KIDS KORNER | Forced Summer Reading is For The Birds (from kids’ viewpoint)
Hooray, it’s summer. Time to kick off my shoes, wiggle my toes in the grass, go swimming, play outside, stay up late, read comic books, and…glare at a stack of books someone picked out for the dreaded summer reading program. After a school year of having to read two or three books per month, I’ve been told to digest two or three books per week?
Whoever invented the summer reading program idea maybe thought it a good way to keep kids out of trouble. What grown-ups don’t understand is most kids never dream about getting into trouble. We’re too smart for that. We’ve figured out that doing what’s right brings privilege, but doing what’s wrong brings punishment. Who wants to take that bumpy road?
Perhaps long ago, nice librarians and teachers decided to start a summer reading program. They weren’t sadists who hated kids but simply book-buffs who loved to read and hoped kids would also. But, when some tyrant decided to make the summer reading program mandatory, my enthusiasm for summer reading evaporated.
That’s strange because I used to love to read. I looked forward to Monday nights when the library stayed open for adults to check out books. While my mom looked for the latest best-seller, I went to see if a special bottom shelf in the children’s department sported a new orange biography. Those books had 200 pages divided into short chapters which reported the adventures of great Americans like John Smith, Pocahontas, George Washington, Ben Franklin, Abigail Adams, Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Dolly Madison, Daniel Boone, Abe Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, Louisa May Alcott and others.
It surprises me how I still remember their stories. Perhaps that’s because I got to choose the books for my own summer reading program. So, why hasn’t anyone ask me to make a list lately? I would have written down only books I’ve wondered about or that sounded interesting like the new mystery series called The Picaresque of Ímagine Purple. If so, I’d be as happy as I was when reading those orange biographies from the bottom shelf.
Author of a popular new mysteries series for middle schoolers, The Picaresque of Ímagine Purple http://picaresqueofimaginepurple.com
Reprinted by permission from Nashville Christian Family Magazine.