Ah, another glorious piece of plastic in my wallet. I’ve been meaning to get one for months, and finally took the plunge last week.
A library card in our “new” town. (Realize we’ve been in our apartment for over a year. I procrastinate.)
And I’ll be honest, my motivation was slightly less than literary: My husband and I wanted to get museum passes for weekend trips with the stepkids. Half off admission to the Providence Children’s Museum? Yes please!
And when I at long last strolled to the front desk to pick up our passes for said museum, I felt a twinge of guilt. Because that’s all I was there for. Just the museum pass. No satisfying thump from plopping down a stack of books on the desk, like there had been for years when I used to go with my mom when I was little.
But being there got me thinking. Maybe I should go back. And this time, bring the kids.
Not only because it’s something I feel guilted into doing, but because it might actually have more than one way to benefit the little humans I’m a stepmom to.
There’s this thing called the “summer slide.” I read this article by my colleague Gerry Tuoti, and it put into perspective a concern that’s been on my mind recently: With school out, how can we keep the kids in some semblance of a routine? And, as the article says, how can we keep them from losing all they’ve gained in school this past year?
Reading the article, combined with my brief library visit, stuck a possible (albeit rather obvious) answer in front of my face: Books.
Currently, we do the whole bedtime-story thing, but we can easily do more.
My stepson, who’s 10, reads very well, but usually only for 30 minutes before bed.
My stepdaughter, who just finished kindergarten, is working on her sight words and phonetics.
Bringing them both to the library could be great, not just as an outing, but as a way to keep the heat from melting their brains while school is out. They can grab a book or two that they like, and then we can structure a time frame for them to get acquainted with those books.
And there’s another goal here, too: To give them a bit of structure.
Routines are hard to stick to, especially when there’s no outside restraints (like school schedules). But if we try, this could be where reading can help build in its own routine.
Maybe in the mornings, instead of letting them do whatever they want until an adult wakes up (they’re usually awake around 6:30 — and, on weekends, we’re definitely not awake around 6:30), have them read. In my stepdaughter’s case, since she’s still working on letters and sounds, maybe have her look at a picture book or two, and write down six words she recognizes (one word for each year of her age) — or, as my editor suggested, maybe a word from each page. Make it feel more like a game than like homework.
And of course, there’s the little matter of leading by example. If I put down my phone and pick up a book more often myself (and try to get my husband on board, too), that could go a long way toward encouraging the kids on their reading endeavors as well.
I’m not sure how optimistic I’m being. Like I said, routines are tricky to stick to when we’re left to our own devices.
But if we try, maybe that new piece of plastic in my wallet can help us along. Wish us luck!