March is National Reading Awareness Month and now is an ideal time to renew your little ones’ interest in an old activity with new titles. Rainy afternoons are the perfect chance to curl up with a picture book or novel, even if your child is beyond an age where you think he or she might not want to read with you anymore.
Getting older children to pick up a book is also part of this whole parenting deal, I’m finding out as my oldest turns 11, when there are so many other distractions around. Reading together doesn’t have to stop just because your child is proficient on their own and left “Mama Llama” behind a long time ago with “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.”
Sam is finishing up fifth grade this school year and he’s less likely to want to read together than in his younger elementary years. Making books available to him and asking how it’s going, with the option to join me for a read-aloud chapter or two after I read to his brothers each night, are the main strategies I’m using. He knows my bedroom door is always open if he wants to share what he’s reading lately in his school book club, for fun or in English class.
Oklahoma City family fun doesn’t always have to mean venturing out of the house. The option to enjoy something together that’s low-key is more important to our family now than ever, as we welcomed our fourth baby this past Thursday. I was supposed to go to the Myriad Botanical Gardens’ orchid sale on Sunday, attend an Arbor Day preservation campaign awards ceremony tonight and help host an Easter egg hunt next weekend. None of those activities are feasible now as our very own spring baby prompts a change in routine, the lion and lamb that’s come in all at once.
Here are three new titles from Penguin Publishing that promise enjoyable reading with your t(w)een this spring:
- “The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora” by Pablo Cartaya: Timely themes about protest and how children can help effect change are underlying themes in this entertaining novel, which includes recipes for Cuban food that will have your young reader asking to cook with you too. Sam suggested this title for his book club at school and it won by popular vote. He had already read it and was happy to help lead discussions about its references to José Martí. His class is studying the Civil War and it also helped him draw some conclusions about governing since the Cuban Revolution is also mentioned. Now is a good age and this an unique time to give some context to history as it’s happening now too.
“Wolf Hollow” by Lauren Wolk: Comparisons to “To Kill a Mockingbird” abound online for this Newberry Honor Award title. I actually brought that title down off the shelf to read with Sam recently before realizing we would need to wait because he wasn’t familiar with some of the central issues in the book. The fact that a Newberry Honor has already been conveyed upon this title makes me excited to seek it out. We haven’t read the novel yet but it does look promising.
“Frenemies in the Family: Famous Brothers and Sisters Who Butted Heads and Had Each Others’ Backs” by Kathleen Krull: These non-fiction vignettes form a collection that’s perfect for our family right now, with short stories of how sibling groups throughout history have gotten along, from Bloody Mary and Queen Elizabeth I to Stephen Colbert and his ten brothers and sisters. The facts shared are entertaining enough to keep both my fifth grader and my kindergartner interested and they make for a fun read that reinforces the permanence of family.
Now is a good time to settle down with stories for our toddler and newborn as well as with his brothers. The Easter Bunny is bringing a copy of “Peter Cottontail” this Sunday in honor of our baby’s name and he just might have a few other books to put into our family’s baskets, including “Love” by Matt de la Peña, which is beautifully illustrated with the same careful prose as his Caldecott Honor title “Last Stop on Market Street.”
Cold weather is still in the forecast for a few days. Curl up with your littles and enjoy a great read together before spring beckons them all outdoors. As quickly as the season disappears, so too will the chance to spend some time with them.
Happy spring reading!