Category Archives: Raising a Reader

LA Times Festival of Books!

We’ve been a little lax about posting lately since the kids have been wrapped up in their science fair projects, which are due next Monday. But I had to take some time to post about one of my favorite events: The LA Times Festival of Books, which is this coming weekend (April 21-22) at USC! This event is amazing…superstar authors, music, crafts, food, tons and tons of books, and it’s all FREE.  Parking is $10.

I don’t even want to look at all the panels I would LOVE to see because it would just bum me out. Since I am taking the kids, we will be hanging out mainly at the Target Childrens’ Stage…which is a good time too. Since three of the panels that our kids  would love all fall on Saturday, we will be heading there then…despite Mason’s 11:30 baseball game.  :-/  Here’s who we want to see:

12:55:  Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  Cabin Fever

1:30:  Ozokidz (I’m a huge Ozomatli fan!)

2:45:  Tom Angleberger, Fake Mustache

There are a lot more authors too.  Check out the schedule here.
Hope you can check it out if you live in the area.  It is really a great vibe, all about books, and the kids can’t help but get in the book-loving spirit.

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Fun Reading Website for Kids

I stumbled across this great website while browsing the web: BookAdventure.com.

It’s great fun because it incentivizes kids to read.  After they finish a book, kids can log on and answer a 5-10 question quiz (depending on the age level of the book).  If they get a certain amount correct, they win points that can be accumulated and used to “purchase” real prizes!  There are actually some great prizes available, for example:

Camille just saw the picture of the hamster on an e-book prize, and that’s what she’s working toward.

Of course it’s great to provide yet another incentive to read, but what I also really like about this site is that it tests comprehension and prepares them for similar tests in school…all in a fun way, of course.  The kids just think it’s a fun game and a way to win prizes!  Teachers can also put together class groups and create specialized quizzes and incentives and track student progress.

It’s fairly easy to accumulate prizes.  Camille took three quizzes of books she’s recently read and earned 420 points, and it took only maybe 10 minutes.

The one downside to the site is that, although there are 8,000 books available, most of the more recent books that the kids have read (and actually, every book they’ve reviewed on this blog except Stuart Little) do not have quizzes.  You can help your kids find books to read on the site, but it is fairly limiting.  They are trying to expand the library and parents/teachers can be approved to submit quizzes for new books, but in the meantime…Camille and I spent more time looking for quizzes on books that she’s read recently than it took her to actually complete the quizzes.  She is going to choose her next book (Sarah, Plain and Tall) based on the fact that there is a quiz available (it was on her list anyway).

Check it out, let us know what you think!

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We Won a Versatile Blogger Award! by Mason

We won a Versatile Blogger Award, and that is when you get an award for writing a blog!  When you win the award, you have to:

1)  Tell about the person who gave you the award

2)  You have to tell seven things about yourself

3)  You have to tell about 15 or less blogs and give them awards.

First, we have to thank you, Erik, for the award!  Erik reviews books.  Erik is a cool kid who does robotics.  He has a blog called This Kid Reviews Books.

The second thing I have to do is tell you what I’m all about.  The first thing is that I’m funny.  Second thing is that I make a lot of friends.  The third thing is that I’m caring.  The fourth thing is that I live in a big yellow house.  The fifth thing is that I like to play sports.  The sixth thing is that I like to read books.  And the last thing is that when I grow up, I want to be an astronomer.

The last thing I have to do is tell you about other people’s blogs.  The first one is Books for Boys(http://boysbookblog.wordpress.com/). There’s a bunch of books on there, that you can pick out from your library.  There’s a book that I’m reading that I found on that blog, and it’s called Airball.  I’m going to write a review about that one.  I’m going to be writing my Airball blog when I’m done with it (the book).  I don’t know which week I’m going to be done with it, it has a lot of pages.

The other blog I want to tell you about is the Origami Yoda blog.  The blog is about people making origami yodas, and you can make one too!

Sincerely, Mason

Side note from Mom:

Thanks to Erik for the “award!”  I’m happy we’ve had this opportunity to share a few of the blogs that have encouraged Mason to read even more.  We’ve shared three very different blogs:  from a kid, from a librarian, and from an author.  This Kid Reviews Books is a great blog written by a ten-year-old (Erik).  He is wise beyond his years, and a prolific blogger.  I’m sure you’ll find some books for your kids on his blog, and it is also a great encouragement for kids to both read and write, and that it’s cool to be smart!

Books for Boys is a great resource because it is written by a male children’s librarian, and specifically focuses on books that boys would like.  We’ve gotten so many great ideas from this site!  Mason is in the midst of  one of his recommendations:  Airball: My Life in Briefs, by L. D. Harkrader and thinks it is really funny: it’s about a boys’ basketball team that plays in their underwear.  We’ve also put  a couple of his other recommendations on hold at the library:  Ferno the Fire Dragon (Beast Quest series, #1), by Adam Blade, what the blog author (nameless on his blog) refers to as “Fantasy Light” for younger kids; and Floors, by Patrick Carman, comparable to “If Willy Wonka Ran a Hotel.”

Finally, we recommended author Tom Angleberger’s blog about his books (including Origami Yoda, which Mason reviewed  in this post).  Not only is it a fun place to visit, but Tom is great with the kids:  answering questions, posting kids’ pictures, and offering contests.  This is what a children’s author should be; so many seem distant and unaccessible, but he is like a kid himself.  Heck, I wish I were a kid so I could participate!  Want your kids to dork out over books instead of TV shows or video games?  Here’s where to start.

Happy reading!

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Why Dr. Seuss is the Greatest Children’s Author Ever

We spent a lot of time reading Seuss in our house when the kids were young, particularly Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.  The rhythm of the stories was great for teaching the kids to read, and it was a lot of fun for me to read aloud as well.  Of course, if you really think about it, there’s more to Seuss than meets the eye.  George Takei posted this graphic on his Facebook page, and I thought it was genius:

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Great Deal on The Lego Ideas Book!

I bought this excellent book at Barnes and Noble for $24.99 right before Christmas…I just saw it at Costco today for $6.99!  It’s a great book that provides a lot of different, open-ended projects for use with existing Legos.  It allows kids to develop their building skills (and creativity skills) and also can provide some useful Lego byproducts, such as action figure display cabinet built from Legos.

Here it is on Amazon.

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Encouraging Reading: A Library is Born

Encouraging Reading: A Library is Born.

One day…we will have a library like this.  When we win the lottery.

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Raising a Reader

“My kid doesn’t like to read,” I sometimes hear in frustration from moms who love books themselves.  I can get the frustration. We love to read.  We form book clubs.  We look at it as a special break.  Then…pulling teeth when asking our kids to do so.

Here are a few strategies I’ve used over the years that, I believe, have contributed to my kids’ love of reading.  Some of them were not even thought out, but just organically “happened” as I shared my love of reading with them.

  1. Early Exposure:  We had books EVERYWHERE.  In the living room, in the high chair, in the crib.   My daughter, here at about 14 months, would literally spend hours sitting in piles of books, “reading”: 
    Books were “toys”…I didn’t stress over teeth marks and ripped pages, which is contrary to some advice.  I let them mutilate them and truly enjoy them…by the time they outgrew the baby books, most looked like they had been handled by hungry tigers.  By the way, the first book C is “reading” in this video is Where’s Spot, a must for any toddler.
  2. Read Aloud.  Every day.  And we did, from the time they were babies.  Not only that, it was the time of day I most anticipated:  quiet, special time with my two precious angels.  Personally, I try to read at a level that is beyond their own skills: reading chapter books to a picture book reader teaches them to use their imagination.  Besides helping your children, you’re also helping yourself:  reading aloud is brain exercise.  In addition to academic benefits, there are a host of other reasons to read aloud. For more information on this topic, Jim Trelease has an excellent book on the importance of reading to your children.     Continue reading

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