COOL STUFF | Summer Reading Can Change Kids


If the school year gives assignments to broaden kids’ knowledge, shouldn’t summer allow time for kids to assign themselves ways to deepen their own interests? One way to open new worlds is through books, useful tools for even the most reluctant reader. Years ago, an engineering student had read little fiction. While traveling by train, he read the James Bond series and exclaimed, “Is this what reading is all about?”


Perhaps the axiom, “You are what you eat,” could expand to, “You become what you read.” Summer provides plenty of fresh fruit for health and a fresh start on reading choices.


When living in Texas, my family didn’t have air-conditioning. So, I stayed outside riding horses, wading in the bayou, and sitting in my tree house, reading about pioneer adventures.


At nine I learned another axiom, “Readers are writers” and wrote a 26 chapter novel about a tomboy who disappeared one dark, rainy day. When the neighbors looked for clues, they found her raft stuck in the bayou, a bridle thrown on the bank, and a sandal tossed on a path into the woods. A mystery and an adventure had begun.


In the fall, the teacher let me read a chapter each day. The kids liked my story because they knew it came from my own experience. I learned the first rule of writing: “Write what you know.” Having visited many states, I’d never gone to outer space, dug up a cemetery grave, or magically flown away from danger. Anything I wrote on such ideas would be derivative without authentic details.

Since mysteries deal with realistic situations filled with danger, suspense, choices, and rewards, they entertain and inform readers in important ways. Mysteries help readers figure out who they are, what they want in life, where to search for it, and how to surround themselves with people having similar goals.

What if the summer of 2016 emerges as the season for you to discover not only your favorite type book but how your reading taste can urge you to find out more about what you want to do in life?

-Beth Fine 

Author of popular mysteries for middle schoolers including the new series,The Picaresque of Ímagine Purple ,