Recently, in request to questions from parents of 4th and 5th grade students about the book, The Fault in Our Stars, I sent this letter. Some of you may be answering similar questions…
With summer vacation just around the corner, we are reaching out to talk about one of the best parts of summer – summer reading. We hope that the books on Inly’s summer reading list (along with others you find along the way) make your child’s summer vacation more fun and give them a chance to escape, stretch and learn.
The books kids read during the summer are often the ones that spark a new interest or help them think through challenging topics like friendship, loss, and relationships. Many adults look back at books they read during long summer days with great affection for the windows they provided into different lives and the comfort of knowing that others shared our hopes.
The freedom to read and explore can often lead to new questions. For example, one of the most popular young adult books is John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. The movie is out now and there are displays at Barnes and Noble featuring other John Green novels. Because of the enormous popularity of The Hunger Games and Twilight and now The Fault in Our Stars, many younger readers are now attracted by the issues and topics addressed in young adult fiction.
As thought provoking as these novels are, they are also mature. The characters in John Green’s books are high school students and their concerns reflect the lives of kids that age. Children have always wanted to read about kids older than they are. As an adolescent, I eagerly read books about teenagers as a road map for what was next. But today’s young adult books are far more graphic than what we read as young people and the emotions can be challenging to access for an eleven-year-old child.
Here are some tips that may help guide you over the summer:
– Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org) is a good resource. They have excellent reviews and age guidelines. For example, they list The Fault in Our Stars for ages 14 and over. Looking for Alaska, another novel by John Green, is identified by Common Sense as a book for “older teens.” Of course, kids mature at different levels and parents are the best judge, but Common Sense can give you a sense of a book’s intended audience.
– Maybe you and your child can read a book together. Kids appreciate talking about big and serious issues with important adults in their lives and a book can often be an effective gateway to conversation.
– So many books, so little time! Kids are in a hurry to grow up and they sometimes feel their book choice reflects on their maturity. There are so many (too many?) books that help navigate these in-between years. Recommend books by Wendy Mass, Sarah Dessen, Sharon Draper, and Ingrid Law – too many to list!
Happy Summer Reading!