'Tis the season of the summer reading program. Besides the summer REading program I'm doing at church, the kids have forms for the reading program at Barnes and Noble and the one from the local library. Barnes and Noble is giving out free books after they read 10 books and write a recommendation for each, and the library has a different coupon each week the kids can pick up when they come in and update their book lists. At church they can pick a prize out each time they finish 7 Books - one for each UU Principle.
I question how much these summer reading programs really motivate kids. I think a book is its own best reward, and kids who love to read will read in the summer no matter what. Those who don't love to read aren't going to care about free books or coupons or little prizes. And why do we try to encourage reading in the summer? What about the winter - curl up with a good book in front of the fire? The spring - rainy days are reading days? The fall - the best harvest is between the covers of a book?
But no matter how ineffective the summer reading push may be, we continue to place books and stories in the center of our lives. Our favorites recently:
Dark Life by Kat Falls creates an imaginative future where global warming has raised the water levels and led to a need to farm the ocean floor. It's somewhat dystopian, but aimed for the tweens so the politics are a bit naive (and the love scene at the end of the book was painfully awkward). Carbon loved it, however, and was intrigued by the idea of undersea living. Too bad "liquigen" isn't a real option.
TinTin in America by Herge is a classic, but we did have to stop and talk to the kids about the portrayal of Native Americans in the book - it is simply awful. Actually, I have all sorts of problems with TinTin, and yet somehow allow it to charm it's way past my normal standards.
Judy Moody and Stink: the Mad Mad Mad Mad Treasure Hunt by Megan McDonald has been a lot of fun. I think I prefer the straight up Judy Moody books, which are aimed at slightly older kids, but in this crossover book the siblings are really a team, and not snarky rivals. It's good for my sibling set and they are both enjoying it equally.
Urchin and the Heart Stone, the second in the Mistmantle Chronicles, continues the action right where Urchin of the Riding Stars ended. This second book lacks some of the energy of the first, however.