Teen Tech Week—Check Out the Activities at Teen Fire and YALSA

March 8, 2010

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is promoting this week as Teen Tech Week. The emphasis is on ways teens can meld technology with reading and literacy. There’s a list of activities at the YALSA website, including book lists for both fiction and nonfiction books.

Sourcebooks is also hosting a whole list of activities for the week at their website, Teen Fire, including a Teen Fire Trailer Contest that goes on until March 19. Teens can make a book trailer for any Sourcebooks Fire title and be entered into a chance to win titles for themselves and their libraries.

Today is Read Across America Day

March 2, 2010

If Theodor Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss) were alive today he’d be celebrating his 106th birthday. In honor of this day, the National Education Association established Read Across America Day, a time to celebrate reading for all ages. The NEA’s website has lots of links to help you find fun facts, activities and more. For instance, I found it interesting to click on the downloadable document that told me favorite books from members of Congress. I found out that my Congressman, David Wu, likes Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. That’s one of my favorites too! Reading the entire list reminded me of old favorites and new-for-me titles that I’d like to check out.

You’ll also find interesting activities and information at the NEA’s Read Across America partners:

Reading Rockets


Read, Write, Think.org

A to Z Teachers

Adlit.org (for adolescent literacy)

While you’re deciding what to do, don’t forget to enjoy a piece of birthday cake.

Mommy on a Shoestring Radio Show

January 14, 2010

In just a little while I’ll be talking with Beth Engelman and Jenna Riggs, hosts of Mommy on a Shoestring Radio Show. I’d love to have you listen in as I talk about creating your mother-daughter book club, books you may want to choose with your group and more. Just click on the show’s website and listen to the live feed beginning at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (12 p.m. MST, 1 p.m. CST, 2 p.m. EST). If you can’t make it, a link to the show’s podcast will be up on the site soon after the show is over.

While you’re visiting the site, you may also be interested in listening to some of their past shows talking about family fitness, cheap family fun, gift giving, and crafts. Beth also has a bi-monthly video and column at pioneerlocal.com with lots of ideas for family activities.

Check Out This Book List for Boys at Pragmatic Mom.com

January 13, 2010

I recently discovered a nice site on parenting called Pragmatic Mom.com. The author is a mom of three who lives outside Boston, and she writes about books, schooling, cooking and other issues. I really like her list of books for reluctant boy readers. It’s pretty extensive, and while I’ve read a lot of the books on the list, there are some new ones for me to discover too. I’m especially excited to check out The Trouble with Lemons by David Hayes and the EarthSea series by Ursula Le Guin.

Author Kaycee Jane Offers Advice to Girls About Boyfriends

November 17, 2009

When I started to date in high school I didn’t know anything about what to expect from a boyfriend, which meant that determining what was good and not so good in a relationship wasn’t all that easy. Thank heavens I’ve learned a lot since then, and I’ve spent time talking with my daughters about healthy relationships. Even so, I think it’s too easy for them to tune their mom out sometimes. That’s why I was happy to learn about this blog post by Kaycee Jane, author of Frog or Prince? The Smart Girl’s Guide to Boyfriends. In her post “Healthy Relationship?—how to tell,” Kaycee discusses signs of a healthy relationship using the frog and prince analogy. It’s worth reading and sending the link to your teenage daughter. A gentle nudge with another voice may just help her see relationships for what they are—good or bad.

Grown in My Heart Features Book by Book

November 10, 2009

Grown in My Heart

I’m thrilled that Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs is featured at Grown in My Heart, An Adoption Network. As the article says, “Family is all about connections,” and so are mother-daughter book clubs. You can also expect to find other parenting information at Grown in My Heart, not just support for adoptive parents and information on adoption. You can also find food and craft ideas as well as giveaways and more. And if you are an adoptive parent or planning to adopt, you’ll find lots of supportive information. It’s a great all around site to check out.

Volunteering with Kids

August 18, 2009

This week Catherine is working on several projects for the Oregon Humane Society. She’s on her way to logging 40 hours to earn her Girl Scout Silver Award. She’s doing the work, of course, but that doesn’t mean I get a free pass to work on my projects while she’s working on hers. She’s sewing blankets for kitties, which means frequent problem solving with the sewing machine since she’s a novice at sewing. So we work on it together to some degree.

While she’s working on this project for Girl Scouts not as part of book club, I know many members of mother-daughter book clubs who choose to volunteer together and have a great time when they do. Some of them even start younger than I would have guessed was a good age, eight years old, and let their kids be in charge of planning.

As a mom, I know how difficult it can be sometimes to stand back and let the kids be in charge. Activities tend to be messier and less organized when the younger set is calling the shots. But I see a real advantage to it as well, especially with volunteering. Kids can build confidence while seeing that they can make a difference in their community. I definitely saw that with my older daughter Madeleine and her friends when they volunteered (again through Girl Scouts) to work with Habitat for Humanity last spring. The girls worked slowly, but they gained a lot of confidence learning to swing a hammer and hang drywall in a home where a needy family was soon to move in.

I think it’s most important to let the kids be in charge when deciding what kind of project to take on and how much they want to be involved. Getting this kind of buy in is most likely to lead to a successfully finished project, because kids are more likely to stay interested until the end.

If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities where you live, you may want to check out your local United Way, which often keeps a database of volunteer opportunities. I’ve also found great information using VolunteerMatch.org.

GuysRead.com—A Great Place to Find Books for Boys

August 13, 2009

I just ran across an interesting Web site that may be useful for  moms (and dads) looking to find good books for boys. It’s called Guys Read.com, and it’s got lists for young guys middle guys and older guys. The site has an edgy look, and should further appeal to guys who are looking for books on their own as well as their parents. Here’s Guys Read’s stated mission:

Our mission is to:
1. Make some noise for boys.
We have literacy programs for adults and families. GUYS READ is our chance to call attention to boys’ literacy.
2. Expand our definition of reading.
Include boy-friendly nonfiction, humor, comics, graphic novels, action- adventure, magazines, websites, and newspapers in school reading. Let boys know that all these materials count as reading.
3. Give boys choice.
Motivate guys to want to read by letting them choose texts they will enjoy. Find out what they want. Let them choose from a new, wider range of reading.
4. Encourage male role models.
Men have to step up as role models of literacy. What we do is more important than all we might say.
5. Be realistic. Start small.
Boys aren’t believing that “Reading is wonderful.” Reading is often difficult and boring for them. Let’s start with “Here is one book/magazine/text you might like.”
6. Spread the GUYS READ word.
Encourage people to use the information and downloads on this site to set up their own chapters of GUYS READ, and get people thinking about boys and reading.

The site it run by Jon Scieszka, a former elementary school teacher and author of books that are great for guys to read too, like The Stinky Cheese Man and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. Of course, my girls love those books as well, but good books often transcend gender and appeal to everyone.

While I keep a list of good books for boys here too, with titles recommended by boys, parents and librarians, I love the idea of a site dedicated just to boys. Check it out! Guysread.com.

Are You Reading a Hot Dog or Foie Gras?

July 24, 2009

Last week my daughter Madeleine and I headed down to the University of Oregon for her orientation. I’m still not truly believing she’ll be leaving home this fall, but I’m sure I’m not the only mom in denial. In fact, the university caters to us parents about to send our kids into the world, even offering a talk called “Teaching Your Ducklings to Fly.” (It’s also a pretty cute play on words since the U of O mascot is a duck.)

I was very impressed with a seminar for parents only called The Art of Reading. While our children were signing up for fall classes, (parents aren’t even allowed in the room with them) a group of about 15 moms and dads gathered in the library to talk with an English professor about rediscovering how to read for meaning.

I was there with Karen and Janelle, two other moms in my mother-daughter book club, and we happily soaked up some new thoughts on reading. One thought in particular stood out from the day:

Choosing a book and choosing what to eat can be a lot alike. Sometimes you are hungry and you just want to eat a hot dog to fill you up. You don’t need anything fancy, because any food will do at the moment. Those tend to be what I think of as books that you can easily pick up and put down without losing the main thread of the story. They’re usually fun, maybe even a guilty pleasure. Some titles I have read recently in that category include Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley and Runaround by Helen Hemphill. (Reviews to come soon.)

Other times, you’re more in the mood for a four-course gourmet meal. I just finished a book like that called Stone’s Fall by Iain Pears. It was nearly six hundred pages and I savored every page until the very satisfying ending. I’m also finishing up reading Empire by Gore Vidal to Madeleine. History-nerds that we are, we have looked forward to reading it every day, but savored it as we went along. We can’t wait to start reading Vidal’s follow up story, Hollywood. Soon I expect to read The Book Thief to Catherine, another book to linger over and appreciate.

I like applying the food analogy to books, because it helps me enjoy whatever I’m reading for the hunger it satisfies at the moment.

Family Fun Magazine’s A Great Resource

September 4, 2007


I only make recommendations on this site for media that I believe can be truly helpful to your book club group and for parenting in general. Here’s a magazine I use for ideas about things to cook and activities to do with your child or your book club. It’s called Family Fun, and its Web site, familyfun.com is a good companion. It’s great for recipes, and over the years I’ve cooked many selections from the magazine’s pages then served them to my book club members. Shepherd’s pie, bread popovers, broccoli cheese soup…they were all hits. And they’re usually easy to prepare too, since directions are written to make it easy for kids to help out.

My youngest daughter always checks the Family Fun pages and the Web site when she’s trying to decide on a Halloween costume. And I get quite a few helpful ideas that have been submitted by readers, too.

Check it out the next time you need a boost in creativity.