When you read this I will be home with my children trying to pretend, if only for a few well-timed vacation days, that summer break is an equal-opportunity pleasure.
You remember summer break, right? Waking up the morning after the last day of school, rubbing your eyes, stretching your arms and suddenly remembering — oh yeah, ha ha HA! —that there's nothing on your agenda but glorious nothingness.
Summer reading is lying in a hammock or lounging by the pool, hiding in the treehouse or finding a quiet corner. It's old favorites and new discoveries. It's syllabus-free, no-holds-barred.
And it is magnificent.
My 12-year-old, Hannah, prefers J.K. Rowling, Kate DiCamillo, Lois Lowry and Jerry Spinelli. Jack tends toward nonfiction and recently started an intriguing little volume titled, "Why Dogs Eat Poop — and Other Useless or Gross Information About the Animal Kingdom."
No rules, remember?
A few weeks in, though, the lure of the video game proves powerful even for my little bibliophiles, and books can go ignored for days.
If you know the feeling — or if you have a child who just doesn't like to read very much — here are some tips from RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) to rev up their interest:
* Read aloud to your child, especially a child who is discouraged by his own poor reading skills. The pleasure of listening to you read, rather than struggling alone, may restore his initial enthusiasm for books and reading.
* Notice what attracts your kids' attention, and build on that interest. If your daughter loves swimming, provide ways for her to learn more through articles, brochures, tip sheets and even catalogs. Let a video game-obsessed child read instructions, reviews and strategy books.
* Take your children to the library regularly. Explore the children's section together. Ask a librarian to suggest books your kids might enjoy. (The Wichita public library's Summer Reading Club and Teens Read programs start Friday.)
* Present reading as an activity with a purpose — a way to gather information for, say, cooking, making puppets, identifying a stamp in your child's collection or planning a family trip.
* Encourage older children to read to younger brothers and sisters. Older children love showing off their skills to an admiring audience.
* Play reading-related games. Check your closet for spelling games played with letter tiles or dice, or board games that require players to read spaces, cards and directions.
* In informal settings — over dinner, or example — share your reactions to things you read, and encourage your children to do the same.
* Encourage your child to read aloud an exciting passage in a book, an interesting tidbit in the newspaper or a joke from a joke book.
* Don't try to persuade your child to finish a book she doesn't like. Recommend putting the book aside and trying another.
* Extend your child's positive reading experiences. If he enjoyed a book about dinosaurs, follow up with a visit to a natural history museum.
* Offer other special incentives to encourage your child's reading. Allow your youngster to stay up an extra 15 minutes to finish a chapter; promise to take your child to see a movie after he has finished the book; relieve him of a regular chore to free up time for reading.
My own summer reading list includes Stephen King's "Bag of Bones," Chris Cleave's "Little Bee" and Kami Garcia's "Beautiful Creatures." I'll reread Raymond Carver and Anne Lamott. I'll finally get to that stack of magazines.
Big plans. Lots of pages. And a long, glorious summer — or at least evenings and weekends — to get it all done.