If you're looking for a summer reading list, you don't have to look far. Libraries have them, teachers have them, Oprah's got hers, the Times Book Review has theirs, and type it into your search engine and you'll find dozens more in a flash. This time of year, every parenting magazine and web site is churning out reading lists for kids; it's easy to spend lots of time reading lists without actually getting much reading done. In other words, all those great lists out there add up to something that's not necessarily helpful.
What would be much more helpful is an individualized list, a list tailored specifically to your child's developmental stage, reading level and interests. That list, however, is nowhere to be found on the web. You have to create it yourself.
So how do you go about putting together such a list?
Here is our method:
1. Ask your child's teacher for specific recommendations. Don't just go by the list your school librarian hands out to everyone. Ask a teacher who knows your child well for titles that are at just the right level.
2. Peruse a few published lists from trusted sources. We like the New York Public Library's well-edited lists: they have a good mix of classic and contemporary titles, and they are broken down sensibly by age group. We also stand by our own Savvy list of 100 Books to Read Before Kindergarten.
3. Use the Scholastic Book Wizard. This is a tool designed for teachers, but it's easily accessible to parents as well. You enter the title of a book that your child enjoys, and presto, you're presented with dozens more ideas that are at precisely the same level. Especially useful for beginning readers.
4. Look for topical titles. If you're heading to the beach, for instance, we've got a few beachy reads for you!
6. Ask your child, ask yourself. There may be topics your child wants to explore that you haven't thought of: insects perhaps, or every possible version of Rapunzel... who knows? And what about you? Are there any old favorites from your own childhood you want to share with your kids?
Creating a summer book list for your child is a great way to keep you both motivated about reading, and as you check off the books you and your kids have read, you're creating a special record of the summer. So have fun putting it together and reading all those great titles with your kids, but one word of caution: don't let any list hem you in. If your child's reading veers off in another direction, wonderful! And if you're ever at a loss for ideas, you know you've got your kid's very own list at the ready.
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