A little after 4 in the afternoon, my children arrive home. These days, the back-to-school stories are starting to dwindle, and they are in the groove. Chat a bit, grab a snack, tackle homework. Summer is but a memory.
Both are in high school this year. The work load is amped up, and they are plenty busy.
Imagine my surprise when I popped into my daughter’s bedroom yesterday and found her reading. Hmmm, I thought. Which class are you reading that book for?
Get this: she was pleasure reading.
I know. A librarian’s dream come true! My teenage daughter wasn’t on Instagram or Facebook or texting in her (now) limited free time! Do you mind if I yell? OK, thanks. SHE WAS PLEASURE READING!
But I can’t take credit for it.
For the past eight summers, our daughter packed up her trunk and headed to the cool Blue Ridge Mountains for a few weeks of summer camp. During this time she has tie-dyed T-shirts, sung camp songs, participated in table banging (which, fortunately, stays at camp), galloped atop a horse, engaged in a shaving cream fight or two, acted in plays, and knotted countless friendship bracelets.
More importantly, she made friends. Lots of friends. She occasionally writes letters to some of her younger friends and assumes a “big sister” role. She has friends who are in her same grade but live in New Orleans or Providence or, yes, even Poland. They swap stories as to what it is like to live where they live and compare and contrast their families, their schools, and their cities. And, every year, she has friends who are her mentors. Counselors who get to know my daughter and listen to her, teach her, guide her, and befriend her.
It’s a pretty good deal.
This year, she formed a particularly tight bond with one of her counselors. They’ve been communicating since camp let out, and a care package arrived the other day with all sorts of fun items from this young woman.
So, of course it will be read. Her older friend sent a note explaining the significance of the book to her; daughter is now intrigued.
My kids know very well that I am a librarian. They know I read tons of reviews and communicate with other librarians, authors, and readers. And yes, they take my recommendations. Usually. Eventually.
But this? This will get read. Because it was recommended by a friend, a trustee, a mentor, and not boring ol’ mom who also nags her to hang up her wet towels, unload the dishwasher, and drink plenty of water because it is so hot outside!
So, here is the question: is there anyone in your child’s life that is part-friend and part-advisor and totally trusted and admired? An aunt or uncle? A family friend? A favorite teacher?
Could you ask that very special person to recall a meaningful book to recommend to your child? Or just engage, even, in a chat about literature?
I went to high school with an incredibly vibrant, interesting, intelligent, wonderfully creative and hilarious women with whom I am still friends. While miles now separate us, we still visit frequently, and she adores my children, and they her. She dabbles in YA literature, and on a recent visit, discovered that she and my son have read many of the same titles. Sure enough, she was able to recommend a few books to him and vice versa.
Let me tell you: her recommendations to him were instantly honored. We ordered them the very next day; he was most excited to read the books she suggested and report back. And parents? Don’t take it personally, but you just won’t get that same level of response.
Yes, of course it is more authentic if these conversations occur naturally, but if not, find someone. Who is a role model in your child’s life? Does he or she have a book to recommend? You really might be surprised with the outcome!
P.S. Likewise, if you have a favorite book to suggest to a younger friend, do it! It just might make her day and get her reading a bit! Better yet, make it a care package, if you’re able! Throw in a bag of candy and say, here, snack a little and read a little. I think you might like this book!
Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com