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Before the pandemic, about 3.3 million students attended mandatory or optional summer school programs in 2019. This year is expected to far exceed that number, with reopenings underway, school districts drawing on federal aid, and families looking to make up for lost learning. Read on for more.

With her three teenagers vaccinated against COVID-19, Aja Purnell-Mitchell left it up to them to decide whether to go back to school during summer break.

The decision was unanimous: summer school.

“Getting them back into it, helping them socialize back with their friends, maybe meet some new people, and, of course, pick up the things that they lacked on Zoom,” the Durham County, North Carolina, mother said, ticking off her hopes for the session ahead, which will be the first time her children have been in the classroom since the outbreak took hold in the spring of 2020.

Across the U.S., more children than ever before could be in classrooms for summer school this year to make up for lost learning during the outbreak, which caused monumental disruptions in education. School districts nationwide are expanding their summer programs and offering bonuses to get teachers to take part.

Read this full article in the Chicago Tribune: ‘More children than ever could be in classrooms for summer school, making up for lost time during pandemic’

What’s summer without a good book? Sure, the beach makes it all better – ok who are we kidding, a lot better – but summer often lends itself to much needed time to reset and escape.

This year has been challenging. As we find ourselves preparing for back-to-school and taking in the last few weeks of summer, it’s important that we remember to take a little time for ourselves. Whether you’re looking for a distraction or looking to set some time aside to read with your family, there’s something about curling up with a good book that calms the soul and eases the mind.

So wherever the remainder of the summer takes you– even if it’s just the backyard—pick up a book.

Below is a list of favorites selected by our Safe and Sound team. You’ll find we’ve included some much-loved classics and several school safety reads to get you in the back-to-school mindset. Feel free to share any suggestions you have with us. Happy reading!

Family Read-A-Long

  • The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis
  • Jesus Calling (daily devotional and Phone Application)
  • Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder

Best Books for Kids

Ages 0-5

  • Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
  • Rainbow Fish, Marcus Pfister
  • Anything Dr. Seuss!

Ages 6-10

  • Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White
  • The Girl Who Hid Her Dreams in a Can, Dr. Tererai Trent
  • One Crazy Summer, Rita Williams-Garcia
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney

Preteen

  • I am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World, Malala Yousafzai
  • Esperanza Rising, Pam Muñoz Ryan
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O’Dell
  • Holes, Louis Sachar

Teen

  • The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
  • Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton
  • The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Giver, Lois Lowry
  • Code Talker, Joseph Bruchac

Top School Safety Picks

  • The Ant Hill Disaster, Julia Cook (for elementary ages)
  • The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School – How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle, Barbara Coloroso
  • The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity, Nadine Burke Harris, M.D.
  • It’s Always About the Children, Charles A. Barrett, PhD, NCSP
  • Emotional Poverty In All Demographics, Ruby Payne, PhD

Recreational Reading and Inspiration for Adults

  • The Selection 5-Book Boxed Set: The Complete Series, Kiera Cass
  • Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, Marie Kondo
  • Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz
  • The Gift of Fear, Gavin deBecker
  • Talking to Strangers: What we Should Know About the People We Don’t Know, Malcom Gladwell
  • Leaving Time, Jodi Picoult
  • They Call me Mr. De, Frank DeAngelis