I long for summers to catch a blanket or on the covered porch with an ongoing summer novel, with the kids. Last year it was Mouse On The Motercyle, by Beverly Cleary. The summer before was Charlotte’s Web, by EB White. This summer it was Stuart Little, also by EB White. I had gotton one of those oversized novel-to-picture books from Borders- (sniff, sniff) and it was fun to read together during our lunch times, just a chapter or so. The pictures are big enough to share across the table. Whatever the format, it has been 3 great years of sharing novels. Before of course it was picture book reads and small chapter books. This summer tradition is super fun and I hope you all get to do it too or remember for next year. Although it is just as rewarding on a cozy couch or special chair.
My reasons for picking out a book for summers instead of letting them choose are sometimes selfish. I’d like the kids to know some of the classics in childhood literature and because there are just so many these days I hope to get in a few of my own favorites from what the teachers may not read. Another great reason is that, I love reading aloud and they get to share it with me because I like it. There that said about my summer read project. The other thing that I love about family reading is that it is just nice to sit and discuss a book with each other. Sometimes it is only a sentence or two but those are good connections nonetheless. I am amazed when I ask questions and all my kids respond at one time or another. Even after a couple of weeks, the brain is so amazing as kids do remember, even at age 5. I think this art of reconnecting stories from widespread days or weeks is something at a loss these days with instant retrieved movies and sequels. So reading a novel over a period of days and weeks and even over the summer is good recognition skills. Recently I just heard a fact on reading as a source to help others out of depression. (London, study- from documentary “Why Reading Matters.”) That is pretty cool.
l think that reading helps us bond as a family and I want my kids to desire that connection of reading with stories later too. It might even help them some day if they find themselves in difficult situations. For now, it gives them a place to discover some feelings when seeing the path and choices of some characters. Light questions and ones we really can’t answer are just good in well told stories. Like, Does Charlotte have to really stay behind? Should Ralph risk even carrying an asprin? or Does Stuart ever find Margalo? I really get to know my kids a little more when they have a concern about a character or a hope. And that’s a good reason to share a good read. I’m always reminded at the end of a book why reading together is important. Sometimes we have big discussions of what really happens and sometimes not. Even the shrug at the end of a book when they say they like it, I see they are thinking a few other things about it. I just like that.
Get a family classic or one of your most favorite from years past and enjoy the time well spent in a family read. Think ahead for next summer.