Was there ever any feeling as wonderful to a child as leaving your classroom behind on the last day of school? And then, two days later, the realization arrived that there were only so many lightning bugs you could chase, only so many places to ride your bike or skate, only so many hours your mom was willing to let you spend shriveling up like a prune in the neighborhood pool.
But even in the bad old days before the Internet or video games, when there was nothing on TV except reruns, my sister and I, and later my daughter, never had to worry about being bored as long as the local library was open for our free-range reading. Summers in Texas are long and hot. You need some really cool books to see you through.
Now, like a remembered glass of cold lemonade, like that first icy dip of a toe in the swimming pool, the joy of summer reading is back. And it’s bigger and better, with prizes, even free books. And it’s not just for kids anymore.
I signed up for the Dallas Mayor’s Summer Reading Club online the first day it opened, finished the first book on my list (timed to coincide with the club’s June 6 opening) and posted my first review. Those of us over 18, which I admit to, have to write a brief online review. If that sounds too much like school, don’t worry. Give them the title of the book, the author’s name, and a brief description of why you liked it. You won’t be graded on the review. Instead, you get chances to participate in two drawings for really grownup prizes – tickets for symphonies, film fests, theater; gift certificates and weekend hotel stays (where you and your beloved will, no doubt, share a few good books).
Not sure what to read? The Dallas Public library staff has posted reviews of a few of their five-star recommendations to get you started. Sign up at Mayor’s Summer Reading Club.
Oh, and your kids? OK, don’t keep all the fun for yourself. Sign up kids up to age 18, have them read (almost) anything – books, e-books, audio books, or magazines, for 30 minutes each day for a week, and they’ll receive kid-friendly prizes. Children too young to read can still qualify by being read to.
Not in Dallas? My grandsons are entered in the summer reading club at their home library in Richardson, Texas. Or check your own local town’s library for possibilities.
Local bookstores would love to encourage children to read also. Currently in progress is the Barnes & Noble summer reading club. Read any eight books, record them in a journal available online or in the flier at your local B&N store, and choose a free book from the age-appropriate lists for readers from grades 1-6.
Half Price Books strikes back with its Feed Your Brain summer reading program that lets children from preschool age through high school earn $5 HPB Bookworm Bucks monthly. Eighth graders and younger qualify with 15 minutes of reading (or being read to) daily in June and July. High schoolers can earn Bookworm Bucks by reading a book each month in June and July and writing a short review.
Ready, set, read!