We’re halfway through summer break here in New York and it’s time to fess up: my boys are not breaking any records for number of books read. Sure, they’ll pick up a book every now and again, but it’s usually because I’ve issued some sort of mom ultimatum. “Read one chapter of that book or absolutely no video games for the rest of the day!”
While summer reading challenges are ubiquitous, finding age-appropriate books that will capture your child’s imagination or appeal to his or her interests is not always as easy. I recently bought my 9-year-old the book Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog. It’s an adaptation of The New York Times bestseller The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Marketed especially for young people, the book features a yellow labrador on the cover. Since we have a new yellow lab puppy at home, I thought this would be a nice change from Captain Underpants.
It’s an enjoyable read, but the themes are quite adult (caution: spoilers ahead). Mom dies of cancer. Race car driver dad is arrested for child neglect. Grandparents sue for custody of little girl.
Yesterday a colleague told me her 12-year-old daughter is devouring a series of books called The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Central to the plot of this series are games, which one GoodReads reviewer described as “a televised, government-sponsored survival contest for teens which doesn’t end until there is only one person left alive.”
Sounds bloody suspenseful, doesn’t it?
If you’re curious about the appropriateness of a book (movie, video game, TV show, website or app), do you ask another parent? Check reviews on Amazon? Talk to your local bookseller or librarian? Or do you just hold your breath and hope for the best?
Next time check out CommonSenseMedia.org. The website is jam-packed with reviews that are easy to find whether you search by title, age or media category. The site’s editors give parents a bottom line “what parents need to know” while kids and adults write their own reviews.
Are your kids enjoying any particular books this summer? Do you try to vet their choices or are you just happy they are reading something?