Summer Reading and Children’s Literature!

As we start making Summer plans, plotting out activities, sports, camps, vacations, and so on, personally, some basic Summer reading planning is an equally high priority.


Reading is probably my favorite thing to do with my children. They sit still (a rare feat in itself) and cuddle in close, and I get a front row seat to watch their wheels turn and eyes comes alive with wonder and curiosity. For these reasons, I adore children’s literature; quality children’s literature with riveting story lines and creative illustrations that stretch their understanding and imaginations.

In a rare spot of time away from home, it would not be uncommon for me to turn up (sans children) in the Barnes and Noble Children’s section pursuing new books and deciding what makes the cut in our personal library. That probably sounds snobbish, but in a time when there are some 30,000+ new juvenile titles published per year, it is safe to assume that many of them will be “twaddle.” Are you familiar with the term? I learned it from turn of the 20th century British education philosopher, Charlotte Mason. Its definition is: “foolish or trivial in writing or speech: nonsense.” Basically, twaddle is books that are weak, diluted, and/or undermining of the child’s intelligence (here is a fantastic article on a more complete definition of twaddle or this one for an overview of Mason’s brilliant educational philosophy).

I know ‘many a parent’ is excited for the change of pace that Summer brings, but quickly becomes discouraged by the perpetual request for new activities or nagging their children to work out some intellectual muscle. Which reminded me of some literary encouragement and great resources (that I am revisiting myself):

For help selecting quality children’s literature: 

  • The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
  • Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt
  • The Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
  • Educating the Whole-Hearted Child by Sally Clarkson

(These last two are written from a homeschooling perspective, but I highly recommend them to anyone who is looking for fresh inspiration toward their children’s love of learning and the profound influence you can have on their education whether you home school or not). 

Some suggestions: 

  • Know When to Read with Young Kids
  • Keep books EVERY.WHERE. – bedrooms, bathrooms, side tables, coffee table, dining room table!
  • Read OUTSIDE (especially convenient if you make a seasonal or topical book basket)
  • Make it fun (never a punishment or something they “have to do before…”
  • Change it up with Audio Books (car rides and quiet afternoons)
  • Take advantage of the library:
    • Summer reading programs
    • story hours
    • book clubs
    • Wander the stacks and let them make a few selections!

I hope these resources are as helpful for you as they have been for me. If we’re going to encourage reading this summer and beyond, why not make it as accessible as possible and offer all the best adventure, excitement, and enjoyment?  We don’t have to settle for twaddle!

And now, because I can’t resist…what are you reading with your kids?


  1. My 5YO son LOVES the audio books. That’s something we’ll plug in when he’s begging for extra “screen” time instead and it’s great. Especially now that he’s reading it’s fun for him to try to follow along on his own. We’re still at that age where learning is an exciting adventure, never punishment like you said. He’s obsessed with the library as well -public, at school and at church – and we let him pick whatever and try to roll with it, knowing he’ll always have more “buy in” with something he chooses. Same with Scholastic book orders. We joke that we need to buy new bookshelves every six months but there’s really nothing I’d rather spend money on. The cutest thing has been watching him try to wrangle our 10 mo old and read his baby books to her – heart melter!!

  2. This is a fantastic post. I agree with everything you said, Becca!! The Read Aloud Handbook is one of the best books I have ever read, and Inthink every parent should read it!! And I love that I learned a new word! I will definitely be incorporating “twaddle” into my vocabulary!!


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