Greetings, Studiola readers – hope wherever August finds you, you are finding ways to stay cool, enjoy the light that comes with the longer summer days, and finding time to tackle that pile of books you’ve been meaning to read…
For me, a survivor of a hyper-academic childhood, summer has always been that magical time when I can, mostly, read whatever I want – yes, there were always those one or two “assigned” books that “had” to be read before the return to school in September – “The Red Pony” by John Steinbeck; “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien; and, “Tess of the D’Ubervilles” by Thomas Hardy immediately come to mind; but, after the reveal of that summer’s assigned title, there came the rest of the assignment, the best part – “… and, five more books of your choosing.” The magic of those words — with their promise of new, self-selected discoveries. The knowledge that I would *have* to spend hours (days, really) in the local library, searching for that next title, the next adventure, the newest world in which I could live and learn and grow. Oh, summer – “I get to read whatever I want!
When Alison asked me to guest curate, I think my first response was – “But, I’m not a writer! I’m a reader.” Granted, I have contributed to this site once, a long time ago – so, perhaps, I am sometimes a writer (Alison and I have an ongoing debate about that, actually. But, that’s a story for another time.) Then, I asked – “Well, can I write about reading? About why we need to reclaim the read-aloud? Can I write about why I think adults need to be reading more Young Adult literature? I might spend some of my time writing about my local library, and libraries in general.” And, just like that, my hesitation turned into excitement – because there are few things I love more than getting lost in a good book, except talking about it AND telling you where you can find it!
So, Studiola readers – I hope you’re up for a month of “Summer Reading”-themed posts. We’ll be discussing children’s literature & why it should matter to all us; there will be unbridled enthusiasm for some recent additions, and old favorites, in the YA landscape; you’ll indulge me for a post or two, when I go on about the literacy gap between low-income and middle/upper-class children in America, and how it starts before they’ve even entered school (and, maybe, some ideas on what we can do about that); and, the magic that is the public library. Along the way, there may be some recommendations for your own summer reading lists. And, hopefully, you’ll share some of your own.
Oh, I’m supposed to tell you a bit about myself, so here goes: I spend most of my days seeing the world through the eyes of those under the age of 5 – together, we try to make sense of it. Books are a big part of that. And, during my first-year of college I wrote Michael Chabon an email gushing about “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” which I had picked up, randomly, at a local bookstore and, without knowing anything about it (there was no summary on the back cover, just reviews), read it in one day the year I was 16. His response was one of the loveliest and most generous things I have ever read.