When I think about summer reading, I imagine a battered paperback with dog-eared pages and a hefty dose of sand lodged in the spine. Although dime novels no longer cost ten cents, for many people, summer reading means “fluff” novels full of poorly written romance or implausible adventures.
Well, the image of the broken spine and tattered pages may be accurate, but summer reading can be exciting and enjoyable while still inviting us to delight in the great conversations of history and literature.
There are many excellent novels typically marketed to children because of their simple writing and fast pacing, but whose messages are equally relevant to teens and adults. This month, Classical Conversations Books is offering a 25% discount on the Chronicles of Narnia and Little Britches series. Each one is a quick read but full of conversations waiting to be had.
What is the difference between a boy and a man? A girl and a woman? Dads and moms whose children are approaching the teen years know that these questions will demand a thoughtful and serious discussion. Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers is all about author Ralph Moody’s progress toward adulthood. Dads, read this novel alongside a poem like Rudyard Kipling’s “If” and then spend an afternoon hiking with your son while you talk about what it means to be a man.
How d0 imagination and creativity fit into God’s world? C.S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew re-tells the creation story through the fantasy world of Narnia. Moms, read this novel alongside Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poems “God’s Grandeur” and “Pied Beauty” and then spend time with your daughter celebrating the beauty of creation as you draw, build a tree house, or plant a garden together.
Whether you read a Russian novel on the beach or listen to Father Brown stories on CD as you drive to the grocery store, make it your goal this summer to dig out of each reading experience at least one talking point that your family will remember long after the sunburn fades away.