The sun isn’t setting until ten o’clock these days and so we’ve got that late golden hour feeling extended all evening. It’s been a rather chilly start to the summer here (unlike last year’s Heat Dome situation so, you know, small mercies) and it wasn’t until this week that I was finally able to read outside on our back deck after supper.
I love this time of day because it’s usually when things are finally slowing down a wee bit: supper has been cleaned up, the house put to rights, floors swept, computer closed and my work for the day is done. Brian is usually still puttering around the yard or garage.1 Anne is studying for her finals at the moment and Joe is teaching himself Mandarin so they’re usually off in their own screens/books while Evie and Maggie play outside or go for a bike ride when I settle in but they all find their way to me eventually. Maggie shows up in her jammies with a battered Owl Diaries book, Evie with a graphic novel for the Baby Sitter’s Club. Anne drifts over with the latest in her thick-as-a-brick YA fantasy obsession for a break from studying, Joe with his beloved Randall Munro - which he proceeds to snort-laugh over and then narrate his favourite paragraphs to us despite protests.
Whenever we’re all reading together, Brian will eventually wander by as he putters and call out, “You won, eh?” which is his concession that they like books more than they like college football and so yes, yes, I win.2
It always feels ridiculously satisfying to be curled up on the back deck with a novel, an over-iced coconut La Croix, and an evening of page turning ahead of me. You all know I’m a bit of a pseudo-hermit bookworm year-round but there is something special about that slow summer reading, isn’t there? I have such fond memories of spending hours and hours of my summer holidays reading when I was a kid so these evenings are my small act of reclamation.
Last week in Field Notes AMA, I shared a few of the books our kids liked during that early reader/beginning chapter book time of their reading life. It was so much fun that I thought I’d share the books for the age just above that this week.
These aren’t definite or expansive or let alone “must-read” list by any means, rather these are simply the books that our own kids enjoyed at that 9-11 reading age. In terms of reading style, Anne tended towards twisted fairy-tale novels with some magical element as well as the classics (she still does) while Joe has always liked adventure, sci-fi, fantasy as well as science-y or what we call “fun fact books” for non-fiction at this age. Evie tends more towards graphic novels about friendship and social dynamics. You’ll see those preferences reflected below.3
Alas, you’re not going to find a lot of sentimental reads on their lists: much as I luxuriated in sobbing over a book myself at that age, they remain unmoved and annoyed by such contenders. I included a couple options which passed their muster but just know that if I was in charge of this list at their age, there would have been a lot more Lurlene McDaniel paperbacks here.4
I cherish the summer reading experiences I had at this age precisely because I was such a free-range reader myself. One of the great gifts my parents gave me was full access to the library and the unstructured summertime of the 80s. I read so much trash, my dears. So! Much! Trash!5 before I found the good stuff but I cherish the trash for where it has brought me and so I do tend to be rather hands-off when it comes to books for our kids. I have allowed our kids to read widely - and not always well or to my own preference - in order to develop their own reading loves. This has served us well but I know that some of the books we enjoy may not be a great fit for you and yours.
Ready to open up that library request page?6 The best reading happens under the covers with a flashlight or sprawled in a hammock in the summer.