Choose A Book

Saturday. Busy day with Relay for Life. Short post.

We just finished the Harry Potter series. Which book should we read next? Just pick a book, click “vote” and see the results so far…

 

On Finishing a Good Book

We started our journey some 2 years ago. Tonight it came to an end. Harry Potter died, but didn’t die. He returned to finish Voldemort properly. It’s been quite the adventure and Crash sure did love it. So much, in fact, that he checked out The Philosopher’s Stone from the library and has started rereading the series on his own. 

So in light of sending off our best friends, Harry, Ron, Hermione and the whole Hogwarts gang, all I can think to do is leave you with some quotes about what it feels like…

But not to worry. I’ll visit them again in a couple years when it’s Bang’s turn to have them read to him. In the meantime, Crash is already wondering what we’re going to read next!

Lucy At Home

Wed Nes Day

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There’s a picture of it on the internet therefore I am not the only who does this. I spell it like it sounds. That’s fonetix for you.

Exept fonetiks dusnt werk all the tim

If you can read that, you must be a teacher.

Have you ever watched a blooming reader? I’ve seen it many many times now. Never did it make such an impact on me as watching my own two boys learn that letters have certain sounds associated with them. Put the right letters together and you can make a word. Put the right words together and you can make a sentence. Put the right sentences together an you can make a paragraph. Put the right paragraphs together and you can make book.

Crash has now written 4 or 5 books. Mind you, they are entry level readers he wrote for his 5 year old brother, but still. He wrote books. He, himself, is reading slightly above grade level. His brother is following suit.

But the English language is anything but easy. Bang catches on really quick to word families. He sounds them out one letter at a time to discover the word. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Look and Loot do not sound alike.
Hair and care do sound alike.

Then there’s enough, though, plough, and cough.

WTH?

Ignoring the exceptions, of which there are many, he sounds out new words perfectly. After reading them a few times they become locked away in the sight word vault. I wish I could memorize things as easily.

Alas, I have a photographic memory. I just don’t have an SD card. I have memory like a sieve. It’s on par with that of a goldfish…

I had it a minute ago, I don’t know where it is now.

Anyway, what was I talking about?

Oh yeah. Reading…

Bang comes home with a new book to read from school every day. He’s already progressed three levels since September. Crash reads every night as well. He’ll either read to himself or to his mom or I. Then we’ll ask him about what he read. Lately, he’s into books that take place within the world of Minecraft. But isn’t that the beauty of books? There’s something out there for all of us.

Watching an emerging reader is much like watching butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. That it takes years instead of minutes makes it that much more exciting.

I wonder what kinds of chapter books he’ll like to read?

What kinds of books do your kids enjoy reading?

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My Reading Buddies

Most of the time I feel like we’re in over our heads with this whole parenting gig. What the hell did we get ourselves into? None of this was in the brochure.

Can’t I get a refund?

Can’t I get an exchange?

In-store credit perhaps?

The noise! Oh the noise. Why do they insist on playing so loud. I swear their voices must be heard by a few other countries. If anyone is wondering what the constant sound of thunder is, it’s coming from our house. If they’re not playing loudly, they’re pissing each other off loudly. Usually for fun. Except it’s only fun for one of them. The other one just screams and screams.

Then there’s the dirt. Don’t even get me started on the dirt. And laundry. And messes.

Through all the noise, the dirt, and the messes there comes a time when something remarkable happens. A time when it gets quiet even though they’re still awake. A time when the messes don’t really matter even though they’re still there. There comes a time when they prove they really do love each other.

Crash disappeared to the basement for awhile the other day. No biggie. I thought he was playing Lego or Wii. Or on the computer because I forgot to sign out. That boys can smell when a computer is logged on three flights of stairs away. That’s where I found him, but he wasn’t watching Minecraft videos. He was writing a book for his brother. I thought my heart was going to burst with pride.

Mind you, it was only 4 pages long, but it was a book to teach to his brother! That’s like finding out Putin is sending food supplies to Crimea.

Bang learned it in no time. Of course, he simply memorized it. However, he has learned the beginning sounds for words. He knows the sound each letter makes at the beginning of words. When he comes to a word he doesn’t know he will start with that beginning sound. From there, he just takes a shot in the dark as to what the word might be.

Through the noise and the dirt and the mess there comes a time when we know we may not be getting everything right. Usually it feels like we’re getting nothing right. In th

ese quiet revelations I realize we’ve nailed this parenting gig. We have fostered the love of reading and books and words and questions.

Yesterday I wrote about our trip to Uisge Ban Falls. In that post I told that we had more traveling to do after our hike. That trip was to the mall. The boys spotted the book store and asked to go.  How in the hell could I say no? I could spend hours there. I have spent hours there. DW left us to go get some perfume. She knew we’d be there looking at books longer than it would take her pick out a new smelly. The boys went straight for the kids section. Then I was told ALL children’s books were 20% off. She might as well have told me DW just bought herself a Princess Leia costume (you know which one). Okay, maybe I wasn’t that excited, but you know what I mean.

The three of us bought two books each. When you have a whole bookstore to choose from, how do you pick just one? I was lucky to make it out with just two.

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Bet you can’t guess who bought which books… Which to read first…

Now that you’ve made it this far, here is a 30 second video of a 5 year old learning to read.

(I silenced their names)

Y is for … Go Ask Your Father: Dealerships, Babies, Passwords, and Freebies #atozchallenge

Y

is for all the questions. Why? Y? Why?

Okay. Sue me. Or unfriend me. Why doesn’t start with Y. They sound the same which makes them homophones. That means they’re kind of the same thing.

Y? Because. This is my blog and I said so because I’m the dad. Yes, I use that argument. It’s totally valid. Especially if I’m losing that argument against a 4 year old (or an 8 year old).

1. What’s a dealership?

What If I Could Drive A Car Hauler? It’s only one of the “What If I Could Drive…” books we read at bedtime. There’s also a tanker truck, fire truck, ambulance, and tow truck. Imagine being responsible for transporting 10 cars on a busy highway. I’m barely responsible for the one I drive. But to deliver them to a dealership? That giant parking lot full of brand new cars where I’m nervous to drive. Do they have a “you break it, you buy it” policy? It’s where we got our baby (our RAV4) last June after visiting many dealerships for many weeks.

auto-moving

A rolling parking lot

2. Don’t you have to be in a hospital to be born?

Another question that arose because of a book. I guess this is part of the reason why I read to them. This one came from an author I read frequently because I love his characters. Carl Hiaasen. He has two chapter books for middle school readers. Hoot and Flushed. Like the rest of his books, this takes place in the Florida Keys and deals with the destruction of the environment. In Flushed, a casino boat is accused of emptying their toilets into the bay instead of paying to empty them into a sewage tank. It’s up to 12 year old Noah and younger sister, Abbey, to catch them and bring them down.

Anyway, Noah was born in a car on the way to the hospital. Crash thinks babies come from hospitals, so naturally he was curious to discover you could be born in a car, too. Fortunately, I didn’t have to get into HOW he was born, just that he was.

3. Can you do the password?

I put a password on Crash’s tablet. Otherwise he’d be sneaking extra time on it. Most times he is limited. Otherwise he’d do nothing else. On rare occasions, I’ll ignore the timer. But, damn, it’s frustrating to hear this question over and over and over. More Minecraft. More Piano Tiles. More Slither.

However, thanks to his teacher setting up an account for her class, we’ve discovered a new app – Get Epic. It’s a book app. Thousands of books ranging from infant’s picture books to middle school chapter books. He logs into his account and reads. Some books even have a “read to me” feature. His teacher receives feed back on what he’s reading like how much time he spends reading, how long it takes him to read a book. So when he asks, “Can you do the password so I can go on Epic?” I’m all for it. He can rate books. He can select favorite  books. He can change his icon from the class list. They receive “awards” and “level up” according to how much time they spend reading and how many books they read and various other tasks. It has certainly motivated him to read. He has spend 8 hours reading this week alone! Check it out!

Epic

 

4. What are you doing?

This is a question asked of anyone in our house at any given time.

“What are you doing?”
“I’m letting Dozer run on my face because it tickles!”

“What are you doing?”
“I’m riding my snowboard down the slide!”

“What are you doing?”
“I’m getting a free newspaper!”

That last one happened just days ago while we were walking home from the park. It was me who said that. It was the rest of my family who looked embarrassed and hurried away like I had the Black Plague. I’m not revealing my source, but I found a place to get free newspapers. This place throws away their unused newspapers! Of  course, they’re in the dumpster. I ain’t too proud. I read some it, but I mainly get it for the crossword puzzle. DW can’t believe I’m dumpster diving for newspapers.

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Sir Simon Goes To School

I logged in to WP this morning to write this post. I was going to write it last night but the kids were late going to bed and I had to get a walk in so I could try to keep up in the FitBit challenges. Anyway…

Last week was Literature Week at Crash and Bang’s school. It’s probably the best week ever! Books! How cool is it that when the students hear *DING DING* on the intercom they are to stop whatever they are doing and read? Shouldn’t every work place have this feature?

Wednesday was a special day because family was invited into the building to read for a half hour with our kids. We all gathered in the gym on the little blue mats and we read. They read. We shared books with other kids when we finished the ones we had. It was amazing to see the gym packed and everyone kicked back reading to each other.

Then Friday was supposed to be “Dress as your favorite character” day. But because of impending weather (a snow storm that dropped a foot of snow) it ended up being a half day of school and dress up day got moved to Tuesday.

We scrambled to figure out who Crash was going to be. He wanted to be the infamous Harry Potter. While I was thrilled at the idea, it wasn’t practical because we had nothing he could wear that would even remotely look like Harry. Crash is blonde like Draco, but who wants to be Draco?

On Sunday he changed his mind. He has been reading “Castle in the Attic” by Elizabeth Winthrop. He found it on his own and started reading it on his own. He loved it. And that was before he met Sir Simon, the knight in the castle. Mind you, Sir Simon is only three inches tall, but there is a wizard, Alastor, too. There is also a magic token that can shrink people to Sir Simon’s size and there’s a quest to embark upon to stop Alastor after Mrs. Phillips and William are shrunk. It certainly is among my favorites and I couldn’t be prouder of Crash for choosing it.

Anyway, he decided he wanted to be Sir Simon for Dress Up Day so we had to figure out how to make him a knight. Flash forward to Monday night and DW has an idea to make it all work out. She and Crash hit up the Dollar Store and find a sword/shield combo. They pick up two aluminum oven trays, some silver duct tape, and a red balaclava.

Introducing…. Sir Simon!

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Now to get the science fair project underway….


 

If you missed my earlier post, please visit Bradley Wood’s Fundraising Page. You can read about Melina, a 10 month who had retinoblastoma, a malignant eye cancer. My brother is raising money and riding in honor of her for The Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY.

Thursday’s Thoughts (or Books Galore)

We have too many books. HAHA! Best joke ever. That’s not possible! (is it?) Books may be starting to pile up on the floor because they no long all fit on the shelves. That just means our shelves are too small, right? Right?

At bedtime last night, Bang me to read books. And more books. And more books. I ended up reading 4 and DW also read at least one, possibly more. He’s already memorized “The Gruffalo”. It’s 6 minutes… feel to watch. Or not. Up to you, but if you choose not to, know that you are missing out on a good story.

So anyway, Bang was book hunting wanting me to read more and more and more books to him. Unfortunately, there was one in particular he wanted – “Jingle All the Way”. A Backyardigans Christmas book. He searched his bookshelf for it but couldn’t find it. He searched his floor but it couldn’t find it there either. I knew this already, but saw it first hand last night, there are A LOT of books in his room. Too many to fit on his 6′ tall bookshelf. There are piles of books in his room.

It’s the one thing I just can’t get rid of. Not my books. Not Crash’s books. Not Bang’s books. Yes, there are still baby books on his shelf. They are baby books from when Crash (the 8 year old) was a baby. Basically just board books with pictures. Baby’s First Colors, Baby’s First Animals, Baby’s First Words, etc…

Crash has a significantly smaller bookshelf, but it’s jam packed as well. I’m wondering if this is why he can’t stick to just one book until it’s finished. He bounces from book to book and reads a different one every night. Chapter books. He won’t finish them. Even if he likes them. Besides clothes, bed and dresser, it’s the only other things he has in his bedroom. No toys. No TV. No electronics.

DW and I (mostly I) have two bookshelves six feet high and there are so many books on it the shelves have double rows. Many haven’t been read yet. My tablet is also loaded with books. You see? It’s not just the boys shelves that are loaded with books. Asking me to get rid of books is like asking me to give away one of my limbs. Though, I suppose I could be happy donating them to the library where I could go visit them. Shared custody.

Oh! speaking of The Guffalo… here’s one of tonight’s conversations with Bang:

Me: My favorite food is scrambled Bang
B: Nooo
Me: My favorite food is Bang ice cream
B: Noooo
Me: My favorite food is Roasted Bang
B: Nooo. You’re not a Gruffalo.
Me: How do you know?
B: You don’t have purple prickles all over your back.
Me: Maybe they’re under my shirt
B: Your eyes aren’t orangeMe: Ahh okay. You got me on that one.

Book Review

TBWNP

Picture courtesy of Amazon

I used to do regular book reviews. Wednesdays were my review days. It’s been awhile since I’ve done one. I think it’s time to do another. I’ve found a book worth reviewing.

We were at the library last week exchanging books. I came across this book called “The Book With No Pictures” by B.J. Novak. I was curious. So I opened the book and started reading. By page 4 I was laughing so hard I was crying. It was that clever. It was that funny. I knew Crash and Bang would love it.

After snack time that evening I told Bang (Crash was off at a sleepover at Nanny and Pop’s house) it was time to go upstairs and brush teeth and we’d read “The Book With No Pictures”. He wasn’t too thrilled. Didn’t want me to read that one. I took it anyway.

We read “Have You Filled A Bucket, Today” first. That’s for another post though. Then, I pulled out the No Pictures book and Bang wouldn’t even let me open it. Threw a fit! I started reading anyway. By page two he had settled. By page six he was laughing and he laughed the rest of the way through the book. I read it to Crash and Bang the following night and the two of them together, with this book, were in hysterics listening to me read. They could barely stop laughing long enough to catch their breath to keep on laughing. Did I mention this book is dangerously funny? It’s funnier than There Were Monkey’s In My Kitchen.

The book is as plain as can be. Large, black lettering on stark white pages. Color appears when the humor begins. There’s no story line. There’s no plot. The reader is the main character. Most of it doesn’t even make sense. There lies the beauty of this book. It’s about the images words can create. It’s about the power books have.

Here’s page four.

Here is how books work:

Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say.

From there the book controls us. Makes say silly words. Sing a silly song. Rhyme off some nonsense. There’s even something in there about a monkey, blueberry pizza and a hippo. All the while, the kids laugh and laugh (and laugh) at the words we have to say and the fact that we have to say them because the book says so.

I’m so glad I found this book. Chances are good it’ll end up under the Christmas tree this year so they can have their own and make us read it. All. The. Time. No worries. Who doesn’t want their kid reading all time?

If you love your kids, if you love to hear them laugh, if you love them wanting to read, you’ll read them this book. It won’t let you down. Happy Reading!

Bork.

R is for…

RI think we’ll all agree on this one. Or at least we better. Otherwise we just might not be friends any more. Of course, R is for running. I’m at mile 241 of a 1,000 mile challenge. But that’s not what R is for today. I asked Crash was R is for. His first word was rascal. Yes, definitely. They are rascals for sure. Perhaps I should introduce them to the “Little Rascals”? But they really don’t need the extra encouragement. Today, I’m acting the proper teacher parent. Continue reading

I’m not here…

I want to let you in on a few things. I’m not here to be popular. I’m not here to get rich. You are a fantastic audience and I thank you from the bottom of the heart (and the top and both sides – there are four chambers after all). It is you who keep me coming back to write more. Yes you, the one reading these very words. Banana. Turtle. Poop. See? I just made you read poop. Twice. I might still have a little growing up to do.

Anyway, just like my running is for me, so is my writing. I’m not sure why I publish it for the whole world to read, but I do. I’ll figure that part out later. Or never. Doesn’t matter. What I do know is why I write almost every day.

It keeps me thinking

Writing every day for a non-specific audience can be challenging. The options are limitless, boundless, unrestrained. While I haven’t really ventured into sharing my fictional writing yet, the option is obviously there. I’m constantly thinking and looking for the next article to write. Can I expand upon a certain topic yet still keep it interesting enough to read? It’s not writers block I experience, it’s an inability to get started. Much like a car when it’s -10 degrees outside.

Practice practice practice

Part of my writing is to practice the art of writing, story telling, informing, or persuading. However, what I’ve really been trying to focus on is my self-editing. I tend to omit words – often keywords. DW can testify to that after a few years of instant messaging each other.  Also, I’ve been working on my wording – writing in such a way that others will want to read it.

A book

One day I hope to publish a book or two or many. I love writing short stories. I’ve written in numerous genres, ranging between 1,000 and 1,500 words. One story I was writing is up to 13,500 words. However, it so closely resembles the start of The Neverending Story that I’m afraid I would get nailed for plagiarism. My hope here is to build up an audience who enjoys my writing enough to buy a book I write later down this road of life. I hope I don’t have this backwards and should publish a book then build the audience to read it? So, to my 41 followers, thank you.

As a little bonus here is an e-book I co-wrote Mr. Eus – The Story of the Future available on iTunes for only $1.19. Here is is on Google Play for your android.