Saturday, December 16, 2006

Where's the snow?

I can't tell you how miserable I am without snow for Christmas. Of course we don't always have a white Christmas, but I like to think that is a rare occurrence. It wouldn't be so bad if we at least had cold weather! I can't believe how warm and truly balmy the weather has been.

Well, it has led to a new tradition in our family. My husband and I are walking every night we can! We visit different neighborhoods to admire the lights on the houses. We have just about finished all the local walks, and now we are ready to drive the car to another area and get out and walk. He thinks I'm nuts, but it isn't too cold, so we are feeling very righteous (which means he gets to have ice cream afterwards) and I think I may have lost a couple of pounds.

My point is that it is great exercise and time together. When the weather lets you down, enjoy what you can. Take an evening walk with your family and don't forget the flashlights! When you return home you can get the kids ready for bed, a snack, a book or two, and a good sleep. If this winter continues without snow, take the children to indoor ice rinks. We have quite a few in the capital district. There is no reason not to enjoy the outdoors - even if we wish it was sledding weather!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Holiday Spirit

This is such an exciting time of year for children. How do you temper their excitement without making yourself crazy? After all, you will not have time to get things done as early as TV commercials suggest. So, I have some suggestions for keeping your holidays spirit-filled.

Make time for children to be involved with your holiday planning. An Advent calendar is very helpful for counting off the days. Another fun way to count with young children is a paper chain. You can make one out of colored paper, or have the children decorate paper with rubber stamps, crayons and markers and then cut the paper into strips. You can glue a chain together as each day begins, or make the chain as long as you want and subtract a link every day. Hang the chain in the child's room and count it often, out loud.

Pick out holiday books from the library. Every night read one holiday book before bed. You will be amazed at the sheer number of books and stories that you have never heard of. Save the best for last. What would that be? Tradition in our family is The Polar Express and The Night Before Christmas are the last books read on Christmas Eve. Even the grown-up children expect that! Include books from different traditions. During Hanukkah, even if you don't celebrate that holiday, read a couple of books that children will begin to understand this holiday about light and hope.

Let children help. They can help with cooking and baking even if they only pour in the ingredients that you will mix. If you participate in projects to help others make sure children go with you and help pick out presents that will be going somewhere else.

TURN OFF THE TV! Children are being overexposed to commercials and products. Put on video tapes and DVDs that you control and do not have commercial interruptions.

Put on music. Borrow CDs from the library and enjoy the many artists that have recorded holiday music. If your child wants one over and over again, try and purchase it for a gift. Let your children play near you as you work on cards and letters to loved ones. If you are inserting pictures, let the children decorate paper with rubber stamps and fingerprints. Family members will love it, and so will the kids.

Looking for book ideas? Here are some of my favorites!
Dream Snow by Eric Carle
Merry Christmas Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
Nutcracker Noel by Kate McMullen
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Counting to Christmas by Nancy Tafuri

Check back here for more book suggestions and ideas for enjoying your holidays. If you have favorite books, please share them.
Joyce Laiosa

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Full Moon

Every time I see a full moon, I think of moon stories, moon landings and moon songs. I love looking at the moon and stars, especially on a clear night. Well, that means I should know something about the moon. I know some things and you should, too.

A brand new book will help you with moon landings. It's called Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh. It is a book to linger over with great photographs and a fascinating plus well written text. I still remember where I was when Apollo 11 lifted off, and about the night they walked on the moon. You have to check out this book. It is a wonderful intergenerational book for the whole family to share. (Although my children are a bit tired of my memories of this great event!)

If your family is interested in the space program there are other books to read, most notably an award winning book from Sweden that has been translated into English. It is The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon: The Story of Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins by Bea Uusma Schyffert. It is a book that will keep younsters interested because of the mixture of photographs, technical line drawings, interesting text, plus quotes from Collins' own diaries and notes. It is very clever, and Michael Collins is ignored in many other books because de did NOT walk on the moon.

Alexandra Siy's Footprints on the Moon is filled with stunning photographs of the moon and from the moon. Lastly, I recommend Faith McNulty's If You Decide to Go to the Moon. The illustrations are by Steve Kellogg and bring the reader into the story of preparing for a trip to the moon. The information is all accurate about the moon and what you would need, and how you would get around on the moon.

There are many other books about flight, the history of the space program and books about the space station. Don't forget to look at biographies of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, too. I would also recommend one of my favorite movies - although my children tell me it is only OK and even a little boring. It is 'The Dish' starring Sam Neill. It is an Australian film, made in 2000, and very funny. It is about the huge satelite 'dish' (Parkes Radio Telescope) that played an important part of the moon landing. This dish was responsible for the television pictures the world watched. (There is a chapter on the dish in Team Moon.) Anyone who remembers the moon landing will enjoy the movie.

So whenever you look at the moon, remember the lucky astronauts who actually walked on it and check out some of these books. You won't be disappointed!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fall, Apples, and Great Reads!

I hope you all take the time to visit a local apple orchard and pick some apples. It is time for raking leaves, jumping into a big leaf pile, and finishing a busy day with a good book.

I want to recommend one old book and two new ones. A great read-aloud for the whole family is Patricia MacLachlan's Newbery Award winning, Sarah, Plain and Tall. This is a short, sweet story of a widowed father and his two children. He puts an advertisement into a newspaper to find a wife (mail-order bride) to come live with him and his children on the prairie. The book is one that children will enjoy listening to as much as parents will enjoy reading. This is the first book in a series that just recently concluded. The other titles in their order to the series are Skylark, More Perfect Than the Moon, Caleb's Story, and Grandfather's Dance. This series is heartwarming and tender. They are written from the child's point of view. Anna narrates the first, second and third book while Caleb "writes" the fourth and fifth. Children will enjoy the films made from the first two books starring Glenn Close and Christopher Walken. Many children love the "Little House" stories which would be wonderful to read after this series. Laura Ingalls Wilder was a real person and her books tell more details of the hard life on the prairie.

Another historical fiction book that the whole family will enjoy is by Richard Peck: Here Lies the Librarian. This gem from Peck, with his signature combination of quirky characters, poignancy, and outrageous farce stars orphans Peewee, 14, and Jake, the big brother she idolizes living in rural Indiana in 1914. They run a small garage, but face nasty sabotaging from their rival. The novel opens with a twister that tears up Buelahland Cemetery, turning up coffins, and strews laundry around the county. The tornado doesn't dare to touch the stern former librarian's grave. The board of trustees closed the library after her death, but that situation is about to change. A library science student from Butler University arrives with her three equally pretty and wealthy sorority sisters, all of whom drive fabulous cars, sparking Jake's interest (not just in their cars). After many pranks and hijinks, Peewee ends up being the only finisher in a rough-and-ready auto race, an event recounted in the closing chapter when she is an elderly, although still spunky, old lady. Peck aptly conveys the nuances of rural life in the early years of the last century while weaving in early feminism, the history of the automobile, and the message to be oneself. I loved the library puns and plan to use the epitaph in this book on my own grave! "SHH, Here lies the librarian, After years of Service, Tried and True, Heaven stamped her ---Overdue! Joyce Laiosa

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Summer Reading

Here in Voorheesville the official last day of school is tomorrow. Kids are already signing up for the summer programs, taking out stacks of books and looking forward to free time. My wish for all young people is to enjoy free time in the summer. Kids need a little structure, some plans to look forward to, and plenty of free time. That doesn't and shouldn't mean sitting in front of a TV.

Free time (in my mind) means the opportunity to create. Try a new craft, enjoy painting or something else creative. Perhaps a child might want to try their hand at sewing or knitting. Check out the library for some of these creative projects. If you have your child going to a sports camp, or day camp, they need the time at home to be less busy. These activities can be exhausting. Let them choose a special film to watch at night, and take home a stack of books that will entice them into reading.

If you have a reluctant reader, now is the time to bring out the comic books. Let them laugh over "Calvin and Hobbes," "Foxtrot," "Peanuts," "Zits," "Garfield," or even "Tintin." The kids will be thrilled to have them around, and then you can introduce them to some newer titles. Check out Jennifer Holm's "Babymouse: Queen of the World." Babymouse is truly a girl character. She wants to go to a slumber party and yet doesn't want to disppoint her best friend. It is a typical dilemma in a child's life where bullies rule, kids want to be liked, and where friends are so important. This is a comic for all ages, but aimed towards grades 4-6. Another new comic is "Spiral-Bound" by Aaron Renier. It is also written for the same kids as "Babymouse," and again kids older and younger will love it. It has animal characters that react to the world as children. It would appeal to kids who like Roald Dahl's Matilda and Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. One last comic to try is Rod Espinosa's quest The Courageous Princess. The artwork is in color and very lush which fits the story well for a fairy tale.

So, give the kids books, and take them to the library. But let them savor the fun of comics or graphic novels. They can take their time with the visual storytelling and enjoy reading words and pictures. It might inspire them to try their hand at their own comics.

For a novel about making and selling comic books, check out Andrew Clements Lunch Money. He truly captures young people in his books, which are all set in schools. He is most famous for Frindle, one of my favorites, as well as, A Week in the Woods. Joyce Laiosa

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Ugly Duckling

Springtime down by the pond brings a parade of baby ducks and geese. It's a great time to take out the old classic by Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling. I love the picture book version illustrated and adapted by Jerry Pinkney which won a Caldecott Honor award in 2000. The illustrations are rich and detailed. I think my favorites are the end papers. The beginning of the book, the first set of "endpapers" starts the tale off with the picture of a mother duck swimming with her babies right behind her. The final set of "endpapers" show the beautiful swan swimming in the pond.

Donna Jo Napoli has adapted this story into a "chapter" book, called Ugly. She has set the tale in Tasmania and made it very funny. It would be a wonderful read aloud for younger children, or an appropriate read for children in fourth and fifth grade. Tasmania is near New Zealand and Australia, just in case you are wondering why there is a kangaroo on the cover of this book. I highly recommend it!

Another book with a duckling is Jacquelyn Mitchard's Rosalie, My Rosalie: The Tale of a Duckling. Mrs. Brown read this one and thought it perfect for young people in grades 2-4. She loved the story of a nine-year-old girl yearning for a pet that she finally has when her father rescues a duckling. A story of love, attachment, and learning to let go. A book for animal lovers.
Joyce Laiosa

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Enjoying classical music

Do you feel intimidated by classical music?

Some people love it, some don't even think to listen to it. I'm of the generation that heard classical music with my cartoons. I also had a parent who loved it. She grew up with music on the radio. She rarely went to live concerts or the opera, but seemed to love it all. And so I grew up enjoying classical music on records, the radio, and at live concerts.

Voorheesville Public Library has a very extensive classical music collection, with many CDs for children. There are the recordings of Peter and the Wolf, Carnival of the Animals, and Benjamin Britten's Young Persons's Guide to the Orchestra. There is also a lovely CD called The Classical Child at the Ballet that is filled with well-loved music from the dance. For quick snippets of famous pieces (many from those cartoons I grew up with) check out Baby Dance: A Toddler's Jump on the Classics.

The newest, funniest, and even a little wacky play on classical music is Richard Perlmutter's Beethoven's Wig: Sing Along Symphonies. He has set very famous symphonies with zany stick-in-your-head lyrics. Ok, I know that Beethoven didn't wear a wig, but you will never forget Symphony #5 after hearing the "song" Beethoven's Wig. You and your children will laugh and learn/enjoy the music. There is Beethoven's Wig 2: More Sing Along Symphonies and the book and CD Beethoven's Wig. My favorite piece from all three of these is on the CD that accompanies the picture book. Included is Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." Perlmutter has made it a song about a car stuck at a stoplight at night, with a line of traffic behind him. I kid you not!! The musical lines are so easy to hear as each "vehicle" has a new line of melody.

The best part of all these CDs are that a child can listen to the music with the funny words and then hear the music played with an orchestra. They will learn these famous and wonderful melodies and appreciate music. Give them the opportunity to listen to music and make up their own words! Joyce Laiosa

Monday, April 10, 2006

Four Recommended "Ready-for-Chapters" Books

I have had the pleasure of conducting the 2nd-3rd grade book discussions for the past two years. It is always an exciting time in a child's life when he or she progresses to reading chapter books independently. It is also a thrill to be able to participate in a real book discussion, an activity often reserved for older readers and adults! Our book discussions are always a lot of fun and the children enjoy sharing their feelings and reactions to the book they've just read. I am always amazed at how insightful a child of this age can be and how he or she connects the experiences of life to those in the book. Isn't this one of the pleasures of reading?

Here are four "Ready-for-Chapters" series that I have successfully used in the book discussions. These are tried and true titles that children ages 6-8 particularly enjoy:

1.) "Barkley's School for Dogs" series by Marcia Thornton Jones and Debbie Dadey - The dogs tell the story as they navigate their lives at the School for Dogs. Real issues that children may be dealing with - such as bullying, kindness, friendship, hardwork, fear - are placed within a readable narrative told from the dogs' points of view. Most children this age adore dogs and enjoy reading books with dogs in them. Furthermore, the themes in these series explore issues that the children themselves experience at school. This series is sure to please!

2.)"Lighthouse Family" series by Cynthia Rylant - From the acclaimed author of the "Henry and Mudge" series comes another collection of books sure to become favorites of the beginning chapter reading crowd! The stories contain animal characters who experience trials and tribulations, yet by working together and learning along the way, they realize that any problem seems less difficult. Themes of friendship, family, and belongingness permeat these lovely tales. Like the narrative, the illustrations are particularly lovely!

3.) "Ready, Freddy!" series by John McKinley - These hilarious tales center on Freddy, a first grader whose antics, thoughts, and feelings mirror those of any first grader. Young readers will relate to the realistic situations concerning school, family, friendship, and milestones of growing up. These are nicely paced books with realistic characters.

4.) "The Adventures of Hector Fuller" series by Elizabeth Shreeve - Hector Fuller is a wumblebug, a fictional bug who goes on many adventures and experiences many misadventures along the way. This series is particularly well-written with a lot of humor, fantastic dialog, and well-conceived situations. I absolutely loved the first book in the series, Hector Springs Loose. Age appropriate themes of home, friendship, betrayal, and learning from one's mistakes make this series appealing to the beginning chapter reader audience. The illustrations are fantastic, too!

I strongly encourage you to check out some of these books in these won't be disappointed!

~Gail Brown

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Edward Tulane

Looking for a great read-aloud? How about a gift book for someone's Easter basket? Look no further than The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. What a winner!!! Edward Tulane is a china rabbit with an extensive wardrobe. He belongs to 10-year-old Abilene, who thinks almost as highly of Edward as Edward does of himself. After mean boys rip him from Abilene's hands during an ocean voyage, he falls into the ocean. Thus begins Edward's journey from watery grave to the gentle embrace of a fisherman's wife, to the care of a hobo and his dog, and into the hands of a dying girl. With every person who touches him, Edward's heart grows a little bit softer and a little bit bigger. The book is beautiful to look at, the illustrations are perfect for the story, and it will become a cherished read aloud for the entire family. Kate DiCamillo is the Newbery Award-winning author of The Tale of Despereaux, and an honor winner for Because of Winn-Dixie.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Vacation Car Trips

Heading down south for a spring break? How will you entertain the children for all those hours? Many people will be looking at portable DVD players. There is nothing wrong with that, but it isn't the only way to entertain children. Take a couple hours to coordinate many different experiences for kids. First, there is the curiosity factor. What's in the box?
What's in the box is a great way to sort through some forgotten small toys that are at the bottom of the toy box. Pull them out and put them into a shoe box. Also, buy some new markers, a pad of paper, and other craft supplies. Cheap lap boards can be found in lots of stores to serve as a flat surface for arts and crafts. The library has a lot of craft books - but choose some for the simplest and easiest ideas. Children can make masks with paper plates. Cut the plate in half, indenting for the nose, cut out eye holes, and punch a place for ribbon or yarn to hold the mask on the face. Children will spend hours (if this is something they like to do) decorating animal faces, glitzy princess masks, or bird faces with gorgeous craft feathers.
How about legos? Using small ziploc bags, toss in a couple of handfuls of different lego pieces and let the children build. There are books in the library for building simple items that could be brought along on the trip to inspire kids.
Don't forget music and book cassettes or CDs or the children. If you get tired of listening to their music or stories, let them have a walkman or discman in the back seat. Beware of too high volume, though!!! Voorheesville library just put on the shelf a lot of new items. Check them out. Remember that the DVDs are fun and will give you some needed quiet, but it shouldn't be hours of movies. A little crafting, some small toys, puppets, coloring, snacks, music and car games will all make the trip as enjoyable as the vacation destination.
Last, but not least, stretch those little legs every time you make a stop. Car seats protect our children, but they are so very confining. Walk around the outskirts of a parking lot, do a few exercises and stretches, and also some hopping and jumping. Enjoy your trip!
Joyce Laiosa

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Printz Awards

I've been reading many award-winning books this past month. I recently finished
Looking for Alaska by John Green which won the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature. This award has not been around for as many years as the Newbery and Caldecott awards. One of the wonderful consequences is that every year there is more young adult literature being published. Looking for Alaska was a good book, but not my favorite of the year, or my favorite YA book. It is the story of a high school student who goes off to an Alabama boarding school. He finds freedom, guilty pleasures, and the enigmatic Alaska. She is literate, beautiful, sexual, adventurous and self-destructive. The language and sexual situations are aptly and realistically drawn, but sophisticated in nature. Miles's narration is naive with self-deprecating humor, and he has an obvious struggle to tell the story truthfully, which adds to the believability. This book is for older teens, eighth grade and up.
I've also read one of the Printz honor books, Elizabeth Partridge's John Lennon: All I Want is the Truth. This I loved! I truly love nonfiction and Elizabeth Partridge is one of the best writers of nonfiction for young people. I do like the Beatles, but I'm not a huge fan. This book is about John Lennon, but also the Beatles, and the times. I was impressed with the story of how the Beatles began. The background of the musicians was fascinating, too. This book can be blunt because John Lennon did use the language of the 60's and he lived the rough life of a musician from that time. This is for young people in eighth grade and up.

Monday, January 23, 2006

ALA Award Winners

The winners are announced! Here in San Antonio, Texas, (a cool, crisp, sunny morning) the Association for Library Service to Children has brought the award winning book and film titles to the attention of the world. The Newbery Award goes to Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins. There were four Honor books: Whittington by Alan Armstrong, Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, and Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson. The Caldecott Award goes to The Hello, Good-bye Window by Chris Raschka. There were also four Honor books: Rosa, illustrated by Bryan Collier and written by Nikki Giovanni, Zen Shorts written and illustrated by Jon Muth, Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride written and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, and Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems illustrated by Beckie Prange and written by Joyce Sidman.
I haven't read or seen all of these books, but I am delighted by most of the choices. My favorite book this year has been Hitler Youth which also won a Sibert Honor award for nonfiction. It was a gripping story of the children brought up in Germany during 1933-1945. Bartoletti makes you care about these young people and see the world through their eyes. She follows up with interviews and tells us what happened to the young people in the book.
I loved Zen Shorts, Rosa, and The Hello, Good-bye Window. All were excellent choices and wonderful books to share with children. Let me know what you think and come into the library to check these titles and other award winners! I'll be back in the library on Wednesday ready to talk about San Antonio and great books! Joyce Laiosa

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Award-winning books

Every year since 1922 the American Library Association, and specifically the Children's Librarians' Section, (now ALSC, the Association for Library Service to Children) has awarded the Newbery Medal to the best book written for children from the past year. The Newbery Medal was the first award. It was followed by the Caldecott medal for best illustrations, in 1938. Recently there have been other awards: the Sibert Award for works of nonfiction, the Seuss award for beginning readers, and the Printz award for Young Adult Literature. It is very exciting to be a youth librarian and be at the news conference when the award-winning books are announced. Some people cheer, others scream with delight, while others look around in astonishment. It is a room filled with energy and enthusiasm for books and reading. I usually know some of the winners, but I rarely have read all the award-winners. During the year I try to read them all, and decide for myself if the committees chose wisely.
This past year I kept putting off reading Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt. It not only was a Newbery Honor book, but a Printz honor, too. How can a book appeal to both children and young adults? Well, there is a crossover age to the medals, and when that happens one can say that the book appeals to older elementary kids right through middle school to high school. I hesitated reading this book because I didn't care for the cover. It didn't interest me. But I was so wrong. I finished this book over a month ago, and it has stayed in my thoughts long after it was back on the library shelf. It is historical fiction that takes place in the community of Phippsburg, Maine, in 1912. A new minister arrives from Boston with his wife and son, Turner. Turner knows almost immediately that he is going to be friendless and lonely simply because he is the "preacher's" son. He finally makes a friend of Lizzie Bright, the first African American he has ever met, who lives on Malaga Island, an impoverished community settled by freed or possibly escaped slaves. Lizzie shares her love of the Maine coast with Turner even though he incurs the town's disapproval. The town elders want to attract tourists to their town and destroy the shacks on Malaga island and remove the community. Although the story is hauntingly sad, there is quite a bit of humor, but more than that is the humanity of Turner's character. It is a beautiful book. And now I appreciate the cover art, too. It truly fits the book and the story.
This week I am off to San Antonio, Texas for the ALA midwinter conference. On Monday, January 23rd, the awards will be announced and I will be one of those librarians screaming, cheering, or looking around in bewilderment. I can't wait. Check out the blog on Monday to see the winners and my reactions. Let me know what you've read and if you agree with the committees that chose the books. Joyce Laiosa

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Book Reviews-One for Children & One for Teens

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a stray dog? Squirrel, a stray dog and narrator of Ann Martin's A Dog's Life, recounts her life, a daily existence of loss, fear, hunger, uncertainty, and eventual hope. Squirrel desperately wants the chance to bond with a human in a mutually loving companionship. If only someone would give her the chance! Like Anna Sewell's Black Beauty, A Dog's Life delves into the heart of the animal as the reader hears the story through the animal's voice. Will Squirrel ever find someone to love her? If you are a dog lover, this is the book for you!

Recommended for ages 8-12

Sandpiper is a "bad" girl with a reputation to match! Sometimes she doesn't even know why she does the things she does. Oftentimes, she hates herself for the person she has created and doesn't know how to wipe the slate clean. Sandpiper finds herself in a precarious situation that she feels powerless to contain. Should she tell someone? Is she to blame? With the help of a mysterious new friend, Sandpiper learns to love and respect herself and to stand up for her personal rights. Furthermore, she learns to embrace the young woman she truly is and create herself anew. This book contains a true narrative voice and contemporary teenage issues.
Recommended for ages 14 and up
Some mild sexual content

Books and movies

This holiday season was a bonanza for librarians serving youth as we filled requests for The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Hollywood may or may not do a great service to a book, but it causes interest in the book and new readers come to appreciate the written word. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is only one part of The Chronicles of Narnia, a seven part series. Lewis, a noted Christian thinker, author and lecturer, as well as an English literature professor at Oxford, wrote the first Narnia book in 1950. The movie was a fantastic spectacle with great battles, wonderful special effects, and a delightful cast. My favorite was Georgie Henley as Lucy Pevensie. The White Witch, played by Tilda Swinton was also very good. (I especially loved the frost on her eyelashes!) Our library has another version of this book on DVD. It is a production from 1988 done for the "Wonderworks" series for PBS. It was a magnificent production then, but with all of today's special effects, it seems a little tired. If children can't get enough of the story, you might check it out and do a compare and contrast discussion of the two movies and the book.
Want to add even more to the discussion? Look at The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel. There is a copy in Juvenile Reference and a circulating copy in the Oversize books. The Narnia entry tells all about the land of Narnia, the creation of it, the laws, the history of Narnia and even a map. Children who enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia may also enjoy the sweet fantasy of Edward Eager's Half Magic. It also deals with a family and some special magic. Other fantasies to check out are J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Cycle which begins with The Book of Three and, of course, Harry Potter!
The other book-related movie this holiday season is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This latest version is wonderful, although I still love the BBC mini-series with Colin Firth better. For teens who love romance this may be the perfect time to encourage reading Jane Austen and viewing her other novels to movies. Emma can be viewed with Gwyneth Paltrow or Alicia Silverstone in Clueless. And don't forget Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman. Movies and reading go hand in hand for the most satisfactory experience. Enjoy both mediums!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A new year brings thoughts of new beginnings, fresh starts, and organizing ourselves. What about keeping a journal of what you read this year? Don't make it long, just a simple list. Write down the title, author, nonfiction or fiction, and make a code of how well you liked it. I use a code of stars for really great books (I usually only give the very best books two stars), an "OK" if that is the best I can say about it, and a minus sign or "Ugh!" if I really didn't like it. My list helps me remeber all the books that I read, especially if someone asks me what I've read lately. I can never remember, unless the books are outstanding. Also, if I haven't read a book lately, I will notice that I haven't opened my list and that makes me pick out some good books to read, and to actually make the time to read.
A reading list is great for parents to encourage their children's reading and to offer praise in the form of special rewards. It might be a lunch out with a friend, or a museum pick with the family, a family game night (first pick) or something funny like a coupon for leaving a bed unmade. The list will be something to discuss with family and friends and something to save and look over at the end of the year. Start a new tradition today!