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Build on a Book

June 25, 2012
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Summer is here, and with it are camps and family trips and adventures outside. Hopefully there are also trips to the library and many happy hours curled up with a book. Summer may be busy or it may be lazy, or it may be both. But no matter what kind of summer it is shaping up to be, summer is a time of opportunity to build or expand a love of reading.

Anything that sparks an interest probably has a good book to build with. Our small backyard has produced a wonderland of nature for us this year—hummingbirds, songbirds, caterpillars, fireflies, butterflies, and the occasional neighborhood cat. Our back windows host three different types of spiders, each building different kinds of webs and one who has produced not one but three egg sacks. Watching the baby spiders hatch has been a highlight for our kids. What magical things to see. And what magical things to read about. I gathered the books we had about these animals, and we are heading to the library to pick up more.

Family trips also are an opportunity for the whole family to check out books that relate to the place you’re going. Heading to New York? Why not check out some books on NY history, picture books about the subway or the city, or even From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler or When You Reach Me? Heading to the beach? How about books about shells and ocean life, or even Call it Courage, Treasure Island, or a book about early explorers?

Or build from a book—if your child loves Little House on the Prairie, why not check out some non-fiction books about early settlers, plan a visit to a historic farm, or plan a meal with some of the foods mentioned in the book? Or ask a librarian to recommend similar books, like Caddie Woodlawn?

There are so many opportunities to incorporate books into whatever your children are interested in. And you can foster a love of reading by finding books that fuel those interests. Once you are working books into the daily life of your family, you will see many ways that you can reference books throughout the day. Things you see or experiences you have may relate to things you’ve read about or experiences the characters in books have had. You may visit a zoo and see a sloth sleeping—just like in Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth. You may see the swan boats, just like in Trumpet of the Swan or Make Way for Ducklings. You might see stocks in a colonial village, just like in The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Don’t miss the chance to make the connection, to quote a line, to draw the analogy. Doing so makes the world of books come alive.

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