Summer Reading Made Easy
If you're a mom, dad, grandma, granddad, aunt, uncle, big sister, big brother, friend, or tutor, you will most likely find yourself spending time with a child this summer.
Kids ought to be spending some time outside, catching frogs, building a fort, furnishing a fort, playing baseball, or doing something that is pure fun, costs nothing, and requires little adult supervision. But they may be inside on an extremely hot day, thunderstormy day, or just time-to-rest day. When my kids are in, it takes some nudging but I like them to read just a little something.
I wish they would wander over to the library, peruse the offerings, and pick up a few great books. But that's not been happening, so I want to hand them a book I'm nearly 100% sure they'll like. A couple of summers ago, that was really easy when my youngest was into The Magic Tree House series. My oldest read nearly anything then but now that he's in middle school, he's gotten finicky.
As you most likely know, you can get a library card with access to its catalog that, depending on your particular system, should allow you to search the entire catalog, place a hold or reservation on a title, and request that the book be delivered to the library closest to you. I suggest the digital options because I find that during the summer, bookshelves are often picked clean of the most popular books; if I get on the waiting list, I can schedule my library visits for times when I know I will find what I want.
Other frugal options are to visit your used book store, and either trade in your used books or buy them at a discount; check out the offerings at Goodwill or yard sales; or borrow from and/or share with friends. Half.com is also an inexpensive option as are online booksellers of new, almost new, and used books if the previously listed sources don't have what you are looking for.
As an Internet surfer, I have discovered that uncovering book recommendations is easy; but sorting through long lists is tedious. Those lists with 10-20 recommendations suit me best. I've compiled some sources of book lists (with choices that my kids or I have read) and included some books I've enjoyed recently. Here are my ideas:
- Emerging to beginning readers: check out this interactive storytelling, phonics site http://www.starfall.com/ (my dad, the elementary school tutor recommends it); read books by Dr. Seuss, which are fun and have wisebready messages, such as protecting the environment from exploitation of natural resources (The Lorax) and avoiding advertising-induced status symbols (The Sneetches).
- 1st through 3rd graders: let your kids see life through new friends' eyes, such as Jack and Annie of Magic Tree House books, Ramona, and Orville and Wilbur Wright:Young Fliers in the Childhood of Famous Americans series.
- 4th through 12th graders: choose from the book list developed by America's Battle of the Books (You don't have to compete to enjoy the books. Last summer, I used this list to find books for my middle-schooler; he enjoyed Peter and the Starcatchers and then devoured Stormbreaker and all of Anthony Horowitz's books.)
- For grownups and near grownups: check out this banned book list, Wall Street Journal's bestselling business books, and Pulitzer prize winners (I have enjoyed reading the novels, which reflect the social and economic circumstances of the times. My library system has a listing of these titles as well as bestsellers on its main search page).
If you've got a great list or books to recommend, especially for kids' summer reading, let me know.