9-11

Today fifteen years ago the world experienced something so tragic that even thinking back, watching images on TV, still sends chills through my body. There much talk and remembrance on this difficult day and it is important that we open up this reflection to our children in a mindful way. One of my favorite quotes is from the late great Fred Rogers that focuses on all the helpers and the power of togetherness.

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So in light of this historical date today’s book recommendations focus on the tragedy and on the amazing strength of those who helped in so many ways. The first and my personal favorite is Fireboat: Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman.

This was one of the first books that we introduced to our sons when they were learning about 9/11. It is a beautiful story of a retired fireboat who is called upon and demonstrates heroic acts despite being old and retired. This is a great story for younger aged children and focuses not only on the tragedy but the power of one small helper.

This next two books are geared for a bit older kids- late elementary early middle grades. 10 True Tales: Heroes of 9/11.

This book portrays 10 different Americans and their heroic tales around the attacks on the twin towers and the pentagon. And another from a popular series in our house I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001 by Lauren Tarshis.

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This story is about a young boy, the son of a firefighter in New York City, and his gripping experience of that fateful day. Like many tragic historical fiction, this story shares a realistic point of view from a character that many young people can relate to.

I am a lover of historical fiction and I am so happy that this has passed down to my boys. We need to talk about history, not just in schools, or around homework but how it effects all of us today and what things were like if and when we experienced them.

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So today, I urge you to take a moment to think about and remember that day, 15 years ago, send love and light to those who lost and those who gave all they had. Share not only the story of sadness but that of hope and great love of those brave heroes.

Much love, and happy reading.

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Let’s Talk Emotions

Often times we as parents are continuously trying to help our kids keep it together, manage busy schedules, and teach kindness in the hopes that they will grow up to be great human beings. These little people have a lot on their shoulders in today’s society and they experience big emotions so it’s really important to talk about them. Sometimes I hear people hushing concerns and emotions and telling kids not to worry, they will be okay, or that it’s all alright. Most times this comes out of love because truly, we do want them to be okay and alright. I believe it’s important for us to help kids name their emotions and what they are dealing with so that they can on one hand feel heard and secondly know what is going on for them is normal and how and what they can do to move through it.

Emotions

This is a topic that I could (and probably will) write multiple posts about but I’ll save some ideas for another day. Today I want to share two of my favorite emotions series. The first one is the Little Critter Books. Now these books are incredibly popular and have so many topics that you can choose that pertain to the emotion or feeling you’re trying to explore. In my house, anger, was a hot topic for one kid and forgetfulness the other. So we loved both I Was So Mad and I Just Forgot by Mercer Mayer.

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Often times we may focus on negative emotions and why we don’t want them or how to get rid of them. One of my sons is very emotional and experiences things quite deeply. Several years ago my intuitive mother got us a great set of books on many emotions, both positive and challenging. I would highly recommend these books by Trace Moroney for simple read aloud, young elementary aged children.
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This sweet little bunny experiences so many things throughout his life and he speaks simply and honestly about what he’s feeling. This character is easy to relate to and uses positive langue to talk about whoever someone may be feeling and most importantly what they can do about those feelings.

No matter if you share books about emotions and feelings or simply talk about them and how you experience things as a family I urge you to keep the dialogue flowing. Too often I see kids and even adults experience intense feelings and think they may be the only one out there dealing with this. We can start by sharing our own experiences and validate that emotions are real for us all and can be good or challenging or both.

Happy Reading!

 

Our Summer Reading

Hello and happy back to school season!

Tonight I kissed my boys goodnight before their first day of school tomorrow. They will awake to new teachers, a new school (for one), and so much excitement as they enter 5th and 3rd grade.
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We had an absolutely fantastic summer filled with family, sun, the lake, and of course books too! There is something magical about reading throughout the summer. So many choices: what to read, when and where to read, oh the possibilities. In my mind, there is nothing like reading outside with the sun gently warming your skin.

 

We did a lot of reading this summer and had some memorable books to pass along. Quinn and Keegan each are proud to share their favorites:

Quinn’s Picks
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Big Nate Series by Lincoln Pierce

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The Squish Series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

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And  best of all Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone

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And now Keegan happily shares his favorite reads this summer-

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El Deafo by Cece Bell, Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom by Eric Wright and Scooby Doo Howling on the Playground by Gail Herman

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And together we read and LOVED Small Steps by Louis Sachar

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So as we begin a brand new school year my heart is warmed by the memories of the summer we had together as a family, the adventures we shared, the memories we shared, and the stories we read. I hope your summer was filled with joy, warmth, and great stories!

Here’s to the new school year and the many books we explore together.

Sharing Books

Tales, Fables, Myths, Legends

A few weeks ago I was preparing to lead a contemplative discussion around the use of language in our society and how powerful words can be. As part of this talk I was charged to come up with a short story to engage the children who would be present. I went to work trying to find some sort of tale or fable that could incorporate the morals I was trying to inspire.

While searching online I found this great book: Peace Tales: World Folktales to Talk About by Margaret Read MacDonald.

I headed off to my local library to track it down and pick the perfect tale that would fit my discussion. While in the library, after finding the call number and location, I found it quite difficult to find the section on Tales. As a weekly (or more) visitor of the library I was a bit in shock that I couldn’t find this important section. I had to enlist the librarian to help me and as we walked through the aisles we got to talking. She shared that this is a section she has recently and purposely moved to a new location to try and inspire and attract readers. It made me think about how little I have been exploring various myths, legends, and fables with my own boys.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you may be curious about the difference between a myth, a legend, fable and a fairy tale. So keeping to my English major roots I decided I needed to look it up. As my grandfather would say “here’s the skinny” (aka- here is the information).

fable is a story passed down from generation to generation that has a lesson or moral to share. Fables can include animals, plants, or objects that are personified to human-like qualities.

legend is similar to historical fiction where often it will provide information about a person’s actions, deeds, or lifetime and is based upon some truth. Think Robin Hood or King Arthur.

myth is also a story from times long ago that typically answers a social or natural phenomenon. This could include how something came to be, why something was created or destroyed, or how something works. There is also an element of morality within this type of story and often will include Gods or beings with super human powers/abilities. I often am reminded of the Greek Myths and stories about Gods and Goddesses.

Lastly and historically most recent are Fairy Tales. These were often created for children and incorporate healthy doses of magic and mysticism. Fairies, giants, elves, sprites, gnomes are all characters that often appear in fairy tales.

I feel like these types of stories are so important to children these days. They allow for both creativity and lesson learning while incorporating a bit of magic and wonder. I remember one of my favorite books as a young pre-teen was Aphrodite’s Blessings which shared short myths of Greek Gods and Goddesses.

I wonder if we spent more time reading these important stories to our children if they would embody more morals, magic, creativity, and understanding as they grow.

Here are some titles to start with:

 

   

 

Happy Reading!

Movies of Books

Tonight my boys and I went out to the movies and we saw Alice Through the Looking Glass.

As we were sitting watching the previews I was struck by how many books are becoming popular movies. Coincidentally this weekend my sister sent me a text that she found our favorite childhood series The Box Car Children on DVD.

I have to be honest, I’m not quite sure on my stance on this trend. I almost always prefer the book over the movie however I do admit that it is interesting to watch a different perspective of childhood classic literature. I remember reading and loving Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. It has been MANY years since I was brought back into wonderland and I really enjoyed tonight’s movie. I sat back remember the way the books played out in my young imagination and how they really came alive through cinematography, acting, and music on the big screen.

 

We also saw a preview of the BFG- if you read one of my early posts from this winter you will know this is a favorite in our house. Even now we are reading the book Holes and the boys are excited to rent (yes we do have to rent-aka borrow from our local library) the movie once we finish the book.

So part of me, the purist book lover, feels that no way, we should always read the book and stick with that. But today when  my 9 year old looked up from the film and asked if we can get the book I thought, why yes, I guess this is okay. If the movie is good that can make a child want to also read the book, I am good with that.

I would love to hear what you think about movies of books.

Happy reading… and watching?

When My Son’s Fish Died

I have a hard time getting attached to living things. I am sensitive and am an over thinker. This is one of the main reasons that I did NOT want to let my kids get small animals, especially fish. Fish aren’t known to have a great life cycle and there are lots of things that can go wrong when owning fish. Don’t get me wrong, I love animals. We already have two dogs and a cat.  My eldest son really really wanted a pet of his own and loved the idea of having a fish in his bedroom. We set up an agreement on what responsibilities he would need to show before I would consider it. A few months later after some hard work and growth on his part I gave in. We now had three pretty fish in our home.

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About a month into being a fish owner my son went on a week long vacation with his Mimi. Left in charge of these three fish who will remain unnamed, I had a bad feeling. You don’t even have to guess what happened. Yes, half way through his vacation somehow the fish got a disease and two of the three passed away. My youngest son and I cried and said a prayer as we flushed away the sad little creatures. My husband and I decided we would wait for our son to come home to tell him the sad news. I was so worried how he would take it. After shedding quite a few tears I decided I needed to prepare so I went to the library. Here are three great books that I found that can be helpful for kids (and their oversensitive mothers): When a Pet Dies, Let’s Talk About When Your Pet Dies, and The Goodbye Book.

   

Before my eldest was scheduled to come home I made sure to read them with my youngest and we both found solace in the simple and comforting words. I was ready.

The day arrived and on the drive home from the airport we broke the news and I had my bag of books on the ready- my tone was gentle and arms open ready for cuddles. I was surprised with what happened….

In a voice much like Charlie Brown’s signature “Good Grief” he said “Oh, Mom!” rolled his eyes and asked if I was OK. While letting out both a sign of relief and a laugh because I should have known my logical, practical little boy understood the nature of fish and although he was bummed, that was just it. Not a huge ordeal, just part of life. I wish I had some of his strength and ability to rationalize.

That being said, he did read the books and enjoyed a little chuckle at my sensitivity.

Happy Reading!

Back in College

I happened to have a meeting at my alma mater and was a bit early so I decided to spend some time in the library.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that while browsing in the children’s literature section I came across this great book: My Uncle Emily by Jane Yolen illustrated by Nancy Carpenter.

As an undergrad I majored in English and took quite a few poetry and women’s literature courses. I loved poetry and felt such a great connection with Dickinson. I remember working part time at the local grocery store and reading Emily Dickinson’s Collected Poems on my breaks.

It’s been over a decade since I sat in this very library reading poetry however I immediately was transported to my days as a literature scholar. While reading through this story of Emily Dickinson’s nephew I was transformed to the days of inspiration, and time to explore authors on such a deep level. Surrounded by books with so much time to spend on contemplation and research. Spending time with such amazing educators with such passion and knowledge. It brought me back to the excitement and eagerness of my early twenties.

As the words on the page come alive through the story they also connect the threads to memories of places and times within my own live. The power of books can come alive in illustrations, messages, morals, historical tales, and even memories.

It makes me think how how many things we read for: to learn something, for enjoyment, because we have to, want to, to become inspired, to laugh, to cry, to remember. What an amazing journey the reader can embark as they open a book. So many places you can be led, so many doors that can be opened, such power, such joy that all starts with a word!

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Happy Reading!