Sunday, December 8, 2013
This article is courtesy of Jake Ball. Jake started childrensbookstore.com in 2006 after realizing that there was no website that was a truly independent bookstore that is 100% dedicated to juvenile literature. He loves engaging with the authors, illustrators and publishers who work hard to produce high quality children’s literature.
Below Jake's article offers four solid tips on how to get boys to read.
Want a Boy to Read? Listen FirstThe tasks of helping children, especially boys, establish a strong reading habit is a perennial challenge for parents and teachers. This task has been made more difficult as electronics occupy more space in our daily lives. As a bookseller and the father of three boys, I am often asked by parents and educators which books are “best for boys”.
I appreciate that parents and educators want to spur an interest in reading through providing books that appear to be popular among boys. However, encouraging boys to read requires a more comprehensive set of actions than simply providing popular books.
Below are some techniques I have used and observed regarding the task of turning a modern boy into a reader. This is not an exhaustive list. Just one with which I have found success.
What do you like to read, historical fiction, True Crime, motivational or some other topic? If you love to read about sports history, you would not react well if someone were to demand that you read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
Before you place a book in the hands of a boy, you need to listen to what he is interested in. Pay attention to what he talks about and what hobbies he enjoys. As you pay attention to his interest, you will learn about what kind of reading material he’ll go for.
If you want to take this a step farther, go to a bookstore and see where he ends up. It might be in the car section, sports or another topic area that you may not have considered. If you take the time to listen and present books along his interests or better yet, allow him to select his own books, chances are he’ll be much more willing to read.
When you acknowledge his interests and preferences, he will feel validated and want to demonstrate his knowledge on the chosen subject through reading.
2. Schedule time for reading
If you want to get something done, you need to make time for it. Schedule a little time each day that is dedicated to reading and nothing else. In our house, the 30 minutes before bed is set aside for reading. Our boys use the time to unwind from the day and it is now an indispensable part of our evening routine.
It may be difficult to start a regular schedule. But, it will be worth the effort once a habit is established. A good corollary to scheduling reading time is also making a schedule for electronics. Having a balanced approach with both electronics and books will help the entire household.
3. What are you reading?
Children model their parents’ behavior. The best piece of parenting advice I’ve ever heard is this: You can’t give your child something you do not possess. If you do not read at home, it’s almost laughable to expect your son to become a reader. Turn off the TV, pick up a book and conspicuously read it. Reading isn’t just good for kids. Consider using the time you’ve set aside for a boy’s daily reading for you to read also.
4. On his level
Boys do not like to struggle through material that is above their reading level. They want to be successful. Often a boy in first or second grade does not have the skills to take on a dense chapter book and they have no interest in picture books they consider to be “for babies.”
Enter the graphic novel. This genre has blossomed over the past 10 years. The bridge graphic novels build between beginning readers to chapter books is wonderful. A good graphic novel contains illustration that tells the story along with the words. The interplay of the words and pictures allows a boy to comprehend the story and feel successful in reading.
We have seen great commercial success with series such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants and more. However, there are many graphic novels and series that are very good. Seek the help of a librarian or a bookseller to discover graphic novels that the boy(s) in your life will enjoy.
The above four techniques are the most direct and simple ones of which I am aware. Of the four ideas, listening is the most important. Parents and teachers need to listen and observe what reading challenges may exist with a boy. If there is a stumbling block in acquiring reading skills, it will take a coordinated effort to overcome it.
There certainly is no lack of high-quality reading materials from phonics and very early readers to the growing Young Adult genre. Making strong reading habits requires adults who are engaged in the task of building readers out of boys. Attentive parents and teachers can apply the right materials at the right time to build success. By becoming a partner in reading with a boy, parents and educators will find success and open up a world of literature to new generations.
Friday, November 22, 2013
It’s 1927. Rembrandt is the only child in the tiny community of Three Farms and his two aunts grow desperate for babies of their own. Hope and Hell arrive in a mysterious black bottle, and on a moonless night a dark spell is cast. Soon after, a man wearing black top-coat, and a ‘glad-ta-meet-ya’ smile comes to visit. The devil seeks payment, and a dangerous wager is made. Until they can defeat him, Rembrandt, Pa, and Uncle Thompson must embark on the journey of their lives, for if they stay in one place for more than twelve days terrible things happen. But where and when will they find a champion capable of defeating the Black Bottle Man? Time ticks. Lives change. Every twelve days.
The unique book comes to us from Canadian author, Craig Russell. He grew up on what may be the flattest half-section of land on the planet, six miles north of Carman, Manitoba. He is now a lawyer and lives in Brandon.
Here's the rave from our friends in Canada:
“An extraordinary book. I was completely captivated. You can read it as an adult and be quite moved by a story of profound love, of commitment to family, of humility, of grace under pressure; so rich with metaphor and allegory, depth, complexity. It’s really one of those books you read as a teenager and love it, and then pick it up again thirty years later and have a completely different, equally rewarding reading experience.” — Nikki Tate, CBC All Points West
“One part travel narrative, one part spiritual fable, one part historical fiction, and one part adventure story—this tragic tale pulls readers in with its strong voice, richly depicted setting, and chilling confrontations with a shape-shifting Satan. Russell weaves magic into the narrative.” —Meghan Radomske, CM Magazine.
“Russell has told his fable…and it is done beautifully.” —Alison Edwards, Resource Links
“Read it. Because it’s not likely you’re ever going to find anything like the Black Bottle Man again.” — Stephanie Yip, What If? Magazine
“…this fable will intrigue teens who like historical fiction and the satisfying thrill of rooting for a persistent, humble hero.” — Joan Marshall, Bookseller
“A truly unique story. The author tackles his “fable” with imagination and great turns of phrase.” — Jury comments, Manitoba Book Awards
“Scenes alternate effectively between an urban present and the various times and places of Rembrandt’s travels, with a particularly moving evocation of the Dirty Thirties.” — Jury comments, Manitoba Book Awards
Click here to purchase Black Bottle Man.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
On this wind-stormy day in Seattle, I can think of no better book than Storm Boy. This week, not far from my home, Orcas have been hunting and frolicking off our shores. A pod performed a mysterious display of delight as a ferry loaded with ancient native artifacts neared Bainbridge Island, WA. Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman said the whales were “welcoming the artifacts home as they made their way back from Seattle, back to the reservation.” To learn more about this interesting story, click here.
Here's the Storm Boy plot: In the storm-tossed seas along the rugged Northwest Coast, an Indian boy is thrown from his canoe into a great mystery. Washed ashore before an unfamiliar village, the boy finds his arrival has been eagerly awaited by the strange and giant "people" there. Just who are these beings? And what do they intend for their guest? What follows both answers-and deepens the mystery.
Careful attention is paid to historical detail both in the story and the vibrant illustrations. Storm Boy follows the rich mythic traditions of the Haida, Tlingit, and other Native peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, whose stories often tell of individuals cast mysteriously into parallel worlds inhabited by animals in human form.
A portion of the proceeds from this book is donated to the Haida Gwaii Rediscovery Program for tribal youth.
Click here to learn more about Storm Boy.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
An awe inspiring new book has been published called Before They Pass Away. This epic journey explores 29 tribes in the most remote and inaccessible parts of the globe. This is a remarkable work of art and is unfortunately cost prohibitive for most people and institutions. However, I highly recommend the website as a learning tool to be used in the classroom and at home. You will delight in Meeting each Tribe.
The author and photographer beautifully captures the essence of his journey by stating on his website, "There is a pure beauty in their goals and family ties, their belief in gods and nature, and their will to do the right thing in order to be taken care of when their time comes. Whether in Papua New Guinea or in Kazakhstan, in Ethiopia or in Siberia, tribes are the last resorts of natural authenticity."
Click here to view the stunning photos and learn about the tribes.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Skeleton Island and The Ghost Ship introduce young Sam Silver, an ordinary boy who leads a normal life living above his parents’ restaurant. When he finds a magic gold coin, he is sent back in time to a pirate ship that once belonged to his ancestor, Joseph Silver. In Skeleton Island, Sam must befriend the wary, knife-wielding pirates and lead them to buried treasure. In The Ghost Ship, Sam and his crew must face a ghost ship that is causing trouble on the high seas. These are fun out-loud-reads with Swashbucklers of all ages.
Click here to learn more about Skeleton Island.
Click here to learn more about The Ghost Ship.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Jack Strong isn’t particularly noble. He’s not a rebel. He’s not an over- or under-achiever – nor, despite his name, is he particularly strong. He’s just a middle grader who’s tired of being told what to do and being rushed from baseball to cello practice; Junior EMT to Chinese lessons, and from math tutoring to soccer games. Not to mention tennis and karate! He insists his well-meaning parents have overscheduled his life and, when he finds no room for negotiation, he takes his protest to the living room couch and refuses to move.
Good for Jack! We can all learn from this anti-hero. Enough is enough! I'm right with Jack and have a good mind to put my foot down and go on strike, too. What will I cut from my own child's schedule? Both soccer teams are really important. Should Girl Scout's be cut or gymnastics? What about the art camp? She's such a talented artist. Should I deny her art lessons?
We can all relate to Jack's predicament. It is particularly timely as millions of overscheduled kids head back to school and gird for crushing schedules devised by parents determined to make their kids perfect or close to it. With college applications years off, but nevertheless top-of-mind for parents with children in the middle- and high- school years, Jack Strong’s crisis is one we know all too well.
Kids who liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid, will enjoy this story.
This unique book is by Tommy Greenwald. Tommy is an advertising executive, and also the lyricist and co-creator of the hit Off-Broadway play John and Jen.
To watch the trailer, click here.
To visit Tommy's home page, click here.