Monday, February 24, 2014

Vacation Reading Double Standard

by Josie Leavitt)

The next few weeks will see many kids from my area on vacation. New York state kids just finished, Vermont kids are at the beginning of their winter break. These two weeks are always busy at the bookstore with folks stocking up on vacation reading and activities for travel.

I’ve noticed a trend this year: parents are buying “beach reading”, the books thought of as easier orbeach somewhat more entertaining reads than they would normally read. I totally understand the allure of the beach read: they’re fun, oftentimes racier than your book group picks, and they don’t require too much brain power so you can just pick up your book with your afternoon umbrella drink and not miss much. Non-fiction readers might be drawn to police procedurals on holiday, etc. Kids seem to be pressured into buying books that are a stretch, not books that are necessarily fun. I’m not sure this is fair. Why are the children being held to a higher standard than their parents?

Sadly, I think it’s because parents are fearful that kids shouldn’t read things that are easy because then they’re not reading on or above grade level. Reading sometimes seems to be all about challenge and less about enjoyment. Do not misunderstand me: I think all readers should try to stretch themselves, but sometimes, just as adults do, kids might benefit from some potato chip reading as well. There is something to be learned from all kinds of reading, and kids, just like adults, like to revisit old friends by rereading or by going down a level or two. And reading levels won’t plummet if a kid rereads a favorite book from last year. Kids are challenged all day at school with so many things that sometimes it makes sense to let them take a break and read something that’s either just plain silly fun or comforting, even if it’s an easy read.

So, if you’re lucky enough to go holiday, what are you and your kids going to pack to read?