Now that summer is here, there are many things to get busy doing outside, but make sure to bring a book! There is no better way to stay academically in shape than by reading books. Studies show that students who participate in recommended reading programs over the summer actually gain knowledge rather than losing it.
If you’re a student, set a goal of what books you want to read and find a way to reward yourself for each book you get through. If you are a parent, you can encourage your students to continue their academic practice by making a family summer recommended reading list. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Christian Nonfiction and Fiction
There are many great books that speak of the present day teachings and experiences of Christians. The following is some recommended reading for this summer that can help lead your family into deeper discussions of faith.
Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Written and taking place after The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings trilogy was written by Tolkien, a devout Christian, and attributes of his faith are evident in the books. Aspects of Jesus’ character are shown in Aragorn, the rightful king of a realm stewarded by others, and Gandalf, whose story arc has both literal and symbolic parallels with Jesus’ life. While reading the books, look for and talk about Christian themes sewn throughout the pages and enjoy the rich lines of text, such as, “Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”
Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo
This is a truly incredible story. While not all Christians share the same theology of heaven, this book about a four-year-old who says he went to heaven—where he met his sister whom he hadn’t known existed, saw angels, and spent time in the presence of Jesus—is a great launchpad for family discussion. It also comes in an abridged version for kids with a Q&A section and a conversation guide for your family—a great reason to add it to your recommended reading list this summer.
Kisses from Katie by Katie J. Davis
There is a way that the world expects us to move through life, but in this true story, a bold, well-liked, successful eighteen-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee takes a trip to Uganda and is so moved by the overwhelming need that she sees that, in obedience to God’s call on her life, she chooses to return and adopt thirteen Ugandan children. This book is a profound picture of what it can mean to give one’s life away as Christ gave His life for us, abandoning a perfect life in heaven for a life of sacrifice on our behalf.
Killing Lions by Sam and John Eldredge
Killing Lions was inspired by a series of conversations between father and son about the struggle of becoming an adult and finding your calling in the world. While this book is written for young men, it would make a great read for families with teens of either gender. You may also want to view the related video series.
Books of the Bible
When thinking about assembling a reading list for the family, consider including God’s Word. Here is a recommended reading list of books of the Bible that you can enjoy as a family:
Acts — The apostles after the ascension of Christ are a lot like us: continually waiting on the spirit and discerning what it means to fulfill the Great Commission. In the book of Acts we see formerly broken, cowardly people empowered to risk everything in the name of Jesus.
Nehemiah — Nehemiah was a leader whom God used as an instrument in rebuilding the temple. Though his people faced many obstacles along the way, Nehemiah trusted God and led them with wisdom.
Psalms — These songs of praise, primarily authored by David in response to a variety of circumstances, are a good way to introduce your children to worship in its many forms. In anger, we worship. In heartbreak, we worship. In joy, we worship. Meditating on a Psalm a day together is a great way to train your family members’ hearts to praise Him always.
Job — The story of Job is a classic story of trials, patience, and perseverance. Despite losing everything, and receiving bad advice from friends, Job remained steadfast and God rewarded him for his faithfulness.
If your family is young and some members are struggling to understand what is happening in the Bible stories, consider going through the Jesus Storybook Bible, a colorfully illustrated, gospel-focused children’s Bible distilled into an easy-to-follow narrative.
Reading as a family can be an incredibly bonding experience. It allows you to use your imagination and go to another place and time as a family! You can take turns reading aloud, or read independently and come together to discuss the book. Either way, we encourage you to take time this summer to read as a family.
At Enlightium Academy, we believe reading is a crucial habit to develop at a young age, and we strongly encourage our students to read and think critically all year round. This year we even have an incentivized summer recommended reading program, where students can earn extra credit for the coming school year by reading books from this list and writing a book report for each.
If you want to encourage your kids to read, you may consider implementing a similar incentive system for your family’s recommended reading list. Or you can enroll your child at Enlightium Academy and get them started reading their way toward a head start in English.