Hold Me Like Ohio. A book of poetry by Amy Turn Sharp.

Images and text by Gabrielle.

Today is the last day of public school here in Oakland. I am grinning ear to ear. I LOVE getting a break from the morning routine of packing lunches and last-minute signed permission slips and where-is-my-favorite-jacket searches. I’m grinning ear to ear.

I confess I was a bit surprised to find out how late the school year goes here. In other western states I’ve lived in (Colorado and Utah), school is out in May — for sure before Memorial Day. And really, I feel like I’m been mentally checked out of the school year for a couple of weeks now. So I’m glad we’re actually done!

Another surprise: since we’re still on year one of living in Oakland, we’re still getting a sense of the weather in each new month we live here. There have definitely been some hot days, but my kids all wore jackets (admittedly, light jackets) to school this morning. I associate the last day of school with hot, summer weather, so it’s a funny sensation to be checking the temperature this morning and telling the kids to put on jeans instead of shorts. (Not that I’m complaining. The weather here is amazing. It’s just new-to-me.)

Hold Me Like Ohio. A book of poetry by Amy Turn Sharp.

But enough about the weather. What I really want to talk about today is summer reading. I need ideas! We are reading Huckleberry Finn as a family, which has been highly satisfying. We started with the quote from Hemingway about how “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called ‘Huckleberry Finn.'” Little June distracts herself with toys or other books during the reading, but the rest of the kids are way into it. So I’m feeling good about that.

And for me, I’ve been saving my amazing friend’s book of poetry — Hold Me Like Ohio by Amy Turn Sharp (pictured here). It’s been ages since I’ve picked up a book of poetry so I’m very much looking forward to digging in to it.

Hold Me Like Ohio. A book of poetry by Amy Turn Sharp.

Other than that, I have zero books on our summer list. Maude and Olive could use some YA titles (I usually like these too). Betty and Oscar need some upper elementary recommendations. And I’m craving a stack of really good novels, with a sprinkling of current, fascinating non-fiction picks. So, my question for you: What are you reading these days? And what’s on your summer book list? Any and all ideas welcome!

P.S. — A little sidenote on Huck Finn: as you may remember from when you read it as a kid, the n word makes a frequent appearance. How would you handle it if you were reading aloud to your kids? I could use some advice here.