Thoughts of summer often include swimming all day, eating ice cream, and chasing fireflies at night. These days, thoughts of summer also include summer reading lists for students across America. Schools require students to read over the summer in order to maintain their reading skills. For students in upper elementary school, teachers may even assign projects to be completed in conjunction with the summer reading or at the start of the school year. Educators also want reading to be enjoyable and summer offers an opportunity for the less-than-enthusiastic reader to fall in love with a new style or author without the stress of being tested or writing essays in response to the text.

Below find some suggestions for students entering Kindergarten through 5th grade. Some are common to grade-level reading lists across the country. Others are personal favorites that have solidified my love of reading that began in elementary school. Use this list as a starting point to open your child to an amazing and adventurous world, available to him simply by turning a page.

Entering Kindergarten The Kissing Handby Audrey Penn Stagestruck by Tomie dePaola Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergartenby Joseph Slate

Entering 1st Grade Beatrice Doesn't Want Toby Laura Numeroff Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel Henry and Mudgeseries by Cynthia Rylant

Entering 2nd Grade Amelia Bedeliaseries by Peggy Parish Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Dayby Judith Viorst Horrible Harryseries by Suzy Kline

Entering 3rd Grade Cam Jansenseries by David A. Adler Junie B. Jonesseries by Barbara Park Magic Tree Houseseries by Mary Pope Osborne

Entering 4th Grade Sarah, Plain and Tallby Patricia MacLachlin Frindle by Andrew Clements Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H.by Robert C. O'Brien

Entering 5th GradeThe Upstairs Roomby Johanna Reiss The Sign of the Beaverby Elizabeth George Speare The Tale of Despereauxby Kate DiCamillo

Students in elementary school are typically reading in the summer to support their reading skills and will most likely not be tested on material. This takes the pressure of your child to recall each and every detail and truly read for fun. Regardless of his grade level, you can encourage your child by designating family reading time each day. You could read to your child, take turns reading, or read your own novel, newspaper, or magazine while your children reads independently. You can also choose books that correlate to your summer activities, such as Camping Out by Mercer Mayer or Curious George Goes to the Beach by H.A. Rey and Margaret Rey. Making connections between the text and her own experiences is an important skill for your child to develop.

In addition to the list your school most likely gave you, libraries are another source for great summer reading. If the book you want has already been borrowed, the librarian will be able to recommend an author or book from the same genre.

Check your department of education's website for curriculum guidelines. The California Department of Education website has a search engine for suggested summer reading, allowing you to search by criteria such as grade level, genre, curriculum connections, and awards that author or book may have won.

Although many of these novels have been developed into movies, encourage your child to read the book first. This provides an opportunity for discussion, in which your child can compare her visions from the book to those on screen.

The most important tip for summer reading is to check with your child's teacher regarding her current reading level. Choosing books that are below her reading level will prove to be boring and choosing those above will present a challenge that may result in frustration and resistance to read.

Jennifer Cerbasi teaches at a public school for children on the autism spectrum in New Jersey. As a coordinator of Applied Behavioral Analysis programs in the home, she works with parents to create and implement behavioral plans for their children in an environment that fosters both academic and social growth. In addition to her work both in the classroom and at home, she is also a member of the National Association of Special Education Teachers and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Jennifer is an educational consultant who works with families and educators to establish healthy and productive routines in the home and school. Adapting behavior management techniques she implemented for years as a special educator, she helps parents and teachers adopt these tools to fit their unique needs and priorities. Jennifer also speaks to parent and education groups on current topics in education and children's health. Visit www.jennifercerbasi.com