It’s the last week of June, and just that like that – we are halfway through summer. We’ve had equal amounts of rain and sun, some days so filled with activities that I haven’t noticed the hours passing by. Perhaps my favorite days, though, have been the ones where we haven’t had much on the calendar. In those moments, the kids have done some simple but amazing things: taken nature walks (painting rocks they found afterwards), flown kites, gone fishing, found a quiet corner to read a new book, and created new games with old toys. I can’t think of anything more satisfying as a parent than seeing them use their imaginations and find beauty in ordinary things.
One of the simple things we have loved doing together is visiting Little Free Libraries. We have one at our local city park that we visit frequently, but we’ve also visited others on day trips and on our cross-country summer vacation to Illinois. What I love most about these little libraries is their variety, not only in books, but also in the colorful, fun way people build and decorate them. My favorite one so far is a repurposed London Telephone Box in my hometown of Bloomington, Illinois.
To find the Little Free Libraries near you, go to:
This summer my kids and I have found books in many places: our local library, bookstores, yard sales, coffee shops, a juice bar, little free libraries. Some books we’ve borrowed, others we’ve exchanged (“take one, leave one”), and the rest we’ve purchased at reduced prices with the little pocket money we carry. The best finds are the unexpected ones, and I love seeing the kids reactions at those moments – it’s truly like seeing them in a candy store, but it’s books!
And books, without a doubt, are so much sweeter. 🙂
As I sit outside on a breezy, calm sunny afternoon, I feel happy and grateful to begin the summer. A summer that will be spent outdoors having backyard picnics, sinking our toes into dewy grass, reading books & pointing out patterns in the clouds. A summer that will be full of visits to parks, playgrounds, & pools – running, jumping, swimming & playing hide & seek with friends. A summer that will be both wonderful and exhausting, long and hot — but by its end will seem as if we blinked and it was gone.
Of course, like any parent with a smartphone – there are always pictures – but not every moment in the sun (or the pool) can be photographed. Some moments are meant, I think, only to be experienced and enjoyed at the very moment they happen – and it’s up to us to catalog them in our brains and hold them fast in our hearts, remembering the feelings they gave us. Remembering the joy that a summer spent soaking in the sun with our children, families & friends brought us. Cherishing it. And being grateful that we had it.
This morning, my children dragged a blanket out into the grass, along with a pile of books, shells, snacks and their brand new fidget spinners. We spent a delightful couple of hours taking turns reading to each other, pouring over their shell collection, teaching each other tricks with the spinners, and lying on the blanket finding cloud-shapes. My daughter surprised me by launching into narrative – making up her own story aloud in-the-moment, something I had never heard her do before. As she spun a tale of animals on a quest to touch a life-giving gem in a magical forest and her brother and I sat and listened, I felt it was one of those moments – the kind you want to wrap into your memory and hold forever, but also the kind you know you will never experience the same way again.
Soon after she finished her story, she & her brother ran to swing, jump & play – their next summer adventure already begun. Still sitting on the blanket in the warm sunlight, I picked up my book and turned the pages, my gaze moving slowing from the words to the cloud shapes moving above, listening to their voices & laughter mixed with the summer breeze.
Summer 2017 Book List from this Video:
The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
Captain Underpants (#12) by Dav Pilkey
Dogman Unleashed by Dav Pilkey
Lego City – Fire Team Adventures
Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell
Stella and the Night Sprites by Sam Hay
Princess and the Page by Christina Farley
After our beautiful first morning in the sun, the kids & visited our local library and they picked out their first summer book haul & got officially signed up for the summer reading program. In addition to reading logs, they both received their first reading patch, a bookmark & a calendar of free activities they can attend. Beginning June 19th, kids can turn in their completed reading log to earn this years big reward – a creative tool belt! We usually complete and turn in our logs in late July, as I think stretching out the program and then getting a reward late in the summer helps boost them through the remaining days before school begins again.
Thank you for reading, watching – and for visiting Space to Dream. I hope your summer has had as sweet a beginning as ours, and that you and the kids in your life are making time to read! Happy Summer! -Stacie
Last Summer, I enjoyed sharing posts & videos of the books my children and I were reading. I can’t believe a year has passed and it’s time to sign up for the Summer Reading program again! This year’s theme is “Build a Better World,” and local libraries will have literacy activities that challenge kids to create, build & have fun together. Here’s the short infomercial that my local library made for the program.
The program kicked off this weekend with Maker Faire, where kids were involved in DIY crafts & creative projects that combined reading with science & art. Throughout the summer there will be many chances for kids of all ages to attend fun events; check with your local library or their website to get a summer calendar. All events are free, are for specific age groups, and require you to register children before attending. Here is a link to the online event calendar & registration for St. Tammany Parish:
Kids in St. Tammany Parish can register for Summer Reading 2017 at any of our local library branches beginning May 23, which is our last official half-day of school.
Another reading program option that my children and I like to participate in is Barnes & Noble Summer Reading. This year they have programs for adults, teens and kids where you can earn a free book after completing and turning in a reading journal at your local Barnes & Noble bookstore. You can get the reading journal when visiting, or download it online. Each store also has special events throughout the summer that include storytime, book themed crafts & author visits. Here are links to check out for their summer program & events:
I’m excited to begin the summer with my kids & read together! It’s probably no secret that I love the stories we read just as much (and sometimes more) than they do, but the best part of sharing summer books is seeing their love for reading grow. While I also love themed activities that encourage them to go “beyond the book” and use their imaginations & creative skills to create something new, my main goal is simple. I want my children to be excited about reading.
When my kids are motivated to pick their own books, when they choose to spend their free time reading, when they ask for more reading time before bedtime – that is the best feeling! That’s when I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment as a parent who wants to instill a lifelong love of reading in my children. And I know many parents, teachers, & caretakers who feel the same. Reading is not just a skill but also a door to our imaginations, our abilities and our dreams.
I hope you are starting your summer as we are, with plenty of books and a visit to your local library! Happy Summer Reading 2017!
Thanks for stopping by Space to Dream. My next post will feature our first Summer Reading video and show you the books my kids & I have chosen to begin our summer reading adventure. 🙂