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Now is the time to nurture love of reading

June 15, 2007|by LISA PREJEAN

Little Bear held onto his mother's skirt.
"I don't want to go to day camp," he said. "I won't know anyone."
"Alfred and Beartram will be in a cabin near you," said Mother Bear.
"I wish Spunky and Rudie were here," said Little Bear. "I wish they hadn't gone away this week. Who will be my friend?"
Mother Bear patted his head. "Here's a secret."
She bent down and whispered in his ear.
"In order to find a friend, you must be a friend."

As I was reading Kathleen Allan-Meyer's book "Little Bear's Secret" to my 8-year-old daughter, I smiled as I remembered reading this delightful story to her a few years ago.

This first week of summer vacation she has been bringing me wonderful picture books that we've read together many times over. She is capable of reading them alone, but we're celebrating the start of summer by reading simple little stories together.

We're calling it our brain break.

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Next week we plan to pull out my old collection of "Little House" books. I told her we could take turns reading a chapter each night. We can also take turns asking each other questions about the stories. (Kids love it when they can be the teacher.)

Quite often a child will acquire a love for books if reading is a shared experience in the home. Once they find books that they enjoy, they will keep searching for more.

Here are some titles my children have enjoyed. I've divided them into age groups so you can easily find suggestions that may suit your family. Enjoy reading together as a family this summer.

Kindergarten to third grade

"Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears" by Verna Aardema - A mosquito learns to buzz rather than tell tall tales.

· "The Ugly Duckling" by Hans Christian Andersen - The classic tale of acceptance.

· "Billy and Blaze" by C.W. Anderson - The series about a boy and his horse.

· "Gravity is a Mystery" by Franklyn Mansfield Branley - Young scientists will be intrigued by Branley's explanations.

· "The Country Noisy Book" by Margaret Wise Brown - The tale of a dog's visit to the country.

· "Elephants of Africa" by Gladys Conklin - Children learn about the daily habits of elephants.

· "The Courage of Sarah Noble" by Alice Dalgliesh - The tale of a family's westward move.

Third grade to sixth grade

· "Ginger Pye" by Eleanor Estes - A family searches for their missing dog.

· "Misty of Chincoteague" by Marguerite Henry - The story of Phantom and her foal, Misty.

· "Kavik, the Wolf Dog" by Walter Morey - Kavik competes in the North American sled dog derby.

· "The Cricket in Times Square" by George Selden - A musical cricket makes three friends in New York.

· "Lad, A Dog" by Albert Payson Terhune - A dog breeder writes about a collie who lived on his estate.

Sixth grade to eighth grade

· "The Incredible Journey" by Sheila Burnford - The reader follows two dogs and a cat on a 250-mile journey.

· "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens - So what if it's summer. This timeless tale about the importance of kindness is fit for any season.

· "My Side of the Mountain" by Jean Craighead George - A young boy decides to go off and live alone in the Catskill Mountains.

· "Anne of Green Gables" by Lucy Maud Montgomery - The orphan Anne moves in with a brother and sister in this heart-warming tale.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com.

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