Friday, July 5, 2013

Summer Reading: Suggested Reading

As I read this post this morning, I could not help but think about summer reading lists, likely out there somewhere, with titles of "game changing" and important classics.

I'm confident that some children have been assigned the Declaration of Independence and others were to wade through Moby Dick.  Both were on my own summer reading lists in years long gone by and IF my only contact had been through those forced summer readings, I would have missed understanding the intense stories in, around and behind each of these classics which, in my opinion, are best understood through discussion and shared recursive readings.  While certainly the CCSS would encourage our youth to know our literacy cultural heritage, ALL of us understand intense books best when we engage in conversations and look recursively at the words, meanings, and sequence conceived by the author.

It's through this lens that I describe my own first two books of the summer, "suggested reading" from my mother and my daughter.

It took me just one day to swim through The Wedding, Nicholas Sparks's tale of "love" gone stale in the business of 20th Century living.  While on the surface the book appears to be a "love story" it is more accurately a sequel to The Notebook allowing the characters to come back into our lives to deliver, subtly, another message about the importance of fueling our human relationships.  Sparks is a magnificent storyteller and his characters sat right there on the porch with me (along with the mosquitos).  The reminder to nurture our relationships and not take people for granted was one that perhaps should be read long "after" weddings when the "spark" has been lost!

Then, I picked up Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy, a very different story and a compelling "visit" into the lives of people in North Korea.   As I sat in the setting 4th of July sun with my feet on the porch railing, the book seemed almost surreal except the content described people who were very relatable.  They went to school, played sports, fell in love, married and learned to live  even though their world was VERY different from my own.  I saw the brave faces of Mi-ran, Mrs Song, Dr. Kim Ki-eum whose spirits were broken time and time again; yet, they persevered. Demick also delivers a message in her book and I had barely finished the last page when I logged onto my own "notebook" to read more about Korean history, the rule of Kim Jong Il and the struggles of North Korean people.

While I eagerly consumed both of these culturally relevant, suggested books, I am very glad I did not have to start my long anticipated summer reading with an analysis of the Declaration of Independence or Moby Dick.  I can't wait to "share" my thoughts and ideas about my reading at my own, very informal "Nerdy" and "Not So Nerdy" Book Clubs!  I'm glad that my own suggestions for summer reading include a wide variety of suggested but not mandated children and adult books. As the TCRWP suggests,

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