It is September 20, and so far no notices have come home from my kids' elementary school about book reports. No, that's not a wind gust sweeping through the northeast; it is my husband sighing in relief. Two years ago, when our oldest son entered second grade, he came home with a sheaf of vaguely written papers detailing the monthly book reports he would be required to complete. As my husband works long hours from Monday to Friday, I oversee (aka wheedling, cajoling, and shrieking like a harpy) homework during the week. Book reports can be done on weekends. That year, I dubbed my husband "Mr. Book Report 2006-2007." He kept the title for 2007-2008 while my daughter was in second grade.
These are not the book reports I grew up with where you colored a cover with crayons on construction paper, then listed the title, author, setting, and a summary on notebook paper. These book reports appeal to all types of learners and types of intelligences. I have a degree in education; I get that, but they are still a hassle. Over the past two years, my husband and kids have created an alligator out of green construction paper, tested a cranberry bread recipe, wrote and drew a comic strip, created a diorama in a shoebox of the Vietnamese celebration of Tet, used another shoebox to make a miniature parade float of the story of Rapunzel, made Poppleton the pig from a coffee can, and created a character from The Spiderwick Chronicles using a wire hanger, pantyhose, and art supplies. Previous to being named Mr. Book Report 2006-2007, my husband could not have told you where our art supplies were located unless the contents of our refrigerator, his guitar, the lawnmower, or his sock drawer count as art supplies. And actually, I think one month they were required to make some sort of sock puppet based on a book. There was a lot of whining and procrastinating on book report weekends, and it wasn't all from the kids. Even I whined about donating household items and good pantyhose to the cause, but our family got a lot out of it. I'm not sure my kids understand the characters, conflicts or plots of the books they read any better as a result of the book reports. However, they solved problems, laughed, and spent some really important time with their Dad. That said, he's still sighing in relief and keeping his fingers crossed that no notices come home.