Monday, May 17, 2010

Summer Reading Part 1: Plan It or Wing It?

Our summer fast approacheth, and I've been thinking about summer reading, both mine and the girls, but mostly theirs.  In the past, I've been carefree about summer reading.  We go to the library, they select a few books, and they read them.  Or not.  Sometimes they decide a book isn't right for them, so they don't finish it.  I've done the same thing, myself.  It's summer, I say.  We're footloose and fancy-free!

But now I'm wondering. . .

Perhaps there's a better way.  A plan might be a good idea.  A loose plan, you understand, but not fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants.

First off, choose carefully.  There are so many excellent books to savor, why waste time and energy on the lackluster, the trite, the twaddly?  However, merely asking my children roam about the children's section of the library and telling them to "pick something out" is not the best idea.  Create a list instead, and head out prepared.  Ideas can come from several sources:

Gladys Hunt's fabulous book, Honey for a Child's Heart, complete with annotated bibliography, is a great beginning.  If you don't own a copy, perhaps your library will have it or you can pick up your own copy.  I have one and have spent time going through and highlighting books I think will interest my children, which gives me a jump start on a reading list.

The website 1000 Good Books List, compiled by the Classical Christian Education Support Loop, is helpfully divided into different reading levels.  Just click on the level you need (for us, it's Elementary Reading Level: 4-6; the numbers correspond to grade levels), and the choose from several genres.  Lists are alphabetized by title.

I also use Ambleside Online's reading lists for each year.  For example, we are completing Year 3, and have not read all the Additional Books for Reading for Year 3 (located at the bottom of the page).  Some I already know would not suit my children, but others are there awaiting their discovery.  These lists are wonderful for all children, not just AO'ers.

If you're traveling this summer, take books along with you.  One of my daughters can read in the car (yes!), but the other cannot (ugh!).  However, we recently discovered Playaways at our library.  On our recent trip to Savannah, each girl listened peacefully to her own chosen book with her mp3 player headphones.  Ah, bliss!  Speaking of mp3 players, I plan to let each child select an audiobook or two to download and copy to her player for summer listening.  I tend to favor LibriVox (because it's FREE), but there are other audiobook sites from which to choose.  Sometimes Himself and I like to join in the fun, so then I burn stories to CDs or buy a book or two on CD.  We've enjoyed many of these as a family on our junket to Maine every summer (and then back home!).

And if your children like challenges or contests, sign them up for Borders 2010 Summer Reading Double Dog Dare, which I posted about here on a Weekly Wrap-Up a couple of weeks ago.  We've participated for two years now, and the girls enjoy it.

So I think some sort of plan sounds good for our summer reading.  I'll spend some time putting together a list for the girls this week.  And who knows?  I may actually put together my own summer reading list.  I could start with my GoodReads to-read list. . .

Jump to Part Two of this three-part series.
Jump to Part Three of this three-part series.


  1. I think I'll plan. I sometimes, when I get a bit tired, I relax and have let them before to pick whatever they like, but most of the times, I gently guide them, I request from the library books that are not twaddle, and I have a purpose in mind to provoke ideas and help them initiate learning.

  2. Do let us know what your final plans look like. I'd love to see!


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