Archive for the ‘Literacy’ Category

Why I’d Prefer Kids Read My Book in Print Than Digitally

January 15, 2020

My new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, is available in both print and digital form. My royalty is slightly better for digital purchases due to the fact there are no printing costs involved. But I would prefer that kids buy a physical book over a digital one.

I believe that reading from a physical book is better for kids’ eyes and for their comprehension of the material.

 

A recent article backs up my theory:

But Atkinson, who guesses that her family of four in Orinda, California, spends half their reading time with physical books, said that she has noticed a difference between how her son reads paper books and how he reads digitally. He has a tendency to skim more in Epic! “He might be more inclined to flip in Epic!, just flip through and see if he likes a book, skipping around. When it’s a physical book, he’s going to sit and read until he’s tired of reading. But in Epic!, he knows there are so many [books], he will read a little faster.”

According to San Jose State University researcher Ziming Lu, this is typical “screen-based reading behavior,” with more time spent browsing, scanning and skimming than in-depth reading. As reading experiences move online, experts have been exploring how reading from a screen may be changing our brains. Reading expert Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid, has voiced concerns that digital reading will negatively affect the brain’s ability to read deeply for sophisticated understanding, something that Nicholas Carr also explored in his book, The Shallows. Teachers are trying to steer students toward digital reading strategies that practice deep reading, and nine out of ten parents say that having their children read paper books is important to them.

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

 

Top 10 Female Characters in Kids Books

January 13, 2020

 

The following is a list adapted from an article by Allison McDonald. The criteria is that the character had to show girls how to be fierce and fearless:

#10) Beatrice Prior from The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
Brave doesn’t seem like a strong enough word for Tris. She is more than brave — she seems propelled to do the right thing no matter what stands in her way.

#9) Pippi from Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Pippi is the self-proclaimed strongest girl in the world…and she lives with a monkey named Mr. Nilsson! If that’s not reason enough for her inclusion on this list, you’ll have to re-read this classic to find a million more.

#8) Ramona Quimby from The Ramona Series by Beverly Cleary
Ramona is far from perfect but she has a huge heart, a creative mind, and never loses sight of who she is.

#7) Princess Truly from Princess Truly in I Am Truly by Kelly Greenawalt
Brimming with confidence, this diverse character has no problem loving herself. Princess Truly teaches your child about self-acceptance and self-love, showing that she can do whatever it is she sets her mind to. Talk about princess power!

#6) Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Anne Shirley has to have puffed sleeves, bravely saves her best friend’s sister, and even walks along the rooftop to show she isn’t afraid. She stands up for herself, her friends, and for what is right many times over —showing her strength and confidence each and every time.

#5) Cleopatra from the Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack
Time traveling and saving the galaxy? What can’t this girl do? Cleopatra shows the universe who’s boss when her 15-year-old self travels into the future to save all of humanity. With a lot of drive, determination, bravery, and a little sass, this traveling queen knows who’s boss and plans to show the world just that.

#4) Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
When I read how Katniss volunteered to take her sister’s place as tribute, I cried. When I saw the scene on film, I cried. And now, years later, writing about it, I still have chills. Sure, she fights and shows strength in so many other ways, but that one act is central to her character, and why she is one of the best female characters you will find on this list.

#3) Matilda Wormwood from Matilda by Roald Dahl
There is something incredibly calm and self-assured about Matilda. She knows her family is filled with idiots, she knows she’s not an idiot, and at a very young age she goes about educating herself because no one else seems to care.

#2) Nancy Drew from the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene
If there’s a mystery to solve, Nancy is on the job. With a magnifying glass and a keen sense of wonder, Nancy Drew can decipher any question and her bravery is no match for the cases thrown her way.

#1) Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
I could wax poetic about Hermione Ganger for days. Her intellect is apparent from the start, as is her drive to succeed. She saves Ron and Harry countless times during the series, but her most heroic act is saving her parents. I don’t want to ruin this for anyone who hasn’t read the final book, but let me just warn you there will be tears. You will be awed not only by the depth of her strength but by the depth of the love that fuels it. Oh, one more reason Hermione is my #1 pick? For the time she punched Malfoy. (I know hitting is wrong, but I know you cheered while reading that too!)

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

All Students Can Achieve Reading Success

January 8, 2020

Some readers take their time to reach their breakthrough moment whilst others are hampered due to a lack of practice at home.

Phillis C. Hunter reminds us all that every child can succeed in their pursuit to become confident readers. Here she gives a brilliant speech that has inspired many a teacher.

One of the chief motivators in writing my novel, My Favourite Comedian, was to publish a book specifically designed to ignite disenchanted readers. I believe that a book that is both relevant to a child’s everyday experience and is packed with suspense and comedy is a good chance to engage even the fussiest readers. Additionally, the book should be suited to reading aloud and ensure that the dialogue isn’t swamped by descriptive overkill.

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Reading Aloud Radically Improves Reading Skills

January 7, 2020

My new book, “My Favourite Comedian” was written specifically to encourage children to read aloud. Similarly, I have been extremely heartened to hear that parents are reading the book aloud to their children. I feel that reading aloud has been stigmatized unfairly when it is, in fact, a very beneficial mechanism for improved comprehension and greater reader engagement.

Courtesy of babble.com

1. It’s time spent together. Reading time is time when you’re focusing on no one else and nothing else but them. It’s impossible to read to your kid and look at your smartphone or watch TV at the same time. I read to each of my children separately before bed. This lets me spend quality time with them individually. It makes for a longer bedtime ritual, but I don’t care because I love it.

2. It’s a conversation starter. Books always give us a reason to talk with each other, even if we don’t feel like we have anything to talk about. It keeps communication open.

3. It’s a great way to talk about emotional health. We talk about the things that happen in the stories, how we would feel if they happened to us, and how we might deal with such events the same or differently. Books have helped me broach topics that I might not have thought to raise if it weren’t for the subject matter in the story.

4. It’s a great way to honor the individuality in your children. I read different things to my daughter than I do to my son. We go to the bookstore and they pick out books about topics about which they are interested. Through paying attention to what they want to read, I can learn more about what their likes and dislikes are, including what they might want to be when they grow up.

5. You can open up new worlds for your kids. Reading allows you to introduce your kids to things that their school curriculum just doesn’t have the time or perhaps even the interest to cover. My 6th grader has recently expressed an interest in industrial design, so I’m on a hunt for cool books about the design of cars and about architecture. Dear publishers: Please publish more books for young readers about these things!! We don’t just need stories about zombies and vampires. 

6. You get a wealth of information on where your children might need help.  Through reading aloud to my children I’ve been able to teach them the meaning of words they still didn’t understand. They have better vocabularies. They have better comprehension skills and understanding of abstract concepts. And reading allows them to excel not just in language arts, but in all of their subjects. I’ve been able to see when my daughter was ready to read on her own — she started pushing me out of the way and reading the words herself — and also to see if and when she needs help.

7. It can lead to a lifelong love of reading in your kids. If you do it right, by reading like you mean it — which means getting into the story, changing your voice to reflect what is happening and not droning on like you hate what you’re reading — your children will learn to love reading on their own. My 11-year-old has now read more than 25,000 pages in his lifetime. How do I know this? For fun, together we created an Excel spreadsheet (OCD, anyone?) where we record the books he has read and how many pages were in them. He loves that little sheet, because it gives him a sense of accomplishment and he can look back on all that he has read and remember his favorites.

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Kids are Not Reading: What are We going to Do About It?

November 28, 2019

 

A recent national report card finds reading proficiency for American fourth-grade and eighth-grade students are declining. So what do we do about it?

It’s not like this problem is new. Harry Potter comes out and many want to believe it will become a gateway drug that leads to bookworms everywhere. Of course, that was never going to be the case.

Some throw their hands up in the air and point to the destructive nature of gaming and the internet. Yes, it’s true that screens have made reading an even lesser priority for kids. But ebooks, books read on screens, is an exciting innovation that could encourage tech-savvy kids to give reading a go.

Personally, I think it’s up to teachers and parents to show kids the pleasures of reading. I think it’s destructive, especially in the early grades to have teachers who don’t like reading. parents of young kids who aren’t readers should consider the benefits of taking up reading if only to set a good example. I know you are busy, but trust me, it will reap rewards for you and your kids.

My students often site my own book, which I have been sharing with them during the writing, drafting and editing stages as a key reason for their enjoyment in reading. To be a part of the creation of a living. breathing novel was a thrill for them. Now they are invested in seeing to it that the book is successful beyond their classroom.

There’s nothing like a good example.

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can download a free ebook copy by clicking here or buy a copy by clicking on this link.

The Science of Choosing the Right Classroom Novel

November 18, 2019

 

Is there any challenge greater for a classroom literacy teacher than choosing a classroom novel?

Especially in today’s times when kids are turning off reading in preference for everything but.

Some of your students need a book that will stimulate them and others need a book that will not go over their head. Some require a page-turning thriller, others need a toilet humour laden comedy.

If you go straight to the bestsellers or award winners you are confronted with another issue. Those books have all been made into big studio Hollywood movies. This doesn’t faze some teachers. They like the fact they can use up a few lessons up watching the film after completing the book. I hate it. There is nothing worse than introducing a book that some kids have read and an overwhelming majority know it based on the movie’s inferior depiction of the story and central themes.

When I sat down to write my forthcoming debut novel, My Favourite Comedian, I was very mindful about the need to provide something for all types of readers.

I will be making the ebook version of the book free for teachers for a period after I launch it. Hopefully, it makes the overwhelming task of choosing a class novel a little bit easier.

Things Your Teachers Taught You That Are Wrong

January 4, 2017

teacher-myths

A great list compiled and written by Misty Adoniou:

 

1. You can’t start a sentence with a conjunction

Let’s start with the grammatical sin I have already committed in this article. You can’t start a sentence with a conjunction.

Obviously you can, because I did. And I expect I will do it again before the end of this article. There, I knew I would!

Those who say it is always incorrect to start a sentence with a conjunction, like “and” or “but”, sit in the prescriptivist camp.

However, according to the descriptivists, at this point in our linguistic history, it is fine to start a sentence with a conjunction in an op-ed article like this, or in a novel or a poem.

It is less acceptable to start a sentence with a conjunction in an academic journal article, or in an essay for my son’s high school economics teacher, as it turns out.

But times are changing.

2. You can’t end a sentence with a preposition

Well, in Latin you can’t. In English you can, and we do all the time.

Admittedly a lot of the younger generation don’t even know what a preposition is, so this rule is already obsolete. But let’s have a look at it anyway, for old time’s sake.

According to this rule, it is wrong to say “Who did you go to the movies with?”

Instead, the prescriptivists would have me say “With whom did you go to the movies?”

I’m saving that structure for when I’m making polite chat with the Queen on my next visit to the palace.

That’s not a sarcastic comment, just a fanciful one. I’m glad I know how to structure my sentences for different audiences. It is a powerful tool. It means I usually feel comfortable in whatever social circumstances I find myself in, and I can change my writing style according to purpose and audience.

That is why we should teach grammar in schools. We need to give our children a full repertoire of language so that they can make grammatical choices that will allow them to speak and write for a wide range of audiences.

(more…)

In Memory of a Teacher’s Best Friend

February 22, 2016

Actors Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and Brock Peters as Tom Robinson in the film 'To Kill a Mockingbird', 1962.  (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

 

Harper Lee didn’t just write a classic novel. Her opus, To Kill a Mockingbird, also stands as a treasure for teachers. Finally a book on the curriculum which enthralls young readers, is enjoyable to teach and gets better with every reading.

It is with great sadness that I read of Harper Lee’s passing. On behalf of my fellow teachers, we thank you for giving us such a jewel to share with our students:

 

Celebrated American writer Harper Lee, best known for penning the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, has died at the age of 89.

The city clerk of Monroeville, Alabama, confirmed Lee’s death to The Huffington Post.

Lee’s seminal novel, which became required reading in many middle and high schools, focused a critical lens on themes of racial injustice and traditional class and gender roles. Published in July 1960, the book was an international bestseller. Lee was awarded the Pulitzer Prize the following year.

To Kill a Mockingbird found immediate success in literary circles. Peppered with autobiographical elements, Lee’s debut novel was set in the mid-1930s in small-town Alabama and follows the story of precocious child Scout Finch and her father, Atticus. Atticus, a lawyer reminiscent of Lee’s own father, is appointed by a judge to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a young white woman.

To Kill a Mockingbird documents Robinson’s trial and tackles the themes of racial injustice and traditional class and gender roles. The book was enthusiastically received, with the New Yorker touting it as “totally ingenious,” and became an international bestseller.

The film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird was released in 1962 and starred Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. The film won three Academy Awards and earned a spot in the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest American movies of all time.

 

Click on the link to read 25 Books for Teaching Values

Click on the link to read The Perfect Way to Encourage Kids to Read

Click on the link to read Meet the UK Classroom Where Every Student Speaks English as a Second Language

Click on the link to read Feminist Icons in Children’s and Teen Books

25 Books for Teaching Values

September 9, 2015

books-about-kindness

Courtesy of goodnet.org:

 

1. GRATITUDE

DID I EVER TELL YOU HOW LUCKY YOU ARE
BY: Dr. Seuss
Who better than Dr. Seuss to remind us how lucky we truly are, even when we’re down in the dumps?
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Focus on what you have and don’t dwell on the bad.

IT COULD ALWAYS BE WORSE
BY: Margot Zemach
This Yiddish folktale depicts gratitude in an uproarious light. When an unfortunate man follows the advice from his Rabbi, his life seems to go from bad to worse – or does it?
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Things are not always as bad as they seem.

SYLVESTER AND THE MAGIC PEBBLE
BY: William Steig
Sylvester the donkey is thrilled to have found a magic pebble! But when he encounters a lion on his way home, he must make a decision that separates him from his family.  When he’s finally reunited with them, he learns a valuable lesson.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Always be grateful for family.

THE BLANKFUL HEART
BY: Mr. Meus
Billy Babble is the richest Babble in Babbleland. He begins to feel like something is missing and sets out on a quest to fill his empty heart.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: A grateful heart is a happy heart.

AN AWESOME BOOK OF THANKS
BY: Dallas Clayton
Filled with whimsical illustrations and quirky characters, this book notes all the things in life to be grateful for. The list spans from simple joys – tree, trains, a nice breeze and rain –  to the extraordinary – skipping jungle cats and alligator acrobats.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: We have so many reasons to give thanks.

2. GENEROSITY

THE GIVING TREE
BY: Shel Silverstein
A classic by Shel Silverstein, this tender story is that of a boy who learns a lesson about the gift of giving – but only after it’s too late.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Generosity should be appreciated and returned.

THE MINE-O-SAUR
BY: Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
The Mine-O-Saur is always snatching up all the toys, grabbing all the snacks and hoarding all the blocks, yelling “mine, mine, mine!”  When will he learn the secret to making friends?
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Sharing is caring.

THE QUILTMAKER’S GIFT
BY: Jeff Brumbeau
The generous Quiltmaker spends all of her time making quilts only to give them away. When she’s approached by the greedy king to make him a quilt, she agrees, but only under certain conditions.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Giving is the true secret to happiness.

ONE HEN: HOW ONE SMALL LOAN MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE
BY
: Katie Smith Milway
This is the true story of a mother who gives a little money to her son, Kojo, after receiving a loan from some village families. With this tiny loan, Kojo buys a hen that grows to a large flock and then an entire farm.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Giving even a little can make a big difference.

A CHAIR FOR MY MOTHER
BY: Vera B. Williams
After their home is destroyed by a fire, Rosa, her mother, and grandmother save their coins in hopes of buying a comfortable chair that her hard-working mother deserves.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Generosity is important in hard times.

3. HONESTY 

THE EMPTY POT
BY: Demi
A Chinese emperor holds a contest where the child who grows the most beautiful flowers from his seeds will be his successor. On the final day, it appears many children have won the contest, but there is only one true winner.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Honesty is the best policy.

DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE
BY: David Shannon
David always has a good excuse ready whenever he gets in trouble for his mischievous antics. Slowly, David realizes that making excuses makes him feel bad, and saying he’s sorry makes him feel better.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: It’s better to own up to your mistakes.

EDWURD FUDWUPPER FIBBED BIG
BY: Berkeley Breathed
Fannie Fudwupper’s big brother, Edwurd, spends his time cooking up giant lies. But one day, Edwurd tells such a whopping lie that the army, the air force, and the dogcatcher are called to reverse the damage.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Stick with the truth.

SAM TELLS STORIES
BY: Thierry Robberecht
Sam is so eager to make friends at his new school that he tells them a story that isn’t true. But when the truth comes out, Sam realizes the difference between telling a story and spinning a tale.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Your true self is your best self.

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS AND THE TRUTH
BY: Stan and Jan Berenstain
When Brother and Sister Bear accidentally break Mama’s favorite lamp, their little lie about how it happened grows bigger and bigger. Thankfully, Papa Bear helps them find the words that set everything right again.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: You’ll always feel proud about telling the truth when the  time comes.

4. KINDNESS

GOOD PEOPLE EVERYWHERE
By: Lynea Gillen
This colorful picture book contains endearing examples and vibrant illustrations of people doing good to inspire children to be grateful, caring, and kind. Be it the people that build houses, deliver babies, or take care of others, the message is that people are good.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Kindness is always appreciated.

HEY LITTLE ANT
BY: Phillip M. Hoose
This fun book explores life from an ant’s perspective, when an ant strikes up a conversation with the boy who’s about to step on him.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Kindness should extend to all living creatures.

EACH KINDNESS
BY: Jacqueline Woodson
New girl, Maya, comes to school and tries to befriend Chloe, but Chloe continually rejects Maya’s attempts at friendship. After Ms. Albert teaches a lesson about kindness, Chloe realizes she has been cruel to Maya. But Maya’s family has moved away, and Chloe is left feeling that she will never have a chance to show Maya kindness.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: You never know how far even a little bit of kindness can go.

A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE
BY: Philip C. Stead
Amos McGee, the zookeeper, makes sure to spend a little bit of time with each of his animal friends each day at the zoo. When Amos is too sick to go to work, his animal friends come to him to return the favor.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Be kind to others and they will be kind to you.

HAVE YOU FILLED A BUCKET TODAY?
BY: Carol McCloud
This award-winning book is based on a beautiful metaphor – that everyone has an invisible bucket that be either be filled or dipped into. Helping others and being kind feels the bucket, while the opposite empties it out.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Helping others and being kind brings happiness to yourself and others.

Click on the link to read The Perfect Way to Encourage Kids to Read

Click on the link to read Meet the UK Classroom Where Every Student Speaks English as a Second Language

Click on the link to read Feminist Icons in Children’s and Teen Books

Click on the link to read Long Lost Dr. Seuss Book Set for Release

The Perfect Way to Encourage Kids to Read

August 17, 2015

free-haircuts-for-reading

I love this initiative!

 

An Iowa barber has developed a creative way to get kids reading. 

Courtney Holmes, a barber in Dubuque, offered free haircuts to kids who read out loud to him during an appointment on Saturday, USA Today reported. The initiative was part of a back to school event, and Holmes hopes the storytelling will help young students strengthen their reading skills.

“The kids would come in, and I would say, ‘Go to the table and get a book you might like, and if you can’t read it, I’ll help you understand and we can read it together,'” Holmes told the news outlet.

 

Click on the link to read Meet the UK Classroom Where Every Student Speaks English as a Second Language

Click on the link to read Feminist Icons in Children’s and Teen Books

Click on the link to read Long Lost Dr. Seuss Book Set for Release

Click on the link to read The Oscars for Children’s Writing Has Been Announced


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