It’s that time of year again. The internet is full of summer reading lists for kids of all ages. As a lover of all kinds of book lists, I have bookmarked, printed, and pinned my fair share. Most of these lists leave me with one main complaint, however: they are too short. (My second-grader read an entire book on the way to the zoo last week. I can’t expect a list of 10 great books to last him more than a week or two, let alone a full summer.) Over the next few weeks, I will be highlighting some ways we are gearing up for summer reading. Today, here are four things I am doing with my second grader now so he can keep himself in books until school starts next fall:
- Figuring out what (and who) he likes. This is where suggested reading lists come in for me. I’ve been grabbing books by prolific authors like Beverly Cleary, Kate DiCamillo, and Dick King-Smith to give him a wide range of reading choices. When he finishes a book, I ask him to tell me what he liked. Articulating what he prefers in a book is taking some practice, but I’m hoping he’ll be comfortable naming the authors and genres he likes by the time summer rolls around.
- Getting his own library card. He has been eligible for his own library card for almost 3 years now, but I have intentionally failed to mention it. I like to keep tight rein on which (and how many) books we bring home. That said, he has been in charge of keeping track of his own library books for a few months now, and we’ve only had one turned in late, so I’m ready to give him more freedom. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about the whole thing, but these babies keep growing up without my permission.
- Learning to navigate the library (and website). It started last year when he learned where the Star Wars easy readers are shelved. Then, I showed him how to find a particular series by using the author’s name. Last week, I took him with me while I located a few books in the non-fiction section. Our library’s website is not the most user-friendly, but my next mission will be to show him how to find out if a book is available and how to request a copy from another location.
- Making friends with the librarian. In all my years as a reader, I have never taken full advantage of my librarians. In fact, I didn’t even speak to a librarian by choice until college. (This has nothing to do with librarians and everything to do with me. I don’t even like to talk to employees at Home Depot. I prefer to wander aimlessly looking for just the right vent attachment because I’m crazy.) Since my oldest also tends towards shy, I’ve been helping him get to know the librarians in the children’s section. I’m sure there will be a time (or 500) this summer when they will be able to recommend something new, help him figure out the website, or locate a book with him while I juggle books, the stroller, and a runaway toddler. They can only help him if he will ask, though, so I would love him to know their faces and names by the summer.
You may notice I said nothing about summer reading programs. Will this be the summer we manage not to lose the form? Probably not. What else should we be doing to get ready for summer reading?