Whiling Away and Sprawling | A Summer Reading List
“I just can’t get Samarth to sit down and read,” Sheila groaned to me the other day. “I’ve tried so many different ways to motivate him. You only tell me what to do, na!” A common complaint of parents these days. With so many different shows on TV, video games, technology distractions, classes and workshops to attend — somehow we all seem to have forgotten reading. Gone are the days when the entire family would be sprawled out on couches and rugs with a book in hand whiling away a lazy, Sunday afternoon. No one knows how to while-away time anymore. In fact, I don’t think anyone knows how to sprawl anymore, either!
Here’s a suggestion. Every day this summer set aside 30 minutes to while-away some time with a book. For the uninitiated, here’s how you do it :-
Pick a favourite spot. Go on. Get your child(ren) and together pick a spot. Your bed? (we suggest making it first — but no one’s checking — unmade works just as well!), the living room carpet? the balcony? (mornings are still pretty cool in Bangalore). Send us your suggestions — we’d love to hear what you picked — get creative!
Now pick a book each. Yes, Sheila. If you want Samarth to read, you’re going to have to sit down and model it for him! For starters, pick an easy one not a classic (we have an age appropriate list below — or just pick something you loved as a child). Have a reluctant reader? Why not read aloud to him/her? Or take turns reading. I highly recommend it! I have a 19 year old and a 16 year old and we still read aloud all the time! Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!
Set your timer for 30 minutes on the phone, and put it in airplane mode.
Read. Talk. Discuss.
Praise. (Quick tip:- Praise your child’s reading ability, voice, tempo, knowledge. Whatever! I firmly believe praise is the best encouragement to continue).
“So how do we make reading a fun activity and not a chore?” Sheila asked me despondently after my long lecture. Her reluctance was obvious, so, I’m not surprised Samarth was resisting. First of all, we have to cultivate this love ourselves. It’s not something that has to be ticked off a list, or because Rohit reads 1 book a day, my son should too! But speaking of ticking off on a list — maybe we could make it fun. Have a little reading notebook or chart near that favourite reading spot. Reward them with stars or stickers each time they complete a chapter. 10 stars could be redeemed for ice cream, 20 for a pizza or burger, 30 for a movie? If daily motivation is needed — how about a swim right after reading, and poolside cucumber sandwiches? Make these plans and rewards together. What fun it’ll be!
Before you know it, the timer will go off — and your 30 minutes for the day will be done! By the end of summer, we promise you no one will check the timer. In fact, many might decide to “just complete this chapter” before shutting the book. And, in a month and a half, you’ll have cultivated a fantastic habit all while whiling away and sprawling. Kudos! Do pat yourself on the back for us!
And, don’t forget to let us know what you think.
Summer Reading List
These age groups are not set in stone. As long as your child is reading — don’t be too concerned about what. Remember, by Age 9 — our recommendation is that they are comfortable with chapter books and slightly complex story lines.
5–7 Years Old
(we use these in our Story classes and our little ones just LOVE them!)
The Seven Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey
The Seven Habits Collection (Sean Covey)- different stories…
The Book with No Pictures – B.J. Novak
The Rainbow Fish – Marcus Pfister
Where’s Waldo Now? – Martin Handford
The Grouchy Ladybug – Eric Carle
Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
9/10 years Old
(The Kindle Edition of all these books are remarkably cheap! — and you can start reading right away!)
Charlotte’s Web — (an all time favourite in our family!)
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (another people pleaser! :-))
Where the Sidewalk Ends (Shel Silverstein is a genius in my family’s opinion!)
The Magic Drum & other stories — Sudha Murty
Grandma’s Bag of Stories — Sudha Murty
(We all love Sudha Murty’s books — such a simple yet powerful story teller!)
10–12 years old
There are children that devour the Harry Potter series at 9, and others that need to wait until they’re closer to 11. It doesn’t matter. What matters is — they have a book in hand.
It would be great if they have read the Enid Blytons by Age 10–11.
ENID BLYTON (An author that has shaped two maybe three generations of readers in my family! Any book of hers would be a winner! Here are a few favourites). I’ve linked to the entire set — but obviously buy one first and if your child enjoys the characters and stories then buy the set. 🙂
The Malory Towers and St. Clares Series (a hot favourite for pre-teen girls)
Other Fabulous Books for this age group — loved and devoured by my kids, friends’ kids, nieces and nephews
The Harry Potter Series (of course!)
A Series of Unfortunate Events — Lemony Snicket (This is a series about the Baudelaire orphans, who just can’t seem to catch a break, and their adventures. They’re aimed at kids who “get” satire and are not too affected by all the unfortunate events that these kids face. No happy ending either — so be forewarned. However, the writing is excellent and the vocabulary phenomenal. Once your child gets hooked — you’ll never have to beg him/her to read again!)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series (read this in conjunction with other books. These are more “fun” cartoon style books that could conceivably be used as starter reading)
Theodore Boone Series by John Grisham (6 book set — short, very easy to read legal thrillers about a teenager who wants to be a lawyer)
Percy Jackson Series — Rick Riordan
Tales from a Fourth Grade nothing — Judy Blume (funny and very engaging)
The Gita for Children — Roopa Pai (a great book to read aloud to your kids. My daughter went away to college in the middle of the read aloud — and I had to actually record the chapters and WhatsApp them to her. It’s addictive and a great way to stay in touch! )
Who Moved my Cheese? — Dr. Spencer Johnson (Look forward to lots of fun Dinner Time Conversations after reading this one — it’s not even Rs. 50 on Kindle — go get it now!)
Tales from Malgudi — Who doesn’t want their children to experience the magic of R.K. Narayan and little Swami?
The Menagerie Series — My son’s favourite series at age 11…
12–15 years old
Wonder — R.J. Palacio
Al Capone does my Shirts (highly recommended by both my teens)
Little Women (And the other books in this series) — Louisa May Alcott — the kindle version is FREE!
Mike Lupica Books (recommended by my son “if you are into sports” 🙂 )
Ignited Minds — A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Wings of Fire Series — Tui T Sutherland
Unusual Tales from the Mahabharata — Sudha Murty
The English Teacher — R.K. Narayan
15–18 years old
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas — John Boyne
The Hunger Games Series — Suzanne Collins
House of the Red Fish (and also The Hunt for the Bamboo Rat)
So you want to know about Economics? — Roopa Pai
What Young India Wants — Chetan Bhagat (I think the other Chetan Bhagat books are fine for this age group too. Nothing great in terms of vocabulary or literature — but he has a nice writing style, very India-centric references and good stories. I firmly believe that if you see someone that looks like you succeeding in a profession, it’s easier to dream about that profession for yourself. Inclusion matters. That’s why I have included books by Indian authors here — of course I’d never recommend them if they weren’t good reads)
Ready 99! Must have skills for the world conquering teenager — Roopa Pai
16+ year olds may also enjoy:
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell