1. It being summer, good books are on the minds of all superior people everywhere. Why turn on the television and watch the latest rerun when a book is at hand? It's too hot to knit; read a book. You can't swim all day; give your lunch a chance to digest before you get back into the water and read a book. My parents did a stellar job of keeping us children busy in the summers. We did have some special activities like a theater day camp and sometimes swimming lessons, but we mostly played outside and read books.
2. Simcha Fisher has been writing about books this week. Her blog post "Books that get Childhood" is spot-on and the comments have given me so many ideas for the children and myself. I appreciate that she doesn't only recommend those perfect Catholic books found in Catholic Heritage Curriculum- even though I appreciate their books. Some of Simcha's recommendations have imperfect characters and non-Catholic settings, but there is a truth in each that is efficacious for our children. Just don't recommend the Berenstain Bears to her. She has her limits.
3. I still remember the feeling when my little sister and I found a copy of Betsy and the Great World. We had read the earlier 'Betsy and Tacy' books, but this book was missing from our library. It is hard nowadays to give our children the freedom to explore the library (in our area, the computers have public, unfiltered internet access and it is a kind of homeless shelter because it is a public place), but I feel safe with my children in the children's section. There is no internet access, and adults with no accompanying children are not permitted to 'hang out' or use the children's section's bathrooms. There is the rest of the library for them to read, study, surf the 'net, and sleep.
4. My oldest daughters will be 13 and 12 this summer. Demographically, they should be right at the age to be in the 'teen scene' section of the library. But this mama says "No." I'm considering letting them read some Austen- which would put them in classics, not YA. I don't want them reading Hunger Games or Harry Potter (after book 3) until high school (which is coming soon enough- so maybe until at least the 10th grade...). They won't read Twilight or other YA books of the same ilk (protagonist who is trendy, sullen, no talent or interest besides a boyfriend) while they are under my roof. The teen section of the library is mostly filled with such books along with movies and magazines that I don't want my girls seeing.
5. So we hang out all together in the children's section. The girls can wander the childrens' section while I sit with the little ones for the weekly story and song time (bubble machine at the end!). Then, the big girls read books to the littles while I go upstairs to find books for myself and any books for them that might be in the teen or adult sections. Did you know that Please Don't Drink the Holy Water is in the non-fiction section under humor? I have to go into the 'adult' video section to get old musicals, classic 'Catholic' and Shirley temple films, but I would rather the girls not see the latest R-rated films' covers. I can't protect them from everything, but I also don't have to send them into the lions' den.
6. Moms of many little ones, it is possible at many libraries to reserve your books on-line and the books will be waiting for you at the front desk! Give those summer volunteers some work and be easy on yourself!
7. It is also possible to 'check out' library books with your e-reader, and I've been enjoying my beloved childhood 'Twins' books for free on my Kindle. I still prefer paper, but if an e-reader is tolerable for +Ray Bradbury, I will sometimes use one.
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