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Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

How Not Being Able to Read Makes People Feel Less Than

Holes (novel)

Image via Wikipedia

On Friday, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Mr. Snyder’s class in Dalmatia, PA.  He was the teacher last year that motivated his students to learn their spelling words, by putting money into a jar to buy a goat for a family in Africa.  They met their goal last year and were able to buy two goats.

Mr. Snyder is now teaching 4th grade and he has 11 of the same students that he had 2 years ago.  Those parents must be so excited.  Did you know that it can take a new teacher up to 3 months to figure out how a child can learn effectively?  Well, Mr. Snyder will not be needing to go through the learning curve with half of his students.

These amazing students are listening to the book Holes in their class.  Mr. Snyder had invited me into his classroom via Skype to read chapters 17 and 18 to his students.   Some of his students had prepared a summary of the book and information about the characters before I read to them.  They told me about the characters Stanley, Armpit, and Zero.

In chapter 18 Zero is looking over Stanley’s arm as he is writing a letter to his family and tells Zero, who he feels is a nothing, to stop doing that.  Zero asks Stanley if he can teach him to read, because he doesn’t know how to.  Stanley refuses because his life is just too busy digging holes and he doesn’t want to take the time to help him.

This part of the book made me reflect on how children who struggle with reading really do feel about themselves.  They feel less than, like everyone else is better than they are, and stupid.  Louis Sachar did a great job when developing the character of Zero, because it helps us understand about how people’s self concept of themselves shapes who they are.  Zero feels like a zero and a nothing and all he is asking for is a little help.

We don’t want our children feeling this way.  So, if your child is struggling, the help them now before their self concept becomes too low and the gap continues to get bigger for him/her.  Click on the video and hear an excerpt from this chapter.

 

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Books Boys Love

Cover of "Everyone Poops (My Body Science...

Cover of Everyone Poops (My Body Science)

Parents often wonder how they can engage their boys in enjoying reading.  They are looking for books that aren’t too girly and that their sons will enjoy.  Therefore, it is no surprise that one of the biggest questions that I get is, “What books do you suggest for a __year old boy?”  This question has inspired me to make a list of books from my favorite book publishing company, Usborne Books and More.  Below you will find a list of books that tend to be boys favorites along with the age that they are appropriate for.

Boys tend to like books that fit into 6 different categories. Of course this is just a brief list of the most popular and not all inclusive.

  • humor
  • non-fiction
  • Suspense
  • Hands on
  • Sports
  • How to

Baby Boys 0-4

Animal Board Books

Noisy Touch Feely

That’s Not my Monster

Glug, Glug, Glug Bath Book

Lift and Look Board books – Books include topics about construction sites, tractors, trains, and dinosaurs

Boys Ages 4-6

Everyone Poops

Engaging phonics Readers

How Big is a Million

The Gingerbread Man

There’s a Mouse About the House

Very First Reading Program

Boys 7-10

Beginning Non-fiction Readers

Illustrated Stories for Boys – includes the following

The Masked Pirate
Robot Racers
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Jon and the Green Troll
The Tale of the Haunted TV
The Band of Robbers
Sinbad the Sailor
Victor Saves the Village
The Terrible Tidybot
The Story of Shiverham Hall
The Pesky Parrot
Sam and the Giants
The Tale of the Kitchen Knight
Attack of the Swamp Monster
Robot Robbery
Treasure Island

Jack Russell Dog Detective

The Team Series

Boys 10-15

Moby Dick

Tom Sawyer

David Copperfield

Conspiracy 365

These are some suggestions for boys to engage them and get them excited about reading.  Usborne Books has many many titles that boys love.  You can check them all out at www.popularbooksforkids.com.

This topic was discussed tonight as well on the Totoal Education Network, where I was a guest.  Check it out and learn what some of Neil’s favorite books for boys are as well.

Total Education Network Radio 08/18 by Total Tutor | Blog Talk Radio.

Hooked on Series in South Carolina

A photo of some Baseball Card Adventures books.

Image via Wikipedia

When you hear words like just right books, making predictions, asking questions, and author studies, then you know that you have entered a classroom where great first teaching is happening.  Yesterday I had the pleasure of reading a chapter of a book to a group of second graders in Ms. Witherspoon’s class in South Carolina.  These kids are so hyped on reading that they even started their own Magic Tree House book club.  How cool is that?

Once I heard that their favorite book series currently was the Magic School House Series, I knew that I could introduce them to another amazing author, Dan Gutman.  This man writes amazing books and one of his series is the Baseball Card Adventures.  The book that I shared with these students was Honus and Me.  This is a fiction book about Honus Wagner a great baseball player and how a very lucky boy ends up with his baseball card.  Not only does Honus come and visit the boy through the card, but also the boy gets to go back in time and see Honus play a real live game.

After I read the first chapter of this book, Ms. Witherspoon mentioned that she had this book in her classroom library.  She also had the book Jackie and Me.  So, the kids will have the opportunity to check out a new series and keep reading over the summer.

I love promoting reading over the summer and I have a special philosophy.  If you hook a kid on a series then you can hook them onto reading for life.  Sometimes that is all it takes.  Ms. Witherspoon has hooked her kids on great books and they will definitely be reading over the summer.

First Grade Smarticles in New York

Image by Sebastian Niedlich (Grabthar) via Flickr

Have you ever heard a term or a phrase and fallen in love with it instantly?  Well that happened to me today.  I read a story about The Greedy Python to a group of students.  Afterward I asked the students if they thought the story was fiction or non-fiction and they instantly replied fiction.  I was so amazed that such a young group of students knew the answer so quickly.  The teacher responded that her class is working on their smarticles.

The word reminded me of barnicles from Spongebob.  I love the word so much and the way that she used it, that I am going to use it.  I have a group of students that I tutor in reading everyday that are working on their smarticles and they certainly are smart.

Today I had the wonderful pleasure to read to Mrs. Magyar’s 1st grade computer class in New york.  I was so jealous to hear that many of the students have had the wonderful opportunity to see the Thanksgiving Parade live instead of just on t.v.  What an awesome opportunity for them.

These students have been learning about Eric Carle and have read some of his amazing books like Pancake, Pancake, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Clumsy Cricket, and Papa, Please Get me the Moon. I explained to the children that Eric Carle is both an author and an illustrator.  In the book that I shared with them, The Greedy Python, Carle is the illustrator.  The Greedy Python is sooo greedy that he eats many animals including an elephant.  Click on the video below to see what he ends up eating.  The surprise ending is hilarious.

Happy Birthday Kansas!!

Happy Birthday!

Image via Wikipedia

Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday dear Kansas,

Happy Birthday to you!

Kansas turned 150 years old today and the only way that I could find out that wonderful bit of information was by skyping with Mrs. Atkinson’s Kindergarten class in Louisburg, Kansas.  They were such a wonderful group of students that have been learning all about penguins.  I had the opportunity to share a fiction and a non-fiction story about Penguins.  The fiction book was called Five Little Penguins Slipping on the Ice and the non-fiction book was called Penguins.  These kids are so smart, they knew that real penguins do not actually wear ice skates.  That is one of the reasons that makes this book a fiction book.  When I explain fiction and non-fiction to kids I explain that fiction is false and non-fiction is not false (that means true).  This tends to help them remember which kind of book it is.

After reading both of these books the children shared some other wonderful information that they knew about penguins.  They told me that the daddy takes care of the baby and that the mama does the hunting.  They also told me that when the mama comes back she shares her food with her beak.  That was a nice way of saying she regurgitates the food into their mouths.

Penguins only live at the zoo in Wisconsin and I bet the same is true for Kansas.  One thing that I learned is that there is snow in Kansas this time of year.  These kids are used to sledding and having a great time, just like the kids here in Wisconsin.  However, in the summer they have much warmer weather than we have.  It can get to over 100 degrees.  Typical Wisconsin weather for the summer is between 70 degrees and 89 degrees.  It is not too often that we have weather in the 90’s, but it does happen a couple of times throughout the summer.  It is the end of January and the days are getting longer, which means that the weather will be getting warmer soon.  Till then, stay warm!

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