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The Ledger

Take a Summer Vacation Between the Covers of a Book

Tuesday, May 28, 2002


Now is a good time to spend those "lazy, hazy days of summer" reading a good book.

Reading has always been my favorite occupation. I got through every childhood illness imaginable by reading.

Today, some folks fill their time with television. The average person spends four hours a day watching the tube.

David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the biography "Truman," estimates that if folks spent that time reading, in one week they could read two books of poetry, two plays, two novels and the Book of Psalms.

McCullough says, "The greatest of all avenues to learning -- to wisdom, adventure, pleasure, insight, to understanding human nature, understanding ourselves and our world and our place in it -- is in reading books."

Of course, I agree. A great learning adventure for me was a graduate course in children's literature. First, I got to read some great classic children's stories that I had missed, and second I discovered that children's stories are delightful, even for an adult.

So occasionally I pick up a children's book and enjoy again the wisdom coupled with simplicity that I find there.

So, if you're an adult and missed reading some of the following books. It is never too late.

If you're a young person, and haven't sampled these books, read them now and grow.

A few of my favorites are modern but most are classics, reprinted time and time again.

"Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography" is the supposed life story of a young boy involved in a series of unfortunate events. Like the "Harry Potter" books, this is one of a series, but has adventure mixed with pure nonsense.

Eve Bunting's story "Gleam and Glow" tells of a family caught in the wars in the Balkans. Gleam and Glow are the names of two goldfish that are important in the story.

If you like this book, Bunting has written 135 more books for children. Once you find an author you like, look for more books by that person.

Have fun with "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst.

Now for the classics, books that I consider "must-reads." First on the list is "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White. This story of the friendship between Wilbur the pig and Charlotte the spider has much to tell about friendship, life and death.

Maurice Sendak also features animals in "Where the Wild Things Are." This book takes you on a wild ride with imaginary monsters as a misbehaving little boy sent to "time out" learns what is really important -- his mother's love.

Kenneth Grahame's "The Wind in the Willows" tells of Mole's adventures with Rat, Toad and other friends.

"The Velveteen Rabbit" has much to tell about the power of love as does Robert Lawson's "Rabbit Hill."

Another animal classic is "Black Beauty" by Anna Sewell, and finally "Winnie-the-Pooh" by A.A. Milne.

If you're a reader, no doubt you have your own list of favorites. But if you haven't embarked on the adventure of reading, this summer is a good time to start having adventures through the pages of a book.

Joan Monahan is a lifelong teacher and writer who lives near Haines City. She can be reached at JMon22117@hotmail.com