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By: Shannon Hale,
Blog: squeetus blog
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I was recently gifted a Kobo and now have read three books on the ereader. I like that it's not backlit. After working on my laptop, I don't want to stare at another screen. I like that I can purchase ebooks through my local bookstore for it and check out books from the library and hold many books in one small place. I don't like that it has to be recharged, turned off on airplanes, doesn't feel like a book or smell, I can't easily tell how far into the book I am, the formatting isn't beautiful but functional, etc. I can see the benefits of ebooks in certain circumstances, but I am far from converting entirely to electronic.
I'm not disgruntled about ebooks. I wish I liked them more--I'd love space for a dresser in my bedroom, but all the walls are taken up by book cases. I receive royalties for ebooks just as I do for paper books. But I do believe it's important to consider the consequences if ebooks take up too much market share.
Often ebook retailers who also sell e-readers sell ebooks at a loss in order to promote their e-readers. If ebooks are sold for significantly less than their hardcover and even paperback counterparts, it's less likely people will invest in the latter. Paper books will come to seem ridiculously overpriced. Which they are not. Publishing is not a fat cat industry. No one is getting rich (except a very few megaseller authors, which represent such a tiny percentage of the industry they're hardly worth mentioning). Look at anyone down the line: editor, agent, publisher, publicist, distributor, bookseller, author, and you see that everyone is trying to make a living and no one is wealthy. No one gets into any part of publishing with the intent of striking it rich (unless they're woefully ignorant). They do it because they love books and care about literacy.
So, what happens if ebook prices dip down lower and stay lower? Customers like that because they can buy books for less. HOWEVER, the smaller the print run of a paper book, the more expensive it is to publish, the less profit a publisher makes. If most editions sold of a book are electronic, publishers won't be able to afford printing hard copies. Many books would only be available electronically, and those in paper would be more expensive.
So what? Maybe everything goes digital in the future. Save the trees, right? But what about those who can't afford an e-reader? What about libraries, schools, kids? Right now, public libraries are "the great equalizer" as someone said. Anyone can have access to most any book for free in a library. But if some books are only available as an ebook, only those with readers will have access. Libraries are already underfunded. What will happen if fewer hard copies are printed and the prices go up?
I don't know how this will all play out, but I am concerned. Some say, keep the market open and don't be afraid of change. But the change I foresee isn't just a different industry, it's one that is actually smaller, more prone to monopolies, and less accessible by the poor and by children. I want quality literature. I want freedom of speech. I want all children and adults to have access to thousands of different books, any one of which might change their lives.
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
ARC provided by publisher
Marissa Meyer fans will not be disappointed in Scarlet, Book 2 in The Lunar Chronicles. It has all the heart-pounding action, humor, and touches of romance that Cinder has.
Scarlet centers on Scarlet, the granddaughter of Michelle
As a children's writer, I have seen and appreciated children's books from many angles. Of course, I enjoy trying to write them. And of course I enjoy reading them. As a former elementary school teacher, I also love teaching children to read them. And now, as a mom, I am enjoying a new thrill...
teaching my son to read them! We have finally found the easy readers that motivate him (which in his case often involve vehicles and construction-- Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder and Trucktown books are super popular around here), and it is so exciting to see him on a roll. Now he has even started reading Daddy bedtime stories. :o)
He is so excited that he will likely be reading Magic Tree House books by sometime next year, and he was even more excited when I told him all the books that he would be able to read before Magic Tree House. Books like Little Bear and Amelia Bedelia. And soon after Magic Tree House, books like Dragon Slayer's Academy and Henry Huggins! These are books that he has loved hearing as read alouds and I am so excited for him to enjoy reading them on his own.
He has always loved being read to (which I plan to continue to do for many years to come!), and now it is so exciting to see the excitement of reading on his own begin to take hold!
Looking forward to listening to him read those awesome new Richard Scarry easy readers we just discovered!
So, what books motivated your beginning reader? (I am eager to add to our collection!)
By: Jason Ambrose,
Blog: First Book
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First Book works tirelessly throughout the year to provide new, high quality books to students in need. One of the true pleasures of this work is to know that volunteers, organizations, and communities across the country are working toward the same goal.
Recently, we received a wonderful letter that highlighted the incredible creativity of one such group.
MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights, Michigan, does an annual movie promotion event to benefit an organization of their choice. This year, the movie theater used its promotion for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to help bring books to kids through First Book.
During the movie’s opening weekend, several of the theater’s managers and staff created a wonderful display of Bilbo Baggins’ iconic home, Bag End. One employee went above and beyond to dress up as Gandalf the Grey himself and posed in photographs with patrons for a small donation.
As a result of their hard work and imaginative fundraising, the night turned out to be a huge success. They combined the donations from the weekend with the funds from a year-long soda can recycling program to raise a total of $1,384.66 to help put books in the hands of low-income students.
The staff successfully combined the excitement of a fan base for a movie premiere with the compassion of their audience to help students across the country. It serves as a high bar for the rest of us and makes us think: what are some creative ways we could help the students in our own communities?
If the tale of The Hobbit has taught us anything, it’s that you can never underestimate the impact of a small band of friends. In the wise words of Gandalf the Grey: “I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” In this case, let’s pretend the ‘darkness’ he is referring to is illiteracy. First Book could not be happier to have such great friends, with innovative ideas, along to way to create a generation of successful readers!
My daughter has spent the last couple evenings snuggled up under her blanket reading a book. Correction: reading the iPad. Last night at 10 p.m. I finally said sorry, but you need to go to sleep. I promised to wake her up early so she could finish reading before school. Here's hoping she finishes before it's time to leave or we're going to have a real struggle! The book that has captured her attention? Boys are Dogs by Leslie Margolis. I don't know the author, but with such a ringing endorsement from my reluctant reader, I'm going to have to read this one myself!
But not today. Today is World Read Aloud Day, a celebration of shared words, encouraged by LitWorld.
I read aloud a lot
with my entire family. (Yes, my hubby likes to listen in, too!)
Right now we're in the middle of Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire
. My son and husband have heard this entire series before, but it's the first time through with my daughter. It's been hard to keep some of the secrets of the stories from her (darn those evil children who like to spoil endings!)
but the books are so wonderful that we've all enjoyed discovering them again. And of course, each time we finish a book, the dvd comes out so we can compare the book with the movie. You can guess which version wins every time :-)
What will you be reading out loud today with a child?
What's better than Read Across America Day combined with
a Scholastic book fair combined with
a celebration of Dr. Seuss's birthday
combined with Grandparents' Day
celebrated by having
visiting readers in the classrooms and
grandparents enjoying a concert put on by the children
plus a special lunch
plus 'Seussville' set up in the gym, complete with
games and candy ...
plus more Cat in the Hat-themed treats in the classroom?!
It definitely made for a fabulous Friday
and fun start to the weekend!
"Patrick Stewart should play the Major."
I'm starting to get slammed at work with planning summer reading and other programming, so I haven't been able to read as much as I'd like.
I am almost done with Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, Book 2 in The Lunar Chronicles. It's been a lot of fun so far and a review will be forthcoming.
In audiobooks, I took a break from YA books last month. Major
I have been very busy this week with non-bloggy things - sitting for a grandchild; following my Dad from the hospital to Rehab to another room in Rehab; catching up on Committee work for my worship community; and reading.
Ah, reading... It is a salve to my weary - and sometimes restless - soul. Over at Battle of the (Kid's) Books, you can now vote for the one book in the entire contest that you want to return to the Final Round if it gets voted off. I LOVE this part of BoB because sometimes a worthy book falls short of a worthy judge's expectations. Ya know what I mean? Judges are human.
Here is how my reading and Battle of the Kids' Books stands. I have ONE book yet to read in the first match-up of Round One. I need to get hold of Bomb! by Steve Sheinkin before March 12th.
In the next set of match-ups, I have to read two books, Endangered
by Eliot Schrefer and Three Times Lucky
by Sheila Turnage.
Round one continues, and I must read Starry River of the Sky
by Grace Lin.
In the next set of four contestants, I haven't read THREE of the books; Moonbird
by Philip Hoose, Seraphina
by Rachel Hartman
AND No Crystal Stair
by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson.
Some very heavy reading will be going on in this house.
If you would like to see all the books in the competition, and by elimination the books I've already read, click here
I've voted for MY Undead Choice. It was a close call. Join in the fun, today.
Final post from squeetus guest blogger and teacher, Kirsten Wilcox. This post Kirsten addresses common mistakes parents make while helping their kids learning to read.
Covering up the pictures: Even if your child is on a beginning level and you feel they are just “memorizing the words” they are still reading. DO NOT COVER UP THE PICTURES! If they have “memorized” the words they are still benefitting from reading the book, especially if you have them point to the words as they are reading it. Each time they look at the word and read it correctly it is working its way into their memory.
Getting books that are above their child's reading level: Don’t get anxious and buy harder books because you want them to grow. This will slow their learning down rather than speed it up and will cause confidence issues.
Continuing to read with a child when they are frustrated and angry: When a child is angry they are unable to concentrate, focus or think. This will only lead to more anger from both child and parent, and confirm their belief that they don’t like reading. Try saying, “I can see that your angry right now, and need a little time to cool down. Go get a drink and let me know when you’re feeling better about things”. Sometimes they’ll insist they are ready even when you know they aren’t. I usually say, “I love you too much too read with you when you’re upset. We need to take a few minutes to calm down”. They don’t need to go to time out, and it doesn’t need to be a consequence. When working with my foster boy, he would sometimes throw a raging fit about it, but he quickly learned it just made things last longer. I never talked to him about it when he was in the angry state. I learned from their therapist that kids can’t process what you are saying when they are angry. It is better to talk to them about things when they have calmed down and their mind can listen and think things through.
Telling a child to sound it out whenever they come to a word they don't know: Sounding out a word is only one strategy and isn’t the answer to everything. Many words can’t be sounded out. I usually say, “Let’s say the sounds of the first couple of letters and see if the word ‘pops’ in our head”. Or I just completely use the other strategies all together.
Correcting a word immediately after the child makes a mistake: Sometimes when reading the child will read the word wrong. Let them continue reading to the end of the sentence to see if they can figure out that the word didn’t make sense. If they go back and correct it on their own, praise them for it. If they don’t go back, ask them if what they just read made sense.
Getting frustrated when a child can't figure out a word or saying, "You just read that word!!!" :D This can be frustrating for us as adults, but even if a child just read a word, or it is a word you just talked about, they might need to see it and read it 500 more times before it becomes rote. This is all part of the learning process and it’s ok. How many things do we need to hear and do before we get something new down correctly?
Not reading with their child on a daily basis (even when they've made it to chapter books): I know it takes a lot of time, and is extremely difficult. I’ve experienced this first hand, but reading with your child 20-30 minutes each day is so important especially if they’re struggling. If it is too much time for them you can break it up into smaller pieces. Let part of the time be talking about the pictures and the book. Practice sight words with your child (there are many apps that help kids learn sight words you can use for part of the reading time).
The most important thing is to have fun with it and keep it positive. :D
THANK YOU, Kirsten! Your tips are timely for me. What are your thoughts? Any other traps you've caught yourself falling into? What's worked for you and your kids?
Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:
- My daughter's birthday! Tomorrow is my daughter's 6th birthday. How did that happen? She's getting so big.
- Scholastic Book Fair I'm working at my daughter's school all week to help the PTO out with the book fair. I'm going to have to write like the wind in the afternoons to make up for working in the mornings.
- New novel idea I woke up at 4am Sunday morning with yet another book idea. I'm currently doing edits on my MG novel and I'm drafting another YA already, too. I need to clone myself so I can get all this done.
- Warm Bodies I'm dying to see this movie. I'm reading the book right now and will be reviewing it soon.
- Sweets Blogfest There's still time to sign up for the Sweets Blogfest on March 6th. The rules are simple, just post the blogfest button and link to me and my co-host Beth Fred. Then write about your favorite sweet, favorite sweet couple, favorite sweet romance, or promote your own sweet romance. That's it! You can sign up below:
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?
Author: Jennifer Rush
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
ARC provided by publisher
Altered by Jennifer Rush is a real thrill ride of a novel. Lots of action, lots of twists and turns.
The story centers on Anna, who lives in an old farmhouse with her father. Downstairs is a secret lab where four
The whole I'M BORED adventure has been amazing and continues to be amazing. Whenever things start to settle, something else happens that reminds me all over again to appreciate every moment.
I was floored about how it all began, with a rejection and a friend's encouragement. Then came the Simon & Schuster BFYR book illustration contract and the SCBWI Illustrator Mentorship program. Then the fun and immense satisfaction in collaborating with my editor and art director on the project.
Because I had been so focused on just trying to get published in past years, I underestimated how much joy I would get from reader feedback. Wow.
Experienced authors and illustrators out there are likely much more used to this, but I'M BORED is my first children's book project and I'm still getting used to the fact that people out there -- people who aren't related to me and don't know me -- are looking at my illustrations in a published book they bought or borrowed.
From Paula Speer White, who sent me the photo above: "This book is excellent for teaching verbal irony at the secondary level and self-efficacy at the elementary level~I give it a 10! Humorous, courageous, and witty!"
I've heard from some parents whose children have learning challenges or who are slow readers, who delight in the humor and want to read the book over and over again.
Parents tell me that their older children are enjoying the book as well, reading it on their own.
Librarians tell me that I'M BORED has become a favorite with their young readers. I so love the idea of a copy of the book eventually becoming battered and dog-eared because of constant use.
I think about a young person sitting down with a copy of I'M BORED, or perhaps having the book read to them by an adult, and try to imagine what happens as they listen to the story. Does it make them laugh out? Does it engage their imaginations? Do they identify more with the little girl or the Potato? Does the experience engage them enough to encourage a greater love of books and reading?
Does it change them for the better, even in a very tiny way?
Oh, I truly hope so.
What I've come to realize: While it's good to keep the market in mind (particularly if you want to get your work accepted by a traditional publishing house), remember that it's all about young readers. In the end, we create the magic for them, not the industry.
For more fun photos, see the I'M BORED In The Wild reader gallery. If you'd like to submit a photo, here's how.
Teachers: if your class sends me snaimail about I'M BORED, I'll write back (with doodles!).
Nora is more certain than ever that she is in love with Patch. Fallen angel or no, he is the one for her. Her heritage and destiny may mean they are fated to be enemies, but there is no turning her back on him. Now Nora and Patch must gather their strength to face one last, perilous trial. Old enemies return, new enemies are made, and a friend's ultimate betrayal threatens the peace Patch and Nora so desperately want. The battle lines are drawn—but which sides are they on? And in the end, are there some obstacles even love can't conquer?
I've been dying to read this book, yet I put it off because I didn't want this series to end. Hush, Hush is hands down my favorite YA series. I fell in love with Patch and Nora in book one and their relationship just gets stronger as the series progresses.
In Finale, Nora and Patch find themselves on opposite sides of a war, but if you've followed the series, you know they can overcome anything. Nora has to lead the Nephilim army in a war against fallen angels or she'll die since she swore an oath. Over the course of the book, she comes to side with the Nephilim, understanding that they are victims in this battle, and she truly wants to help them. Only she's hiding a big secret—or two. She killed their former leader and she's dating a fallen angel.
The twists in this book are amazing! As they were revealed, I thought, "I should've seen that coming!" But I didn't, which I love. I did predict something major that happened at the end, but I was okay with it because if it hadn't happened, it would've felt unrealistic to me.
I got teary when I finished the book because I don't want to say goodbye to Patch and Nora. This is definitely a series I'll read again and again.
Just for fun:
What's your favorite book about angels?
Continuing on with our 3-part series, welcome back squeetus guest blogger, Kirsten Wilcox, 1st grade teacher, literacy specialist, and darn fine lady. Next I asked Kirsten what parents can do with emerging readers if they're struggling with comprehension.
There are different things you can do with them. Make sure you are reading with them when they read. Stop after every few sentences and talk about what was read. Here are some comprehension strategies I like:
Predict: Have your child tell you what they think will happen next.
Retell or Summarize: Have them tell you what they just read--do this every few sentences or paragraphs. Don’t wait till a whole chapter has been read.
Make Connections: Have your child tell you what the book reminds them of. (ie. The Little Red Hen: This book reminds me of when my brother wouldn’t help me clean up our room, or when mom made us homemade bread, etc.) They can also make connections to other books (This book reminds me of Chicken Little because they both had Hens in it).
Make a picture in their head: Have them describe or draw what they are seeing when they read a part in the story. This is a skill some kids have to develop.
Questioning: Probably the one we’re the best at. Asking basic questions, but just because your child can answer the basic questions doesn’t mean they have good comprehension.
Inferring: Many times kids can ask the basic questions but have trouble with inferring, where I believe true comprehension comes into play. For example: Once I was doing a reading group with some third graders. We were reading Stuart Little. There is a part in the book where the cat is talking to another cat about how frustrated he is having to share his home with a mouse he isn’t allowed to eat. Meanwhile a bird is sitting on top of a lightpost listening to their conversation. The other cat says he will go to the home and eat the mouse for him. That night Stuart Little finds a note saying he is in danger and needs to leave. When I asked the students, “Who do you think left the note?” No one could figure it out. We ended up reading it three times before someone finally said, “It was the bird!” A good rule of thumb is, when reading with your child, whenever your mind does something or thinks something, check to see if your child’s mind did the same thing. You would be surprised at how much they might be missing.
When reading any book, let your child look at the pictures and stop to talk about it. This processing time is just as important as the time spent reading the words.
If your child is struggling with fluency:
First of all, fluency isn't just reading fast. I tell my first graders, it's making your reading sound like talking. It includes reading smoothly, reading with expression, and phrasing correctly. Fluency and comprehension go hand in hand. Many times if a child is having trouble with fluency they are also struggling with comprehension and vice versa.
One thing that can help with fluency is pair reading. When you pair read with your child, read the book together at the same time matching your speed to theirs. As your child starts to read more smoothly stop reading with them, when they start to get choppy, join in again. I always prepare my students before doing this. I tell them we are going to read together, but if I stop reading they should continue to read without stopping.
I also really like the You Read To Me, I Read To You books by Mary Ann Hoberman. They are fun to read with your child to help build fluency and the kids really like them. I wouldn’t start this until your child is at least on an F or G reading level.
It also helps children to hear fluent reading. Reading to your child can be effective. If you feel you aren’t a good reader, you can have your child listen to books on cd or audio books on the kindle or ipad. They should listen while following along with the book.
Reading books more than once is huge when working with fluency. If it is a chapter book I always pick a paragraph for them to read a few times working on fluency. Many times I try to find a paragraph with quotes, because phrasing can be tricky and imperative to comprehension. It can also help them work on their reading expression.
By: Gina Rullo,
Blog: First Book
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Every year, First Book provides close to ten million brand-new books to local schools and community programs across the country. To make that happen, we rely on the generosity of thousands of individual donors, grants from charitable foundations, and the revenue-generating (and someday self-sustaining) power of own First Book Marketplace.
But the most significant source of funding for First Book’s ever-growing programs is the support of our corporate partners – the companies that are investing in their communities every day by ensuring that kids from low-income families have the books and resources they need to become success stories.
One example of how First Book works hand-in-hand with socially responsible companies is our partnership with SunTrust Mortgage.
SunTrust Mortgage has made it possible for us to put a lot of books into the hands of a lot of kids. But they don’t just write us a check. They get involved in lots of ways, both big and small.
- SunTrust Mortgage employees – over 4,000 of them – have contributed over $500,000 to First Book since 2005. That generosity has put 400,000 brand-new books into classrooms and home libraries.
- SunTrust Mortgage sponsored a “Click Challenge” last year online; funds for 8,700 books were donated in a single week.
- SunTrust Mortgage employees volunteer their time as well. Recently they hand-delivered 1,500 books to John B. Cary Elementary School, Westover Hills Elementary School and G.W. Carver Elementary School, all Title I schools in Richmond, VA.
Now, for the eighth year in a row, our friends at SunTrust Mortgage have stepped up with $50,000 that will provide more new books and resources to the educators and children we work with.
Thanks to everyone at SunTrust Mortgage. We couldn’t do it without you.
Harriet Martineau's Household Education was published in 1848. I don't always read raw history, but I'd been paired with this formidable lady as part of the 26 Norwich Writers project,* and needed to start somewhere. Miss Martineau was astonishingly prolific - hugely influential in her time** - shockingly outspoken on the issues of her day - and clearly an all-round good egg. But, to be honest, I wasn't exactly expecting to really enjoy her writing. But I DID. Household Education is fascinating. It made me go YES! It made me think. And as this blog is the ramblings of a few scattered children's authors, I thought I'd share a few scattered Harrietisms on children and reading.
Such as -"Children who read from the love of reading are usually supremely happy over their book. A wise parent will indulge the love of reading, not only from kindness in permitting the child to do what it likes best, but because what is read with enjoyment has intense effect upon the intellect."
She didn't expect this enjoyment to be an immediate thing.
"The practice of reading for amusement must not begin too soon: and it must be permitted by very slow degrees, till the child is so practised in the art of reading as to have its whole mind at liberty for the subject, without having to think about the lines or the words. Till he is is sufficiently practised for this, HE SHOULD BE READ TO ..." [my capitals]
She did not hold with the modern wisdom that it doesn't matter what children are reading, as long as they ARE reading. As she went on to say,
"The parents' main business during this process is to look to the quality of the books read: - I mean merely to see that the child has the freest access to those of the best quality. Nor do I mean only to such as the parent may think good for a child of such and such an age. The child's own mind is a truer judge in this case than the parents' suppositions. Let but noble books be on the shelf ... and the child will get nothing but good."
Her description of the best education of children - a far cry from so much that's called education in our day or hers - made me want to cheer, or possibly weep: "... the young creatures, having learned to use their own limbs and senses, and acquired the command of speech, begin to use their powers for the acquisition of materials for future thought. They listen, they look about them, they inquire, they read; and, above all, they dream."
If only it were always so.
* As part of the celebrations around Norwich becoming the first English UNESCO City of Literature, the writers' co-operative 26 has come up the project 26 Norwich Writers, in which 26 contemporary writers have been randomly paired with 26 writers from or associated with the city in its long history, and asked to write a response. 26 students from the University of East Anglia are doing the same. That's a lot of 26s in 1 paragraph. Unless it should be 26's ...
** People like Charles Babbage, Charlotte Bronte, Thomas Carlyle, Darwin, Dickens, George Eliot, Malthus, Florence Nightingale and William Wordsworth visited her, though not, we hope, all on the same day.
Yesterday I focused on the dictionary as the best desert island book part of W.H. Auden’s quote. Today, let’s consider the first part of the quote:
Though a work of literature can be read in a number of ways, this number is finite and can be arranged in a hierarchical order; some readings are obviously ‘truer’ than others, some doubtful, some obviously false, and some, like reading a novel backwards, absurd. That is why, for a desert island, one would choose a good dictionary rather than the greatest literary masterpiece imaginable, for, in relation to its readers, a dictionary is absolutely passive and may legitimately be read in an infinite number of ways.
I am fairly confident that we can all agree about a book having a finite number of readings–interpretations, ways of understanding it, arguments. But how in agreement is the book blogosphere on there being a hierarchical order of readings from truer to doubtful to false and absurd? In past meanderings I have come across posts that argue all readings are equally valid. I have also been to book discussions with the same prevailing belief. But such a belief makes it difficult to talk about books, to disagree with a reading, and darn near impossible to learn how to be a better reader.
I do believe that there is a hierarchy, or maybe continuum is a better word, of readings. There is no one right reading of a book, but there are many truer readings to use Auden’s word. A good reading has to be supported by the book itself, one must be able to point to parts of the text as evidence to support one’s opinion. Also, there needs to be an accumulation of evidence. It is not enough to say a book is bad because I didn’t like the protagonist. I must delve into the book and show the protagonist is nothing but a two-dimensional stock character operating on cliches. Likewise, it is not good enough to call a book a masterpiece just because I enjoyed it.
Here is a question, is it the responsibility of readers, especially book bloggers, to help each other become better readers? And if so, how do we go about doing that? If we have not read the book being discussed it is hard to say more than, “wow, this sounds good!” But it is possible to do more than that by asking a question about the book or an observation made by the blogger. I am guilty of taking the lazy way out a lot of the time, but now and then I will ask a question about the book and I must say, even for having not read the book under discussion, I suddenly feel more engaged, more interested, more connected.
Then of course, there are books I have read. Again, I am guilty of being lazy and saying things like, “I loved this book too!” But sometimes I might comment on how I read the book differently and suddenly there is a conversation. I must say I like it when people make respectful comments questioning my reading. My first feeling when I see comments like that is to feel bad or indignant. It is not a comfortable feeling to be questioned. But then I tell myself to not be stupid and I take time to consider the comment and make a response and in the process I find I learn something new about the book. And if the conversation continues for a bit I might even change my opinion because the evidence given in response turns out to point in a different direction than I thought. These are always learning moments and I value them because they help me become a better reader.
Tom at Wuthering Expectations and Teresa at Shelf Love have inspired great conversation about comments and disagreement. And in a way I suppose I am talking about the same thing. But I don’t want to focus on the comments, rather our responsibility as readers to one another.
I don’t think I have ever come across anyone who doesn’t want to be a better reader but it seems the onus is always on the individual to do something about it. And one should. But how? Sure there are books and while they can and do offer good advice it is kind of all in a vacuum. There is also reading professional critics. And while this is really useful it can sometimes feel like an expert telling me what to think. The best way to become a better reader is by talking to other readers and when one is no longer in college this can be tricky. If you are lucky enough to belong to a book group that is more than a social club then you have a great opportunity to learn. Bloggers have a good opportunity too but it relies on the willingness of others to say more than “great post!”
This post has gone where I did not see it going, but I have come to a point where I feel like I need to make a pledge. Not a promise, but a pledge. I can’t promise I won’t ever be lazy in my comments. I can, however, pledge to do my best to reply to comments here and on other blogs in a thoughtful and engaged way. I owe it to myself and to other bloggers/readers to help create the kind of engaged book community that we all long for.
Filed under: Blogging
Author: Karen Hesse
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
ARC provided via publisher
Safekeeping by Karen Hesse is a bit of an odd duck. It's a quiet book, an interior journey as much as it is a physical one.
It's the story of Radley, a young woman who was volunteering at an orphanage in Haiti when America
The Paris Review has a post up today about crying while reading. The post author talks about when she read “The Little Match Girl” at the age of seven and found herself crying uncontrollably a few times at school. She was so embarrassed about being sad over a story that she made up excuses when her teachers tried to find out what was the matter. I was struck by her being embarrassed about crying over a book already at the tender age of seven. American culture doesn’t like it when people cry in public for anything other than a funeral or some sort of traumatic event. Crying during a movie is tolerated because you are in the dark and no one can see you, but if you start sobbing loudly I am sure people in your vicinity would not be pleased.
Crying while reading a book is frowned upon if you are anything besides alone. So what is a reader in public to do when the tears begin to flow? Luckily, the Paris Review linked to an article at BookRiot, What to Do When Books Make You Cry on Public Transportation. I’ve been taking public transit to work for the last four years and I must admit that I have had to stifle tears a few times. My technique for hiding my tears varies depending on the time of day. If it is morning, then I go for the fake yawn and start rubbing my eyes. No crying here, these are yawn tears and bed eyes, what do you expect for 6:45 in the morning?
If it is a summer afternoon I start sniffling like I have a stuffed nose, pretend I am going to sneeze, and then start rubbing my eyes. Allergies people, I have allergies! Winter afternoons are harder. If I can’t contrive to make it seem like I have gotten a blast of arctic cold air in my face that made my eyes water when the train door opened just then I have to resort to looking out the window and making faces or pulling the big hood on my coat over my head as far as it will go to try and hide my face.
Most of the time though when I am reading in public I am trying to not laugh/snort/chuckle/giggle/guffaw out loud. I work in downtown Minneapolis and there are already a large number of not quite sane people wandering around the area and riding the train. There are a number of regulars I see nearly every day who have entire conversations with themselves, laughing and arguing, questioning and scolding. I am worried that if I laugh out loud while reading my book I might get lumped in with the resident crazies.
But why should it matter whether a book makes me laugh or cry in public? Why am I embarrassed? Why do I care what the people around me think? Maybe one of these days I will just say forget it and sob and laugh freely over my books in public. If I did that then maybe all the other readers on the train will be emboldened to do the same. And who knows where that might lead?
Filed under: Books
Today I will ask 5 questions that have had me thinking lately.
1. Why is coffee so magical?
I think coffee makes people smart. Whenever Mom sits down to write, she always puts a cup of coffee next to the computer. I think it magically helps her brain.
2. Is a laundry basket a bed?
Bed is a good place to read books. Mom reads books a lot. A laundry basket is a good place to sleep. At least until Mom says, “OUT!”
3. Can a light chase away monsters in the dark?
When Mom writes about monsters, dragons, dinosaurs, or cats, I am afraid. I am also afraid of the dark. And balloons. And the golf cart. And pumpkins. And street signs. And soccer players. And….
4. Is a dog head good medicine for a sore knee?
This is how I help Mom when her knee hurts. I help her with her writing, too, mostly by staring at her when she’s trying to work.
5. If a chair is not pushed all the way under the table, is it OK to climb up and eat cake out of the box? I love cake.
Speaking of cake and coffee… Thanks to our friends at DogDaz for inviting us to coffee and our friends at Bumpy Road to Bubba and Angels Whisper for including us in their coffee party. Definitely take a visit to their blogs, if you haven’t already. Also, we will include ALL our blog buddies in our coffee party, so feel free to take the badge and answer the questions if you’d like to join us.
1) How many cups of coffee per day? Mom has 2 or 3. I have as many slurps as I can beg, borrow, or steal.
2) What is your favorite caffeine delivery system? Mom likes her Keurig. I like when she leaves her cup on the table and doesn’t push in her chair.
3) What was your best cup of coffee? They are all perfect.
4) What was your worst cup of coffee? No such thing. Even the stale, strong coffee in the teacher’s lounge at Mom’s old school, was delicious to her.
5) What does your favorite mug say? Mom’s favorite has a c-c-c-cat on it.
6) How do you take your coffee? Cream and sugar – very light and very sweet, just like me!
7) When was your first cup? Mom drank coffee flavored milk when she was little. My first taste was the morning after Mom found me at the rescue event.
8) Have you ever gone on a coffee tea date? We’re on one right now!
By: Brian Minter,
Blog: First Book
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Chandler Arnold, First Book’s executive vice-president, with a student from Belmont Runyon Elementary school in Newark, NJ, at a ‘Read Across America’ event last year.
Read Across America Day is fast approaching; on March 1, children across the country will celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday by reading ‘The Cat in the Hat’ and other childhood favorites.
But, as much as we love Dr. Seuss, the READING part is the important bit. At First Book, we will always line up for cake and ice cream, but books and reading come first. Because kids who read at home become stronger, more capable readers, and that’s the critical ingredient in become successful — in school and in life.
‘Read Across America’ is an annual event sponsored by our friends at the National Education Association (NEA). First Book is proud to do our part for such a critical issue.
Here’s what you can do:
And most importantly of all, take the time to read to a child in your life. You’ll both be glad you did.
By: Shannon Hale,
Blog: squeetus blog
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Today I have a guest blogger! I asked first grade teacher, literacy specialist, and all around fab lady Kirsten Wilcox to give some advice to parents with beginning or struggling readers.
Wow this is a loaded question. :D
First of all, if you have a child that is young or in the pre-reading stage, phonemic awareness is a great way to give them a boost for when they start reading. Phonemic Awareness is playing with words and sounds without print or letters. It is all auditory. For example, reading them books, singing songs, playing with rhymes, clapping syllables, changing the first letter of a word, alliteration, breaking words apart, blending sounds together to make a word are all good exercises. Nursery rhymes and singing songs with your child at a young age is a great way to build their foundation for reading. Reading to your children daily is also extremely beneficial.
When a child has learned the names and sounds of the alphabet and are able to start blending sounds together they are in the first stages of reading. When reading with a child, it is critical that children are reading books on an independent (98% accuracy) or instructional (95% accuracy) level. Anything beyond that is frustrating and will not be beneficial. A good note of thumb is if it's frustrating or difficult for you to listen to, it's probably frustrating for the child trying to do the reading. Confidence is key!
Make sure you are consistently telling them what a good reader they are. Try to keep things positive. If they're getting upset go to an easier book for a while.
When I first started reading with my 10 year old foster boy, he would get extremely angry and upset whenever he had to stop and fix a word, or got to a word he didn’t know. I knew I needed to keep things positive even though it was difficult. I would never continue until he calmed down. When kids are angry and upset their “brains turn off” (just an expression I use). I told him we needed to get our reading done before he could play, etc but I couldn’t read with him till he was calm. I also got some m&m’s and every time he came to a word he didn’t know and was able to stay calm and figure it out with my help he would get an m&m. Sometimes we have to get creative in helping our kids to feel ok about making mistakes. They many times have ingrained in their mind that they are stupid or CAN’T do it. If their mind believes they can’t do it, they really can’t. Confidence is everything, so if they’re struggling, the first step is to build their confidence through praise and finding them books they can be successful with, even if it means going back a level or two for a while. Sometimes one step back will gain two steps forward in the end.
When a child gets stuck on a word help them use reading strategies to figure it out. If you see them getting overly frustrated, it's ok to just tell them the word once in a while especially if it's a word you know they aren't going to be able to figure out.
Some of my favorite strategies are: Look at The Picture, Look for a word Inside the word (ie: hand), look for parts you know (ie: playing), Skip the word and read to the end of the sentence (I always tell my students when using this strategy to remember to go back and see if they can get it), Think about what makes sense, Think of the first word that “pops” in your head.
As a child uses these strategies, I praise them for it by saying "That's what good readers do". For instance, if a child reads a word wrong but then fixes it on their own I say, "Great job self correcting! That's what good readers do!" Or if I see a child look at the picture to try and figure out a word I say, "Great job looking at the picture. That's what good readers do."
Preparing a child before they read a book is also very effective. When starting a new book with a child I always tell them the title. We look at the cover and I have them predict what they think the book is going to be about. We then go on a “picture walk”. Go through each page looking at the pictures. Have the child talk about what they see and what they thing is going to happen. As they are looking and talking about the pictures, scan the words and look for words you know they will have trouble with. Use those words over and over again as you talk about the picture with your child. Sometimes I even point out the word on the page. I say, “look at this word. It’s a hard one. This says….). Sometimes I say, “laugh is a hard word. Do you think you can find it on this page?" Then we talk about it. I keep it light and joke with them. I say, “what a crazy word!” and read it the way it would sound if I said the sound of each letter. They usually laugh and I say, “No one knows why that word is spelled that way, it’s a red word. It doesn’t follow the rules”. Basically you are preparing them to read the book, so when it comes time for them to read it they are more successful.
Thanks, Kirsten! We'll hear more from her later. What do you think? Anything she said surprise you? Any strategies that have worked for you?
I mentioned in a post last month that some of the Columbus Dispatch Kid Readers (with the help/supervision/blessing of their parents) have joined Goodreads.
Let's back up a minute and just talk about the ways we adults keep track of what we've read. My mom has a little notebook where she writes down titles and authors. She's a voracious mystery series reader, and she needs to keep track of which books in which series she's already read. My friend Lisa is the keeper of our book club's history of reading. She's got a list that goes all the way back to our club's first book together, Lucy Calkins' THE ART OF TEACHING WRITING, which we read when it was new. I was inspired by a fellow writer for the (now defunct) OSU publication THE W.E.B. to read a children's book a week (or if not a book every week, then at least 52 children's books a year). That was back in the mid-1980's. I have a whole shelf full of notebooks listing all of the books I read for about 25 years. Then, in 2007, Goodreads came on the scene. For a few years, I kept both my notebook and my Goodreads listing, but my reading record is now completely digital.
Okay. So we keep track of what we read.
But what if we'd been doing that since we were 10 or 11 years old?
It's been amazing to watch these kids explore and play on Goodreads. First they entered just the book they were currently reading. But that soon expanded. One girl keeps a list of her 5th grade reads in her Take Home folder as well as in her Language Arts binder; she entered all 50+ books she's read this year. After that, I saw other lists expand all the way back to favorites from their early reading years. They've started creating bookshelves -- learning the power of tagging -- and they're marking books as "To Read" -- planning ahead for future reading.
I heard from a parent that sending messages is a popular facet of Goodreads -- the account was created through the mom's email, and her daughter is now getting more emails than she is -- many with the sole content being, "Hi!"
That might be a somewhat trivial part of the way the students are using Goodreads, but they are also following authors' reviews, becoming fans of authors, collecting quotes, setting reading goals, and creating book quizes. Not just taking quizes, creating them and inviting the other Columbus Dispatch Readers to take them!
Up until now, Goodreads has simply been a place for me to log the books I've read. These kid-readers have explored it like a playground, finding every interesting nook and cranny and trying it all out for themselves. I can't wait to watch their reading habits change and evolve as they move through middle school, high school, and beyond. (We'll just assume for the sake of argument that there will still be both an Internet and a site called Goodreads that will last that long as well...)
For the third year in a row, our friend Mo Willems, beloved children’s author & illustrator, will be providing brand-new Elephant & Piggie books and activity kits to kids in need!
The books and activity kits will go to second grade students in New Orleans, Springfield and Holyoke, Mass. (These places have special meaning for Mo; he grew up in New Orleans and now resides in Massachusetts.)
Mo’s Elephant & Piggie characters inspired First Book to create Friendiversary, an annual celebration of friendship and reading. After all, who better exemplifies the meaning of friendship than Elephant & Piggie?
You can help second-graders across the country celebrate Friendiversary on Feb. 26! Click here to donate.
For every $33 donated, 10 second grade students will receive their own Mo Willems books and activity kits for the celebration.
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I am aware that I am dreadfully behind the times, but the Kindle I wanted finally hit a price point that I felt was worth it and I got one: a Kindle Keyboard 3G/Wifi model. It’s nice. I’ve been tinkering with it. Here are some initial impressions.
1. Now that the Kindle Fire and other fancier ebook readers are out, the older ones are relatively inexpensive. While you can still buy this model new for low three figures, I got it refurbished from ebay for $50 delivered and was happy about it. Didn’t come in an Amazon box. Just showed up in some bubble wrap with a cable. Fine by me and super cheap for worldwide low-end 3G and an “experimental” browser.
2. I am mostly interested in using this when I travel for the free worldwide-ish internet access as well as being able to carry a lot of books with me on a long trip. I still prefer paper books but am at the point where I need to have more working knowledge of ebook readers than I have. We lend them out at the library that I occasionally work at, but that isn’t enough. I am not interested in buying a lot of new books. I am not interested in creating any more of a relationship with Amazon than I already have. I have a loose relationship with copyright laws but that doesn’t mean that you should, necessarily.
3. First step: hacking it so I can do what I want with it. I do not want their default screen savers. I do not want to pay them to convert things to PDF for me. I do not want to only buy things from the store, I don’t really care about the store. I don’t like the blinky page turning effect. A quick google brings me to this page. I follow a few instructions and I have my own screensavers and a jailbroken Kindle. I also read more about the blinky page flashing effect and why it exists (and that the alternative is often ghosting which would drive me crazy) and I’ve decided to stick with the blinky and learn to live with it, even though it’s nice to have options. I am not messing with the default fonts, for now. I am not installing KIF the Kindle interactive fiction interpreter, for now. I am okay that I will miss out on Amazon-only releases, for now.
4. Second step: get some books. As I said, I wanted to see how much I could do with this without involving Amazon. I’m not anti-Amazon so much as I’m just Amazon-agnostic and don’t want to have my device talking to them about me. There are basically three main ways to get books on to the thing: buy them, steal/borrow them, create them.
As much as I love the DIY Scanner idea, it’s a ways off for me. So I’m going to focus on the middle option.
First option: I went to Listen Up Vermont and gritted my teeth through the terrible interface (which I hear is changing), found a book I wanted to read, went to check it out, tried three different library cards until I got one that worked. Then got to the Amazon page and had to log in there as well. Did not want to register my Kindle. My only option at that point was to read the book in the “cloud reader” [i.e. on their website]. Okay. No way to download a book without becoming an Amazon customer. I’m sure this is not news to anyone who has a Kindle, but I hadn’t really tried this all out yet. This whole process took far too long.
Second option: Open Library. Found a book I wanted to read. “Checked it out” via Open Library’s nifty checkout options. Not even sure which library card I used, maybe it was just me being in the state of Vermont. Checked out the PDF of the book. Downloaded it to my desktop via Adobe Digital Editions which did not require me to register for an account but did have less functionality if I didn’t register which seemed okay to me. Could read it on my desktop. Was prohibited because of DRM from reading it on my Kindle. In the interests of science I tried to figure out how to get this to work anyhow. Spent a lot of time on this website reading about Calibre and the DRM and ebooks generally. Don’t let the post dates fool you, this is a fairly up to date blog. Calibre is a great ebook management tool that follows in the steps of some other open source tools in that it doesn’t break DRM itself, but you can obtain plug-ins that will do the DRM-breaking if you want. It also does a lot of other great things like allowing you to edit ebook metadata and group and organize your ebook collection. You can also use Calibre to format-shift your ebooks to and from various formats. I took the DRM off this ebook and then moved it to my Kindle. It’s not so great to read there because it’s in PDF format but it was good for proof of concept. 500 page PDFs are just not awesome for reading.
Third option: piracy. Most of the time if you search for a reasonably popular book using the title and other words like “mobi” or “epub” you can find forums where people upload pirated copies of these books to filesharing sites like divshare or mediafire. It’s worth noting that the Apprentice Alf website that helps you break DRM explicitly says that breaking DRM to upload books to piracy sites is an explicitly uncool use of DRM end-running which is the position I agree with for the most part. I tried the pirate download options with a book I already had in hard copy and found not just that book but a bundle of five other books by the same author. Downloaded, unrar-ed drag-and-dropped to my Kindle. Started reading. No passwords. No failures.
And as far as the reading experience, I’ve taken to it much more quickly than I thought I would. This is, of course, what everyone but me thought would happen. The Kindle is light, the back-forth buttons are simple and not accidentally clicked. I like being able to look up words in a dictionary without moving more than a few fingers. I like that it knows where I left off. I like getting to toss a book out when I am done with it. All in all my conclusions are much like the ones I was nodding my head with at the In Re: Books conference. Ebooks readers are great and improving all the time. It’s the ebooks themselves–the DRM, the bad user experience, the complicated and wonky checkout procedures, the lack of privacy, the changing restrictions we deal with as libraries, the terrible websites our vendors create–that are not just suboptimal but at the center of a bad user experience that we’re in the awkward position of promoting as if it were our own.
So, mixed feelings of course. I’ve gone to bed and read my Kindle most nights this week and enjoy it. I still can’t look a patron in the eye and explain that they need to go through a bunch of bad websites, log in at least twice and create relationships with multiple vendors who are not the library in order to check out a book from us. Here’s hoping the landscape will change for the better. Here’s suggesting we do what we can to help that happen.