in the diary entries of youngest daughter, Cassandra. First published in 1948 before the true advent of YA, it’s the ideal engrossing summer read for high school students who have exhausted their library’s selection of classics.
Perfect for: the literary teenager


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