Books + Olympics + Imagination = Many Magic Summers

Like most kids, I loved the summer months. Not because of the weather -- because of the FREEDOM.

During the summer, I read whatever books I wanted. The summer I was 14, I walked across the street to our neighbor's yard sale with $25 in my pocket. I came home with empty pockets and a giant box of romance novels -- which, I proceeded to chain-read the rest of the summer.

Not once did my parents say, No, stop! You're not old enough for those books!

Last summer I read all the Harry Potter books for the first time. Today I am reading HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD. Summers have always meant books for me. And adventure.

As one of 5 kids, I never had to look far for a playmate. We had all sorts of contests -- who could swim across the pond the fastest, who could jump the highest on the trampoline. Several summers we hosted our own neighborhood Olympics -- my favorite (and best) event was synchronized swimming (with my sister).

We were of that generation of kids who lived outside all day and only came in when it started getting dark. We invented our own worlds -- my favorite and the most lasting was our version of "Egypt," mostly inspired by multiple viewings of the movie THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. We used trees as forts, the creek as a dividing line between lands, our ponies for transporting needed supplies like blankets and books and snacks, puddles with tadpoles in various stages as our gardens, and above all, we had each other.

Summers especially we pretty much lived a middle grade novel. When I remember my childhood it is always steamy and sunshiny and my skin is brown and dotted with mosquito bites and/or poison ivy. Maybe that's why none of my middle grade novels include school?!

I am so grateful!

Irene Latham is the award winning author of two novels for children LEAVING GEE'S BEND and DON'T FEED THE BOY. She also serves as poetry editor for Birmingham Arts Journal and has published three volumes of poetry for adults. Named the winner of the 2016 International Literary Association-Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, her current focus is on poetry for children. Titles include DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST, which was named an SCBWI Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor book, FRESH DELICIOUS: Poems from the Farmers' Market, and WHEN THE SUN SHINES ON ANTARCTICA.


  1. When I was a child in the mid 1960s I would spend my summers hanging out around the Art Department at the University of Alabama, and riding all over the campus on my little red Schwinn bicycle. My dad was the ceramics professor at UA. My mom was an art teacher during the school year, and a grad student during the summers so she was too busy to keep me entertained. My father was supposed to supervise me, but he was too preoccupied with his own projects and classes. I was left with the freedom to create my own agenda. Each summer I would annoy the faculty, play with the students, and explore. One student used to place trinkets in a shoe box and hide them in a tree on campus. Back in those days it was pretty safe for a kid to ride around on her own, and the campus wasn't big. All those sidewalks were perfect "roads". And if the weather turned ugly, or I got too hot or bored with the bike, I would find a secluded clay dusted cranny and draw in old, left behind drawing pads. For lunch each day my dad would take me to a small "Supe Store" that was located in a corner of Woods Hall, the main building for sculpture and ceramics in those days. My favorite lunch was chicken noodle soup with oyster crackers, and a Sugar Daddy for dessert. It would take me all afternoon to finish all that caramel goodness. Sweet memories abound.

  2. Your summers sound much like mine, freckles, snowcones, and chasing the mosquito truck. We played "Little House on the Prairie" and walked to the waterfalls which was a trickle over some concrete in the creek. Those were the days!

  3. Great post. I agree with Irene. A kid's summer experience in the neighborhood might be different than today's.

  4. Great post. I agree with Irene. A kid's summer experience in the neighborhood might be different than today's.


Post a Comment