With all the demands and distractions in our busy lives, finding time to encourage the love of reading in our children can be a challenge. This month we introduce a short series of tips on finding the right book for your child, making time to read, and using thoughtful questions to grow a reader. Whether reading aloud to your younger child, interactively reading with an emerging reader or reading side-by-side with your older child, check out these tips for some helpful advice.
How can I find just the right book to engage my child?
- Read the book before you see the movie!
- When it’s gift-giving time, buy the first book of a series and then borrow the rest from the school and public library.
- To engage your older child, read the first chapter of a book aloud and then encourage them to finish on their own.
- Ask your child about the class author of the month and find additional books by that author
- Nonfiction reading is not only entertaining but important in developing reading strategies. It’s okay to read yet another book about dinosaurs!
- Reading is reading. Magazines, comics, and the increasingly popular graphic novels all build fluency and comprehension.
- Ask for help: Your child’s teacher, librarian, public librarian and local booksellers have a wealth of knowledge about children’s literature.
- Investigate on your own: Reading Rockets is a great website with tips and booklists for children of all ages.
- And speaking of all ages, picture books are ageless. As my mentor Esme Raji Codell says in her book How to Get Your Child to Love Reading, “An excellent picture book can model the highest forms of narrative and visual art and also offer multicultural perspectives.”
Out of Africa is one of those rare movies you can watch over the years and never tire of. Isak Dinesen is a superb story teller, and the cast includes Meryl Streep and Robert Redford as love interests. It certainly deserves the Oscars it won including Best Picture.
We love the main characters for their struggles. All of them have their faults, but they are all people we care about. Dennis Finchhatten, (Robert Redford), although he loves Karen (Meryl Streep), cannot help himself but disappear into the wild for days at a time. He also makes money selling elephant ivory. But at the same time he won’t shoot a lioness threatening Karen, unless it got “a bit” closer. And he has a tribesman friend who travels with him.
Karen is somewhat of a feminist. She inherits her family’s fortune only if she marries, which she does with a friend she doesn’t love. He leaves her, and she runs a coffee plantation in Africa using black labor that she ambiguously both expects hard work from, yet respects at the same time.
They have come as privileged guests who were not invited into someone else’s continent and tribe, in this case. Yet, they are not disrespectful, and they do love Africa.
In one memorable scene, Robert Redford brings a phonograph into the plains and plays Mozart. He says, “Just think, never a human sound in their life and then Mozart.”
I will not give away the ending except to say it is sad and beautiful. One sees that they loved Africa and each other and the African people, but they didn’t belong to each other or the continent. – Tom
Zen in the Art of Writing
by Ray Bradbury
Someday I will write a book. I don’t really have a solid plan, but, I figure, if I just keep writing, at some point I will have enough content to be published! A girl can dream!
I find that I get the most writing done over the Fall and Winter months. It’s also the time where I tend to gravitate towards books about writing. I started out by reading Stephen King’s On Writing, then read some works by Vonnegut and Anne Lamott. I cannot remember how I stumbled upon Zen in the Art of Writing but I am certainly glad I did!
It was a fast read. Bradbury’s collection of essays is excellent! His energy is inspirational and makes me just want to write all day and all night. He really gets the reader pumped up about writing! If you are an aspiring writer, you need to add this book to the top of your to-read list! – Kristin
And I Do Not Forgive You
by Amber Sparks
This collection of short stories was interesting in the sense that presents its theme very clearly on the cover. It is a series of stories and “other revenges.” A revenge fantasy can be a delicious treat for the psyche when done right. I found that some of these stories did not deliver on the edginess that a bright purple axe on the cover would suggest. “Mildly Unhappy With Moments of Joy” is one such story that is bogged down by its passive-aggressive tone.
Passive-aggressive revenge is a very modern way to deal with problems. Personally I would much rather read something with a Shakespearean flavor. In it two best friends seemingly drift apart. The cause is unclear. Divorced friend attempts to track down married friend even after being artfully ghosted by her. (Married friend decides to skip town in order to solidify that she really doesn’t want to talk to divorced friend.) Eventually everything settles down and the equilibrium of mild unhappiness is restored. “In Which Athena Designs a Video Game with the Express Purpose of Trolling Her Father,” is similarly passive-aggressive, but in a much more delightful way since Athena is making a very pointed statement by making her dad the villain of the game.
“A Place for Hiding Precious Things” stood out as one of the more powerful tales. It’s about a motherless princess whose father decides that he would like for her to marry. Marry him that is. The princess and her fairy godmother are having none of that and devise a plot to facilitate an escape. This story uses the fairytale rule of three wonderfully as the princess asks for the royal seamstresses to create three dresses: one the color of blood, one the color or bone, and the last the color of death. Other honorable mentions are “Is the Future a Nice Place For Girls,” which is about a medieval queen who gets the opportunity to travel through time with her infant daughter. The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines,” is a pleasant romp as the protagonist cons a fellow conman who is able to see her despite her plain appearance as she shoplifts her way through life.
The best of the tales in terms of telling a gripping and revenge-soaked story is “The Eyes of Saint Lucy,” where a daughter recounts the series of events that led her martyr-obsessed mother to strike out against her philandering husband once and for all. With a chilling refrain of, “Because there is no God,” this one is the one most likely to induce shivers. – Katie
Sometimes, I am so grateful for movies. I know some of us loathe the fact that books are frequently made into movies. I get it. But for me, it is incentive to pick up (or revisit) a book. And in this case, the book is Little Women.
My friend and I went to the theater to see the latest release of Little Women directed by Greta Geriwig, starring Emma Watson (of Harry Potter) and Saoirse Ronan (of Brooklyn). I was skeptical, as Little Women has been adapted several times and my loyalty remains to the 1933 version starring Katharine Hepburn. But I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable this latest version was, even though there was a change at the end (which was quite satisfactory).
That got me thinking about the book. I remember reading it for school and I just loathed it, probably because I had to analyze it so much in class. As is the case with most novels I read in school. But let me tell you, I have enjoyed it immensely as an adult. I forgot how absolutely charming the girls were. As an adult I recognize and understand the themes and empathize with every character. What strikes me though, is how Alcott was able to develop such strong characters at such young ages! And all of them are likable in their own way. I laughed, I cried and I rejoiced for all the girls throughout the book. How perfect! Makes me wish I had a sister! Well, not when they burn my written pages. Please do borrow Little Women from us today!
Question: I realize the library allows a couple of renewals on books, but what if I am a slow reader? I am afraid to be late with a book. I need more time! What can I do?
Answer: Some of you may not be aware that we have a modest paperback section on the main floor. This collection is comprised of mass market books which have been donated. These items are on the honor system. They are not barcoded therefore, are not attached to your library record. We keep these so you may take your time and read at your own pace. Enjoy!
The Hollywood Book Club: reading with the stars
By Steven Rea
Once in a while, I need a quick and easy read. This was the perfect one for me. Hollywood Book Club is a good book for folks who still dream of old Hollywood and black & white pictures. Every page features a photograph of a movie star with a book in their hands. The opposite page includes a brief passage about the celebrity’s filmography along with the title of the book they are reading in the photograph. It was a neat little book!