By: Amy Waters, School Liaison
A visit to the second floor of the library to see the Smithsonian display Patios, Pools & the Invention of the American Backyard, was a trip down memory lane. As children of the 60s and 70s, my siblings and I spent much of our time out in the yard, playing games with our friends, digging in the sandbox, celebrating birthdays and running through sprinklers. But my favorite thing to do, indoors or out, was to read.
Lolling in a hammock with my favorite novel, or spread out on a big blanket with my brother and sister and our comic book collections, summer was the time to explore reading for fun. No worries about the level, the challenge, the “just right” book; I could, and did, read anything and everything just for the pleasure of reading.
If you want more encouragement to let your child pick the books that they want to read this summer, there is this statement from the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English):
“Research shows that leisure reading enhances students’ reading comprehension, vocabulary development, general knowledge, and empathy for others, as well as their self-confidence as readers, motivation to read throughout their lives, and positive attitudes toward reading.”
Depending on my age at the time, the reading I chose, and the source of the material varied. As a younger child, a trip to the library would often find me in the “Hs” looking for the next book by Carolyn Haywood so I could continue reading about Betsy and her friends, family and community. “B is for Betsy” and its companion books was the perfect book for then 1st grade me.
Next came the fantasy of a miniature talking dog in “No Flying in the House” by Betty Brock. When I got older it was “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” and “Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and me, Elizabeth” by E.L. Konigsberg.
When I could ride around town on my own, I would save my money and take a ride on my bike to the local bookstore to purchase the latest Nancy Drew novel by Carolyn Keene. I started with “The Secret of the Old Clock” and read every book I could get my hands on after that. Owning my own collection of Nancy Drew books was a joy of my young life and I indulged by reading them over and over. I also read and re-read “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett until the cover fell off.
Does your child have a collection of best loved books that they can return to time and again?
Finally, there were the trips to the news stand at the local “el” stop. With its racks of comics and gruff but kind proprietor I spent many a quarter (yes, they were that inexpensive!) buying up all the newest Archie comics. Back home, my brother would share Spider-Man, my sister her Richie Rich comics and I would toss my Archies into the mix as we relaxed in our yard and read the day away.
What will you read just for fun this summer? Share your favorites in the comments.