"Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them."
- Arnold Lobel


Every Tuesday is Book Review Day, where I review and recommend a children's book.

Every Wednesday is Wise Owl Wednesday, where you can butter up your brain with some children's literature facts - history, milestones, trivia ... stop by here to learn a little something about the amazing world of books for the young!

Every Thursday is Literacy Tip Day, where I offer literacy suggestions for your children based upon my teaching and parenting experience.

Keep cozy this fall with a good book!

27 May 2010

Literacy Tip #6 - How to Reach Your Reluctant Reader and a Giveaway in Honor of Armchair BEA!

Don't worry. You can and will reach your reluctant reader.  Here's how!

Many reasons exist as to why a child is a reluctant reader - too many to list here! I will touch on a few basic reasons and give some possible solutions. 
  • Does your child have a difficult time decoding sounds? Matching letters with sounds? If so, spend extra time daily, even just 15 minutes, reading aloud to your child.  Point to the print as you read it aloud, so your child can follow along.  Your child needs to hear the letter and sound association over and over.
  • Does your child dislike having to sit still to do the actual reading? No problem! Books on CD are a great fit for a variety of reading needs, including this one! Download a book or story on an iPod, and have your child listen to it while he or she is doing chores or out for a walk.  To take this a big step further, listen to a book on CD in the car with your child (he or she is sitting down anyway!).  Not only will your child be developing literacy skills, but the two of you will be engaged in the story together.  This is a prime opportunity to discuss the elements of a story (plot, setting, characters) with your child! Ask questions about the story:  Why did the main character do that? What caused him to make that decision? Do you agree with what he did? Posing questions to your child about the story strengthens higher-level thinking skills and encourages him or her to listen carefully to the story for further reflection.
  • Is your child a strong reader but seems disinterested in reading for pleasure? This requires some trial-and-error, but the advantage here is that so many different books exist that you and your child are bound to find something he or she will enjoy reading! First, try some different genres that you think your child would enjoy.  The best place to start would be matching your child's real life interests with similar topics in literature.  Next, think about your child's personality type.  Is he or she outgoing, athletic, shy, optimistic, or a deep thinker? Obviously, your child's personality is very unique, but excellent authors can delve deeply into the many aspects of the human experience, so, again, you're certain to find a particular author whose work your child will enjoy.  For example, Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events is a wonderful fit for someone with a keen and dry sense of humor.  Whether or not a melodramatic plotline is your top preference, his writing style will carry you through the series if you enjoy sarcasm.  

Give some of these ideas (or derivatives of them) a try.  Again, these were very broad suggestions, but I will continue to offer more tips related to this topic in future postings! Remember, you can and will reach your reluctant reader!!! 

And to reach your reluctant reader, one lucky person will win this hardcopy edition of Murder at Midnight by Avi, an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
    Murder At Midnight

    • To enter this giveaway, you must be a follower of this blog and leave a comment on this post about a future topic you would like to see in my Thursday Literacy Tips.  Please be sure to leave your e-mail address, so I know how to contact you if you win!
    • For an additional entry, grab my button and place it on your blog - you do not have to place it on your sidebar; anywhere on your blog is fine, such as in a post or on another page.  (I won't complain if you do place it on your sidebar, though!!!)  Be sure to leave a comment for me that you completed this option!
    • For another additional entry, blog about this giveaway and link back to this post.  Again, please leave a comment here so I am aware of it!
    • Best of luck! This giveaway is open until 11:59 pm CST, Friday, June 4, 2010.

    **The final clues for tomorrow's mystery children's author or illustrator are some words that are associated with his or her creation: brother and sister, bunnies, and Grandma.**  

    26 May 2010

    Book Review #7

    The Surprise Garden
    by Zoe Hall
    Illustrated by Shari Halpern

    "We're planting the seeds for a surprise garden.  Can you guess what we will grow?"

    Filled with the joyous excitement of planting a garden, children narrate their experience of planting seeds and watching them grow.  The prose is delicate and inviting - a perfect match for Halpern's colorful, cut-out illustrations.  Read this delightful book before or after planting seeds with your child! This book is recommended for ages 2-4 years.

    Also by this author and illustrator: 
     The Apple Pie TreeIt's Pumpkin Time!Fall Leaves Fall!

    **Clue for Friday's Mystery Friend:  She takes reading to the max!**

    Armchair BEA Interview - Meet Marg from Melbourne, Australia!

    Today's Armchair BEA mission was to interview another book blogger, and I was lucky enough to interview Marg, who resides in Melbourne, Australia! How cool is that??

    Q.  Your header is beautiful! I noticed you have Amelia Earhart on it. I was born in Atchison, Kansas, her hometown; in fact, my grandparents' house was right next door to hers! What made you choose her for your header?

    A.  Wow! How cool that your grandparent's lived next door to Amelia Earhart!

    I wish I could take credit for the idea that put Amelia Earhart on my header, but I really can't! The lovely Alex who recently did my blog redesign came up with it. When I first started blogging my blog name was Reading Adventures, so when it came time to talk about what I wanted my brief was "Way back when I first started blogging I thought I would like something that was a play on the blog title - you know something about books being an adventure, but I don't want anything too cutesy" and she came back with the idea of a 1920s explorer, (because I like to explore different genres). As soon as I saw it I was blown away and just loved it! Even got a little emotional because it wasn't something I had even thought of at all!

    Q.  What are your top three favorite books of all time?

    A.  You are asking the tough questions early! Favourite books ever. The first one would be either Outlander or Voyager from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I have a serious crush on Jamie Fraser that has lasted a number of years now. This is the book that I credit with really getting me back to reading after a long absence.

    Second, I am going with The Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paullina Simons. The first book is The Bronze Horseman and it is set during WWII in Leningrad, and it just a really lovely book.
    Third, I have a whole heap of books that I could put on the list, from Sharon Kay Penman, Elizabeth Chadwick and others, but I think I am going to go with Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It's set in Barcelona and is kind of gothic and moody, and I loved it!

    Q. What do you and Australians in general think of the Twilight series of books / movies? What about the Harry Potter series? Are they as hugely popular there as they are in the United States?

    A.  Books like Twilight and Harry Potter are definitely global phenomena, and yes, they are hugely popular here too! It's funny because there are times when you can see the book trends very clearly when you are on public transport. For along while it was very common to see lots of people reading Harry, and then the same thing with the Twilight books. The books of the moment seem to be the Millenium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. It is everywhere!
    When I read the first Twilight book I really enjoyed it, and the same for the second book. I wasn't as enamoured of the third, and as for the fourth book, well, I wanted to throw it against the wall several times. I do know quite a few families where the Twilight books have got mum and kids reading, so while I know that there are plenty of people who don't like the books, there have been some good outcomes from them. To be honest, my absolutely favourite Stephenie Meyer book is actually The Host. I am not usually a sci-fi reader, but oh my goodness, I loved that book! I really hope the movie gets made, and that there is a sequel some day. Please.

    Q.  How long have you been blogging? What made you begin blogging?

    A.  I have been blogging for what feels like forever! In actually fact, it is around 4 and a half years. I started blogging because I loved to talk about the books that I was reading, and I wanted a kind of online reading journal. Originally my blog was really only book reviews, but these days that is probably the least part of my content. I started the blog because there was one book that I read that I just HAD to talk about with someone, anyone, and there was no one in real life who was really a reader. That one book was The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Now I look back at the review of that and think that I could do so much better, but it is there for posterity in the form that I wrote it at the time.

    Q. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

    A.  I really still enjoy talking about books. Even after all this time I can’t get enough of it. I love seeing a book on someone’s blog that I think I might enjoy, and then discovering a new favourite author when I read it! This happened to me last year with a couple of authors last year, most notably Susanna Kearsley and Susan Holloway Scott and this year I would have to say that Kathryn Stockett and Patrick Rothfuss have been great finds.
    I also enjoy making new friends and maintain existing friendships through blogging and Twitter. Some of these people I may never meet in real life, but they are amongst the people who I count as true friends and some of them probably know me better than people I see every day! I figure if I ever get to go travelling again at least I will find some friendly faces in Canada, the US, Britain, Portugal, France….all over the place. I think I should start planning a blogging world tour!

    I also enjoy the process of thinking about a post and putting it together. I often find myself thinking about posts I could write. Often I don’t end up actually writing them all, but I do enjoy the mental, or perhaps a better word could be creative, side of the blogging process. I don’t consider myself to be overly creative, but just enough to get by.

    Q.  Describe yourself in three words.

    A.  Oh….don’t like this question because sometimes it depends on what you are doing and how you feel. I could start with the obvious...
    Mum, reader, blogger
    Reading/blogging addict
    Or less obvious attributes of
    Dedicated, hard working, social
    Or perhaps I should just go with

    Indecisive, wordy, cheeky!

    Thank you, Marg! Please visit Marg's blog at The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader.

    25 May 2010

    Armchair BEA - Dream Panel

    Today is the Armchair BEA kickoff!! Want to know more about it?? Visit Armchair BEA Central to link up with a variety of book blogs and learn something new and interesting!!!

    I would like to talk about MY dream panel of authors.  Gosh, this is difficult to narrow down to just a few authors!! Even as I write this post, I keep thinking of another author to place on my panel.  I have read so many books as a child and adult that have had such an impact on my life - changing my perspective, affecting my emotions, and just simply providing me a place of respite from the stresses of life.  (This is definitely a dream panel, considering three out of the four authors are no longer living.)

    My dream panel of authors would be:  Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frank McCourt, Beverly Cleary, and Anne Frank.

    Little House on the PrairieAngela's Ashes: A MemoirRamona Quimby, Age 8 (Avon Camelot Books)Anne Frank - The Diary of a Young Girl

    Each one of these authors has provided me with an incredible, unrepeatable reading experience as I lost myself between the cover(s) of their books. My experience with literature was forever changed after reading the words of these authors.

    These are the questions I would pose to each author on the panel:
    • What are your favorite pieces of literature?
    • How has the written word (yours or someone else's) changed your life?
    • What advice would you offer to aspiring writers?

    Which authors (living or dead) would be on your dream panel? What questions would you ask them?

    24 May 2010

    "What Are You Reading?" and Armchair BEA

    Happy Monday! Today is "What Are You Reading?" linky time at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books

    The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

    I have decided that I am finishing Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project THIS WEEK! This means that I can only read this particular book...I cannot pick up my other literature until I am finished.  There.  I said it. Please keep me accountable, fellow bloggers!!!! :)

    Here are a few of the books I will be reading with my children:

    Mrs. Spitzer's GardenBaby's First BookThe Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend

    Arbor Day SquareGrasshopper Pie and Other Poems: All Aboard Poetry Reader

    I am also gearing up for Armchair BEA that starts tomorrow!  I am so excited to meet some awesome book bloggers and check out some cool new blogs!

    I have added a new weekly feature here at A Novel Idea, called "Mystery Friend Friday", and I am really excited about it!  Every Friday I will highlight a particular children's author or illustrator, giving clues Monday through Thursday as to who he or she might be.  That person will be our Friday Mystery Friend!  Here's the first clue:  She is "somebunny" who you might know quite well.

    And...check out the top of my sidebar! I have my own button now! Please grab it and share the love!

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