School is just about out for the summer. I admit I’m excited about the promise of long, sleepy mornings and the demise of all that hustle-and-bustle craziness to get out the door by 7:45 am. While my children will retain some structured activities over the break, like baseball and basketball summer leagues and weekly academic tutoring sessions, for the most part, we’re primed and ready to take full and active (or NON-active) participation in the lazy, hazy, decadent days of summer.
One of the primary benefits of summer, in my book anyway, is the added free time to read, read, and read some more—relalxing under a beach umbrella, curled beneath an apple tree, lounging on the front porch swing, or sitting in the front seat of our car during a road trip—anywhere will work for me. It’s time to catch up on all that reading the busy school year prevents. And this goes for my children as well, although they’re not quite as excited about this prospect as I am. They would much rather be in the water, playing ball, hanging out with their friends, at the movies, listening to tunes on their iPod … just about any activity other than sitting still and opening a book. This is hard for an avid reader like myself to understand, but I know that my two boys are more typical than not for their age and gender.
Like many boys, if they are going to read, they prefer nonfiction. In the case of my children, that means biographies of sports players, their teams, statistics, standings; anything sports-related will suit them just fine. They devour the sports pages every morning, and grab my husband’s sports magazines directly from the mailbox. None of this is a bad thing; reading is reading. I’m hoping they’ll get lost in fiction eventually, but I’m not pushing it. They aren’t fans of science fiction or fantasy, and in our Harry Potter world, that knocks out a good portion of today’s most popular fiction for middle school boys. But there are plenty of alternatives. Thank goodness for the Baseball Card Adventure series by Dan Gutman. These books follow a boy whose magical baseball cards send him back in time to the eras of famous baseball players such as Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson. The stories provide a wonderful mix of sports and history, fiction and nonfiction. My sons practically swallowed these books whole. I was so ecstatic (and relieved) these books existed that I emailed Mr. Gutman in appreciation. He responded, writing he was just like my sons at that age and that is specifically why he wrote this particular series. My son was so thrilled at his response that he wrote Mr. Gutman with some suggestions for a future storyline, and the two became pen pals for awhile.
Regardless of what level or type of reading your child is into (or isn't into), we all know it’s important to keep them reading over the summer. They will benefit in so many ways, and it will also keep their little brains primed for the next school year, which approaches way too quickly. The Brookline schools have provided their suggested summer reading lists for most grades, and the provides their own suggestions for great summer reading as well as a summer reading program. We plan to be frequent visitors.