6 Ways to Kick Off Summer Reading for the kids and 1 for you

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Google Dogs in Pools! It's funny!

Google Dogs in Pools! It’s funny!

–summer reading time!


We officially kick off summer with a trip to Changing Hands bookstore to stock up on summer titles. This year Brady loves Ninjago books. Easy enough.


A stack of books can have a holiday feel, (if you don’t live in my house where stacks of books are indicative of a gentle madness.) Here are 6 ways to get your stacks started.

1. Visit a bookstore: The programs my friends buzz about are Barnes and Noble and local favorite Changing Hands. Half Price books has one too.

Dear AZ, please take note on how to present a summer reading program. Yours is unnecessarily bad.

Dear AZ, please take note on how to present a summer reading program. Yours is unnecessarily bad.

2. Check out your public library. Maricopa County and Chandler Public Library System have summer reading programs. Programs kick off this weekend, so there is plenty of time to sign up in your area.


3. Children’s publishers: Scholastic has a fun online program if you like to click around and earn badges, interact with others and design your own avatar. The site is cluttered but not too hard to figure out. Of course, since it’s Scholastic, your child will be pitched to, so take it with a grain of salt. Sylvan Learning Center has a similar take on summer reading, called Book Adventure.


4. Popular chains Chuck E. Cheese, Pizza Hut and Pottery Barn kids all have Summer Reading Programs with small prizes, if these are places you like to visit, by all means, sign up!

Memorial Day weekend kicks off the unofficial start of summer! Keep kids learning on-the-go with fun, educational apps from PBS KIDS: http://pbskids.org/mobile

Memorial Day weekend kicks off the unofficial start of summer! Keep kids learning on-the-go with fun, educational apps from PBS KIDS: http://pbskids.org/mobile

5. PBS! If you are a PBS family, PBS kids has a roster of summer reading promotions as well as links to many of the sites I mentioned here. Download this awesome PBS Kids reading journal.


6. Grandma knows best, at least in our family she does. So I wandered over to grandparents.com to see what they had to say about summer reading.


7.  I’m an equal opportunity librarian so I have something for you too. In my inbox is my free .pdf for Summer Beach Reading from The Modern Mrs. Darcy. You can sign up for yours here. It’s a little confusing, you must request her monthly blog and in the confirmation email is a link to the Summer Reading Guide.

Poetry: The Spider’s Web (A Natural History) by E.B. White

Currently reading, currently loving,

by Michael Sims

by Michael Sims

Where I found this:

The Spider’s Web ( A Natural History)


The spider, dropping down from twig, 

Unfolds a plan of her devising,
A thin premeditated rig
To use in rising.

And all that journey down through space,
In cool descent and loyal hearted,
She spins a ladder to the place
From where she started.

Thus I, gone forth as spiders do
In spider’s web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken thread to you
For my returning.

E.B. White
12 April 1951The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

York Avenue and East 92nd Street

New York, 28, NY

Dear Sirs:

I have your letter, undated, saying that I am harboring an unlicensed dog in violation of the law. If by “harboring” you mean getting up two or three times every night to pull Minnie’s blanket up over her, I am harboring a dog all right. The blanket keeps slipping off. I suppose you are wondering by now why I don’t get her a sweater instead. That’s a joke on you. She has a knitted sweater, but she doesn’t like to wear it for sleeping; her legs are so short they work out of a sweater and her toenails get caught in the mesh, and this disturbs her rest. If Minnie doesn’t get her rest, she feels it right away. I do myself, and of course with this night duty of mine, the way the blanket slips and all, I haven’t had any real rest in years. Minnie is twelve.

 In spite of what your inspector reported, she has a license. She is licensed in the State of Maine as an unspayed bitch, or what is more commonly called an “unspaded” bitch. She wears her metal license tag but I must say I don’t particularly care for it, as it is in the shape of a hydrant, which seems to me a feeble gag, besides being pointless in the case of a female. It is hard to believe that any state in the Union would circulate a gag like that and make people pay money for it, but Maine is always thinking of something. Maine puts up roadside crosses along the highways to mark the spots where people have lost their lives in motor accidents, so the highways are beginning to take on the appearance of a cemetery, and motoring in Maine has become a solemn experience, when one thinks mostly about death. I was driving along a road near Kittery the other day thinking about death and all of a sudden I heard the spring peepers. That changed me right away and I suddenly thought about life. It was the nicest feeling.

You asked about Minnie’s name, sex, breed, and phone number. She doesn’t answer the phone. She is a dachshund and can’t reach it, but she wouldn’t answer it even if she could, as she has no interest in outside calls. I did have a dachshund once, a male, who was interested in the telephone, and who got a great many calls, but Fred was an exceptional dog (his name was Fred) and I can’t think of anything offhand that he wasn’t interested in. The telephone was only one of a thousand things. He loved life — that is, he loved life if by “life” you mean “trouble,” and of course the phone is almost synonymous with trouble. Minnie loves life, too, but her idea of life is a warm bed, preferably with an electric pad, and a friend in bed with her, and plenty of shut-eye, night and days. She’s almost twelve. I guess I’ve already mentioned that. I got her from Dr. Clarence Little in 1939. He was using dachshunds in his cancer-research experiments (that was before Winchell was running the thing) and he had a couple of extra puppies, so I wheedled Minnie out of him. She later had puppies by her own father, at Dr. Little’s request. What do you think about that for a scandal? I know what Fred thought about it. He was some put out.

Sincerely yours,

E. B. White


p.s. now back to packing for our trip…do you procrastinate on the Internet too?

Poetry: Prayer before Dawn by Molly Spencer

Prayer Before Dawn by Molly Spencer


Lord of the spun globe,
of roofline silhouette, pale wash
of coming sun,


this thinning hour is the only threshold
I’ll ever need.


The greying black.
The black, greying.


Lord, let me die just before dawn.


Let my fading be twinned
with the night’s fading,
barely-seen gradients
of light.


Let me knock on your door
in the half-dawn. Let my hands
be knotted with years,
many troubles. Let my hands
be all you see


when you rush, worried,
to the door,
too early for visitors, and see


the weak, round glow
of my lantern. Then,


if you have a face, Lord,
show it.


Put it in my light.


Dear Parent or a Talented Reader,

Dear Parent of Talented Reader,

"Well," said Dr. Dorian "I think she will always love animals. I doubt she spends her entire life in Homer Zuckerman's cellar."

“Well,” said Dr. Dorian “I think she will always love animals. I doubt she spends her entire life in Homer Zuckerman’s cellar.”

Remember when you told me about how well your child reads? How young they are but how they can read like a (insert here) much older child?


but it becomes somehow much worse when the child is extra-ordinary, and by that I mean sensitive and brilliant.—Roald Dahl, Matilda

You asked for advice on finding books for your little one that loved chapter books.


After seeing children like yours in the library, and it’s the best problem of all to have. Your child loves to read and finishes books as fast as you find them. I believe you. I’ve seen it. chippingcheddar

This is my wish for your talented reader, give them permission to be their age.


Stack dense books around the house. The best of the best. Jan Brett, Graeme Base, David Weisner, Jim Arnosky. Deluge them with Eric Carle’s canon of rainbow books. I made a pile for a student in the library and she said “He wrote all of these?”

Eric Carle's artwork is contagious!

Eric Carle’s artwork is contagious

Post poems in their lunch boxes. Let them luxuriate in Ed Emberley, H.A. Rey, Sendak, Ludwig Bemelmans, Tomie dePaola.

In old house in Paris that was covered with vines

lived 12 little girls in two straight lines

It is a sacred moment when you open a tried and true tale, the children who have heard it before relax, and the children who are new to it immediately give themselves over to the story.

rane 4

Do you remember how it feels to lose yourself in a picture book?

Animalia by Graeme Base

Animalia by Graeme Base

Remember your favorite book, that you carried around forever and inhabited?

by the way, lots of kids only read Wimpy Kid for 2 years straight. I don't know why, but it's a phase and it passes.

by the way, lots of kids only read Wimpy Kid for 2 years straight. I don’t know why, but it’s a phase and it passes.

When you had a notebook and you wrote secret plans?

Harriet the Spy is fun to read when you are Harriet sized

Don’t forget how wonderful it was to read Harry Potter, when you were young Harry’s age. The luckiest kids of all read Harry he was 10 and they were 10. They call themselves the Potter Generation and I envy them.



It’s okay to read the same book for 2 years. It’s okay to just read fairy book after fairy book after fairy book.

I'm jealous of parents with fairy book lovers

Confession: I’m jealous of parents with fairy book lovers

The best thing about books is also the worst thing about books. You can never run out of them.

Simply the best authority on reading. Lovely.

Simply the best authority on reading. Lovely.

In response to what should your child read? Don’t worry, they will read everything in the vicinity, only worry that you cleared the plates before they finished with dessert. Save the best for always.



Shopping with my teacher gift cards

Year end brought happy memories with my library kids


I read this to the kinders on graduation day at the Fulton Ranch campus

sadness at missed opportunities

The Twits by Roald Dahl

The Twits by Roald Dahl

hope for what I can do next year

Danger in the Desert is an Arizona Regional book and a "battle of the books" title on display at Barnes and Noble in San Tan Village

Danger in the Desert is an Arizona Regional book and a “battle of the books” title on display at Barnes and Noble in San Tan Village

and loads of sweet treats and gift cards from the kids.

I thought I would show some of the books I picked out with my gift cards

This Dover Thrift book was super cheap...had to pick it up for the kids. Follow this link to try some on your own.

note to self: spend summer learning origami!

My boys can enjoy them over the summer


Brady and Max are sharing the Ninjago books. Brady read the chapter books and the play Ninja all day long. The Ninjago papercutz comic series has 8 books so far…I picked up a few titles with my gift card.

and then I will put them in the library so you can enjoy them too

What do you do with the last week of school?

The kids are like little soda cans all shook up. How to harness that energy and not waste library time? How to engage them?

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

for the little ones…montessori to grade 2 we played Aesop’s Lion and the Mouse. I read the story to them inside and took the book outside so they could act out the parts. Many of the kids knew the story and I prefaced it by saying “What do you think? This book makes me want to take out my colored pencils and draw!”

Another attention grabber this week was the return of Canadian astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield from his 5 month sojourn inside the International Space Station. Chris Hadfield has a ton of amazing material, tweets, videos, images paired with his commentary.

I love the response from the audience on Earth when he wrings the washcloth out in space, such a common, visceral experience everyone gets it. That is the art of teaching right there, he connects with people so well. Love him!


For the older kids, I have the iPad app “The Elements” by Theodore Gray.  I played the song “The Elements Song” by Tom Lehrer. You can find it on Youtube sung by Sponge Bob among others. The kids love the periodic table, it has the right mix of memorization, fast talk and a hook from minecraft. They love anything to do with an iPad, it is a way gateway to discussion about e-books v paper books. They toggled the song between Japanese and English.

I can’t believe how much the kids grew this year, it is an honor to see them grow and change every week, so curious, so cool, so awesome. I’m excited for another great year next year.