Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, June 05, 2008

My Summer Book Break

by Julie Coulter Bellon

I love summer break for so many reasons.

One of the reasons is that I get to do the Bellon Family Summer Book Club. There is just something wonderful about reading when you read with a child. Since I have some pretty large age differences in my family, so far, I’ve read about a hibernating bear who wakes up starving and has animal friends that throw him a food party, and I’m currently reading a Newbery Honor Book about the children of the guards and wardens of Alcatraz and how Al Capone washes their laundry. Pretty soon, it will be time to go for ice cream and talk about what we liked about each book, and what we didn’t like. That’s always the best part. Well, besides going back to the library to pick another book out together, of course.

Not all of my children love to read, which was hard for me to understand at first. I’ve always loved reading, my husband loves reading, I’m an English teacher, and a writer, I mean, it’s just not in the genes, right? It stunned me when I realized that one of my kids would rather be doing anything besides reading. He’d probably rather do the dishes or clean all the bathrooms than pick up a book. Yet, he’s interested in sports, so I could check out biographies of basketball players and he would read those, or when he wanted to know how different games were invented, we could find a book on that. It definitely wasn’t Tolstoy or Shakespeare, but it made my son’s face light up about something he was reading and that was enough for me. Of course, when everyone was participating, it made our family’s summer book club a lot more fun and created some memories that we can look back on each year.

But another benefit I get from the family summer book club is that when I read different genres and types of books, I learn from it and I see ways I could relate it to my own writing. For instance, the Al Capone Does My Shirts book ties in the sensational (living on Alcatraz with Al Capone) with an issue-oriented storyline (one of the children has autism) and how the main character deals with how all of this fits into his young life, making it seem very real. I love how the author combines so many layers with the setting and the characters so that while children are reading this book, they’re also learning and relating to it. And with the hibernating bear book, well, the bear always wants more, so perhaps the lesson I’ve learned is to always leave my readers wanting more. (But not like Jeffrey Savage with the last Shandra book, now that was just wrong!) And did you know that Michael Jordan tried out for his high school’s varsity basketball team when he was a sophomore, but because he was only five foot eleven inches, he was cut? There’s a lesson in perseverance somewhere in there.

Maybe I was so anxious for this year's summer book club because I am ready for some down time. We’re preparing for our baby’s arrival in a couple of months, and what could be a more fun activity for an expectant mother than reading? It’s something that makes me feel good, engages my imagination, and it’s fun. Of course, the promise of ice cream at the end always helps.

I’ve always wondered, though, do other people do family book clubs?

What do you do with your family on your summer breaks?

What books are you reading this summer?

Tell me your summer reading habits---inquiring minds definitely want to know . . .


At 6/05/2008 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband is an English teacher, but never did enjoy reading a lot of fiction. He loves non-fiction and always says what happens to real people is way more interesting than what is made up. Books he has loved:
Lost Moon
He also loves maps. Just a thought for your son.

At 6/05/2008 3:18 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

When they were little, my kids and I read lots together. Then somewhere around 5th grade, the enthusiasm slacked off. So over the summer, I paid them moolah to read. $1 for every book,any book. But if they read a book I chose, $5.

We'd also have RATs (read-a-thons) where we'd pop popcorn and pile onto my bed or the floor and just read for fun.

Now that they're grown, we'll all read a title at the same time every once in awhile, just for fun. And I make them participate in my blog-hosted reading challenges.

At 6/05/2008 3:24 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Anon, thank you! I will definitely suggest the maps and other titles you mentioned to him.

Karlene, I love read-a-thons! Are you hosting any reading challenges at the moment on your blog?

At 6/06/2008 8:15 AM, Blogger Alison Palmer said...

Just had to chime in and say- I loved Al Capone Does My Shirts! I'm an avid children's and YA reader. They're (mostly) safer than adult stuff, fiction and nonfiction. Happy Reading!

At 6/06/2008 9:43 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

We had SQUIRT (Super Quiet Uninterrupted Independent Reading Time)every summer vacation. They could read cereal boxes or phone books for all I cared, but they had to read something. Besides the soft drink, we had posters and bookmarks and treats -- but mostly we had a really good time. If a friend happened to be over, they either had to leave for the hour or read along. One neighborhood kid never missed it!

Miraculously, all my kids turned out to be avid readers; two of them are writers as well. We even managed to entice my husband to the lure of the printed page and he's been reading a book a month or so ever since, despite a ridiculous work schedule. (Or maybe because of it.)

At 6/06/2008 9:44 AM, Blogger Karlene said...

Julie, I'm participating in the reading challenge sponsored by LDS Publisher here. It's very easy and encourages reading LDS fiction.

My Summer Reading Thing challenge which will be hosted on my blog begins June 20th.

Right now on my blog I'm hosting a Summer Road Trip Extravaganza with a new contest almost every day and prizes.

At 6/07/2008 9:38 PM, Blogger Annie said...

I've just gotten involved in a my first book club, which is mostly made up of moms of younger kids.

My daughter is currently reading through the book list of Mark
Twain award and Truman award winning books for school, and I try to read most everything my kids read.

I love the SQUIRT idea above, since my kids can always be bribed with pop!

I love non-fiction, and always read all of my grandma's National Geographic magazines and hung the maps on my walls that came in them.

At 6/08/2008 3:58 AM, Blogger Green Metis said...

I too love reading but since all of my reading lately is technical and research and development it is not as much fun or something I look forward to as I feel I am always looking for the pearl in the oyster bin.

It was mu mother that taught me how to read and I still recall her helping me read the newspaper each evening and how magical it felt to understand what the news story said.


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