Your Family’s Local Summer Reading List
Austin is lucky to claim a wealth of local authors who inform, inspire, transport and transcend. So when picking your summer reads, why not persue the pages from a local pen? Here are a few to get you started.
Ever wonder how that first caterpillar sprouted wings and took to the skies? Or how the first tadpole hopped out of the water and croaked out a song? This book takes readers back to the beginning to discover how these creatures achieved their dreams.
About the author: Kronenberg’s journey as a writer began 10 years ago at a symphony, when the idea to write a book about living our best lives “hit me over the head like a 2 x 4.” She says, “Dream Big has a lot of layers that hopefully answer some of life’s hard questions.” Kronenberg arrived in Austin as a student at UT. She and her husband have four children. Read more of our interview with Kronenberg here.
This multi-generational story tackles the question of how to preserve sacred traditions while navigating modern life. It’s told through the voice of a young Jewish girl and focuses on the minyan—a prayer service that requires 10 Jewish adults.
About the author: Kline has been writing since childhood. “It’s possible that there was a pencil clenched in my fist in utero,” she says. When she moved to Austin from her native Pittsburgh in 1984, the Jewish population here was much smaller, and the local congregation couldn’t count on having enough adults to assemble a minyan for prayers and readings. Read more of our interview with Kline here.
Find inspiration in this true story about William “Doc” Key and his horse, Jim. Key raised Jim from birth and taught him to answer questions and spell words. The pair found fame in the Tennesee Centennial Exposition in 1897 and later promoted animal welfare.
About the author: A Central Texas native, Bowman began her writing career about 15 years ago, but she credits her experience growing up on a ranch for the conditions that let her imagination flourish. “Magic happens in quiet times,” she says. “I tell kids that the secret to creativity is to turn off screens and allow their minds to play.” Bowman and her husband have two sons. Read more of our interview with Bowman here.
Follow along as Izzy finds adventure in her sleepy little hometown where her younger sister vanishes, lured into the woods by a mysterious song. Izzy finds she must rely on the help of a ragtag group of strangers to help her in her search.
About the author: Soontornvat started writing children’s books about 10 years ago. Before that, she says she thought writing was a gift you were born with or not. Now she says she knows that writing “takes hard work, perseverance and practice.” A trip to Ireland inspired her to write The Changelings. An Austin resident for 15 years, Soontornvat and her husband have two daughters. Read more of our interview with Soontornvat here.
High school junior and particle physics fan Tommy disappears, and the story’s characters are left to figure out why. Told through the eyes of those who knew him and those looking for him, this book explores themes of connection, loneliness and faith.
About the author: Lane always knew she wanted to write. “I love writing for kids because I like telling the truth about life,” she says. “Real people and real life are endlessly fascinating to me.” She began writing plays, worked as a journalist and then started writing for children. Lane arrived in Austin in 1980. “I was in love with a boy from Texas,” she says. “We ran away together.” Read more of our interview with Lane here.
This young adult fantasy tells the story of Clare, a teen who, after years of living in America, returns to the house where she was born in Ireland. The house holds memories and mysteries—including a tree that might be a portal to another world.
About the author: Catmull has been writing since 1999. For this book, inspiration came from the convergence of an interest in the environmental art of Andy Goldsworthy, her familial connections to Ireland and playing with fairy houses with her niece. Catmull visited Austin during summers beginning in the 70s and became a permanent Austin resident in 1981. Read more of our interview with Catmull here.
This young adult novel explores a small Texas town’s loss of two high school baseball stars and the impact it has on those left grieving. Amid the mourning, one young man attempts to woo the girl he’s admired from a distance.
About the author: Perez began writing in middle school. At first, it was all on paper because his family didn’t own a computer. “When I got my first bit of scholarship money for college, the first thing I bought was a computer,” he says. A Corpus Christi native, Perez has lived in Austin since 2002. “I like the kinds of people Austin draws from Texas and all over the world,” he says. Read more of our interview with Perez here.
This final book in the Feral series blends suspense, romance and action in a story about characters who transform into animal hybrids and lead a plot to take over the world. The story explores themes of acceptance, freedom and self-esteem.
About the author: Smith began writing in second grade. She moved to Austin and began writing for children in 1995. She set the Feral series in Central Texas, with scenes on South Congress, at the Austin Zoo, in Westlake and at a fictional resort west of town. Smith likes the Austin literary community. “We are among the brightest of the story makers,” she says. Read more of our interview with Smith here.
This non-fiction tome discusses how video gaming affects kids. It offers a comprehensive guide to the science behind concerns of exposure to violence, antisocial behavior and the symptoms of ADHD. Parents will welcome the frank and thorough approach.
About the author: Kowert has been a life-long creative writer, but published her first scientific work in 2012. She says she wrote this book to inform parents beyond the “narrow glimpse” of typical video game coverage. Born and raised in the Austin area, Kowert spent some of her college years at UT. She and her husband have a daughter and a baby on the way. Read more of our interview with Kowert here.
Intervidews By Sherida Mock, Editor, Austin Family Magazine.