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Middle Grades Summer Reading with Environmental Themes

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Is school out where you live? Hazel finished last week. Of course it wasn't a big celebration with the state just starting to re-open. But we have started to think about summer. Although I don't see too many trips to the beach this year even when we are at Cape Cod. But reading about them is always fun. Today I am sharing two books about life near water--a lake and the ocean. Do you go to any body of water every summer? Are you going this year?


Let's start with the lake. This book is Hello from Renn Lake by Michele Weber Hurwitz. 

In this book the main character is Annalise. She was found as a newborn at the flower shop across the street from Renn Lake. She was adopted by a local couple who had a child a few years later. They own the cabins by the lake and run the cabin business. At age 3 Annalise realized Renn Lake and she could talk to one another. It became her safe place and whenever she was having a hard time it was the lake that calmed her. That summer though Renn Lake was in trouble. An algae bloom begins to grow and is killing the fish and the lake. What will the town do? Due to financial issues it is left up to the kids. Annalise has to face some of her own fears from the day she was found and move past being abandoned by her birth mother. Plus her younger sister runs off to audition for a movie after her parents have repeatedly told her no and there is so much drama and feelings around it. It is so full of growing up issues. 

I love the environmental lessons in this book. At the end of the book there is a section about the science of lakes, algal blooms, water runoff and more. I love that there is a boy staying at one of the cabins who is a science nerd and gay. The fact that he is gay is just thrown in there as he shares with Annalise his broken heart, but it is there. He is the one who realizes there is a problem before the experts are called in. This book shares environmental issues as well as some of the feelings of relationships, growing up and adoption issues. It is powerful and a very interesting read. 

Now let's move to the ocean. The next book is Fins by Randy Wayne White. 


In this book a scientist takes three mismatched kids new to Florida and makes them Sharks Inc. You have the boy from Ohio who after his mother dies and his stepfather threatens to send him to Florida to live with his grandfather pays his own way to Florida to live with his grandfather and his aunt who is captain of a tourist cruise. They all think he is rather slow in thinking matters. Shortly after arriving in Florida he is struck with lightning and survives. Then there are the two girls who came to America on a raft from Cuba. They live with their mother on a small houseboat. She works quite a bit at a local restaurant so the girls are somewhat left on their own and are often fighting. Somehow the three have to overcome their own issues and fears and find away to learn how to tag sharks. Of course when they stumble upon the men who have been killing sharks for their fins there is even more to deal with. 

I love that the book gives you details about sharks as well as animal rights. There is also the adjustment of each of the children to their new environment and life. We learn about Cuba through the memories of the girls. The adults give the children a lot of leeway and responsibility. It is wonderful to read about kids who try to live up to the responsibility they have been given because they want to since the adults put so much faith and trust in them. It is truly a wonderful story with so many moments that made me think about life and kids. 

Shark Crafts Round-Up


1) Pool Noodle Shark from JDaniel4's Mom
2) Exploring Sharks
3) Free Shark Headband Craft from Simple Everyday Mom
4) Shark Craft with Template from Natural Beach Living
5) Free Shark DIY Patches from Swoodson Says
6) Pom Pom Sharks from Red Ted Art
7) STEM Shark Activities for Kids from JDaniel4's Mom
8) Shark Science: Air Pressure from Kid Minds
9) Giant Ice Block Shark Hunt from Glitter on a Dime
10) How do Sharks Float? from Preschool Powol Packets
11) Make Ocean Oobleck from Glitter on a Dime
12) Paper Loop Sharks from Our Kid Things
13) Pop-Up Shark Art from Kid Minds
14) Stained Glass Shark Coloring Page from School Time Snippets
15) DIY Shark Keychains from The Inspiration Edit
16) Shark Craft from Artsy Craftsy Mom
17) Chompin' Foam Shark Puppet from The Soccer Mom
18) Shark Fin Bookmark from Simplistically Living
19) Printable Shark Puppets from Picklebums
20) Free Printable Shark Bookmarks from Artsy Fartsy Mama
21) Watercolor Resist Ocean Bookmarks from Red Ted Art
22) Shark Surfboard Craft from Artsy Momma
23) Paper Shark Craft from Simple Everyday Mom
24) Shark Fin Soap from Totally the Bomb
25) Shark Juice Boxes from Natural Beach Living
26) Shark Themed Edible Pudding Slime from Little Bins for Little Hands
27) LEGO Sharks Building Activity from Little Bins for Little Hands
28) Color Cut and Glue Shark Craft from Your Therapy Source
29) Origami Shark Bookmark from Kids Activities Blog
30) Free Printable Shark Jokes from Artsy Fartsy Mama

Shark Lessons/Resources

1) Shark Week Fast Facts from 3 Boys and a Dog
2) A great resource! The Ultimate Book of Sharks
3) Getting Smart about Sharks with Free Printables from The Natural Homeschool
4) How to Draw a Shark with an Algorithm from JDaniel4's Mom
5) Free Shark Notebook Pages from Blessed Beyond a Doubt

So if you are looking for some summer reading books for your middle grade reader be sure to check these great books out!! Plus try some of the fun shark crafts and activities to learn even more about them and don't eat shark fin soup!