The Joys Of Reading In Summer

July 10, 2010

On a recent visit to the dentist our hygienist reminded us that her family goes camping for five weeks every year at a local state park. While the parents sleep in a camper, the kids sleep in tents and many of the comforts of home stay at home. “There’s no electricity,” she says. Our eyes widen as we ponder the implications.

For five weeks there’s no TV, no video games, no computer–and no Internet. Between rinses we ask if the children like to read. Her eyes gleamed with delighted enthusiasm as she responded that reading was one of her kids’ favorite summer activities. They go to a local used book store and select books they enjoy. On many occasions they read an entire book–300-400 pages, in a day and want to go back immediately for more. Young kids reading Harry Potter or teenage girls caught up in the latest craze of vampire romance you surmise? No. These avid summer readers are teenage boys reading Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series and other spy/thrillers as well as narrative non-fiction they discover in the stacks; proof  teen boys can enjoy reading. Bravo! we say after dutifully reminding her such tomes are available for free at the local public Library with any Connecticut Library card.

You don’t have to go to the ‘extremes’ of taking electricity away for 5 weeks to encourage kids to read all summer long. Taking them to the Library and letting them select what they enjoy reading is one of the best ways to motivate even reluctant readers during the break from school. Summer provides the perfect opportunity for kids to choose what they like to read instead of what they must read for class assignments. The Essex Library offers summer reading programs for children of all ages with a variety of prizes for those who complete the program.

Parents should be aware that children who don’t read over the summer lose valuable ground on progress made in school while those who read do much better when classes start up again in the fall. The importance of summer reading has been demonstrated repeatedly in a variety of research studies. Teachers, aware of the crucial role reading plays in academic success, advise children to read regularly over the summer and provide suggested reading lists. You can find the summer reading lists for local schools on the Essex Library website.

We recognize that summer isn’t necessarily a time of relaxation for parents but we recommend reading for you too when you can catch a break for a few minutes. Try out some of our short story collections if you’re really short on time. There are terrific volumes of annual best short stories, genre collections such as mysteries, sports or travel, as well as those by individual authors. While you’re at the Library, pick up some of our Suggested Reading lists at the front circulation desk which provide titles of recommended books for all sorts of interests.