9 Fun Summer Reads For Young Readers

9 Fun Summer Reads For Young Readers

It's time to step away from the screens and pick up a book.
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Summertime was always the one point of the year where my love of reading grew. Nowadays it seems though that we are constantly being surrounded by screens, which can be good from time to time but isn't really giving the chance for some kids imagination to grow. With that in mind I collected up all the books I had read throughout the years that I thought new younger readers would enjoy to give them a chance to find a love for reading. Also now that I look at my list, it seems that I had a bit of a love for spy novels, so if you love a good spy story this is the list for you!

The Charlie Bone Series: Jenny Nimmo

The first book in the series is Midnight for Charlie Bone,where Charlie Bone discovers that he has a special gift- he can hear people in photographs talking! The fabulous powers of the Red King were passed down through his descendants, after turning up quite unexpectedly, in someone who had no idea where they came from.His scheming aunts decide to send him to Bloor Academy, a school for geniuses where he uses his gifts to discover the truth despite all the dangers that lie ahead. This is what happened to Charlie Bone, and to some of the children he met behind the grim, gray walls of Bloor's Academy.

It's a very good read if you're looking for something to check out after finishing "Harry Potter" and you're still in that kind of mood to read a book about a magical school.

Alex Flinn's Fairytale Retellings

This is the most popular stand alone novel in Flinn's series of fairytale retellings. It's a modern adaptation of Beauty and the Beast perfect for young readers who love Disney films. It even makes nods to other fairy tales in the story as well.

The Finishing School Series: Gail Carriger

In "The Finishing School Series" Sophronia is recruited to a finishing school for spies located in a dirigible (a blimp). There, she learns, young ladies of quality are taught to finish everything – and everyone – as needed. Set in Gail's Parasolverse these YA books are full of steampunk etiquette, well-dressed espionage, and flying food.

Peter and the Starcatchers: Dave Perry and Ridley Pearson

Orphan Peter and his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They set sail aboard the Never Land, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious cargo the "greatest treasure on earth" - but is it gold, jewels, or something far more mysterious and dangerous? This is an exciting prequel to the classic tale of Peter Pan that we all know and love.

Inkheart: Cornelia Funke

Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can "read" fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service. Characters from books literally leap off the page in this engrossing fantasy. This "story within a story" will delight not just fantasy fans, but all readers who like an exciting plot with larger-than-life characters.

The Alex Rider Series: Anthony Horowitz

They told him his uncle died in an accident. He wasn't wearing his seatbelt, they said. But when fourteen-year-old Alex finds his uncle's windshield riddled with bullet holes, he knows it was no accident. What he doesn't know yet is that his uncle was killed while on a top-secret mission. But he is about to, and once he does, there is no turning back. Finding himself in the middle of terrorists, Alex must outsmart the people who want him dead. The government has given him the technology, but only he can provide the courage. Should he fail, every child in England will be murdered in cold blood.

The Galliger Girl Series: Ally Carter

The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school—that is, if every school teaches advanced martial arts in PE, chemistry always consists of the latest in chemical warfare, and everyone breaks CIA codes for extra credit in computer class. So in truth, while the Gallagher Academy might say it’s a school for geniuses what they really mean is spies. But what happens when a Gallagher Girl falls for a boy who doesn’t have a code name?

The Classics

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Rick Riordan

Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is on the most dangerous quest of his life. With the help of a satyr and a daughter of Athena, Percy must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction — Zeus’ master bolt. Along the way, he must face a host of mythological enemies determined to stop him. Most of all, he must come to terms with a father he has never known, and an Oracle that has warned him of betrayal by a friend.Hunger Games

Harry Potter: J.K. Rowling

When mysterious letters start arriving on his doorstep, Harry Potter has never heard of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. They are swiftly confiscated by his aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a strange man bursts in with some important news: Harry Potter is a wizard and has been awarded a place to study at Hogwarts. And so the first of the Harry Potter adventures is set to begin.


Cover Image Credit: WallpaperUP

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Dear Shondaland, You Made A Mistake Because April Kepner Deserves Better

"April Kepner... you're not average"
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I'll admit from the first time we were introduced to April in Season 6, I didn't like her so much. I mean we hated the "Mercy Westers" in the first place, so how could we see the potential in the annoying, know-it-all resident that was trying to compete with our beloved Lexie Grey.

But then, we saw her come face-to-face with a killer and thought maybe she had potential.


We then saw her surprise everyone when she proved to be the next trauma surgeon in the making and we were intrigued.

Notice how none of these stories had anything to do with Jackson Avery. Not that we didn't love her with Jackson, but for whatever reason you've chosen to end their very popular relationship. Suddenly, you think that April is not worth further exploration but you've forgotten one simple thing. We fell in love with her before "Japril" was ever in the picture.

We love her because her story was unlike the others and she had one of the best character developments on the show. She wasn't damaged like Meredith Grey or Alex Karev who have been on their journey to become all whole and healed, but she still had to fight hard to be taken seriously. Her story has so much potential for future development, but you've decided to throw it all away for "creative reasons."

I'm sorry, but there's nothing creative about doing the exact same thing you've done to all the other characters who have left the show. We've endured the loss of many beloved characters when you chose to write off George, Henry, Mark, and Lexie. We even took it when you did the unthinkable and wrote McDreamy out of the show - killing off one half of the leading couple. (WHO DOES THAT???)

But April Kepner? Are you kidding me?

She may no longer be with Jackson, but she was so much more than half of Japril. While most of us hate that Jackson and April are over, we probably could have dealt with it if April was still on the show. Now they're done and you think there aren't any more stories to tell about her character. Why? Because she'll just get in the way of Jackson and Maggie?

How could you not see that she was way more than Jackson's love interest?

She's so much more than you imagined her to be. April is the headstrong, talented trauma surgeon no one saw coming. The farmer's daughter started off an ugly duckling who became a soldier because she needed to be one and turned into one big beautiful swan who constantly has to fight for her coworkers and family to see her as such.

She's proven to be a soldier and swan on many occasions. Just take giving birth to her daughter in a storm on a kitchen table during an emergency c-section without any numbing or pain medication as an example. If she wasn't a soldier or a swan before, how could she not be after that?

Yet, you - the ones who created her - still see her as the ugly duckling of a character because she always had to take the backseat to everyone else's story and was never allowed to really be seen.

But we see her.

She's the youngest of her sisters who still think of her as the embarrassing little Ducky no matter how much she's grown.

This swan of a resident got fired for one mistake but came back fighting to prove she belongs. Not only did April Kepner belong there, but it was her talent, her kindness, her strength that made her Chief Resident. This simply wasn't enough for Dr. Bailey or her other residents so she fought harder.

She endured the pressure but always ended up being a joke to the others. When she was fired yet again, your girl came back a little shaken. She doubted herself, but how could she not when everyone was against her.

Despite everyone telling her she couldn't, she did rise and no one saw her coming because she remained in the background. She went off to Jordan broken and came back a pretty risky trauma surgeon.

We've watched for years as she was handed promising stories that we never got to see fully develop because she was in the background. We never got to see her rise. We get the beginning and the end, but hardly ever the middle.

I thought we were finally going to have an amazing story arc in season 11 when she loses Samuel, but what did we really get? Two or three episodes of her coming to terms with the loss of her baby and then April's disappearance from the show while she's grieving off screen so that Dr. Amelia Shepherd can shine her first season on the show. Where is April's life-changing surgeries? What does April get? She's background music.

Now what?

It's season 14 and we finally get the story we've been waiting 9 years for! We get Dark April and her crisis of faith. A story arc all Christians can appreciate. Here's the chance for real character development in the foreground, but wait...

Before her story is even wrapped up, you announce that this season will be her last. So we're forced to realize that the only reason we're getting this story now is that you're writing her off.

No matter how you end it, it's not going to do her story justice. If you kill her off to end her crisis of faith story, you're not reaching the many Christians who watch the show. If you have her leaving Seattle and taking Harriet with her, you didn't know April. If you have her leaving Seattle and abandoning Harriet, you really didn't know April. So anyway you choose to end her story, you lost out on one great character.

You messed up.

Both April Kepner and Sarah Drew deserved better.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Shows Shouldn't Have To Rely On Sexist Or Racist Jokes To Be 'Funny'

Punchlines that come at the expense of female, plus-sized, LGBTQ, or other marginalized characters are too common
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Recently I’ve been trying to be a more conscious consumer. I bring old plastic bags with me to dining halls, religiously carry a reusable water bottle, avoid online shopping whenever possible, and buy clothing second hand. But while I try to have my environmental bases covered, I often forget to cover my moral bases.

After reading a New Yorker article by Molly Ringwald, I started to think about my role as a consumer of art and pop culture. Molly Ringwald, an actress known for her roles in John Hughes movies such as “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty in Pink,” and “Sixteen Candles,” examines in her article the problematic aspects of the movies she starred in and whether those iconic films are or should still be relevant today.

While the #metoo movement has already brought some of these issues to the public eye, there is still much more to unpack. As allegations rolled out against men in Hollywood for their actions, the already present calls to boycott the films and projects of perpetrators such as Woody Allen or Kevin Spacey, have grown stronger. While many have their own opinions on whether this type of action is necessary or effective, I certainly see the merit in not contributing further to the fame and wealth of the people who committed these ugly acts.

However, the line gets fuzzier when the films, series, books, etc. are not produced by people who have done something explicitly wrong, but still perpetuate that same culture of misogyny and sexual exploitation. Prompted in part by the article, I thought back on some of the pop culture I personally have grown up on, and was disappointed, though not surprised, to realize how wrong some of the movies and shows I loved are.

A classic example is “How I Met Your Mother,” a T.V. show I have seen at least twice through (with that being a conservative estimate). And while I obviously never approved of the sexist and even openly rape-y character of Barney, a serial womanizer, it didn’t really occur to me to turn off the show and choose something else. Those same problematic punchlines that come at the expense of female, plus-sized, LGBTQ, or other marginalized characters are repeated over and over in almost any sitcom I’ve ever seen, from “Friends” to “That '70s Show.” The trend isn’t just T.V. shows either, but some of my personal favorite comedies and rom-coms. I try not to think too hard about how transphobic the whole concept behind “She’s The Man” is, for example.

Acknowledging that the movies and shows I love are sexist is bad enough, but a voice inside me resists condemning them totally. That voice whispers to me that comedy is supposed to be offensive, and it’s all just joking. But that voice is absolutely wrong. I may have to remind myself that occasionally, but funny doesn’t have to be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic. Proving that are Trevor Noah, Sasheer Zamata, Kate McKinnon, and all the other talented comedians that can be genuinely funny without taking cheap shots at marginalized groups.

In her article, Molly Ringwald argues that despite their “blind spots” as she calls them, the movies she starred in are still valuable in the message of empowerment they gave to teenagers. But is the same true of sitcoms and shows with less artistic value? I don’t really know, but I think denouncing them totally probably won’t help. They are pop culture milestones that whether we agree with them or not, will remain relevant, at least for the foreseeable future.

While that may be true for older, already successful shows and movies for those still on the air or coming out now, we can make a choice. We can be conscious consumers and make a point that we demand jokes that don’t degrade others — comedy and art of a higher order. Because more and more, we see that it’s not just possible, but even funnier and more relatable.

Cover Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Television

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