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A Cure for the Summertime Blues, by Suzanne I. Barchers

Enliven those lazy, hazy summer days or long "boring" vacation trips with these activities based on top-notch book picks for kids
A reproducible handout for parents.

Student carrying books

Primary and up
Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin (Simon and Schuster, 2000). Everyone can chime in with "Click, clack, moo" as Farmer Brown's cows type their way to improved conditions. Write letters like the animals, role play the story and create a sequel.

Juan Bobo Goes to Work by Marisa Montes (HarperCollins, 2000). Juan Bobo tries to please his mama in this hilarious tale from Puerto Rico. Read aloud, reversing the roles and learn the Spanish words.

Goldilocks Returns by Lisa Campbell Ernest (Simon and Schuster, 2000). Compare Goldilocks' efforts to make amends with the original by listing similar and different elements. Count chairs, bowls, flowers, etc. Speculate about what the next trespasser will do.

Bunny Day: Telling Time from Breakfast to Bedtime by Rick Walton (HarperCollins, 2002). Follow the family through the day, finding all the clocks. Compare their schedule to yours. Use puppets or stuffed animals and a clock to act out a bunny day.

Intermediate and up
Knights and Battles by Richard Tames (Silver Dolphin, 2001). The Middle Ages come alive through lift-flaps, overlays and pull-tabs. Create your own maps, dioramas, battle plans and plan a quest.

Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac (HarperCollins, 2001). When Molly's parents disappear, she draws on her Mohawk heritage and listens to her dreams to survive. Discuss how stories or dreams can inspire courage.

Over the Edge by Gloria Skurzynski and Alane Ferguson (National Geographic Society, 2002). Travel with the Landons to study condors at the Grand Canyon. Keep a log of birds or wildlife seen in your own travels, and research local endangered species.

Odysseus in the Serpent Maze by Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris (HarperCollins, 2001). This lively version of Odysseus's journeys will inspire readers to read other myths. Read each chapter aloud as a radio play. How would each character cope with similar challenges today?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (Bantam, 1997). Create a list of the funniest episodes and compile humorous family stories. Compare Flint, MI, Birmingham, AL and your town.

Middle School and up
Memory Boy by Will Weaver (HarperCollins, 2001). Miles invents a contraption so that his family can escape Minneapolis after a series of volcanic explosions have created chaos. Track their route on a map, invent another vehicle, make a list of survival supplies.

Turnabout by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Simon and Schuster, 2000). Two elderly women are selected to have an injection that will make them grow younger. Read aloud, with everyone writing his or her reactions to the story as the women face tough choices.

Downriver by Will Hobbs (Bantam, 1996). Create a large map to plot the journey of Jamie and Jason as they race across Alaska to win $20,000. Research life in 1899 in Yukon country and during the gold rush.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (Alfred A. Knopf, 2000). Create a graph that plots Stargirl's rise and fall in popularity as she changes from unconventional to "normal" or keep a reaction journal. List the pros and cons of fitting in.

Suzanne I. Barchers is managing editor at Weekly Reader and is the author of 40 books for teachers and children.