Whew, July is Rough!

Whew, July is Rough!

For the last couple of years, probably since my son has been in school, July has been a rough month when it comes to #RaisingReaders.  Is it just me?

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June is good. We are still in our routines from the school year, they usually come home with a couple of books from school they are excited about reading because they get to keep them. The public library starts its summer reading program with a bang (this year they had a awesome performer who swallowed a sword) and we go there pretty regularly and get new books, both written and audio. Although some of it may be extrinsic, they are motivated readers at the beginning of summer.
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August is also good. School starts midway through the month, so we start getting back into school routines before then. They are excited to go back and they want to be prepared (and sometimes I guilt them into being prepared), so they pick up books more often. That book that they brought home from school in June, they grab that off the shelf again and decide to finish it.

But man, July, not so good. Part of it is the routine piece, with camps/vacations and just staying up late in general, there are nights we don’t have a #bedtimeread.  Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, they’ve found other activities to do, games, tables/game consoles, so the suggestion of a book instead can produce a tantrum. Also, they don’t want to be reminded of anything related to school, so if there’s no tantrum, suggesting a book gets a side-eye from either child. I don’t want to make reading a chore or an unpleasant experience, so I don’t push it.  Usually they fall asleep reading a book and/or listening to an audio book, but the other night my son did neither!

Now because I know August is coming and I know there is not a complete aversion to books, I’m not horribly concerned, but it is still a struggle. So, if anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears! Keep #RaisingReaders!

Reading Traditions

Reading Traditions

As I’m writing this, it is my son’s 8th birthday, and we just finished our bedtime read. I was particular about my choice since it is a special day, and I luckily, I had just borrowed this gem from the library:

This book, by the daughter and husband of the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal, is a love letter to young boys that will help them grow into responsible, compassionate men.

One reason I love this book is because it says almost all the things I want to say, but am afraid that I won’t remember to say. People always quote the prolific advice their parents gave them, and gosh darn it, I want my children to do that too.

Another reason I’m all in with this book is because I think this is going to be a great book to start a tradition with. Since the Rosenthals have said almost everything I want to say, in order to make it stick, I think I’m gonna read it on his birthday every year. It’ll be our thing, and I will know I’ve given sound advice at least once a year.

I’ve already written about the companion book, Dear Girl, you can read about it here. Of course, my plan is to read that one to my daughter every year, so I’ll have that tradition going with each of them.

So, as you’re looking to raise readers, think about what sort of reading traditions could be appropriate for your kiddos. As for me, let’s just hope I can remember to break out the book each year.

He Won’t Keep Still, But He’s Still Listening!

He Won’t Keep Still, But He’s Still Listening!

So its summertime, which means later bedtimes and longer bedtime reads. So far this summer I think I’ve chosen a great book for me, my 10 year old daughter and my soon to be 8 year old son. We’re reading The Last Last Day of Summer by Lamar Giles, which is an action packed adventure story that I thought for sure would keep them wanting more…and I was right, but I was unsure at first.

This adventurous story about 2 boys and the end of their summer is a chapter book, with small illustrations sprinkled throughout, which is the first of its kind that I’ve read with my son. Any chapter book we’ve read before had lots of illustrations, such as 13-story Treehouse, or we had seen the movie, like Stuart Little, so this was going to be our first venture.

Even after a decade of reading with my children, I still have this vision that we’d cuddle and read in the bed every night until they fall asleep…and it has yet to happen. Instead, so far this summer I have had some kid cuddles, but also son laying on the floor, both kids arguing over space, and even kid playing solitaire while I’m reading. Now even if he wasn’t next to me, my son would pop up every once in a while to see if there was a picture to look at, and that should’ve been a positive clue. However, because of all that, I would question whether they were listening, until I stopped reading. Then there were instant pleas for me to continue. Not, “I just wanna stay up later” pleas, but “I need to know what happens next” pleas, because as much as their bodies were moving while I was reading, they were paying attention to the story and wanted more.

As you do your own summer reading with your kiddos, remember, just because they aren’t cuddled up and focused on you, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t paying attention.

Keep #RaisingReaders! (And I do recommend this book, its so good!)screenshot_20190619-231722_google6782167213844116503.jpg

The Power of the book Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry

The Power of the book Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry

On Memorial Day I was watching the 3rd hour of the Today Show and they were having a conversation about fathers styling their daughter’s hair. Al Roker learned how to do his daughter’s hair when she was young, but the other co-hosts had stories of themselves or their spouses trying and failing to style their child’s hair, which is also where my husband falls when it comes to doing my daughter’s hair. I’ve gotten over it, especially since she can at least put her own hair in a ponytail now, but I was slightly bitter about it for a while. Today however, I am inspired by a new book that highlights some daddy/daughter “hair love”.

Hair Love, written by Matthew A. Cherry, is about a young girl who loves her natural hair, and even describes it as doing magic tricks. She’s got a special day coming up, and decides that she wants to do her hair herself, especially since her dad has been working so hard recently, and he must be tired. However, dad wakes up and after some failed attempts, together they do their best to create the perfect hairstyle.

SPOILER ALERT: There are a couple of major reasons why I think this book is outstanding, but one of them does spoil the ending of the book. First, I love just about everything Vashti Harrison illustrates, and this is no exception. From the expression on the character’s faces to the detail of dad’s tattoo, it is all beautifully done.

Secondly, I love love love the relationship between father and child that is illustrated in this book. Daddy tells her her hair is beautiful and is clearly involved in his daughter’s day to day life. That in itself is not something you see often in kids’ books, which is partly why I loved it. But also…mom is there too. We don’t know it until the end (hence the spoiler alert), but mom coming home is the reason she wants to make sure her hair is perfect. And although this may seem trivial to some, it made it more powerful for me, particularly this illustration at the end, where Harrison makes it clear that mom and dad are married. Again, it is something that really shouldn’t give me all sorts of touch-feely emotions, but because it isn’t often seen in children’s picture books, it does.

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Look at those picture frames!

If you want to maybe inspire your child’s father to do your daughter’s hair or if he’s not like mine and he already does and you want to give him props, then you should read this book. Or, if you would like to read a book with your child about an imaginative and ambitious little girl and her family, then you should read this book. 🙂

 

Book Review– Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove

Book Review– Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove

I cannot claim to be any sort of an expert when it comes to Jazz music. I like the sound of it, can recognize some instruments, and can name a couple of legendary musicians, like Duke Ellington.  However, after reading Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove by Barry Wittenstein, I can add another musician to the list.

This picture book is a biography about Sonny Rollins, a jazz musician from New York City.  He came to prominence in the 1950s, in Harlem clubs, but then decided that the fame was too big and took a break from the scene. Even though he wasn’t playing in the clubs anymore, he was still playing…but standing on (not under, but ON) the Williamsburg Bridge! After two years of playing on the bridge, Sonny went back into the studio and recorded an album titled, The Bridge.

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I mean, look at this cover

There’s a lot to like about this book. As I’ve said before, I enjoy any book that I learn something new from and I definitely gained knowledge from this biography. I also liked the fact that Wittenstein has gone all in with the jazz theme. The text is written in a prose format that, if read correctly, has a jazzy feel to it. The parts of Rollins’ life have been divided into “sets”, just like we are at a jazz concert. And the illustrations…they are absolutely beautifully done by Keith Mallett and add so much to the ambiance of Rollins’ story and the setting.  Wittenstein also

This book is a great read, whether you are introducing your child to jazz, want to expose them to a small dose of history, or if you yourself are a jazz aficionado or a jazz novice like myself.

*I was given a copy of this book partly in exchange for a review. The release date for Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove is May 21, 2019.