Summer Magic

1372 1372_ () 1372 1372 Last week’s column. I thought this one got lost on the other computer (the one that now has a new hard drive). But here it was, on my laptop!

The boys and I were talking about summer reading one afternoon, discussing what books they’ve read and what books they might try to tackle this summer.

“I’d like you to think about what series of books you want to read while you’re out of school,” I told them.

“Calvin and Hobbes,” was Augie’s quick reply.

Last summer, on the way to our family vacation, the boys spent nearly eight hours reading Calvin and Hobbes. The four of them passed around six books and I don’t think they ever put those books down between here and our destination.

“Let’s figure out something else,” I suggested, “in addition to Calvin and Hobbes.” While I’m all for high adventure and pithy one-liners, a little variety is always a good thing. Not too long ago, I began to suspect there is such a thing as too much Calvin when I took the boys to get haircuts and Charlie asked the barber to make him look like Astro-Boy.

So this summer we are branching out. Of course, the boys have already been reading other books, but the truth is Calvin and Hobbes is the standard to which all other great literature is held.

I recently started investigating books for my boys and have been excited and encouraged by the overwhelming options. There are so many good books out there for us to explore! This summer I will be doing something my mother did with us each summer when we were growing up – I’ll have the boys make their reading selections and when they are done reading their books, they’ll write a book report to present to the family. (I’m sure there will be ice cream or weapons involved in this equation as well.)

Summer is such a magical time, and in this season of our family life, these days are filled with excitement and wonder. I love the slower pace, the chance to enjoy simply being together. I predict plenty of swimming and reading, building with Legos and blocks, and time spent riding bikes and shooting hoops.

I also predict that the first week of summer will be utterly stressful. My normal summer start-off includes a few days of sheer bliss – so excited to have everyone home!; a few days of laying low — nowhere to go and nothing to do!; and then, suddenly, me remembering why boys thrive on a schedule and how it’s time to get one.

After making it through those initial rough days, I generally kick it into high gear, get organized and come up with a plan. For us, that will be a schedule that involves a healthy balance of study, work and fun – with an emphasis on fun and with plenty of downtime built in. My hope for the summer is that my boys will remember these days with fondness.

“Twenty years from now,” wrote Mark Twain, “you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

A summer of exploration is right up our alley. And my job, as the planner of days, is to make that exploring and dreaming happen. That doesn’t mean I’m the resident cruise director. While I certainly want to plan fun outings for our family, to do things with the boys we don’t do during the school year, there is another, more crucial facet to what I will provide this summer.

Here in the home, my number one job will be to provide the kind of environment that fosters a desire to discover and dream, an environment that elicits the innate love of exploration that every child has. 1372″



  1. Kathryn says:

    I’m also looking forward to being the “planner” and our summer will be full and yet, lazy all at the same time. Enjoy having them home!

  2. “…the truth is Calvin and Hobbes is the standard to which all other great literature is held”

    Well said. This still holds true for me.

  3. Anonymous says:

    How refreshing! I’ve been listening to moms lamenting their last “free” hours and wondering how to occupy their children with endless paid activities.

  4. For good reading – check out Usborne books at

    You’ll love it as much as I do!

  5. Marria ( says:

    My Asher also loves Calvin and Hobbes…I got him the Essential Calvin and Hobbes for Christmas and he couldn’t put it down! Liking Calvin and Hobbes must run in the “genes” – I loved them as a teenager!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Buy 5 copies of The Dangerous Book For Boys. That will keep those minds going!

  7. My husband is 27 years old and still pours over Calvin and Hobbes when he can’t seem to fall asleep. I’ll be in bed next to him and hear him giggling, even though he’s read that same strip numerous times.

  8. If they like calvin and Hobbes, and who doesnt…. they might like Tintin

    they are “graphic novels”, action, adventure, travel. all VERY G rated. in Elementary school, my classmates clawed each others eyes out to get to the library if one came back

  9. Anonymous says:

    I highly suggest The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald. These books are an autobiography of a Catholic family of four sons growing up in Mormon Utah. Delightful and quite funny! The author is the younger brother of ‘The Great Brain’ who is rather clever. It won’t classify as a classic, but my mother re-read the series each time one of her five children read them between 3rd and 6th grade. I just re-read it while my oldest was reading the series for the first time. Great stories that all in your home will enjoy!

  10. Anonymous says:

    My three boys have memorized Calvin and Hobbes. You can read them the first panel of any strip, and most likely one will recite, verbatim, the rest of it. The youngest one learned to read that way, and consequently knew plenty of big words before first grade.
    If they ever start a band, it will be called “The Hand-Held Iguana Makers.”
    I’d suggest the Asterix and Obelix series.

  11. Calvin and Hobbes is the most popular book checked out by boys in our elementary school.