Harry Potter or Sidewalk Chalk?

 

I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts about SUMMER! As in no school, no learning, no teachers, no pressure. And the “Woo-hoo! Yay!” of that.

This reminds me of a post I wrote last year about summer reading (posted below). I’m going to be the wet blanket here. I think kids should continue learning during the summer. What I don’t understand is why kids can’t learn and have fun. Why is there such an extreme separation between these views? I don’t think there needs to be. ThoughtBubble

Going to the beach, riding bikes, blowing bubbles, swimming…these are all wonderful parts of summer. That doesn’t mean kids can’t read or use some of their outdoor time learning about nature.

My children are out of school, and it is officially summer break around here. They both love reading and willingly grab books daily as a fun activity. But what about those who would rather not read? Summer Slide is real.

After you’ve dried off from the pool or wiped sand from between little toes, sit down in the sunshine and have some DEAR time or read to your kids.

Who says you can’t have a picnic and read Percy Jackson?

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Summer Reading Book (s)

When I was in school, we had required summer reading lists. Every year. With multiple books we were required to read. End-of-summer / back-to-school meant buying clothes, pencils, notebooks, and a backpack. It also meant preparing ourselves to prove we did our summer reading. In grade school, we had to write book reports. When we entered junior high, we were tested on the reading.

I suppose I’m old(ish) but, wow, have things changed that much? Get this. My kids have to read a book over the summer. One. Book. AND they don’t technically have to read it—this is a request not a requirement. Reading a book is “great!” and “encouraged!” but not “required”. Consequently, my kids will not be tested on or even asked about the book(s) they read because they weren’t expected to read any.

CharlotteWeb

Also, there is a page trying to talk students (or parents?) into this one book by spouting “Summer Slide” statistics and research about expanded vocabulary and increased success in school.

There is a list of book suggestions, yes, but they are popular books including many comic books and magazines. I’m not looking for a fight. My kids read both of the above and some of them are fantastic but I’m talking summer reading here. I don’t understand how we went from a required list of specific books to a suggested list of popular books in one generation.

Okay, it’s been twenty thirty years since I was in grade school and things are bound to change a bit in that time but, honestly, taking away summer reading? It’s still there, technically, but it’s really not. Not with the mild, mousy voice of it-would-be-so-neat-if-you-could-maybe-possibly-read-one-book-or-something-with-words-on-it-this-summer.

 

Did you have summer reading when you were in school? Do your children? Are they going to read this summer? If so, is it for fun or because their school required it? 

 

To Thine Own Self Be True

 

“The most important thing is to always be true to what we like.”

Author J.D. Estrada said this to me. We were chatting on Twitter about book genres and reading whatever you want regardless of what others say. This statement stuck with me for two reasons.ThoughtBubble

  1. It can be applied to many situations.
  1. Most of the time you see a quote beginning with “We should always be true to…”, you expect it to end with “who we are”. But he said “what we like”. I find that interesting.

Being true to yourself is crucial and something we tell our children to do. But how often do we ask them what they like and if they stay true to that? I understand this could be considered part of being true to who you are but the words are not the same. They’re more specific and have an entirely different focus.

“Be true to who you are” is a bit abstract for children. Asking them what they like gets you an answer. Asking them if they care what other people think of those things gets you an answer. This leads to a conversation—a way to engage them in a discussion of being true to who they are using concrete examples of what they like.

 

Be True to What You Like

Both my boys (8 and 10 years old) still love their picture books.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Brain Breaks and Books

 

I recently wrote an essay about my children’s desire to take a break from their regularly scheduled reading and pick up a picture book. In the middle of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, my 8-yr-old will read Bedtime for Bear or a Step Into Reading book. My 10-yr-old will put down his 600-page The Lost Hero and read The Adventures of Captain Underpants or an early chapter book.

I asked them why they do this. “It’s fun,” they said. But they read for fun every day. They love reading. And they certainly can read at a much higher level than these books.

My 8-yr-old explained that it was a different kind of fun.

“A brain break.”

He didn’t have to concentrate on the unfolding plot and could simply giggle at the antics of Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie.

Then I looked at the in-the-middle-of-reading / to-be-read pile next to my bed. Huh. I have Amy Tan and Gregory Maguire alongside a stack of YA novels and Patricia Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons (that would be a children’s book in case you were wondering). Also, Sense and Sensibility is hanging out right underneath Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall.

Sometimes you need a break from thought-provoking literature, heart-wrenching memoirs, historical fiction, and textbooks. Sometimes you just want to grab a book, curl up with a cup of tea and let your mind wander into magical worlds filled with wonderful stories. And, when that happens, don’t let anything (or anyone) stop you from putting the kettle on and picking up Peter Pan, Dr. Seuss, or Winnie the Pooh.

 

Sarah B Elephant and Piggie

Happy Reading!