Life

One of the laws of the universe is that all library holds come at the same time. This is what arrived for me today at my own library. I am also working slowly through four books. I am also feeling a need to do some creative writing and just general de-cluttering of the brain.

When I was writing the “Choose Love” post I took the opportunity to read though some of the post that I wrote when I was doing my media fast last year. It’s kind of interesting to revisit that experiment. It was great experience and I want to do it again. So I am. Starting tomorrow.

I’ll see you in a week!

Free Books! All Summer Long!!

Books, Music, Art, Movies

ImageAllow me, for a moment, to put on my Librarian hat. I want to tell you about an incredible resource I learned about today. It is for teens, but adults (and parents of teens) might be interested, as well!

It is called SYNC and they offer two YA audio books each week for free download. The books are only available for a week at a time. However, once downloaded they are yours to keep.
I downloaded this week’s books very easily on my iPhone this morning. I navigated to http://www.audiobooksync.com/  on my iPhone’s browser and was able to download the books into my Overdrive Media app (you have to have Overdrive installed on your computer or smart phone to listen).

This week’s books are Of Poseidon by Anna Banks and Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

The pair of books each week compliment each other. One is a popular YA title, the other is a classic.

I don’t know if this is available to people outside of the U.S. (trying to find out at the moment.)

I was really excited to find out about this! I hope you are too. Enjoy!

Teach Me Something That is Deep In Your Bones

Life, Writing

How to read stories to a group of children.

First of all, DO NOT be afraid of them. They can detect fear like nobody’s business and if you are afraid then they will either be afraid also, or they will use that fear against you to manipulate you. Leave all fear at the door. Instead, think about what it was like to be a child.  Didn’t you just not care at all about what others thought? Wasn’t it silly and fun? That is how you approach a roomful of preschool children.

Remember that, in the kid’s eyes, you are a rock star. This will boost your ego and, thus, help relieve some of the fear.

Don’t even dare think about the parents. Pretend they are not there.

OK. So now that we have the right frame of mind everything is cake. Now you can have fun. Fun is very important. If you are having fun they will have fun, too. Why is this element important? Because we are teaching kids literacy skills when we read to them. But if you tell them this the whole facade comes crumbling down. We are offering literacy skills dipped in chocolate with rainbow sprinkles. And we are offering them with song and dance. FUN. Always have fun.

It is important to come prepared. Always read the book beforehand. If not you will find yourself in the middle of a terrible, horrifying story and you will be embarrassed and parents will hate you and there goes the “fun” facade. Always be prepared.

Read stories that you enjoy. If you don’t like the story the kids won’t like the story.

Read the story in a way that is engaging. Get the kids involved in the story. Have them help you tell them the story. Use silly voices. Use sound effects.

The most important advice, though, is to be present. Don’t be off, in your mind, somewhere else. Be right there with the kids, having fun and enjoying the moment. They are the most important thing at that moment. Treat them like that. Treat them with all of the respect in the world.

A couple of firsts.

Life, Writing

Tell me how you first learned to read.

I am remembering the day I read a book the entire way through all by myself. It was the book, The Summerfolk by Doris Burn*. I was by myself and I seem to recall books on the floor all around me. The house was very quiet. Most of the family was out. I think it was after school in the afternoon. I remember being very engrossed in the story and the world around me seemed to disappear  At the end of the book I closed it and realized I read the words all by myself. I remember how elated I felt! It was such an amazing feeling. It was the beginning of a whole new part of my life.

As I write this I am amazed at the detail I can recall during this event. I mentioned earlier that I have a hard time remembering certain things but those things that I do remember are with such stark clarity. I can almost take myself back to that moment.

Riding a bike was the same way. I was a little bit older than my friends by the time I was able to ride a bike; it didn’t click for me until I was in 2nd grade.  It seems like my attempts at this ended in failure and I was more and more jealous of my friends when they gained this secret knowledge because it meant they were free to explore the farthest reaches of the neighboorhood. The day it clicked for me was a magic moment. Again, I was alone when this happened. It was in front of our house on our gravel street. It was a cloudy, chilly  fall afternoon. After trying a few times it finally clicked for me and It was the most amazing feeling! I was so happy! I rode the shit out of that bike, too. All over the neighborhood.

*Doris Burn was an AMAZING children’s book illustrator. He medium was pen and ink and she drew intricate scenes of children doing interesting things. When I was little  I would pore over the pages of her books for hours, looking at the illustrations.  If you can get your hands on the 1969 edition of, “We Were Tired Of Living In A House” do it. That book is a reason why I learned to read so easily (and Richard Scarry played a part in that too. I heart Richard Scarry).

Tell about your favorite book, why it is your favorite, and how it has influenced you.

Books, Music, Art, Movies

 

Breakfast of Champions

 

I quoted Kurt Vonnegut in a post from a couple of weeks ago. Here, I’ll just post it again (’cause it’s awesome):

 

“The arts are not a way of making a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

 

Kurt Vonnegut holds a special place in my heart. And not just because he says really awesome things. He also writes really awesome books. While I can’t choose a favorite out of all the books I have ever read, I can tell you that Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions changed my life.

 

I read it when my husband and I were dating. He was an English Major and very well read and I was totally enthralled with his knowledge of books. He loaned me Breakfast of Champions to read one day and I ate it up. This was THE book in which I had that “aha” moment of realizing that the narrator was NOT the author of the story. I was discussing the book with Raf and mentioned something like, “I can’t believe Vonnegut’s mother committed suicide by drinking Draino!” Raf responded with, “Monica, the narrator of the story is not the author.” It was like a bowling ball hit me in the head. I went from  dumb girl to  smart girl in a matter of seconds.

 

Looking back, I feel like an idiot for being such and avid reader and not realizing this sooner. For some silly reason I assumed the author and the narrator were the same. Do other readers think this? Maybe I had crappy English teachers in High School. When I was a TA in college I pointed this out to a few of my students and I could tell that they had the same aha moment that I had, so maybe it is something some people assume when they read.

 

Anyway, Breakfast of Champions made me see this truth and it did several things. I became  a critical thinker. It caused me to question. It also pointed me toward to a greater love of reading and literature and it was the catalyst that made me become a literature major in college. To this day one of my favorite things is a good, smart, book discussion.