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.

My Thoughts on Graphic Novels

My Thoughts on Graphic Novels

I’ve talked about my struggles and triumphs with graphic novels on this blog quite a bit, and when I came across an opportunity to share more positivity around them, I took that chance. So here’s an article I wrote for a local paper about my feelings about graphic novels, with a couple of examples of titles your child might be interested in.

https://illinoistimes.com/article-21214-graphic-novels-engage-all-readers.html

Spring Has Sprung, and So Will Your Reader

Spring Has Sprung, and So Will Your Reader

We used to have two young trees in our backyard that were about the same size. However, one of the trees starts blooming and sprouting leaves much faster in the Spring than the other. One Spring, I looked at the one that wasn’t sprouting and asked my husband if we needed to cut it down because I thought it might be dead. He assured me it wasn’t dead and that I just needed to wait. Sure enough, a few weeks later the tree completely bloomed and was right on par with the other tree.

I share this analogy because it was right about the same time that I was concerned about my son becoming a reader. As much as I try not to compare my two kiddos, let’s be honest, I do. And while my daughter has been an eager reader very early on, my son has been more reluctant and it has stressed me out just a tad. I was concerned that he wasn’t going to be the reader my daughter was going to be, and that it would affect his academics, his future, *insert any of my many mom exaggerations here*.

However, much like that tree that I was considering chopping down, my child bloomed. He’s still not an avid reader like his sister, and I’ve (basically) come to terms with the fact that he probably won’t be. But, he can read books, does get excited about them and even has some favorites. And most importantly, I’m no longer worried that he’s going to be homeless on the corner because he’s not a reader.  I realized that he was just like the tree, and although he didn’t start as quickly, he is moving at his own pace and is doing just fine.

So, while you are #RaisingReaders and waiting for your flowers to bloom, be patient, it’ll happen when you aren’t even looking.