What are you reading? A simple enough question. But is it? With all the discussion over books recently, it’s worth taking a good look at what you, and your kids, are poring over.
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” (Stephen King)
When I was in fourth grade, my mom commuted to a local college to finish her teaching degree with a minor in English. She had to take a children’s literature course and one of her assignments was to read the Newbery Award winning children’s books—those chosen as the best for children each year since the 1920’s. She brought them home for me to read along with her, and so began my love of reading.
Reading opened up the world for me, helped me to see the world through another’s eyes, and allowed me to experience all sorts of adventures without leaving my comfortable spot on the porch swing. It helped shape my view of the world outside my own space.
I loved to read. I carried a book everywhere. I’d rather read than do most anything. “What are you reading?” was a question the adults in my life began to ask me when they wanted me to open up and talk. I was an introvert and didn’t willingly enter into conversation, but ask me what I was reading and I would talk for as long as you wanted to listen.
“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.” (Kate DeCamillo)
Like my mom had done for me, I gifted reading to my own kids. I read to them from babyhood. As they grew, I encouraged them to read on their own, taking them to storytime at the local library and checking out lots of books each week. We read aloud as a family. The fact that reading is one of the best ways to equip kids to succeed in school was important to me, but instilling a love of reading in them was just as important.
A love of reading, though, was not enough. I also wanted to encourage them to read well. I wanted them to read a wide variety of books, fiction and nonfiction, and in lots of genres. We’d search for new books together. I had favorites I wanted them to read, and I encouraged them toward cherished classics, but we explored new possibilities too. Together.
I wanted them to read things that would challenge them both academically and morally and I wanted to read those things alongside them so we could talk about it. If they were reading a book in school that I was unfamiliar with, I wanted to read it too and be able to discuss it with them, to look at new ideas together in light of our core beliefs and our faith, guiding my kids and helping them to navigate the world while they were still in my care, encouraging them to think for themselves while mentoring them to have a strong faith.
Our home was a safe space to discuss ideas. “What are you reading?” was a good jumping-off point for discussion, an opening into their world, and a way to influence their values, their ideas, their characters.
For us, the most important book in our home, the Bible, has always been our standard to which we compare all other books, all other ideas, all other ways of thinking. Our conversation, filtered through the lens of Scripture has always been our way of filtering books, movies, music, culture, everything in life. Even with our adult kids we encourage them to read, but to be discerning about what they read and what ideas they incorporate into their lives.
Reading is a good thing. Teaching kids to read is one of the best ways to equip them for success in life. But being discerning of what we read is just as important. Teaching kids to ask Who? What? Where? When? How? and Why? about the things they read is as important as any other skill we teach them. It helps shape who they are, who they become in life. As parents, we are responsible to know what our kids are reading, to guide them to the good stuff, and to know how to discern what the good stuff is.
So, what are you reading? Summer’s almost here. Good books make good travel companions. A cool spot on a hot day can be a portal to anywhere if you’ve got a good book to read. Our local libraries have all sorts of possibilities and programs to get you and your kids started on all kinds of summer adventures, and they have some cool rewards for readers who join in.
Auburn Public Library at www.auburnalabama.org/library/events-and-programs/
Summer Learning Challenge (all ages) Read or listen for 1,000 minutes from June 1-July 31 to earn an APL T-shirt or hoodie (while supplies last) and be entered into the grand prize drawing. Register at www.auburnpl.beanstack.org or download the Beanstack Track App.
Summer Learning Challenge Kickoff Event-Thursday, June 1, 5-7 p.m.- Activities include dancing with a DJ, games, crafts, prizes, SLC registration, free Kona Ice treats, and more!
Summer Serependipity-Tuesdays in June and July at 2 p.m. K-5th grades. Entertaining performer each week.
Summer Crafternoon-Wednesday’s in June and July at 2 p.m. All ages.
Hometown Heroes-Thursdays in June and July at 2 p.m. All ages. Featuring a different department of the City of Auburn each week, including Auburn Fire, Auburn Police, Environmental Services, and more!
Family Storytime at Boykin-Thursdays in June and July. Held at the Boykin Community Center (400 Boykin St.)
Early Literacy Storytimes-lots of different times/days for children and their favorite adults.
Puppet Show-Fridays at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. All ages.
Toon Time-Mondays in June and July at 10 a.m. (30-minute cartoon for all ages)
Movie Matinees-Mondays in June and July at 2 p.m. Full-length, family-friendly movie for all ages.
Culture Explorers Club-Grades 4-6. Explore a different culture each week!
Teen Trends-Grades 7-12. Fun, interactive activities each week!
Opelika Public Library at www.opelika.librarycalendar.com/events/month
Summer Library Adventure Kickoff-On the back porch for all ages. BMX Trixters at 11:00, 1:00, & 3:00. Pick up Summer Library Adventure tracker cards all day!
Tuesdays-Game On, Storytime picnic (all ages)
Wednesdays-K-9 Demonstration, Movin’ and Groovin’ Storytime (ages 2-5)
Thursdays-Dancercise, Messy Storytime, Spanish Class
Fridays-Famiy Storytime, Quigong, 3 D Printer Safety Class
Lots of other activities, including Baby and Me, Walk at Westridge Park, and Movie Times.
Now, What are you reading? And what adventures do you have planned for this summer?
Here’s wishing you a great one filled with family time, fun things, and lots of good books!