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Challenge: Reading Together

Negotiating a summer reading list: Will Wilder may be the perfect compromise

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Summer is almost here and it’s a great time to start thinking about a good summer reading list – one both you and your child can tackle in the summer months! Having a list and a reading goal is a great way to keep kids’ reading skills up and minimize the “I’m bored”conversation on rainy summer afternoons. There are plenty of great lists online, and coming together to negotiate a list can be a fun and bonding process that sparks conversations about each other's passions and interests. Agreeing to read each other’s selections is a remarkable opportunity for you to enter each other’s world. I would have never read Diary of a Wimpy Kid were it not for my kids and I was touched by how interested my kids are to know what books impacted me when I was their age. As a parent, I’m truly grateful that they devour Percy Jackson and Harry Potter, but I also want them to acquire a taste for the “classics” that were so formative for me and have stood the test of time: Charlotte’s Web, Narnia, Huckleberry Finn, Old Yeller and Animal Farm.

Last month I came across a new book that is sure to one day be a classic. The good news is that it won’t break down the “summer book” negotiation process because there’s truly something in it for both parties. The book is Will Wilder and the Relic of Perilous Falls. At its core,Will Wilder, by Raymond Arroyo, a journalist, dad and New York Times best-selling author, is a classic tale of the eternal battle between good and evil. And just so you don’t think I’m alone in my excitement about this new series, author Mary Higgins Clark says it “magically combines humor and genuine suspense” while the American Library Association’s Booklist review said “Will Wilder’s antics are sure to appeal to middle-grade readers looking for the next great adventure.”

Kids will love that it’s a supernatural thriller. Think Indiana Jones meets Percy Jackson. But I especially appreciate that all the antiquities and relics mentioned can be found in the world’s most important museums – The Walters, The Getty, The Met and churches in the eternal city of Rome.

Most importantly, Will Wilder is a real page turner and interestingly, it goes against the current trend of kids going it alone, so to speak. This is a family saga where Will’s whole family and his closest friends go along for the bumpy and unpredictable ride – a welcome respite from so many stories where parents are absent or too dumb or disinterested to be involved.

Will has a special gift – a supernatural one that frightens his parents. They initially try to protect him from his “inheritance” and family history. Through the adventure, and the nudging of Will’s lethal (but lovable) aunt, Will’s parents learn that they can’t protect Will from himself and that the world is better off, indeed saved, by learning to nurture rather than deny or suppress their son’s extraordinary gifts and destiny. The characters are unforgettable and the book is full of adventure, frights, and dramatic situations that make the reader think about their own responses to the battle between good and evil. It is the perfect summer read when there’s finally time to slow down, enjoy a good book, and share thought provoking questions and discussions we just don’t seem to have time for during the school year. And if you can’t get enough, don’t worry because Mr. Arroyo has already written the sequel.

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