Thursday, June 22, 2006

Summer Reading

Here in Voorheesville the official last day of school is tomorrow. Kids are already signing up for the summer programs, taking out stacks of books and looking forward to free time. My wish for all young people is to enjoy free time in the summer. Kids need a little structure, some plans to look forward to, and plenty of free time. That doesn't and shouldn't mean sitting in front of a TV.

Free time (in my mind) means the opportunity to create. Try a new craft, enjoy painting or something else creative. Perhaps a child might want to try their hand at sewing or knitting. Check out the library for some of these creative projects. If you have your child going to a sports camp, or day camp, they need the time at home to be less busy. These activities can be exhausting. Let them choose a special film to watch at night, and take home a stack of books that will entice them into reading.

If you have a reluctant reader, now is the time to bring out the comic books. Let them laugh over "Calvin and Hobbes," "Foxtrot," "Peanuts," "Zits," "Garfield," or even "Tintin." The kids will be thrilled to have them around, and then you can introduce them to some newer titles. Check out Jennifer Holm's "Babymouse: Queen of the World." Babymouse is truly a girl character. She wants to go to a slumber party and yet doesn't want to disppoint her best friend. It is a typical dilemma in a child's life where bullies rule, kids want to be liked, and where friends are so important. This is a comic for all ages, but aimed towards grades 4-6. Another new comic is "Spiral-Bound" by Aaron Renier. It is also written for the same kids as "Babymouse," and again kids older and younger will love it. It has animal characters that react to the world as children. It would appeal to kids who like Roald Dahl's Matilda and Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. One last comic to try is Rod Espinosa's quest The Courageous Princess. The artwork is in color and very lush which fits the story well for a fairy tale.

So, give the kids books, and take them to the library. But let them savor the fun of comics or graphic novels. They can take their time with the visual storytelling and enjoy reading words and pictures. It might inspire them to try their hand at their own comics.

For a novel about making and selling comic books, check out Andrew Clements Lunch Money. He truly captures young people in his books, which are all set in schools. He is most famous for Frindle, one of my favorites, as well as, A Week in the Woods. Joyce Laiosa