What to read?
As summer rolls around, no doubt you're looking for some good reads for you and your child. In a post I wrote a couple weeks ago, I talked about the dreaded "summer slide" - the loss of educational skills your kid inevitably suffers if she does not read over the summer. Then I highlighted some really fun incentive programs and ideas on motivating your kids to read.
So now you're all geared up and ready to go. What do you pick out once you arrive at your local library or book store?
I am a firm believer in allowing kids to pick their own books. If you force your child to read something you think he should read, you run the risk of turning him off to the fun of it. But...
I hear those of you who are sick of your kids reading Captain Underpants for the thirteenth time or picking up the Sponge Bob beginning readers when they're in the sixth grade. I know you want them to read something of substance and quality, something that will challenge them.
Am I right?
When encouraging your kids to pick books, start with quality. There is nothing wrong with them picking up an "easy" book or re-reading a favorite story, but every once in a while, it's good to try something new.
Quality Over Quantity
If your kid is resistant, try letting her pick from a group of books proven to be quality literature. Start with award winners. There are tons of book lists available featuring literature at all levels recognized for either its quality, craft, or content. The Clemson University Library has a fabulous list of children's award-winning books, categorized by award and reading level. Even if your child wants to "read down" a level or two, you can be sure that they'll be reading something with substance. Check out books from some of these notable lists:
Okay...so I'm quickly realizing that I could go through scores more of award lists and probably note hundreds of my favs from each of them, so I'll keep it easy on your eyes and recommend just two more lists (and no books - for that you'll just have to send me a message.)
Definitely check out the Pura Belpre Award, which goes to the Latino/Latina writer or illustrator "whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth." (ALA website) One of my favorites already mentioned, The Only Road, appears on this list as does several other books.
Finally, if your child relates better to non-fiction work, then you'll need to look at the Robert F. Sibert Award given to authors and illustrators who produce "the most distinguished informational book" in the U.S. I admit, I am a sucker for a good non-fiction book, but most of those that I read are grown-up in nature. From this list, I've only devoured one title: Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine by Susan Campbell Bartoletti; but I can promise you that many of these winners will make their way through my home this summer.
Hopefully some of these lists will help you or your kiddo choose some great stuff to read this summer. Let me know what you chose and how you liked it! I'd love to share it with my other followers on the blog or Facebook!