add on

add on



Guys Write for Guys Read: Boys' Favorite Authors Write about Being Boys

Guys Write for Guys Read: 
Boys' Favorite Authors Write about Being Boys

edited by Jon Scieszka

As an admitted reader, I am uncomfortable making statements like,"It is a great girl book!"  I am also leery of book jackets that scream, "If you are a boy, PICK ME UP! PICK ME UP!"  For example, my treasured copy of The Secret Garden, remains clad in its worn pale green jacket.  The cover has an oval shaped painting of Mary dressed in coat and hat as she emerges from the garden gate.  The oval is surrounded by a border of roses.  If a boy picked up this book, it would say to him, "I am a book for girls," and that would be that.  Sadly, this boy would miss out on two remarkable boys, Dickon and Colin.  They each have their own story to tell and it is worth listening to, whether you are a girl or a boy.

With that said, I do live in the real world, and I watch as my 7th and 8th grade girls rush to the books depicting a regally dressed young heroine on the cover.  I realize that a soldier or dragon can go a long way to encouraging a boy to open the cover of a new title.  And, I know that we loose boys to our newer forms of entertainment at a much higher rate than girls.

To improve the odds of boys staying in books, Jon Scieszka, author of  The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, launched his Guys Read web site.  Additionally, he edited Guys Write for Guys Read. This book is a  high energy collection of short works: stories, essays, columns, cartoons, anecdotes, and artwork by today's most popular writers and illustrators. Guys Write features work from Brian Jacques, Jerry Spinelli, Chris Crutcher, Mo Willems, Chris Van Allsburg, Matt Groening, Neil Gaiman, the editors and columnists from Sports Illustrated,The Onion and Esquire magazines, and more.

Along with this collection, you will find Guys Read Thrillers, Guys Read Funny Business and Guys Read the Sports Pages.  As I have admitted before, I am a fan of shorter work.  The pace suits my sometimes wondering attention.  I also adore collections containing different authors.  It lets me choose a story that suits my mood each time I sit down to read.


Why not read a cook book?

      For the past few days, I have been cooking treats for Christmas.  I am not much of a cook, to tell the truth, but I do have a few favorite recipes.  This year, I prepared these cookies I invented, with the help of a cookbook, and my grandmother's peanut butter fudge.  The recipe for the fudge is a treasure, as it is in her handwriting.  I read it this year, thinking of her energy and willingness to use anything as a teachable moment. Every time I find myself reading in the course of the day, I hear her voice reminding me to point it out to my son.  This would reinforce that reading is meant to do more than simply entertain.

      This all leads me to my point- When people stop and ask me how to help their child become a better reader, I tell them to be a reading role model.    Never stop reading.  You may not be the kind of person who enjoys fiction, but I bet you read something every day.  Are you a lover of current events?  Then, share an interesting article from a newspaper or magazine with your toddler.   Are you a cook?  Show your children the recipes from which you work.  Teach them to read the specialized format.  If you need to read reports for work, make time to do it in front of your children, no matter what their age.  They will see that reading is something that will sustain them into adulthood.  
      Finally, be sure to read in front of them and not just the books you are reading aloud to them.  They will believe you when you say reading is important if they see you making it important for yourself.  So, this winter break, pick up something with words that you need/want to read and share it with your reader.


Nothing like a Good Magazine

Nothing like a Good Magazine

In the last few days, I made time to sit down and read my five magazines: Oxford American, the Horn Book, School Library Journal, Sun and Southern Living. I love magazines. The day I get them, I flip through to see what catches my eye and I read it on the spot.  Then, they find their way to my reading stack for some detailed attention on a later date.  This month's issues were filled with wonderful books, stories, destinations, and food.

My son also looks forward to his periodicals.  He receives Ranger Rick.  It is published by the National Wildlife Federation, along with Ranger Rick Jr, which is targeted to 4-7 year old kids.  These days, he heads straight to the jokes and then reads about the animals; all birds first if they are addressed.  He is now 12, so this Christmas, rather than renew his Ranger Rick subscription, my mom is sending Popular Mechanics.  He is going to love it.

The beauty of a magazine, as you may know, is that it addresses your specific interests.  For your children, it can also expose them to the non-fiction they may be craving. They don't require a big commitment, and you can pick them up to read, even if you only have a few minutes.

If you are looking for a quick and reoccurring gift for your reader this Christmas, consider a magazine subscription.  Below you will find the links to some of the more popular publications:

Does your reader receive a magazine you could recommend?


The One and Only Stuey Lewis

The  One and Only Stuey Lewis
by Jane Schoenberg

With the impending winter break and all of the school requirements that come with it, I suspended book clubs for the months of December and January.  I will meet back up with the kids in February.  In the mean time, I have stacks of books to read and consider.  I approached the stack today to find a book recommended to me by a third grade boy on the top.  The green cover makes it stand out, and for this girl of the 80's, the name could only bring back memories of Huey Lewis and the News; "That's the Power of Love!"

Much to my delight, it was a good read. The One and Only Stuey Lewis has four chapters that are really short stories.  In the first story we meet Stuey, a second grader, who is afraid to admit he is "still" not a good reader. His best friend Will is an excellent reader.  Stuey has a caring teacher,who discovers his secret, and admits to him that she was not a great reader until the end of 3rd grade.  This gives Stuey the confidence he needs to quietly begin his journey to becoming a capable reader.

Each of the chapters has a soft lesson.  What I like best about it is that the adults in the story help Stuey, rather than adding to the stupidity of the tale.  It makes me think a little of my beloved Great Brain.  If your new reader likes the book, there are others in the series.


The Headless Horseman Rides Tonight
by Jack Prelutsky
Illustrated by Arnold Lobel

In an effort to take a stroll through a variety of literature, today I am going to talk a little bit about poetry.  Let me first say that I am not always a fan.  If is doesn't rhyme or have a hit you over the head rhythm, I usually can't find my way to the work.  This time of the year a lot of the more seasonal poems find their way into my life:  How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Twas the Night Before Christmas.  These are poems I can read loud and proud.  It is the free verse that leaves me wanting, at times.

My first introduction to Jack Prelutsky was through his book  My Parents Think I'm Sleeping, that encourages children to sneak read. The book caused him a bit of controversy. The book revealed the man's true soul to me and I was an immediate fan.  As I looked further into his writing, I came across his poetry collections illustrated by Arnold Lobel, of my beloved Frog and Toad.  I was hooked.

The collection, The Headless Horseman Rides Tonight, might be better introduced around Halloween, but the kids in my book clubs like horror anytime of the year.  The poems do rhyme and the rhythm is obvious, so the poems are fun to share aloud.  I would recommend a pre-read for your best performance.  If your reader likes these poems, Prelutsky has many more collections available.  Happy Reading!


Girl in Hyacinth Blue

Girl in Hyacinth Blue
by Susan Vreeland

I have a love for reading in general, which means I will try to read anything.  I must admit, however, that I am a lover of the short story.  I believe this infatuation began as this young, would-be writer stumbled onto Flannery O'Connor and Eudora Welty.  As a girl of the south, I hung on their every word and relaxed in the familiar rhythm of their language.   I have been thinking a lot about fiction novels, working with this blog, but wanted to shed a little light on other forms of writing: non-fiction, poetry, and short stories.  For today I have chosen a hybrid.

The novel Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland is a fiction novel. The interesting thing about it, to me, is that a few of its chapters, namely "Love Enough," "Love Burning," "A Night Different Form All Other Nights," and "Morningshine," were originally published as short stories. She has masterfully filled in the gaps with equally engaging stories to bring this novel to life.

The book's storyline evolves around the life of a painting by Vermeer.  It begins with the most recent owner and traces its passage through households and time, chapter by chapter.  The vocabulary is advanced.  The multiple plots and characters add to the book's appeal and complexity.  It is perfect for a high school reader who loves art.  The fact that each chapter is a story unto itself makes it a great book to pick up when you just need to fill a little bit of time.  Do you have a favorite short story?