Ah, summer. Longer and sunnier days, fewer responsibilities, time for family. The sports and scouts and other after school activities have all come to rest for the next 10 weeks. No more homework (other than the math and writing work I try to make fun. “Aren’t you so excited to write a brief essay on that book you just read?”).
I really look forward to the start of summer, and all the perceived opportunities my husband and I will have to share the world and the things we love with our three boys (ages 4, 7, and 10). For example, all of the recent hubbub about the success of Carousel on Broadway inspired me to share the films of the great Rodgers & Hammerstein II Broadway hits, starting with The Sound of Music this week. I wasn’t sure what to expect of the film’s reception; the boys (at least the older ones) really enjoyed it. I was tickled by my seven-year-old who asked everyday if we could watch the rest (we had to watch this 3-hour film in 1-hour increments). Success! (Next, on to Oklahoma!)
I also look forward to the books we’ll read together, and I like to think about which of my favorites I can share this year. No one is ever too old for story time, and I enjoy reading books out loud. It’s a great way for us all to enjoy a book together that we can discuss and reference later on.
Now I’m not talking about picture books. Those are wonderful, of course, but I want a book that we can really sink our teeth and thoughts into. You’d think it would be a challenge to find books that capture the attention of us all (without pictures) while still being appropriate for the younger ones. But we’ve done well with quite a few. This year, we all cried over Where the Red Fern Grows, learned about (or brushed up on) our Greek mythology reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (Book 1), and last night, sitting cozily
on our front porch swing, we wrapped us a sweet little story entitled Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins. (Follow the adventures of Stingray, Buffalo and Plastic. This is a great one for younger children. My 4-year-old loved it!). And, in case you’re wondering, yes, my husband is an avid listener, too, if he can be there.
If you don’t already, I encourage you to take time this summer to share books you love with the children (of all ages!) in your life. Your enthusiasm is key since kids will be inclined to love what you love. Seek out books with richly drawn characters; that’s most important. An exciting plot will keep everyone on the edge of their seats. And don’t forget the setting—might I suggest a comfy spot on a chair or a blanket under a big shade tree with a large, chilled glass of lemonade?
Happy Summer Reading!