Summer time is prime time for so many things, especially for those of us who have some time off! Whether you like sleeping in or getting up early, vacations or stay-cations, watching a season's worth of Netflix in a week or unplugging, catching up on important family time, or catching some rays - if you're like me and work in a school, you may see summer as a time to escape - escape into a good book!
Summer is prime reading time for many of us! During the school year, I do read - but not with the voracious appetite that I have for books in the summer! For me, this love of escaping into books began as a child who looked forward to library day in elementary school. Our building had an open-concept library right out in the middle of our school where one could be enticed by books while merely walking by. I especially loved historical fiction and biographies. I even worked my way through an entire shelf of biographies. The school librarian, not to be fooled, kindly suggested that I consider a shelf devoted to the Little House books when I began on the second shelf of biographies in the Childhood of Famous Americans series.
Outside of school, the public library was a source of complete wonder to me with so many books. It was a lovely multi-storied brick and stone building that had been built with Carnegie Foundation funds in 1902. The different rooms with creaky wooden floors and leaded glass windows filled me with a sense of awe, causing me to pause and wonder who would read all of these books?
As a kid, having a library card opened up a whole new world of books for me. That first week of summer break, I loved nothing more than hopping on my bike and riding to the library downtown. I recall walking into the children's room and wondering which shelf would be "my shelf" to read through. Should I start at the top and work my way down, or would it be better to start at the bottom and work my way up? I'd fill my bike basket with books to last me a week, and rode home to begin my summer escape, reading in my room, in the car, in my favorite tree, even in the bathtub!
I don't recall actually finishing an entire shelf, but I do recall faithfully fully filling out my summer reading card and being excited to see my name in the newspaper at the end of the summer when they listed the names of those who had completed the summer-reading program. Oh, the joys of a small town growing up - having one's name published in the newspaper just for doing something you loved? Just for reading?
My summer habit of escaping into books continues today! I find myself blessed to be living and teaching in a small town with a magical place filled with books - and a town where they also publish the names of the summer reading participants in the newspaper! Just for reading! Just for doing something we love! Just for escaping into a book!
My own children participated in the summer reading program when they were young - one of my son's early lists is included in the photos below. We also celebrated when they saw their names in the list in the newspaper. They went on to participate in other activities that allowed them to also see their accomplishments publicized - 4-H, softball, baseball, swimming, etc. Those pursuits also helped to round them into the people they're becoming and taught them many life skills - but I love thinking of them as lifelong readers because of the early influence of our local library programs. I love living in a community that celebrates reading and shares in the task of giving roots to a whole new set of readers!
Yes, I consider myself a book-lover and if that makes me a nerd, that's a mantle I wear proudly! After all, I love going to nErDcampMI every summer to learn more about ways to share literacy with my students. I'd encourage anyone to go - you will not be disappointed!
I am the member of two book groups - one fondly called the BGGs who have shared a similar passion for books for more than a dozen years! My BGGs support my book habit and everything else about me. I'm also blessed to be a part of a new virtual book group called #bookrelays. Thank you, Twitter, for bringing me together with other educators who enjoying sharing books!
I am also a bit of a library stalker - it's true! As I travel, I love exploring other libraries. I frequently stop by a library just to "check it out!" - no pun intended. If there were a 12-step program for such an issue, I might be a charter member. "Hello, my name is Lisa and I am a library stalker. I've corralled many family members and friends to join me for a library tour (oh, horrors!), taking them to the Special Collections department for hours, and making them drive around the block three times so I can take pictures of various libraries." Included in the pictures below you will find some pretty sweet libraries I've visited!
Finally, I proudly serve on the board for my local library system. My early years as a reader were influenced positively by my own little local small Midwestern town library, and I feel strongly that libraries today are still impacting lives of readers - young and old - in ways beyond just picking up a physical book. Libraries are social community collaborative spaces, too - and as such make a strong statement about the community's commitment to its citizens. Check out the programming at your local library and you will be amazed at the variety and scope!
Thanks for reading to the end - check out (ha ha) this fun song by Tom Chapin that my own kids used to love! I found the video on Facebook page, and it was originally posted on YouTube by Jeff Hunn. My students and I have fun learning this song and singing it for the school librarian nearly every year.
Enjoy your own escape into a library (or two or three...) and into many books this summer!
A wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, lifelong learner, educator