Summer Reading – The Challenge of the New Millennium by Kevin J. Villeneuve
Do you remember the first book that you truly enjoyed? The one that pulled you so far into its world that you forgot how to come home until you turned the final page? No matter how big or small, there’s always that one title that truly kicks off our love for reading. However, it takes some dedication to the first few pages before we can really get into a story, and that’s sometimes difficult for younger readers- especially during summer vacation.
With all the outdoor activities and video games available for kids today, it’s often difficult to get them to sit down for even a few minutes. This is understandable since they’ve usually just re-discovered their freedom from the classroom and have near-zero interest in reading a book for at least a few months. At that point the parent becomes the salesperson for the content of the book, and if the product can’t deliver within the first few pages, forget the rest of the series!
So what’s a good summer read for kids? It ultimately comes down to personal preference, but stories packed with action and adventure that stir the imagination are always a good starting point. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series is an excellent example, although its reading level is fairly advanced- I couldn’t get past the first chapter until I was sixteen- and might be a turn-off for the youngest. For the eight to twelve age group, I would suggest starting with a series like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson & The Olympians or Chronicles of Narnia to give them a story that will hook them in instantly. Once they get attached to the characters, it shouldn’t be difficult to get them to read at least an hour a day. If they really get hooked, the problem might be getting them outside for an hour!
With the amount of great books available for kids, it should be fairly easy to find great works of fiction that will keep them reading. The key is to make their first book a memorable experience so that they will always be looking for more. Something that they can share and discuss with their friends will also help them get into it, so keeping up with the current book trends is always a good idea.
A strong imagination can make reading as addictive as video games and can replace them altogether if properly introduced to young readers. You’ll know you hit the jackpot when your kids read for a few hours and then continue an alternate plot to the story with their friends at the park. Like with any great work of fiction, the adventure continues in the imagination!