There is something magic about summertime. Time drifts by in soft, languid measures. It is a time of sunscreen and lemonade. The distinct smack of a home run. Laughter echoing from parks and beaches. Sun ripened tomatoes almost sweeter than candy. Fireworks and hotdogs. Marshmallows roasted to perfection.
But perhaps one of the most luxurious joys of summer is delving into a new book. It is where summertime magic really begins. A good book can turn even the laziest of afternoons into an amazing adventure. Fighting the red coats in Colonial New England. Galloping through the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert. Searching for buried treasure in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. Even finding an entire new world hiding inside a mysterious professor’s wardrobe. Who knows who you will meet or where the next page will lead you?
Reading soothes the sole, stretches the imagination and allows our children to dream big. And that is exactly the theme of the San Diego Library summer reading program this summer. Joining is easy. Simply go to your local library branch between June 18 and August 15 to register. The Encinitas Library is located at 540 Cornish Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024. The Dove Libary is located at 1775 Dove Lane, Carlsbad, CA 92011. Like everything else about summer, the rules are relaxed and easy. Children are encouraged to read anything that captivates their attention (library books, books from home, magazines, newspapers) and can report up to once a day. Just make sure you bring your reading log each time. Younger children can report on books read to them by parents or older siblings. All participating children receive a free child admission to Legoland (with purchase of adult ticket), up to two prizes a week for reporting, a t-shirt after their seventh report and chances to win complimentary passes to local attractions (including the San Diego Zoo, Reuben H. Feet Science Center, San Diego Air and Space Museum, San Diego Natural History Museum and Padres Tickets. Prizes are limited while supplies last and dependent on branch locations.
And while the children keep coming back to the library to mark off another entry in their log books and pick a prize from a smiling volunteer, the real reward is in clutched in their hands. Each and every book gives them something they didn’t have before. Books make them think, imagine, hope and even laugh out loud. And somehow all these emotions are heightened in the summer. Maybe it is because we don’t have to read. There are no mandates made by hopeful teachers. No formal reports to think about. There aren’t even the usual distractions of homework, school activities and/or sports. Summer reading is special because it is something that comes from the heart. We read simply because we have an abundance of time. And inclination.
This summer, especially when your children tell you that there is no one to play with, introduce them to a few of your favorite childhood friends: Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird), Ramona Quimby (Ramona Quimby Age 8), Laura Ingalls (Little House On The Prairie), Fern Arable (Charlotte’s Web), Amelia Bedelia (Amelia Bedelia series), Henry Fleming (The Red Badge of Courage), Jo March (Little Women), Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables), Lucy Pevensie (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe), and, of course, any of the wacky parade of Dr. Seuss characters (The Lorax, Horton Hears a Who, Green Eggs and Ham, If I Ran The Circus and more). And as the days get shorter and the scent of sunscreen and lemonade fade from the air, these new friendships will remain with them. Forever. Favorite characters never leave us. In fact, they continue to grow inside us. Somehow they magically make their way into our hearts and fuel our imaginations, even as adults. Reminding us to always live big. Think big. And
of course, dream big.