Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Summer Reading List

We're on our summer posting schedule here at Gifted Exchange (read: infrequent), but I'm always looking for topics so please send ideas along!

In the meantime, today's post covers summer reading. As part of my attempts to "make over" my time to get more out of days and weeks, I've been trying to read more fiction. I read a lot of non-fiction (often for book reviews) but as life gets busy, I often find myself not inclined to read books that I'm not getting paid to read. I know this isn't a good thing -- I like to write fiction, after all -- and I used to read fiction for hours as a kid, particularly on summer days. I recall reading Robinson Crusoe at one point (I believe an abridged version) while walking around outside barefoot. I stepped on something sharp but was too into the story to deal with it. Only hours later did I look down and notice the dried blood all over my toes. Talk about being absorbed!

This experience of being totally lost in a fascinating world is one of the most exciting a kid can have. I've never understood situations where parents have to force kids to read for 30 minutes every evening. Maybe the kids are just reading the wrong books!

In which case, I thought it would be helpful to provide a link to the winners of the Newbery Medal (and the honorable mentions) from 1922 to the present.

Every year, the American Library Association gives this award to the best book for young readers. While some may be darker or more intense than others, and deal with slightly more grown-up themes, in general, they are more appropriate for young gifted children (e.g. K-4th grade) who are capable of reading chapter books than books specifically marketed to adults.

Looking over this list brought back some great memories. There was Dicey's Song (Cynthia Voigt, 1983), Jacob Have I Loved (and other Katherine Patterson books), Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, The High King (and other Lloyd Alexander books), From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time (1963). Indeed, you probably couldn't go wrong just printing up a copy of this list, taking it to the library, and checking out any of the books that happened to be on it.

In that same spirit, Jasper and I have been working our way through the Caldecott winners this summer. These are also good, though since the award is given to the artist (who is often not the writer) the emphasis is more on the visual experience. Pretty sumptuous so far. Definitely beats yet another Elmo book. Unfortunately, this has also turned out to be an expensive undertaking, as he still has a tendency to destroy books, which means I don't want to risk the library's copy.


Anonymous said...

My very favorite Caldecott winner is from 1996: Peggy Rathmann's Officer Buckle and Gloria. She is both the artist and the author. The story is funny and sweet.

Anonymous said...

Summer reading. Hmm. This is a hurdle for me and my gifted son, who is skipping fifth grade and going into sixth this year. He reads well beyond grade level. He reads constantly at school, thus dealing with boredom in class, and his teachers let him get away with it as long as he knows the material. He's found books he loves, and he knows the feeling of being swallowed up in another world. He will not read for pleasure at home.

Probably partly because I want him to so much. I try not to nag. I don't want to make reading a chore. But I simply do not understand. I cannot comprehend how someone can read well, enjoy reading, and yet dig in his heels and resist every slightest suggestion toward a good book.

Advice, please: do I *make* him read the way I *make* him eat vegetables, because it's good for him and I hope he will eventually figure out that he likes it, or is that a sure way to raise a non-reader?

Kevin said...

I don't know what to recommend to "anonymous" for a reluctant reader, as we have had to deal more with the opposite problem---having to take the books away from our child in order to get him to sleep, eat, or do anything else. Somehow I suspect that forcing reluctant readers doesn't work.

One thing that might work is to read some of the good, fun books yourself, and leaving them lying around where he can sneak a peek at them and get absorbed in them. Something that may work for younger kids is to read bedtime stories, but only the first chapter or so---letting them stay up all night finishing the book after you've gone to bed.

The Newberry book list contains a lot of good books, but for a while the committee was picking "issue books" that seemed more intended to be therapy than fun reading. There are a lot of books that will never make the Newberry award lists, but are a lot of fun to read, so don't limit yourself to them. Some of the older children's series (like Freddy the pig by Walter R. Brooks) do not have the complexity of many of the Newberry books, but can be enthralling to younger gifted readers.

I believe that Hoagies has some excellent book lists for gifted kids that pick out some of the books that are appropriate in emotional content for younger readers while have vocabulary and grammar suitable for gifted readers.

Sheridan said...

When I have a book I want one of my sons to read. I read the first chapter aloud to them. Then I say, "I'll read the next one tomorrow night." But 90% of the time, they will sneak the book off and read it on their own. :)

Anonymous said...


1. DO NOT "make" your son read at home. He will dig in his heels even more and you can do damage to an already existing passion. He reads in class because he's not supposed to, it's a delicious pleasure because the teacher and material presented is so boring. At home, if you insist, he'll see it as a chore.

2. In general, "making" gifted kids do anything is the kiss of death. With homework, the more we got involved, the less she wanted to do it. Yes, we have to make them brush their teeth and get dressed. But don't put reading in the same category. Pick your battles. He has to brush his teeth. He has to wear clean underwear. He has to shower. Non-negotiable. We all have chores we hate but must do. I cannot stres this enough as a person who would rather read than do anything else, marries someone with the "reading disease" too and passed this on to our child.

As hard as it appears, resist the urge. Say nothing.

3. Seed the house with books. Leave them lying around so he practically trips over them.

4. Take your son to the library and let him wander around. Make sure he has no digital toys on him to distract him. You sit down and start reading and let him wander around. Keep an eye on him, of course!

5. I like the idea of reading the first chaper aloud. Read with dramatic intonation. I have a daughter so she could still cuddle up to me at that age. I think your son can too, no?

5. I'm like the previous poster. I have a ravenous reader. She is now 17 and to this day, I have to hide her favorite books or she'd stay up all night. In fact, she did just that, she becomes so absorbed in the book, she forgets she has to sleep. My "ADD" child can focus on a book until the cows come home.

Off-topic. I'm sorry, just thinking out loud here, it's an ADD-ish thing. Can we PLEASE get a better distinction for highly gifted highly creative imaginative distractible kids? Can we please get rid of Attention DEFICIT disorder?

As the famous saying goes, the nation has a deficit, not my child. It's time to give this state of being a new designation. Attention Deficit Disorder sounds so antiquated now. Is it somehow politically advantageous for CHADD, say, to hang on this outmoded label? It's downright insulting.

Yes, there are certainly children who do, in fact, have a DEFICIT of attention. Adults too. For some of those adults, you wish you could put ritalin in the water :). But Attention Deficit Disorder is a gross misnomer for many gifted kids, especially the female PG set.

I have come to squirm over this title so much, I find myself only using the acronym with teachers. You may as well slap LOSER on her forehead. Am I the only one who cringes at this title?

Even FOCUS disorder would work better. But I don't like the word disorder either. We've decided it's a personality trait. Or as my daughter says, it's a personality quirky.

Everhopeful said...

In answer to anonymous with the reluctant reader: I, too, am a voracious reader who would rather read than eat, sleep, and so on. But let someone recommend a book, and I won't touch it. I don't know why, I just can't stand someone telling me what to read.

Maybe your child is like that--just selectively contrary.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous with the reluctant reader here.

Thanks for the response. I do take him to the library sometimes, and leave good books around. Mostly I guess I'll just continue to read to him at bedtime. Yes, he still loves that, and yes, he'll still snuggle with me. And since I know he can read well, I don't *have* to push him to read for himself as practice.

The other thing I'm doing is making a point of putting down my own book when my son wants my attention. He knows I love to read. I don't want him resenting books as competition for me!


Jeremy said...

Hey, you asked to send ideas along for new posts. I'd be interested to hear anything about giftedness in siblings. Is there any research in this area? We considered not having our younger daughter tested for the gifted program in our district because we weren't sure she'd get in and would then feel left behind, since her older sister was already in the program (and loves it).

I bet readers would be interested in hearing about this, especially ideas for dealing with normal kids with gifted siblings.

Anonymous said...

about siblings and gifted. My younger son asked to be tested for gifted. I wasn't sure he would be accepted. I reminded him that there are many kinds of intelligences and the tests may not test his strongest. This, I felt, set him up for rejection. He got into gifted, so I didn't have to worry. My eldest has no interest in being tested for gifted. I asked him and he says, "I'll get to that (advanced) stuff eventually." What is interesting about the two kids is that the gifted kids scores lower on the state standardized tests than the not gifted kid. Who is to really say what gifted is. Let your kids lead you.