Five Summer Reads For Tweens

Reading habit benefits young minds in many ways.

  • It helps them build good language skills. Children these days are exposed to a peculiar “messaging” language that tends to spill over to places where they need to be formal too. School kids do tend to think “Imma head out” is how English is normally spoken.
  • As the saying goes “Books are a key to the whole wide world”. Books teach us about life in other parts of the world. It’s not possible to visit every country – but a nicely written book can take you to different countries and expose you to different cultures. Books help children realize that, deep down, people are the same everywhere – Europe or Asia.

Swami and Friends by R.K.Narayan

This beautifully written book follows the life of 10 year old Swami and shows us a world as seen through his eyes. The story is set in pre-independent India and shows us glimpses of life around that time. Swami in a moment of patriotism even participates in the non-cooperation movement. But, this is not at all a serious book and can be seen as a book about friendship.

The part where Swami’s father gives him an arithmetic sum is comedic genius. The book is sprinkled throughout with brilliant and humorous observations about human nature.  It is hard to pick just one favorite line from the book, but I would go with, “I too wrote about half a page” Swami said, believing it for the moment.” Even adults often believe their lies, don’t they?

Swami’s world seems so pure and innocent – even when he is playing mean pranks, that you wish you were a part of his world. The last chapter and especially the last paragraph of this book is sure to move readers of all ages.

Three men in a boat by Jerome K. Jerome

Like Swami and Friends, this book too is about three friends. But these are no 10 year olds. Three adult men go on a two-week boating vacation along the Thames River. The book details their adventures and misadventures through the course of the journey as they attempt to take a break from their busy city life. This breezy book runs for around 100 pages and is ideal for a lazy summer afternoon.

The friends are as whacky as 10 year olds. But they do come up with wise lines such as “We must not think of the things we could do with, but only of the things that we can’t do without”. All of us would do well to remember this while packing for the summer vacation.

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Old man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

This is a novella that can be read in one sitting. To me, this book is as much about the fisherman, Santiago, as it is about his relationship with his protégé – a young boy whom the fisherman trained in his better days and his relationship with the sea. The fisherman has grown old and has gone many days – 84 days to be exact, without catching a fish and is considered unlucky by everyone in the village.

The old man sets out to the sea on the 85th day determined to prove everyone wrong. Age has not weakened his resolve and he pretty much gambles with his life as he gives the sea his all on the 85th day.



Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

This is a “feel good” book that is pretty much in the form of letters written by a young girl, Jerusha, to her benefactor. She peppers her letters with delightful hand drawings too. She is living in an orphanage when a rich man agrees to sponsor her college education. This is her ticket to higher education and consequent freedom from the orphanage. The rich man however requires her to write letters to him regularly and also lays down a condition that she must not ask him any details about himself. She writes letters to him addressing him as “Daddy long legs”.

There is a surprise in store for Jerusha as well as the readers in the last chapter.

Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

It has a heavy theme running through it. Anne Frank with her family are in hiding to escape from getting sent to a Nazi concentration camp. Confined to a small room through the day and forced to be as noiseless as possible, Anne Frank had only her diary to pour out her thoughts.

“White Bird”, a graphic novel by A.J. Palacio too shares a similar theme and is about a girl who is in hiding from the Nazis. Since this is a graphic novel, this probably makes for an easier read, especially for younger readers.



About the Author


I am a Japanese language trainer with over 10 years of experience in teaching and mentoring students. I have lived in Japan for many years and enjoy sharing insights from my experience in the areas read more...

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