Summer Reading Fun
Hi, readers! With a few exceptions (gym class!), I enjoyed going to school everyday. And as excited as I was each September about a new school year and a new teacher, I was just as excited when June rolled around and summer vacation began. I loved the idea of having over two months to do almost anything I wanted. I lived on a block that was filled with kids, and there was always something to do, always someone to play with, and very little time to be bored.
Summer vacation also meant that I had plenty of time to spend on my number one hobby - reading! I was in seventh heaven whenever I had a big stack of books waiting to be read. During the summer, my elementary school library was open on certain days to allow students to take out books, and I was always there, returning the books I had finished and ready to borrow as many as they would let me. My sister Jane and I were also frequent visitors to the Princeton Public Library, which meant I got to check out more big stacks of books!
Because I loved to read, I wanted all my friends and neighbors to read, too! To make this happen, I took all the books I owned and created a lending library. I made it very official, with little pockets glued into the front of each book and a checkout card inside. I even charged a one-cent fine if a book wasn't returned on time! While I enjoyed the administrative work of being the librarian, I always gave Jane the task of collecting an overdue book and the penny!
You don't have to start your own neighborhood library to have a fun summer of reading! Instead, why don't you and some friends start a summer book club? As an adult, I've been in book clubs for many, many years, but I would have loved to have been in a book club when I was young. In a way, I got a chance to do that when I wrote the fifth book in the Main Street series, The Secret Book Club. In the story, four good friends (Flora, sister Ruby, Olivia, and Nikki) are surprised to find the same books delivered to each of their doorsteps with instructions to read them and get together to discuss them. I loved having the chance to select the titles for their book club, although it was a very difficult choice because I love so many books from my childhood. In the end, I chose: The Saturdays, by Elizabeth Enright; Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O'Brien; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Delois Taylor; The Summer of the Swans, by Betsy Byars; and Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield.
I think one of the best things about a book club is getting to read books you might never have chosen on your own. For instance, I've always loved mysteries and I almost always read fiction. So when my book club selected a biography of President John Adams, I was surprised that I couldn't put the book down! I love discovering new genres that give me so many other interesting books to explore.
If you want to make reading a fun part of your summer, there are lots of ways to get involved. Most public libraries have terrific summer reading programs, which often include special events and contests. You can also check to see if the Kids' Section of your local newspaper has a summer reading program. Scholastic has kicked off its annual Summer Reading Challenge where kids can read, log in their minutes, and win virtual rewards.
You may already know what you want to read this summer, but if you're not sure, just ask your friends and your librarians for their recommendations. Everyone loves to tell you about their favorite books. And so do I! So in addition to the books I chose for The Secret Book Club, here are a few more of my childhood favorites: Stuart Little, by E. B. White; Mary Poppins, by P. L. Travers; Mr. Popper's Penguins, by Richard Atwater; The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum; Dr. Dolittle, by Hugh Lofting; Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh; A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle; and The Secret Garden, by Franches Hodgson Burnett.