“Dad, can you read to me more?” Meri asked me.
Surprised, I looked up from my book and responded, “Oh, sure.”
I took the book she was reading and read a chapter aloud to her. When I finished, I handed her the book.
“Thanks, Dad,” she said. “I could have read it myself, but I just love it when you read. I mean, in the winter you read to us a lot, and with all our classes and other activities it seems like I learn a lot from you, Mom and all my other teachers.
“But in the summer I don’t learn as much from other people, and it seems like you don’t read to us as often.”
Meri walked away with her book, but our little conversation got me thinking. I’ve always taught that winter is the key time for family reading. But summer is the most important time for kids to see their parents reading—mainly because they tend to spend less time on schooling activities and more time with parents during the summer months.
Last summer the kids and I had so much fun with our reading.
You, not Them
I read books and shared passages from each of them, and the older kids waited until I was done and then read the same books. The younger children got more excited about their own reading.
When children and youth see their parents reading a lot, they naturally value reading. When children and youth value reading, they read more.
Too many parents don’t do enough during summer to make a huge difference in the education of their kids, and one of the most impactful things a parent can do is set the example of reading. If your kids see you reading books a lot, especially during summer leisure, the example can drastically influence them.
Reading is powerful!
On the national scale, all free and prosperous societies are reading societies, and reading starts in the home!
My Reading List
Here’s a great summer reading list that I’m following. I’m making sure all my children and youth see me reading these books this summer. And I’m really going deep—by reading with a highlighter and pen, taking notes and marking quotes as I go. I’m sharing these books because I hope you’ll do the same:
- The Chosen, by Chaim Potok
This is a very important book on education. In fact, anyone who has read this will always see education and learning differently than before—and differently than people who haven’t read it. It shows how real education works, and compares it to various less effective teaching methods. Plus it’s a lot of fun to read. It’s light reading for summer fun, but also a deep classic in it’s own right. Don’t miss it!
- The Declaration of Independence
How long has it been since you read this? As a school assignment, it can be dry and unfulfilling. But read by an adult just for enjoyment in the hot summer weather, it is amazing! It is so deep, yet short and full of important ideas. Every line sparks your thinking in new ways. It is sure to inspire your mind and heart and make you exclaim that it’s like the very first time you’ve read it. Read slowly and really think about every sentence. It’s a must-read for summer.
- Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
I want my youth to be innovative, creative, and have initiative. This is one of the hardest things to teach, but I’ll look for opportunities to discuss these vital character traits as I read this book. This book helps us know how to change—in powerful, uplifting and inspiring ways. It’s a truly effective, deeply moving read. Just watching you read it will inspire the kids to want a great education.
- We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident, by Oliver DeMille
Okay! It’s time to read this. This one book gives the best outline I know of for how to fix the modern world—and it gives the details as well. It’s truly a manual for what the world needs to do today to get us back on the path of freedom, prosperity and happiness. I hope it’s okay to recommend a book I wrote, but I truly think it’s one of the most important books for our time. I look forward to my kids seeing me read it and asking, “What’s this one about?” The answers will be positive and truly effective. Even if you’ve read it before, summer is the perfect time to share it with the kids.
- Splash!: A Leader’s Guide to Effective Public Speaking
This is the best book I’ve ever read on public speaking, and I want my youth to read it in detail—and the children to see them reading it and get excited about it before their natural teen shyness of public speaking sets it. Some of them are natural public speakers, and some are not, but this book is exactly what they need to be way better. I can’t wait to discuss things with them as they discover exciting techniques that will make them great public speakers. Just watching their discovery and increased confidence in this skill will be so enjoyable for Rachel and I.
This week I’ll be reading these books in the evenings outside by the grill and the court where the kids play basketball, in the hot afternoons near the swamp cooler, and in the kitchen before meals and during cleanup after the family eats.
I’ll take turns with each book, so I’ll be a few chapters into all five of them, but I’ll have more than one discussion about each with the kids.
I’ll look for opportunities to tell them: “I’m reading this awesome book. Actually, I’ve read it before but I’m re-reading it and I want to share something from it that really touched me.”
I’ll read them a cool passage that I’ve marked, and then ask them: “How does that make you feel?”
Tomorrow at breakfast I’ll share a quote from Les Miserables, and Meri will want to sing one of the songs from the musical. If I know my kids, some of the others will join in and sing along.
I’m excited to keep reading and sharing my book list this summer. I can’t wait to see what we’ll learn about together in the months ahead.
Summer is a great time for fun education. So just get out your books, start reading, and share!
For more summer reading and discussion and mentoring in some of these books: