A Book in One Hand and a Popsicle in the Other: The Joys of Summer Reading

By Annie Lyon, The Langley School Head Librarian

It should come as no surprise that I always loved summer reading. My school required that we read specific books, and some of my now-favorites came out of those days. I felt connected to voracious reader Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca hooked me from its famous first sentence. My love for gothic literature came from experiencing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I would finish the books during the first few days of June, and then read them over and over again as September approached. 

Here are some tips for enjoying summer reading as much as I did.

Reading

Look at summer reading as a challenge, not a chore. Your child(ren) should choose books at their ability level that appeal to them – not books they feel they “should” read, but books they may have always wanted to read, that sound interesting, that were recommended by their peers, or that looked cool on the shelf. (You have my permission to judge a book by its cover.) Graphic novels? Yes. The new page-turner about brain-eating purple skeletons from Mars? Yes. Yet another book about cicadas or the Titanic or baseball? Yes. Let them roam free through the library or bookstore, gravitating toward what intrigues them. If they’re excited about what they’ve picked up, they’re doing it right.

And, Langley families, as a reminder: suggested reading lists and other resources can be found on the Summer page of MyLangley.

Don’t feel bad about adding incentives. Summer is meant to be fun, and reading programs are no exception. Whether they’re offered by the local public library or Pizza Hut’s “Book It!,” prizes after fulfilling a season’s worth of reading sweeten the pot. That’s bribery, pearl-clutchers might gasp, aghast. Not at all. Doesn’t everyone deserve a reward after working toward a goal? And awards aren’t just for the readers. Arlington County, for example, will donate $1 for each program completion to the Arlington Food Assistance Center. See? Everybody wins. 

Encourage reading anywhere and everywhere. I asked Ms. Geraghty’s first-graders where they would most enjoy soaking up their summer reading books, and boy, did they deliver. Here are just a few of their ideas:

  • in a comfy bed while it rains
  • on a sunny day under a shady tree
  • in the bathtub
  • on a porch with a nice cup of tea
  • somewhere relaxing
  • in an airplane
  • sunbathing with calming music 
  • sitting with your brother or sister

(Surprisingly, no one said “on the toilet.” If you read on the toilet, that is a perfectly acceptable place and you don’t have to tell anyone. But you can if you want to.) The point is, like the books you choose, all that matters is that you are comfortable and happy.

Reading

Read together. You can take that recommendation one way and all sit around, family members with their own print or e-books, reading together. It’s a lovely communal activity. Or you can actually read together, out loud; don’t forget that youngsters of all ages love to be read to. For primary school students, hearing new words actually helps wire their brains. For older ones, the time together builds connection

Have a wonderful summer! May the cool breezes find you in a comfortable perch, with a tall glass of something cold, reading a book that takes you anywhere and everywhere you want to be.