Summer officially starts today. But parents shouldn't let the calendar dictate when they get their children to start reading.
Staff members at the Norwalk Public Library have suggested titles that are appropriate for readers anywhere from 4 years old to teenagers.
Children's librarian Susan Vermilya said boys possibly are already familiar with "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick. Don't let the 544-page hardcover intimidate you; the text of the story starts on page 46 after full pages of black and white pictures by Selznick that lead up to the first paragraph.
The novel alternates between text and the beautiful drawings to tell the story of Hugo, a 13-year-old orphan, bookkeeper and thief who lives in the walls of a London bus station. The boy finds his undercover life may be in jeopardy when he meets an eccentric, "bookish" girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the train station.
"You have to do both (the drawings and words) to get the full understanding," Vermilya said. "I just love this concept."
The supervisor of the children's department said a fourth-grade student could read it, but so could a second grader. Vermilya also noted that parents could read the book to their toddlers.
"Everyone who has read it, loves it," she said.
Just in time for the third "Pirates of the Caribbean" film is the picture book "Pirates Don't Change Diapers" by Melinda Long and David Shannon. The description of the book shares how manning the nursery can be as terrifying as walking the plank.
"This would be appropriate for 4- or 5-year-old boys," Vermilya said, or children with siblings. "The pictures about the pirates are great."
Jeremy Jacob's mother has to run to the store to get some milk and puts her son in charge of his baby sister, who is taking a nap. The girl wakes up soon after Mom leaves and just as Jeremy imagines that pirates have arrived at his front door for a visit.
Another of Vermilya's recommendations is the first children's book by author William Loizeaux called "Wings." Based on the author's experience, "Wings" tells the story of a boy who finds and raises a wild mocking bird.
"He won't eat and the little boy wonders why," Vermilya said. "I just love the way it's written. It keeps me interested."
The librarian also recommended the non-fiction book "Snowball Launchers, Giant-Pumpkin Growers and Other Cool Contraptions" by Tom Fox. Vermilya said the book, about "turning simple stuff into cool contraptions," such as a rocket-propelled toy car or a working stethoscope, indicates if the child needs adult supervision during the project.
For older children, Vermilya suggested Jean Fritz's "Who is Saying What in Jamestown, Thomas Savage?" It is based on a true story from early American history when a young child lived with the Powhatan Indians to learn their language and be their interpreter.
Young adult coordinator Tami Copsey recommended two mysteries/suspense novels to coincide with the Adult Summer Readers Club theme of "Sleuthing in the Stacks."
In "Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator" by Jennifer Allison, the main character wants to learn how to do psychic investigations so she can communicate with her dead father and to communicate with ghosts. The library hasn't gotten the second book, "Gilda Joyce and the Ladies of the Lake" yet.
"We just got this one," Copsey said.
A girl receives specific instructions when she receives an envelope in "13 Little Blue Envelopes" by Maureen Johnson. In 2006, it was ranked sixth in a list of teen's top 200 books.
"She doesn't open one (envelope) until she arrives at each destination," Copsey explained. "In the meantime, she collects part of her Aunt Peg's past."
She also recommended "Peaches" by Jodi Lynn Anderson about three girls from different backgrounds who become friends while working at a Georgia peach orchard.
It's summertime. Start cracking open those books! RECOMMENDATIONS
'Sleuthing in the Stacks' recommendations
Norwalk Public Library Director Martin Haffey polled the staff for their choices for the best adult suspense and mystery novels. The following books are being recommended to the Adult Summer Readers Club with the theme of "Sleuthing in the Stacks":
"I Heard That Song Before: A Novel" by Mary Higgins Clark
"Lean Mean Thirteen" (a Stephanie Plum novel) by Janet Evanovich
"The Dead Room" by Heather Graham
"Lisey's Story: A Novel" by Stephen King
"The Good Guy" by Dean Koontz
"Spare Change" (a Sunny Randall novel) by Robert B. Parker
"The 6th Target" by James Patterson
"Invisible Prey" (a Lucas Davenport novel) by John Sandford
More for younger readers
Norwalk Public Library Children's Librarian Susan Vermilya and young adult coordinator Tami Copsey recommended the following books:
"Too Many Leprechauns or How That Pot O' Gold Got to the End of the Rainbow" by Stephen Krensky (a picture book for kindergartners through second grade)
"Rainstorm" by Barbara Lehman (a wordless picture book for preschoolers through about age 8)
"Skyscraper" by Lynn Curlee (non-fiction)
"Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jestam and the Science of Ocean Motion" by Loree Griffin Burns (non-fiction book from the "Scientists in the Field" series)
"The Christopher Killer" by Alane Ferguson (high school girls)
"What Happened to Cass McBride?" by Gail Giles (high school boys)
"Bad Kitty" by Michelle Jeffe (high school girls)