Wednesday, February 25, 2015

7 Ways to Raise a Happy Reader

I am in no way proclaiming to be an expert in child development, or an expert in reading. I am a mom and a grandmother who loves to read, and my grandchildren love to be read to. They prefer it over television--imagine that.

What are some of the things your parents did to inspire you to read?

Even if your kids are mostly grown, don't think it's too late to start some of these habits. Start from where you are right now.

Here are 7 Ways to Raise a Happy Reader:

First--Start reading to your children before they are born. This is a perfect time to develop the habit of reading bedtime stories.

Hint: I like to give board books as baby shower gifts because a lot of new parents overlook this as a need. They're busy collecting diapers and layettes, and putting up the crib.

Second--Continue reading to them as infants. It doesn't matter what you read, just read. They love to snuggle with you and they love the sound of your voice or the voice of an older sibling.

I bought new books for my far-a-way grandchildren and sent a tape of my voice reading the story to them. When they get older they can follow along in the book.

Third--Be consistent in reading bedtime stories. Every. Night. Make it a part of the nighttime ritual. This is a great time for both kids and parents to unwind from daily rigors and enjoy some quiet bonding moments (okay that's in the perfect world. There will always be times when Life gets in the way, namely sick kids and what-not).

Fourth--Be a good example. Let your kids see you enjoy reading for yourself even if it's only for a  few minutes. Every. Day. Especially the Father figure. Kids are more likely to pick up the reading habit if they see BOTH parents read.

Fifth--When your kids get old enough to show preferences, take monthly or twice-monthly trips to the library and let them pick out their own books. Teach them how to treat books. Make Library Day a certain day of the month. Be. Consistent. Make it something to look forward to like a privilege for chores well done.

Some of my favorites
During the summer, and especially for school age kids, make sure Library Day happens every two weeks. This helps with summertime boredom and keeps kids caught up on their reading skills.

Sixth--As your kids get into school they will need a consistent 20-30 minute reading time everyday, without distractions, without electronics. A nice compromise is to allow them 30 minutes reading time on your eReader, occasionally.

Seventh--Try to make reading time more of a privilege than a chore or punishment. There are so many great Middle Grade books out there that reading will become its own reward soon enough.

Now, with all of that, there will still be some kids who really struggle to read, and it is a chore. Some children have challenges staying focused. Some have challenges like dyslexia. Some have challenges with vision. Before you get frustrated, step back and evaluate the situation, talk with teachers and counselors, visit the eye doctor or pediatrician.

I say this because one of my kids had problems reading in elementary school. It turned out she just wasn't interested in what there was to read at the time. Thank goodness for Nancy Drew books. When my daughter was 10 -11 years old, I saw some at Sam's club in a five-book set. I loved these books growing up, so I took a chance and she loved them too. She wanted more. I did whatever it took to keep her reading. Then, Harry Potter came out. I wish I could give J.K. Rowling a hug for what her books did for my daughter.

Second story: One of my grandsons had difficulty to the point he'd do just about anything to keep from reading. He was taking piano lessons at the time and really didn't like that either. He struggled at school. His parents decided to get his eyes checked, thinking maybe he was getting near-sighted (runs in the family). It turned out that his acuity was okay, but he has double vision. I can't imagine anything more frustrating than trying to read a book or sheet music with double vision. With the help of specific exercises, he is able to focus better and found The Diary of a Wimpy Kid too much fun to put down.

So don't give up. Find a way to share the joy of reading with your kids.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Teaching Your Children about Sex: Using the Temple as Your Guide by Cherri Brooks

Help your children build strong, open, trusting relationships by discussing as a family the sacred subject of sex.

This informative and enlightening book addresses all the hot-button issues and taboo topics that have become so prevalent in our society, including things like gender identity, same-sex attraction, and the definition of marriage.

Written in a frank but sensitive style, this book will teach you to:

Bring up the subject with your children and answer their initial questions.
Use practical, age-by-age suggestions and language to establish an ongoing dialogue about sex.
Teach the facts and your moral view on them at the same time.
Address difficult subjects such as homosexuality, abuse, and rape.
Find additional reliable resources for yourself and your kids.

By using the temple as a metaphor, this book gives you all the tools you need to have “the talk” in a way that’s clear.

Genre: non-fiction
pages: 179
Publisher: Cedar Fort

Amy's Opinion:

This book is thoughtful, and very well organized with good information and tips about communicating with your children, in general. It is divided by children's age groups with sections of possible questions your kids might ask with ways you can answer them.

Some of the explanations and answers to questions are much better than I could come up with. However, I do disagree with some of what the author thinks is acceptable. She does have a disclaimer that the information is to be taken and adjusted to each families' beliefs and morals.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Top 5 Places to Collect Characters

From the outside looking in, writers can seem a little creepy. I don't just watch people, I collect them. And not the usual suspects, either. I like the 'just a bit off-kilter', not the rude, profane, or scantily-clad. I like the whimsical, though I collect all kinds.

Interesting people can be found everywhere you go. I started out of boredom. Every time I have to wait somewhere I think of all the writing tasks I should be doing. Well, this is another task. I can accomplish something wherever I go or whatever I do.

I collect unusual features, speech, attire, bits of phrases, habits, gait (the way people walk), funny things kids say, and ways people find to entertain themselves, etc.

Counting down, let me tell you where the best places to find characters are:

5. City parks, the zoo, and amusement parks.            
4. Airport terminals (the best variety), bus and train terminals.
3. Another good place is doctors' and dentists' offices.
2. My neighborhood--the conspiracy theory guy, whose wife left him; the stoner, with a headset on, who sings to the top of his lungs on his way home; and the neighborhood arms dealer. We used to have a neighborhood drug dealer too, but he got arrested.

But the number one place for finding quirky characters is Wal-Mart, and it doesn't seem to matter what city you happen to be in.

Remember how your mom always told you to wear clean underwear in case you get in an accident? Well, this is kind of like that--be on your best behavior or you may end up in one of my books :o)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Amy reviews Michael Vey: Hunt for Jade Dragon by Richard Paul Evans

Book Summary/Teaser:

Michael and his friends must rescue a child prodigy as the thrilling action continues in this electrifying fourth installment of the #1 New York Times bestselling series!

Michael, Taylor, Ostin and the rest of the Electroclan head to China in search of a girl who may have discovered why Michael and his friends became electric. Her name is Lin Julung, or Jade Dragon, and she’s a child prodigy with an IQ higher than Einstein’s—and Ostin’s.

But Hatch gets to her first, and the Elgen are holding her prisoner in their Taiwan Starxource plant. Now the Voice wants Michael and the Electroclan to go to Taiwan and free her before Hatch can realize his dreams of an army of electric children.

The hunt for Jade Dragon is on, and it’s a race against time!

Michael Vey:  Hunt for Jade Dragon by Richard Paul Evans

Genre: Fiction

Content:  Some intense scenes with mild violence

Publisher:  Simon Pulse/Mercury Ink;

Release date:  September 2014

Number of Pages:  336

Michael Vey:  Hunt for Jade Dragon by Richard Paul Evans

Genre: Fiction
Content:  Some intense scenes with mild violence
Publisher:  Simon Pulse/Mercury Ink;
Release date:  September 2014
Number of Pages:  336
Show less

Michael Vey:  Hunt for Jade Dragon by Richard Paul Evans

Genre: Fiction

Content:  Some intense scenes with mild violence

Publisher:  Simon Pulse/Mercury Ink;

Release date:  September 2014

Number of Pages:  336

Show moreShow lessMy Opinion:

I was a little disappointed in this book.  After reading the first three this one felt a little more forced.  A lot of it felt like filler so that there would be enough to make a whole book.  I spent much of the book bored.  The writing wasn't as engaging as it had been in other books, and I was not pulled into the story.  It did have an interesting twist that I enjoyed, and I wouldn't say the book was a complete waste of time, but it didn't hold up to the first three.  When the action FINALLY came into the book it was very anti-climactic.  The whole book had been waiting for these specific moments and they were far too simple and over too quickly.  But if you are like me, once you start a series it is hard not to finish it!

Rating: ***

Monday, February 2, 2015

What's in Your Binder?

You wouldn't know it to look at my desk...but I love organizational tools. I sometimes use them to distract me from writing.

I begin to research as soon as ideas for a new book pops into my head. I like to gather pictures, maps, and floor plans as I research. I've tried to keep my notes on index cards, legal tablets, and file folders, but I often forget where I filed stuff.

The system that works best for me is a binder. I originally got this idea from Canda Mortensen's interview of Nancy Allen. She builds a binder for every book she starts.

Here's what's in her binder:

Tab 1--Brainstorming. All of her ideas, phrases, action, and random thoughts go here.
Tab 2--General outline. No details, just a synopsis.
Tab 3--Individual Character Analysis
Tab 4--Research.
Tab 5--Running edits. Quickly make notes about changes you want to make without interrupting your flow of thought.
Tab 6--Next time notes. If you run out of time for the day, write down goals for your next session.
Tab 7--Scene Maps. Nancy writes an action for each scene on a sticky note and moves them around until she gets them in the right order.
Tab 8--Sources. This is the place to document all of the books, movies, websites, etc used in research.

This is so much nicer than having file folders all over the place. When I need to use this research for another project I know right where to find it. The best part of this system is that it is totally customizable. I can make my own sections. Each section can grow as needed--it's not limited.

So here's what's in my binder:                                                       

Tab 1--Brainstorming.
Tab 2--Cast of Characters. I add each character's psych profiles, personal histories, family histories and pedigrees, personality quirks, and what they want most. I collect pictures of who I think they look like.
Tab 3--Outlines. I start with the Hero's Journey as a rough draft outline. Check out David Farland's Million Dollar Outlines.  I fill in the holes a little more with each revision of my outline.
Tab 4--Scenes. I write each scene on a sticky note and move around as needed.
Tab 5--Notes and Edits. I combined these two tabs in one place.
Tab 6--Pictures, maps, floor plans. I collect pictures of the era, living conditions, maps and landscapes, architecture and fashions.
Tab 7--Research. I print out all of my research with references for footnotes and bibliographies.

If I print any copies of my rough draft, I keep them in the binder as well.

What's in your binder?