Summer Study Ideas: Books to Beat the Summer Brain Drain

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I am giddy for summer.

I absolutely love having my kids home … for about two months. After two months, they start getting on each others nerves and making a LOT of noise.  By the time school starts again, I am giddy to send them back.  But for now, I can’t wait to have them all home.

One of my goals it to raise kids who LOVE LEARNING.  And for those of us who don’t home school, summer is the best time to make this happen.

I have tried a lot of different things to keep my kids academically motivated during the summer months.  Some have bored the kids to death.  Others have been too difficult to complete.  But there are a few books that I absoluetly love and have used again and again. Try them!  You won’t be disappointed.

Summer learning books


This book is AWESOME!  Critical thinkng is the most important academic skill, and yet critical thinkng skills are not priority 1 in school.  These skills are really a catapult for students.  When they learn to look at something from all angles and in different ways, they get better at finding answers to questions and solutions to problems.  And their standardized test scores soar. I really can’t even express my enthusiasm for this book.  Just try it with your child, and you will see.

Building Thinking Skills Beginning
Building Thinking Skills® Primary
Building Thinking Skills® Level 2
Building Thinking Skills® Level 3 Figural
Building Thinking Skills® Level 3 Verbal


Do you remember those crazy logic questions on the ACT, the ones that gave you a headache?  Agnes, Betsy, Cornelius and Dexter each vote for a different person for president and with a tiny bit of information, you can logically deduce who voted for whom.  Does this ring a bell?  Well, as it turn out, there is a very simple way to break these questions down and quickly find the solution.  This book will take your kids through the process and give them lots of opportunities to practice.   Truth be told, this is my kids’ favorite workbook.  The books are pretty short and my kids wish there were more books available.

Mind Benders – Grades K-2
Mind Benders, Book 1
Mind Benders, Book 2
Mind Benders Book 3: Deductive Thinking Skills
Mind Benders Book 4: Deductive Thinking Skills
Mind Benders Book 5: Deductive Thinking Skills
Mind Benders: Deductive Thinking Skills, Book 6, Grades 7-12+
Mind Benders: Deductive Thinking Skills, Book 8, Grades 7-12+
Mind Benders: Deductive Thinking Skills, Book 8, Grades 7-12+


Analogies are a huge part of standardized testing.  They show a student’s ability to quickly see the connections and relationships in a set of words or pictures.  And lucklily, the more analogies a student is exposed to, the easier they become.  Think Analogies is a wonderful book.  It teaches students to break down the analogy and see what is really happening there. Math Analogies takes it one step further and applies the analogies to pictures and situations without words.  My kids LOVE Math Analogies.  Think Analogies is less exciting, but nevertheless important.  When necessary, I try to make summer study more fun by offering a prize for hanging in and finishing the book.

Think Analogies A1
Think Analogies Level B Book 1
Math Analogies Beginning (Grades K-1)
Math Analogies Boook 1
Math Analogies: Book 2 (Grades 4-5)


These books kill two birds with one stone.  They improve a child’s reading comprehension and they also teach science, geography, history, etc.  In these books, there are short, interesting passages and then a series of questions to answer.  Reading comprehension is an entire section of the ACT.  I think it is so valuable to have kids start practicing reading and answering questions from the time they are young.   Sometimes I learn things I wish I didn’t know from these books, like that the real purpose of wands was not to produce magic, but to scratch lice and vermin filled hair.  Yikes!  More than I wanted to know for sure!

Nonfiction Reading Comprehension Grade 1
Nonfiction Reading Comprehension Grade 2
Nonfiction Reading Comprehension Grade 3
Nonfiction Reading Comprehension Grade 4
Nonfiction Reading Comprehension Grade 6
Nonfiction Reading Comprehension, Grades 7 – 8

Kids can easily complete 2-3 or more workbook pages each day in the summer. This may sound like a lot, but seriously, they could spend ten hours in front of the television or computer without something to interrupt the inertia.  As it is, I think they have more than plenty of summer leisure time.

Beating the summer brain drain takes dedication, but it is totally worth the effort!

Books to beat the summer brain drain.

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  1. Paula says

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    Have I told you lately that I love you?!? During my prep period today thinking “I need to organize a summer study program, if only I could get a few really great sources. Thank you! Know any good ones for grammar (subj/verb agreement is super tough for one of my kiddos).

    • Shawna Morrissey says

      Thanks Paula! Love you too! I haven’t worked on grammar with my kids before. I think reading A LOT is the most important way to perfect grammar. Reading out loud to kids does wonders over time — but I’m sure you already know that my librarian friend. There is a book series called “Editor in Chief” that I have been wanting to try, mostly because it is subtitled “Grammar Disasters & Punctuation Faux Pas.” It is published by the same company as several of my favorite workbooks. If you try this book, tell me how it goes!

  2. Hillary says

    Thank you, Shawna! I’m so excited to get some of these for my kids this summer. I love the idea of “homework” that they’ll enjoy over the summer. Do you prefer to get these through Amazon, or do you get them at a store in town. Also, do you have the kids write right in the books, or do you have them write their answers on separate paper so you can reuse the workbook?

    • Shawna Morrissey says

      Hi Hillary! I am glad you asked these questions. First of all, I usually buy my books directly from The Critical Thinking Company ( when they are having a sale because their books can be pricey. If I can find them for less on Amazon or Ebay, I will buy them there. I used to photocopy the pages or put a dry erase sheet over them because I have so many kids and I knew another one would be on that level soon. I’m sure you can relate! 😉 I don’t do that any more. I have found that my kids feel more invested in the program if they have their own book with their name written in permanent marker on the cover. And it makes life so much easier for me because I don’t have to print out pages or show them where they have to work each day. They just follow along in the book. It definitely costs a little more, but I think it is worth it. I hope that helps Hillary! Good luck!

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