Reading Through the Summer Blahs

July 22, 2009

We’ve made it half-way through the girls’ summer vacation, and I can tell that lethargy is setting in.   Not just with the girls, who seem to be harder to wake up every morning, but also with me.  Just responding to emails seems to be quite an accomplishment, and I have to work hard to even look at my to do list. It’s even harder to finish the tasks I set aside for myself each day.

But it is summer after all, so I’m giving myself permission to read more every day and treating that like an accomplishment. I also read to Madeleine every day, and I’m very aware of the fleeting time I have left to do that with her. She starts college at the end of September, so what time I do have with her is precious. Even at her age it’s still a great way to broach subjects that we wouldn’t normally bring up in everyday conversation.

I have not been reading to Catherine yet, but I’d like to start soon. I think she’s ready for The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and I can’t wait to share it with her. We have all of August to read before we start on our next book club book, which is North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley.

There’s still so much of summer to look forward to.


Sign Up for Summer Reading at Your Library

June 15, 2009

Wherever you live, most likely your public library is taking sign-ups for a summer reading program. If you read a lot anyway, you may wonder why it’s still important to sign up for  program like this. I believe there are several reasons. For one, you’ll be encouraged to visit your library more often so your kids can claim the prizes they are earning. And that could have you choosing books out of your normal pattern. I know when my kids and I are in the library, we end up browsing books we would not be exposed to otherwise, and we check out titles that are totally new to us.

There has also been research conducted on summer reading programs. The New York State Library’s Web site,, has posted research results of studies conducted on summer reading. Here are some of the results cited:

Celano, Donna and Susan B. Neuman. The Role of Public Libraries in Children’s Literacy Development: An Evaluation Report. Pennsylvania Library Association, 2001.

In this 2001 LSTA-funded report, Drs. Donna Celano and Susan Neuman describe the ways in which public libraries foster literacy skills through summer reading programs and preschool programs. Recent literature they studied showed:

  • Libraries continue to play a major role in fostering literacy, especially among those most needing assistance in developing literacy skills (e.g., preschool and elementary school children).
  • Children who have been exposed to library preschool programs showed a greater number of emergent literacy behaviors and pre-reading skills than those in a control group.
  • Children who participate in summer reading programs benefit from the many literacy-related activities offered, aiding significantly in literacy development.
  • Public Library preschool and summer reading programs encourage children to spend a significant amount of time with books.

I’m headed down to my library today, and I hope to be surprised by what the librarians are featuring on the display shelves.

A List of Classic Books in Three Age Groups

July 1, 2008

If your mother-daughter book club doesn’t meet in the summer, this may be a good time for you to pick up a classic, either to read on your own or for a book club meeting scheduled for the fall. For most clubs, this is the one time of year you can devote to reading longer novels, and there may even be more time for moms and daughters to read a book together. This can be an advantage since many classics were written long ago and may not be as easy for young readers to grasp. Most titles will be readily available on the shelves of your library, where you’ll find yourself anyway if you’ve signed up for a summer reading program.

Here are some thoughts for classics in different age groups:

Younger readers

Caddie Woodlawn–Carol Ryrie Brink
Charlotte’s Web–E. B. White
Little House on the Prairie–Laura Ingalls Wilder
Matilda–Roald Dahl
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle–Betty MacDonald
The Boxcar Children–Edith Nesbitt
The Indian in the Cupboard–Lynne Reid Banks
The Secret Garden–Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Trumpet of the Swan–E. B. White
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz–L. Frank Baum

Middle Readers

A Wrinkle in Time–Madeleine L’Engle
Anne of Green Gables–L. M Montgomery
Little Women–Louisa May Alcott
Peter Pan–J. M. Barrie
The Call of the Wild–Jack London
The Hobbit–J. R. R. Tolkein
The Jungle Book–Rudyard Kipling
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe–C. S. Lewis
To Kill a Mockingbird–Harper Lee
Treasure Island–Robert Louis Stevenson

Older Readers

A Tale of Two Cities–Charles Dickens
David Copperfield
–Charles Dickens
Dracula–Bram Stoker
Huckleberry Finn–Mark Twain
Jane Eyre–Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice–Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility–Jane Austen
The Count of Monte Cristo–Alexandre Dumas
The Hunchback of Notre Dame–Victor Hugo
Wuthering Heights–Emily Bronte

Summer Reading Suggestions

May 20, 2008

The end of the school year always brings a wild flurry of activity. The last choir concert, the last track meet, the volunteer appreciation breakfast, and so many other last minute things thrown into the schedule it’s overwhelming.

But looming in the background is the promise of lazy summer days lying in a hammock and reading. Not that I ever seem to achieve that, but it’s an ideal to strive for. My daughters on the other hand, seem to get that hammock time in at least once a week.

I’m compiling my list of recommended summer reading, and I’d like to hear from any of you who have suggestions. I’ll publish a list with everyone’s recommendations in early June.

Already I know Frank Cottrell Boyce’s new book Cosmic will be on my list, and I can’t wait for it to come out. And my two book club selections will take me into the beginning of summer. I’ll be reading The Adoration of Jenna Fox with Catherine, who’s just finishing 8th grade, and This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff with Madeleine, who’s finishing her junior year in high school.

What’s on your list? Leave a comment here or drop me a note at