Kids Summer Book Bingo: A Book You Read When You Were Younger
May 11, 2020
Kids Summer Book Bingo is Seattle Arts & Lectures’ free summer reading program for kids and young adults ages 0-17—and it’s here early this year! Download your bingo card here, then spend now through September 8th reading for your chance to win fabulous prizes!
Our Writers in the Schools (WITS) program is held together by a small team: Alicia Craven, Bre’Anna Girdy, and Piper Daugharty. Together, they bridge the relationships between schools, teachers, writers, and students, and help outreach efforts in educational and literary communities. They love to read, and get so much energy from the incredible writing they see from students on a daily basis! Even now, they’re revving up for a digital gala of student work to celebrate the entire year of residencies this spring.
Below, you’ll find the WITS team’s tried and true recommendations for the Kids Summer Book Bingo square “A Book You Read When You Were Younger.”
Alicia Craven, Director of Education
A Pocket for Corduroy by Don Freeman. This book is one of the rare instances where the sequel is as good as, or better, than the original—though Corduroy is also a fabulous origin story! I remember having this book read to me, and then re-reading it myself so many times. The relationship between our hero, a stuffed bear named Corduroy, and his young human companion, Lisa, is so sweetly rendered, and the stakes and worry on both their sides when they’re separated is so relatable to readers of all ages. Some of the illustrations in this book are so captivating, too. I remember gifting this to a friend for her young daughter, and we both had the same indelible fond memory of the illustration of beautifully colorful laundry spinning in the washing machine. Also, I’m with Corduroy—I, too, think all clothes should have pockets.
Matilda by Ronald Dahl. I still count this among my most favorite and re-read books of all time. I remember having it gifted to me by a family friend when I was in third grade, and sitting down with it, laughing so hard at the opening scenes with the narrator imagining all the eviscerating comments he would make in an honest parent-teacher conference if there were no social niceties. In many of Dahl’s works for youth, the protagonist is a clever young person, tasked with navigating their way through a sea of semi-nefarious adults. This is a powerful flip of the traditional dynamic of kids not having much power or agency, so these books feel delightfully subversive to read when you’re a similar age as the main characters. It made me into a life-long Dahl evangelist, both as a third grader and now. I know it shaped my reading tastes and affinity for work with dark humor to this day.
Piper Daugharty, WITS Program Associate
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. Growing up in Alaska, it was rare to find a book that felt true to my own experience, and this book feels so regional, so seasonally-bound to culture and to climate. This is really a book about encounters: it helped me understand that “nature” or “wilderness” wasn’t something to fear, but something to revere and be humbled by. Sal and her mother pick blueberries to can for winter, and the bear sow and cub are just doing the same thing nearby, with both mothers warning their babes to gather, not just eat. There’s a certain respect that comes from growing up in a place where borders between wilderness and “civilization” are blurred, and this book shows that both mothers are just trying to prepare for the harsh season to come. Plus, Sal eats about five berries for every blueberry she puts in her bucket, which I still can’t help doing as an adult, and she’s full of mischief—the best kind of little girl to look up to.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Though this book is told from the perspective of a high school boy named Leo, the new girl named Star Girl (a strange, buckskin and flapper-dress-wearing, beat-of-her-own-drum newcomer, with a pet rat named Cinnamon and a ukulele) steals the show. The drama of this book totally captivated me in middle school! There’s a burgeoning-but-doomed romance, popularity contests and social suicide, fearful conformity in the face of anything different, and in the end, it’s a tale as old as time—a tale about being yourself. The kids in this book are cruel, real, and sometimes so tender with each other, and none of them as brave as Star Girl, who collapses the power of cruelty with a final act of vulnerability. In many ways, her bravery to act vulnerably makes her the most untethered, the most liberated, the most free. She was always someone I wanted to be.
Bre’Anna Girdy, WITS Program Coordinator
Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osbourne. In my childhood home, at any given moment, you were sure to find someone telling someone else “about that time.” The stories were especially fascinating when grandma was the one telling the wild stories of her childhood, as two generations would be standing around her, marveling at her adventures. The stars in my eyes when I would listen to my grandma speak of times long past stayed there and grew into an all-encompassing love of the world and places where stories live. Throughout the Magic Tree House series, you are taken to worlds of fantasy, and you are told all of the stories that live there. With each book comes a new lesson derived from the adventures inside, and it felt like I had my own little story to tell around the dinner table in the evening. On a practical level, the books themselves remove whatever borders encasing your imagination, asking you to jump into places unknown. The Magic Tree House really can take you anywhere and, once you’ve been there, you have a new place to house your imaginative stories.
Nancy Drew: Girl Detective by Carolyn Keene. The story of how I found the Nancy Drew: Girl Detective series isn’t a particularly spectacular one. I think the spine stood out as especially colorful against the rest of the books at my elementary school library—but, it just so happened that I was starting to love the mystery and suspense genre in movie form. Naturally, I was glued to this series. For those who are avid fans of catching the bad guys, Nancy Drew books come packed with elaborate plots that aren’t always easy to follow, and I think that’s part of the greatness. You wouldn’t want a mystery to be easy to solve and, often times, I would be genuinely surprised when the case came to a close. Soon, it became a challenge: I wanted all of the clues and all of the facts. There were times when I’d even reread earlier parts of the book because, when the time came to catch the bad buy, I wanted to be the first on the scene.