HUNT COLUMN: Summer Reading for Big Kids

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, June 21, 2023

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By Cathy Hunt
Retired Troup County teacher and current school board member

Our local library always has a summer reading program for school children, which I’ve written about before. It’s a great thing, and my hope is that many of our students, with the help of caring adults, will take advantage of it. From weekly entertainment to the reading log challenge, kids can have a great time, learn to love books and avoid the “summer slide.”

But why should the youngsters have all the fun? Because I’m competitive in addition to being an avid reader, I’m nostalgic for the summer library visits of yore which helped me to complete those logs and win a prize. I still challenge myself to read a certain number of books each year. But I’ve discovered something more enjoyable, and I’d like to recommend it to you big kids.

Just Google images for Book Bingo, and you can find numerous free or inexpensive Bingo cards, filled in and ready to use. Or take a blank template and fill it in with categories that appeal to you the most. 

That’s what I’m going to do, and I’m going to make sure I get Bingo this summer and have my card completed by year’s end – because I will not be defeated!

So I’m going to get five in a row before Labor Day with the following (one of which I’ve already completed and one which I am well into): Book Made into a Movie (I’ve finished The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay, which you can watch on Peacock as Knock at the Cabin); a Re-Read (at Pretty Good Books I found a copy of Chiefs* by Stuart Woods, which I first read in my twenties); a Thriller/Mystery (that’s a must); Historical Fiction (it’s going to be The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell, which I received as a gift); and a Classic I Haven’t Read (to be determined).

Other ideas for filling in the Bingo squares might be genres such as Non-Fiction, Biography, Romance, Fantasy, Young Adult, Horror, Self-Improvement, Graphic Novel, Short Story Anthology; author-related such as European, Middle Eastern, Native American, Black; time period specific such as 1800s, early 20th century, the 70s/80s, current bestseller; and other creative choices such as By a Local Author, Frequently Banned Book, Pulitzer-Prize Winner, Audiobook, Book in Translation, or First Book in a Series. Google has lots of ideas to help you expand your reading horizons.

*I don’t re-read many books, except for ones I’m called upon to teach because there’s an endless supply of great ones I haven’t gotten to yet! But I’ve been recommending Chiefs since I read it 40 years ago, and it dawned on me that a re-visit might be in order in case I was (she says pretentiously) “too easily impressed” in my callow youth. I’m pleased to report, however, that it stands up. Stuart Woods, who died last year, was a native of Manchester, Georgia. 

The setting of Chiefs is the fictional town of Delano in his real-life Meriwether County. Woods mentions LaGrange, Manchester, Warm Springs, Pine Mountain, and other recognizable locales in the book, which certainly adds interest to an already compelling crime story.

Chiefs was Woods’ first novel and the one he said he was most proud of. I’m not a big fan of the numerous novels he wrote later about private detective Stone Barrington, but I enjoyed the “Will Lee” books that follow a family introduced in Chiefs. Chiefs could earn you a Bingo square for Mystery/Crime, Local Author, Historical Fiction, Book Published in the 80s, or Award-Winner (it won the Edgar for best first novel). 

So let’s get reading, people, and give yourself a prize for completing five in a row on your Bingo card this summer and then later for marking every square!