well, i have this super-stellar job (it's, like, number 5 on the list of things in my life that i really love), part of which entails attempting to instill in young people a love of learning. in my brain that is the same as a love of reading. during the school year i mostly just try to talk them off a ledge while they do homework that they find boring/confusing/frustrating/infuriating, and the reading bit is mostly assigned by their english teachers. sometimes the books are wonderful, sometimes not so much. it's often an uphill battle, but there's only so much i can do.
and then it's summer.
ahhhh, summer. what kid doesn't just live for summer? the long days, the late nights, the lack of homework...it's glorious!
so each summer at work, we (and by we i mean me) choose a theme and set a goal for summer reading. usually it's pretty simple--books that have been turned into movies (read the book and watch the movie, complete with snacks), myths and legends from around the world, etc.--anything to get them to read. literally anything. i discovered long ago that teenagers will jump through hoops of fire if there is food on the other side so the motivation for meeting the goal is pretty much always pizza. this year, we did something a little different. and it was, by far, the most daunting summer reading scheme we have ever undertaken.
we read the united states.
we read the united states. meaning, as a group, we (collectively) read one book that takes place in each of the 50 states plus d.c. 51 books. 51 books as a group by the end of the summer. it may not seem like it to you, but this is actually a lofty goal. considering that our summer program is only 10 weeks long (1 full week shorter than years past) and the fact that we have never, in my all years at the club, reached a number like that in one summer.
enter the motivation.
food, of course. ice cream sundae party for all of the readers if we reach the goal. i spent days compiling a list of books, organized by state, made and hung a big map of the country on the wall, and even made a little flag for each of my teens. all 111 of them.
when they chose a book and began reading, they marked the state with their flag--staking their claim. when they finished they got to paint the state in with the color of their choice and, if they wanted to, move their flag and start a new book.
and they did.
it was a slow start (i read the first 3 books myself), but they gradually gained momentum and we finished! not only that, but we finished a week ahead of schedule. for those of you who like numbers ("not i!" said the little red lindsay) that averages out to 5.66 books per week. and that's only counting the books that took place in the u.s. there were other readers whose books (like harry potter) took place in other parts of the world or (like eragon) took place is another world entirely. that also doesn't count the five or so incidents of double reading (more than one person read either the same book or a book from the same state). all told, we probably read closer to 65 or 70 books in the 10 week period known as summer at the club. go us!
as the title of this post suggests, all of this has been leading to a question (i just had to brag on my teens a bit first), and that question is this:
what book did you read that made you love reading?
also, how the devil am i gonna top this program next year?!!!