Ah, summertime. When sunscreen-slathered children run about in packs, drifting between sprints through the backyard sprinkler, bike rides, and mom’s-not-looking popsicle raids. Maybe it was residual effects of all of those old timey lemonade commercials, but summer makes me a bit nostalgic for those long-lost afternoons full of possibility. Kids who are fortunate to have enough downtime to indulge in pretend play can get a boost to the imagination from a variety of kids books that are crammed full of adventures.
Of course, parents will want to make sure kids don’t fall back on their skills, so the heat of summer afternoons is a great time to stay up on hard-earned grade skills. That said, summertime is ideal for presenting opportunities for kids to fall in love with reading. As they time travel with Captain Underpants, or follow along with Jack and King Eli in books, kids become enveloped in alternate worlds. Not just imagination boosters or a distraction for bored kids, reading gives kids a lifelong edge that can even effect their earning potential.
Now That’s something to consider the next time you see a child seemingly lazily wasting an afternoon immersed in a book… your child isn’t just relaxing, he’s racking up digits in his future bank account! It’s just too bad that reading in adulthood isn’t as potentially profitable. I’d even tackle my fear of spiders and re-read Tolkein‘s LOTR series if it meant a possible pay raise.
“Somehow the killing of the giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the help of the wizard or the dwarves or of anyone else, made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach, as he wiped his sword on the grass and put it back into its sheath,” Tolkein wrote in The Hobbit. Perhaps I could take a cue from Bilbo Baggins and learn to slaughter my own spiders, but I’d rather skip the icky spider-y bits and take the pay raise just the same.
The daily recommended allowance for a young reader is at least an hour a day of dedicated bookworm time. I don’t know that today’s kids get as much leisurely reading downtime that their little brains and bodies need, but I do know that kids with access to books are happier indeed. Don’t believe me? Just pop into the story hour at your local library and watch the kids absorb story time. If the librarian is possessed of that particular brand of librarian magic that casts a spell during story time, you’ll see their little eyes glaze over in a state of blissful book drunkenness.
But, if nudging them towards reading is a struggle, you can give a little incentive with some healthy competition between siblings or even reading rewards. And, don’t forget to set a good example by making it a point to read for pleasure in front of your kids, too. (May I suggest something spider-free for the grown-ups? You could read Twiligh…. no, just kidding. I guess if you think you are so manly that you can handle it, t’s your funeral if you want to try to get some decent sleep after one of ol’ J.R.R.’s monstrous “ungoliant” spiders invades your dreams. *Shudder.) You can get the kids started on some excellent children’s books about summer by clicking here. Happy summer reading season!
*Now where did I put my spider-killing sword?