Summer Rules! Are you a Reading Role Model?

summer rules (2)Right?  Once again, I doodled for my daughter rather than bore her with another empty letter. Still raining here. Scrubbed the toilets and flossed my teeth today. I decided to remind her that SUMMER RULES – and for a million reasons.

Today it rules because summer means hopping off the porch and driving a couple of hours to visit my aunt and uncle. It means a lovely visit with two people whom I rarely see in my adult life, and afterwards, it means another 2-hour drive home.

I should mention that 2-hour drives are absolutely nothing to us Texans. Two hours barely gets you out of Houston, after all. I can’t imagine I’ve attracted a very large audience in Blog Post Number Three, but if I have, may I remind you that while 2 hours of driving might get you a few states away in some parts of the country, Texans actually measure distance by hours. Laugh now, but live in Texas and you know.

Right. So. Back to our drive. The hubs, dog, and I will be in the car, driving, thanking summer for this opportunity for a visit with relatives we haven’t seen in a few years. Thanking summer for this opportunity to read.

Read? Yes, read.

We read aloud to each other at least a book a year – always in summer, usually on a drive. We’ve done the audiobook thing, and it was fine, but somehow we prefer our reading. I think when you read aloud it becomes more personal and intimate. You can also stop the reading when you want to laugh at something, discuss something, go back and re-read something or just take an emotional break, depending on the book. Of course you can pause audio, but, I’m just here to tell ya, reading aloud is a powerful thing. When you read aloud with someone else, it becomes an experience. Something you can talk, laugh, cry, kvetch about later. It is something you share, and quite frankly, can turn deeply personal. Take it from the hubs, who, aside from our summer reading venture only reads “things with an index.”

Right. Back to our drive. And Summer. And how it rules that we’re looking 4 hours in the car and practically giddy that we’re going to start a new book. Our kids are not with us, and yet this effects them, too.

Parents who are readers raise kids who are readers. I know, I know, I’m generalizing. On the whole, it is true, though.

And that’s a little bit scary.

I mean, if being a parent isn’t overwhelming enough.

Isn’t reading to our children enough, you ask? (Another post for another day…)

It’s not.

Yes, we should be reading to them, but we should also be reading to ourselves. They need role models when it comes to reading, too.

We ask them to read. We want them to be lifelong learners. We tell them to find the balance between their electronics and the games and books and hobbies. We’re speaking out one side of our mouths if we don’t also follow suit, you know.

And our children? Man, they’re smart. They see pretty much everything. So, tell me this: when they hear and/or observe you, reading a book – either by yourself, on audio, or with your partner – what’s the message?

When they see you picking up trash from the street – what’s the message?

When they see you being compassionate to your elderly uncle – what’s the message?

When they see you volunteering at the animal shelter – what’s the message?

When they see you joking and talking about a book you read over the summer during what otherwise might have been a rather dull drive – what’s the message, I ask you?

Oh, believe you me, when my children wander downstairs on a sleepless night, they’re just as likely to find me watching TV or cruising Facebook as they are seeing me with a nose in a book. This librarian isn’t always reading, but I suppose the hope is they find me exercising some semblance of balance between all the ways to pass time that are available to me. The hope is that, among other things, they’ve been shown that reading is a pleasurable, wonderful, special way to pass the time, worthy of them spending their valuable time on, too.

Really, it isn’t too difficult to be a reading role model. Find a good book! Read it! As an adult and a parent, when was the last time you treated yourself to a delicious read? Make sure it hasn’t been too long because you deserve to get lost in a good book (whether you do so alone or aloud with your partner), and your child? She deserves to see you do it.

It’s still summer. No better time – make it RULE. Start a Good Book (and then swing by the front porch and let me know what you read. I spend most of my time reading children’s books and am always grateful for excellent adult book recommendations!)

Keep reading,

the FPL


P.S. I’m getting old, and my memory is fading. But, if you want to spend a few more minutes on the front porch, I can tell you a few of the books we’ve tackled in the past, in case you’d like to give it a try, yourself. The thing of it is, you might like to try some of these books – but you’ll see they all come with a story, which makes the whole read-aloud thing so special. It might feel awkward at first, but honestly, it can be a raw, honest experience to be read to and to read to someone whom you love. Go for it!

The first summer we were married, we lived in College Station and owned and shared a small pick up truck that lacked air conditioning. (It also had the locks to the driver’s side door superglued thanks to a feud between the previous owner and a neighbor. On hot days, the key wouldn’t work, so we’d have to get in on the passenger side or through the window a la Dukes of Hazzard style. It was laughable. I wasn’t a librarian back then, but in a way? I was.) We drove that summer from College Station to Corpus Christi, Corpus to Houston, and Houston back to College Station. Even though Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird was assigned reading in high school, the hubs hadn’t really read it. I was horrified. Boom. Got the job done.

Can’t tell you which summer it was, but we hit the beach in Galveston multiple times. Each drive contained a chapter/story of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. One of many books that, while appropriate for children, is just as meaningful for adults.

The movie, The Help was being advertised, and the hubs made the comment that we should go see it. I retorted that never, ever, never-ever-ever-ever is the movie better than the book and as such, the book needed to be read first. We librarians are real stick-in-the-mud that way. Ok, he cheerfully agreed – and then he saw the book. His face said “are you kidding?” His actual mouth said a whole lot more than that. We struck a deal: let’s start it, and we’ll just see how we feel. I don’t even know how many weeks later, I finished reading one evening with just a few chapters left. It was a perfect amount for one final night of reading, we agreed. At 3 a.m. when my I’ve-had-two-children-bladder awakened me, I discovered, to my horror, the hubs silently finishing up the last of it. Caught him with his hand in the cookie jar.

During a 7 or 8 hour drive from Asheville to Beaufort, North Carolina we took up our son’s required summer reading, Little Bee by Chris Cleave. I heard that it was a rather heavy piece, and boy, no kidding. We hadn’t quite finished it by the time we arrived, but we were unwilling to stop, so we ordered sandwiches and finished it about one in the morning.

Today, we will have 4 hours to read The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck. There will be a story to accompany the adventure; it remains to be told. The shared experience, however, will be priceless.

Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com


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