Summer reading is the buzz worthy topic now, what with it being summer and all. Some schools and public libraries have reading lists. Just the other day someone asked me (interesting enough, not a parent or teacher or child) where was my summer reading lists? Don't I have a list of books that summer reading participants have to read?
No. No, I don't. Why, I wonder, do you need the list?
What's wrong with a kid picking their own books? Don't get me wrong; I love doing readers advisory with kids. I love talking with them about books that they love - or hate. I love doing booklists and displays. It is simply my most favorite part of my job.
What I don't love so much? Parents not letting kids pick out their own books. Oh, the reasons may vary. Too busy to come into the library is always a good reason; wanting to make sure the kids read the "good" books; not wanting their child to waste time with a book they find boring or to miss out on a really good book.
But you know what? Just as there is value in learning who you can turn to for getting a good recommendation for a book, there is value in learning how to pick out books for yourself.
To slowly browse the shelves, discovering on your own that your favorite author wrote another book.
To not find anything and have your Mom saying "pick something already" and to grab a book and then be really really bored six days later and find out OMG despite the awful cover it's a great book.
To think you're going to like something, to find out you didn't and realize that you don't have to finish it.
To start forming your own tastes and ways to pick books, rather than always having a parent, teacher or librarian telling you what your tastes should be.
If summer is about freedom --at least, for students if not for the rest of us! -- why not the freedom to pick your own books, including the freedom to fail at picking the right one?
My summer reading post from two years ago is still timely: Play A Half Hour of Baseball Every Day
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
Monday, June 22, 2009