Grateful American Book Prize

Your children will not learn the love of reading
if their summer reading lists are boring

WASHINGTON, DC – Are your kids looking forward to reading a few good books this summer? The answer is probably “no” if you force feed them with titles that are boring, says author, publisher and education advocate David Bruce Smith.

“They are not going to develop a true love of reading unless you get them hooked on page turners they can relate to—particularly if they are middle schoolers. If they have no interest in the plot, they won’t pick it up in the first place. So, choose books based on their interests,” according to Smith.

If, for example, your son has a passion for sports, try Travel Team [Basketball] or Calico Joe [Baseball]. If your daughter likes love stories, give her Country Crush [boy meets girl, loses girl and maybe gets girl back] or Windfall [romance light and sweet]. And, if your children favor tales of adventure, there’s Crusoe [based on Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe] and Women Who Dared [from the pages of history].

There are also engaging age appropriate selections on the Grateful American Book Prize Web site. These books can give them a reason to pay more attention to their history teachers when they go back to school. The Prize is aimed at encouraging authors and publishers to produce more works that will stimulate a love of reading—and history. It was created by Smith and the late Dr. Bruce Cole, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Past winners include Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures, a true story that chronicles the lives of NASA’s so-called ‘human computers.’ They were African-American women mathematicians hired by the space agency in the 1950s to do menial tasks. But, they overcame great odds and proved to be indispensable. They showed they had the right stuff, and played a critical role in launching America’s first astronauts into outer space.

Chris Stevenson won in 2016 for The Drum of Destiny—an exciting journey that takes young readers into the thick of the Revolutionary War. And, the inaugural Prize—bestowed in 2015—was Kathy Cannon Wiechman’s novel, Like a River, a riveting Civil War adventure story. It follows a pair of teens caught up on the battlefield during the conflict between the states.

Author Elisabeth Egan put it this way in a recent opinion article: “I love real summer reading: the kind that inspires my 11-year-old to beg for a later bedtime so she can finish 11 Birthdays; or the kind that sends my 14-year-old onto the sunny porch with The Autobiography of Gucci Mane. Last year, my 17-year-old returned from a three-week bike trip with a worn copy of Big Little Lies, and I knew that book was as real to her as the Velveteen Rabbit was to his owner. It had been enjoyed by lantern light on a dozen different campgrounds along the California coast. Is there any better venue for summer reading than a sleeping bag?”