The blue-collar bookseller: Surviving summer reading | Comments


It’s summer, and that means a vacation for the kids, but they’ll still need some summer reading. If you’re looking to survive the summer and avoid the summer slides,* I have several book suggestions that will keep the fun alive.

Want your third grader to survive summer reading? Discover the historical fiction series “I Survived” by Lauren Tarshis. There are currently twenty-one of these historical accounts in first-person perspective, and another will be released in September 2022.

History is more than a series of situations and dates. Tarshis presents historical facts woven with the experience of a boy living through a historical event. The story is made up of real people’s lives, so it doesn’t have to be boring.

The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906: Leo enjoys being a newsboy in San Francisco. Having a job that gives him the freedom to explore the city is an opportunity his grandfather wants him to take. One spring morning, everything changes. The earth rumbles and he finds himself stuck in the middle of the city as buildings crumble and burn. Can Leo survive the devastating disaster?

The Shark Attacks of 1916: Chet finally feels at home in Elm Hills, New Jersey. A job, good friends and the ideal summer destination in Matawan Creek, a cool and refreshing place. Shocking news interrupts his plans when a shark begins attacking swimmers along the Jersey Shore. Will he come face to face with a bloodthirsty shark?

Is your child a reluctant reader? Discover the book that turned a local young man into a reading ninja.

The Totally Ninja Raccoon Meet the weird and wacky werewolf: the Ninja raccoons decide to follow and catch the werewolf for the price offered for capturing such a creature. Will the raccoons succeed in their mission? Are friends more important than money? Do werewolves taste good with hot sauce?

Hatchet. This Newbery Honor book is thirty-five years old and has sold over thirteen million copies worldwide. Hatchet is the story of Brian, a teenager whose parents recently divorced.

He is heading to northern Canada to spend the summer with his father, a mechanical engineer working with oil companies in remote areas. For the last leg of the trip, there is only Brian and the pilot of the small Cessna. They crash.

Brian has almost nothing to use to survive except a hatchet. It’s a great story, the kind of story that many of us find ourselves in, whether it’s the abandoned Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway, or silly old TV shows like Gilligan’s Island, or more horrific events in history, like the Donner Party.

Sand, sunburn and sharks – nothing says summer like the beach, and that’s why I stay close to shore. I stay at home where I will be safe. I won’t be leaving Wellsboro, Pennsylvania anytime soon, but I can take a vacation whenever I want.

All I have to do is pick up a book and open the pages. A book will take me where I have never been. Another adventure, another place, another era, all of this is possible with a good book….

*Summer Slide: This is the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made in the previous school year.

What are you reading this summer? Comment and inform the blue-collar bookseller.

Kevin Coolidge is currently a full-time factory worker and part-time bookseller at From My Shelf Books & Gifts in Wellsboro, PA. When he is not working, he writes. He is also a children’s author and creator of The Totally Ninja Raccoons, a children’s series aimed at reluctant readers. Visit his author site at

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