Practicing What I Preach

As a school librarian, I have been challenging my students to read AT LEAST FIVE books this summer so that their brains won't turn to mush. Research shows that students who do not read over the summer will return to school behind the reading level that they reached at the end of the previous school year; this is known as the "summer slide."

It's time to practice what I preach and throw down a summer reading challenge for my own family. Rather than focus on quantity of books, I want our focus to be on making TIME to read. The biggest complaint that I hear from people (kids AND adults) is "I don't have time to read." Well, actually, you do. The truth is that we don't always MAKE time to read, so that's the challenge to the Bailey family: Make time to read EVERY DAY!

Here's our Challenge: We will read for at least 30 minutes each day. Time of day does not matter, and three of our five members of the family must be present for it to "count." We must all be in the same room with all electronics turned off (except if reading on the iPad or Kindle). This will be silent reading time, but we will have to scaffold Peyton into this. She is five, and she can go 15 minutes quietly reading to herself, but the last 15 minutes are dicey. Her Kindergarten teacher will thank us for working on her "quiet stamina." We will try to keep our streak alive until June 28 when Jason and I leave for St. Louis and the girls will travel to North Carolina with Gammy and Poppy. We will resume our Challenge after our vacation. Of course, we will all read while on vacation, but we won't be as structured. It's vacation for a reason!

I hope you will make your own Summer Reading Challenge, rather personal or with your family. The key is to make it fit your family or your lifestyle. If you have young toddlers, then 30 minutes is too long, and you will probably read aloud to them for the time that you think is appropriate. The important thing is to MAKE TIME TO READ and if you have children, be READING MODELS for your kids--make sure that they SEE you enjoying your book, magazine, or newspaper. Don't just say, "It's time to read. Go to your room for reading time." The key is to do it as a family. Also, make sure that the child CHOOSES his/her own reading material. Please do not force your choices on your kids or say, "That's too easy or too hard for you." It does not matter what they read, as long as they are reading--research proves this. The key is to make it fun and enjoyable--not a drudgery. By the way, Jason is an eager participant in this challenge but was not present when these pictures were taken. Unprompted, he said, "Hey, I need books for summer reading." (That's the most romantic thing he could say to me).  I handed him The Unwanteds. The cover boasts, "The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter." That got his attention.

And you have probably already figured this out: I am being completely self-serving in this challenge. I am getting reading time while still being in the same room with my family! It's a win-win for everyone!! 

As for my own summer reading goals, my goal this summer is to not make a goal. Last summer, I was rather ambitious and set the bar too high, which I did not come close to meeting. The goal this summer is to read a little every day. Some days I will read more than others. And I don't even have a list. I've been too busy! I'm just going to read whatever comes my way--a lot of adult fiction (maybe that "book" that EVERY woman I know is talking about), a little middle-grade fiction, probably some YA because I love it. I will do my best to blog about what I read. So...I have my first recommendation that I just finished last night:

 Wonder by RJ Palacio is my new "shout-it-from-the-rooftops-you-must-read-this" book! It reminded me so much of Out of my Mind, which is a book extremely close to my heart because of events that occurred this spring. If you have not had chance to read my most-current blog post about Out of my Mind, click here to read it.

Wonder is a wonder to read. It is the story of August Pullman, a fifth grader "who was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school--until now. He's about to enter fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid, then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?" --from the book jacket.

Auggie is not an ordinary kid. He is a character that I will remember forever. RJ Palacio switches points of view so that you truly see Auggie from different perspectives--it is brilliant. This book is funny, heart-warming, and heart-breaking. I cried twice, so get the Kleenex ready. Just read it. You won't be sorry. This is the book that I will tell all of my upper-grade teachers to read aloud to their classes next year. What a wonderful lesson August Pullman has to teach all of us.

You know you are a true book nerd when you are anxiously awaiting midnight so that you can download a new book release to your iPad. My first summer book will be Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews. The cover even has flip flops! I love her books; they are perfect chick lit, and I need a brainless read to kick off my summer of no-pressure reading.

So here's to summer and TIME to read. Savor every second!



  1. I need to read this more often to get you book suggestions! I've been in a book slump and need a GREAT one to get my attention!

  2. Tinez, read Wonder and tell your new school about it!

  3. Wonder is in my list of MUST READ! If your recommending, it has to be good!


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