Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hallo-reads for Little People

So, considering that I wrote a post of great Hallo-reads for the big people (adults that is), I thought it would only be fair to write one for the little people (also known as children). I know that my children love to celebrate holidays with a great book, and in our house we have created traditions that include special books that we read aloud and enjoy every year. It is a great way to encourage literacy while building fun traditions that will never be forgotten! That being said here are a few of our favorite books and one of our favorite movies as well.

What says Halloween better than bats? In this fun book children are introduced the the wonderfulness of the Public Library as they peruse it through the bored bats who find the open window.
This is a great fall book that makes math and science fun! Come along with the class as they follow their question to the end and discover that small things have a lot of surprises.

In this fun and colorful pop-up book, children get to follow the character as he searches for a monster - the exact one he wants.

The search for the perfect Halloween costume is a challenge for Tucker the pup. In this entertaining book, children are invited along as Tucker searches for a halloween costume that isn't cute but spooky!

Every child can relate to Little Mummy who wants to play another game of hide-and-seek with Mummy. This is a great bedtime read for any little one.

I had to throw in this classic - always a fun watch that includes popcorn. A great way to relax and create family memories.

I would love to hear of any others you would add to this list. What would you suggest for good Hallo-reads?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Most Famous Book

So one of my library school friends sent this little bit of information around and I thought it was interesting enough to share.


Click on the link above and you will see a visual representative of the most famous book from every state. New York's is The Great Gatsby - Minnesota's is Main Street. Take some time to check it out and see how many you have read. Next time you are planning a trip out of state, grab their most famous book and learn a bit about the state before you go!

Monday, October 21, 2013


Halloween (and apparently winter :-)) is upon us. I know that many different families equals many different traditions when it comes to any holiday or celebration. In my family Halloween or more specifically trick-or-treating is not an option: it is a mission. My husband is as much a part of it as the children and has "coached" them on how to be the most productive which remaining polite and gracious. He even gets the dog involved carrying a pack for candy overflow. It is quite an ordeal and honestly a lot of fun.

Along with the joy of trick-or-treating, Halloween brings the opportunity for "ghost," mystery, and all-things-frightening stories. I am a sucker for mysteries myself. I love to snuggle up with a good cozy and delve into a mystery murder with a memorable character that I can't help but love. I remember fondly the winter that I was expecting my first child and living in a new city, I purposely found an apartment near the local library and steadily read every single Agatha Christie novel ever written. Ever since that winter I have unconsciously gravitated toward cozies to fill the cold days. What books do you love for the winter months?

Here are some of my favorite cozies:

 Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce is a fun, quirky, and very memorable character. I stumbled unto this series my first winter in Minnesota and was not disappointed. Now, I wait for the next one to some out!

 Agatha Raisin, M.C. Beaton's character, is either loved or hated but never forgotten. I personally find her gruff ways and envy of youth to be charming and even insightful. This is another series I am always look for.

This is an Agatha Christie favorite for me. If you like this genre at all, grab this one!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Back from the Dead...or Sick Bed

So for the past week I have had the experience of cleaning my car because of my three year old getting sick, getting a phone call right before I was supposed to teach to pick up my 7 year old from school "immediately" because he was vomiting, having my 8 year old come down with the same thing, and coming down with it myself on Sunday. Needless to say, I have had my fill and am ready to get back into a semblance of normalcy. All of that to say (and I hope it wasn't too much information) that the power of words once again rose to the top. How? I will share...

On Saturday night I spent a restless, tossing and turning night because I was coming down with the stomach bug that had made its way through my family (except my husband, not sure how he avoided it). It was awful. I have not been that sick for at least three years and it was absolutely miserable. All of Sunday I basically spent in bed thankful for a husband who easily managed everything even the laundry! In the midst of a long Sunday my wonderful 8 year old, who shares my absolute love for books and words and poetry, climbed up beside me in bed with a stack of our favorite poems and simply read to me. It was a special time and a great reminder of how soothing words, especially well-thought out words, and poems can be.

She read Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life" - "Tell me not, in mournful numbers, life is but an empty dream. For the soul is dead that slumbers, and things are not what they seem." and my favorite stanza, "Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art, to dust returnest, was not spoken of the soul."

She read Wallace's "Thirteen ways of looking at a Blackbird" - "I do not know which to prefer, the beauty of inflections or the beauty of innuendoes, the blackbird whistling or just after."

She read Whitman's "Song of Myself" - "Trippers and askers surround me, people I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and city I live in, or the nation. The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors, old and new; My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, cures, the real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love; The sickness of one of my folks, or of myself, or ill-doing or loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations; Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events; These come to me days and nights and go from me again; But they are not the Me myself."

She read and she read and she read and I was lulled into sleep and reminded again and again that my sickness was momentary, it was not the end, it was all about perspective, and it was not the Me myself. So in the midst of something not so great I was able to see great. So, I hope you too find solace in a well written word - what are some of your favorites?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Little Positivity...

The government shutdown has, if nothing else, garnered a lot of opinions so I will not add mine to the mix. Regardless, if I did add an opinion (which I promise I won't) it would not be the opinion of SLFL in any way. So, in the midst of strong opinions and sometimes even stronger tempers, I want to add a bit of positivity to the mix.

Remember this book:

The main character Winston Smith is dealing with a government that doesn't even allow for independent thinking! The Party and its omniscient leader Big Brother are always watching and ever ready to "correct" a mishap. The Party controls everything and is even in the process of implementing a new language Newspeak that attempts to stamp out political rebellion by removing any words that are associated with it. Winston's job is to alter historical records to satisfy the Party. Winston begins on a journey of independent thought and a love affair only to eventually...(wait I won't tell you, I don't want to spoil it for anyone).

Or how about this book:

In this book we encounter a fireman who doesn't stop fires but rather starts them. Guy Montag's great mission in life is to burn books. The society in which he lives does not read books or appreciate nature or think independently, rather the people spend their time in front of screens and in superficial conversations. Guy has a few interactions and book pilfering experiences that cause him to question the status quo and seek more information. He is eventually betrayed and hunted and...(once again I won't tell).

What's the positivity in all of that? Well, for starters, we lived in a society that allows books and fights censorship. We are allowed independent thought. We are provided with access to all kinds of books and information through our public library system. We are not "being watched" and subjected to fear for having a personal opinion. We are allowed to become better and an education that continues to expand our minds and our hearts. I hope in the midst of our current situation you are able to keep a sense of the positive! Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Good Read Aloud

I read a book about a year ago entitled The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma. The book was based on a promise Alice and her father made - to read for at least 15 minutes together everyday. So up until college and distance made the promise too difficult to keep, Alice and her father made time for him to read aloud to her every single day (You can read more about here story here: http://makeareadingpromise.com). Reading aloud is an important and beneficial activity that sometimes is pushed aside in favor of other activities or simply because of busyness. Reading aloud is even beneficial for older children and even teens!
According to the American Library Association (ALA) website (http://www.ala.org/aasl/aboutaasl/aaslcommunity/quicklinks/el/elread), reading aloud to children includes these many benefits:
  1. Children's self esteem grows as they experience the security of having a parent or other caring person read aloud with them.
  2. Children experience increased communication with parents and other family members.
  3. Children are introduced to new concepts such as colors, shapes, numbers, and alphabet, in a fun, age appropriate way.
  4. Children build listening skills, vocabulary, memory, and language skills.
  5. Children develop imagination and creativity.
  6. Children learn information about the world around them.
  7. Children develop individual interests in special subjects like dinosaurs, cats, or cars.
  8. Children learn positive behavior patterns and social values.
  9. Children learn positive attitudes towards themselves and others.
A huge benefit of reading aloud according to Jim Trelease, author of Read Aloud Handbooks, is the impact that reading books has on a child's vocabulary. According to Jim, "It's long established in science and research: the child who comes to school with a large vocabulary does better than the child who comes to school with little familiarity with words and a low vocabulary" (http://www.greatschools.org/students/7104-read-aloud-to-children.gs). In his interview, Trelease is specifically referring to younger children and readying them for school, but as a professor working with college students I can verify that those who are readers are those who do better overall. Reading and reading aloud is beneficial to all ages and a large vocabulary is helpful for college students as well as those just starting out. Reading also increases attention span, encourages a child to "experience" difficult situations, and broadens knowledge of the world and people. Every day I begin my classes (college students, mind you) by reading a selection from a novel, a poem, or a great speech. I find that if I can whet their appetite for reading and books, then I can whet their appetite for learning in general. If I can create life-long learners - readers - I have done my job.
I also read aloud with my kids at home and even my husband! Right now my husband and I are reading through The Great Gatsby in anticipation of getting the recently released movie. Through the years I have found some read aloud favorites, books that seem to have been written for reading aloud. The language is mesmerizing and the characters memorial. Poems are also great for read aloud because of their structure and language. So, that being said, I am going to leave you with a few of my favorite read alouds, what books would you add to the list?
  1. The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
  3. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  4.  Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
  5. The Wizard of Oz (and all of the other Oz books!) by L. Frank Baum
  6.  Poems of Robert Frost
  7. Poems of Emily Dickinson