Magazine article Book

Summer Fun

Magazine article Book

Summer Fun

Article excerpt

Books can be a great part of the long, hot season

ONE OF THE PLEASURES OF being a children's librarian is hearing the wide range of topics kids ask about: "Where are the books on snakes?" "Do you have a book of magic tricks?" "I want a book just like Harry Potter." Children often read books assigned to them or study topics their teachers have chosen. But left to themselves, children often have intense interests they'd like to read about if they could put their hands on the right books.

Summer is the perfect time for pursuing strong interests and developing new- ones. In an ideal universe, schools would assign little, if any, summer reading, allowing kids to explore books on their own. And every parent would recognize that reading doesn't always have to be goal oriented. Reading for pleasure offers its own rewards, among them, that children develop a positive feeling about books and start on the path to becoming lifelong readers and learners.

To make this process easier, and to help parents and children find the books they want, I wrote a guide called Great Books About Things Kids Love, published in May by Ballantine, a companion to my earlier guides Great Book for Girls and Great Books for Boys. It describes more than 750 books for ages three to fourteen, arranged by high-appeal subjects like ghosts, computers and robots, insects and spiders, ballet, disasters and much more. My seventeen years as a children's librarian taught me that many children choose their books by subject rather than author or genre. For example, children fascinated with horses respond immediately to informational books like The True-or-False Book of Horses by Patricia Lauber, as well as fiction like The Quicksand Pony by Alison Lester. Similarly, pet books are always in demand, as are the many splendid books on crafts.

But children often do need adults to guide them to the right books and alert them to exciting topics. Once they've heard of them, what child could resist How to Hunt Buried Treasure by James M. Deem and Roller Coasters: Or I Had So Much Fun, I Almost Puked by Nick Cook? (Both are surprisingly good.) When Titanic was in theaters, books like Robert D. Ballard's Exploring the Titanic were instant hits as soon as children knew about them. …

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