Thursday, September 15, 2016

Proud - Meet Our Family's Newest Reader

Almost exactly two years ago I posted a photo of Jackson holding Go Dog Go, which in our household is considered the gateway book to "real" reading--rather than strictly robotic "sounding out." Today, at age three-and-two-thirds, Jason read me Go Dog Go. He pretty much taught himself to read via SuperWhy, Leap Frog Letter Factory and the Prep School Prep sight words videos, although we've been playing around with BOB Books just in the past month or so. He's actually been reading them with big brother Jackson--very sweet to see the brothers being links in each other's chain of literacy. Congrats, Jason, and welcome to the wonderful world of reading!

Monday, June 6, 2016

2016 Summer Reading Challenge

This summer reading challenge was designed specifically for my older boy, but can be adapted easily for any specific kid. I liked the structure of a challenge checklist because I find that library visits without an agenda usually result in the selection of cartoon-character novelizations, etc. (Cartoon novelizations are terrific in many ways and have their place, but the book world is vast and deep, and I want to make sure my kid is at least being encouraged to explore new genres.)

How to modify this list for your own kid? Check your kid's bookshelves for titles that have been purchased but forgotten, ask your parent friends what their kids are reading, and see what the local library showcases. Select challenges that match what you have on hand or want to introduce and hopefully the lure of the prize will nudge your kids toward those titles while still giving them a sense of autonomy and control.

I also left the prize open-ended so that families can adapt as needed.

Happy summer reading, everyone!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Read-Aloud Record, 2015

Jackson with our stack of read-alouds for 2015.

JACKSON’S FAVORITES: Bill Peet's Autobiography, Thimble Summer, Farmer Boy, Yes & No Stories (he says actually has mixed feelings about this and showed me one thumb up and one thumb down, but he insists it is a favorite), Little Eddie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Furious Flycycle, Fantastic Mr. Fox.

MY FAVORITES: Jen's top selections for the year were the Arabel & Mortimer books by Joan Aiken, and Tomie dePaola author-illustrated autobiography series 26 Fairmount Avenue, perhaps because they were new to me, but mostly because they were so damn charming.

EXCEEDED HIGH EXPECTATIONS: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

RISKY PICK THAT WORKED: Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio is usually for kids eight up and up and given the subject matter, this could have gone badly awry, but we both loved it. Small Steps is a terrific, uplifting story of friendship among invalids and the grueling physical therapy necessary recover from a catastrophic illness.
Overall it was a wonderful year full of enterprising little boys (Tomie DePaola, Henry Huggins, Little Eddie, Little Pear, Charlie Bucket, Almanzo Wilder, et al.), magical impresarios (Gerald Durrell, Professor Savant, Mary Poppins, Willy Wonka and the Iron Giant), and charismatic beasts (the Golux, the Psammead, the Eshekamedi from Yes & No Stories, Roald Dahl’s foxes, the bears on Hemlock Mountain, Mortimer the raven, and David's Phoenix).

If you'd like to see previous years, here is our 2014 read-aloud record of good books for four year olds and our 2013 read-aloud record of good books for three year olds.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Another Goodwill Autograph

Copy of Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888 (Simon & Schuster, 2003) with inscription and signature. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Kids Caught Reading

He's reading an Usbourne book called Prehistoric Animals. He's very interested in dire wolves and saber-toothed cats after a recent visit to the La Brea Tar Pits with his grandma. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Illustrated Children's Poetry Anthologies I Love

Contemporary volumes. 
Kennedy-Muth are a terrific combination. "Feathers" by Joseph Bruchac from The Tree That Time Built causes me to spontaneously burst into tears. 

Titles, clockwise from top left:

Vintage and out-of-print titles. The two on the right include great background information and biographical details. 

Titles, clockwise from top left:

And here are two very special contemporary poems I first met in the Kennedy-Muth Family book. I think both them might resonate with the readership of this blog.

To P.J. (2 yrs. old. who sed write a poem for me in Portland, Oregon)
by Sonia Sanchez

if i cud ever write a
poem as beautiful as u
little 2/yr/old/brotha,
i wud laugh, jump, leap
up and touch the stars
cuz u be the poem i try for
each time i pick up a pen and paper
u. and Morani and Mungu
be our blue/blk/stars that
will shine on our lives and
makes us finally BE.
if i cud ever write a poem as beautiful
as u, little 2/yr/old/ brotha,
poetry wud go out of bizness.

by Seamus Heaney

Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won't slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job's done,
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seems to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me,

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall,
Confident that we have built our wall.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Why I love having a large home library

Why I love having a large home library: At 830 on a Saturday night, when kiddo looks up at the stars and wants to know about that killer in the sky, we can pull a variety of works from our shelves and do a mini-unit study on the constellation Orion. 

"The Hunter"

A night long
Across the sky
Orion the hunter
Goes striding by

What is the quarry
He pursues
Through stars as bright
And thick as dews

And who has heard
His great dog bark
Sirius baying
Through the dark?