new year, new thoughts: thanks for your wisdom, Maya Angelou

 
 

Are there some books that your kids just LOVE but that you really don’t?

A few in that category have made their way onto our shelves (who knows how that happened, it’s a mischief!) and my kids keep asking me to read them over and over again. I hold my nose and do it, but I truly feel like I’m wasting my breath and my time, and can’t see how I’m doing any good to anyone.

Well, this week, I read a quote by Maya Angelou that made me think. She said:

Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.
— Maya Angelou

Thank you Ms Angelou, for sharing your wonderfulness and wisdom. I’m taking it on board and I’ve resolved to stop trying to smuggle those books out of the house and cringing as I read them for the 10th time in the one day (!).

Instead, I will embrace the joy of children who want me to read to them and be grateful, immensely grateful, that they are forming a habit of and a passion for reading.

Do you have a quote that has inspired you and helped with the everyday? I’d really love to hear about it.

3 minutes with Kate DiCamillo: the magic of reading aloud

I stare at him, open-mouthed. I’m struck with a sudden knowledge that this boy that I’m so afraid of is in fact just like me. He’s a kid who likes a story.

This just in! Four hours ago, on the PBS News Hour, Kate DiCamillo talked about the magic and power of reading aloud. It was a short but wonderful segment.

I know you’re busy, I really do, so I hope you can find a little time to listen or read the transcript. Spoiler: the kid in the top quote was the school bully :-).

Here’s another small excerpt:

We humans long not just for story, not just for the flow of language, but for the connection that comes when words are read aloud. That connection provides illumination. It lets us see each other.

You might also like this post and this very special book, or a whole host of Kate DiCamillo books.

move over fractured fairy tales, fantasy can be good for us all!

move over fractured fairy tales, fantasy can be good for us all!

I’m always a little embarrassed when someone asks me what I like to read. My favourite genre (although I will basically read and enjoy anything) is fantasy, with a particular love of fairy tale re-telling.

I know in general it’s a popular genre, but I like to think of myself as a practical sort of person, and I almost feel like it’s a weakness, that little part of myself that won’t grow up (ok there is probably more than just one small part that hasn’t grown up : )).

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stories for the adventure that is school (or any other big life-changing adventure)

Savannah is off to pre-school this year, and William and Ivy start Kindy. In honour of these major life moments, here's a small collection of books that are lovely to read in the first week or two of school. I hope you find something that feels right for your new (or returning) school kid.

I’m going to read Off to School Baby Duck to all three of our new school kids via Marco Polo this week too. It’s a cute story of a baby duck who is scared to go to school but, predictably, has a good day. It was a favourite for their fathers long ago—mostly out of print now, but full of nostalgia for our family.

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a favourite book for encouraging peaceful responses to life's (many) minor problems

a favourite book for encouraging peaceful responses to life's (many) minor problems

The Giver is one of our family’s favourite books—it’s thought provoking and gripping and leaves you with a whole new way of looking at the world.

But it can also be a handy parenting tool. For instance, I found this on our family blog from 8 years ago, and thought I might share it with you:

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meeting (kind of) Jackie French, and picking up wonderful quotes, tips and tricks!

meeting (kind of) Jackie French, and picking up wonderful quotes, tips and tricks!

I recently attended the annual Queensland Childcare Association conference and I was so excited to be going—but my excitement went through the roof when I heard that the keynote speaker was Jackie French, the author of my favourite novel, I think in the world, To Love a Sunburnt Country!

I have always loved Jackie French! Ever since I was little I enjoyed reading—or mainly having read to me—her books. Probably the first one I heard was Stories to Eat with a Blood Plum. I must have been all of three-years-old

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a special collection of chapter books that little kids* can manage

a special collection of chapter books that little kids* can manage

Every so often, one of my prep (4 to 5-year-old) students brings me the dictionary, a huge encyclopaedia, or a chapter book akin to Lord of the Rings and requests that I read it to them. The mystery of a chapter book is so enticing: the wonder of what a story with so many words might tell is magical. It is so wonderful to read a chapter book to a child, but to start with Lord of the Rings can often lead to frustration.

However, there are many chapter books that are great for younger listeners!  Here's what I look for:

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