Summer Is Made for the Last Minute - MetroFamily Magazine
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Summer Is Made for the Last Minute

by Heather Davis

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

Back to school time … ahhh! That sweet time when we say goodbye to late mornings and late nights and hello to fruit bars hastily unwrapped and called breakfast as we dash out the door hoping to not get a tardy so early in the academic year.

I’d like to say that our summer was carefree and footloose. But, I’d be lying. It was not the relaxing brain break that summers past always have been. In fact, it was very daunting for one reason and one reason alone: the bittersweet Summer Reading Assignment.

I say sweet because my older daughter loves to read. She always has. In fact, I knew that reading would be her passion that fateful morning when she was just five years old and she asked me to buy her more Junie B Jones books because she had just read all of them. Oh yeah, and by morning, I mean four. In the morning. When she was old enough to have summer reading assignments, she felt like the luckiest girl in the whole wide world. Her words, not mine. 

I say bitter because my younger daughter likes to read … text messages. Yeah, that’s just about it. As an avid reader myself, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me that she doesn’t like to read. It does. But, I also know that she’s her own child and I let her find her passions elsewhere—like the softball field.  Usually, I’d read with her a book that we would both find interesting, which is to say, she’d pacify me as I read a book I loved from my childhood. 

Then, in the blink of an eye, my baby grew up and got her first summer reading assignment. The choice was hers: She could read one of four books and return to school in the fall ready to share, discuss and create based on this book. I thought it was a beautiful idea. I mean, what kid doesn’t love choices? I was so excited for her that I read all four books in order to support her as she buckled down to read.

I recommended a book for her. Of the four, this was the one I felt she’d enjoy the most. 

She dismissed my recommendation with the flipping of her hair and the rolling of her eyes, choosing instead, a book I knew she’d hate. 

In just a matter of days, she told me that she really didn’t care for the book. I asked her how much of it she’d read and she assured me that she knew what she was talking about. But, if numbers were important, she read five pages. 

She picked up book number two. She assured me that she’d at least read through the first three chapters before she dismissed the book. And by read, she meant skimmed and by three chapters, she meant three pages.  Then we were onto book number three. 

Book number three, of course, smelled bad, felt weird and didn’t have any color on its cover. She didn’t even need to open the book to know that there was no way she was going to enjoy that book. No way at all.

Finally, with only two short weeks left of summer, she picked up book number four. This was the book I just knew that she’d love. The book I just knew she’d enjoy the best. The book I just knew would have to do because we were running out of time, and we’d run out of options. It was sink or swim … or, in summer reading terms, read or fail (like half the kids who forgot all about summer reading assignment until the first day of school).

With book four in her hand, she analyzed the cover, turning the book over and over and over in her hands, checking out the front and the back. I’d like to think she wasn’t trying to see if she could just get by from looking at the cover. But, I’m a smart momma, and she’s a witty kid—that’s exactly what she was doing. 

Finally, she cracked open the book and perused the first few pages. At one point, she even cocked her little head to the side and turned back a page or two in interest. I wanted to high five myself, but I knew I had to keep quiet. Like the elusive snow leopard of Central Asia, I didn’t want to spook her and have her retreat to her room, bookless. 

Finally, with only 36 hours before school was to commence for the new school year, she shut the back cover of the page with a smile on her face. She had finished the book and seemed to actually enjoy it. Her summer reading assignment had taken, well, all summer. 

It was my turn to flip my hair and roll my eyes. Momma knows her baby. And her baby likes books with pictures. 

Heather Davis is an Oklahoma momma, writer and bibliophile. Her latest book, Life With Extra Cheese, is now available on You can contact her at

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