Posts Tagged ‘Books’

The Other “F” Word

January 21, 2020

The first line in my well-received new novel is, “I’m so fat.”

It elicits cheeky giggles whenever I used to read it out. Kids are not used to hearing that word anymore and are especially surprised that a major character in a kid’s book nonchalantly expresses such a candid self-reflection.

By the end of the first page, my audience grows to love the character and appreciate his honesty. Cheeky giggles are replaced with unabashed giggles. Finally, a character that feels comfortable to express the thoughts that many of us feel on a daily basis – seems to be the consensus.

When I first started reading the then-unfinished manuscript, a student approached me and told me how much the character of Jake meant to her. She told me that she had been ignored and disrespected because of her weight and it was inspiring to see those very same students that have ostracised her completely warmed to the fat character and instantly accepted him. She told me it gives her hope that the overweight kid can achieve some positive attention for a change.

I asked her what her name was.

“Nina”, she replied.

I told her I would name one of the major characters “Nina” because her words had moved me so much.

Nina is probably an adult now and probably has no recollection of that day and the origins of her namesake in my book. But her reaction has not been unique.

As a teacher, I’ve had the opportunity to read my book to thousands of students along the journey. There is a good reason why the word “fat” is frowned upon and there is a logic behind society’s reluctance to explicitly draw attention to weight.

But fat people know they are fat and are looking for a character that can own up to it and then prosecute the case why being overweight should never overshadow a person’s spirit, wisdom and achievements.

Enter Jake Archibald and the book, My Favourite Comedian.

Thank you, Nina!

 

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.

 

Is There Anything Better Than the Laugh of a Child?

January 17, 2020

 

They tell teachers to avoid showing too much personality and that a teacher’s humour can be seen as a weakness. It can lead to a chaotic and uncontrolled classroom.

But I don’t care. I’ll take my chances.

Humour, is essential to who I am as a parent, teacher and now, writer. I don’t seek the laughter of children in the same way as I seek their happiness, security and academic progress. But I certainly don’t believe in withholding humour from the classroom.

Watching the clip above, I couldn’t help but reflect on the amazing impact of a child’s uncontrollable laughter. One of my great joys has been sharing my book, My Favourite Comedian, and watching kids laugh throughout.

So, no, I am not shutting shop on laughter any time soon.

 

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.

Is Recess a Human Right?

January 16, 2020

When I was a school kid, I didn’t merely think “play” was a human right, I thought “playing up” was a human right.

As a teacher, I certainly value the benefits of allowing my students to experience pleasurable periods of healthy play. However, I am also of the belief that kids who waste class time risk losing some of their own downtime. Actions must have consequences, and consequences must involve the loss of something important to the child.

Child author, Michael Rosen, would probably be quite disappointed in me:

 

Play is a fundamental human right, Michael Rosen has said.

The children’s author and poet said that play should not be seen as an “add on”, or an “extra” as he urged adults and children to “get out there and play”.

Rosen’s comments come in a video by the British Psychological Society (BPS), which has said it is concerned that break times are being eroded.

In the video, called Right To Play, Rosen, a former Children’s Laureate who is best known for books such as We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, says: “Play isn’t an extra, it isn’t an add on.

“Play is a fundamental human right.”

Dan O’Hare from the BPS division educational and child psychology said: “Children’s break time has been reduced by 45 minutes a week in recent years, and one of the results is that eight out of 10 children now do less than one hour of physical activity per day.

“We are grateful to Michael Rosen and the children in the video for helping us make the case that play is vital for schoolchildren. Because play isn’t just a means to an end: it’s fundamental to children’s development and wellbeing.”

 

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.

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.

Why I Am Giving Away 100% of My Book Royalties

January 8, 2020

The devastation of the bushfires in my country has been so tragic. Human and animal lives have been lost as well as homes and pristine bushland.

It is incumbent on me to do my bit. That is why I pledge to give away all of the royalties of my book to the Bushfire Appeal during the month of January.

Every cent of profit will go back to the people who need it more than I do.

The added bonus is that the book itself can bring a sense of joy and optimism at a time of great international insecurity. This book will hopefully provide children and their parents a welcome distraction from events such as the bushfires and Iranian conflict.

Leave a comment below to let me know you have purchased the book so I can start donating straight away.

Please support the bushfires. Every dollar counts.

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. Perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. 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.

My Latest Book Interview

December 29, 2019

 

It has been a great thrill for me to publish my debut novel. Below is the transcript of my latest interview.

 

What is your e-reading device of choice?
The Kindle is now waterproof, which is perfect for me as I love to read in the shower. I hope the next edition is shampoo and conditioner proof.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I have found that not taking no for an answer has been the best strategy. That tactic worked to finally persuade my wife to read the book.
Describe your desk
My desk happens to look a lot like a kitchen table. In fact, it is a kitchen table. Used cereal boxes make for great mouse pads.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Melbourne, Australia which is a lot like Melbourne, Florida aside from the beautiful climate and great beaches. Australians are fun-loving and easy-going people. I’m surprised they haven’t deported me yet.
When did you first start writing?
I once wrote a letter of appeal for a traffic violation. I wrote a very convincing letter. I knew then that I could make it as a struggling writer.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
This book was never supposed to be written. What started as a summer project that was abandoned after just two chapters slowly turned into a completed work. And the credit goes entirely to my students.
Back in 2002, whilst I was a mere student teacher, I noticed that kids weren’t utilising their quiet reading time very well. In fact, they were staring off into space. I decided to print off the two chapters as a means to provide the students with another reading option. Not only were they suddenly engaged in what they were reading, but they brought it home to their parents. I was getting messages from parents requesting the next chapter. And this started my journey towards completing the novel. This certainly wouldn’t have happened were it not for the support and encouragement of my wonderful students over the many years!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
It is the perfect career move for me at the moment as I transition to my ultimate dream job – telemarketer!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Sharing your story and the characters you love with the world. That, and getting off parking fines.
What do your fans mean to you?
My uncle means the world to me.
What are you working on next?
I am working on two titles:
The A-Z Guide to the Alphabet; and
Mannequins for Dummies
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
A nice, warm Kindle shower.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am a social justice warrior. The other day I protested against cuts to the police force by handcuffing myself to a policeman.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I use the same method of discovery as Christopher Columbus – Google.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I was 4 years old and got myself in heaps of trouble. Permanent marker is hard to get off wallpaper.
What is your writing process?
Sit at the kitchen table. Turn on the computer. Brainstorm. Give up and watch a YouTube cat video. Reward myself with chocolate.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
War and Peace. It totally changed my life. I loaned a copy to Kim Jong Un, but as of yet, he’s only read the first half.
How do you approach cover design?
I get someone else to do it. I can’t even make my stick figures symmetrical.
What are your five favorite books, and why?

How to Win Friends and Influence People – How I got my wife to read my book

The Art of the Deal – Pure comedy. One of the funniest books ever written.

The Achievements of Kim Kardashian – Available in pamphlet form

The Mueller Report – I once had insomnia. No more.

Grease – Not the movie, just a Jewish cookbook.

What do you read for pleasure?
The television guide.
What was your greatest achievement?
I once got the lead part in my school’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to perform it. I got injured during rehearsals. I fell off the roof.
spotlight
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.

List of Body Positive Books for Kids

January 13, 2015

body positive

A great list courtesy of thehuffingtonpost.com

 

  • Flora and the Flamingo and its sequel, Flora and the Penguin, age 4+. These charming, wordless picture books feature a spunky yet graceful little girl. Flora has a pear-shaped body, yet does a ballet pas de deux with a flamingo in the first book and figure skates with a penguin in the second. So many images in books, movies, magazines and ads feature young girls with slim bodies; it’s nice to see an image of a girl with a round tummy who’s athletic, graceful and creative.
  • Brontorina, by James Howe and illustrated by Randy Cecil, age 4+. When a brontosaurus shows up at ballet class, some of the students insist, “You are too big!” But the open-minded ballet teacher decides the problem is that her studio is too small — and moves the class outdoors. It’s a lighthearted lesson about not letting your size or shape prevent you from following your dream.
  • Freckleface Strawberry, age 5+. The main character feels self-conscious about her freckles, especially when other kids make comments and give her a nickname she doesn’t like. The final message isn’t that her freckles are beautiful, but that maybe they don’t matter. More important, people are happier when they accept who they are and what they look like.
  • Firebird, by Misty Copeland, age 5+. A young girl who wants to be a dancer almost gives up before ballet great Misty Copeland inspires and mentors her to reach her full potential in this exuberant picture book that emphasizes hard work and self-discovery.
  • Ivy + Bean, age 6+. Two “opposite” 7-year-old girls become best friends in the first of a wonderful 10-volume series. Bean is a rough-and-tumble tomboy who wears pants and a T-shirt and gets dirty; Ivy wears dresses, thinks a lot and is always reading books. They appreciate each other’s qualities, and the kids in their neighborhood appreciate them for their uniqueness and imagination.
  • Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child and its sequel, Watch Out Hollywood!: More Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child, age 8+. In the first book, Charlie shows she’s comfortable with her out-of-shape body (while trying to make healthy food choices) and confident in her bold sense of style. In the sequel, when she tries out for a TV show, kids tease her about her body, but the TV people admire her for being comfortable with her shape. It’s a refreshing, positive-body-image message to find in a book about middle school.
  • Harry Potter series, age 8+. Hermione is part of the triangle of main characters, and she’s smarter and does better in school than Harry and Ron. Her looks are never a focus, even when the kids become teens, go to dances and start to have crushes. It’s always about who she is as a person and her outstanding abilities.
  • Randi Rhodes Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit, by Octavia Spencer, age 8+. Randi moves to a new town and becomes best friends with two boys who also are outsiders; one is bullied for being hearing impaired but is as passionate about martial arts as Randi is, and the other is lanky, into music and super smart. Together the diverse pals — Randi’s white, and her friends are Latino and African-American — solve a mystery using brains and the occasional Bruce Lee move.
  • Blubber, age 9+. An overweight girl is teased mercilessly by some classmates, and no one stands up for her in this brutally honest look at (pre-Internet-era) bullying among fifth graders. The novel doesn’t spell out moral lessons but teaches kids by portraying repugnant behavior and showing the value of true friendship and courage under peer pressure.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, age 9+. Middle schooler Greg Heffley goes through puberty in this series installment and suffers the indignity of teeth-fixing head gear. He deals with it all through humor and utter cluelessness, as always. He may not become more accepting of himself, but kids reading about his travails understand that everyone goes through this stage and that you can have a good laugh at the embarrassing stuff instead of being quietly embarrassed.
  • Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith, by Gabby Douglas and Michelle Burford, age 10+. This moving memoir shows the Olympic gymnast’s dedication in the face of homelessness, bullying and having a coach tell her she should get a nose job. Gabby stays focused, works hard and accepts herself as she is, even as she strives for greatness.
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns, age 12+. A plump princess is chosen by God (in a fictional religion) for a special unknown task. She begins the book as intelligent but insecure and afraid and ends it confident and powerful.​ Rising to challenges and having faith in yourself are big lessons here — as is the message that any size girl can be a respected and capable leader.​
  • InReal Life, age 12+. An exciting graphic novel about a teen girl gamer who learns about harsh working conditions in other parts of the world. She’s smart, competent, and compassionate, both in real life and as her online avatar.

 

Click on the link to read Sometimes You Need to Expect Rudeness

Click on the link to read Do We Learn Enough From Children?

Click on the link to read Kids as Young as 7 Diagnosed with Anorexia

Click on the link to read The Destructive Impact of the “Fashion Police” Brigade

Click on the link to read The Plus Sized Barbie Debate Misses the Point


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