I always look forward to creating my summer book stack and this year felt even more special. Perhaps it is due to the fact that it was a very strange ending to the school year without any of the usual traditions. Or perhaps it is because although it must have seemed like there was plenty of time to read while we were at home participating in remote learning, it was hard to find time to actually read, especially for pleasure. Maybe it is the “pleasure,” part that was missing. My mind was so focused on my students and my family that I just don’t think I had the ability to focus on a book and truly enjoy it. I am certain that I am not the only one who was spending upwards of eighteen hours a day focused on school, especially when the pandemic challenges began in March, leaving any extra time just for sleep. As March leaned into April and April ran into May, the routines became established and I became better at creating a better work/life balance. At this time I started to dream about what my summer reading stack would look like and I began to find the pleasure in my anticipated reading, that had been lacking for a while.
My first stack of picture books is a spine poem. I am always looking for “own voice,” stories by authors and this stack did not disappoint! I am excited to share so many wonderful stories with students when we return to school.
My second stack focuses on new books and on books with diverse characters whose life experiences are different from the students in my class. To find those diverse texts, I focus on the @projectLITcomm middle grade selections as my book choices. I am proud to say that I have read twenty four of the titles on the middle grade list so far. This year’s additions to the list are fantastic and I can not wait to dive into them. Now more than ever our students need diverse texts! I also try to make time for some of the titles on the complete ProjectLitBookClub list which is geared toward older readers.
My third stack is my “just for me,” stack. Middle grade novels and picture books are such an important part of my reading life that sometimes I neglect the books that are just for me. It is important to model for our students the joy of reading and this is what happens when I remember to make time for some of my favorite authors and genres. Just this past week, Patti Sheppard talked about summer reading for healing in her post and I had an immediate connection to what she was communicating to the world. I believe by cultivating a stack, “just for me,” I will find the pleasure in reading that was missing during the early stages of the pandemic and I certainly will be more focused! I am sure that I will heal some too.
Finally, there is nothing like a good book club when it comes to professional reading. Kate Merten and Susan Kennedy, both TBR bloggers, have mentioned three books that I will make sure to add to my stack this summer. Whichever book they choose to be the focus of our discussions, I am excited to learn along with each of them. This is a great time for an awakening in the world of reading and children’s literature.
Four stacks, a whole summer ahead of me, and finding the pleasure in reading is what awaits me. Read on, readers, better days are ahead!