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As summer approaches, kids get excited for freedom from the routines and structures of school. But parents often worry how they will encourage their children to keep reading. Kids have put a lot of effort into developing their reading abilities throughout the school year--what's going to happen to all those hard-earned skills over the summer?
Parents and children know that it’s important for children to develop strong reading skills--the question I hear so many parents asking is, “How can I get my child to enjoy reading more?” They’re absolutely right. Enjoying reading is key--we want our kids to get lost in books, totally absorbed in whatever they're reading.
We do what we enjoy doing--that’s basic human nature, isn’t it? Reading develops only with practice -- the more you read, the better you get; the better you get, the more you read. So how do we help children enjoy reading and choose to read more often?
Research has shown that two elements are key: children's access to interesting books and choice of books that they can read. It makes sense, doesn't it? I love the way Dav Pilkey, author of the Captain Underpants series, put it in What Kids Are Reading:
"What if all of your reading material was selected by, or restricted by people who believed that they know what was best for you? Wouldn’t that be awful? Wouldn’t you resent it? And isn’t it possible that you might begin to associate books with bad things like drudgery and subjugation?"
The first step to supporting your child is to encourage them to pick what interests them. During the summer, encourage them to seize the power and declare their own passions or interests. Baseball fan? Read biographies, baseball mysteries or sports magazines. Dolphin lover? Dive in deep, learning all about types of dolphins, threats on their habitats and scientists who study them.
The second step is to get a sense of your child's approximate reading levels--not to prescribe what your child can read, but to help her find books that are easy enough to read independently. Children will find the most success reading books in that they can read easily and fluently, especially during the summer.
The final step is to recognize that learning is social -- kids will get engaged more if you value their ideas, ask for their recommendations, talk with them. Do they resist talking with you? Figure out another way for them to engage with others--maybe it's high-tech and setting up a blog, maybe it's old-school and having a reading recommendation journal that you each put entries into, maybe it involves ice cream and friends who like to talk about books and hobbies.
How can I not like The Blobfish Book by Jessica Olien? Having three kids of my own and working with kids, I have been getting asked what my favorite animal is for over 20 years now. And not only do I get asked what my favorite animal is, I get asked specifically what are my favorite mammal, sea animal and reptile - red panda, narwhal and Komodo dragon, respectively. Two years ago, I discovered the blobfish and the axolotl while reading Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Earth's Strangest Animals and became a little obsessed. In fact, a student of mine even made me a Pokemon blobfish card...
With The Blobfish Book, Olien has a story within a story, meta kind of thing going on. Blobfish, seen initially as a quasi-cute cartoony character, is about to read The Deep Sea Book, which he takes a red crayon to, making it his own.
Readers will actually learn a bit about deep sea creatures and how they live in The Blobfish Book, despite Blobfish's defacement. However, if this book sparks curiosity in your young readers, be sure to check out Glow: Animals with Their Own Nightlights by W.H. Beck, which I reviewed last year.
The twist comes when the enthusiastic, slightly goofy Blobfish finally gets to the page displaying his species and is deeply saddened to learn that the blobfish was once voted the world's ugliest animal. He burst into tears, but his fellow deep sea creatures come to his side and draw up a final page for the book, showing the world that blobfish are in fact cute, friendly and fascinating. The Blobfish Book ends with a two page spread that gives readers more facts about the cast of characters and the environment that they live in.
The Blobfish Book is a good way to introduce readers to this curious creature. But, as a fan of the fish itself, I have no doubt that there are lots more creative possibilities for blobfish in picture books and am sure they are already being written and illustrated...
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Welcome back to Upcoming Titles, our monthly feature where we highlight books releasing this month. As always, this is by no means a comprehensive list of forthcoming releases, just a compilation of titles we think our readers (and our contributors!) would enjoy.
Summer is in full swing and two of our PubCrawl contributors have books coming out this month, including our very own Jodi Meadows and Julie Eshbaugh! Julie’s debut will be coming out this month and we are so, so, so excited for her book to finally be out in the world!
Welcome to another session of Turning Pages!Readers who enjoy a sprawling fantasy epic will be glad to see another female-centric contender on the horizon. Thought The Conqueror's Saga is a series, its first book stands alone with a finished arc... Read the rest of this post
Being eleven isn’t easy, but you’re in luck: we’ve got a great list of eleven classic books that every eleven-year-old should read. They’ll help you through the trickier moments, give you something to laugh about, and take you on some pretty wild adventures!
The City of Ember Humankind has survived the end of the world in the city of Ember, protected by a dome overhead and surrounded by darkness. For 241 years, humans have lived in this city lit by lamps. There used to be instructions to get out, but they have been long lost . . . or have they? With blackouts happening more often and storerooms getting dangerously empty, it’s up to friends Doon and Lina to find a way to save humanity.
Holes Poor Stanley Yelnats has been wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit and is sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile disciplinary facility in the middle of the desert. This is no surprise to Stanley, who comes from a family seemingly cursed with really, really bad luck–but he’s not ready for the mystery that is Camp Green Lake. Each day, the boys at Camp Green Lake have to dig a hole that is 5 feet deep by 5 feet wide. It’s supposed to help them to “build character” . . . or is it? What are they REALLY digging for, and why?
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief After an extra-freaky incident (involving an algebra teacher turning into a man-eating monster during a school field trip), dyslexic Percy Jackson suspects that not everything in his life is as it seems . . . and he’s right. It is soon revealed that his father is the Greek god Poseidon, and Percy flees to Camp Half-Blood and train with other demigods (half-god, half-humans) to prevent an all-out war from erupting between the gods!
Smile Raina just wants to be a normal sixth-grader, but when she damages her front teeth during an accident, the next few years are anything but normal! Raina has to deal with painful headgear, braces, retainers, and surgeries on top of the regular drama of crushes, physical changes, and family problems. It seems like Raina can’t catch a break, but the valuable lessons she learns along the way just might make everything worth it.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 When Kenny’s older brother Byron–who is always getting into trouble–takes his shenanigans too far, the whole Watson family of Flint, Michigan, heads south so that Grandma can teach him a thing or two. But as the Watsons fall into one hilarious misadventure after another, a very dark moment in American history suddenly strikes–one that will change not only the Watson family, but the entire nation.
Out of My Mind Eleven-year-old Melody, who has cerebral palsy, can’t walk or talk. But on the inside, she’s a genius with a photographic memory and brilliant mind. When her family gets her a computer, she’s able to “speak” for the first time. But being able to share her mind with the outside world can be heartbreaking, and it’s going to take a lot of inner strength for Melody to finally find her voice.
Hoot Roy is used to being the new kid at school, but this time around at Trace Middle School, things are going a little differently. Roy’s accidentally become arch enemies with the school bully, and he’s befriended misfits, Beatrice and Mullet Fingers. And then there’s the baby burrowing owls . . . and the pancake house that’s threatening to force them out of their habitat. Roy and his new friends are on a mission to save the owls, but when it’s their word against the grown-ups, they’re going to have to fight with everything they’ve got.
Stargirl When Stargirl first arrives at Mica High, she is so strange that no one knows what to make of her. Her schoolmates fall in love with her quirky ways and happy attitude at first, but her popularity is short-lived, and it’s not long before she becomes the butt of every joke . . . for the same things that made her so lovable to begin with. Leo, who admires Stargirl still, wants to help her to fit in again. But will making Stargirl “normal” fix her problems?
Esperanza Rising Esperanza leads a lovely life in Mexico, where she is treated like a princess and surrounded by love and kindness. But when tragedy strikes, Esperanza and her mother are forced to flee to the United States. Life in the U.S. is very difficult, as they have to take jobs as migrant workers. But in spite of the grueling work and poor living conditions, Esperanza begins to realize that happiness may, in fact, come from within . . .
A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning For the Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, things keep going from bad to worse. After they are orphaned in a fire, the three siblings are sent to live with the sinister, greedy Count Olaf. Olaf is after their inheritance money, but the Baudelaire kids have a trick or two up their sleeves–and they are determined to foil his plans!
The Mysterious Benedict Society Eleven-year-old orphan Reynie Muldoon, after answering an unusual ad in the paper and completing a series of competitive tasks, has been selected to join a secret society with three other gifted children. What he doesn’t anticipate is that he’ll be trained by a criminal mastermind to help him take over the world–not exactly what he signed up for!
Which books from this list have you read? Which books do you think every eleven-year-old should read? Share your thoughts in the Comments below!
The place: Russia, deep in the forest. The time: deep winter, a few years before the Russian Revolution would change the country forever. We're not given a precise date, only that it happened about a hundred years ago, and hints given in the novel suggest the Tsar is Nicholas II, who had a sick son, and that it's after 1905.
Twelve year old Feodora, known as Feo, lives in the forest with her mother, returning to the wild wolves which have been abandoned by the aristocrats who had kept them as pets and become bored with them. When an insane General destroys their home and arrests her mother, dragging her off to St Petersburg, Feo follows with her much-loved pack of wolves, a newborn wolf pup and a new friend, Ilya, who has been forced to become a soldier(he's under age)when he would much rather be a dancer.
Along the route to save Feo's mother, they make friends among the peasants who are starting to become restless; the General has been oppressing them too, and he represents the Tsar, after all. While the coming Revolution is never mentioned, anyone who is familiar with it will recognise the signs. And yet, the ending is almost fairy tale... I can't tell you any more lest I spoil it.
The author doesn't hesitate to do dreadful things to her characters, but it was a dreadful time, after all, and motivation is needed for the decisions made on Feo's quest.
The language is beautiful and the flavour purest folk tale; I could almost hear a balalaika playing in some scenes, such as when a group of peasants celebrate the arrival of Feo and Ilya. In fact, I could almost imagine Baba Yaga flying through the trees in her mortar and pestle or arriving in her house on chicken legs! It is that kind of vision of Russia.
If I have a nitpick, it was how quickly the villain recovers from having his eye poked out! I just can't imagine it.
Still, it's a great adventure with wolves, which I'm sorry I took so long to get around to reading, and I would recommend it for children from late primary school to early secondary.
I'm starting to fall in love with nonfiction. It started years back with a book that looked at history through the lens of the oak tree.
Then there were books by Bill Bryson, a favorite author. One looks at history through the lens of our homes, and another focuses on a single amazing year in history.
Just recently, I finished listening to a history traced by what we've been drinking.
In my Audible wish list are now histories focused on salt and cod, seeds, potatoes, food, and innovations. Suddenly, I can't get enough of this way of thinking about history! One of most prolific writers of this kind of history, Mark Kurlansky, has adapted two of his most popular books for adults into picture books. Next year, I intend to read more nonfiction aloud to my fifth graders. I'll start with these two!
We have made some wonderful friends here in Edinburgh, and if there's anything that sets them apart, it's that they are all brilliant and enormously talented in unique and wonderful ways. For instance, my friend Amandine. She's a publicist during the day, but with her free time, she loves to sing. Not just any singing - she sings in choral groups and ensembles, like the one we went to see recently. Amandine is in the front row on the far left.
The performance was held in Reid Hall, a beautiful building that I haven't seen much of because it's been surrounded by construction since we arrived. It was hard to find the back entrance (the only way in right now), but was worth the hunt. It was stunning.
The unique thing about this ensemble is the music selections were all by female composers, conducted by Caroline Lesemann-Elliott (a UoE student!). You may recognize some of the last names, although probably not the first ones:
Key to this performance was to place the music in context. Women musicians have not been taken seriously throughout history. Heck, even today, you rarely hear about female composers, which is part of why this performance was so nice. Look at the dates on some of the last performances - the music was wonderful! But this quote from the program is indicative of what female composers were and often still are up against...
Of course, that didn't and doesn't stop them. The first piece we heard was proof. O Virtus Sapientiae by Hildegard von Bingen. She lived from 1098 to 1179. Yes, you read that right - the 11th century. We may not have any audio recordings from that time, but we can still hear the voices - harmonies written long before America was discovered (by white folks), even before Edinburgh was officially established (although people have been living here since the Mesolithic era). CLICK HERE to have a listen on Youtube. It reminded me of the female singer and composer, Barbara Strozzi, who came into popularity in Venice during the Baroque era. She was generally thought to be a courtesan - her only 'in' to the music scene, which is why she is always rendered half clothed. Although, it's possible the lens of her life was painted and recalled through jealousy, as she was one of the most talented musicians of her time. Click the image to listen to her YouTube channel. And ENJOY!
I ain’t going to lie. This round of edits has been really tough. So I was encouraged to find these good words waiting for me on Monday.
As soon as we realize that there is a difference between right now and what might happen next, we can move ourselves to the posture of possibility, to the self-fulfilling engine of optimism.
— Seth Godin
I’m an optimist. I don’t know why. But it has made things easier.
— Geoff Herbach (…wise words from his grandmother)
Place your attention on what is occurring now, not anticipating the future.
— Ennea Thought for the Day
In life, it’s impossible to always feel like everything is going well and that you’re exactly where you want to be in terms of success. It’s like the tide – it ebbs and flows. Sometimes you’ll feel successful, like the high tide, and other times, the tide will go out and you’ll feel dissatisfied with the way things are going. You just have to ride it out. Eventually, the tides will turn again.
— Lisa Schroeder (…from the podcast Millennial)
And this one came through on Tuesday —
Optimism is true moral courage.
– Ernest Shackleton
In The Hindu Madhumitha Dhanasekaran has a piece on Legends of Tamil literature, helpfully introducing several leading authors and offering 'Our picks' of their major works.
Sounds good -- except that you won't find these titles at your local bookstore, or, indeed, in most cases anywhere, at least in English .....
Read the rest of this post
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Rabindranath Tagore's 1929 novel, Farewell my Friend.
The 1913 Nobel laureate is best known as a poet, but he also wrote quite a bit of fiction, including several novels -- not all of which, amazingly, have been translated int English yet (though this one has, repeatedly).
Most of the fiction is also damned hard to find in English -- disappointing, because it really is quite good.
Today we are going to talk about Book Nooks for kids. Summer is coming and school will be out so it's important to keep that reading momentum up with your kids. Creating a designated reading space for them will help them wind down from all the other distractions around them and concentrate on great stories. If you design a cozy spot for them to curl up in, add a blanket, some cushions and a pile of books containing subjects that they are interested in....voilà....instant reading success!!!
Unwrapping some cool design for you...
Everyone wants their kids to love reading. The skill of reading is important but the love of reading is a priceless gift to instil in your child making them ardent lifelong readers. Kids can read almost everywhere- in the car, on the couch, under the bed sheets, or at the kitchen table, but a designated reading space that you set up together will make reading even more fun for them. The Book Nooks that you create don't have to be expensive or fancy. You can take a table, throw a blanket over it and add the extras or set up your summer camping tent in the back yard. I know (back in the day) when I was a kid my mom would give us an old quilt and her basket of clothes pins. My two sisters and I would pin the quilt to the fence, find stones to hold it down and crawl in that space and read there. Mom would bring us out popsicles and little snacks and we were happy readers for the afternoon.
How to create a Kid-friendly Book Nook...
*Keep it kid-centred -
If it's a kid-centered then your kids should have a say in the layout and design. Let them choose the colours, and the add-ons and the books. It's all about them and their willingness to read and be happy doing it.
*Keep it simple- Simplicity reigns. You can have a bookshelf, a big basket, a bin full of books or create your Book Nook in the proximity of books. Gather together blankets, pillows, perhaps some type of seating if that's style you choose, a light to illuminate the pages. The number one consideration and priority is.... comfort and happiness. Lots and lots of books to enjoy is mandatory. * Keep it functional- Book Nooks have to work. They need to be like a magnet to kids to draw them into the space and promise a good time while there. Like ants at a picnic, moths to flames, and kids to messes this must work. They need to be embraced with opens arms, ignited imaginations and a readiness to to house read any time of the day. Especially perfect for indoor rainy days. * Keep it close- It's always a good thing to if Book Nooks are in central locations not off in some solitary place. This gives parents an opportunity to monitor what's happening and hopefully jump in and join in on the fun. I prefer Book Nooks to be open invitations to cozy up and read as a family or at least a sibling or a buddy. * Keep it pretty- That's important. Kids too like spaced that are aesthetically pleasing. Whether young or old we appreciate beauty, and well all feel good when things around us are fresh, new and clean. You can add little pieces to ramp up the joy such as framing a cool book cover, pieces of your child's artwork, or even a flower from the garden on top of the bookshelf. * Check out online to find summer reading lists to devour and perhaps once a week take a family trip to the library to check out books to stockpile in the Nook.
After the success of a pop up shop at Christmas time New Zealand based designer Ellen Giggenbach has taken the plunge and opened her very own retail store "ELLEN G" in Petone near Wellington.
It’s in a lovely big airy space and filled with a large variety of products all featuring Ellen's wonderful art. Ellen makes as much as she can herself (the wall hangings, cushions and paper products/
Click here and listen the audio ऑडियो – समाज कार्य और समाज सेवी अगर आपके पास 1 मिनट और 55 सैंकिंड हैं तो आप सुनिए ऑडियो मेरी आवाज में कैसे समाज कार्य करते हैं ये समाज सेवी … पिछ्ले दिनो कुछ समाज सेवियों से वास्ता पडा. आप सोच रहे होंगे कि ये वास्ता शब्द किसलिए इस्तेमाल किया […]
As reported at the official site, publisher Peter Owen has passed away.
He was responsible for an impressive and interesting list -- and many of the Peter Owen titles are under review at the complete review.
Guess the Plot Zach Beacon Strikes Out 1. Zach Beacon has swung at his last pitch. The major league slugger was found lying face down at home plate in the fifth inning, clubbed to death by a baseball bat. It's up to detective Nick Barnes to solve the case, but none of the 40,000 fans in attendance saw what happened. 2. Led by shortstop Zach Beacon, a baseball team goes on strike, purposely losing their games to protest the firing of a groundskeeper. It's so cute when little kids fight for a cause. 3. Zach Beacon is a swell feller. His grandpa even said so. So why is he always last? Time is running out before Zach must settle into a long, grinding career at the back of the bus, so he strikes out to find a better spot on the universal roster. 4. Fifteen is tough. It's even tougher when you have bad skin, wear thick glasses, can't dance, and are a colossal nerd. But that won't stop Zach Beacon from asking the baseball coach to let him play something other than bench.
5. Zach wants to be the next world famous pickup artist, but how can he master the art of bedding women if he keeps getting rejected? Desperate, he rubs the green lamp he found in an antique shop. Out pops a genie hungry for a human soul, and maybe some cornbread. 6. Minor league catcher Zach Beacon joins the workforce after a bad knee injury. But bad pay and worse working conditions send all his co-workers out on strike on Zach's first day. Now Zach must decide which is worse: to strike for higher pay before working a minute, or to be labeled a scab by the complete strangers he'll eventually work with if the strike succeeds.
Original Version Dear Mr. Evil Editor: Seventh-grader Zach Beacon's biggest nemesis is a nasty curveball—until Principal “Robot” McMott [Is that the name he goes by? If it's just what the kids call him, I'd put his first name in front of "Robot." If he's an actual robot, my interest just went up a thousand percent.] fires August, the team's beloved groundskeeper. To save August's job, Zach puts the baseball championship and his bad-boy reputation on the line in ZACH BEACON STRIKES OUT, a 34,000-word middle grade novel that will appeal to fans of Andrew Clements and Gary Paulsen's Liar, Liar series. The star shortstop of Mayfield Prep's baseball team, Zach Beacon has been sent to the principal's office so often, he's on a first-name basis with the secretary. [If he's on a first-name basis with the secretary, it's not because he gets sent to the office a lot; it's because they're having sex, presumably after school hours.] His team is good this year—really good—and Principal “Robot” McMott [No need for quotation marks around "Robot" every time he's mentioned. No need to include both his first and last names together more than once in the query.] expects them to win the Mississippi private school championship. But when August is fired, Zach leads the team on a strike—the team won't win till McMott gives in. [Are they forfeiting or losing on purpose? If you hope to one day get an athletic scholarship, it's not a good idea to demonstrate a willingness to throw games.] Zach promises his team they can lose three games and still make the play-offs, [That's relevant if they have only three games left. If they have more than three games left, and they lose the next three, there's no guarantee they won't lose another. The better team doesn't always win.] but as the losses mount [How many losses constitute "mounting"? The dictionary doesn't come out and say that mounting means piling up as high as a mountain, but I think it's implied.] and McMott doesn't budge, [Since a robot principal would be programmed not to give in to student demands, I'm going to assume McMott is a robot, and offer you a six-figure advance.] Zach learns it's hard to keep a team together when the goal isn't a championship, but justice. [You haven't shown that the firing was unjust. If the groundskeeper sexually abused one of the players, I'm not with Zach. I'll back the principal on principle. Were the players given an explanation of the firing? Does August's right to privacy supersede the players' "right" to an explanation? If the explanation is in the book, I see no reason it shouldn't be in the query.] In this humorous and fast-paced book, [If you get to the end of the summary and have to tell us the book is humorous and fast-paced, you haven't done your job.] [If the book is fast-paced, at least it's got that over baseball.] Zach juggles race relations, anxious teammates, and new friendships—and he does it in a wise-cracking style all his own. I am an associate member of SCBWI and a member of the Mississippi Writers Guild. My experiences as a living wage activist at Vanderbilt University influenced ZACH BEACON STRIKES OUT, my debut novel. Sincerely, Notes I suspect most groundskeeping work gets done while the players are in classes. I assume there's a good reason you didn't make the fired person a baseball coach, who is way more likely to be beloved by the team than a groundkeeper. To convince us Zach has a "wise-cracking style all his own," you might want to crack wise a bit in the query. If the players are purposely losing, and have told McMott so, I would expect him to bar them from being on school teams. If they're just not showing up for the games, they'd surely be dismissed from the team. If they're purposely losing and haven't told McMott, he may think they're just slumping, and not connect the losses with the firing, which doesn't help August.In other words, even if McMott isn't a stubborn jerk, I don't see this strike getting the desired result. It would be cool if the principal dismissed all the players from the team and replaced them with robots. I recommend this even if McMott isn't a robot. Although it would drive home your point about race relations more effectively if he is a robot and replaces the players with his kind.
Mönster Surface Design is a surface design studio based in Recife - Brazil, that produces special cushions for home decor and Mariana Pinheiro is the designer and maker behind it. The pillow cases are made in a linen, cotton and viscose fabric blend in natural color, screen printed by hand and sewn one by one for me. Without necessarily follow trends or launch periodic collections, Mönster are
Venue: Johannesburg (address to be sent to respondents)
Date: 7 June 2016
Time: 10:00 - 15:00
Cost: R100 SCBWI members, R200 non-members
RSVP: To Jenny at SCBWI.SA.Gauteng@mweb.co.za
About the workshop
Joan Rankin will share
ideas on learning from artists and then Jenny Hatton
will discuss techniques used by well-known writers of picture books. This will
be followed by a practical
Nerida Hansen Print and Textiles is a design agency based in Australia. The studio came about after Nerida left her role as a licensed buyer at one of Australia's major retail stores. She had been purchasing mainstream licensing in nursery, kids and teens bedlinen so had experience with the formalities of licensing. As a big supporter of independent Surface Art designers Nerida just went