Students have summer reading lists. Adults have book clubs.
Now, Long Lots Elementary School principal Rex Jones has combined the 2 ideas. He’s created a summer reading list for parents. The books range all over the place — thrillers, love stories, memoirs, history, philosophy. But he’s been sure to include some that moms and dads can read with their kids.
He hopes every book will spark discussions.
Rex has always liked books. However, he says, being a teacher made him an even better reader. And gave him more appreciation for the power of the written word.
As Long Lots principal, he started an after-school book club for teachers. He, the media specialist and 2 assistant principals expanded it to 5th graders. Though voluntary, it became very popular.
The next logical step was to involve parents. Rex compiled nearly 20 works of fiction, and even more non-fiction. He shared them with parents, encouraging them to talk about what they’ve read with their kids.
Some books could also be read by older elementary students. The One and Only Ivan, for instance, helps readers view humans from the perspective of animals. White Sands, Red Menace is a historical novel about a young girl whose father moves away, to help develop the atomic bomb.
Most selections are too tough for 4th and 5th grades. One of Rex’s favorites is the novel he just finished. Calling Me Home is an intriguing tale of an interracial relationship, when such things were taboo.
Rex recommends books about autism, illness, karma, migrant laborers, Jewish immigrants, the Underground Railroad, coming of age (though he warns parents about Tell the Wolves I’m Home: “Although this is a story about an adolescent girl, I would not recommend it for adolescents”), economic inequality, Buddhism, art, and the Dutch settling of New York.
Intriguingly, Rex also includes The Game of School: Why We All Play it, How it Hurts Kids, and What it Will Take to Change It.
An educator’s job is to challenge students to think.
With this list, Rex Jones does the same for their parents.