It seems to me in this period of semi-quarantine and social distancing which we are experiencing because of the Coronavirus pandemic, readers are the most fortunate. Other people can complain about being bored. Readers just smile and pick up another book.
No, we are not bored because we have an endless number of worlds to which we can travel and an endless number of people to meet. We can consider new ways of looking at the world and new ideas about life. We can move through time—to any period of history, to any point in the future, or to no time known in our world.
Reading really is the best way to stay at home—unless you run out of books. I feel fortunate because I have a Kindle. I have a rather lengthy number of books on my device that I have not yet read. Then there are the physical books that I’ve intended to read but have not managed to find time to stick with and get caught into their story world.
But I do have a friend who is a reader, who gets most of her books from the local public library. Since libraries have closed doors now, she has started to worry about what will be available for her to read.
Fortunately, she has a number of reading friends (not just me), so she’s already reaching out to ask about borrowing books.
Which brings me to a significant point: we talk about checking in on our friends and making sure the people we know have the things they need, but has anyone thought about asking if, maybe, they need a good book or two to help them pass the time at home?
I’ve thought the same thing about children. Parents who don’t homeschool—at least some of them—have expressed some frustration about helping their kids fill up their days. I mean, there’s just so much coloring a kid can do! After a while the best toys or games become a bit mundane.
Why not read to them? Why not put some good books into their hands?
OK, maybe not literally. You might rather be downloading some books on devices for them—which maintains all the guidelines of social distancing, but which can excite and entertain and educate, all in the confines of the family room or bedroom or livingroom.
Sometimes kids might need to have the “pump primed” by having an adult read to them for a time. Once they are hooked, they may wish to continue on their own.
I might also add, this is a great time to introduce kids to speculative literature. Their imaginations are ready to take them into worlds they can only see in their minds.
So what books should kids read?
Well, there are the classics—and some of these are in the public domain and can be downloaded for free, some for a minimal cost:
- Black Beauty
- A Wrinkle In Time
- all seven of the Narnia books
- Island Of The Blue Dolphins
- Little Women
- The Jungle Book
- The Secret Garden
- Peter Pan
- The Wind And The Willows
- The Wizard Of Oz
- Treasure Island
- Watership Down
- Where The Red Fern Grows
- The Bronze Bow
- The Witch of Blackbird Pond
- Old Yeller
- Charlotte’s Web
Then there are the just-for-fun kid books (some of these can also be considered classics):
- the Nancy Drew books
- the Hardy Boys
- Little House On The Prairie
- Lemony Snicket
- Harry Potter (all seven)
- Anne Of Green Gables and the sequels
- the Black Stallion books
- The Chronicles of Prydain
Books by Christian authors can include the following:
- The Wingfeather Saga (four books)
- the Swipe trilogy
- the Mission League series (4 books and 2 novellas)
- Dead Possums Are Fair Game (and other books by Taryn Souders)
- No Ordinary Tale trilogy
I have only brushed across the surface when it comes to all the wonderful books to read to children and which children can read for themselves. Some of these I only discovered as an adult, and they still enriched my life.
I know, some people think kids don’t want to read any more because, you know, video. But reading taps into a part of the brain that visual arts don’t, or not as much. Reading allows the imagination to run free. I think that’s why so few movies made from books actually satisfy—they simply don’t do as good a job of conveying the story as a person’s imagination can.
What books for middle grade kids have I left off?
Note, I didn’t put down very many we would consider contemporary. I know there are books by Shannon Hale that are good. There are some good Newbery Award books, but I haven’t read them to know if they are actually books kids would like. There is Savvy by Ingrid Law. There’s The Year the Swallows Came Early and any other book by Kathryn Fitzmaurice. There’s City Of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau (5 books).
Obviously some of these books are in the speculative genre. Probably most are not. The thing is, the world of the 1800s is just as foreign to today’s middle grader as is an imaginary world discovered through a portal. They both need the child’s imagination to bring to life the place and characters and events. And that’s the great advantage of reading!
Of course, I’m undoubtedly preaching to the choir here at Spec Faith. But perhaps now is the best time to sell our friends and family and neighbors and fellow church-goers on the wonders of reading. We can introduce them to Lorehaven where they can find reviews. We can give them lists, such as the one provided in this post, which can help them get started. The point is, there’s no reason for anyone to be bored if they wander/wonder into the many worlds hiding inside books.