Sunday, January 27, 2013

#151 Ten Reasons to Read Books

     Welcome to our new readers in Ireland.  My blog stats  indicate that you represent the forty-ninth country to join us on one or both of my two blogs.  Thank you for sharing our interest in children's literacy.

     In this post, I will share a list of reasons why children might want to read books.  When given kids' many choices, what makes reading books all that important--especially when the young readers already know how to read, and they don't actually need the practice?

     My list is not complete, and I invite you, my audience, to add additional reasons in the comments section at the end of this post.  I will feature them next time.

     And so, without further discussion, here are ten reasons for kids to read books:

     1.  You can become someone else.  This is not limited to a real person. It might be an animal or a two-headed alien from outer space.  You may find that you have powers or abilities that the real you lacks. Let yourself imagine that you are the one in the story doing amazing things. The trick is to "get into it", and allow yourself to experience what the main character is doing in the story.

     2. You can go someplace else, and it can be a free ride.  This could be a favorite place where you have been or it can be a trip to the moon and back.  Just identify with the character in your book, and you can go right along with him/her.

     3.  You can go to some other time, even moving backwards and forwards--to the past or the future.  Books can be your very own time-travel machine.

     4. You can decide how things should look in a book.  Reader are given permission to use the words in a story to create their own mental images.  Think about this; anyone who has seen Disney's Peter Pan is forever tied to Disney's images of the story, but if readers have never seen the movie, they are allowed to create the pictures for themselves.  What creative power!

     5.  You can explore new ideas.  For example; what if we could travel at the speed of light?  What would animals say if they could speak to us?  What if we could trade places with one of our parents for a day?  What if we could control the weather?

     6.  You can learn how to use words in new ways.  You might learn some phrases from other languages, or how to compare unlike things to each other.  You might learn to create new ginormous words by combining two existing ones (like giant and enormous?).

     7.  Books can provide inexpensive or free excitement.  If you really let yourself get into the plot of a book, the climax sometimes feels like the huge, steep hill on a roller coaster.  Your heart pounds, and you can't put the book down until you get past the nerve-wracking part.  That thrill is even free when the books are borrowed from libraries or friends.

     8.  Books are exercise for your brain.  There's a lot being said in today's world about the need to exercise our bodies, but brains need exercise too.  When we read, we constantly anticipate what will happen in the story.  This kind of prediction works like a filter of our memory and previous knowledge when we try to figure out a book's plot.  That mental exercise helps to keep our brains sharp and strong.

     9.  You can use books to escape from the here and now.  No one has to be bored when they can get into the excitement of a good book.  Just let it carry you into the middle of something more interesting than whatever is not happening in real life. Books can change your mood.

     10.  Books can inspire you to do things you never knew you wanted to try.  They allow you to dabble in experiences without risk of failure, and try something new.


     There now, go find a book and really shadow the main character as he/she moves through the story.  Get into it.  

     And remember, if you can think of some more reasons to choose reading books, please add a comment in the space provided on the bottom of this post.  I will publish any that I receive next time.

     My other blog, eBooks for Kids currently has a post about a way you can borrow eBooks for your Kindle.  Check it out by clicking on the link above.

    For now, please keep reading...


Sunday, January 13, 2013

#150 How to Pick Out a Good Book

     Welcome to our new audience in Saudi Arabia.  You represent the forty-eighth country reading one or both of my blogs as reported on my stats pages.  Thank you for joining us in our efforts to develop children's reading interests.

     I am using a special promotion from to offer a free Kindle download of my middle-grade chapter book, Tiny Others (Agent C Series) by Lynda, on January 19, 20 and 21. This eBook may also be ordered using a Kindle App on computers, smart phones and various tablets as well as on your Kindles. Just click on the Amazon link above and enter the full title and author in the search window on the appropriate dates.

     Don't you wish you knew a bit more about the book though?  

     In this case, Amazon's order site will give you more information, but what if you were looking for a good book in a book store or library and you had no idea if you wanted to read a book like Tiny Others, (only one that was in paper and print instead of an eBook for Kindle).

     What are some ways you can tell if you will enjoy reading such a book before you buy it or check it out?


     The first thing you will probably see is the book's spine:
     It might look like this.  The author's name is Lynda (first name only? Yes.)  The book title is Tiny Others, and it is part of a series called Agent C.  The reading level says it is 4.3.
     Pull it off the shelf and take a look at the cover:

     It looks like a pencil is writing the title on some paper. Does the paper look old or something?  Why are some of the words faded?  It looks like Lynda also has done some illustrations.  Pictures might be good, don't you agree?  

     There is some kind of a stamp near the top.  It is an old Santa-looking guy, and the tiny words under him read, "Agent C".

     Turn the book over.  There is usually some stuff about the story on the back cover:

     Did you notice a couple of trees and some information about the book's setting,  "Summer vacation in the mountains"? Two of the characters are named Savannah and Chip.  Savannah is twelve, and she has found a story hidden in in some old paper.

     Let's open the front cover:

     Here is an inside title page with those same trees as we saw before. Didn't you think that the forest would have pine trees?

     A dedication page is next:


     Lynn, who knows for certain that a fairy princess born without wings can learn to fly. 

    (Is there something about such a fairy princess in the book?)

     Then we find a page about Agent C:

     Agent C is an embedded reading coach.  He makes a cameo appearance in several of Lynda's stories.  In Tiny Others, he takes the role of Mr. Pippin, the little shopkeeper who delivers something special to the main character, Savannah.
     This object, a mysterious ream of old paper, causes the story to change from that point forward.
     When something causes such a dramatic change, it is called a "catalyst".
     The "C" in "Agent C" stands for the word "catalyst".


     The table of contents page can give some interesting clues about the story--especially if the chapters have titles, and they do:


Chapter 1----Pippin’s Market 

Chapter 2----The Geode

Chapter 3----Chips

Chapter 4----The Forest

Chapter 5----Awakening

Chapter 6----Naming a Princess

Chapter 7----Frolic in the Wind

Chapter 8----Secrets Shared

Chapter 9----Surprises

Chapter 10---Broken Ties

Chapter 11---Taming the Wind

Chapter 12---Whispered Warnings

Chapter 13---Whirligigs

Chapter 14---Crossing the Chasm

Chapter 15---Dark Wings

Chapter 16---Confronting Fear

Chapter 17---Into the Caverns

Chapter 18---Forest of Despair

Chapter 19---Suspended Time

Chapter 20---Promise in Gossamer

Chapter 21---A Seedling

Glossary of Plant Names

     There is lots of information in there.  Looks like this book has some adventure, doesn't it?


     And now we come to the first page with an illustration:

Chapter 1
Pippin’s Market
     “Bump!  Bump!  As our tires rolled over tar-filled cracks on the wet mountain road, their vibrations pounded my senses like the beat of a kettledrum.  Windshield wipers added a sound like brushes on snares, and raindrops on the car roof tied the whole thing together like a crazy syncopated melody.
     Suddenly, I realized that my brain was doing it to me again.  It was spinning another wild idea for my entertainment. 

     Just two more book parts to talk about--

     Did you notice the page at the end of the table of contents called "Glossary of Plant Names"? The Tiny Others in this story all have the names of plants or plant parts because they are inhabitants of the forest. This dictionary tells you more about the real-life plants they name. For example:

     Aloe...a plant with thick leaves, believed by some to have healing properties


     ...And finally we come to the author's page. It looks like this:


     That ends our little tour of Tiny Others (Agent C Series) by Lynda.   

     If you are interested, I have a summary of the plot on my other blog at Just click on the link to go there.

     And don't forget to download your free eBook on January 19, 20 or 21.  Please let others know about this offer too. (If you miss this opportunity, the book will still be available on for only $3.99.)

     As always, please keep reading...


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

#149 Techniques for Increasing Comprehension and/or Desire to Read

     I had planned to discuss reading comprehension in this post, but when I received a parent's comment concerning the need to increase their child's desire to read, I decided to combine the two subjects. 

     They are are often closely related, but unfortunately, even when young readers have the skills required to comprehend, they may not be using them, and therefore, find no joy in reading books.

     Reading Level is not always the best indicator of success or lack of it.  When J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books came out, I observed children plowing through books far above their tested reading abilities.  Thank you, Ms. Rowling.  

     On the other hand, I read A. A. Milne' Winnie the Pooh for the first time in college when some of my friends made fun of my lack of cultural awareness.  I still loved my reading experience, and I'm glad I didn't miss it.

     In the 1970's at Harvard, Howard Gardner began to publish his research on the subject of multiple types of intelligences. He originally identified seven of them; visual-spatial, body-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, and logical-mathematical.  

     A child who is strongly intelligent in linguistics, for example, might love books, but one who is visually-spatially intelligent prefers illustrations, drawing, or arcade type games.  (Gardner's work is summarized nicely on the following web site: )

     Learning styles are related to these strengths, and it is important to offer appropriate support if young readers are to choose to read books just because they like to.

     Comprehension might be increased with auditory input.  Reading aloud, alone or with a partner can help.  Some readers are auditory learners and need to add this sensory tool.  Encourage them to try mumble reading. (Don't we, as mature readers sometimes have to resort to reading difficult instruction aloud in order to understand them?)

     Attention to detail can be increased by providing a drawing pad and pencils.  Drawing characters, settings, maps, and floor plans often taps into spatial abilities, and helps readers learn to visualize the "word pictures" they are reading.

     Try selecting books in a child's high interest areas.  Animals lovers might like reading The Trouble with Tuck by Theodore Taylor.  (When Helen faces a difficult decision about her blind golden lab, she comes up with an amazing solution.)  Sports lovers will find a wealth of stories--both fiction and biographies.  (Matt Christopher's books fill one or two shelves in every school library, and he writes for girls as well as boys.)

     Another factor might involve the reader's need to multi-task.  Young readers who are especially bright sometimes lose interest in reading because is too "single minded" for them. They find the process boring. 

     I have provided a little "treasure hunt" at the back of my middle-grade eBook, White Rabbit Time (Agent C Series) by Lynda.  It offers readers a list of elements common to both my story and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.  Some readers have the ability to keep a list like that in the "back pocket" of their brain as they read a story. Oh, those busy, busy brains some children have!

     Some developing readers complain that reading a book "takes too long".  Any librarian will tell you that some children choose books by the width of their spines.  Actually, this isn't a problem if the thinner books are still good literature.

     A sample of wonderful "thin" books is provided below:

     Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
     100 Dresses by Eleanor Estes
     Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
     The Big Wave by Pearl S. Buck
     The Twits by Roald Dahl
     The Great Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater.

     I have also been guilty of tearing apart a paperback to offer it as an old-fashioned serialized story--one chapter at a time. I once had chapters secretly delivered and hidden in various places around my classroom.(Hoboken Chicken, in the list above was a big success this way!)

     Reluctant readers often need more support, especially in the first chapter or two, because books tend to have more description and less action just when their readers are trying to get interested.   

     Maps can help with establishing settings. Theodore Taylor's Teetoncey: Stranger from the Sea always makes me want to visit the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  This book is also a trilogy, and there is nothing like a dangling thread at the end of a book to encourage reading the next one in the series! 

     Mystery books also tend to pull the readers along.

     Some books need to have historical foundations established. Ellen Klages' The Green Glass Sea and its sequel White Sands, Red Menace about the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, New Mexico are examples of these. They offer fascinating stories told from the perspective of the children who lived on the site with their families.

     Sensitive children will love reading about the courage 
of August Pullman in R. J. Palacio's wonderful book entitled Wonder. Born with a facial deformity, August was  home-schooled until he entered fifth grade. 

     I hope you will find some of this information helpful.

     Don't hesitate to ask your children's teachers to share their thoughts about their learning styles.

     Visit with the school librarian.  He/she will probably have more book lists to offer, and prowl through a book store or two.  I think the best ones have old, used books-- sometimes those that are out of print and unavailable anywhere else. 

     In the mean time, please keep reading.