A few weeks ago, I was talking with an eighth-grader attending a new school because of her family’s recent move. Most eighth-grade girls would agree that navigating the social and academic challenges of a new school environment is rarely easy.
As this young girl recalled a particularly stressful week, she mentioned how she had enjoyed spending a Saturday afternoon at a bookstore perusing new titles and escaping into the trenches of her latest book purchase. The girl’s experience highlights how reading a good book can be a relaxing elixir and healthy distraction from stressful times.
I should note that this junior-higher, who is technologically savvy, spends her fair share of time on various social networking sites. In truth, her ratio of reading books to spending time on Instagram is likely pretty low, and she is still developing a love of reading.
Many times, parents worry that their children don’t like to read, and I understand their concern. For some children, finding books that inspire and enamor can take time – especially when there are so many beeps, tweets and blurps potentially interrupting their thoughts. The quiet space to carve out time to discover and devour books for pleasure has become seemingly limited, though it has never been more important. It is one of the edifying distractions often overlooked in our frenetically paced world.
Over the holidays, finding ways to make a good old-fashioned book as popular as technological toys may seem daunting, but students whose eyes light up at the discovery of a new author or genre always encourage me.
Finding titles to read as a family and discuss over dinner and creating an online way for students to review books are two simple strategies to promote engagement.
Following are a few book recommendations for the holiday season.
• “Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters” (Schwartz & Wade, 2009) by Lenore Look; illustrated by LeUyen Pham
• “A Ball for Daisy” (Schwartz & Wade, 2011) by Chris Raschka
• “Harry & Hopper” (Feiwel & Friends, 2011) by Margaret Wild; illustrated by Freya Blackwood
• “The Magician’s Elephant” (Candlewick, 2009) by Kate DiCamillo; illustrated by Yoko Tanaka
• “When You Reach Me” (Wendy Lamb, 2009) by Rebecca Stead
• “Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems” (Clarion, 2011) by Kristine O’Connell George; illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
• “Serendipity Market” by (HarperTeen, 2009) by Penny Blubaugh
• “The Dream Keeper and Other Poems” (Knopf, 2007) by Langston Hughes; illustrated by Brian Pinkney
• “The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman” (Dutton Juvenile, 2011) by Meg Wolitzer
• “Space, Stars, and the Beginning of Time: What the Hubble Telescope Saw” (Clarion, 2011) by Elaine Scott
Each year Green Ivy Educational Consulting sponsors a book drive and sends donations to the Children’s Book Project, a local nonprofit group that distributes books to shelters and children in need. To contribute, bring new or gently used children’s books through Dec. 20 to Green Ivy, 302 Main St., Suite 201, Los Altos, on the second floor above U.S. Bank.