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Read Aloud Age Recommendation: Elementary school and above. Teens will love it, too!
Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls (who also wrote Where the Red Fern Grows) is my all-time favorite family read aloud. To me, it’s a classic. This coming of age story makes me laugh, cry, be kinder and hug my family a little tighter–everything a good book should do!
Jay Berry is a boy with the best dog, and the best grandpa ever. His twin sister Daisy is a pain (though he does feel bad that one of her legs is crippled), and what he really, really wants most in this world is a pony and a .22 gun–though he will never have either because his family is so poor.
However one summer, monkeys from the circus escape from a train wreck and the reward money is enough to make Jay Berry determined to catch them. But the monkeys are equally determined not to be caught! This book will have you roaring with laughter when the monkeys outsmart Jay Berry again and again, while Grandpa will inspire you to be a better mentor.
Jay Berry’s decision to sacrifice his dream at the end will have you crying so much, it will be hard to finish reading the story. So, so, good.
(Note: there is a low budget movie of the same name. It is based off the book, but is very loose with the story line. My family didn’t care for it at all. Just FYI.)
Why I Love this Book
I LOVE that my kids can be taught to think outside of themselves by someone else- Jay Berry’s grandpa. He’s not preachy, you know he loves Jay Berry dearly, and his message comes through loud and clear.
Jay Berry is super relatable and Rowdy and the monkeys are a hoot. This book is SO fun, SO engaging, and yet so tender at the same time. Any time my kids can be taught by an outside person to sacrifice and give up something they dearly want, so they can help a sibling, is a HUGE win for me! You can find Summer of the Monkeys here on Amazon.
-How does Jay Berry show determination?
-Why is he close to his grandpa?
-What helps Jay Berry keep trying even when he gets discouraged?
-What did Jay Berry discover he loved even more than a new pony?
-Jay Berry was able to help his family. How do you help yours?
-What does sacrifice mean? Do you think Jay Berry’s sacrifice was worth it?
-Is sacrifice ever easy or convenient?
What age ranges would you recommend this for? My oldest is 5.
He might be a little young. He would still like it, but I’m not sure he would “get” everything. Age 8 is probably a good age to read aloud. But try it–some kids can handle it just fine. Plus, you can always wait a bit and try it again if you don’t think things are getting through. I’m so excited to hear what he thinks about it–I can’t help but smile every time I think about this book!