Monday, June 13, 2016

Rolled Eyes and Reluctant Readers (or How to Get your Kids to Read in the Summer)

This…the 142 post about books here at The Wright Place. Summer is here and we are reading. Some of us by choice and others by sheer force.

My children, particularly the misfits among us for whom reading is not their first "go to" summer activity are nearing the point already in early June of spraining their eye sockets with all of the eye rolling because of conversations like this…

"May I watch a show?"

"No, go read a book,"

"Can I play a game on my tablet?"

"No, go read a book."

"Can I clean my room instead?


"Yes, but then go read a book."

Then there's the end of the day query made by the parents:

"Have you read for 30 minutes today?"

Oh…the eye rolling…

You know what though, eye rolling doesn't hurt the one receiving it at all and so…we the parents will continue to insist and they the kids will continue to read… and, I am sure, to roll their eyes.

This week, the requirement as increased to 45 minutes and the eye rolling has increased accordingly. Not all of the kids need such requirement, but some do. Our hope, of course is that by the end of 45 minutes, they'll be good and carried away by the story they are reading that they'll just keep on going and get all of those good words and plots and characters and settings into their heads and hearts! It's a perfect plan, right?

We shall see…

Kate and Molly and I just finished our very first Roald Dahl book, The BFG in time for the movie of the same title.  We busted our still-during-the-school-year bedtimes reading late into more than a few nights to see what would happen to Sophie and The Big Friendly Giant. We thoroughly enjoyed the parts concerning the Queen of England. The book was delightful and I am more than a little nervous about the movie living up to it. We initially borrowed The BFG from the library but after finishing it, we loved it so dearly that we decided we needed our very own copy for our very own shelves.

We highly recommend this and feel that it simply MUST be read out loud.

We moved immediately into Matilda, also by Roald Dahl, upon completion of The BFG. Matilda has quite a different feel to it, but we are already charmed by her and disgusted by her parents…just, I think, as the author intended.

Molly has been into the series books lately and is particularly enjoying the Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski. Each book in the series tells the story of a known fairy tale but puts a major spin on the plot. Lots of fun and lots of books in the series.

And she is over-the-moon happy to curl up with her hero Jack Stalwart as she reads about him in the fourteen book series by Elizabeth Singer Hunt. Jack is a spy which rings all of Molly's requirements for a good read. She is nearing halfway in the series and is waiting not-so-patiently for her dad to click the buttons and make the next one appear ("In paperback please," she instructs, "I like to bend them.").

Megan read and enjoyed The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame. The Blue Castle is written for an older reader than the Anne books and both Meg and I loved this story. I read it last year in about a day and a half, and Meg read it between her school readings this year. (Bonus: its $0.99 on Kindle just now.) 

Meg's summer fiction has included the book Passenger, recommended in this post from Modern Mrs Darcy 

and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (read and adored years ago by yours truly) which both she and Cole are reading for a summer book club. 

Kate is reading Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School) by Jen Calonita… 

…and has read aloud the rest of our growing Roald Dahl collection to Molly (in the misery loves company category:-). 

Their read-alouds have included:

(which is tortoise spelled backwards!)

Cole (and Meg and my Man and I) is in the midst of the Visual Theology 2016 Reading Challenge. Highly inspired by challenges and goals, and seeing most of life as a competition of some sort or other, Cole is pursuing his summer reading like it's his JOB. He has posted his Summer 2016 book list and recommendations on his own blog. I'm a tiny bit proud of him it.

I hope your summer reading is full and fantastic. Here's to cold drinks, loads of sunshine, and abundant pages!

A book is a gift you can open again and again. 
~Garrison Keillor

Friday, May 20, 2016

Molly and the Internet...

Molly rushed into the house with solemn purpose a few afternoons ago. She was so intent on her mission that she'd forgotten to take off her shoes and her bike helmet before coming inside. I gave her a long sideways glance.

She took one sheepish breath and said, "I'm sorry, I forgot about my shoes. See, Abby (the neighbor friend with whom she'd been playing) is learning sign language on the computer and her sign for "mother" is this (showing me with her hands) but I think it's this (again, a slightly different motion) because that's what I learned at co-op. So, I'm going up to my room to get my book because, you know how the internet is wrong sometimes…."

I wanted to ask her about her experience with misinformation and the internet, but she was in a hurry to defend her case in the neighborhood…

"The internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom." ~Jon Stewart

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Good Church

We were just about finished running errands for the afternoon, Molly and I, when we passed a church.

"Is that a good church, Mom?" she asked, pointing out the window.

"Well, what do you mean by a good church, Molly?"

"I mean do they preach good things about God there?"

I shared with Molly what I knew of the church but told her that I'd not been to a worship service there so I couldn't answer her fully. As always, it was enlightening to get to hear a bit of what was going on in her mind—to catch a glimpse of what she is thinking as we tool about town doing our normal things. I was just beginning to wonder why, out of the blue, Molly was asking about churches besides our own when she added a thought which explained everything.

"I need to know about these things Mom, so that I will know which church to take my kids to someday."

I grinned and looked forward to telling my Man, my preacher-Man, all about this conversation. It became as fun as I'd imagined it was going to be when he said indignantly, "Is there some reason, I wonder, why she wouldn't just bring her family to our church?"

"She's seven," I reminded him, "you've got a year or two to win her loyalty…"

Preachers…sometimes they can be sooooo sensitive.

From Easter Sunday…back in the day when Molly still attended church with us.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

It's 2016 and we are BACK with a few of our Favorite Things!

I woke this morning and greeted the hermit crab who has taken up residence in our bathroom because it is not warm enough in his upstairs home these winter days. There is a heater on its way to us from Amazon because my Man and I, though we are used to sharing our bathroom with all manner of children, are weary of sharing it with a hermit crab named Charles. 

Charles joined our family last summer straight from a mall kiosk and provided by Mammaw and Pappaw. He had been the quietest and lowest maintenance creature around these parts, until the temperature dropped and we had to shop for the heater and all. We have gotten used to him though, and are glad that he will be with us in this new year. There are a few other fun things that we discovered in 2015 that are helping us to hit the ground running in 2016.

The Wunderlist app. I heard about this easy-to-use app on a podcast and downloaded it post haste. I was soon recommending it to my mom and sisters. It is essentially a list making app that allows you, if you choose, to share lists with others or to just make really nice lists (with subcategories even!) for yourself. My Man and I share a running grocery list which helps to ensure that it is always up to date when one of us is headed to the store. My mom and my sisters and I used Wunderlist to plan and assign who would make what for Christmas dinner...from three different states. It was a thing of beauty...and dinner wasn't bad either! The best part about it is the lovely little "DING" of accomplishment that it makes when you check something off of your list. I understand now how Pavlov's dog must have felt! I'm also keeping various lists of books that I'm hunting down for the new year and also a list of books that I plan to read in the new year.

Speaking of books...
Toward the end of December, my Man came across The 2016 Reading Challenge on one of his favorite blogs . We took things a bit further and assigned point values to each book category according to length, difficulty, and importance and we are competing individually, on teams (kids vs. parents), and with some members of our extended family. I finished my first book this morning (The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozier...highly recommend for short chapter-a-day devotional reading) for which I earned three points and the distinction of being the first at The Wright Place to finish a book for the challenge. Our goal is to expand our reading horizons and be more widely read readers. 

The teenagers taught me about Amazon Prime Music. It's also an app and it works much like Spotify. If you are an Amazon Prime member you can stream all sorts of music to your device AND you can even download certain selections to listen to when you are not in an area with wifi. Because of this app and the Bluetooth speaker I received for Christmas, our home has lately been filled with the sounds of the London Symphony Orchestra and The Boston Pops. Lest you think us highbrow, we are listening to those two sets of gifted musicians play movie soundtracks including and especially the Star Wars themes. We are pretty sure Darth Vader is just around the corner waiting to march down our hallway and stir up all sorts of trouble. 

Finally, the girls and I have been intending to watch the series Gilmore Girls together all year and just before year's end we sat down and dialed up the first episode and before we knew what had happened, we'd polished off three episodes. We were all kinds of smitten and giggly and amazed that three episodes had just flown by like that. 

Kate said, "You mean we've watched THREE? It didn't seem like it?" To which her older, wiser sis explained, "THAT is what you call BINGE watching Kate!" We are still watching our way through season one of the seven that lay ahead of us.  Lofty goals we have over here! Note: though FULL of charm, there are portions of the show that may not be suitable for younger children. So far, we haven't encountered anything "fast-forward" worthy, but I recently felt the need to preview a few scenes of an episode before letting the little girls watch. Mostly though, we just laugh at the sparkly dialogue and talk about the characters as if they were real people in our lives as we go about our days. 

I hope this finds you and yours enjoying your first few days of 2016! 

All of us at The Wright Place ( and Charles-the-Hermit-Crab ) wish you the happiest and most fulfilling New Year!

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