Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Body Belongs to Me by Jill Starishevsky

I think that talking to your children about their body and how they should not be touched in private areas is one of the most important things you can do as a parent and it cannot begin too soon. The world is being overrun with pornography and the incedents of child molestation are becoming ever more prevalent. That is why this topic shoudl be discussed and discussed often. I liked this book because in the introduction, the author, who is a lawyer, explains that she wrote this book after prosecuting a child abuse case. The little girl had been abused for over two years when she watched Oprah one day and heard that you should tell someone if you have been touched inappropriately and if you cannot talk to a parent, talk to a teacher or another adult. That gave this little girl the courage and the place to tell someone and do it in safety since it was her step-father abusing her. This book is simple and to the point. It explains where you should not be touched and how if you are that it is not your fault and that you should tell someone. It lets you have good conversations with your children, espeically with older children if you take time to go over the introduction with them. A must read!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Watership Down by Richard Adams

I wasn't sure what to expect when my book club announced this book and one of them asked, "Is that the book about rabbits?" It is indeed a book about rabbits who have some wonderful human qualities we should all possess. I enjoyed the book immensely. At first I was reading it as though it was written for adults and then I realized that Mr. Adams had written this book for his children because he couldn't find a good story to read to them at bedtime. That swung the book into my good favor. I fell in love with each rabbit and their particular qualities from Fiver and his intuition, to Hazel and his trust and courage to Bigwig and his strength and self-sacrificing moments. The end story, Efrafra was the best because of all the action. The rabbits have been forced from their home by humans and while they have found an ideal situation they have no females with them and are in desperate need or they will die out. They find a place with many females but have to go to great lengths to free some does for their warren. It is a wonderful tale and one that I think would make a good read-aloud. I can't wait to read it to my children. It is almost 500 pages though so we may have to break the reading up into the three books and read them at various times over the year. I think though that all children would love to meet this special group of rabbits and even emulate some of their amazing qualities.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

This historical fiction work is set in the pre-revolutionary war era and touches on the Boston Tea Party, Lexington and Concord and many historical figures from the Revolution, including Paul Revere. A young orphaned boy, Johnny Tremain is apprenticed as a silversmith. He is very good at what he does and it goes to his head. In his desire to do good work, receive praise and money, he lords it over the other apprentices and because of this mistake, he has a fatal fall. One of the other apprentice boys slips him a cracked tool and the silver spills out and burns Johnny's hand so that he can no longer use it to do any trade he wants, let alone work his precious silver. As Johnny recovers from this physical and spiritual wound, he learns compassion and service and love from a good friend Rab. The morals that are taught in this story are profound and not forceful but they make you want to be like Rab, just as Johnny does. I love that the story includes a kind mentor, in the form of a Master Silversmith, who sees Johnny's talent but also his failings and gently tries to teach his young apprentice and never gives up on him. I love that when the story ends, Johnny is the kind of boy, turning into a man that we would all want for our son.

Pigs to the Rescue

This hilarious tail resonates with all parents who have children trying to help and realize that help is just not making things better. The kids love this tale because the pigs are doing such outrageous things to help. Every time something on the farm goes wrong, the pigs rush in to help. When the garden hose leaks and Mrs. Greenstalk can't water her flowers, the pigs rush in with a small wading pool, water balloons and other assorted water sources and they succeed in watering the garden but leave behind a flower graveyard. When the pigs rescue Jeffrey's kite, they get it out of the tree but it is no longer in one piece. The family experiences many such "rescues" and are relieved when the pigs don't hear about spilled milk. Unfortunately, the cows do! This is a fabulous read for little kids and it will guarantee them a laugh.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Graphic Novels - A trick to get boys Reading

Finding books for boys can be very difficult, especially when they are at a lower reading level (1-4th grade). This has led me to the conclusion that anything they will read is fabulous. Graphic novels appeal to boys. I am not sure why. Perhaps it is the pictures that are found by every description or perhaps it is the sections that must be deduced from comparing the words to the pictures. Whatever the reason, graphic novels can be a fabulous way to keep your boy reading. There has been an influx of graphic novels onto the scene lately and many of them deal with presidents, inventors and other famous people; not all graphic novels are about superman. If your son is struggling to find something he enjoys, perhaps you could try a graphic novel. For a beginning reader, try Phonics Comics by Brett Sudduth (Smart Boys). My son found this one to be captivating when he was learning to read! For older boys, try Perseus : the hunt for Medusa's head : a Greek myth / Story by Paul D. Storrie, especially as the Greek Gods are all the rage because of the Percy Jackson books. Often the format will change a tedious historical subject into something amazing in the mind of a boy. Just remember that not all graphic novels are created equal and so select ones that actually have a decent amount of vocabulary.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bayern Books by Shannon Hale

Shannon Hale wrote a series of 4 books following 4 different girls on their journey to discover their own strengths despite feeling that they are filled with weakness or inferiority. There was something I could relate to in each character as the author is able to spin her words and create characters we would want to be friends with. The first book in the series is called The Goose Girl and it follows a princess who doesn’t really feel she is capable or wanted or even loved. Along her path she finds that she is strong and ready to face danger, hard work, hatred and even abandonment. She is a girl able to face adversity and win. Society often portrays girls and women as weak but truly they are strong and in each of these books we see that story unfold and present itself. Not one of these characters is perfect but I could call each of them friend and in them I find qualities I too want to develop. My favorite character is from the Forest Born book and her name is Rin. I wish I could be as encouraging as she is and as unselfish. Which character is most like you? Which do you wish you were more like?