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The Saturday after her school ended, I took Smarty to sign up for a summer reading program in our local library. She looked through the rules and said, 20 hours of reading for a free book? Great! I will be back next week to get mine. She was dead serious too - Smarty can spend hours every day lost in a good book. She is also an ultra-fast reader. I am not sure what her reading speed is in words per minute, but she reads about 150 pages per hour. I gave up on keeping track of everything she reads a few years ago, but still check for her own picks to be somewhat age appropriate. In general, Smarty's book choices come from three main sources.
Books Smarty Chooses Herself
I don't monitor what Smarty chooses to read as long as she picks it up from the children's section of the library. I am not sure what draws her to specific books - she usually does not check to see if they are from the author that she liked before. She generally looks at the cover and reads a brief description of the book on the jacket before picking it to read. Here are some of her favorite fiction picks from this summer:
Books Picked by Me
I also still pick books for Smarty, sometimes by browsing books shelves when I take her to the library, and sometimes by checking book recommendations by my favorite bloggers or just researching books she might like. We often check out these books through our Overdrive electronic lending system and putting them on Smarty's Kindle for our travel times. On the way to Germany, she read for 10 hours straight, because she enjoyed my picks so much :) Here are some of her favorite books picked by me.
Smarty also spends a lot of time re-reading her favorite books - either by constantly borrowing them from the library or by using our ever growing personal collections of Kindle books and physical books. Here are some of her favorite summer re-reads, most of which are long series of books.
Observations about Smarty's Favorite Books
It's always interesting to me which books really catch Smarty's attention. Obviously, as you can see from the titles above, she is a big fan of fantasy, but she told me once that she likes books when characters are not all black or white, and when there are unexpected twists in a plot. She also likes characters having a fair amount of risk and suffering, even though she is quite risk-averse by nature. It's almost as if she is really imagining herself going through the same ordeals while staying in the comfort of her familiar environment. It also amuses me how she understands plot details very well, but often does not care at all about character names or story settings. For example, she can say that the main character needed to steal "some painting in some city" and she will have a great time telling me how the character went about that, but she would not remember what painting it was and where the action takes place. It does not mean that she cannot remember these details, as she is perfectly able to analyze texts and answer comprehension questions on tests, but she does not care about them for pleasure reading. I think it's because that she imagines herself as a main character doing things described in the books in the settings that are familiar to her. Imagination is a great thing that I would not want to sacrifice in favor of total recall :)
What were some of your kids' favorite books this summer?