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Zombie Cows and Giant Peaches: Scholars Spill the Beans on Their Favorite Summer Books

If there’s one equation that every Success Academy scholar knows, it’s that reading = magic. This summer, our scholars are getting lost in great books for hours in the park, on the train, and at home.

Our Summer SOAR program aims to get every scholar reading — not just because it’s a lot of fun — but because reading combats learning loss that often occurs during the summer months.

Below, five Success Academy scholars dish on their favorite books of summer 2017 — and where they like to read.

Is your scholar devouring books faster than ever this summer? Remember, every Success Academy family receives a subscription to Audible and OverDrive, which offer access to thousands of incredible audiobooks, for free!

If your scholar is in the middle of a great book — tell us about it! Post a photo to Facebook or Instagram, using the hashtag #SummerSOAR to share your family’s love for books.


Arielle Belobrovka
Fourth grader, SA Cobble Hill

Book recommendation: James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

“It’s impossible to really pick one favorite book, but this summer I loved reading James and the Giant Peach, which is about a boy who accidentally creates a giant peach in his backyard, which winds up rolling into the ocean, and eventually goes into the sky! My favorite character was James because he was smart and helped bring seagulls to the peach to make it fly over the ocean. I like adventure books that have a problem that the characters solve with an invention. I would recommend it, because even though there’s no such thing as a giant peach, the story feels very real! I love fiction.”

Favorite place to read: “Right before bed — I lie down in my comfy bed and flip through the pages.”


Joshua Ruffin
Sixth grader, SA Midtown West Middle School

Book recommendation: The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

“One word to describe this book is ‘adventure.’ It’s about three siblings whose father is a police officer in the kingdom where they live. Growing up, their house is really strict and they have to wake up early every day. They also compete in competitions to earn badges. They escape their house to earn their kingdom’s Scout Badge and have an adventure. Three private detectives called the Ear, the Eye, and the Arm are hired to find them. My favorite character was the Arm, because he’s able to read people’s emotions and feel vibrations in the ground. Someday, I would want to go out on my own like the main characters!  I would recommend this book to any kid who likes to read books about adventures.

Favorite place to read: “My favorite place to listen to audiobooks is in my bed. It’s a very cozy place to be and helps me be calm, relaxed, and focused.”


Casey Harris
Third-grader, SA Bronx 3 Upper

Book recommendation: Agent Amelia: Zombie Cows by Michael Broad

“Agent Amelia is a book series about a girl named Amelia who’s really funny and solves mysteries. In this book, Amelia is at a petting zoo with her worst enemy, Trudy, and she realizes the cows are actually becoming zombies! This book was exciting to read. I like to read books with funny characters, too.”

Favorite place to read: “I like to read at home, in my bedroom, or on the couch.”


Aniya Gressman
First-grader, SA Bed-Stuy 1

Favorite Book: What Do you Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom

“This book is about a boy who has a problem he needs to solve. He tries to get away from it, but it just keeps getting bigger. There are lots of pictures in the book that are very beautiful. This book teaches you to be brave and solve any problems you have, even if you don’t want to right away.”

Favorite place to read: “I like to read in the library and at home — and I like to read with my mom.”


Jazyln Vidal
Sixth grader, SA Bronx 1 MS

Book recommendation: The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

The Face on the Milk Carton is about this girl named Janie who finds out that the people taking care of her aren’t her mother or father — and she starts a journey to look for her mom and dad. The author’s description made me able to picture everything happening in the story — like a mind movie — and put myself in her shoes, even if it made me sad sometimes. If it was me, I would want to know who my mom was. From the very beginning, I was intrigued about what Janie would do and wanted to keep reading.”

Favorite place to read: I like to listen to books when I’m on the train, bus, or in school — but mostly at home because it’s quieter and I get to focus on my book and listen to the narrator.”

Written by Success Academy August 4, 2017

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