A good friend of mine is going to join me in reading our way through a summer reading list. Caroline and my friend’s daughter over heard our plans and immediately began begging to join us, wanting to create a mini summer book club all their own. The girl’s walked off to school talking about books they had read and what they wanted to explore over the summer. Caroline returned home from school with the list above, titled “10 Books to Read Over the Summer.” Yes- the list has some less than stellar literature on it but I couldn’t be happier. Caroline sat down and proactively made a list of books she plans to enjoy and discuss with a friend. Really and truly as a mother and as a literacy consultant, nothing could make me happier.
Needless to say, I was thrilled when the note below arrived in my in box on the same day that Caroline returned home from school with her list. The note is from Caroline’s principal, a woman who in the madness of the current public school climate, rises to the top with common sense and love of children and learning. She and her faculty have decided that reading over this summer should be what is designed to be, fun. I’m so glad that Caroline and I had already had already planned on that.
Read below and smile with me…
June 14, 2011
You are never alone if you have a book. You can go anywhere if you have a book.
-Marian Chisholm (Grandmother of Dr. Oates)
Reading is an Oates Family habit. Another habit is eating nachos and drinking Diet Coke, but I will keep this letter focused on the reading part since it is much more admirable! Almost every member of my family is “a reader” and my personal favorite hobby is reading a book. Each year we would go on a vacation and long stretches of time would be spent in silence while everyone read their magazine or book. Even today, I will often go upstairs on the weekend to “put away the laundry” and end up with my nose in that new favorite book that I just can’t put down. It is my great hope that my children will also develop a deep seeded love of reading because, like my grandmother, I believe that it is a treasure.
Looking back I realize that we great to love reading because it was clearly something that brought great pleasure to my grandparents and parents. Every grown-up was always toting a book, magazine or newspaper and sharing the stories or information with the rest of the gang. I do not think that any of this was intentional, but they were modeling great reading habits for each of us every day. Ultimately, that is what parenting is: modeling the behaviors that we want our children to adopt because, like it or not, they want to be just like us!
Our faculty had an intense and thoughtful conversation about the value of reading logs during our final faculty meeting of the year. During this discussion everyone agreed that it is important for children to read over the summer, but teachers also shared the value in students reading for pleasure without an assignment looming over their heads. Our students are scheduled all year – as we all are – and the summer is a time to recharge and do things purely for pleasure’s sake (like eating a great big ice cream sundae at Van Dyke’s). The next two months are a chance for students to stretch their pleasure reading muscles, choose books that interest them, and read at their own pace.
It is our sincere hope that you will take this summer as an opportunity to read with your children – great chapter books and interesting articles – and find some pleasure books of your own. Modeling great reading habits by enjoying a book on a daily basis is a gift. We hope that students see reading as something that you do because you love to do it – not just because you have to do it. You can encourage reading by visiting the library regularly and talking about reading with your child. From September through June your child will have mandatory daily reading; we give them July and August to become independent readers.
Enjoy these long, summer days with your children (and a good book) and we will see you in September!