Librarian’s Summer Reading List Challenge
I’ve decided to take on a challenge, to go over the school’s recommended summer reading list, read at least two from each grade, and blog about it.
Every year I, a public library director, chase down teachers and school librarians for their summer reading list. I have to track down leads, hound sources and twist arms, and still, I sometimes get a redacted list!
I have found that 6th grade fluctuates the most, those poor in-betweeners not quite ready for YA, but so done with kiddy stuff. I’ll think I’m ready to help students come in and get a book for their optional assignment, only to find the list has changed without being notified. Then instead of calmly purchasing books in spring, I’m scrambling to buy books, catalog them and get them on the shelf, or doing lots of inter-library loans. I hate that- I want to be able to get the right book in their hands immediately. On the other end of the spectrum, some grade’s lists haven’t changed since I was in elementary school, which was …quite a while ago. With that I have to contend with out of print books and books that aren’t great enough to become classics and have lost their relevancy.
Every year some ambitious parent marches their child into the library to read everything on the list. They don’t understand that these titles are examples. If one book in a series is on the list, another can replace it. There are wonderful books coming out each year, heck each month, that are excellent for your child and would be approved by the teacher if asked.
I have a big concern with assigned reading. It should be presented as “here are some ideas”. My goal is to increase the number of people reading for pleasure. We want kids coming in and finding the book that fits them, that appeals to them. The book they stay up late at night reading, and continue while chomping down their cereal in the morning. I love reading, but I remember some assigned books with horror- tedious, out-of date, mother dying and Nazi death camp stuff that made me miserable. There are some great literary classics out there that should be discussed in class, ones that shaped culture, that have deep meaning. Some kids would happily read these on their own during the summer, and that is wonderful. Other kids need support reading such difficult books, and definitely do not derive pleasure from reading them.
ANY READING IS GOOD READING! Let kids read what they want. Gently encourage them to discover new series and authors, suggest read-a-likes for their favorites that are slightly higher in reading level, but most of all, put books in front of them that they can choose from.
This week I’ll be going over the Kindergarten list. Each grade list is by the grade the child is going into in the fall, so the Kindergarten list is for preschoolers who are age 5 before September.