About the only thing better than fresh, new notebooks this time of year are the reading lists that my children bring home. They are not, to my sorrow, the readers that I am. And so instead of doing leaps and spins over the reading list, they drag in disconsolately, moaning about the reading they'll have to do for the year. And I humor them because when all is said and done, they are not only quite good readers, but they enjoy it far more than they realize when they are in the midst of it. And really, who cares about them when I so thoroughly love scanning through their lists, collecting up the books, and reading them too! (Yes, I do actually care about them but sometimes I have to just wallow in pleasure and ignore their ridiculous, off-base whining.) Sometimes it makes them fuss about how quickly I read compared to them but in general I think they are pleased I care enough about them to see what they are reading (plus if they have questions on assignments, it comes in handy if I've read the book too). A few gentle leading questions never hurt anyone, right?
So this year I will be diving into Code Talkers by Joseph Bruchac (7th grade) and The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood (6th grade) very shortly in order to be able to look over their summer reading assignments. Once I've made my way through those, I will be re-reading The Call of the Wild, reading Crispin, Freak the Mighty, Holes, and the second in the Lightning Thief series (I read the first one last year with the boy and instead of re-reading with the girl, I thought I'd head to book two instead. Such are the pleasures of sixth grade reading. Seventh grade will have me reading The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, The Jungle Book, and Tangerine, and re-reading The Pearl. I don't have an eighth grader but their list is less interesting to me as I've read almost all of them already. Wonder if I can put in my requests with the eighth grade Language Arts teachers now so they choose more appealing things for next year?
I even remember some of the things I read at their ages. I still have my copy of Lord of the Flies from eighth grade on my shelves. Not that I have ever been able to re-read it, having the horror of Piggy's glasses in the surf assault me every time I've opened it again to try and re-read it. I also still have my ancient copy of Great Expectations from seventh grade. I fell in love with Pip that year (probably helped by the fact that the class ahead of us read it and turned the scene with Pip first meeting Magwich it into a short play--the boy playing Pip was really cute). But cute thespian or not, I have loved all the Dickens I've read since then. Speaking of plays, seventh grade was my first experience of Shakespeare too. As You Like It is still the comedy for which I have the softest spot, even if I didn't get to play Rosalind (which part I did play is long lost in the mists of memory). I have an unabridged Scholastic books copy, from sixth grade, of Jane Eyre sitting on my shelf too. I read that one on my own but since I got it through that wonderful school handout, I'm counting it! I know there were others too during my late elementary, early junior high school years that played an important part not only in my education but in turning me into the person I am today. What more can you ask for from school reading? So my reading is about to take a wild turn back in time with my kids. And I hope that we all run into books that change us, enchant us, teach us, and just generally find enjoyable enough that thirty years from now, my kids will be remembering them as fondly as I remember my old school reading.