Friday, May 28, 2010

Reading our way through summer

Confession time: I have an odd fascination with lists. I also love books. Put them together into a book list, and ahh… nirvana.

The BPS summer reading lists are out. The K-3 reading list contains some familiar fare, like The Lorax and James and the Giant Peach, but I look forward to exploring some of the lesser known titles (lesser known to us anyway) with my son this summer.

For fun this spring, I started poking around Boston Latin School’s summer reading lists. I’m not a BLS wannabe or groupie, I swear. They just make darned good book lists. I wish someone would have handed me these in high school. They’re like everything I should have read by now but haven’t. How does a person major in Russian history and not read a Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky novel? Luck or simply clever evasion?

This spring, I picked up Franny and Zooey and As I Lay Dying (both from the 10th grade list) from the library. In one, people are too smart for their own good. In the other, quite the opposite.

This gave me an idea for a new project. Now that my child is a little more independent and could spend hours making sand/mud cakes in the backyard, I’m going to try to tackle more of these books this summer. I think I’ll start with the 10th grade list.  That seems about my speed. Call me sophomoric if you like. Their three required books are Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (already read it), and Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons. Then, students can pick two more books from a long list. The House of the Seven Gables, The Jungle, and Rabbit Run have been gathering dust on my shelves for several years. Now’s as good a time as any.

If I ever make it to the 12th grade reading list, then I can dust off the Russians. I know Anna Karenina is hiding out somewhere in my house, probably packed away with the samovar.

But first, I have to finish this Neil Gaiman book, American Gods, that I’m reading for One Book, One Twitter (#1b1t), the Twitter version of a book club. It’s a fantasy-thriller and not something I normally would have cracked open, but I’m really enjoying it. I hope the same holds true for the rest of my summer reading.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up!

I wanted to highlight how easy it is to get these books for your kids. I went to and looked up a few of the titles. Many/most books have a "search inside this book" feature where you can view actual pages in the book. This helps determine if the books would be at the appropriate age/reading level for your kids. (This came in handy for me and my 3.5 yr old, as many of the books might be too advanced. You can also get a good feel if you think you'd enjoy the book.) Then fire up another browser and reserve the books on the BPL's site. You'll get an email when the books are available. They'll pull them out for you and have them ready at the desk for you when you go to pick them up. This cuts a lot of time down at the's a quick in-and-out. Plus, you never leave empty handed!

Gotta love technology.

Geeky Mama said...

I too am a frequent user of BPL's online request program. We've completely abandoned Netflix and just request DVDs through the library. We have to wait months for the big movies, but we're pretty patient.

It also saves us from trying to find books that have been misshelved, a frequent occurrence in the children's section.

As far as the K-3 book list, my son and I wholeheartedly recommend The Curious Garden. It's probably one of his favorite books that's unrelated to dinosaurs.

Anonymous said...

I'm also a big fan of being able to get free and/or massively discounted museum tickets from the library. They usually have 1 set of tickets per museum per day (roughly) and you can reserve over the phone 30 days in advance. Great way to save a lot of money on trips to the aquarium, zoo, etc, esp when relatives come to town.

Using the free tix through the library saved us about $80 on our last trip to the aquarium, which they eventually made up through our gift shop purposes. Clearly I have to find another exit from the aquarium as the main exit goes right by the gift shop.