Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer Reading

Last year was my first summer break entertaining two kids all day long. At that point, my daughter's waking hours demanded much of my attention. When my son would have been otherwise occupied at school, he patiently played alone while I tended to her needs. So, I tried to make a conscious effort to initiate one-on-one time with my son when my daughter was napping. I was surprised to realize that while he appeared to be contently playing alone, he would eagerly drop what he was doing at the invitation to read a book with me. He would play alone as long as I let him, but he was still craving attention- he just didn't demand it. (This is tricky, because it takes incredible self discipline on my part to seek him out because he is quietly playing vs. hanging on my waist begging for me to play with him).
While we have lots of books at home that we read, I decided that I would choose books from the library that I could read to him during the break. The school year required him to read to me a lot, so I figured he would enjoy the change. I specifically chose books that were much longer and would require days or weeks of reading to complete.  
Sometimes he is so wrapped up in a project I have to prod him to read with me. Often though, he happily drops what he is doing and sits by me on the couch while I read. This is the second summer, and I hope to keep it up as long as he'll tolerate it. I love that it gives us something to talk about, and I especially love when he shares his perspective on different characters or plot lines, because I can tell that he's really been thinking about it. Books introduce us to lots of different characters and how they react to their challenges. They provide incredible teaching opportunities.
Here are the books I have read to him so far (I would love suggestions too!):

"Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White (Newberry Honor)
A classic. A great story about friendship and sacrifice. 
"James and the Giant Peach" by Roald Dohl
A quirky but fun adventure.

"Abel's Island" by William Steig (Newberry Honor)
I had never heard of this book, but I picked it up randomly at the library. I'm so glad I gave it a try. Wordy and deep. I am convinced it inspired the movie "Cast Away". We were so gripped by the story, my son and I finished it in a day.
"Gentle Ben" by Walt Morey
I remembered this book from my childhood when my dad read it to us. It is an adventurous story set in rugged Alaska. The book was almost too old for my son. It has a lot of descriptive paragraphs that stray from the plot, so it helped to pause occasionally to talk about what was happening.

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