I’ve got my kids enrolled in the summer reading programs both at our home library and at the library where I work. At our home library, the challenge is to read or listen to 900 minutes, in 15 minute blocks. My son, who reads to himself in addition to bedtime reading aloud and audiobooks, finished up in just a couple of weeks, while my daughter just finished. At the library where I work, the younger kids are on a prize-a-week scheme, while my son just moved up to the read six books plan for tweens. He didn’t think he could do this at all, but I made him sign up anyway, and he’s at five books. It’s mostly graphic novels and audiobooks, though I still want him to read a couple of chapter books, so he’s not counting on me to read all of them to him. (While I have no plans to stop reading to him, there are many more books he wants to read than I can read to him!) All the kids have an optional, additional nonfiction game, where they read a book in each of 10 Dewey ranges (slightly jiggered to include biography) and get more prizes yet. This is the most exciting to my son, who naturally gravitates towards nonfiction – I think he’s now read five or six.
Here is where I pause to reflect again on how summer reading programs are designed. I had really liked how (until recently), all the kids up to teens could read something every week and get a prize. Slow or ambitious readers weren’t penalized for not finishing lots of books; fast readers couldn’t finish the program in a week and then get bored. On the other hand, my son seems to be enjoying the challenge of reading a set number of books, reading more than he otherwise might. And as always, there’s the meta issue, ala Alfie Kohn, of whether or not giving rewards to kids for reading is ultimately motivating or demotivating.
So, here’s what we have in the library basket right now:
For the girl, a big pile of picture books: Elephant’s Story by Tracy Campbell Pearson, Ivy Loves to Give by Freya Blackwood, Music Everywhere by Maya Ajmera, Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine by Gloria Whelan, Sam by Bobby Lynn Maslen (this is part of her sudden need to learn to read now), Soo’s Boo-Boos by Tilda Masley, Sophie’s Terrible Twos by Rosemary Wells, This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris, Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman, and When Sophie Gets Angry… Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang. She’s also having us reading some Magic Tree House to her in person now. In the car, she’s fallen in love with Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows – she’s listened to it three times now, and I’m really hoping that she’ll let us move on to the second book this week.
For the boy, lots of graphic novels: Muppet King Arthur by Paul Benjamin and Patrick Storck (from our home collection) and Cleopatra in Space: Target Practice by Mike Maihack, Stone Rabbit: Deep Space Disco and Stone Rabbit: Pirate Palooza by Erik Craddock, and hybrid prose/graphic novel Dragonbreath: Revenge of the Horned Bunnies by Ursula Vernon. He was very excited to find the only book in this nonfiction series he hadn’t yet read You Wouldn’t Want to Live in a Wild West Town by Peter Hicks. We’re listening to Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis in the car, and I think he just started listening to Summerkin by Sarah Prineas to himself – we had to buy this, as it was bizarrely not available for the library to buy on CD book, though books one and two of the series are.
The kids are at a very small summer camp this year, with all the kids from pre-K through age 10 in the same room. I’ve been coming in twice a week to read to them, trying to find books that are interesting for all of them, and going for longer picture books and short chapter books to stretch the listening span of the younger ones in preparation for starting kindergarten in the fall. So far, I’ve read them The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley and Brian Selznick, Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg, and “Nana Miriam” from Not One Damsel in Distress by Jane Yolen, as well as a couple chapters of Lulu and the Dog from the Sea by Hilary McKay.
Also bizarre, I have won several giveaways in the past couple of months – I won Rose and the Lost Princess by Holly Webb from Liviana at In Bed with Books, a bunch of Kate Milford novels from the Book Smugglers, some Kat, Incorrigible jewelry from Stephanie Burgis, an ARC of The Eighth Day by Dianne Salerni from Akossiwa, and (a big prize package) Cupcake Cousins by Kate Hannigan, a “You Are Beautiful, Too” tote bag, and a 40-book multicultural library for my son’s school library, donated by various people for the 48 Hour Reading Challenge, which is run by Pam at Mother Reader. I’m currently (finally) reading Traitors’ Gate by Kate Elliott, with Huntress by Malinda Lo waiting next. (Astute readers may notice that these are books left over from my 48HBC reading pile.) I have two knitting books out for inspiration, Free-spirit Shawls by Lisa Shroyer and Vintage Knit Hats by Kathryn Fulton. I’m listening to To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee in the car, which I had never read before and picked up because I remembered that the teen librarian said I’d like it and none of the books that I was looking for were available. At home, I’m listening to Boston Jacky by L.A. Meyer.
I recently finished American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, and brought it home for my love to read. He’s also listening to The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black on his commute.
That’s it for us right now! What are you reading? And what are your favorite longer picture books for reading aloud?