The highlight of my summers has always been the chance to read – and read a lot. Growing up, I would go to the library every day. While I enjoyed the programs the library had to offer, I really loved the chance to peruse all of the books available. In college, summer meant I would finally have choice in my reading material after reading for courses all year.
As a teacher, my school year reading was usually in preparation for what my students would be reading. Summers were times for me to choose for ME. As I was reviewing summer reading lists this year, I thought back and tried to remember what books really stood out for me in my past summers. Then, after reading many blogs that listed the music people had listened to at five year intervals, I was inspired to choose specific points in my life and reminisce about what I was reading.
- Age 5 – The Velveteen Rabbit
- I never had a favorite blankie, nor was I a big fan of stuffed animals. However, this story of the stuffed rabbit that comes to life after being loved for so long touched me. As a youngster, I wondered what I could make come to life if I loved it. I loved and loved but none of my inanimate objects came to life. I used to imagine what they would do and say if they did come alive.
- Age 10 – anything by Judy Blume
- As a fourth grader, I loved that there was a book that I could relate to – Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Peter’s annoyance with almost everything as well as being misunderstood by his family – those things mirrored my life! I made it my goal then to read all of Judy Blume’s books. I enjoyed reading her because she oftentimes touched on subjects many tweens are dealing with but not many people like to talk about – bullying, puberty, fitting in. I was tickled as an adult to learn that she also wrote for grown-ups. And yes, I have read all of Judy Blume’s books.
- Age 15 – Flowers in the Attic
- I wish I knew how I came to read V.C. Andrews. I am not sure I would have picked out Flowers in the Attic on my own. But I did choose it and chose to read it over and over. I read every book in that series. I read other series by the same author. I was fascinated and mystified. I imagined the characters – what they looked like, how they would sound. I tried to put myself in their situation. How would I react? Could I escape? I was thrilled when I found out the book had been made into a movie. I was rather disappointed by the film. The one I imagined was so much better!
- Age 20 – Nonfiction
- After my reading material was called “junk” by a friend, we spent several summers choosing books for each other to read. We were allowed to read one book of our choice, and then we had to follow up by reading a book selected by the other. My friend picked nonfiction titles for me to read most of that summer. By fall, I read four or five books on Kennedy’s assassination. I was vaguely interested in the topic when the summer started and pretty much an expert when summer was over!
- Age 25 – Parenting books
- I became a mom around this time. I read a lot to my daughter, and she adored that time. In fact, her first birthday cake was shaped like a book and its title was “The Story of Kelsey’s First Birthday.” I also started reading all kinds of parenting books as I wanted to learn every tip so I could give my daughter the best possible foundation. After watching a segment on Oprah, I went out and bought the book See Jane Win. The author followed hundreds of successful women and she identified the traits and experiences they all had in common. It was very thought-provoking and an interesting read. Now that my daughter is almost a tween, it is a text I should revisit.
- Age 30 – Magazines
- By now, I had two kids, a new career and another part-time job. I became increasingly frustrated that it took me months to finish a book. I couldn’t stay interested because I would forget too many details between readings. However, with magazines, I could finish reading an article in less than 5 minutes! While I loved to devour magazines like People and Us Weekly, I would also try to balance those with Time and Newsweek. We subscribe to a large number of magazines at our house – and I still get a little giddy when they come in the mail!
What will I be reading at 35? I can name a few things on my list, but we will have to wait and see. What have you read throughout your life? What made an impact on you? Enjoy your summer reading!