Posts Tagged ‘Literacy’

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.

Free e-Book For My Fellow Teachers

November 21, 2019

Let me introduce myself.

My name is Michael Grossman, and I am a dedicated teacher and author.

My years of teaching has helped me to gain expertise in helping raise children’s self-esteem as well as experience in other issues discussed in my book such as body image, childhood depression and dealing with adversity.

I aim to get kids to read. And not just any book (sorry Where’s Wally), but a book with relatable characters that starts meaningful conversations and leads to greater self-reflection.

And there’s not enough humour in the world. Our kids should be laughing constantly! There’s nothing better than good quality comedy!

I have decided to make the e-book version of my novel free of charge for a short time, specifically to allow teachers to read it and consider using it as a class novel. I have been using it as a 5th Grade literacy tool for the past few years and I am therefore confident teachers will love sharing this book with their students.

Follow this link to download your own book free of charge!

All feedback is much appreciated!

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.

3 Reasons Why Writing Standards are Falling in the Classroom

August 2, 2017

 

The standardised Naplan tests are back and surprise, surprise, it shows a decline in writing standards.

Many will be scratching their heads and asking why?

Below are 3 theories I have to explain the decline.

 

  1. Kids hate writing – It’s a struggle to get kids to write. They detest it. And don’t even bring up a second and third draft. No way are kids amenable to fixing up their already “perfect” first attempt. Teachers, in their bid to engage the class often keep writing lessons to a bare minimum. This of course has a major impact on the quality of their writing.
  2. Technology – There is a technology race among schools. Schools are constantly trying to outdo each other by embracing cutting edge technology. Technology does next to nothing to improve “bricks and mortar” skills like writing.
  3. Teachers Choose What Writing Genre to Focus on – Teachers are often given the choice as to what writing genre to focus on. They often choose the easy ones and the ones they are most comfortable with. Recounts and procedural writing are popular mainstays in classrooms. Instead of finding out the genres the students have already covered in previous years, teachers are only to happy to revise the same old tired genres for no other reason that they are easy to teach, write and mark. In the meantime, more difficult genres are hardly ever looked at.

 

 

Click on the link to read You Can Blame Me for My Students’ Standardized Test Scores

Click on the link to read Teacher Writes Truly Inspirational Letter to Her Students

Click on the link to read Redirect Your Frustrations About Common Core

Click on the link to read Perhaps There Should be a Standardized Test for Teachers

Click on the link to read Reasons Why I am Forced to Teach to the Test

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.

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Feminist Icons in Children’s and Teen Books

March 8, 2015

Film Review The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1

 

A list compiled by Sarah Alderson courtesy of theguardian.com:

 

  1. Pirate Girl (Pirate Girl by Cornelia Funke)

Our eponymous Pirate Girl, Molly, sets off alone in her boat to visit her grandmother and is set upon by a fierce pirate captain who takes her prisoner and makes her slave away for him, cooking and cleaning. But Molly refuses to be cowed and instead uses her wits to summon her mother – the fiercest pirate of the lot – to rescue her. Together with her mum, Molly turns the tables on her captors and heads off alone once more to visit grandma. Female characters for the under-fives don’t come more brave or bold than this.

2. Matilda (Matilda by Roald Dahl)

My daughter Alula says about Matilda: “She’s really powerful. She refuses to be bullied or watch others being bullied. She shows that being intelligent and reading books, and being kind, is more important than being pretty.” And that says it all really.

 

3. Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter series by JK Rowling)

Oft overlooked, Luna Lovegood stands out among the pantheon of great female characters Rowling offers us in the Potter series. Yes, Hermione is the classic choice but Luna too is smart, brave and loyal, and more than that, she refuses to bow to bullying or pressure to change. She is who she is – quirky and strange – and is unapologetic about it. She embraces her weirdness, remains compassionate to those who bully her and is unfazed by critics. We love Luna!

4. Malala (I am Malala and the young readers’ edition Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and changed the World by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick)

At just 17 years old, human rights activist Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her work in advocating for girls’ education. Shot by the Taliban for speaking up on the right of girls to attend school, she has since started a fund to empower girls to reach their full potential. Her story is incredibly inspiring.

5. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)

Yes, Katniss is strong, brave and can wield a bow and arrow like nobody else. She also becomes the poster child for equality for all, but it isn’t this alone that makes her a feminist, I would argue that the way she forges relationships with others, particularly women and girls, in defiance of a patriarchal society, is why she ultimately triumphs in the arena and what makes her such a special character in the YA world.

6. Celie (The Color Purple by Alice Walker)

Alice Walker’s famous novel tells the story of Celie, a poor black woman in 1900s America. Starting off as a victim of abuse Celie finally learns, through the support, example and sisterhood of other black women, to speak up for herself, and ultimately finds the courage to make her own choices.

7. Tavi Gevinson (Rookie Yearbook edited by Tavi Gevinson)

At just 18 years old, Tavi Gevinson is hailed as one of her generation’s leading voices. The website she founded and edits, Rookie, tackles subjects from break-ups to politics, with all the content (art and writing) contributed by teenagers as well as influential thinkers, musicians and creatives. The yearbooks (there are three) contain curated highlights from the website.

8. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (We Should All Be Feminists by Chimanada Ngozi Adichie)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the author of the award winning novel Half a Yellow Sun (another recommended teen reading), writes a funny and accessible book (based on her TEDx talk) about what it means to be a feminist today, and entreats everyone to consider the profound ways that inequality affects us all.

9. Melinda Sordino (Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson)

Teenage Melinda is finally set free from her traumatic burden of silence by choosing to speak up against her rapist and by fighting back against the cultural and societal pressure imposed on her to keep quiet about the attack. In doing so she becomes a symbol of courage and power to all victims of abuse.

10. Lena Dunham (Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham)

This is the book I wish I had read as a teenager. Musing on issues including body image, sex, mental health, friendship, career and sexuality with her trademark honesty and wit, Lena Dunham admits she’s a ‘girl who is keen on having it all’ and then humbly offers her own nuggets of wisdom and experience to help others do the same.

 

 


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