Race Across Space Summer Reading Program

It’s that time again. Time for the Traveling Through the Pages Summer Reading program.

We are happy to be bringing you another great year of fun featuring book selections by Jessica Lawton, art by homeschooler Katherine Weaver, and administration (aka grunt work) by yours truly.

Rocket ready to Race Across Space

This is our sixth year doing the summer reading program. This year we are dusting off the Race Across Space summer reading program because we created a set of Morning Time plans to go with this program — doing the plans along with the program will check off spaces in the reading program through read-alouds for your kids if they are young, or encourage older readers to learn more about the topics you are studying in Morning Time.

Race Across Space Summer Morning Time Plans

The Race Across Space game board is a little different. We have five letters (S-P-A-C-E) and five very BROAD topics under each letter. Your child needs to read one book from each column and race across space to the other side. When they finish they can come back to the “S” and start a new path.  We suggest colorful star stickers to mark the path.

I have given descriptions of each topic, but have left them absolutely as broad as possible. Remember, the point of Traveling Through the Pages is to get kids reading outside of their normal genres — not to give you a massive headache finding books. So make those categories as broad as you need to.

Race Across Space Summer Reading Program

Your download kit includes your Space Map game board, two versions of a reading log, a fun reading bucket list, reward coupons, bookmarks, and a certificate of completion. You supply the rewards for your family.  That way the rewards will line up with your own values. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ice Cream
  • Movie ticket
  • Finger nail painting “party”
  • Mom makes treat of choice
  • Mom makes meal of choice
  • Buy a book of their choice
  • Trip to favorite restaurant
  • Bowling
  • Special date with Mom or Dad
  • Dollar store funds
  • Make a treasure chest of small items
  • Picnic at the park — dessert of their choice
  • Backyard campout and s’mores
  • Trip to nature center, zoo, or other local “free” place kids love to go
  • Extra computer time
  • Art or craft kit from craft store
  • Stay up late pass
  • Free day from chores

Some folks don’t care to reward reading, but my thought is to CELEBRATE reading. You can hear me talk more about that on this episode of the Read Aloud Revival podcast. Ultimately the decision (along with all the rules about what counts and doesn’t count, the dates to start and stop, and how much to require, can they be read alouds, etc) is totally up to you.

Enter your email address to download your reading kit. When you do you will get a reading email from us about once a week with new reading ideas and book suggestions. You will also get my homeschool newsletter, news about my podcasts, and a weekly email. We hope you stick around, but if that is not for you, then feel free to unsubscribe.

Click here to get your Race Across Space Summer Reading Program Download.

Whew. That’s a ton of information. Now, on to the categories and book suggestions. We have tried to give you a wide age-range of suggestions for each topic, but remember, these are only suggestions. Your kids can read what they choose.


Science – This can be a book about science, a scientist, fiction based on science, or even a book of science experiments (be sure to do one).

Magic School Bus Series by Joanna Cole – Any of these books are sure to please. My kids love to look at the pictures, read the witty complaints by Arnold, and are always fascinated by what Mrs. Frizzle has to teach them.

Oh, the Places on Earth! A Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library Collection – Entertaining rhyming science books for the youngest crowd in your summer reading program.

Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes: Unforgettable Experiments That Make Science Fun by Steve Spangler – This book promises fun science experiments to wow your older summer readers. They might even learn something while having fun!

Solar System: A Visual Exploration of All the Planets, Moons and Other Heavenly Bodies that Orbit Our Sun by Marcus Chown – This series of books is absolutely a treat for the eyes. I have loved my copy of Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore Gray and cannot recommend these beautiful books enough.

Want more science fun? Check out How to Host Your Own Mad Scientist Convention.

Series – Any book in a series.

The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West – First published in 1953, this simply good, fun children’s mystery series is back in print. Ruth enjoys every one she reads.

The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne – What series book list would be complete without The Magic Tree House books? Perfect for those just starting independent reading this summer.

Ranger in Time by Kate Messner – A time traveling dog helps those in need. Fun if you enjoyed The Magic Tree House and are looking for more time traveling fun.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket – The plight of the Baudelaire children, their unending determination to find a safe place, and their eventual realization that the world is not really a safe place doesn’t seem like light summer reading, but it is exciting, and entertaining, and enlightening.

The Mysterious Benedict Society Collection  by Trenton Lee Stewart – Put these in the can’t put down category. My older daughter and I both loved this series for its interesting characters and sweet story line.

The Shadow Children by Margaret Peterson Haddix – For your oldest summer readers. I read this series in little over a week. To say my homeschooling suffered would be an understatement. Read them with your teenager and enjoy the great discussions about the controversies raised in this series.

For more series ideas, check out The Story Goes On: Best Book Series.

Silent – Try a wordless or nearly wordless picture books.

A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog by Mercer Mayer – Little boys will love the comical illustrations in this wordless book series. Have fun making up a story, or just enjoy the slapstick comedy.

Journey by Aaron Becker – Hand this book to 100 different children and get 100 different stories. Where would you go if you had a day to imagine a journey?

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd – Explore the night without staying up past your bed time! Talk about what you see or just enjoy the fun pictures.

Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day – All of the Carl books are beloved in our house. Who can resist a lovable nanny-like Rottweiler taking care of a cute baby? Enjoy the mischief and fun of Carl.

Shakespeare – You can read the Bard in the original (we recommend listening along with a dramatized audio version), read an adaptation, or even read a book about Shakespeare.

Tales from Shakespeare by Charles Lamb – A classic for young and even older readers just being introduced to the stories of Shakespeare.

Shakespeare’s Seasons by Miriam Weiner – Selections from Shakespeare’s works to fit the seasons. A lovely short introduction for your youngest summer readers.

Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare by Diane Stanley – A beautifully illustrated biography of Shakespeare.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare – One of my favorite Shakespeare plays for your older reader on this summer. Read in the original and savor the fun language and word play.

For more Shakespeare fun check out Have a Shakespeare Party.

Space – A book of fiction, non-fiction or biography. Anything with the topic of space in a nod to our theme this year.

One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh – Beautifully illustrated, wonderfully told story of the first moon landing. This one is picked up at out library frequently.

If You Decide To Go To The Moon by Faith McNulty – Illustrated by Steven Kellogg, this book stimulates the imagination as you prepare to take your own journey to the moon.

Explorers on the Moon (The Adventures of Tintin) by Hergé and The First Moon Landing (Graphic History) by Thomas K. Adamson – Both graphic story books are about landing on the moon. My daughter loves these graphic history books, because there are so many pictures to go with the story.

Rocket Ship Galileo by Robert A Heinlein – From the author of Starship Troopers, this teen novel is now out of print, but I list it because it is so very good. A wonderful introduction to classic science fiction from an award winning author. Check your library and used book stores for a copy.

 The Magic School Bus Lost In The Solar System Oh, the Places on Earth! A Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library Collection (Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!: Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library) Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes: Unforgettable Experiments That Make Science Fun (Steve Spangler Science) Solar System: A Visual Exploration of All the Planets, Moons and Other Heavenly Bodies that Orbit Our Sun The Happy Hollisters Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 1-4: Dinosaurs Before Dark, The Knight at Dawn, Mummies in the Morning, and Pirates Past Noon Rescue on the Oregon Trail (Ranger in Time #1) The Bad Beginning: Or, Orphans! (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1) The Mysterious Benedict Society Collection Among the Hidden (Shadow Children #1) A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog Journey Flashlight Good Dog, Carl : A Classic Board Book Tales From Shakespeare Student Edition Complete And Unabridged Shakespeare’s Seasons Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Folger Shakespeare Library) One Giant Leap If You Decide To Go To The Moon Explorers on the Moon (The Adventures of Tintin)
 The First Moon Landing (Graphic History) Rocket Ship Galileo


Poetry – A book of poems or at least five poetry choices. More fun when read over tea.

The Hound Dog’s Haiku: and Other Poems for Dog Lovers by Michael J. Rosen – If you have a dog lover in your house this is the perfect poetry book for them!

Out of This World: Poems and Facts about Space by Amy Sklansky – Great illustrations, fun space poems, and interesting space facts make this book a great fit for our theme this year.

Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow by Joyce Sidman – My children love this book. Each poem is a riddle for them to solve. Each page is joy for the eye with its amazing illustrations. Joyce Sidman is a talented modern children’s poet. We have read and enjoyed many of her books.

Poetry for Young People Series – If you have a summer reader interested in a certain poet, this series will help them explore in depth. These are beautiful books with lovely illustrations, a timeline of the poet’s life and times, and several of their most well known poems.

For more poetry ideas check out Ten Books of Poems for Kids.

Person – A biography or autobiography.

Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America’s Heart by Julie Cummins – One woman’s amazing transatlantic adventure.

Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World by Tracey Fern – The perfect picture book biography for your dinosaur lover.

The World’s Greatest Lion by Ralph Helfer – Who says your biography has to be about a person? My kids loved reading this picture book story of Leo the Lion.

Who Was Series – Quick and fun, these books are great summer reads.

For the Glory: Eric Liddell’s Journey from Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr by Duncan Hamilton – An inspiring read for your oldest summer readers. This account tells of the life Liddell led after his Olympic Gold — a life of sacrifice, humility, and love.

Playful – Anything funny or fun. A comic book? Book of jokes. Something side-splittingly funny?

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School… by Davide Cali – In the spirit of I Saw it on Mulberry Street, this delightful picture book takes you through the excuses of one imaginative boy.

In a Pickle: And Other Funny Idioms by Marvin Terban – Word play is always fun!

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald – Funny, sweet, and sometimes just plain absurd, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is one of my girls’ favorites.

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson – Because summer reading should be about having fun, and Calvin and Hobbes is fun for boys, girls, old and young. We all feel like Calvin some days.

For more playful books check out Books That Are Laugh Out Loud Funny.

Place – A book about a special place. This can be the North Pole, another planet, an imaginary world, an old attic. Use your imagination.

A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen – Going camping? Grab this fun, romping read to take along!

The International Space Station by Franklyn M. Branley – The space station certainly qualifies as a place and fits our theme to boot.

100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson – Traveling to another world is a must for summer reading.

City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction by David Macaulay – Even your older summer readers will enjoy the engaging drawings of David Macaulay’s books.

Picked by Mom – One for mom to pick for you.

Jessica’s Picks

The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Marianna Mayer – All of my children gather around when this book is being read. The illustrations are stunning and detailed. The story is enchanting and lovely with a happy ending that always makes us smile.

The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw – One of my favorite books from my own childhood. For middle grade readers and up.

Pam’s Picks

Animal Strike at the Zoo. It’s True! by Karma Wilson – This is a current favorite at our house. Rollicking rhyme and funny animals make it a hit with the preschool and lower elementary crowd.

Something Under the Bed is Drooling by Bill Watterson — I am luring my reluctant reader into reading this summer with this classic. Bonus: I keep laughing until I cry.

 The Hound Dog’s Haiku: and Other Poems for Dog Lovers Out of This World: Poems and Facts about Space Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America’s Heart Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World The World’s Greatest Lion Who Was Walt Disney? For the Glory: Eric Liddell’s Journey from Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School… In a Pickle: And Other Funny Idioms Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Calvin and Hobbes A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee The International Space Station (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) 100 Cupboards (100 Cupboards, Bk 1) City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction The Twelve Dancing Princesses The Moorchild Animal Strike at the Zoo. It’s True! Something Under the Bed Is Drooling


Adventure – A story where adventure is the main theme.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – A classic adventure of imagination.

Max Goes to the Moon: A Science Adventure with Max the Dog by Jeffrey Bennett – Going to the moon with your dog would sure be an adventure. This book is also chock full of science explanations about the moon.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson – This entire book screams adventure. Treasure, pirates, danger… it’s all here.

No Summit out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits by Jordan Romero – A real life adventure story that is sure to inspire.

For more books of adventure check out Ten Books Full of Travel and Adventure.

Arithmetic – There are tons of great math readers out there. Have fun with one of these.

Math Fables: Lessons That Count by Greg Tang – A low key fun way to explore addition and subtraction.

Sir Cumference and the Viking’s Map by Cindy Neuschwander – Sir Cumference is always having adventures in math. These are fun story-like books that teach math concepts.

What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? by Julie Ellis – Triangles, right angles, theorems??? What are all these things anyway? A fun introduction to these intimidating math concepts.

Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians by Luetta Reimer – Just in case your older readers begin to doubt this fact.

Archaeological – Dig into an ancient (or not-so-ancient) historical period with a work of historical fiction or a non-fiction selection about history.

Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall – A great introduction to the way life used to be. Simple and appealing to your young summer readers.

Archaeology for Kids: Uncovering the Mysteries of Our Past, 25 Activities by Richard Panchyk – While this book series usually has fantastic projects, they also have a great deal of interesting information to offer. For you budding archaeologist or just another excuse to dig in the dirt this summer.

The Mary Celeste: An Unsolved Mystery from History by Jane Yolen – As eerie as the empty Roanoke colony, the Mary Celeste was found drifting at sea with not a soul on board. What happened?

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai – One of my favorite historical fiction books for older readers. A realistic but overall positive look at wartime refugees resettling in America.

Animal – This can be a science book or one with an animal as the main character.

Beatrix Potter the Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter – Animal books to span the ages. Great for read alouds to small ones or big ones.

The Tales of Olga Da Polga by Michael Bond – Ruth stumbled upon this one at the library awhile back and has loved it ever since. It comes home occasionally for a reread it is that fun! From the author of Paddington Bear.

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley – An adventure for boys and girls who are confident readers. This one is in my daughter’s reread stack often.

The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyestand Most SurprisingAnimals on Earth by Steve Jenkins – We love anything by Steve Jenkins. His interesting and unique illustrations make his books a feast for the eyes as much as the mind.

Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom by Jennifer Holland – Read one or many. Fun and light, perfect for summer reading.

Art – Read about an artist, a painting. Choose a fictional account or biography, or just enjoy a book of art or even one about art techniques (practice one!)

Drawing books by Ralph Masiello – These are great drawing books for children of all levels. The instructions are easy, the drawings simple, but pleasing when complete.

Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Björk – A classic children’s living art book. Travel with Linnea as she explore’s Monet’s world, and learns about the artist and Impressionism.

Great Paintings by Karen Hosack Janes – Grab a large and over-sized art book from the library and enjoy pouring over the pictures. Read about some, but mostly enjoy the beauty.

The Museum Vaults: Excerpts from the Journal of an Expert by Marc-Antoine Mathieu – I have not read this book, but it looks interesting. For your oldest summer readers and perhaps yourself.

 Where the Wild Things Are Max Goes to the Moon: A Science Adventure with Max the Dog (Science Adventures with Max the Dog series) Treasure Island No Summit out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits Math Fables: Lessons That Count Sir Cumference and the Viking’s Map (Charlesbridge Math Adventures (Paperback)) What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians Ox-Cart Man Archaeology for Kids: Uncovering the Mysteries of Our Past, 25 Activities (For Kids series) The Mary Celeste: An Unsolved Mystery from History Inside Out and Back Again Beatrix Potter the Complete Tales (Peter Rabbit) The Tales of Olga Da Polga The Black Stallion The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyestand Most SurprisingAnimals on Earth (Boston Globe-Horn Book Honors (Awards)) Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom Ralph Masiello’s Ocean Drawing Book (Ralph Masiello’s Drawing Books) Linnea in Monet’s Garden Great Paintings The Museum Vaults: Excerpts from the Journal of an Expert


Cooking – A cookbook or even a story with cooking or food as the theme.

Fannie in the Kitchen: The Whole Story from Soup to Nuts of How Fannie Farmer Invented Recipes with Precise Measurements by Deborah Hopkinson – A charming picture book to delight all aspiring chefs.

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz – Why not? Check your library for other literary cookbook delights.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett – There is nothing like the original story to spark the imagination of your children. I get hungry every time I read this book. Giant French toast anyone?

What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained by Robert L. Wolke – This book is an easy, light read full of interesting food science. For your older summer readers.

Crafts – Choose a craft book and make one of the crafts.

Star Wars Origami: 36 Amazing Paper-folding Projects from a Galaxy Far, Far Away…. by Chris Alexander – Say more, I need not.

Outdoor Crafts by DK Publishing – Fun and actually doable outdoor projects for kids. Make a scarecrow out of recycle bin items, plant seeds in news paper cups, and create special potted plants for the animals in your life.

A Kid’s Guide to Awesome Duct Tape Projects: How to Make Your Own Wallets, Bags, Flowers, Hats, and Much, Much More! by Nicole Smith – Duct tape is so popular and fun to work with. Make a few items this summer to stash away for birthday and Christmas presents. 

Finger Knitting Fun: 28 Cute, Clever, and Creative Projects for Kids by Vickie Howell – Easy, no pressure, low supply, amusement for all. A good introduction to the mechanics of knitting.

Country –  Any book with a specific country or geography as a topic. This can be a non-fiction travel book or a fiction book set in Japan, Brazil, Canada… wherever!

This Is the World: A Global Treasury by Miroslav Sasek – Beautiful classic travel books all in one volume. The books are shortened so if you want to explore just one place more in depth, look for the stand alone book.

All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and More by Willamarie Moore – Spend some time learning all about Japan, its language, landmarks, different regions, and more.

Africa Is Not A Country by Margy Burns Knight – Africa is a very diverse place as this book seeks to show young readers. Fun and informative for the whole family.

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins – This looks like an interesting teen read set in Burma. The classic plot of two opposing young people meeting and finding out that the other side is human too.

Conundrum – A mystery, a puzzle book, anything that has you looking for a solution.  

Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat – Beginning readers have been enjoying Nate the Great for two generations now. Mystery fun for the very young.

The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery by Graeme Base – A puzzle book that doubles as a beautifully illustrated story. I have yet to figure it out after two readings. For those who  love a good, challenging puzzle.

Are You Smart, or What? A Bizarre Book of Games & Fun for Everyone by Pat Battaglia – Riddles you may or may not have heard, but can be enjoyed by just about everyone in the family. Perfect fun for a long road trip!

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald – When her grandpa dies, Theodora Tenpenny is at a loss for what to do, until one mistake sends her on an adventure to finish the mission he started many years before. I enjoyed the fun, lightness of this mystery.

Computers – Any book about technology (keep it broad). Minecraft books do count!

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak: Geek Heroes Who Put the Personal in Computers by Mike Venezia – So where did it all begin? Our homeschool group has used Mike Venezia books for history, art, and music. The kids love them!

Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and the Personal Computer by Donald B. Lemke – From the graphic novel series my daughter cannot get enough of. Just another option to explore the beginnings of the personal computer in a fun way.

You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without the Internet! by Anne Rooney – I expect many of us parents might laugh at this title, and most of the book, but our kids might really relate to it! From the series that brought you, You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Medieval Knight! we now have a book depicting the dire world of no Internet to contemplate.

How to Be a Blogger and Vlogger in 10 Easy Lessons: Learn how to create your own blog, vlog, or podcast and get it out in the blogosphere! by Shane Birley – Supper motivated for a long term summer project? Or just have something to say? Or maybe want a way to share your passion with others? A blog is a great way for a kid to experience writing for a crowd.

 Fannie in the Kitchen: The Whole Story from Soup to Nuts of How Fannie Farmer Invented Recipes with Precise Measurements The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory–More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Muggles and Wizards (Unofficial Cookbook) Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained Star Wars Origami: 36 Amazing Paper-folding Projects from a Galaxy Far, Far Away…. Outdoor Crafts A Kid’s Guide to Awesome Duct Tape Projects: How to Make Your Own Wallets, Bags, Flowers, Hats, and Much, Much More! Finger Knitting Fun: 28 Cute, Clever, and Creative Projects for Kids This Is the World: A Global Treasury All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and More Africa Is Not A Country Bamboo People Nate the Great The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery Are You Smart, or What? A Bizarre Book of Games & Fun for Everyone Under the Egg Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak: Geek Heroes Who Put the Personal in Computers (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Inventors & Scientists (Paperback)) Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and the Personal Computer (Inventions and Discovery) You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without the Internet! How to Be a Blogger and Vlogger in 10 Easy Lessons: Learn how to create your own blog, vlog, or podcast and get it out in the blogosphere! (Super Skills)E

Exciting – A book with an exciting, thrilling, edge of your seat plot.

Painter and Ugly by Robert J. Blake – Two dogs, the Iditarod race and a story that is both exciting and sweet. A beautiful picture book for your young summer readers.

The Capture by Kathryn Lasky – The first book in the Guardians of Ga’hoole series, is perfect for your middle summer readers. Between learning about the owl culture and almost constant danger for the main characters, you will want to finish just to get to the safe ending.

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander – An exciting series that will take your middle and upper grade summer readers on the journey of a lifetime! Some of my favorite books.

Beyond the Summerland by L. B. Graham – A book I could not put down! There are certainly some slow parts, but much of this book is action, adventure, even a love story. For your oldest summer readers.

Enchanting – A fairy tale, modern fairy tale, or book including fantasy.

Caterina, the Clever Farm Girl by Julienne Peterson – An old Tuscan folk tale that makes us giggle. Caterina ends up marrying a king, and with wit and grace, helps him to rule his kingdom.

The King’s Equal by Katherine Paterson – Spring for the hardcover version as the illustrations are gorgeous. A classic prince needs to learn a lesson in humility. A story that my eight year old requests over and over again.

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie – Peter Pan not only has fairies, but pirates, adventure, and plenty of humor for kids and adults alike.

The Vengekeep Prophecies by Brian Farrey – The first book in this fantasy trilogy is full of fun wit, unlikely heroes, and twists. One clumsy boy must save his town from certain doom.

For more ideas check out New Fairy Tales for Kids and Grownups Alike.

Earth – A book about the planet we live on. This could be a book on biomes, nature, volcanoes, rocks.

Welcome to the Green House by Jane Yolen – What a fun and interesting way to look at the rain forests! Jan Yolen describes the rain forest in the context of a house using lovely words and pictures.

How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World by Faith McNulty – While all the numbers may not be correct, this book is still a great introduction to the layers of the earth. Not to mention that is wildly absurd and funny!

Modern Rockhounding and Prospecting Handbook by Garret Romaine – Plenty of great information here to start your own rock collection.

Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens by Patricia Lauber – In history we learned about Pompeii, but Ruth was more entranced with this book about a volcano right here in our country, that erupted much more recently. It seemed more real.

Entertainment – A book about the entertainment industry or set in the entertainment industry. Books about putting on a magic show, how to make a puppet theater, fiction set in the theater, a book about the circus, a biography about a famous performer. 

Big Magic for Little Hands: 25 Astounding Illusions for Young Magicians by Joshua Jay – Read up on a few great magic tricks and then put on a show for your friends and family!

How to Act Like a Kid: Backstage Secrets of a Young Performer by Henry Hodges – Written for kids by a kid — the voice of chip in Beauty and the Beast — this book looks like an interesting introduction to real theater for kids.

Ventriloquism Made Easy: How to Talk to Your Hand Without Looking Stupid! by Paul Stadelman – I always wanted to know how to do this!

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley – One grandson sets out to save his grandfather with a promised miracle by the Lightbender at Circus Mirandus. Can he do it?

Epic – A story of an epic journey or adventure.

The Green Ember by S. D. Smith – As a read aloud for young summer readers or a take you away rainy day adventure, The Green Ember will be remembered as a favorite for years to come.

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson – I have heard these books are on the level of The Chronicles of Narnia. Everyone who has read them, has recommended them.

The Children’s Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy by Padraic Colum – Odysseus is the ultimate hero with ultimate failings. Yet somehow he triumphs.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien – This had to make the list! Read it for the first time or read it again. Either way it is good summer reading.

 Painter and Ugly The Capture (Guardians of Ga’hoole, Book 1) The Chronicles of Prydain Boxed Set Beyond the Summerland (The Binding of the Blade, Book 1) Caterina, the Clever Farm Girl The King’s Equal (Trophy Chapter Books (Paperback)) Peter Pan The Vengekeep Prophecies Welcome to the Green House How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World Modern Rockhounding and Prospecting Handbook (Falcon Guides) Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens Big Magic for Little Hands: 25 Astounding Illusions for Young Magicians How to Act Like a Kid: Backstage Secrets of a Young Performer Ventriloquism Made Easy: How to Talk to Your Hand Without Looking Stupid! Second Edition Circus Mirandus The Green Ember On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga) The Children’s Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings (the Hobbit / the Fellowship of the Ring / the Two Towers / the

We hope you enjoy your Race Across Space this summer. Leave comments below and tell us what you plan to read for each category.

Click here to get your Race Across Space Summer Reading Program.



  • Marianne says:

    Epic post Pam. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to put this together for us!

  • Thanks Pam. Well done. Can we have the list of books in a tabular form?

  • Tristan says:

    Okay, I’ve looked this post over several times and don’t see anywhere to enter my email to get this. Help?

    • Tristan says:

      Nevermind, one of my kids found it for me.

  • Sarah says:

    I just wanted to say that we are LOVING this! What a great resource; thank you for all the book recommendations. We live in a small town and our library doesn’t have as much available as I often wish it did, but because you have so many great recommendations, it makes it easy to find new things that I wouldn’t have known to look for! I just placed holds on several books for our second line racing across SPACE. My two older daughters (5 and 6) think this is the best thing that has ever happened to them. 🙂 It is keeping our summer reading fresh and exciting and especially keeping my fast-reading 6 yo in books, which is no easy feat. We may end up going through the categories twice by the end of summer at the pace we’re moving! Thank you thank you Pam!

  • Leslie Fair says:

    I have tried to sign up for this multiple times and it isn’t sending me the email. I’m sure the problem is on my end, but I don’t usually have this issue and I can’t figure out why it isn’t sending. My kids are so excited about since I showed them 2 weeks ago, I I’m still not getting the email.

  • Kelli says:

    I have also tried signing up for this and am not receiving it.

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Hmmm I just tried it and it came right away for me. The email will be from me and the subject line just says “Please confirm your subscription.” Check your spam or other email tabs. If all else fails you can enter your email address again. If there was a typo the first time you wouldn’t get it. HTH

  • Marti Haslauer says:

    I feel so silly, but I can’t for the life of me see how to request the printables for the summer reading plan. Thank you for putting all this together. It looks amazing.

    • Dawn Garrett says:

      At the bottom of the post is a blue box for your name and email address. You’ll get a subscription confirmation in your email inbox (or perhaps in your spam folder). When you hit confirm, it’ll automatically download. I checked it with two of my email addresses. Hope that helps.

  • Kristin Rast says:


    I have subscribed and confirmed my email. Where do I find the summer packet? It looks and sounds great. I can’t wait to try it out.


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