Yes, Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer are almost here. Some of us are just wrapping up a school year, several (many) have weeks yet to go. Still, the holiday gets us in a summer mood, so I thought I’d pull up a post from the Booklights archives.
We’re a few days ahead of that “but now it’s June” remark in the opening, but here in the East if FEELS like June, so we’re going to roll with it.
Bookworm Basics: Summer Reading
originally published on Booklights 2 June 2010
Toward the end of April, the “summer reading” whispers started. But now it’s June and school is out or almost over, so today I’m shifting gears and thinking about summer reading.
Reading is a lot like exercise. You need to do it regularly. When you take a vacation from your workouts, it takes some time to get back to where you were before. If I skip exercising for just ten days, I feel like I’m starting over when I get back. The same thing happens on a reading vacation. For kids, that can last three months! Ouch! To help prevent “injury,” schools often send home a “reading list” so students can keep “fit” over the summer.
There are lots of opinions about the lists, particularly when the list hasn’t changed since you were in school. Just know they are singular in their plea: please keep your child reading this summer. It can be tricky finding books that will keep them reading through the summer, especially with one of those stagnant, age-old lists! So what’s a parent to do?
First, introduce yourself to the librarians! Libraries across the country will be launching their summer reading programs over the next few weeks, and these programs are a great way to connect kids with books and keep them in tip-top reading shape. Another option is to seek out some books from … lists of recommended books.
That’s a reading list by another name, right? Yes and no. Yes, it is a list of books, but it isn’t a standardized group of books. These are collections of books created by people who have road-tested the books and believe in their value. The recommended lists are often built around a theme. For example, Reading Rockets (and many other websites) have lists of books by theme or by award or recognition. At Reach Out and Read, you’ll find books by developmental age. I love Reading Rocket’s guide for how to find that ‘just right’ book. Hint: read page 2!
Yesterday, Susan Kusel took us behind the scenes of creating a book list. She not only shared how book lists are created, but also shows why librarians are the go-to resource for reading ideas. What I love about What’s Next, a resource created by the wonderful librarians at the Arlington Public Library, is that it is part reading list, part idea box. I can find suggestions by book format (e.g., picture book), audience (infant through teen), and/or subject (apples to zoos and beyond) Here are two other all-inclusive resources I recommend.
- Susan Thomsen has her Big List of Lists at Chicken Spaghetti. All in one place you’ll find the “2009 Best of…” and “2008 Best of…” lists for children’s books.
- For Share a Story-Shape a Future 2009, we put together a magazine called the Big List of Books. It includes every book recommended by parents, teachers, and librarians; and covers all ages and topics. Many of the resources in these lists include books across the full spectrum of readers, from infants to teens and beyond. For simplicity’s sake they are listed just once.
Emergent Literacy – Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
Children’s Picture Book Data Base – Miami University (OH) maintains a database is filled with more than 5,000 picture books, complete with abstracts! It is designed for educators who are building their curriculum, but it is a very handy tool when you’re a mom looking for books about tractors.
Toddlers Booklist – On this Montgomery County (MD) Public Library list you’ll find books that the librarians likely have used at storytime … with great success. There is a bookcover image and short description with each title listed.
Early and Transitional Literacy – Kindergarten to Second Grade
Zuckerman’s Barn Kids Lit – This site offers a searchable database of book reviews by students for students. The goal of the site is to “create a community of readers across classrooms and schools, including both students and supportive adults.” Search books by title, author, subject, grade level, and more.
Fluent Readers – Third Grade and Beyond
Best Books List @ Children’s Literature Web Guide – The University of Calgary (Canada) maintains this site (link takes you to the Guide’s topical list). What I love is that the topics go beyond the norm and focus on traits or interest for older kids, like books with artistic protagonists.
Many libraries create and maintain their own lists, too, so check out their sites. The Monroe County (IN) Library hosts a Children’s Booklists on the Web page, where you can find a bunch of them in one place. Not all lists are created equal, and your librarian can point you toward some great ones or offer some “read alikes” that might work for the list you have.
Image credit: Toddler and infant reading – Beach Book Trip by Kristi on Flickr.
Clipart – Open Clip Art Library: card catalog (Steve Lambert); library cart (Steve Lambert); pile of books (J Alves); question mark (Purzen)
Bookcover images and title links go to Amazon.com, with which we have an affiliate relationship. The Reading Tub may earn income from purchases made via those links. You are not obligated to buy the represented titles and/or use those links.