With summer camps in full swing, here are some great books to read in which summer camps – or summer, in general – play a central role.

Summer at Meadow Wood by Amy Rebecca Tan

Author Amy Rebecca Tan excels in crafting middle-grade coming-of-age stories. In her novel A Kind of Paradise, she introduced us to Jamie Bunn, who reluctantly starts volunteering at the local library, but ends up loving it towards the end. Summer at Meadow Wood tells a similar story. We meet thirteen-year-old Vic Brown, who really does not want to go to Meadow Wood summer camp this year. The main reason for this is that she knows the secret reason her mom wants her and her brother out of the house, and she’s worried that her family is going to change. But the last thing Vic wants – a summer filled with campfires and canoeing, and some surprises in the mix – might be exactly what she needs. This is a heartwarming and gentle story with a smart and sensitive heroine at its centre that readers will find themselves identifying with. Grades 3-7             

Away by Emil Sher, illustrated by Qin Leng

The relationship between a single mother and her daughter is movingly portrayed in this picture book by award-winning author Emil Sher and illustrator Qin Leng. The mother and her little daughter in the book get little time to spend together because they’re both busy. As the day for her very first summer camp approaches, the little girl is beset with anxiety about being away from her mom and her cat. So, she and her mom share messages written on sticky notes. The mother tries to soothe her daughter’s nerves even as the girl is unconvinced that summer camp is a good idea. A visit from her grandmother, though, helps to calm her fears and convince her that she’ll have a good time. Although this book has sparse text, it feels like we’re getting a peak into the day-to-day lives of a real family. Qin Leng’s illustrations include subtle details and help us get a nuanced view of the relationship between this mother and daughter and their unconventional way of communicating with each other. Grades K to 2

Fishing in the Summertime by Monica Ittusardjuat and Anton Kotelenets  

Fishing in the Summertime is a picture book by Inhabit Media, the first Inuit-owned, independent publishing company in the Canadian Arctic. Their books offer local authors a platform to shed light on life in the Arctic and write about Inuit mythology and traditional Inuit knowledge. Fishing in the Summertime is a bilingual book in Inuktitut and English. It’s a wordless picture book that follows a child and his father as they go fishing in the summer, catch fish, and make pitsi. The story seems to be inspired by author Monica Ittusardjuat’s life. She’s a residential school survivor who grew up in a time when Inuit lived a subsistence way of life, moving camps and following animals where they were plentiful. Ittusardjuat portrays a loving relationship between a father and son. They’re self-sufficient; they catch and share a meal and the son learns traditional ways of living off the land from his father. Grades Preschool