WASHINGTON - The following books are suitable for summer reading:
"Among a Thousand Fireflies" by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder. Candlewick Press (Somerville, Massachusetts, 2016) 25 pp., $15.99.
Nothing says summertime quite like the twinkle of fireflies at dusk. The flashes of light transform the most ordinary places into enchanted landscapes. It's a beautiful image and magical how "among a thousand fireflies" one female meets one male by matching lighting patterns. This book, illustrated with up-close photography of summer's favorite bug (their faces are really quite cute), will delight all readers. With its simple language, the story is a reminder to appreciate the beauty and awe that is God's gift of nature. Ages 3-7.
"A Single Bead" by Stephanie Engelman. Pauline Books and Media (Boston, 2016). 196 pp., $12.95.
Kate's family hasn't been the same since her grandmother's tragic death in a plane accident. Her own mother is so deeply depressed that she is incapable of being the mother she once was, and, as the oldest sibling, Kate has to help keep her family going. While walking near the plane crash site, Kate mysteriously finds a single bead from her grandmother's rosary, and she is taken on a journey that brings her closer to her family, faith and, in the end, to understanding her mother's suffering. "A Single Bead" is a quick summer beach read, and a good alternative to the currently popular melodramatic and dystopian books for preteen girls. Ages 12-16.
"Treachery and Truth" by Katy Huth Jones. Pauline Books and Media (Boston, 2016). 161 pp., $10.95.
Preteen and young teenage boys will enjoy reading about the battles and political warfare of 10th-century Bohemia. Based on the true story of good King Wenceslas, this novel is told from the point of view of an enslaved pagan servant. The young slave is set free by the generosity of the Czech Catholic duke trying to restore nationalism and Christianity in his homeland. The legend of the heroic Vaclav I is sung about at Christmastime, and his story of piety and justice is told well in "Treachery and Truth." Ages 12-16.
"Can I Eat That?" by Joshua David Stein, illustrated by Julia Rothman. Phaidon Press Inc. (New York, 2016) 38 pp., $16.95.
Wordplay is a fun way to engage children in reading during summer break. "Can I Eat That?" is a gem of a book that actually gets children laughing out loud about the bizarre nature of the English language. For example: "Do eggs grow on eggplants?" And, can we eat mousse, moose or a mouse? During the several-course meal of ruminating about food and words, there are several silly palate cleansers -- "Is this a picture of a distant donut or a close-up Cheerio?" -- all of which adults and children will enjoy greatly. Ages 3 and up.
"Our Father" by Rainer Oberthur, illustrated by Barbara Nascimbeni. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2016). 58 pp., $16.
The Our Father is one of those prayers we memorize at an early age and recite without much thought and reflection. Adults can re-engage and children truly can learn about the meaning of the words of the prayer that Jesus gave to us in the Bible. Brightly colored images help illustrate the prayer which is broken down into smaller pieces for readers to understand and pray. Ages 4-8.
"Parachute" by Danny Parker, illustrated by Matt Ottley. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2016) 32 pp., $16.
Toby needs his parachute for everything -- to get out of his bunk bed in the morning and to go down the slide at the park. It makes him feel safe, even if he never actually releases it open. But during a moment of selfless bravery, Toby gives up his parachute to rescue a feline friend, leaving him to use his own courage to land safely on the ground. This sweet story about facing childhood fears is perfectly paired with whimsical and captivating illustrations by illustrator Matt Ottley. Ottley's imagery tells the story of changing perspectives and realities as Toby's biggest fears shrink and give way to courage. Ages 3-6.
"Monkeys on the Beach!" by David C. Hoffman, illustrated by Ceci Bard and Bonnie J. Rose. The Bayberry Press (Yardley, Pennsylvania, 2016). 34 pp., $12.95.
"Monkeys on the Beach" is a silly and clever story that young children will enjoy for its fast-paced rhyming text and beach adventure. Author David Hoffman tells the story of a baby who wanders away from his parents to join in on the shenanigans of a troupe of mischievous monkeys. Of course during their escapades there's a bit of danger, but thankfully the curious baby finds his way back into the loving arms of his concerned parents. Ages 2-6.
"One Big Family" by Marc Harshman, illustrated by Sara Palacios. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2016). 32 pp., $17.
To finish up a summer of fun, take one last trip with "One Big Family." With predicable repetition and single-syllable words highlighted for pre-readers and beginning readers, this book is a good tool for children to read along with an adult. Its smiley illustrations and adventures of camping, fishing and swimming will encourage conversations about summer memories. Ages 2-6.
Lordan, a mother of three, has master's degrees in education and political science and is a former assistant international editor of Catholic News Service.