The television is not sucking in every youngster during the holidays. A good many for sure will have their noses in a book

Exams are out of the way, and many city children are signed up for computer or language courses so as not to “waste their holiday”. For those who plan a leisurely summer, the options are endless.

They will swim, row, skate, trek, play badminton, cricket and chess, or play the guitar or drums. And many of them will be reading heavily this summer.

What they read depends greatly on what is available. Maitreyi (12), who lives in the United States, buys books with gift cards if she is sure they will be good, or if they are classics. If she has heard mixed reviews, she gets them at the library.

She has been choosing her own books from a young age, and this summer, between swimming and working on her novel, she plans to read “Jane Eyre” and “Pride and Prejudice”. Hamsi (8), who lives in Delhi, is about to start “The Subtle Knife” by Phillip Pullman and “plans to finish ‘Anne of Green Gables' at some point”. She reads the Harry Potter and Famous 5 books again and again. She borrows regularly from the library, and her parents buy books from charity shops. She chooses some titles herself and also reads what her parents and even grandparents recommend.

Bianka (11) in Chennai has a “looonnnggg list of books” for the summer, and they seem well mixed. On the list are the Ally Finkle series by Meg Cabot, “Here's to You Rachel Robinson” and “Then Again Maybe I Won't”, both by Judy Blum, some Enid Blyton titles, and of course, Calvin and Hobbes and Archies. Her mother buys her books, but Bianka makes her own choice of titles.

Sanjana (13), who also lives in Chennai, drew up a reading list of ten classics well before the holidays, of which she has finished “Pride and Prejudice”. She feels that when she borrows from a library, without worrying about cost, she is better able to do it justice.

Chirantan (15) of Bangalore gets the books he wants from his father's shelves, or borrows from friends and cousins, or tries the library or shops. This summer he plans to read “The Lord of the Rings.

Adarsh (13), from Palakkad, is reading the Hardy Boys series and the Harry Potter books during the holidays. He is a member of a lending library in town and gets most of his books from there. In a panchayat not far from where Adarsh lives, which has no library or bookshop at all, one group of children will meet for their annual summer club. The holiday is a bit freer in this rural area. Most of the children plan to play cricket and other outdoor games, many will travel to visit grandparents, and some are looking to enroll in music or dance class. Athulya and Maya, both 13, like to read stories and poems. They buy books from town or borrow them from neighbours. Sneha (12) and her brother Jerin (14) subscribe to the Malayalam children's digest Balarama and the magazine Balabhumi, which many children in their neighbourhood enjoy. Mahesh (11) and Ramesh (13) will be learning their mother tongue, Tamil, from their mom over the summer. Even here, where books are scarce, many children are drawn to a good story.