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Enjoying summer reading with children and grandchildren

Actress reading to children
Actress reading to children
Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images for SAG Foundation

Reading: A summer pleasure

In summer, we have the time to read for pleasure. The school year has ended, and reading assignments are over. While some of us love to read, many find reading a drudgery and come to think of it as related to school and assignments, deadlines and essay and term papers. Reading for pleasure is something we cultivate when we have a little extra time, some good company, role models, and encouragement.

In our home, we read daily, and look forward to finding new books and sharing our reading time with one another. This love for reading, on my part, began in my home. Some of my favorite memories are going to the bookmobile (before they built our branch library), getting my first library card, and carrying home an armload of books to read. This continues to be one of my favorite things to do, and I share this with my granddaughter as I did with my daughter. We all head to the library together, and look forward to finding good books to read.

The American Library Association’s summer reading list includes:

K-2 Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel

Count the Monkesy by Mac Barnett

Big Red Lollypop by Rukhisane Khan

Old Mikamba Had a Farm by Rachel Isadora

Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin (a favorite of
my Granddaughter)

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han

The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter

3-5 Grade:

Big Nate: In a Class By Himself by Lincoln Peirce

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse

Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Suthlerland

For more suggestions and the complete list, visit the American Library Association's Website.

Local libraries throughout San Francisco and the Bay area run summer reading programs and librarians are more than happy to help you and your children and grandchildren find good books. Visit the New Book shelf to see what is just out, and revisit your favorite books and read some of them with your children and grandchildren. Let your children share their favorites with you, and then read them and talk about what you liked about the book. This summer my granddaughter and I are re-reading (for me) the Nancy Drew mysteries and Beveryly Cleary’s books including Otis Spofford and Ramona and Beezus. These books are now on television and in video form, so it’s a great idea to read the original books. Think of your favorite childhood books, and if you can’t find copies, go to Google Books and see if you can find one of your favorites online.

Spend time reading books together. This is a favorite thing to do at bedtime, and also in the afternoon when we are resting or taking a break. Find time to read alone together too. Setting aside time in your day to devote to the art of reading sets an example for your grandchildren, and shows them one more way to become engaged in reading for more than just work or school assignments. In my years of teaching in university, I always assigned one book to read for pleasure during the year. Many students had never considered reading something you do for pleasure, and were at first uncomfortable with the assignment. I gave them a list of books that were related to what we were studying, but that were in the form of fiction or memoir. After the first hesitation, and the first student completing the assignment and being wowed by Paolo Coehle’s Alchemist or Victor Frankel’s Man’s Search for Meaning, they were hooked. The only thing I required was a one-page paper of what they liked about the book. Pretty simple, yet one of the most powerful ways to encourage reading for pleasure.

When we are in conversation, My granddaughter and I always talk about what we are reading together. We began a couple of books earlier in the summer, and won’t be able to finish them in person, so we are going to Skype and have a reading session during the week. Looking so forward to this. Later in the summer I will be sharing some book recommendations from the children in my life. If you have any suggestions and would like to add your books to the summer reading list, please send your suggestions to me, Dr. Catherine Al-Meten at

For more ideas and suggestions for summer reading and reading activiites, visit the site.

End June, 2014 by sitting down some time today to read something that always makes you smile or that touches your heart. Read about an interesting topic, and go to your book shelf and see what may be worth re-reading. After getting frustrated with a poorly written mystery I was reading, I put the book in the bag of give aways, and went to my shelf of old books. I have an old, weathered copy of the the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and I began re-reading the Adventures of Sherlokc Holmes. The writing is so good, and the mastery of Conan Doyle so timeless, that I enjoyed reading it as if it were the first time. I ate up the language and good wriitng, and thoroughly enjoyed my read. The experience makes me want to pick up some other old books to see how well they stand the test of time with me. Happy Summer Reading.

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