Summer Reading

What book(s) is your child reading this summer?

When I was growing up there was a summer reading challenge and I couldn’t wait to see how many books I could get done during the competition. I wanted to get the award. I don’t recall if it was a certificate only, or if there was any tangible prize, but it felt good to have the achievement under my belt.

Oh, how times have changed. Maybe I was so excited to read because my mom limited our TV time during the summer, and reading was the next best thing. Or maybe I really wanted the recognition that came from doing the challenge. Or maybe I just liked reading. Probably a little bit of all. What I can say is that my children have only shown mild to no interest in participating in a summer reading challenge. I thought I could get them enthused in this when they were younger. There was some interest when they learned the winners got to eat a meal at the top of the Space Needle (a pricey treat indeed), but when they realized how much reading it would take to win, their enthusiasm waned. When the top prize wasn’t as attractive the following year they pretty much lost whatever remaining interest they had left. 😞

While participating in a summer reading challenge didn’t take with my boys, getting them to read a (chapter) book or two has. My oldest has been reading fiction and non-fiction. I like that he’s taken an interest in finding topics he likes to read (sci-if, military and history). My youngest is still figuring out what he likes. We picked up The Haunting of Henry Davis by Kathryn Siebel. As a parent you aren’t always the intended audience when your child reads a book to you, but I have to say both my son and I really enjoyed this book. It was much more than a ghost story. It was about finding out who you are, taking risks, and learning what true friendship means. We had a hard time putting the book down. I loved that I enjoyed the book, but that my son now knows there are really good books out there just waiting to be read. Will he be in a summer book reading challenge next summer? I doubt it, but I do believe he’ll have a better understanding of what he likes to read.

What good books has your child read lately? How are you getting them to read during the summer?

Read This!

I was fortunate enough to see a family member participate in a city-wide reading competition. I had never heard of a reading competition before. I thought perhaps it had to do speed reading, but learned it had nothing to do with that at all. Instead, the competition was based on 4th and 5th graders who were given a list of 10 books to read. They then participated in competitions where they were asked a series of questions (some multiple choice, true/false or short answer) that tested the kids knowledge and comprehension of the books.

It was one of the best competitions I’ve ever seen. There were several things I really liked about it. First, the books the kids had to read were all educational: they taught the kids about the world, appreciation for different cultures and experiences. Second, the teams had to work closely together to come up with their answers. It was similar to watching a team sport where everyone needs each other to be successful. Third, the supporters: parents, classmates and family members (such as myself), were rooting for all of the kids — it was impossible not to. These kids had learned so much and were so eager to work as a team. Yes, you may have wanted your child (or family member) team to come out on top, but it was clear that all of these kids had and were accomplishing something great regardless who the “winner” was. When the winner was named, it was a non-event. It seemed like the best part (the actual competition) was over, and this was an after-thought. I’ve never experienced anything like it, but certainly hope to again.

In an age where competition is king, it gives me hope that there are competitions like this one. The kids learned, they had fun and even got to showcase their talents on a big (public) stage with people rooting them on.

What competitions has your child participated in that seemed different from the rest? What brings the best out in your child?

Charlotte’s Web

We just finished reading Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. It’s about the unlikely friendship and life of a spider and a pig. While the book centers on the relationship between the animals, its parallels to human relationships made me appreciate the book even more as I read it to my children.

The book was a good reminder that friendship can be found in the unlikeliest of places. Its about getting past someone’s exterior and seeing who they really are, but it goes further. It includes accepting and appreciating someone as they are. It’s about being vulnerable and allowing yourself to be loved. What a great message for my boys to get. I’m not sure they fully understand the significance in the message the story was telling, but they understand that friendship can be strong, and includes caring and sometimes sacrifice.

In the story, Charlotte is thoughtful, creative, caring, brave and selfless. She is a rare find. A true friend always is. As my children navigate relationships, and how friendship works (or how it should), I’m glad stories like Charlotte’s Web exist. It’s good for my children to hear how friendship can be from someone other than my husband and I.

What true friends are you grateful to have in your life? How are you helping your child navigate relationships?