Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering options to make education work for families. We have a full hybrid program for grades pre-12, which means part-time classroom and part-time home instruction with a 4 day option for middle school and a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

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Students’ Summer Reading Resolutions

{photo by Jyotirmoy Gupta on Unsplash}

Yesterday we shared about the Battle of the Books, and now we're looking forward to breezy summer days and adding to our summer reading lists! With fewer activities on the calendar, we hope both parents and kids will be able to relax with a few good books over the summer break.

We often ask SLOCA parents to share what’s on their reading lists, but this time we asked a few book-loving SLOCA students what they plan to read this summer. Here are their responses (from their parents), and some included Read Aloud selections too. If you’re looking for summer books for your own kids, share this with them – we hope you glean some wonderful ideas here!

Liane Kascha-Hare

Track B mom of Finn (LMS), Lillian (Intermediate), Josephina (Kinder), and Ian (age 4)

We have several lists in our house…

Finn (12) independent reading: all Five Kingdoms books by Brandon Mull

Lillian (10) independent reading:

  • The Babysitters Club by Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgemeier
  • The Secret School by Avi
  • No Talking by Andrew Clements
  • Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
  • The House of 60 Fathers by Meindert DeJong
  • Wild Wings by Gill Lewis

Read aloud books for the 10 to 12 year old crowd (Finn and Lillian):

  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
  • Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
  • Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

Read aloud books for the 4 to 6 year olds (Ian and Josephina):

  • Catwings by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Mr. Broom's Wonderful One-acre Farm by Sid Fleischman
  • Boo's Surprise by Betsy Byers 
  • Dory FantasmaGory by Abby Hanlon
  • Dinosaur Trouble by Dick King-Smith

Family read aloud: I will try The Jungle Book (by Rudyard Kipling) again.

Rebecca Casagrande

Track B mom of Ben, Isabella, and William (all Primary)

Bella has started Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder and plans on reading the rest of the series over the summer. 



Lisa Ann Dillon

Track A mom of Grant (UMS) and Lyla (Intermediate)

For Lyla:

  • The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley
  • The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit
  • Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
  • More Penderwicks books by Jeanne Birdsall
  • The Little House Books





Michele Bruntz

Track A mom of Ava (Intermediate) and Parker (Primary)

Ava is my book lover! She is 10 and her interests change every week and sometimes daily. We visit the library in AG every week and depending on what has piqued her interest, she may get an instruction manual for karate, a book on birds, and a drawing book. This summer we will continue our weekly visits. Ava would like to reread:

  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • Oliver Twist Classic Starts by Charles Dickens
  • and a cartoon book on economics because those are a few of her favorites
  • She is participating in Battle of the Books and wants to read the rest of Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker. 
  • My 7 year old Parker is going to be catching up on Dog Man by Dav Pilkey because he has caught the bug and will read his sister's collection! 

Mary Knudson

Track A mom of Payton (LMS), Tobin (Intermediate), Ella and Corbin

Our family hasn't decided on summer reads yet, but Payton recently read through The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. And both Payton and Tobin have recently read/are reading through The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer. 



Julie Diffenbaugh

Track A mom of William (Intermediate) and Claire (Jr. Kinder)

Will is finishing 3rd grade and is an avid reader so I have to work hard to keep up with books for him. His list is:

  • more Encylopedia Brown books by Donald J. Sobol
  • More A-Z Mysteries by Ron Roy
  • More Hardy Boys books by Franklin W. Dixon
  • Fill in the gaps on The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley (he has #1 & #4 but doesn't want to read #4 out of order)
  • More old cowboy books by Will James and Zane Grey
  • More Marguerite Henry books – we've read Misty of Chincoteague & Justin Morgan Had a Horse (& of course Benjamin West and his cat Grimalkin last year), but want to read others. 
  • PLUS re-read his favorite series: Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales (although I think he has read each of them at least 4 times!)

The books that are on my library list for him are:

  • The remainder of the 4-6th grade Battle of the Books
  • The Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O'Brien
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  • Other Classic Starts books that we've yet to read (I think there are only a couple we haven't read!)
  • And I was just referred to The Wilderking Trilogy by Johnathan Rogers and need to look into that. 

I also finally figured out how to work Overdrive and have been borrowing audiobooks to listen while driving. We just finished Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren and are starting Little Britches by Ralph Moody. I think this will be perfect for this summer on road trips or when I need for them to have a few minutes of quiet time in the summer to cool (& quiet) down. 

I use The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease and the Novel Adventures list that SLOCA used to have to help guide me – as well as the Battle of the Books lists and our Must Reads list. Plus whatever other lists I can find with ideas!!  

Nicolay Walz

Track A/B Mom of Amelia (HS Junior), Lilly (UMS), David (LMS), and Catherine (Intermediate)

  • The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz (medieval history) and Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman (Norse mythology) are great preps for next year.  Lilly loved them. David, Catherine, and I are looking forward to enjoying them together.
  • We were first introduced to Jennifer Lynn Alvarez when she visited David's third grade class and we got an autographed copy of her first Guardian Herd book. Lilly loved the series. The first book in her new series, Riders of the Realm, just came out. This is on Lilly's list for a fun summer adventure.
  • Did you know the final book in The Penderwicks series was just released? Definitely on our list for a family summer read: The Penderwicks at Last.
  • Graphic novels can get a bad rap, but my kids love beautiful art with their stories. The second book in The 5 Worlds series was just released: The Cobalt Prince.  David was too excited to wait for summer and the others are lining up for their turn with this gorgeous book.

We like to use the summer to print out the Battle of the Books list for the coming year and get a head start. Even if you don't participate in the Battle, I found the lists to be a great resource for quality reads. There are lists for every grade level on the Battle of the Books website. Catherine picked out Midnight Rider by Joan Hiatt Harlow to start with this summer.

Wow, what a great resource for summer book ideas! Thanks for sharing, students and parents – the rest of us are busily jotting down book lists now…


SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above-mentioned authors or books.