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July 2010 Archives

Terry

Bookworm Basics: The Reference Shelf (5 to 9)

Posted by Terry on July 26, 2010 at 1:25 PM in Nonfiction BooksRecommendations
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worldbook.jpgWhen I was growing up, my brothers and I shared a set of World Book encyclopedias. Remember them?

When I got my first desktop computer it came with Microsoft Encarta ... 20+ volumes condensed to a compact disc. Now, you don't even need that! Data reliability not withstanding, anything you want to know about can be found with just a few clicks of the keyboard.

I love to surf the Net as much as the next person, but there is something fun about turning pages to find things. Holding a picture of a big hairy spider is completely different than staring at one on the screen.

Hands-on exploring is also more likely to lead to new discoveries - and more concrete recognition - than following a search path on the Worldwide Web. One or both of these references are important to your child's bookshelf.

Thumbnail image for merriam-webster.jpgAn illustrated dictionary. Pictures and large fonts make the dictionary an accessible tool for elementary-aged students. Because of their versatility, dictionaries are natural first research books for emerging and newly independent readers alike. Not long after readers start putting words together, they learn how to sort them alphabetically. As readers become more experienced and their content learning expands, the dictionary will also help them find the meaning of words, as well as learn parts of speech, word origins, and pronunciation, too.

Thumbnail image for everything-you-need-to-know.jpgA Big Book of Answers. Although we may not need (or have room for) that 20-volume set of books anymore, kids still have lots of questions, and it is nice to have a go-to reference that covers the basics of the history, science, geography, and social studies concepts they will be learning about in those early elementary years. Even when school's not in session, that one-volume illustrated encyclopedia can answer basic questions or whet their appetite to learn more and lead them to other subject-specific nonfiction books.

Illustrated reference books are designed for exploring. Because there is no worry about reading everything cover to cover, your kids may be more likely to pick up the book "just because." They can start with an idea and begin research or just pick a page and go.

Having a reference book handy is also a great way to encourage kids to find the answer themselves, rather than ask you to define a word, tell them if there really is a Transylvania, etc. Just watch out for spiders!

Image Credit
World Book photo by TreeWhisperer on Flickr. Copyright - all rights reserved.

The cover images for the encyclopedia and dictionary link to the Cybils affiliate via Amazon.com. Purchases made through these links may benefit the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Awards program. From the website: "All Cybils proceeds go to a non-cheesy award for our winners."

Pam

Thursday THIRTY: Summer Books, Tot to Tween

Posted by Pam on July 22, 2010 at 3:39 PM in Chapter BooksRecommendations
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THIRTY?! Well, if you add the Thirteen Summer Picture Books and Thirteen Summer Chapter Books to today's Four Special Summer Books, you do indeed get thirty books about summer from tot to tween.

The four I am highlighting today have a little more weight to them than the chapter books I showcased last week. (Okay, with the exception of the deeper One Crazy Summer, but I couldn't resist that great title.) These certainly aren't the darker books of Young Adult, but each has it's own serious aspect. And they are also all spectacular books.

Seaglass Summer
by Anjali Banerjee

Seaglass SummerWhen eleven year old Poppy skips a trip with her parents to India, she makes the decision with a goal to be a vet like her Uncle Sanjay. What she finds is that it working with animals can be difficult, gross, and heart-breaking. Over the summer Poppy also adjusts to the slow-pace island lifestyle, makes new friends, and learns more about herself. She even comes to handle the animals in emergencies and in passing. This book is a lovely read, but the sections on animals suffering or dying are emotionally intense - especially if you've been through it personally. The author handles the topic with grace, but be fairly warned.

Free Baseball
by Sue Corbett

Free BaseballFelix knows baseball. As the son of a Cuban superstar, some might say that the eleven year old was born to it. Even if his mom won't talk about his father now. Mistaken for a batboy by a local Cuban team, Felix takes the opportunity to hang out with the ballplayers - and maybe find out something about his dad. Certainly a book that features the game well, but also the complexity of relationships and secrets.

The Liberation of Gabriel King
by K. L. Going

The Liberation of Gabriel KingGabriel King is afraid of everything - spiders, robbers, cows - but his biggest fear is moving up to the next grade, where he'll be in the same school as the bullies who pick on him. His best friend Frita decides to take the summer to liberate Gabriel from his fears one by one. She's rarely afraid, but one of her biggest fears is about to confront the pair head on. Set in the deep south in 1976, this book is a drama, comedy, and historical fiction. It tackles fear, hatred, racism, but ultimately is about courage. And friendship. Wonderful book.

Turtle in Paradise
by Jennifer L. Holm

Turtle in ParadiseTurtle and her mom have always gotten through tough times together, but now that mom is employed as a live-in maid for a woman who doesn't like kids, Turtle is send to live with relatives in Key West. It's the middle of the depression, and many folks don't have much, but Turtle is still surprised by the poverty on this little stretch of land. Almost as surprised as she is by finding all of her long-lost relations. With the sea and the trees to provide, the families get by - even if shoes are a rarity - and there is even some fun to be had in seeking payment of sweets for babysitting. There are also literal treasures to be found, for those crazy, brave and bored enough to seek them. And along with her cousins, Turtle finds herself right in the middle of all of the adventures. Some frightening stuff in a hurricane, and Turtle's family situation give weight to the lighter side. Enjoyable read that exposes a lost place in time.

Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site MotherReader.com may receive a referral fee.

Terry

The Bookworm Goes on Vacation

Posted by Terry on July 19, 2010 at 10:36 AM in RecommendationsSeriesYoung Adult Bookscreative literacy
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It is hard to believe that we are getting ready to slide head-first into August. For many of us, August is synonymous with a week (maybe two) away from home. It might be the beach, the mountains, Grandma's ... a place where the daily routine is different and your days are more relaxed.

Another symbol of vacation is "beach reading," those books you enjoy while you soak up the sun, lay in the hammock, rock on the porch ... you get the picture. If you're looking for alternatives to lugging books - and don't want the eReader to plop in the pond - then you might like these ideas.

Audiobooks ~ Listening to books is great for those of us who are easily bored in the backseat and/or get sick when we read in a moving vehicle.

Most libraries have robust audiobook collections, and some have tools in place for you to download them. You might start with Pam's recommendations from Thursday Thirteen Summer Chapter Books. More than half of them (see slideshow) are available on CD or as downloads.

Sync is an online community that is offering two FREE young adult books each week. They pair a classic from a summer reading list with a modern YA title. Next week, it's Suzanne Collins' wildly popular Hunger Games and Shirley Jackson's classic, The Lottery. Here is the complete Sync: YA Listening schedule.

Music ~ I tend to look at music as poetry set to a rhythm. With music, kids can learn about history, culture, instruments, social skills, vocabulary, just about anything. Albums with music for kids range from CDs with songs written just for them to traditional songs that introduce them to specific genres, and don't forget the music you like!

Periodicals ~ Magazines and comic books are plentiful, quickly read, and easily disposed of when you're finished. Whether you pick some up before you leave home, or you stop in the local drugstore along the way, it is easy to put together some fun reading. These may not be some of your usual choices, but they can feed your kids' passions and keep them reading on vacation.

Technology makes it possible to pack a lot of literacy in tiny little packages, like CDs and digital devices. Whether you are traveling by car, bus, train, plane, or even boat, we hope you find room in the suitcase to take some reading on vacation, too.

Got a recommended vacation read or music? We'd love to add them to the collection.

Note: The bookcovers in the slideshow link to Amazon.com. A Reading Tub affiliate code is embedded in the link. We may earn money for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (Cybils) from purchases made through those links.

Pam

Thursday Three Thirteen: Summer Chapter Books

Posted by Pam on July 15, 2010 at 2:01 PM in Chapter BooksRecommendations
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Last week I shared thirteen of my favorite Summer Picture Books. Now it's time to grow up a little with thirteen books for the elementary school crowd. This week I listed the books in roughly in order of the target age of the reader, starting with youngest to oldest. That said, many of the books would be great to read aloud to younger readers as I've made up this collection of mostly lighter summer books.

 Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown
by Jarrett Krosoczka
A new addition to younger graphic novels is this series featuring a Lunch Lady with astonishing abilities to fight crime and serve tater tots. With the Breakfast Bunch kids, she tackles a new enemy at summer camp. Silly fun!

Camp Babymouse
by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm
The fabulous Babymouse graphic novel series brings us a trip to summer camp that can't help but go wrong. Oh, Babymouse, I love you so. (Also look for Babymouse: Beach Babe).

The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis
by Barbara O'Connor
Feeling bored in his small Southern town, Popeye befriends a newcomer named Elvis who finds adventure in everything. A great book for seeing the wonders in the everyday world.

 Moxy Maxwell does not Love Stuart Little Moxy Maxwell does not Love Stuart Little
by Peggy Gifford
Someone has been putting off her summer reading - and continues to find ways to do so in amazingly elaborate ways. The photographs and the clever section titles add to this amusing book. (Also, one of my favorite covers of all time.)

Summer Reading is Killing Me
by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith
Summer reading doesn't work out well for the Time Warp Trio either as the boys put their booklist in "The Book" and end up caught in a world of good and bad characters from children's literature. Mayhem ensues.

Lowji Disovers America
by Candice Fleming
When Lowji arrives from India, he comes with wishes for new friends and pets. But summer vacation makes it hard find kids in his neighborhood, and his landlady is not fond of animals. No matter, as Lowji's positive attitude and clever solutions get him results in amusing ways.

 Summer According to Humphrey Summer According to Humphrey
by Betty Birney
The little hamster with the big series of adventures gets to go to Camp Happy Hollow where he meets a wild mouse, visits the lake, and helps the kids adjust to the outdoor life and each other. There's always fun to be had with Humphrey.

Minn and Jake's Almost Terrible Summer
by Janet Wong, illustrated by Genevieve Cote
Jake returns to his home for a visit, but didn't expect his camp-free summer to be ruined by his Halmoni's plans and his little brother's annoyances. When his best friend Minn makes a visit, even that causes conflict. Can this summer be saved?

The Lemonade War
by Jacqueline Davis
When Evan finds out that his younger sister Jessie is going to skip a grade right into his class, he channels his anger into a challenge to who can make the most money with competing lemonade stands. An interesting and often amusing story of marketing strategies, sibling rivalry, and making lemonade.

 Any Which Wall Any Which Wall
by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
"Common magic" takes a four kids out of their boring summer doldrums when a magical wall transports them into different worlds of adventures, including a pirate ship and Camelot. Delightful story with a timeless tone.

Lawn Boy (and Lawn Boy Returns)
by Gary Paulsen
A lesson in business and the free-market economy is contained in this story of a boy who starts with a old riding law mower and ends up as a young tycoon. Funny and yet highly educational.

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy

by Jeanne Birdsall
After their father rents a guest house for a few weeks in the summer, four sisters explore the large estate grounds making friends and having adventures along the way. An old-fashioned story with a contemporary feel makes this a perfect summer story.

One  Crazy Summer
One Crazy Summer
by Rita Williams-Garcia
Three sisters from Brooklyn spend a month with their mother in California. Sent out to stay out of mom's way, the girls spent this summer in 1968 among the Black Panthers learning about revolution, identity, and personal responsibility. A deeper book, for certain, but with its own lightness and humor.

Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site MotherReader.com may receive a referral fee.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Casting a Magic Spell for Reading

Posted by Terry on July 13, 2010 at 11:30 AM in Early LiteracyLibrariesRecommendationscreative literacy
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magic_hat_1.pngIn the coming weeks we'll get back to our lists of book ideas for your home library, but summer is the perfect time to be a reading magician. I believe there is a book for every child, and today we're going to reveal the secret to finding the book that sparks a love of reading for your kids Ready? Think like a children's librarian!

When you ask a librarian to help you find a book, he or she will ask you a couple of questions to narrow down their recommendations to books that might work. These are questions you may know the answer to, but if not, they will give you something to think about the next time you and your child share a book.

bookwormWhat does your child like? The best place to start is with a topic or subject that interests them. It can be trucks and trains, sports or sports heroes, or things they like to do: be a ballerina, climb trees, etc.

What will your child do with the book? In selecting your books, think about how you plan to use the book: will you read with her; is this a book that you'll both read or will your son read it independently; or do you want her to explore the book, regardless of whether there is any reading.

abstract_reading.pngDoes your child like books of a certain size? Some kids like thin books; some don't mind longer books, but the chapters have to be short; and some want the fattest book they can find. Even if a book looks "too easy," don't discount it. If something grabs him in this book, he will reach for another one to learn more.

And finally, pictures. What kind (if any) illustrations do they like? Art in a book is a matter of taste, just as it is in a museum. Children's books are filled with abstract imagery, collages, photography, bright colors, dark hues, and more. What kinds of imagery seems to keep your daughter's attention? What makes your son ask you to close the book?

You've probably noticed that I didn't ask "fiction or nonfiction?" Knowing your child's interests, your reading goal, and what they like to see in a book will help guide that decision. It is the logical next question, and I know there are others.

So, what would your next question be? Librarians, we'd love to hear your suggestions on ways that parents can prepare for finding the "it" book before they get to the library.

BenBois_Magic_ball.pngThe answer for finding that "perfect" book comes from the non-book things your child loves. By tapping into that passion, the odds are pretty good you can find that wow-I-want-to-read-some-more book. And they will think you are the world's greatest magician because you read their minds!

If you find that there is a glitch trying to post the comments, send me an email and I will update this post. [terry {at] thereadingtub [dot} com].

Image Credits
Magic Hat 1 by slanteigne on OpenClipArt.org
Bookworm by ajeynes on OpenClipArt.org
Reading2 by Machovka on OpenClipArt.org
MagicBall by BenBois on OpenClipArt.org

Terry

Summer Reading Ideas: Double Your Fun with a Reading Partner

Posted by Terry on July 12, 2010 at 10:30 AM in Chapter BooksEasy ReadersLibrariescreative literacy
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reading in the hammockMea culpa! The heat swallowed this one last week. It "published" but no one could see it, so it's a double bonus this week ...

Picking up on Pam's themes of enjoying the summer by trying new things, I thought I would share some of those magical, unplanned moments we've had this year.

Like many of you, we get our book fix at the library, and LOVE the summer reading program. This has always been "our" time, but this year, we've been taking my daughter's BFF with us. Her friend (a rising second grader) is an avid reader, but had not visited our local library. [She has 5 older siblings ... need I say more?]

The two girls have had a wonderful time, and all three of us really look forward to our weekly "date." During our three visits to date, the girls have (without fail)

    ... picked up picture books left lying around and read them aloud to each other.
    ... recommended books to each other;
    ... searched the online catalog for books with their names; and
    ... looked for books with two copies so they can read it at the same time.
.

gardenvale.JPGIt is the last point I find most fascinating. Like many short chapter books for the early elementary audience, the stories rely heavily on dialogue. The girls are instantly drawn to these books and use them as scripts. They decide who is going to be which character, and then read their "parts" aloud.

This isn't a new idea, but it may be a new way to keep the kids connected with books this summer. Partner reading - with you, a friend, or siblings - is a great way to keep them engaged with books. The key is to keep the reading fun, so don't fret about the "right" reading levels or vocabulary. Keep them excited about reading and the rest of it will fall into place naturally.

Sharing our library time beyond "just us," has has added some wonderful magic to our summer. My daughter and her BFF are exploring everything the library has to offer and stretching each other's interests. They will have great memories of things they did together, and so will I. Summer can't get much more magical than that!

Image Credits
Clara reading in the hammock again by NMACAVOY on Picasa.com
Gardenvale Two Girls Reading (Close Up) by Jen on Picasa.com

Pam

Thursday Three Thirteen: Summer Picture Books

Posted by Pam on July 8, 2010 at 10:42 AM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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I'm doing something a little different today. Instead of writing paragraph reviews of three books, I'm giving quick summaries of thirteen picture books. But these are special picture books, selected by me over my years of experience with the titles to put together a list that represents many different and diverse summers.Even as a proclaimed beach bum, I've limited my shore stories to only two leaving room for the many ways people see summer in the city, in parades, in the pool, and even abroad. I've also organized this list in order of the author, making it easier to print out and find the books at your local library. Let us begin with my personal favorite that just happens to be first...

BeachBeach
by Elisha Cooper
A day at the beach is captured beautifully in a series of seashore scenes from suntanning to swimming to shoveling sand. A beach-lovers delight.

And Then it Rained : And Then the Sun Came Out...
by Crescent Dragonwagon, illustrated by Diane Greenseid
In one side of this story, the rain just won't stop, but turn the book over and it's the story of a blaring sun-baked town that needs the refreshing (turn it over) rain. Very clever.

Bebé goes to the BeachBebé goes to the Beach
Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Steven Salerno
A sprinkle of Spanish words throughout the text sets apart this beach tale of one bebé who keeps his mama quite busy.

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever
by Marla Frazee
Two boys spent the week at Grandpa's "camp," with different interpretations of the activities then the adults around them. Terrific fun.

Mermaids on ParadeMermaids on Parade
by Melanie Hope Greenberg
Everyone loves a parade - and mermaids for that matter - and this book celebrates both in its depiction of the annual Coney Island event.

Come on, Rain
by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Jon J. Muth
In the heat of the city, a girl waits for the rain to cool things off, and then celebrates by dancing outside with friends and family when it finally comes. Joyful and lovely.

When the Fireflies Come
by Jonathan London, illustrated by Terry Widener
A slow summer day of barbecue and baseball turns into a slow summer night with friends and fireflies. What could be better?

The Boy Who Wouldn't SwimThe Boy Who Wouldn't Swim
by Deb Lucke
Regardless of the heat, a young boy won't swim in the pool, but finally gives in to find that he never wants to get out!

Summer Sun Risin'
by W. Nikola-Lisa, illustrated by Don Tate
A day on a farm in the summertime includes plenty of chores, but also time for fishing and stories for an African-American family.

Think Cool ThoughtsThink Cool Thoughts
by Elizabeth Perry, illustrated by Linda Bronson
A young girl tries to keep cool in her city apartment, but is excited by the prospect of sleeping on the roof with her mom and aunt.

Summer: an Alphabet Acrostic
by Steven Schnur, illustrated by Leslie Evans
Summer stables become poems as linoleum-block illustrations set the scenes.

Monsoon AfternoonMonsoon Afternoon
by Kashmira Sheth, illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeqqi
On a visit to India, a boy learns of the pleasures to be found in the summer monsoon season through the eyes of his beloved grandfather.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation
by Mark Teague
An imaginative boy spins a tale of Wild West adventures when asked about his summer vacation. How's yours going?

Next week I'll look at chapter books about summer - ones that can be read alone or to a child. Who knows, maybe we'll get into books for teens. In the meantime, if you have a favorite book about summer, share it in the comments.


Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site MotherReader.com may receive a referral fee.

Pam

Thursday Three: Summer Fun!

Posted by Pam on July 1, 2010 at 12:00 PM in creative literacy
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It's summer! This will be obvious to those of you who had normal school dismissals early in June, but for those of us who just finished the educational year, it does feel like a sudden release. And a welcome one. But even with an intense year behind her, my teen pondered, "What am I going to do all summer?"

Her statement wasn't one of peevishness, but with something more like bewilderment at the unlimited choices of Free Time. It's an issue that parents can take with a bit of annoyance. After all, didn't we run out of our houses at the first opportunity not to return until dinner? Why are our kids so quick to cry boredom?

Here's my theory. Today's kids and teens are impaired in making choices for what to do with their free time because they have so little practice doing so. My suburban kids have a pretty scheduled life with school, homework, and activities - plus family visits and friend outings. And I don't consider us particularly an overscheduled clan. But in the school year, they have so little free time that they never need move beyond movies, video games, and Internet. They don't really learn to make the choices that we had growing up - whose house to go to, what fields to explore, which direction to bike. So when facing an open period of choices, it can be somewhat daunting.

Some parents approach this problem with more scheduling - camps, classes, swim team, trips to fill every day. I prefer a more moderate approach. A week or two of camp for each girl in their area of interest. Plenty of trips to the beach, which double as our family visits. But mostly I want to embrace the openness, the choices, the boredom - because that's where the magic happens. That said, there are steps that can take some of the overwhelming feel out of the freedom.

1. Reading
I'm a big fan of public library summer reading programs because they give many kids the structure and goals they need, applied to something they love to do. Knowing that they have a form to fill with five, ten, fifteen books is sometimes just enough to get the kids to pick up a book, and a little prize doesn't hurt either. We're trying something new this summer too. We're each picking a selection of five to ten new-to-us books that we want to read over the summer. They'll be on a special shelf so that when we have reading time, none of us have to go to our comfort books out of laziness. Read something new this summer.

2. Writing
Terry covered this so well with her description of a summer writing journal that is FUN. We'll be doing this in our home. I'll add that my teen mentioned that she wanted to write a book over the break, and then she asked me if I hadn't been writing a book myself. I admitted that I had put it on hold when things had gotten stressful over the spring. "Well, then we can write our books together this summer!" she stated. Gulp. Busted. So I guess I'll be working on my novel over the summer, but you don't have to be as ambitious. Try poetry, short stories, memories, songs, thoughts. Look through the old writing prompts at Reading Rockets or search for more online. Make time to write this summer.

3. Resting
Much of what I write, I do so in my head lazing back on the couch, waiting for tween's dance class to end, driving back from some event. In these quieter moments, the ideas flow for me. When was the last time you daydreamed? Let yourself and your kids get bored. Lay in the hammock, nap on the sofa, float in the pool, sit under a tree and see where your mind takes you. Maybe you'll become inspired to make a painting of the shades of green you notice looking up into the leaves. Maybe your child will decide to create a fairy house beside the tree trunk. Let rest be part of your summer and enjoy the results.

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