31 August 2011

Back At It

School has begun and time is precious. We are trying to make time to read things that interest us, while keeping up with nightly homework and the leveled readers that Isaac brings home each afternoon. Some days it feels like we don't stop running until we crawl into bed. Eventually we will find our routine, but for now it's one day at a time.

We read these books way back in August, before school started. I made a list of the ones I wanted to share and that was as far as I got. So I hope I remember enough to make them seem like appealing reads . . .

Owl and Wormy: Friends All Aflutter by Andy Runton is a wordless graphic-formatted picture book. It is a series, and for kids who are just learning to read it is very appealing. Lots of boys like comic books, but often the vocabulary is too advanced. This book and its series is a good place to start.

Soccer Beat by Sandra Gilbert Brug caught my eye at the library because Isaac is playing soccer again. I thought he would get a kick out of it. Sorry -- really bad pun. The teams in the book are comprised of a variety of animals, though there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to what animals are playing together, such as African vs Asian or South American. It would have been nice if the choices were a bit more deliberate. But the rhyming text is fun and kids who like soccer will enjoy this one.

Bats on Parade by Kathi Appelt was included in our last stack of library books because Isaac likes bats. No other reason. I liked it because the bats are in a marching band. Younger students will like this one but it also has applications for students learning multiplications facts or interested in musical instruments. Okay, enough of the curriculum connections.

Clink by Kelly DiPucchio is about a robot whom nobody wants. He really doesn't have a very useful skill -- he plays music and makes burnt toast, unlike the uber-robots that he shares store space with. But the right person finally walks in and Clink finds the place where he is needed. I like the message that everyone has something important to give. Isaac liked the robots.

Yours Truly, Goldilocks by Alma Flora Ada is a great book to either introduce or review classic folktales. Characters from various stories write letters (which may need some explaining for today's techy children). Isaac had fun making the connections between stories and trying to figure what events the characters were referring to in their missives.

I hope a couple of these spark some interest. Keep reading!

22 August 2011

A New Hope

I came across this editorial posted on a listserv today. YA author Robert Lipsyte has wonderful insight on why boys don't read. Worth reading . . .

I think there is hope, if there are more teachers and librarians out there like the ones he mentions who work to find the books that boys will relate to. I also like his point that boys should be approached individually, not as groups, about reading. Boys are defensive in groups -- hadn't really thought of it that way before. But it gives me a new persective.

Some good thoughts as we get close to the first day of school.

16 August 2011

The Summer in Review

Summer is flying by. It is, in fact, almost over. Time seems to have gotten away from me. Isaac has been busy with summer camps and I have been working off and on at home and at school to be ready for the first day. We have had play dates, swim dates, bowling dates, trips to places far and near, birthday celebrations, and quiet afternoons at home. It has been a good summer, but, as with many others, it seems to be over before it has begun.

We have continued to read. I had planned to write about each of these books individually, but it has been weeks since we read them, so let's get it over with in one post. Here are some highlights from the summer . . .

Construction Zone by Cheryl Willis Hudson, with photographs by Richard Sobol, is a little boys dream book. Using photographs from an actual construction zone, beginning to end, the text explores the different tools, jobs and aspects of the work being done. The details are extraordinary and Isaac took the time to look closely at them.

Firefighters!: Speeding! Spraying! Saving! by Patricia Hubbell was a bit below Isaac's level, but he enjoyed it for that reason, I think. It was nice to take a break from the more difficult books. Which is a good lesson to remember, for all of us. And anything that has to do with firefighters is always a hit. Isaac has a mentor at church that works for our local fire department. He is one of the coolest guys around. Books about firemen are rarely passed over.

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein was a hit with all of us. Little Chicken doesn't want to go to bed, and manages to interrupt the bedtime story, and in the process whittle down traditional fairy tales into pretty insightful one sentence summaries. Her methods to put off bedtime are much more clever than Isaac's. I am hoping he didn't pickup any pointers, though.

Pet Dragon by Christoph Niemann uses Chinese characters to tell the story. The characters and their meanings are introduced and then woven into the text. The end papers repeat the characters, but without their meaning. I was surprised how many Isaac could remember when we reviewed them. This was one of those books that I connected with on a different level. There is another school project in this book, I just haven't completely uncovered it yet. When I figure it out, I'll let you know.

Good luck to those going back to school or sending children back to school. Keep reading.

05 August 2011

Happy Birthday To My Boy

Isaac's name means "he laughs." So here is a poem to make you laugh on his special day . . .

I've got a lot of presents
that I'd like to give to you.
I'll give you all my Brussels sprouts
and all my liver too.

I'll give you all my gym socks
when they really start to stink.
I'll give you all my pens when
they are running out of ink.

I'll give you all my broken toys
and empty jars of paste.
I'll give you all my bubble gum
that's chewed and lost its taste.

I'll give you all the dust balls that
I found beneath my bed.
I'll give you all my batteries
as soon as they are dead.

So have a happy birthday,
you're a special friend indeed,
and please accept this trashcan
full of stuff that I don't need.

--Kenn Nesbitt