Summer is here and all of us here at the library have been preparing for our Summer tradition...Summer Learning! Summer Learning is our annual Summer program that aims to slow the "Summer Slide" (this is the cumulative loss of knowledge a student experiences between the end of one school year, and the beginning of the next) and help everyone's minds stay curious and sharp...even if school isn't in session. It's easier than ever to sign up, log your reading, and win prizes. Sign up online using Beanstack to get started, and if you participated in Summer Learning in 2018 or 2019 you can simply log in using the same account as years prior.
But beyond signing up, where to get started with Summer Learning? Perhaps you have a 'To Read' list a mile long, or you're not sure what to pick up next. We understand it can be hard to get through a book sometimes. Perhaps there is an assignment or chore weighing heavily on your mind, or you set arbitrary barriers for yourself about a book's content ("This book is too easy for me!"). Yet while we set our own reading goals to the side, we might (and should!) be encouraging others in our lives to read. How can we stick to our own goals, eliminate rules about reading that hold us back, as well as encourage more reading all around, and of course, still enjoy reading?
Never fear, for the librarians at San Jose Public Library have been hard at work curating booklists to help inspire your reading this summer. Each week we will release a blog post and a themed booklist with some recommendations and ideas for all to participate and what to read next. This first edition contains some ideas to get families reading, together.
Book clubs have always been a great way to create accountability when reading, while also providing a built in community to discuss, reflect, and enjoy a story more. So why not start a book club with your family? This week's list, Family Book Club, contains a few ideas of books (or audiobooks) that families can read and adore together. Many of these books lend themselves to being read aloud, but can be enjoyed in a variety of formats. The books, a mix of old and new classics, have multi-generational appeal; i.e., the whole family can enjoy. Whether the book examines an important theme that could inspire discussion, or is a timeless whimsical classic that might raise a laugh, picking and reading the same book as a family can definitely help everyone get on the same page (pun intended) with a reading routine.
**As a bonus, if none of the titles here particularly grab your attention, try these extra family friendly picks on this booklist!
The classics are always a great place to begin, so take a browse through this small sampling to see if there's a title that appeals to your family. All of these listed are print books but many are available in audiobook, eBook, and eAudiobook format. If you have the time, however, why not establish a family read aloud hour to work your way through a story? In particular, The Hobbit is a great book to share as a family. If, as a family, you decide to read your book club choice aloud together, set aside a time each day where you will meet and listen to one person read. If you're all advanced readers, you could even take turns reading.
Other books on this list lend themselves to subsequent book club reads! For example, both The Magician's Nephew and A Wrinkle in Time are the first in a series. Read them as a family, then vote on whether to continue the series, or move on to a new read. You could also do this with authors. Roald Dahl is fairly prolific, and his eccentric stories are amusing to children and adults alike. If the plot of The BFG doesn't inspire you, try The Witches, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox, or honestly any of his others. Maybe make it a goal to read 3 books by the same author...there's no wrong way to family book club!
"New Classics" are noteworthy books that have the potential to become classics in the future, and many children will appreciate trying newer titles they've heard of before. A variety of genres are included above, from realistic fiction to fantasy, and some of the books, like the Harry Potter series, you're likely aware of. Popular books might be a great way to sway reluctant readers, and perhaps one family book club could become a families book club if children want to get their friends on board. Titles like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone have been included simply because they are such multigenerational literary phenomena, and in this particular case...it is an excellent read-aloud book (the opportunities for character voices and sound effects are boundless). Whether you listen to a prerecorded narrator (a link to the audiobook is included above), read it aloud yourself, or quietly read by yourself and come together to discuss later, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone will no doubt continue to delight readers for years to come, as well as many other titles listed.
Other books in this list focus on more serious topics that families may want to work through and discuss together, notably The Giver, Out of My Mind, and Wonder. I encourage you not to shy away from these books with more heavy subject matters! They may present an opportunity to start impactful and important conversations among family members. There are also many reading guides available for these titles online that could help shape and guide your family book club discussions if you decide to pursue one of these titles and are not sure where your conversation should begin (such as this one, developed by Scholastic as a companion to the Giver).
Whatever title you ultimately choose, whether from this list, a family suggestion, or perhaps a book from a parent or grandparent's youth, we hope that families reading together will learn together, grow together, and of course...finish their Summer Learning reading goals together, too. If you're looking for more ways to participate in Summer Learning, leave a book review on Beanstack (the site that powers our Summer Learning program). There is a chance we may feature your review in an upcoming blog! You can also check out other great recommendations on our Staff Picks Page.
See you next week for another Summer Learning booklist blog!