Tag Archives: book

Grow a Reader this Summer!

20 Apr

Have you already started mapping out your summer plans?  If you have kids who haven’t learned to read yet, consider using this summer to teach them!  All you need is a few minutes every day and this fabulous book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann. In approximately the duration of your child’s summer vacation, you can teach them one of life’s most valuable – and fun – skills!

When my son (now 6 ½) was 3 ½, I wanted to start teaching him how to read.  He knew most of his letter sounds, and he would sit still for any length of story I would read him.  It seemed like the right time to get going.

But where to start?  I didn’t know the first thing about how to approach it.

At the recommendation of some moms I know, I bought the book mentioned above.  It’s a very specific method of teaching reading to children.  (The book states that it’s designed for 4- or 5-year-olds, but can also be taught to bright 3 ½-year-olds.)  Its huge size seems a bit daunting at first, but the layout is very easy to follow.

Just do one lesson a day (or every other day, whatever your child can handle and your schedule allows).  Each lesson is presented with exact instructions, down to a teaching script so you know what to say with each task.

Every lesson includes writing practice, and the whole thing only takes about 10-20 minutes to complete.  By the time you reach lesson 50, your child will be reading an entire paragraph!  This amazing book completely takes the guesswork out of this process.

One thing you MUST do before you start teaching your child with this book: read the parent instructions.  It is imperative that you have an understanding of how the lessons work before you begin teaching, or you will stumble around and lose your child’s interest – which we all know is the kiss of death!

An added way to make the lessons fun (and to incorporate a bit of math, too) is to make a chart of squares numbered 1-100.  Each time your child finishes a lesson, they can put a sticker or a stamp in the square for the lesson they completed.  Once they’re done with all 100, they earn a prize.  Or you can give them a prize after every row of 10 – whatever works for you!

My son reads extremely well now.  He’s become a real lover of books, and can read anything we throw at him.  Knowing how to read has given him  independence and confidence to start him on a path to success in school, which is something that will serve him well for the rest of his life!

That's my boy!

I’m now using my well-worn copy of the book, with its many wrinkled pages and a taped-up cover, to instruct my 4 ½-year-old daughter.  She’s coming along great!

If you’ve never taught someone the skill of reading, you’re in for quite an experience.  It’s tedious, frustrating, and sometimes seems impossible, but the end result is an accomplishment that both you and your little one will cherish.  Summer vacation is a perfect time to do it!

Write On!

11 Oct

On Friday and Saturday, I attended the NC/NE Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators annual Editor and Agent Conference.  I have spent several years writing and revising a middle-grade novel.  And I would dearly like to sell said project.

I approached this conference like a job interview.  I read up on the participating professionals (stalking a couple of them on Twitter and Facebook).  On the advice of a friend, I came up with a 30-second “elevator” pitch about both my work-in-progress and a YA novel I hope to write.  I lined up babysitters and activities for my kids, and made up an hour-by-hour schedule for my husband as to who was doing what, when.  All that enabled me to spend two working days—from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. both Friday and Saturday—full engaged in the conference.

On top of that, I vowed to meet other writers.  Now, I like other writers.  With the exception of three years in TV news (where I did a ton of writing, BTW), I’ve spent my entire career as a writer.  And I value the relationships I have with my editors, especially.  But fiction feels like a whole new world, these kids’ authors a whole new animal.  Plus I’d rather listen than speak in almost any situation.

Nevertheless, I promised I’d chat up six separate folks.  I’m delighted to report that I exceeded my goal.  I spoke with THREE literary agents and THREE editors (one from Random House; the other two from Scholastic).  I plopped myself beside an agent the first night at dinner.  And I offered my opinions on various books, some of which didn’t gel with hers.  On the other side of that agent was her client, Oklahoma-based author Sonia Gensler; her YA debut novel, THE REVENANT, was published this summer, and it’s terrific.  She’s lovely, too.

Personal meet-and-greet goals aside, I most benefited from a shot of “you-can-do-it!” enthusiasm.  My heart beat faster to hear high-powered pros talk about how they love (love!) working with new talent.  Recession aside, children’s fiction is experiencing a boon, both creatively and in terms of market share.  (Unless you write or sell picture books…more on that, perhaps, another time.)

As a mom, it’s gratifying, too, to realize teams of professionals are working like crazy to put out quality, enriching material that will educate, excite and inspire babies to older teens. It’s all the more motivation to put the polish on my piece!

Upcoming Events at River Legacy Park in Arlington

3 Jun

Animal Exploration
2 pm, Saturday, June 4 at River Legacy Living Science Center.  Discover the habits and adaptations of one of our native animals. FREE. RSVP to 817.860.6752.

The Mask in the Moonlight!
11 am, Wednesday, June 8 at River Legacy Living Science Center. Watch a story performance about a raccoon who teams up with a famous cowboy to outwit a gang of ruffians. Stay afterward for a discussion with a Naturalist and additional family activities. Presented in partnership with the Arlington Public Library. FREE. RSVP to 817.860.6752.

Nature Walk
2 pm, Saturday, June 11 at River Legacy Living Science Center.  Explore the nature trails surrounding the Science Center on a family-friendly guided nature walk. FREE. RSVP to 817.860.6752.

Saturday Story Time
11 am, Saturday, June 18 at River Legacy Living Science Center.  Hear a fun, seasonal story presented by an Arlington librarian and participate in a craft or activity afterward. FREE. RSVP to 817.860.6752.

For more information, visit www.riverlegacy.org.

52 FEATS – NUMBER 21 (Reading to My Kids)

26 May

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

UPDATE – DAY 4 (Thursday):

What a great Feat.  Few joys equal laying in bed with my kids and hearing them say, “Let’s read another one!”

I hope this has inspired some of you to stop your busy lives and read to your kids.  And Lisa made a great comment – reading is a modeled behavior, too.  Take some time for yourself and crack open a book!  You’ll be glad you did.


Reading is one of my favorite pastimes.  I was an avid reader as a child, and my love of books has continued into adulthood.  In addition to reading for fun (Harry Potter and Twilight, anyone?), I belong to a book club, which has given me the immense pleasure of discovering new books while discussing interesting ideas with some really smart women.

When I became a parent, reading to my kids was very important to me.  It makes children smarter, it stimulates their imaginations, and it provides some great bonding time.  I started reading to both my children when they were too young to even see the books clearly.  Even as infants, I brought them to story time at the library on a regular basis.

I’ve heard that parents should read to their kids at least 20 minutes every day.  I used to scoff at that – we could easily do 20 minutes in one sitting!  In a whole day we always topped that.  At any given time, we usually have about 30 books checked out from the library!

But lately, we’ve become so busy with other responsibilities (or rather, I’ve become so busy) that on most days, we don’t make even that 20-minute mark.  I remember a couple days last week when we got into bed after endless activities, without having cracked a single book all day.  While I don’t want to beat myself up over that, I know I can do better.

This week, I’m going to make reading to my children a top priority.  My son can read, so I’m going to make sure that he’s getting daily reading practice as well.  Neither one of my kids is in school, so that gives us plenty of time each day for reading.  And, as usual, we’re well-stocked with a huge stack of library books.

Happy reading week, everyone – sit down with your kids (or just yourself) and read!!

Home School Book Fair at Arlington Convention Center

6 May

Friday, May 6, and Saturday, May 7, the Arlington Convention Center hosts a Home School Book Fair.  You can shop for books, sit in on one of the many featured speakers, or just chat with other homeschoolers for encouragement and inspiration.


8:00 am – Registration opens

8:30 am – Exhibit Hall opens

9:30 am – 11:45 am – Morning Workshops

11:45 am – 1:15 pm – Lunch Break

1:15 pm – 4:45 pm – Afternoon Workshops

5:30 pm – Exhibit Hall closes

Registration at the door is $20.  For more information, visit www.homeschoolbookfair.org.

Baby Songfest at the Arlington Public Library – April 19

18 Apr

Bring your little one to the Baby Songfest at the Arlington Public Library!

Tuesday, April 19, 6:30 p.m.
Woodland West Branch
Newborn to 24 months

Join us for a fun filled evening of music and singing. Your child will develop language skills with music in a fun filled sing-a-long environment as we learn new songs and revisit old favorites. Make sure you get baby their first library card and get your card stamped to be eligible for our monthly prize drawing.

For more information, visit the APL website at www.arlingtonlibrary.org.

Dog Days at the Arlington Public Library

5 Apr

What a fun way to practice reading!  On Saturday, April 9, from 10:30 am to noon, kids can come to the Central Branch of the Arlington Public Library and read to a trained R.E.A.D. dog (Reading Education Assistance Dog).  Several teams of these trained dogs and their owners will be at the library.  Every child who reads will get 15 minutes of a dog’s undivided attention.  Books will be provided.

The Central Branch is located at 101 E. Abram Street in downtown Arlington.

Pre-registration is required.  Click here to register online.

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