First Lady Jane Beshear's Communications Office
First Lady Jane Beshear announces 2011 Summer Reading List

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, June 21, 2011  
Revision Date:  Friday, July 01, 2011 
Contact Information:  Parry Barrows

FRANKFORT, Ky. – In an effort to increase youth readership and encourage student reading during summer vacation, First Lady Jane Beshear today announced her Top 10 Summer Reads as a part of the First Lady’s Reading Recommendations Initiative. 

“Teachers and parents alike have long known that reading over summer break keeps students’ minds engaged and helps make for an easier transition back to school in the fall,” said Mrs. Beshear.  “Many of my selections this summer are timely and offer a range of themes from environmental consciousness to self-esteem and confidence-building.  From preschool to high school, from mystery to adventure, these books are certain to both entertain and educate all types of young readers.”

Mrs. Beshear introduced the Reading Recommendations program in the summer of 2009 and issues reading lists four times per year.

2011 Summer Reading List

  1. Tale of Despereaux, Katie DiCamillo (Ages 7-12)
    “This enchanting fable follows Despereaux Tilling, a large-eared mouse, who falls in love with a human princess and sets out on a quest to rescue her.  The novel is divided into four books, each depicting a different story in Despereaux’s adventure. “
  2. The Name of this Book is Secret, Pseudonymous Bosch (Ages 8-12)
    “This mysterious adventure chronicles the tale of two children, Cass and Max-Ernest, as they investigate the mysterious death of local Pietro Bergamo.  Part of the mystery for readers involves figuring out what role the unknown, all-knowing narrator plays in the story.” 
  3. The Lorax, Dr. Suess (Ages 5-8)
    “First published in 1971, this timeless children’s story depicts the plight of the Lorax, who speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler.  Through personification, it delivers important lessons on environmental awareness that are especially relevant today.”
  4. The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck (Ages 14 and up)
    “This Pulitzer Prize winning novel of family life in a Chinese village before the 1941 revolution has been a favorite read for many since first appearing as a U.S. best-seller in 1931.  If follows a farmer, Wang Lung, and his life journey during a time when Chinese society, deeply connected to custom and tradition, began to embrace modernization.”
  5. Turtle in Paradise,  Jennifer L. Holm (Ages 9-12)
    “Turtle is an 11-year-old girl who finds a strikingly different life when she moves from New Jersey to Key West to live with family relatives during the Great Depression.  The author includes photographs and notes from the era that help this novel truly come to life.” 
  6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, By Eric Carl (Ages birth - preschool)
    “This book features distinctive, colorful collage illustrations of a caterpillar as it ‘eats’ its way through a wide variety of food pages to eventually become a butterfly.   The text and pictures highlight the simple, yet important educational themes of counting, foods and days of the week.”
  7. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald  (Ages 14 and up)
    “A classic American novel set in the 1920’s and narrated by Nick Carroway, a young Yale graduate from the Midwest who has recently moved to New York to begin a business career. Throughout the story, Nick discovers surprising cases of love, betrayal, wealth and greed amongst his friends and neighbors, including the mysterious and legendary Mr. Gatsby.”
  8. The Story of Babar, Jean de Brunhoff (Ages 3-8)
    “The first of an originally-French series of children’s books that features an endearing, enduring elephant named Babar.  This particular tale tells how Babar journeys to the city after losing his mother to a hunter, only to return to the jungle to become King of the Elephants.”
  9. Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi (Ages 13 and up)
    “Set on the American Gulf Coast in a post apocalyptic future, this science fiction story features Nailer, a 17 year old boy who scavenges beached tankers for scrap metals to survive in a world where fossil fuels have been consumed.  After he discovers a modern clipper ship, Nailer is faced with the most important decision of his life:  strip the ship for all its worth or save the ship’s lone survivor, a wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life.”  
  10. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Bill Martin Jr. (Ages 4-8)
    “This rhythmic book is about lower-cased letters who climb up a coconut tree in alphabetical order and when the tree collapses, capital letters come to help them with their injuries.  Notable for its rhyming structure reminiscent of jazz “scatting”, this book offers a unique, lyrical twist on reading.”