I took the kids to sign up for our library's Summer Reading Program the other day. They're all about the prizes, of course. My oldest is now considered old enough to be in the "teen" reading program (even though she's one month shy of her 12th birthday), and the grand prize is an I-Pod, so she's quite motivated and has had her nose stuck in a book just about every waking moment. Brings back memories of my summers as a kid in Chicago. My brother and I would ride our bikes through the park, past the White Castle, and stop at the library at least once a week -- the Scottsdale Branch is still there and looks exactly like it did when I was a kid! Deja vu! I would come home with a huge stack of books, which I devoured in a few days. Some of my favorite authors at the time were Beverly Cleary, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Mary Rodgers. (Her book, A Billion for Boris, was one of my faves.) I also loved reading the original Nancy Drew mysteries -- what girl didn't?
Children's and young adult literature has changed and grown so much since I was a kid; the number of options and genres available now is simply amazing. But one thing has stayed the same: Kids can still get lost inside the pages of a book and are only bound by the limits of their imaginations. And that experience can't be compared to any prize -- even an I-Pod! Hurray for summer reading!