I have been giving my kids a bag of books to celebrate the end of school every year since they were in preschool. Sometimes I put in art supplies and treats, or other little things that reflect their current interest, but there is always a good stack of books. I don’t remember exactly how I got started doing this, but it has always been my theory that having books available to read is the first step (or maybe the second after reading to them) to getting them to read on their own and for pleasure. My kids would have been surrounded by books even without the gift bags, and even before I bought the store, but it was still seemed worthwhile to me to pick out some things that I thought reflected their new interests, might inspire them, and were hopefully just fun to read. Of course some books went unread and were probably “wasted”, especially as my kids got older, the books longer, their interests more specific, and mom more clueless. Oh well. My kids are good readers and enjoy reading, which I am very thankful for.
My first year college student has not been able to read a single thing for pleasure, how well I remember that feeling! But maybe he will find some time this summer after his long list of delayed projects and work responsibilities. I just found a biography on Chris Ledoux whom he admires that may spark his interest. I will probably try another Elmer Kelton book too, it is relatively short and a fun read. Those will go into his bag. My second son appreciates fine sports writing, and I found another great collection to add to his collection. I am not sure what fun fiction to try out for him, but I have some time still. My daughter is an opinionated 13 year old, who reads voraciously. My challenge is to nudge her towards some books I consider good literature, throw in some fun adolescent chick lit that is still age appropriate, and find interesting books that address tough issues or historical issues that I believe she needs to know about. Whew, that may be a full bag! She is also completing a church confirmation class and I would love to nourish her interest in spiritual growth, but have not found anything suitable just yet.
Finally, I give my kids books as a way to celebrate their hard work through the year, but also acknowledge that learning is really their own responsibility, in or out of school. Plus, I struggle with transitions of all sorts, even though the end of school is usually one I am grateful for I still tend to regret the things I did not get accomplished during another school year and how quickly my kids are growing up and away. My coping technique is to celebrate the transition and the changing season, which forces me to move on and be appreciative of the new season. Like so many things we do with and for our kids, the summer book bags are as much for me as for them!
If you too are looking for a way to celebrate the end of school with your kids, come in. We’d love to help you put a bag together.