Summer Reading for the Gifted Student
If you’re the parent of a gifted and talented student or a student who reads above grade level, you may want to begin the summer by reading your child his or her rights. No, not their “right to remain silent,” but rather their summer reading rights! “You have the right to read and to not read. You have the right to skip, to browse, and to explore. You have the right to read anything.”
These are great words to use when kicking off summer reading for a gifted student. As students blessed with endless curiosity, gifted students will read when given books that challenge, that tap into their imaginations and spark their interest. But how do you find such a book? How can you draw a gifted and talented student away from video games and into the worlds of words and endless creation?
Start by exploring some outstanding reading lists that make finding books for gifted students easier. Many of the links that follow were developed by Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, an organization devoted to the development of exceptional students’ talents. The recommended books also may be appropriate for other students reading above grade level—or for reading aloud as a family.
As you review these lists, remember that each gifted student is unique and will find different books stimulate their interests. Allow your students the space to explore, to create, and by the end of summer, they may have their own recommendations to contribute to next year’s reading list.
- Reading List: Grades 2-4
Top pick: C.S. Lewis: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Discover this engrossing story of a fantasy world lying behind a wardrobe. Full of rich symbolism, challenging ideas, and a story sure to keep students turning the pages.
- Reading List: Grades 5-6
Top pick: Jerry Spinelli: Maniac Magee
A boy decides to run and in the process, discovers a world full of racial divides and in need of healing. A story that sparks students’ imaginations of what is possible in a troubled world.
- Reading List: Grades 7-8
Top pick: Orson Scott Card: Ender’s Game
What do we do with the gifts we are given? A story of one boy born with incredible intelligence that asks gifted students to think both about what it means to be “gifted” and what responsibility we all have to the communities and people around us.
- Reading List: Grades 9-10
Top pick: Buzz Aldrin & Leonard David: Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration
What is humanity capable of and how do we use our limited resources to make our futures better? Buzz Aldrin writes of what he sees as our responsibility to future generations and asks readers to view themselves as one point in a much longer narrative.
- Reading List: Grades 11-12
Top pick: Daniel Kahneman: Thinking, Fast and Slow
How do we make decisions? A simple question with a complex answer. Thinking, Fast and Slow is an introduction to behavioral economics and ideas that challenge the way we think about thinking.
Need other ideas? Explore these notable book awards to see which books have been awarded as top pics for students. And take a look at some of our previous blog posts about reading, linked below. Happy reading!
- Resources for finding great books for kids
- Summer reading recommendations for grades K–12
- Ideas for creating your own summer reading activities
- Wonderful websites with reading resources for parents
- Thoughts on why rereading is great for students
What are your family’s favorite books for summer reading? Share your top picks in the comments!