Thursday, January 31, 2013

How to Stop Kids from Reading :)

Once a child gets hooked on reading, it’s hard to get them to put a book down. They won’t come to dinner. They stay up late. You can’t get them to watch TV or play video games. On road trips they stop asking “Are we almost there?” They smuggle books into the bathroom, creating long lines, impatient siblings and unfortunate accidents. The problems are endless.

One method that has had limited success in our household is to simply ground them from books when they sneak a read when they’re not supposed to. However, I’ve heard there are much more effective ways to stop kids from reading. High on the list is, if they ask you to read to them, refuse. Tell them you don’t have time. Put them off until you’re done watching your favorite TV show and hope they’ll get tired of waiting. Better yet, tell them books are dumb.

Other top ways to kill a child’s interest in reading is forbid trips to the library. Don’t let them choose what books they want to read. Only let them read books you like. Of course, that’s not a good idea if they like the books you like. So, better yet, force them to read only books that they hate. That will really convince them that books have nothing to offer.

If you’re lucky enough that none of your children have caught the reading bug, be sure to never let them catch you reading. That would be a catastrophe. They might get the idea that reading is fun, educational and even interesting. Then before you know it, they’re addicted to reading and the battle to get them to stop begins.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Top Reasons for Ebooks vs Printed Books

Tablets, eReaders and smartphones continue to drive the popularity of eBooks. Still, not everyone has moved to the digital age and some don't plan to anytime soon? Where do you stand on the ebook vs printed book debate? What factors motivate you one direction or the other? Share your opinions by taking a minute to take the quick polls below.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book Review: Happy Like Soccer

Last week I read the children’s picture book, Happy Like Soccer by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Lauren Castillo. All I can say is “Wow!” I loved it. It really took me by surprise. It’s not really a soccer story at all, like you would suspect, but rather a very moving and emotionally powerful story of a young girl and her love for her aunt.

Told in a very simple and honest manner, Happy Like Soccer gives a brief, yet poignant glimpse into a young girl’s difficult, but happy life. Yes, there is a soccer element to the story, but it has many other more intriguing layers to it; new friendships, loneliness, hardships of a poor family struggling to get by, overcoming disappointment, a young girl’s initiative and courage to change a tough situation into a positive one, and the dedicated love between a young girl and her aunt

The ink and watercolor art enhance and fit the mood of the story perfectly. Happy Like Soccer is a great story and read-aloud between parent and child!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

LIebster What?

I’m not really sure what it is, but I’ve been awarded the Liebster Blogger Award. Liebster looks like it might be a German word, but looks can be deceiving. There is no such German word as Liebster. However, Liebste is a German word that means “best”. So, since Liebste is really close to the same as Liebster, I’m certain this award pretty much signifies that I’m really close to being the best. How awesome.

Anyway, I owe a big thank you to Shaunda Wenger at Slow Stir, who nominated me for this award. By the way, in addition to being a great author, Shaunda is the queen of social media, especially when it comes to tweetdom.

As the award rules dictate, I have to answer 11 questions posed to me by my nominator, Shaunda. Here goes.

1.    What would it take to get you to do something crazy, like a polar bear plunge?
Some things are too crazy, even for me, and that’s one of them. Cold is not my friend.

2.    How do you like to take a good long break to recharge your life?
On a nice sandy beach on a tropical island with my wonderful wife.

3.    Do you prefer a good, old-fashioned malt shoppe, or something exotic like, gourmet truffles with a hint of what-not?
Truffles are okay, but nothing beats a huge sundae with tons of hot fudge topping.

4.    Do you prefer views from the beach or mountain trail?
I prefer viewing the mountain trail from a comfy hammock on the beach. Of course taking a dip in the ocean and relaxing on that hammock after a nice mountain hike is not so bad either. I love the oceans and the mountains. Both are pretty awesome.

5.    Can you share information about an upcoming secret project that you shouldn't tell anyone about, but will because your readers are LIEBSTER readers?
All my secret projects are, well, secret. So, I can’t share. However, I do have several not-so secret projects I’m working on, such as a dog and cat picture book, another dragon picture book, an early reader featuring a pig and a turkey, a super hero early reader, a fantasy middle-grade novel, and fantasy YA novel. Is that enough sharing? Who knows which of those will ever see the light of day.

6. Who is your favorite author and why?
I don’t know that I have a favorite author, but two that come to mind are Brandon Sanderson and Terry Pratchett. Sanderson because he writes such engaging stories with tremendous depth and insight. He’s also so versatile, writing epic fantasy and then switching over to more humorous fare for children. He’s truly genius. I love Pratchett’s writing simply because sarcastic wit seems to come so natural to him. You find yourself laughing at the most unexpected places. As I read both authors I often find myself thinking, “Wow, I wish I could write like that.”

7. What is your favorite meal?
I have a lot of favorite meals, but one of them is grilled steak and shrimp with a side of sautéed mushrooms, and grilled peppers and onions.

8. What would you describe as your biggest personal accomplishment?

Raising my children, which is still in progress. They are all so very awesome and much better people than I ever will be.

9. What is your favorite household appliance and why?
A toss up between “my” blender and “my” electric knife. Yes, in our house, these belong to me. They’re the only household appliances that I actually asked for and received as gifts. The blender is awesome for making chocolate peanut butter frozen-banana smoothies. The electric knife is the ultimate power tool when it comes to carving turkeys, roast and ham. It also does a pretty good job on the occasional homemade loaf of bread.

10. What is your favorite restaurant?
Tucanos Brazilian Grill, but I can’t go there more than once a year because I always eat too much and gain too much weight.

11. Why are you so awesome?
I’m not so awesome, but my wife is. She’s a great mom, great wife, great example, great runner, great outdoorsy person, great listener, great jokester, great friend and many many more greats. So, if I’m awesome, it’s only by association with her awesomeness.

The Liebster Blogger Award also dictates that I nominate and pass the award onto 11 others. Here are my nominees, followed by the rules they need to follow to fully accept the Liebster Blogger Award.

Carolyn Fisher
Throwing Up Words
Illustration blog
Teeter Totter Tales
Picture Book Girl
Utah Children’s Writers
Jed Henry Illustration
Kris Chandler Stories
Dene Low Author and Adventurer
Novels by Lisa Magnum
The Writer's Corner (and Also What I Ate Today)

For all you nominees, the rules of the Liebster Award are as follows:

  1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter (me) on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you (me again).
  2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator and create 11 questions for your nominees.
  3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen. (No tag backs) 
  4. Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog.

Nominees, here are the 11 questions you need to answer on your blog:

  1. What is the one food you can't do without?
  2. One thing you want to do before you die?
  3. What is your favorite hobby and why?
  4. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  5. What is your favorite book and why?
  6. Who is your hero and why?
  7. What is your favorite household appliance?
  8. Besides yourself, who is your favorite author or illustrator
  9. What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
  10. What makes you smile?
  11. What is your greatest accomplishment?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Top 5 Ways to Get Children to Read - #1

Read Frequently To Your Children

The best way to get children to want to read is to create an interest in books before they’re even old enough to read. Part of creating this interest is to simply have a wide variety of picture books in the house for them to look at and explore. But an even bigger part is to read to them from those books on a regular basis. Reading stories at bedtime is a great tradition that not only helps children to settle down for the night, but it helps foster a love for books and reading.

Even when children are past bedtime story age, it doesn’t mean it’s too late to begin reading to them. Reading aloud to your children can become a family activity on weekday evenings, a Saturday afternoon or to help pass the time when going on a long road trip. When my two oldest children were in grade school we began reading the Harry Potter series together. Even though we were all anxious to get to the end of the books, we made a rule that none of us could read ahead. That time reading together became a special time for us that strengthened our relationships and further fostered their love for reading.

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, studies have shown that children who love reading often have that love for reading continually nurtured by their parents and other family members. One of the best ways to nurture that love, if not the best way, is to read aloud to your children on a regular basis. If it’s not a tradition in your house today, make it one starting tonight.

For more insights into the benefits of reading aloud to children, read my booktalk interview with Lisa Von Drasek on The Importance of Reading Aloud to Children.

# 2 Way to Get Children to Read
# 3 Way to Get Children to Read
# 4 Way to Get Children to Read
# 5 Way to Get Children to Read

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Top 5 Ways to Get Children to Read - #2

Find Books that Appeal to Children's Unique Tastes

Every child's tastes are different. Too often adults, and even kids’ peers, try to push their own reading interests onto them. Sometimes I would get frustrated when I would see the classics pushed onto one of my sons because it was driving him to boredom and a dislike for reading. Ironically, I would often try to get that same son more interested in reading by finding adventure books and fantasy books for him to read. He liked them okay, but they weren’t his thing. That was puzzling to me since I loved those books and so did my older son. Ultimately, I discovered that he really enjoyed reading about sports. For awhile he read sports books, but now most of his reading is in the sports section of the newspaper or on web sites, and that’s great, because he’s reading.

All my children are readers, but they all have different tastes, which range from the classics to fantasy and adventure to contemporary thought provoking literature and to non-fiction or historical books. Many times children don’t consider themselves readers simply because the world’s supposed view of what reading is doesn’t mesh with their own. The other day my adult niece mentioned that she’s not a reader and that she’s read probably less than 5 books in her life. She listed the books, which were all fiction, but then went on say how she loves to read books that you can learn about things, such as rock climbing and similar things. She’s definitely a reader.

The key is to give children choices in their reading. Just because they don’t want to read the classics or the latest bestselling novel, doesn’t mean they’re not readers. It’s a mistake to force our own interests or likes on them. Instead, we need to help them discover the books or other reading material that will appeal to their unique tastes.

For more insights on the importance of finding books that target children’s specific interests, take a look at the following Librarian Booktalks:

Also, take a look at these resources for book ideas for children.

# 1 Way to Get Children to Read
# 3 Way to Get Children to Read
# 4 Way to Get Children to Read
# 5 Way to Get Children to Read
Image courtesy of Photostock /

Monday, January 14, 2013

Top 5 Ways to Get Children to Read - #3

Let Your Children See You Reading

The way that children feel that others think about reading’s importance affects their own reading attitudes. If children rarely see their parents read, they gain the perception that reading is not too important. It develops an attitude of “Why should I read, you never do?” The opposite is true as well, the more children see their parents read the more important it becomes in their minds. This can be especially true for boys in father-son relationships. Whether it’s from cultural or social influences, research has shown that many boy “non-readers” view books as feminine or uncool. That same research shows that as boys see their fathers reading (or other significant male role models, such as grandfathers, uncles, brothers, and teachers), they more than likely will overcome this perception.

Regardless of whether you’re talking about boys or girls, the idea is that children need positive role models that will inspire them to read. When they constantly see you enjoying a variety of good books, it sends the message that “Reading is fun!” “Reading is cool!” “Reading is important!” “Reading is just what I need!”

Want your kids to be readers? First, be a reader yourself.

Here are a few resources that talk about the idea of modeling reading to children:
How to get your kid to be a fanatic reader by James Patterson 
Be a Reading Role Model
Ten Tips to Get Kids Reading
How to Model Reading
How Can I Improve My Child's Reading?

# 1 Way to Get Children to Read
# 2 Way to Get Children to Read
# 4 Way to Get Children to Read
# 5 Way to Get Children to Read

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Top 5 Ways to Get Children to Read - #4

Continually Nurture a Love for Reading

Many of the attitudes that children form about reading derive from their relationships with others. One of the most impactful relationships on children’s reading attitudes is the one they have with their parents. Studies have shown that children who love reading often have that love for reading continually nurtured by their parents and other family members.

So, how do you nurture that love for reading? One is to simply make it fun. Have family reading times. Ask your children what they're reading? Tell them about what you are currently reading (This means you actually have to read yourself). Have a family read-a-thon. Take children on frequent trips to the library. Go to storytimes at the library, local bookstores or book fairs. Let children create their own books. Read to your children (This is actually an individual category on its own – watch for it in the countdown). Give books as gifts.

Encouraging positive reading-related interactions with children's peers is important too, such as informal book conversations with friends or book clubs. Of course, librarians can play a vital role in nurturing the love of reading in children. My booktalk interview with Cathy Potter on Cultivating a Strong Reading Community at Schools has a few insights in this area.

There are lots of other ways to nurture a love for reading in children. Some will show up in the remainder of my top 5. But I’d love to hear from you on what you suggest.
# 1 Way to Get Children to Read
# 2 Way to Get Children to Read
# 3 Way to Get Children to Read
# 5 Way to Get Children to Read

Image courtesy of Ambro /

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Top 5 Ways to Get Children to Read - #5

Accept that Everything is Reading

It’s debatable where this concept really ranks. Some might say it’s actually the number one way to get children to read. But the truth is that one of the most powerful ways to get children to read is for parents, teachers, librarians, caregivers and others concerned with helping children become readers is for us adults to simply accept the idea that everything is reading, and then encourage that reading in children.

For parents, this requires making a wide selection of books available and accessible to children, including classics, adventures, mysteries, biographies, fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, sports books, humor, non-fiction, encyclopedias, and yes – even graphic novels and comics. But the idea of Everything is Reading is not limited to just traditional books or ebooks. It includes newspapers, magazines, websites, do-it-yourself manuals, even the back of cereal boxes and more.

The idea is to encourage reading of any type. That encouragement and acceptance can help kids to keep reading and might eventually lead them to gain interest in reading a wider variety of other types of reading material. The more a child reads, the more the child develops their reading ability and the better chance they have to succeed in school and life in general. To get them to read, be okay with what they’re already reading or want to read.

For more on the concept that “Everything is Reading”, read my interview with elementary school librarian and SLJ 100 Scope Notes blogger, Travis Jonker.

# 1 Way to Get Children to Read
# 2 Way to Get Children to Read
# 3 Way to Get Children to Read
# 4 Way to Get Children to Read