Wednesday, August 5, 2009

hammock reading

My family devours books, no matter what the season. Summer is special, though. We love our hammock. My fondest childhood memories are of reading in my grandmother's hammock in the cool shade of a maple tree on a summer day. I spent every summer with my grandmother. She's the wisest woman in the world ( according to me, any how). She has some definite ideas about how the days of July and August should be whiled away as a child. Each day should include: lots of reading, good fresh food (ideally picked by child), lots of reading, swimming, lots of reading, and getting " good and bored". Intentional boredom is not really about being bored at all... it's about creating enough space and time for young minds to get creative, resourceful, and inventive. Today, too many children are so over-scheduled and plugged-in that they're conditioned to "being entertained". I think more and more parents are recognizing the importance of giving children the room to grow with less organized activities and more limited screen time. Summer is the perfect time to for us all to re-learn the art of letting the day unfold gently and unhurried. I'm usually pretty good at this, but recently I feel that my family has slipped into a bit of over-activity. This post is a little reminder to myself...
Slow down.
Don't plan.
See what happens.
Keep materials for making accessible.
Make snacks available.
Stack books... everywhere.
Step back.
Watch what happens.

Oh yes! Back to how this post began: BOOKS! I have four picture books to recommend that we just checked out of the library. And yes, they were read in the hammock.

It's Summer! by Linda Glaser is a returning favorite.
The text is like a long poem or even love song about every quintessential summer moment we relish. Susan Swan's illustrations are vibrant cut paper collages that use a layering effect to create three dimensional images that leap right off the page. The back of the book is chock filled with nature activities to do in the summer.
The Paper Princess Flies Again by Elisa Kleven is the third in a series of adventures about a brave and spunky princess created from a piece of paper and paint. I love all of Elisa Kleven's illustrations ( she's prolific), and this book is especially colorful as it takes place in a Mexican village getting ready for a big fiesta. I so appreciate a good princess book that depicts the heroine as strong and smart. A bonus is that this book will be appreciated by both genders, easily.
The next two books are my new favorites.
Always and Forever by Alan Durant and illustrated by the wonderful Debi Gliori is one of the best books I've ever read about losing a loved one. It sensitively talks about the grief process and ends with an uplifting and realistic look at how memories have a life of their own... to hold and carry on. I often hid the sadness of death from my son when he was little. I believe this was a disservice to him and left him unprepared for what we have no control over. We've changed our course with our second, and expose her to discussions, books, and nature that all deal with death frankly. This book is perfect conversation opener.

And finally... are you still with me?
The Old House by Pamela Duncan Edwards and illustrated by Henry Cole
If you love old houses... if you believe in family... if you want that eye-watering feeling... if you even just love a good ol' before/after... run out and get this book! Simple, sweet, suspenseful (kind of)... a true feel-good read!

I hope you enjoyed this edition of summer(hammock) reading. Maybe I can convince my ten year old to make up a list of his great reads this past month. Happy reading! Happy slowing down!
p.s. I'd love to hear what some of your favorite books are... Pin It


  1. Oh, I hope you CAN convince your ten year old to post a list of his great reads! My grandson is turning 10 in October and one of our favorite things to do is read to each other. Lion Boy trilogy by Zizou Corder has been our adventure this summer and we strongly recommend it! I need some ideas for his birthday books...

    Thank you for the great post.

  2. i couldn't agree with you more. My little girls love the simplest things and it's lovely to sit back and watch them create their own games etc. Their favourite thing at the moment? The wattle tree out the back! x

  3. I am reading the time travelers wife and my daughters are reading Pride and Prejudice (with Zombies), The book of lost things and the youngest is rereading the last Harry Potter book and an autobiography of Coco Chanel. I have no idea what my son is reading but I am sure it is deep and meaningful and my husband reading for work mostly.

  4. Your Blog brought back those childhood memories. Even i love hammocks and use to spend a lot of time reading.

  5. Great post....
    Thank you so much.

  6. awesome post....a hearty amen from this corner.......

    happy day to you friend....xo

  7. This is such a lovely post! We all need to step back and take time for ourselves. I've certainly been feeling the need to do this more than ever this Summer

    I also adore your cushion in your hammock in the top picture! wow!

    Sending best wishes, Carolyn

  8. Congrats on getting in Green Craft magazine. I knew it was just the place for you, After I got the mag. and started going through it. A idea popped into my head. Birthday party for my soon to be 10 yr old. "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Birthday Party" I'm going to use your idea for the bunting and also your idea for newspaper hats. And my DD and I are coming up with a craft out of recyclable material. Thanks for all your wonderful ideas!! Bridget

  9. My son is now grown, but I kept to the philosophy of less scheduling, more free time, like my childhood times.

    Kids get so much more creative when left to their own devices, and you are exactly right, reading, reading, reading and more reading.

    He turned out great and is super creative all on his own.

    Check out books by Peter Sis, the illustrations are fantastic and the stories grand.

    Enjoy the hammock.


  10. Your grandmother was a wise woman indeed. I wholeheartedly agree with everything she believed. I'm glad you're continuing the tradition.


  11. As a librarian - thumbs up on all the reading. I also agree about just letting a day happen and not running around and overscheduling things. I've noticed that my toddler just plays independently and often shows us her interests when she's given the space to do it.

  12. I also much fond of reading books in the summer hot and chilly afternoon under the thick shadow of the neem tree.It is my hobby and i feel much relaxation and calmness in this.