Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

The Boy of Summer

We wanted the start of the summer to be a wonderful time for Ben, partly to celebrate his new life as a 6th grader and also to recognize all of his hard work during elementary school. More important than the grades, of course, is who he is — his kindness, respect for everyone, and simple genuineness.

There is a constant battle at this age between maturity and innocence. On the one hand, some kids are exploring music and carrying iPods, starting to flirt, wear certain clothes, and resist the embarrassing affections of their parents. Other kids are still reveling in the wonders of childhood - filled with imagination and the joy of playing, largely oblivious to what others think, and still very attached to the comfort and love of their family.

Sometimes it's tempting to nudge your child along as you see their friends run toward the teenage life (these children almost always have older siblings, by the way). I've had that instinct, but thankfully Lori has taught me love and treasure every moment of Ben's complete sweetness and innocence, and the fact that he'll still hold my hand when we're walking through a crowd.

Here's some fun ideas for indulgent summer fun that Ben is having a blast with...

DangerousThe Dangerous Book for Boys. This book is already a huge best seller and deservedly so. It was originally published in Britain where it became a big hit. They customized it a bit for the American audience and Amazon has had trouble keeping it in stock.

Essentially, it's a guidebook for everything a young boy should know.  Everything from making paper airplanes (which Ben has been doing all weekend) to secret codes, baseball MVP's to making a bow and arrow. The book is absolutely gorgeous, a pleasure to hold, and packed with fun things.

Backyard Baseball 2007. Ben has loved this game for years and when a new version came out just in time for summer, how could we resist? It's available for most platforms, but we got it for the GameCube. Side note: this is another example of why the Wii is so great. There are many good games for the Wii itself, but the fact that it can seamlessly play GameCube games helps fill in any gaps. We've even taken advantage of the Virtual Console to get Pac-Man and Donkey Kong!

Star Wars Mashup. Just in time for Memorial Day Weekend and the 30th anniversary of Star Wars, this unbelievable site allows the Star Wars obsessed to create their own videos by editing and combining clips from the movies. The software (completely online and platform agnostic) is flawless and simple to use. Ben was immediately captivated and has created numerous videos that are hilarious. I think just about anyone with a love for Star Wars would enjoy this. And if you're just interested in web and video technology, it's worth a look as well.

Fetch on PBS. This was our favorite new show last year and we've been waiting eagerly for the second season. It finally starts on Memorial Day. It's a fun game show that celebrates smart, well-rounded kids. We always enjoy it and usually learn a few things as well. It's a great show to watch with your kids, probably 8 and older.

Scholastic Summer Reading Buzz. This is a fantastic new program from Scholastic. Every time your child reads four books this summer, they will donate a book to a child in need. What a great way to encourage reading while also putting the focus on others. Like the big, hungry man at the all-you-can eat buffet, they don't know what they're getting into with Ben - the boy can read a mess of books during the summer! There are also book recommendations and a lot of other fun things on the site.