With summer on my mind, I keep seeing images of beaches and birds, kids and sunscreen and for this summer turtles-gigantic turtles. We are headed to the Georgia Coast and are planning on going on a turtle walk, in hopes of seeing a sea turtle come on shore and lay her eggs. If we went in August, we would be able to look, with the help of scientist, for the contents of those very eggs, scurrying to the ocean, making their way to the Sargasso Sea.
If you are planning a trip to the beach yourself, you may want to prime your family's imagination by reading E. Nesbit's, Five Children and It. Published in 1902, this delightful novel traces the magical adventures of five children, Robert, Anthea, Cyril, Jane, and the Lamb. Without the rules of London city life, while on vacation over the summer, the children are set free. It begins with a plan to dig their way to Australia. Here they find a Psammead or a kind of sand fairy. This fairy will stretch your ideas of what a fairy is. The best thing about him is his ability to grant wishes. Five kids, summer fun and wishes. You might think things would be perfect, but as we have been taught in many of the novels published since this "first", children, never mind adults, are not very good at wishing.
If you are not going to any grand location for summer break, this book is also for you. The mishaps of the children will remind you of the famous children who came after them: Lucy and her wardrobe, Charlie and his Chocolate Factory, James and his Peach. All children looking for and finding adventure--in, as we might say, "Their own backyards." Nesbit sparked the ideas that adventures didn't always have to happen in some remote unheard of land. She reminds us we need not travel far to have our wishes granted.
It should be a great fit for all ages as a read aloud and I would put it the children's literature category, making it a reasonable read for third grade and up. To be sure for your own kids, have them read a page or two aloud to you. If they stumble over more than 2 or 3 words, it may be too difficult for a "fun" independent read.