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Book Review Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

Read Aloud #3–Dear Dragon

This is the third in read aloud book reviews to celebrate and promote March as Read Aloud month. You can read the first two selections here and here.

It doesn’t happen as often as I would like, but there are times when both my 8 year old daughter and my 5 year old son actually want to hear the same book at the same time. Most times their interests are different enough that the books they want to read are different, especially once my daughter gained an interest in chapter books. However, there are occasions where I can have them both in the same room at the same time to do our bedtime reading. Usually those occasions are when I bring home a new book, and Dear Dragon by Josh Funk, was one of those books.

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Of course, you know a read aloud has been a hit in your house when it gets requested multiple nights in a row, and Dear Dragon earned that honor for at least 3 consecutive nights.  This book is about two pen pals, one a human, the other a dragon and their letters to each other.  There are many many things we loved about this book, so I’ll just list them here:

  1. Its in letter format, so it’s a different look instead of the typical text across the top of the page.
  2. It rhymes! You can’t go wrong with a book that rhymes. Plus, as the one reading aloud, it gives you a certain cadence that makes the book more entertaining for the listeners.
  3. The main character is a little brown boy! Much like I mention in my Nerdy Book Club post, one of the reasons this is important is because there’s no mention of his color, he’s just a little kid named George who happens to be a pen pal with a dragon. #weneeddiversebooks
  4. The illustrations are wonderful, and also essential to the story. It did take some explaining to my son, but George and Blaise have some misinterpretations of each other’s letters. So the illustrations show what the pen pal is thinking AND what was actually going on.
  5. Its a funny book, and who doesn’t enjoy a funny book? Once your child catches on with the illustrations, they will find the humor in story, hence the multiple requests for the book many nights in a row.

I had actually won Dear Dragon through a Twitter contest from Mr. Schu (BTW, if you don’t know Mr. Schu, you should. He may actually love kidlit more than I do.). So, after I told Mr. Schu and Josh Funk that my kids loved the book and were going to be disappointed when I had to take it school the next day, this happened:

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Yes! There’s all kinds of coloring sheets and activity pages to go along with the book, including a page where my children each wrote their own Dear Dragon letters. (And they forgave me for taking the book away from them to school.)

So, if your children like rhyming, wonderful illustrations, diverse characters, or just good books, then you should add Dear Dragon to your library/bookstore list!

#raisingreaders

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Book Review Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers Uncategorized

Read Aloud #2-The Book With No Pictures

March is Read Aloud Month, so to support that I am sharing some of the read alouds that my kiddos and I love.

My first read aloud review was a Dr. Seuss classic, so I decided to stay on the funny book train with my next selection– The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. This book was first introduced to my daughter early last year by her 1st grade teacher, and not long afterwards we saw it in Barnes and Noble and she just had to have it.  At the time, I had seen the book before, but I had never actually took the time to open it.

Once we got the book home, she pretended as if there was some big secret that I was about to be let in on and she actually could not wait until bedtime so we could read it. Me, being the unassuming adult who was convinced this could not be that big a deal, was not concerned at all (but secretly thrilled about my child being so excited about bedtime). I mean, this is the cover of the book– how bad could it be?

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Well, my girl was giggling as soon as I opened the book and laughed through the ENTIRE thing. Without giving the whole book away, author B.J. Novak (yes, the same actor that was on The Office) has decided that if there are no pictures, the reader (that would be you), has to read whatever words are on the page.  And trust me, there are some silly words, noises, phrases, everything but pictures, on the pages. Here’s a sneak preview of what will have to come out of your mouth while reading:

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Yep, really. Not even a real word.

 

One of the other reasons I selected this read aloud to highlight, was not only was it funny then, but its still funny now. It has been over a year since we purchased that book and she still cracks up whenever I read it. Every once in a while, when its bedtime and we’re not in the middle of a chapter book, she’ll slip this book behind her back and bust it out with a cheesy smile on her face. Now I’ll be honest, its not my favorite book by any means, but I’ll play up my fear/distaste of reading the book, mostly because it makes her want to hear me read it even more.  I’ll go to any lengths (almost) to make sure my children enjoy reading, even if that means making silly noises. A few weeks ago I even visited and read it to her 2nd grade class, and again, even though a good chunk of them had heard it before, they were nearly in hysterics.  I mean really, I don’t get it, but maybe I would if I was 8?

If you don’t mind looking silly and want a funny book for your child, I recommend this one. Also, side note, getting book recommendations from your child’s teacher or asking your child what the teacher has been reading in class can help if you’re stumped trying to find a new book to read. As for me, next time I’ll read the back before I buy:

Warning

 

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Parenting Raising kids Uncategorized

Walking the tightrope

I wouldn’t necessarily say my son is a reluctant reader, but I would say that I have this fear that he will be. On the other hand, I also don’t want to be that parent that pushes reading so much that I’m the one that makes him not enjoy it. There’s a fine tightrope that I’m carefully teetering on here.

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So, as a result, you know how as a parent you do things with an ultimate goal in mind, but you don’t express that goal out loud for fear that your child will ruin your plans for no reason other than to turn your hair gray?  That’s my relationship with my son and reading.

As I’ve said before, I tend to pick most of his books from the library for him, just to make the trip a little smoother. On our last trip I picked out one of those easy reader books, this one titled, Trains. Since he didn’t pick it out and I didn’t even bother showing it to him before we left the library for his approval, he hadn’t been paying much attention to it. In fact, I don’t think he’d even opened the book in the week since we got it.

Well, one day this weekend he was spending some quality time in the bathroom, so I decided to hand him that book to help make time pass. As he grabs the book his response was,

“MOM, I don’t even know why you got me this book. I’ve read a book on trains already, remember? I had the CD and the book!”

“Yes, but this book may be different than that one, it may have different stuff in it.”

“No, that book had everything about trains in it, it told me everything.”

“Just read the book boy”, as I walk away exasperated from this conversation. This is what I mean when I say that he just wants to do the opposite just to try to make me crazy, there’s no other reason.

Anyway, moments later when I walk by, I see him actually reading the words on the page. He’s 5, so he’s not a real confident reader, but he’s sounding out words and is doing a good job. He gets to the second sentence on this page…”The cars on a p…pass…passenger”

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Wait what?! Did he just read the word passenger?! Yes! One point for mama! We did a high-five, I gave him his kudos for reading such a hard word, and he moved on to the rest of the page.

Now what I didn’t say to him, but really wanted to was, “You know why you were able to read the word passengers? Because you’ve already read/listened to a book about trains, and your mama was smart enough to get you another one, so you had the vocabulary ready and you used context clues to help you figure out the word. So there.”

At any rate, the takeaway from this incident is this: to support your efforts in #raisingreaders, I’m actually advocating being the sneaky, yet deliberate parent. You don’t want to end up being that adult that makes that child despise reading, but you don’t want to let opportunities pass either. Search for a balance on that tightrope. Also, if there’s a subject or topic they’re into, get them an informational book on it…and then get them another one. Despite what they may tell you, despite their resistance, they’ll get something different out of the each book, and it’ll make them smarter in the process.

#RaisingReaders

 

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Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers

Raising Readers AND Kind people

Initially, in the aftermath of the election, my plan was to write a post that would take readers’ minds off the election and would have nothing to do with that current event. However, in my failed efforts to NOT read things election-related, I had a realization. Regardless who you voted for, one thing I like to think all parents want is to raise children who are kind. And there are a couple of things that I read that caused me to refocus my energy in that direction.

One of the many advantages of raising readers is that there are times you can let books help you do the talking you cannot or don’t know how to do. There are conversations that I didn’t (and probably still don’t) think I was ready to have with my 7 year old; however, current situations will require them sooner rather than later. So I came across this blog post from the wonderful website readbrightly.com, where the author suggests using books to navigate difficult topics. Well duh, why hadn’t I thought of that before? Maybe I had, maybe when I happened to read Llama Llama and the Bully Goat, we happened to have those conversations about bullying. The difference here is that she was intentional, and that was something I hadn’t done. The author even gave some title suggestions, and even though most of them were not books appropriate for my 5 and 7 year old, it did spark my curiosity to find books that were.

So luckily, teacher and author Pernille Ripp writes a blog. And in that blog there’s a post about picture books that teach kids empathy–perfect! You can look at these great titles yourself here, but one of my favorites by one of my favorite authors (Jacqueline Woodson) is on there, so if you’re looking for a place to start, here’s a good one:

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So, I’ve decided I’m going start this tedious journey with my daughter, and I’m sure it’ll be a bumpy one, but I’ll let you guys know how it goes. And by all means, if you have ideas or suggestions on how you’ve used books to teach difficult topics with your children, feel free to comment below and let me know. In the meantime–

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Book Review Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers

Quote and guest blogging

I saw this quote on Twitter the other day and it resonated with me and particularly my journey with my son, who is just learning to read. You can read more about my journey raising readers at my guest blog post here with Book Review Mama.

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