Summer reading helps adults, too
Every summer, predictable as July showers, the same message goes out to families hoping to slow their kids' summer slide in academic skills: Read!
The folks at the Florida Department of Education publish their annual list of summer reading recommendations, and columnists remind us of the importance of any sort of reading -- great literature, passable kid-lit, even Mad Magazine if you must -- for developing fluency.
None of this is news to my family, full of readers and former teachers.
Still, this summer has brought a wonderful surprise as our daughter approaches second grade. She no longer needs our help in plowing through Scholastic's latest marketing juggernaut, a series on all types of fairies. Reading out loud is too slow, she complains, impatient to find out what happens next. But she likes the familiar ritual of having a parent there at bedtime.
So, after years in which there never seemed to be enough time to read novels, I've begun my own nightly fiction adventures. As our seven-year-old pursues fairies and goblins, I'm there on the bed next to her, working my way through the catalog of Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer. (Right now I'm reading A Sport of Nature, which I bought in the early '90s but never finished.)
Having a nightly reading companion seems to have spurred my daughter on this summer; by her own count, she has read around 30 short chapter books so far. She takes particular pleasure in marking my slow pace through Gordimer's complex prose, compared to her rapid progress. And that's fun for both of us.
-- Tom Marshall, Times Staff Writer