Forgotten Children’s Classics Make for Great Summer Reads

ID-10050741 (1)Summer reading is my favorite kind of reading, a time when books exist solely for enjoyment, for transporting ourselves from the breezy heat of the old porch swing, or from the rainy day window seat framed by flowery drapes, into another land or time period.  Even better when it can be shared with children who, but for a good book, are quick to pronounce their boredom with the slower pace of life this time of year.

I have rediscovered two books, decades-old classics, that I’m sure may be new to many children and adults alike.  And even if there’s not a child in your immediate vicinity, I find these two stories to be so impactful and memorable as to be enjoyed by any age.

The first one is Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt, published in 1964.  It is a coming-of-age story set during the Civil War.  It follows the wartime experiences of Midwestern farm boy Jethro Creighton.

This story’s uniqueness comes from the fact that the reader never sees any of the war itself firsthand, yet we still understand the horrors of it and its effects on every family in the land through letters Jethro receives from his older brothers fighting in the war as well as from Shadrach Yale, the teacher he idolizes.  Through their different personalities and varied experiences, he comes to face the realities of death, of a brother on the run as a deserter, and even a brother who chooses to fight for the Confederacy, thus exposing his family as a target for prejudice and vengeance.

We see how starkly real and penetrating the effects of war could be for even a young boy miles away from its blood-stained battlefields.  Jethro faces adult feelings and dilemmas and draws us into the everyday life of the civilian, often proved to be nearly as unpleasant as the soldiers’ lot.  His pleading, inquiring letter to President Abraham Lincoln is a touching connection between the fictional story and the period of real history it portrays.  A powerful read, and my favorite Civil War-era classic.

I’ll reveal my second summer reading gem in my next post.

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