Suggestion for a 7th-grader's summer reading

My son has just finished 6th grade. Looking for recommendations of books for him for summer reading.

He’s already read:
A lot of the Redwall books, and they haven’t really captured his interest

The Young Merlin series, which he loved so much he cried when he finished the last one, because there weren’t any more

Animal Farm

Red Badge of Courage

Lord of the Flies


The entire Charlie Bone series (Harry Potter rip-off if ever there was one)

The Black Stallion books

He’s dabbled in Artemis Fowl, and that doesn’t seem to have gripped him either.

We read Heinlein’s Have Space Suit Will Travel together, and he really enjoyed that. We’ve been reading Dave Barry’s Peter Pan interpretation (Peter and the Star Catchers, Peter and the Shadow Thieves).

So, what would Dopers suggest for a soon-to-be-12-year-old?

Brief synopses would be most helpful.

I think I remember reading Cynthia Voigt around that time.
Sons From Afar and Homecoming sound familiar. I’m pretty sure there was another one, but I don’t remember what it was. I do remember liking them.

How about the whole Chronicles of Narnia series? Or has he gotten through that already?

You might try him on the good-old-fashioned science fiction, like H. G. Wells etc. I read those when I was about that age. The Invisible Man, War of the Worlds, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

There are also the good-old-fashioned boys’ adventure novels, like Kidnapped, Treasure Island, Around the World in 80 Days, and King Solomon’s Mines.

Also, if he is ever going to be able to read and tolerate Ivanhoe, this is the time he should try it.

These are all lofty suggestions, but to be honest, the summer I was twelve was the summer that I read half of Steven King’s books.

Great suggestions, Sattua!

He’d done the Narnia thing (and we’ve read LOTR together), but H.G Wells and adventure suggestions are good! He liked Treasure Island – which he read before the whole Pirates of the Caribbean phenom.

He absolutely couldn’t handle Stephen King’s themes, bless his heart.They would scare the bejesus out of him.

I don’t know if he may be too advanced for it or not but about that age I read and enjoyed The Phantom Tollbooth. If he was able to read and enjoy Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies, he may be able to gain something from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
For some old light just-for-fun reading I always liked the old Tom Swift series. A bit camp and dated but always fun.

ETA: The original Frankenstein, Invisible Man, First Men In The Moon were also great.

The Amulet of Samarkand (book 1 of The Bartimaeus Trilogy) by Jonathan Stroud.

Bartimaeus is an awesome character, one of the funniest I’ve ever read. He’d be a Doper if he were real. The books alternate between 3rd person narration of the other characters and Bartimaeus’s 1st person POV. He even has footnotes, which are absolutely worth reading.

What about Michael Crichton, I never read any of his books, but I remember friends of mine were reading them at middle school age.
How about Rasin in the Sun
Native Son
Ferhenheit 451
Brave New World
Hatchet (maybe we read that earlier, I dont’ remember)

For pete’s sake don’t give the kid *Native Son * until he’s 21!

Diana Wynne Jones writes really good fantasy. You could try any one of several of her books–these are good starter volumes.

Archer’s Goon
Dark Lord of Derkholm (skewers sword-and-sorcery fantasy)
Howl’s Moving Castle

Not too long ago we had a thread discussing a list of top books for boys.

Either the list itself, or some of the books we named that should have been on it, ought to provide you with some ideas. I’m sure we can provide you with synopses if you want further info on anything any of us recommended.

Maybe some good old fashioned ancient epic (gotta pull for my major, you know). Try the Lombardo translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey. *Beowulf *could go over well but I can’t recommend a specific translation. That was a particularly loved piece of mine as a pre-teen.

I also enjoyed Catcher in the Rye at that age. Steinbeck might be a good choice. Maybe Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, or Tortilla Flat. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and *The Adventures of Tom Sawyer * are of course standard classics (or used to be).

I will second *Hatchet *(kid must hack it himself in the wilderness after his chartered plane crash lands) although I read it a little younger. I think it would sit well with a 12 y.o. though.

In that line of survival-type books I can recommend My Side of the Mountain (teenager runs away to the family plot in the Catskills, becomes self-sufficient and even raises a baby falcon) and *Island of the Blue Dolphins *(based on the story of an Indian woman marooned on an island off the California coast; she is buried at the Santa Barbara Mission). We had a core of survival-themed literature I think in fifth or sixth grade which is where I picked all those up. Good stuff.

That’s about when I first read Lord of the Rings.

Also Breakfast of Champions.

How about the Stainless Steel Rat books? Fun reads with some intellectually challenging ideas included.

A Day No Pigs Would Die (Coming-of-age story from a kid raised as a Shaker)

In the Suicide Mountains by John Gardner; kind of a conscious homage to The Canterbury Tales with a 1970s sensibility

Amphigorey by Edward Gorey. Black, black humor, heavily illustrated. An inspiration for Lemony Snicket.

The Destroyer by Warren Murphy (series). Sly satire disguised as “men’s sweat” novels.

Flashman by George Macdonald Fraser (series). Funnier and less-salacious than reputed. Plus, a lot of the 19th Century locales are fresh in the news again.

I’m reading these now – wouldn’t it be fun to read them as a 7th grade boy? :smiley:

Has he read Watership Down? How about some Ray Bradbury?

Oh, yeah, I third the Bartimaeus Trilogy, those were great. I also recommend the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix. It’s fantasy, of the somewhat surreal type - a bit like *Brazil *for kids.

Ray Bradbury’s Green Town novels: Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes. The protagonist in the first is a 12-year-old boy, who observes a wondrous summer. The autumnal Something Wicked features two 13-year-old boys who encounter a mysterious carnival.

Has he read the Lemony Snicket books yet? Quite a few of my seventh graders really like them.

These suggestions plus the thread Thudlow linked ought to get you off to a flying start, but I’ll add a few more:

Top of my list is A House With a Clock in Its Walls, by John Bellairs. If he likes this one, there are maybe ten or fifteen more books with the Lewis Barnavelt character, and he’ll love those too. From the Amazon review:

Lewis always dreamed of living in an old house full of secret passageways, hidden rooms, and big marble fireplaces. And suddenly, after the death of his parents, he finds himself in just such a mansion–his Uncle Jonathan’s. When he discovers that his big friendly uncle is also a wizard, Lewis has a hard time keeping himself from jumping up and down in his seat. Unfortunately, what Lewis doesn’t bank on is the fact that the previous owner of the mansion was also a wizard–but an evil one who has placed a tick-tocking clock somewhere in the bowels of the house, marking off the minutes until the end of the world. And when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead on Halloween night, the clock only ticks louder and faster. Doomsday draws near–unless Lewis can stop the clock!

Next, I’d recommend almost anything by William Sleator, a YA sci-fi author. My favorites are House of Stairs and Singularity. Again with the reviews:

House of Stairs- One by one, five sixteen-year-old orphans are brought to a strange building. It is not a prison, not a hospital; it has no walls, no ceiling, no floor. Nothing but endless flights of stairs leading nowhere —except back to a strange red machine. The five must learn to love the machine and let it rule their lives. But will they let it kill their souls? This chilling, suspenseful indictment of mind control is a classic of science fiction and will haunt readers long after the last page is turned.

Singularity-Sixteen-year-old twins Harry and Barry stumble across a gateway to another universe, where a distortion in time and space causes a dramatic change in their competitive relationship.

My son and I are currently enjoying Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli. It’s a great bedtime book because it has very short chapters.

Amazon review: Maniac Magee is a folk story about a boy, a very excitable boy. One that can outrun dogs, hit a home run off the best pitcher in the neighborhood, tie a knot no one can undo. “Kid’s gotta be a maniac,” is what the folks in Two Mills say. It’s also the story of how this boy, Jeffrey Lionel “Maniac” Magee, confronts racism in a small town, tries to find a home where there is none and attempts to soothe tensions between rival factions on the tough side of town. Presented as a folk tale, it’s the stuff of storytelling. “The history of a kid,” says Jerry Spinelli, “is one part fact, two parts legend, and three parts snowball.” And for this kid, four parts of fun. Maniac Magee won the 1991 Newbery Medal.

Apparently Jane Yolen wrote the Young Merlin books–I’ve read some of her “adult” stuff. She’s also written this trilogy. (Amazon is really good at making suggestions.)

Has he read the other Heinlein “juveniles”? Citizen of the Galaxy was a favorite–but I loved all of them.

Speaking of “juveniles” that adults still read–what about Kipling? Kim is the story of an Irish boy raised in India who went on the road with a Tibetan lama & learned to play The Great Game. Kipling also created Mowgli—the boy raised by wolves. As a kid, I had All The Mowgli Stories; now, I’m looking for another copy. (They’re out there.)

I was that age when I read “Mutiny on the Bounty.” I’m still fascinated with the story.