Meg Tilly's favourite summer books for kids and teens

The star comes up with stellar reads to keep little ones and teens busy during the rainy days of summer.


Photo by Caitlin Cronenberg

You probably know Meg Tilly best from her roles on the big and small screen. She’s appeared in films like The Big Chill and Agnes of God and won acclaim for her role on the recent TV series Bomb Girls. But it might surprise you to learn the actor is also receiving raves for her writing: she’s penned two novels, as well as two young adult books that have been short-listed for top awards, and her latest YA effort — A Taste of Heaven — came out earlier this year.

We asked Tilly to come up with a list of five top summer reads to keep children of any age occupied on rainy or too-hot days. Here’s what she had to say.

One cannot pick out one’s five favourite books. It is impossible. It’s like trying to pin down what one’s five favourite foods are. A favourite food or book is subjective to how one is feeling at the time, what flavour one craves in one’s mouth or mind. Since summer is a time for families, I am going to chose five cozy lazy summer day reads, a mix for young children, mid-grade and teens.

1. For a parent or grandparent to read to a young child: The Sky Was Blue by Charlotte Zolotow, pictures by Garth Williams

This book made me feel safe. Even now, thinking about it conjures up those feelings. Have memories of my mother’s soothing voice reading this book to me, of me, reading it to my daughter.

Editor’s note: This book is out of print. Contact your local library to find a copy.

The Sky Was Blue by Charlotte Zolotow

2. For girls ages 8 – 11: All-of-a-Kind-Family by Sydney Taylor, illustrated by Helen John

I loved tucking into this book and sneaking a peak, a taste of what it was like to be a part of this family of Jewish immigrants in New York at the start of the 20th century. To share for the span of a book, their lives, traditions and love that was ever present.

All-of-a-Kind Family  by Sydney Taylor

3. For teenage boys: Swim the Fly, Beat the Band, Call the Shots, series by Don Calame

Yes, he is my husband, but that is not why I am recommending these books.  These books are raunchy, hilarious, spurt milk-out-of-your-nose books that speak directly to the mind, mentality and… ahem…bodily focus of the teenage male mind. I have read the letters from parents, librarians, and teenage boys. If you have a son who refuses to read, thinks reading is dumb and needs to read a book for summer reading, these are the books for him.

Swim The Fly by Don Calame

4. For boys and girls ages 9 and up: Half Magic by Edward Eager, illustrations by N.M. Bodecker

This is a funny, fanciful magical book that is rooted in the reality of an ordinary family on an ordinary day. Loved reading and re-reading this to myself as a child and to my own children when the books read to them at bedtime graduated to chapter books.

Half magic by Edward Eager

5. For all teenagers, ages 13 and up: The Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, Emily’s Quest, series by L.M Montgomery.

There is a slightly darker tone to some portions of these books than my other recommends.  These books are a mix of the light and the dark, humor and sorrow.  I loved these books as a child, read and reread them many times and still now, sometimes on a rainy lazy day, will pick one up and get lost in it.

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery