What James Said…and Then What We Said

What James Said…and Then What We Said

When #RaisingReaders, there are times when the conversation after the bedtime read is just as important as reading the book itself.

For example, tonight my son and I read What James Said by Liz Rosenberg. This book is about a young girl who is not happy with her best friend James because she heard, through the grapevine, that he said something about her that she didn’t like. This short picture book goes through what happens with the hazards of bad communication, or a lack thereof, but of course has a happy ending.

My son read this book to me (yay!), and afterwards I asked him, “So what do you think the author was trying to teach us in this book?” Now, you’ll have to forgive me, I’m in assessment mode at school, which is why the question sounded so formal. Any other time, my question may have been something simpler, like “So what was the problem in the book?” or a more book specific question, like, “Now why were they in a fight?”. Either way, because this book had a clear message/goal, I felt like it was important to have the conversation right afterwards. If we were continuing our reading of The 26-Story Treehouse or reading any of the superhero books that he owns, that question would not have popped up.  However, since this book is perfect for having those conversations, I took advantage of this opportunity. I thought it was especially important because he read it to me, so I wanted to make sure he understood what he was reading.

I’m glad I did take the time to have the conversation, because he actually couldn’t answer the question. So that led to a short review of what we read, and eventual understanding. As much as I want to my children to be able to read and decode the words they come across, I really want them to understand that the purpose of reading is to understand what the text is about. I have found that one of the easiest ways to do that is through conversation after we read. Like I mentioned, it doesn’t have to be a real structured conversation, but just something to make sure that they know what’s going on.

Keep on #RaisingReaders

 

“Mom, listen to this…”

“Mom, listen to this…”

I’m not a fantasy book type of reader. I consider myself an avid reader, and I’ve never read any Harry Potter books *gasp*. However, somehow (probably due to her Star Wars loving father) my daughter seems to be leaning towards this genre. She’s not into Harry Potter, but she has really gotten into the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell. Now, like I said, dragons aren’t really my thing, but not only does she read these books, but she wants to talk to me about them as well.

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Here’s the series, if you’re into that sort of thing…

“Mom, listen to this…” she says to me as I’m scrolling through Twitter.  I put the phone down just as she begins talking about Fish Legs and other people I have no frame of reference for and showing me maps of islands that don’t really exist.  But, as a parent, I’ve learn to fake things all the time, and this is no exception. I pretend to understand what she’s talking about while I ask legit questions. Do I wish that I had more interest in what she is reading? Of course. However, I also want her to continue talk to me (prep for the dreaded teen years) and I know that talking about what you’re reading is beneficial for understanding and enjoyment, so I listen and we end up cuddled on the couch talking dragons.

Because when it comes down to it, as my child gets her own interests, spends more time reading independently, and just grows older in general, I have to relish any opportunity she wants to talk to her mama.

My suggestion is to keep this in mind the next time your child wants to talk to you about their books, even if you would rather be scrolling through Twitter, remember you’re #RaisingReaders.

Twitter Perks for #RaisingReaders!

Twitter Perks for #RaisingReaders!

I have only been a part of Twitter for a little over a year, because Lord knows I didn’t need another social media thing to be attached to, but I have completely reaped the #RaisingReader benefits of it.

There are tons of #kidlit authors, book agents, book bloggers, and publishers who are all on Twitter. And what do they tweet? Book debuts and giveaways.

For a book addict like me, it is a Catch-22. Now that I follow the right people, like @mrschureads and @readbrightly, I get to hear about all the latest children’s books right when they debut or even well before. That is awesome and I love it, but the issue is that my husband and my bank account may not agree.

Beyond the debuts are the giveaways, which are super awesome! My kids and I have won at least 4 books from different authors or publishers. The two pictures below are just a sample, one from Scholastic and one from Curious City.

Recently, we just won one of the coolest gifts yet. If you follow my blog, you know that my daughter and I enjoy the Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski. Well, she recently had a cool giveaway, which was a deck of cards with the cover of the latest book in the series on the back of each card. My daughter was so surprised to get the cards, and playing with the cards was a great way for her and her brother to spend their Saturday.

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So, if you’re not already on Twitter, I would suggest you join, even if it is just to follow awesome authors like @joshfunkbooks or important organizations like @diversebooks.  Twitter is a great resource to help in our quest in #RaisingReaders. To be honest, 95% of people I follow are somehow connected to books and 95% of my Tweets are book/reading related. So, feel free to follow me @DMetzke. 🙂

Happy Reading!

Our Book Review– Jada Jones: Rock Star

Our Book Review– Jada Jones: Rock Star

When I saw Mr. Schu mention Kelly Starling Lyons’ new book on Twitter, I knew it was a book we had to have in our house.  Jada Jones: Rock Star is the first in a series about Jada, a fourth grader who knows a ton about rocks! I mean, just look at the cover, isn’t she just screaming “Children will love me, read me!”

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Well, thanks to the generosity of the author, we were able to get an Advanced Readers Copy of the book, and my children and I read this short chapter book over a few nights as our bedtime read.

Jada is your average 4th grader, who starts the book a little upset because her best friend, her ace, her rock finding partner, has moved far away, and she’s trying to figure out how to navigate her way to finding new friends to hang out with.

Now one of the things I loved about Jada was that her passion was rocks. Not because I also have a passion for rocks (because I don’t), or that my kids have that passion (because they don’t either), but because the author made it seem like such an ordinary hobby. I thought for sure my kids would make a comment on her passion for rocks and minerals as something they thought was odd, but they did not. In fact, a few days after we finished it, I found out my son was asking their babysitter what her favorite rock was (which was feldspar by the way, who knew?). I contribute that to how Lyons portrays it as important to Jada, but still makes her relatable, so it does not seem like an odd hobby in the book.

So the book goes through Jada’s struggles to find new friends, the drama with working with others on a group project, and finding a balance between doing what she wants for fun and what her friends may consider fun.

All in all, my children and I really enjoyed this bedtime read. Although it was a chapter book, my 6-year old son stayed engrossed because there were illustrations throughout the book and my 8-year old daughter got into the dynamics of Jada and her classmates. Even though we did it as a family read aloud, I think the book has a great relatable storyline and would be a great book for a child transitioning into chapter books to read on their own. Plus its a series, and we always love a series–Jada is definitely someone we will be keeping up with!

Side note: This is reason #3496854 why diversity in books is important. When I asked my daughter which of the three girls she was like, her response was, “I look like her [points to illustration], so I’m like her.”

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Can you guess which one she picked? Hint: Big hair, don’t care.

Jada Jones: Rock Star by Kelly Starling Lyons will be released in September 2017, and this #RaisingReaders family definitely recommends it.

Art Parts by Kim Bogren Owen– A Book Review

Art Parts by Kim Bogren Owen– A Book Review

We were lucky enough to receive the book Art Parts: A Child’s Introduction to the Elements of Art, plus a couple of the companion journals from author Kim Bogren Owen. So since we’ve got some free time this summer, we turned on some Kids Bop music and decided to have some #SummerReading fun with this book.

The cool thing about this book is that not only do the readers get to learn about art, they get to practice it at the same time, which makes it real interactive. Here’s how we decided to go through it one afternoon.

The book is really nice and hardback with glossy pages, so even though it allows the child to draw in the book, the book lover in me wouldn’t allow me to let them do that, so I was super grateful that we had the journals, which have the same sketch pages as the book does.

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Here’s the book and the journal

I read it to them first, but they got real antsy and ready to get down to drawing, so luckily the book is short and we went right to the journals. (If I had it to do over, I probably wouldn’t it have read it first, we would’ve done the journal and the book at the same time.)

So my kiddos got to demonstrate that they understood each element, things like shapes, lines, and color, and then (this is the part they really enjoyed) they got to create their own picture using that element.

The way the book is set up with the examples of each element, it worked out well for both of my kids, who have different strengths. My daughter, who is an art lover, did a really good job coming up with her own creative ways to use each element. My son on the other hand, didn’t feel like he could draw anything without looking at the examples. If I didn’t have those, he may have gotten too frustrated to continue.

We didn’t complete all the pages of the journal, but I told them they could keep them and finish whenever they wanted to, which they were excited about. The directions in the journal are simple enough that my 6 and 8 year old will be able to read them on their own. Below are some examples of the artwork my kids created.

Thanks to Art Parts, we really enjoyed some quality time together reading, drawing, and creating masterpieces. You can learn more information about author Kim Bogren Owen, including where to purchase her books at here.