Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews, Best Picture Books for 2016


Kirkus, as writers know, reviews books throughout the year. Here are their recommendations for top-notch picture books for the year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Delightful Picture Book Classic for Election Season

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin puts the election down to a child's needs. Very clever and lots of laughs for the adult reading it aloud!

Here's a You Tube reading.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

An Outdoor Kindergarten in Germany or Letting-the-Children-Learn-Naturally

This video shows us how much little ones need to be interacting with their environment around them. Mainly they need to play. Parents, once your child comes home, outside (or with their toys) is where they should be. They learn letters and math and logic and perspectives and science and so much by this informal learning.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Environment As Part of the Novel

    Carl Hiaasen incorporates the natural world in his novels for middle/YA readers. His Skink -- No Surrender opens with Skink on the beach, completely submerged in the sand but with small tube to the surface (so he can breath), waiting to catch someone who is stealing turtle eggs. The story twists to Richard, the 14-year old protagonist, who must search for his female friend who has been abducted. Richard uses his knowledge of birds to help him locate her.
    What appears unusual in Hiaasen's novels is how naturally he weaves the environment both into his settings as well as his plot. He reminds us that nature is very much a part of the human experience.

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Friday, September 2, 2016

Climate Change - Solutions?

Children need to see how we humans can deal with climate change, and National Geographic has created this thought-provoking video for them. 

As with other videos, this is only meant to start the conversation. Searches on the internet, at school, and in libraries help to expand a child's understanding as well as his/her own ideas for the future. (They may need to be reminded that they will be part of planning the solution.)

A Way Forward

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Science Book To Keep Child Busy for Weeks

It's one of those reference books where each photo is more amazing that the next. Animal Earth: The Amazing Diversity of Living Creatures by Ross Piper will keep your children busy exploring. It's not as expensive as one would think for its size ($25 for 300 pages of beautiful color photography), but many libraries may have it. But it will keep discussions -- and further research -- going.

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Science in Action

Ask your child/student to discuss the answers to the following questions (without any study beforehand). Do they want to know the real answer? It's right in the article -- only for the reading!  And great discussion for the two of you.

1. A major problem in many parts of the world -- the illegal killing of animals. Does your child/student have an idea how people are trying to stop it? The answer lies in here:

Illegal Poaching

2. What could roaches offer humans?

Roach benefits

3. What could microrobots and cars have in common?

Microrobots and Cars

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Much Discussed Science Book by Jess Keating

Keating's Pink Is for Blobfish is a wonderful cross between the icky (weird and ugly creatures) with pink. Wonderful photos and concept, and drawings by David DeGrand are delightful.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Great Graphic Novel for Whole Family

The Arrival by Shaun Tan has been around for ten years, but it will be a classic. A wordless graphic novel, it shows the trials and tribulations of someone escaping his/her own country and starting anew in a new land. The drawings are full of metaphor and open to great discussions and insight.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Thoughtful Environmental Book for Kids

Where's the Elephant? by Barroux is a thoughtful book on climate change. It shows how three forest animals, used to playing hide-and-seek, find the game easier and easier as their trees disappear. Wordless, which means it give plenty of time for discussion.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Marvelous Cornelius

Marvelous Cornelius by Phil Bidner and John Parra is a marvelous retelling itself of the Katrina disaster through the eyes of a trash collector. Drawings are delightful. All leaves much to discussion between adult and child.

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Using Photography To Graph Climate Change

    James Balog, in this video, tells us how his photo-capture of how climate change is effecting the ice shelves, and his tale is riveting.

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  Remember, to just let a young person watch a video is only the beginning of enhancing his/her reading skills. Discussion must occur afterwards (if not during), and follow-up -- either by searching for additional articles on the web or books in the library -- is what makes reading to the child a natural process.

Monday, August 1, 2016

NOVA and Reading #2

NOVA videos (always wonderful) that will spark further reading and research. These are on black holes, memory, space archeology, schools of the future:

NOVAImage result for black holes

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees

A woman Johnny Appleseed!

In the land of Kenya, Wangari Maathai changed her world - she planted trees. And it was not the simple task that Jonny Appleseed had, simply traveling the country and planting. She had to fight the developers, the government, some citizens. For her efforts, she received the Nobel Peace Prize. (Johnny never did!)  Illustrations are vivd and powerful.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Classic (Already!): Invention of Hugo Cabret

Written a decade ago, Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret is part traditional novel, part graphic novel. Set in Paris in the 1930s, Brian lives in the walls of a train station. The story just grows bigger and bigger from here, including a girl, a shopkeeper, secrets, clocks, and, and...The story easily captivates mid-level readers (strong upper elementary through middle school and beyond). Black and white drawings, too, add to the drama.  Book has 500 pages (much of it illustrations) so some students love the power of its size while others are intimidated.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Intriguing Science and Reading #1

Videos that get more advanced students a quick look into five science areas, those interested should be running for books or other websites to read answer questions they will have. And that will spark even more questions and more reading and more...

How Bacteria Grows

DNA Replication



DNA Repair

Note: Given skill level of student, these videos would work for upper elementary through high schoolers.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Monster Truck -- Just A Fun, Silly Book

Cross monsters with trucks and what do you have? Of course, Monster Trucks by Anika Denise and Nate Wragg. Written for the 3-7 (or so) -year old fun-loving, active little ones, this book will have its listeners laughing, then racing after each other at the end of the read. Enjoy!

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Stories and Books Online for Grades 4-9

And now for upper elementary and middle school students. These are written stories found online.

Again, if you are a parent, read these with your child -- along with a cookie or apple, a pillow, and time to share Many are classics:

Middle Grade Readings
American Literature

Mrs. Water's Middle Grade Stories
      Some are sections of longer works, some are complete):

High Interest Texts for Students

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

For All Girls (and Boys) Everywhere

The Princess and the Pony is a girl-affirming book that allows a girl to charge forth and impact the world. Every page has Princess Pinecone and her pony and everyone else -- mainly adults -- in all types of contortions and activity as they spin toward the conclusion. A fun read and leaving much for discussion.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A New Way to Look at Mapping

Written ten years ago, My Map Book by Sara Fanelli maps everything around: the family, the colors, the route to school, the beach, the dinner table. Words are used buy only to label the objects on the pages, so the book naturally opens up discussion. It will also have your child/student asking for paper so s/he can start mapping!

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Online Storytime for PreK-Grade 3, Online Stories

It's well-researched that one of the very best ways to encourage children is to read with them. Whatever the method -- child reading to adult, adult reading to child, or a mix of both -- the bottom line is that the experience should be one of joy for the child, not stress. Once a new reader senses stress as a part of the reading process, it becomes very difficult to change a child's mind that reading is not stressful.

Some online stories that are read to the child (PreK-3) -- Parents, don't go anywhere! Stay right there with your child and enjoy:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Climate Changing, continuing

Photos showing animals and plants and how they will be impacted by climate change. Photos and sidebars are clear and engaging:

Climate change and animals/plants

Remember, these photos are only the beginning. To enhance reading, get questions going from the child, then let him (or you) read the description posted, along with further research. Reading is all about gaining knowledge -- sometimes just for the fun of it.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Action-Packed Reading

Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider Collection is a great read for students who want thrills while reading. Fifteen year old Alex, an orphan in England, is brought into the government spy service, M16, and he runs into constant, nail-biting situations as he goes after bad guys, near and far.  There are 10 novels an 5 graphic novels.

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Monday, May 9, 2016


     Here's an interesting half-hour video on deserts -- life on them for animals and plants, life on them for human animals.

        The Desert

     Remember, to just let a young person watch a video is only the beginning of enhancing his/her reading skills. Discussion must occur afterwards (if not during), and follow-up -- either by searching for additional articles on the web or books in the library -- is what makes reading to the child a natural process.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Reactivating Blog

This blog has been on hiatus for some time. Now it's back -- at last.

It's focus now will be much more on reading education, although if other topics appear (esp in the news), I may deviate.

Specific interest of this site is to help parents and teachers to motivate children and young adults to read -- for life, for learning, for fun. 

                                Image result for FREE photos CHILDREN reading