Raising a Reader

Raising a Reader

I recently read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I LOVE that book! Anyway, as I was reading I noticed that the Oompa-Loompas sing this song:

“The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set–
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotized by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink–
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
It rots the senses in the head!
It kills imagination dead!
It clogs and clutters up the mind!
It makes a child so dull and blind
He can no longer understand
a fantasy, a fairyland!
His brain becomes as soft as cheese!
His powers of thinking rust and freeze!
He cannot think–He only sees!
‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
They…used…to…READ! They’d READ and READ,
And read and read, and then proceed
To read some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be!
Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
and Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and–
Just How the Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There’s Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole–
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
 And children hitting you with sticks–
Fear not, because we promise you
Thank, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need
Of having something good to read.
And once they start–oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.”

My tip for today…….turn off the tv (and I’ll add, the personal electronics and video games)!
Thank you Roald Dahl! Love this poem!

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller
Donalyn Miller is a dedicated teacher who says she has yet to meet a child she couldn’t turn into a reader. In The Book Whisperer, Miller takes us inside her 6th grade classroom to reveal the secrets of her powerful but unusual instructional approach. Rejecting book reports, comprehension worksheets, and other aspects of conventional instruction, Miller embraces giving students an individual choice in what they read combined with a program for independent reading. She also focuses on building a classroom library of high-interest books, and above all, on modeling appropriate and authentic reading behaviors. Her zeal for reading is infectious and inspiring, and the results speak for themselves. No matter how far behind Miller’s students may be when they start out, they end up reading an average of 40 books per year, achieve high scores on standardized tests, and internalize a love for reading that lasts long after they’ve left her class.
My review:
Where was this book 14 years ago when I taught my cute little first graders? I LOVE this book! It is my personal teaching philosophy all rolled up into one nice, neat package. Seriously! I love her ideas, her structure, her philosophy, her library, all of it. Ms. Miller focuses on reading for reading instruction. Her goal is to help kids love to read and to be life-long readers, and she does it by allowing them to actually read. I was definitely what she calls an underground reader in school. I would read the book we were reading in class, finishing it in a few days or a week, and then I’d have to sit through weeks of awful lectures and lessons and picking the book apart before the class finally finished. By then I’d probably read three or four other books. I hated reading books as a class. I hated that it took so long. I hated trying to find the meanings of each and every sentence. I wanted to scream, “I don’t care, just let me read!” And that is what Ms. Miller does. She lets them read. Awesome. Even though this book is geared toward teachers, parents can learn a lot from it as well. I highly recommend it to all my teacher friends, and when I go back to teaching, this will be my top priority! Love, love, love this book!!!
Rating: G (Clean!)
Recommendation: High school and up. This would be great for high school/college students who want to go into teaching. Every teacher should read this book!

Raising a Reader

Today’s tip is one of my favorites!!! Why? Because I get to do what I love and not feel guilty! 
Be A Good Example!!!!

Yep, that’s it! Be a good example and read, read, read. Read all sorts of different genres, and if you can, let your children see you reading, and let them see that you enjoy it. Children mimic their parents’ attitudes towards many things, and reading is one of them. If you have a good attitude about reading then they most likely will too.

A good idea is also to talk to your kids about what you read. If it’s a history book then you can 
talk to them about it. Talk to them about that time in history and if you remember it or not. Maybe their grandparents lived through that time, maybe you did. This gives them an opportunity to get to know the person and the events. I know my kids are always asking about the books I’m reading. I try to summarize the plot and discuss a few of the characters, because it teaches them those skills. And it teaches them to pay attention to those things when they read. 

If your children are old enough to read the book you are reading, and it’s appropriate for them, then recommend it to them. Have them read it after you do, and discuss it together. I love doing this with my kids. We’ve had some very good discussions.

Here is a list of books that I have read and then recommended to my boys that they’ve enjoyed:

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

( My sixth grader did read this book and did enjoy it. There was just one page I didn’t let him read that was about naked women or something.)

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

These are just a few of them, but we’ve had some very good discussions and some fun times together discussing these books. It’s like your own mini book group in your own house. So fun!!

Happy Reading!!!! 
(And now you can do it guilt free, knowing it’s good for the kids!!)


Believe (Movie)
(This movie summary is taken from an email the publicist sent me.) “In the early 80’s the legendary Manchester United football manager Sir Matt Busby helps a wayward boy fulfill his dream.
Having lived with football all his life and survived the tragic 1958 Munich plane disaster in which 8 of his promising young players were killed, Matt, still haunted by the ghosts of the “Busby Babes” comes out of retirement for one last coaching challenge, to transform a young group of scallywags into a dream team to compete for the upcoming Manchester United Football League Cup.
A funny and touching family film, Believe tells the story of how Matt is finally healed, while continuing to inspire generations of dreamers and leaving the world’s greatest football team as his legacy.”
I know what you’re thinking……a movie??? Yep! I do occasionally pull my head out of my books. This time it was because I was invited by Deseret Book to attend a media screening for this upcoming movie “Believe.” Well, it’s a soccer movie, and I feel like I live on the soccer fields with my kids these days, so I thought it might be fun. I grabbed my amazing sis (Yes, amazing. She got all the talent. Here’s her site, you should check it out: http://www.crookedpinkie.com/) to come with me, and guess what? It was the two of us and two other guys in the whole theater. Hahaha….it was as if they played it just for us. 
There are a lot of inspirational sports films out there. My husband and I just went and saw this football one a couple of weeks ago. They’re all very similar, right? You have the underdog and then you have the bullies. You have either an old famous coach or a brand new coach. You have some sports. You have some drama. And then you have success. Well, the only thing different about this movie is that it involves children’s sports. I thought it was cute. I liked the coach’s character, and thought he did a good job. He was into it, but it wasn’t over done. He was believable. I also liked Georgie’s character. He is a really cute kid, and I thought he did well in this movie. He was realistic and not too cheesy or unbelievable. He was likable even though he did some not very likable things. Coming from a mom’s perspective, I thought the mother in this film did a good job. I think I would have reacted in the same way that she did. I liked that the education part of it was so important. I liked the relationship between coach and players. There was some humor and some drama, some cheese and some inspiration, and overall I liked it. It’s predictable, and yet still enjoyable. I liked it, but I think my 12 year-old soccer player would love it. I am going to suggest to his coach that the team go see it together, because it has a good message of believing in yourself and dreaming big, then working hard to accomplish your goals. 
The film takes place in England, and there are some times where I thought the British accents were difficult to understand. Also, I thought that there were some things that could have been explained or developed more, but overall I enjoyed it. It’s clean so it’s kid-friendly, which is fabulous. It would make a great team building activity for all those soccer teams out there. 
Rating: PG
Recommendation: I’d say 6 and up. The six-year-olds might be a little bored, and may not understand everything, but I think they’d at least sit through it. 
Disclosure: I did receive a free ticket to go see this movie in exchange for my honest review.
Here are some links in case you want to know more about this movie:

Or you could watch the trailer:

Raising A Reader

Raising A Reader

Having a good home library is my next tip for raising a reader. It is important to have a wide variety of good books: picture books, chapter books, nonfiction and fiction. A wide variety of topics is also a good idea. You also want to make sure you have books that are at the correct level for your child. If the books are too easy then the child will not be challenged and will easily bore. If the books are too difficult then the child will be more likely to be frustrated and not enjoy reading. If money is an issue then the county library is a great resource. At my house we usually visit the library either every week or every other week. Thrift stores can also be a great place to find books. 

A funny thing about kids (and adults too), we are visual, and we do judge books by their covers. Think of a grocery store. How is the cereal stocked on the shelves? The front “covers” face you, the boxes aren’t stocked sideways. Why is that? It’s because the bright colors, cartoon mascots, titles, and pictures stand out and make you want to buy them. Books should be stored that same way. Children are more likely to pick up a book if they can see the picture on the front than they are if they just look at the title on the spine (the way libraries stock the books). I just bought some black plastic crates and store my books in those. When I was teaching I saw rooms that had raingutters screwed into the walls and books stored in them. Pinterest has some fun ideas to make your own. Here are a few ideas:
Have fun and be creative! But most importantly, have books available for your children. The more the better!

Janitors Deal on Amazon

In the next few weeks I will be reviewing all 3 (Yes! Even the new one!) of the
Janitors books by Tyler Whitesides. (My boys are so excited for the new one they can’t stand it!)
So, in preparation for the excitement, I want to let you know about this great deal!

Through the month of August the first book Janitors is free on Kindle!!!
Grab it here:


Do you remember when I reviewed this book?:

(Here is the LINK)
Marilynn Halas and 4 Sunflowers Media have so kindly given me an extra copy to give away!!
Do you want it???
Please comment below. Make sure to include your name and email address so I can 
contact you to get your information.
FYI: I rated it PG-13 and recommended it for ages 12-13 and up.
I will put all the names in a drawing and let you know tomorrow morning who wins!!!!

Ephraim’s Rescue (Movie)

Ephraim’s Rescue (Movie)
(Synopsis taken from the press kit)

“From T.C. Christensen, director of the sensational pioneer film, 17 Miracles, comes the heroic true story of a simple man who was called to do the work of angels. Ephraim’s Rescue relates the story of Ephraim Hanks: a rescuer of the Martin Handcart company.

Follow Ephraim as his adventures lead him to join the LDS Church and ultimately to one of the most heroic rescues in American history. With a unique desire to help and strengthen others, Ephraim learns that each choice we make can prepare us for what lies ahead. He discovers, through it all, that decisions determine destiny.”

This is a first. I haven’t ever reviewed a movie before, so we’ll see how this goes. I was invited by one of the companies I review for to go to a prescreening for this new movie “Ephraim’s Rescue.” It is  being released in select theaters on May 31st. Even though it’s a movie, and I review books, I decided to take a (very short) break from reading and  go see the movie. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Overall, I mostly enjoyed it. It is religious in nature. It centers on a man named Ephraim Hanks, and it goes through some of his life and the experiences he had during those times. I know they tried to fit a lot into the 2 hours, but I would have liked to have seen more about his early years. It shows how he came to convert to a new religion, and what happened when he dedicated his life to living that religion. The culminating moment is when he helps to rescue a group of people traveling with handcarts across the plains. These people left too late in the season, and then were faced with an early winter. They buried many of their friends and family along the way, and those who were still alive were barely hanging on. Many of them didn’t have shoes and walked through the snow in bare feet. Their food supplies were completely gone. Even though the conditions were awful, Ephraim risks his own life to get supplies and aid to these people.

The storyline was a little hard to follow in parts because the time periods and places kept switching. At times I was confused about who was who in which time period, and how it all fit together. They switch from Ephraim to a family in England, and although they do eventually come together, I thought there would be a much greater connection than there was. I’m not sure why they spend so much time talking about the background of this other family when there isn’t a greater connection with the two families. There was a part about a man in a suit on a ship, and Ephraim says it was a huge turning point in his life. I may not be very smart, but I didn’t understand that part at all. I did not see how that could be a life changing experience. Some of the actors did a very good job and were believable, and others didn’t convince me at all. There were some funny and lighthearted moments, but there was also a lot of sadness and devastation. I also felt that even though they tried to stay away from the cheese, there were some very cheesy parts. One thing I didn’t like was that there were some very personal, intimate, and sacred experiences that I didn’t feel comfortable watching in a movie. Those moments felt too personal and I felt they could have described them without showing all the details. There were some really good lessons in this movie, though. A lesson I liked was that the experiences we have in our lives prepare us for moments in our future. We can take those experiences and be ready when those moments come, or we can let them pass us by and be unprepared when those future moments come. The lesson is to grab ahold during those times of preparation and be ready when the time comes.

I couldn’t find a rating for this movie, but I think I’ll allow my 11 year-old, and maybe my 9 year-old, to watch it. I wouldn’t go younger than that. There isn’t any profanity. There is one little kiss (that kind of surprised me), and there is a lot of devastation. There is a lot of death, frostbitten and gross toes and feet, and physical ailments. I think it would be really good for teenagers to watch. I think a lot of teenagers today think they have it rough if their cellphone is taken away…..they have no idea what people went without and the hardships they encountered. It made me thankful for all that I have.

Rating: PG+ (Death, physical hardships and ailments)

Recommendation: 9 and up at the youngest.

Disclosure: I did receive a free ticket to this movie in exchange for my honest review.


Vote For Me! (Please!)

Hooray! An unknown fan nominated my blog for skinnyscoop.com’s Top 25 Book Blogger Contest! I’m honored to be on the list with so many great book review blogs. If you could please vote for me I’d really appreciate it! I’d love to be on their Top 25 list! Simply click here and scroll down until you see my picture and my name “The Readathon.” You do need to sign in, but you may sign in with Facebook so you don’t need to set up another profile if you don’t want to. Thank you so much!!!