When I was ten I would not have positioned those two words so closely together on my own. I had a lot of other summer combo’s on my mind, like the following list of must-do’s:
Summer. Swim, ride my skateboard, watch cartoons!
Summer. Jump my bike over my mom’s car!
Summer. Put ice cubes down my brother’s shirt, run for my life!
Summer. Sleep in until noon, eat pancakes for lunch, build a fort out of garbage, shave the dog!
Thank goodness for my mom, because she’s the one who made me put an exclamation point on the summer combo that probably made me a writer: Summer READING!
She knew I had lots of important stuff to do (like sneaking live grasshoppers into my dad’s underwear drawer), and yet she still figured out a way to get me reading just about every day, all summer long.
Sometimes my mom would buy books, but more often than not, she’d take a different approach during the long hot summers:
“Why on earth would anyone BUY books when they’re free at the library? Let’s get donuts instead.”
I’m older now and it’s SO obvious she was tricking me and my brother. She acted like our donut eating buddy, but all the while she had a secret plan to keep us reading books.
In the summer months my mom always made a point of stopping at the library on the way home from Cascade Pond, the only place I’ve ever known of where kids swam and people bait fished in the same water – I know, crazy right!? But we went there every week with our inflated tractor tire tube and goopy suntan lotion. By the time we showed up at the library my mom knew we’d be mellowed out from hours in the sun trying to avoid flying bobbers and fish hooks, and boy was she right.
I was always in just the right mood to settle in with some Dr. Seuss, my go-to guy all the way up into the fifth grade! I read about the Sneetches and the Lorax (which is going to be a movie this year, so pumped) at the library for hours so my buddy Gary wouldn’t see them lying around the house and say, “dude, my little sister reads those!” I could read them by myself for as long as I wanted to. After I burned through all my favorites I’d look for a chapter book, which had to have a great cover, dragons, monsters, swords, and talking animals (thus I fell head over heels for the Chronicles of Narnia and read them over and over again). I’d take my one or two chapter books home and my mom would read some to me, then I’d go outside and build my fort until I was exhausted. Later on, I’d settle onto the couch for some ogres or giants or whatever cool stuff my chapter book contained.
I guess what I’m trying to say is my mom was pretty smart when it came to summer reading. She knew a boy needed to swing from trees and dig up dinosaur bones during the summer, and she never once asked me to stop playing and start reading. She figured out a way to make it all seem like the same thing.
With so many adventurous reading choices for kids these days, keeping it fun is even easier. So get out and play! Find books you love! And have a few donuts.
And don’t try that grasshopper thing (it’s hilarious but you’ll totally get grounded).