My Mission Statement

I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Little Encouragement Thrown My Way and Great Read Alouds

On a whim, I sent a query to an author management company, as opposed to an agency. Without going into too much detail, first I sent a partial and then yesterday they asked for a full. So without letting my brain get too far ahead of itself, it's the first request for a full, so I'm thrilled to have been asked. I know there's a home for my baby somewhere.

I sent several more queries this week, so I'll be anxious to hear something from someone! I'm full of ambivalence about the whole thing, but quite happy to at least get a little encouragement.

I'm sitting in the cottage at the beach looking out at the most incredibly beautiful day. My oh, so kind husband left a little later with the kids, so I could run a few errands and have a little time here first. The weather is crisp and clear, everything is in bloom, and the water is sparkly and flat. Just a perfect day. I'm meeting them on the beach in a few minutes but I wanted to take some time for you first.

First of all, I want to thank you for faithfully reading and visiting me here. IT means a great deal that I'm not just a tree falling in the woods that no one hears. Knowing that someone is expecting it helps me keep up the discipline. Secondly, please tell me ways my blog can be better, suggest topics, etc. I'm not sure how, but I'd like to make this process a bit more interactive. Any suggestions?

My topic today is very close to my heart. Family read-alouds. Sharing a book with someone is an intimate shared experience. When you read a book, love it, and pass it along, the experience creates a bond between you and your fellow book-lover. But I'm not talking about passing on a good book. I'm talking about reading a book aloud, a chapter at a time, as a family, kind of like your 2nd grade teacher did. I'll admit the school year can be busy and read alouds difficult to squeeze in, so in our family we read aloud a lot more in the summer. But I'd like to do it more during the year. Good goal for next New Year's. Anyway, it's such a wonderful shared experience that I'd like to challenge you all to do a family read aloud asap. Here are some of my favorite titles that make AWESOME read alouds for all ages. (although I'd choose shorter ones for younger families) My criteria for great read alouds is, of course, a great story with great characters, but it needs to be funny and not too long! Also each chapter should wrap up nicely yet have a good hook in case you've got to have a few days between chapters.

1. TALES OF A FOURTH-GRADE NOTHING by Judy Blume. The book that makes thousands of kids a day fall in love with reading. Thank you, JB. Just plain funny.
2. MISS PIGGLE-WIGGLE books. Every book in this series makes a hilarious read-aloud.
3. If you have elementary girls, the BETSY-TACY books by Maude Hart Lovelace are a wonderful series about two and then three friends growing up in Minnesota about a hundred years ago, so there are lots of fun elements about the age of the stories, but they're funny and timeless, as well. I'm a huge fan of these books.
4. MANIAC MAGEE by Jerry Spinelli. Great for older elementary kids. This book deals with some hard issues in a beautiful way. You'll love Maniac from page one. One of my all time favorite books, and an awesome read aloud.
5. For older kids (middle schoolers), you can't beat THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton. It deals with gangs and even a murder, but it's addressed respectfully with no more violence than neccessary. In my opinion, a MUST READ for every young person. Plus, S.E. Hinton wrote it when she was 13 years old!
6. For upper elementary, younger mg, HATCHET by Gary Paulsen. When I read this one aloud to the family, my husband even hung on every word. Such an awesome conversation starter, as well. The only 'older' topic addressed is the protag's parents split up due to his mom's infidelity, but it's just touched on. Oh, and warning: the kids will want a hatchet (maybe your husband, too), and after the book, you'll be convinced they need one!
7. Another great one for mg kids is LETTERS FROM RAPUNZEL by Sara Lewis Holmes. A sensitively portrayed story of a girl whose father is hospitalized for depression which the protag calls a 'magic spell'. You can really investigate the depression issue (for great bibliotherapy) or just take it at face value for the great story that it is. It works on all levels.
8. A good one for high school kids is IN THE NAME OF GOD by Paula Jolin which portrays a muslim girl who's asked to be a suicide bomber. Very thought provoking and well-written. Parents won't be able to put it down.
9. Kate DiCamillo makes the list twice with BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE and THE MIRACULOUS ADVENTURES OF EDWARD TULANE. Everyone loves both of these, two of my very favorite read alouds. Every time I've read either of these to a class or to my kids or to kids in the neighborhood, someone leaves with the book in their hand.
10. Lastly, Kimberly Willis Holt's WHEN ZACHARY BEAVER CAME TO TOWN. Wow, do I ever LOVE this book! A great read aloud for mg kids who start getting mean and cliquey and catty. Very thought-provoking and great conversation starter.

Of course, the world is full of wonderful books to read aloud, but these are a few of my favorites. Check them out, and I'm SURE you'll love them, too. Gosh I could have included about 40 more, but maybe I'll do another list as we get closer to summer with books like AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS, CHICKEN BOY, KING OF MULBERRY STREET, oh, I could go on and on.....

Now go plan a regular read aloud time for your family. Go on. p.s. Breakfast works well for us. xoxox Have a great week-end.


Dorothy said...

I remember sitting on my second grader's bed, my fourth grader listening, too, reading Winnie the Pooh aloud. I'd loved it as a little girl when my mother read it to me, and then when I read it for myself, but when reading it aloud to my girls, I could hardly read for laughing. I mean belly laughing. Isn't it wonderful how good children's books speak to us even when we're grown?

Diane said...

You asked for comments/suggestions on future blogging. I don't have anything new but I'd just like to say I thoroughly enjoy the redneck parenting tips (crack me up every time) and also blogs like this one, that recommend good reads - I'm always looking for those too.

Sara said...

Thanks, Donna. I hadn't thought of my book as a family read-aloud, but you're at least the third mom I've heard from who said they enjoyed it together as a family. I think it IS about family love, so maybe that makes sense. Anyhow, thanks for the mention, and those other great suggestions. I've been meaning to read WHEN ZACHARY BEAVER CAME TO TOWN for several years now!

Liz said...

Thanks Donna! I'm glad we had this discussion the other night and you posted these. I am off now to continue a read aloud with my kiddos- A Felicity book (AG).

Isabel by Donna Jones Koppelman

Isabel by Donna Jones Koppelman

Major Bear at the Grove Park Inn by Donna Jones Koppelman

Major Bear at the Grove Park Inn by Donna Jones Koppelman