Reading Challenges: the Pasttimes

Hello Readers!  Well, summer is drawing to a close, and we can now find our kids antsy to stay busy while we are looking for a break from the crazy summer activities we have endured.  For most of us, this is a month in which we are desperate for school to start so we can return to our normal routines while our children pray for summer to never end.  This is the perfect opportunity to introduce a new reading challenge to your kids: the Pasttimes.

What does the Pasttimes mean?  Simply put, these are favorite books from past writers that remain icons in literature today.  Books like Little Women, The Lord of the Rings trilogy (and The Hobbit and The Silmarillion), the Harry Potter series, the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and more. These are books that have been considered classical literature masterpieces or are fondly remembered by people, including us parents.

So, here’s how this works.  First, list books that are considered classical masterpiece or are favorites from your own childhood that are age appropriate.  I wouldn’t recommend listing the Lord of the Rings for a six year old, but I might list Matilda or the Amelia Bedelia series for them.  Keep the list light yet challenging.  For younger kids (from the ages of six to eight), I would recommend about 1-2 books per week until school starts, plus 3 or 4 extra to challenge them.  For older kids (between ages nine and twelve), I would recommend at least one chapter book per week plus 2 or 3 extra to challenge them.  For preteens and young adults (ages thirteen to fifteen), I would recommend a longer series, such as Harry Potter, the Chronicles of Narnia, or the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  If you would prefer, you can list about seven chapter books of length–such as Anne of Green Gables, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Little Women.  For older teens, I would challenge them to read at least one college-level novel per week, such as 1984 or Brave New World or The Jungle.

Then, take your kids to the library with their lists to find the books.  Let them pick out their books to read, and take them at least once a week.  You can set up a reward system if you want, such as a treat per book finished or a large gift/treat for completing a certain number of books from your challenge list, but I would not recommend using money as a reward. The purpose behind this is to encourage reading for the joy it brings and the enlightenment it provides to young readers.

Make sure you provide your kids with plenty of time to read each day, and make it a fun and encouraging time.  For example, you can set up a “reading camp” in your backyard with a quilt and some throw pillows. You can allow them to use nap time as “quiet reading” time instead.  You can even take them to the park for a picnic and reading time.  The sky is the limit on the different possibilities to make this reading challenge fun and encouraging for your kids.  As an added bonus, this will indirectly encourage your children to step away from their electronic devices without constantly nagging them or struggling with your kids to step away from the electronics.

So, tell me Readers, what books you loved as a kid or how you encourage your kids to read more in the summer?

Until next time,



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