I was listening to Howie Carr the other day, the Boston talk radio host, discuss how hard it is this summer for teens to find summer jobs. One comment he made really stuck with me, "It would be different if these kids were otherwise reading books, but they don't anymore. My girls don't read except for school." I don't know if this is true or not, perhaps it is like saying "All teens are bad drivers," but perhaps it is closer to the truth than it was 20 years ago.
My children love to go to the library, if I don't let them pick out a stack to take home at least once a week then they mope and complain and I constantly see other homeschool families there (it is pretty obvious when they have kids over the age of 6 with them during the day). Now that the big kids are older I let them have more of a say over what they check out, but I keep a strict eye on the younger ones. Maggie just yesterday pouted when I took off several Goosebumps books and some inner city teen junk novel that was on her pile at the counter.
It is interesting to see what sorts of things they come up with, occasionally it really lets me see a bit deeper into their psyche. I noticed Mary's bag of books on her bed and snuck a peek inside. It is obvious that she is a bit nervous about entering Catholic school this fall. Her choices include: Exploring Math with books kids love, Writing With Style, Reading Roundups, Spelling K-8, Word Smart, Math Puzzles and Brainteasers Grades 6-8, and Improve Your Spelling and Vocabulary. Her academic weaknesses are spelling and writing, after numerous years of struggle and crying she is just finishing up the 4th grade spelling book and I have had to help her extensively with her book reports every quarter since 2nd grade. She loves to read and she does pretty well in math if she carefully thinks through the problems, so I don't see why she thinks she needs to further study these subjects over the summer. Seeing these books on Mary's bed is a wonderful testament to homeschooling, in that she can see for herself weaknesses in her academic skills and is attempting to overcome them on her own.