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Priming Your Brain

As the summer winds down and we say goodbye to camp friends and layers of sunscreen, the school supply department beckons and we start to dig our brains out of the lazy, hazy, crazy days. Whether you're getting ready to fly the coop and embark on a college adventure or you still rely on others to help you get through a book (although, if you're reading this, perhaps you're the one doing the helping), we've got something to excite the senses and boost the brainwaves to ease you back into the land of learning. Go ahead and go with the flow(chart)!


The Odyssey
by Homer
A classic epic that follows Odysseus' trials and tests as he makes a desperate journey home. A must-read for any college-bound young adult.

The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri
Lahiri paints a family portrait with her words: Gogol Ganguli doesn't understand why he was named after a Russian author and struggles to understand the challenges his parents overcame as they assimilated into their lives in Massachusetts after emigrating from Calcutta.


The Snow Child
by Eowyn Ivey
Local favorite Ivey burrows deep into homesteading in Alaska in the 1920s, presenting a mystery that both warms the heart and keeps it racing as Jack and Mabel do their best to understand and protect the snow child from the harsh wilds they live in.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
by Douglas Adams
Follow Arthur Dent on his wacky escapades across the galaxy with his friend, Ford Prefect; his former flame, Trillian; the president of the galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox; and Marvin, a clinically depressed robot. Adam's cult classic is sure to thrill every earthling, just be sure to bring along a towel and don't panic.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
by J.K. Rowling
Young Harry's world turns upside down when he's told that he is a wizard on his 11th birthday. Join Harry in his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and prepare for literary friendships that last a lifetime.

Julie of the Wolves
by Jean Craighead George
Miyax is torn between her heritage and traditional home and the modern day wonders of the world. She runs away, only to get lost in the Alaska tundra and become part of a wolf pack. Warning, parents and guardians, there are some mature scenes that may be raise questions middle school students.


James and the Giant Peach
by Roald Dahl
After an accident involving magic beans and a peach tree, James finds an entranceway and crawls inside only to discover a whole cast of characters. With his larger-than-life insect friends, James' finally begins to feel like he has a place in his world, until the stem is snipped and the adventure truly begins.

The Island of Dr. Libris
by Chris Grabenstein
It's summertime and Billy is spending his days at a lakeside cabin that belongs to Dr. Libris and his private bookcase. Cracking the spines ignites voices drifting from the middle of the lake and soon Billy discovers the stories coming to life on an island teeming with his favorite childhood storybook characters. Grabenstein's magical land is also a possible contender for Battle of the Books 2016-2017—get a step ahead of the other teams.


Mama Do You Love Me?
by Barbara Joosse
Kids will be kids: pushing boundaries, testing limits, longing for independence and fantasizing about "what if." But no matter what, a parent's love is unconditional. Read with your little one and enjoy the famous artwork of Alaska artist Barbara Lavallee.

Baby Beluga
by Raffi Cavoukain
Introducing little ones to the underwater world, Baby Beluga is both a book and song that is fun to share while whale watching in Turnagain Arm. Be prepared to discover Junior's new favorite animal.

This article was originally published in the July 31, 2016, print edition of Back to School. Contact the editor, Jamie Gonzales, with questions or comments:

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