Summer Book Swap: The First List!

Last week, I wrote about my idea to get everyone reading more and better books by doing a reading swap with my kids. It’s a simple plan: They read a book I think they’ll like, and I’ll read a book they think I’ll like.

Here’s what we have so far. (Note: All links are Amazon Associate links, meaning I earn a small percentage of every sale. If you click through and end up buying something else, I still earn! Thank you!)

My 19-year-old daughter has me reading The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett,

and I gave her The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh.

My 18-year-old daughter is still mulling over my assignment, but I’m probably giving her The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth.

My 16-year-old daughter got me started on The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan,

and I’m giving her The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis.

My 15-year-old son gave me The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

and I’m giving him A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

My 13-year-old son assigned me Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

and I’m giving him Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

(if you order this book, beware of abridged editions!).

My 11-year-old daughter got me started on The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham,

and I gave her The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson (terrible, off-putting cover):

My 10-year-old daughter gave me The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann (here’s hoping the cover is misleading)

and I’m giving her The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald (the sequel to The Princess and the Goblin.)

My 8-year-old daughter gave me The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

and I’m giving her The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White.

My five-year-old is just learning how to read, so she’s not playing, but I did order a copy of The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh by A.A. Milne for us to read together.

If your family is only familiar with the Disney version of Winnie the Pooh, do yourself a tremendous favor and get ahold of the original. The stories are so weird and hilarious, highly entertaining for parents without being condescending for kids.

And we’re off! I’ll probably follow up with a bunch of quick reviews by me and the kids, and then we’ll get a second list going. So far, so good.

Are you interested in doing a book swap with your kids this summer? What books will you give them, and which books are they giving you? Please include their ages and maybe a little bit about why the books are on the list.

14 thoughts on “Summer Book Swap: The First List!”

  1. With the exception of your tweens’ selections (which I have not read), it looks like your kids have already developed excellent taste. So at the very least, this experiment may wind up putting your mind at ease about their “junk food diet” spoiling their taste.

  2. I for one am impressed at the quality of your kids’ pleasure reading. Not a Big Nate or Diary of a Wimpy Kid in sight (or for your older kids, whatever the girl version of Tom Clancy is). Anyway, they’re all a far cry from Captain Underpants.

  3. I’ve read three of the books your kids have assigned you! And they’re OK. I’d give you my beefs, but I don’t want to prejudice you and spoil whatever enjoyment you might be able to get out of them.

    One of my girls is crazy for the Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger and has begged me to read it. I finished book one . . . only a thousand or so pages to go. Argh. Maybe I should tell her I’ll finish the series if she’ll read To Kill a Mockingbird. They don’t seem to assign it in school anymore.

  4. This is great, except that given that you have many kids, whereas they each have only one mom, you end up with an awful lot of assigned reading. Especially given that you presumably have less free time than they do. Good luck with all the reading! (Are you allowed to skim?)

    1. I’m kind of a speedreader, so I think I can do it. I also have the ulterior motive of hoping to get back in the habit of reading more and Facebooking less.

  5. I’m exchanging books of my choice for playing Pokemon with my 8-year-old brother! (I’m 22). But I’m realizing I don’t know many really good boy books for that age. Any suggestions?

    1. Trumpet of the Swan, Cricket in Times Square, Freddy the Pig books, The Boxcar Children, Charlotte’s Web, Farmer Boy, Chronicles of Narnia, The Borrowers, Stuart Little, My Side of the Mountain.

    2. “Homer Price” and “Centerburg Tales” by Robert McCloskey are *very* popular with my 8 y-o. Thornton Burgess books, if he likes animals. Roald Dahl is usually good too; “The BFG” would probably be a good choice if you could stand the resulting snickering about frobscottle. Astrid Lindgren’s “Emil” books are hilarious if you can track them down. Great Brain series by John Fitzgerald. Freddy the Pig books (there are a lot of those). The Eddie books by Carolyn Haywood are a bit old-fashioned, but mine have liked them. Sid Fleischman is always good; McBroom books and “By the Great Horn Spoon” are a couple to try. “The Barefoot Book of Knights.” Dover publishes We Were There books, if he’d prefer something historical; my son did like reading about the battle of Gettysburg.

    3. Eight-year-olds can have quite varied reading levels, so it’s a little tricky, but you might try Encyclopedia Brown mysteries, Bunnicula by James Howe, Edward Eager books (Half Magic, Magic by the Lake, etc.), The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear by Lensey Namioka.

      1. Certainly true about different reading levels. I’ve had 8 year olds reading Harry Potter and Percy Jackson and an 8 year old who struggled through Frog and Toad. It also depends upon your goal – are you looking for him to read great books or are you looking for him to read anything at all? An easy read book series typically enjoyed by 8 year old boys of all reading levels is the Jedi Academy series. Just don’t confuse it with great literature. I like Edward Tulane and Charlottes Web for better books for third graders but I think their reception is less of a guarantee.

        1. Wow, thanks everybody! I hadn’t seen your replies until now.

          I would love him to read good books and not just anything. However, right now he is exclusively interested in Calvin and Hobbes and Pokemon. I mean those are his only interests in life, not just literature haha. He doesn’t read actual books for fun. He is able to read books a little above the level of Magic Tree House books, so I asked the librarian and she recommended the Time Warp Trio books (similar concept, seems a little harder and more exciting). We’ll see how that goes! And I’ll definitely make a list of these, I’ve never heard of a few. Thanks!

  6. That Terry Pratchett/Evelyn Waugh trade is wonderful.

    Also, this is great. You’re introducing your kids to classics and also expanding their appreciation of the kind of books they like. Several of the trades are on par. (And kudos for encouraging a love of George MacDonald’s fairy tales.)

  7. What an awesome idea but how are you going to keep up with all that reading! My son and I share a love for Peculiar Children but don’t watch the movie expecting it to be similar at all.

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