Musings From A Bookmammal


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Raising Sharp Readers by Colby and Alaina Sharp

I don’t  re-post writings from other bloggers very often–but this post from the Nerdy Book Club Blog about raising readers is so wonderful that I just had to share it. PLEASE click through to read the entire post–you won’t be sorry! Enjoy!
And to my American blog buddies, I wish you all  a happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Nerdy Book Club

7 years ago, we were elated and terrified to welcome the first of our three little readers into the world.  As parents, we don’t do a lot of things right – Breslin’s gone to school with his pants on backwards enough times to verify that.  But, we have managed to turn out three little people who love reading fiercely.  Here are some of our thoughts on how we have helped to foster and nourish that love in our home.

1. Have books everywhere.

Our oldest isn’t one to go the bookshelf and pick up a book. He’s not the type of kid that you tell to go and read a book. What we’ve found is that if we have books laying around all over the place (tables, floor, car, bed, etc) he reads a ton. Sometimes he’ll find a book laying on the coffee table and read it cover to cover…

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Musing Monday–Banned Books Week 2014

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my musing for this week–

2014 banned books posterBanned Books Week is Sept. 21-27 this year, and banning/challenging books is a hot-button issue for many people. Here’s a brief description of the purpose of Banned Books Week from the ALA website:

“Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, these books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.”

So that’s the background. You can find lists of frequently challenged books here–as well as the reasons for the challenges.

Here’s my take:

I believe that parents ABSOLUTELY have the right–and the responsibility–to monitor and guide their children’s reading. This means different things to different people.

mom daughter readingSome parents raise their kids to be “free range readers”—kids who are encouraged to read anything and everything they can get their hands on. Other parents set limits on the materials and subject matter that their kids are allowed to read—because of their child’s age/maturity, for philosophical, educational, religious, or moral reasons, or other factors.  And lots and lots of parents fall somewhere in between.

Part of parenting is knowing what your kids are doing–and to me, that includes being aware of the books they’re reading and putting limits and consequences in place that make sense for your family. And along with that, in my opinion, is helping your kids become responsible citizens by helping them learn to make smart reading choices. That’s about teaching kids to acknowledge new ideas that they encounter in books. It’s about helping kids evaluate what they read and understand that they may not always agree with it or believe that it’s true. And it’s about helping children learn to accept the existence of differing opinions and choices they read about without necessarily taking them on as their own.

Easy? Not by a long shot. But part of the responsibility of every parent is taking charge of raising their children in the manner that they see fit–whether or not they agree with or incorporate ideas such as the ones I’ve listed above.

The key words here are THEIR CHILDREN.

When parents try to control the books that can–and can’t–be found in public community libraries, public school libraries, and in public book stores, they’re trying to control the reading behaviors of ALL CHILDREN. By removing a book from public bookshelves, they’re taking away choices for all.  They are essentially trying to parent other parents’ children. And that, to me, is not OK.

To parents who have different ideas than my own about what THEIR KIDS can and can’t read, I say more power to you. Your house, your children—your rules.  I may not agree with you, but I will tirelessly defend your right to parent your kids in the way that’s right for you and your family. However–we should all expect that same respect in return. To the parents who want to enforce their own limits on the reading habits of children who are not members of their own family, I say hands off. End of story.

How about you? What are your thoughts? I’m interested in your feelings about this issue. Have you or your kids had any experiences with banned or challenged books? Please share!


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Musing Mondays–When I Need A Little Inspiration . . .

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my Musing Monday ramble for the week:

I work in educational publishing, and, like everyone, I have my good days and my not-so-good days on the job. Lately it seems as though there have been a lot of very challenging days–days when I think I cannot possibly deal with one more ridiculous request or handle one more impossible deadline. That’s why I have several quotes posted at my desk–because, when it comes right down to it, I’m in this job because I’m passionate about helping kids learn to read and helping them learn to love reading. Sometimes I need a reminder of that.

For this week’s Musing Monday, I thought I’d post some of those quotes. These are my favorites!

“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.”
Frank Serafini

credit Susan Diehl

credit Susan Diehl

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”   Maya Angelou

credit Sun Weimin

credit Sun Weimin

“We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.”  B.F. Skinner

credit Alexandros Christofis

credit Alexandros Christofis

“Let children read whatever they want and then talk to them about it with them .  .   . we won’t have as much censorship because we won’t have as much fear.”  Judy Blume

credit Molly Poole

credit Molly Poole

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” Jacqueline Kennedy

credit Jon Anderson

credit Jon Anderson

Have a wonderful week, everyone! If you’re able, please consider giving a child the gift of a book during this holiday season.


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Musing Mondays–This Is How My Book Buying Habit Began . . .

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my Musing Monday ramble for the week: 

vintage book club

Does this bring back any memories?

When I was in elementary school, I always loved the days when my teachers would pass out the little book club newsletters every month or so. I’d sit there with my friends and we’d excitedly go through the books offered that month and we’d circle the ones we wanted. I remember that there were other things offered as well, such as posters and stickers, but I always went straight for the books.

At home I’d show my mom what I’d selected, and we’d narrow it down to just a few. Sometimes I’d have to use my own money, sometimes my parents would treat me. I can remember carefully filling out the little order form, clipping it out, and putting it into an envelope along with the exact change to pay for my order.

When the books arrived a few weeks later, it was torture to see the box sitting on the teacher’s desk and know that I had to wait for the end of the day–or, even worse, the NEXT DAY!– when she would pass out our books!

When I became a teacher, one of the first things I did was find out how I could get my class signed up to receive the monthly book club newsletters. Only a few of my kids would ever place orders—most of them didn’t come from homes where there was a lot of extra money–but I always placed a big order myself every month to add more books to our classroom library.

When the books would arrive, the custodian would bring the box to my classroom. If it was at all possible, I would stop whatever was going on in class, make a big production of opening the box, and would immediately start showing the kids each new book that would now be added to our class library. At the end of the day, there would be a crowd of kids by the shelves, each one trying to be the first to check out one of the new books.

I was over at my parents’ house about a month ago going through some boxes, and I actually found some of those bookclub books from my childhood—they’re several decades old by now, but I can still remember the thrill of bringing those books home from school knowing that they wouldn’t have to be returned to the library—they were mine to keep. And I’m pretty sure that this was the very beginning of my book buying habit that continues to this day!

How about you? Did you have the chance to make book club purchases when you were in school? Do you remember any of the books you bought? Do your kids bring home book club newsletters? Please share!


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Musing Mondays–Library Memories

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!
Here’s my Musing Mondays ramble for this week:

ChomskyI was lucky to grow up in a town with a good library. My parents started taking me there regularly when I was 3 or 4, and that started a habit that I’ve had ever since. Back then the town library was a stone building between a church and the YMCA. I thought it was huge back then, but it was really probably the size of an average two-story house. Adult books upstairs, kids books downstairs. I still remember being really intrigued by those long poles that held the newspapers–do libraries even still have those?

When I got older—starting in about the 5th grade–I can vividly remember riding my bike downtown to the library on weekends with one of my good friends who was also a reader. This was back in the days when our parents didn’t even blink at the thought of two pre-teen girls (without helmets!) riding their bikes alone across busy streets to the middle of town—they just said they’d see us when we got back.

We’d go to the library first and check out as many books as we could fit into our bike baskets. Then we’d stop by this great little candy store where you could buy candy by the piece. I think I usually bought chocolate licorice and maybe some other little chocolate candies of some sort. We’d then ride our bikes back to my house and either sit out in the backyard or in my bedroom and eat the candy and read our books. We wouldn’t talk too much—we’d just read. When it was time for her to go home we’d talk about what we’d read and maybe make plans to trade books in a few days. We did this more times than I can count.

That library eventually expanded, and then finally moved to a brand new building—probably at least 25 years ago. There are also two other separate branches that have since opened. The main branch is large and gorgeous and it’s truly a big part of the community. It has huge windows that look out over the river and big comfy chairs that just beg you to sit in them and get lost in a book. The kids section is colorful and the librarians are kind. I go there sometimes when I’m visiting my parents. I’m not sure if any kids ride their bikes there anymore, and it’s not near a candy store—but I still remember how it felt to come home with books, candy, and a friend and have the whole afternoon stretched out in front of us—with nothing to do but read.

How about you? Do you have any childhood library memories? Please share!


21 Comments

Musing Mondays–Thoughts About Banned Books Week

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my Musing Mondays ramble for this week:

Click above to visit the ALA Banned Books site.

To learn more, click above to visit the American Library Association website.

Banned Books Week is Sept. 22-28 this year, and banning/challenging books can be a hot-button issue for a lot of folks. Here’s a brief description of the purpose of Banned Books Week from the ALA website:

“Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, these books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.”

So that’s the background. You can find a list of frequently challenged books here–as well as the reasons for the challenges.

Here’s my take:

I believe that parents ABSOLUTELY have the right and the responsibility to monitor and guide their children’s reading. This means different things to different people.

Some parents want their kids to be “free range readers”—kids who are encouraged to read anything and everything they can get their hands on. Other parents set limits on the materials and subject matter that their kids are allowed to read—because of their child’s age/maturity, for philosophical, educational, religious, or moral reasons, or other factors.  And lots and lots of parents fall somewhere in between.

Kids-Who-Love-BooksPart of parenting is knowing what your kids are doing–including being aware of the books they’re reading—and putting limits and consequences in place that make sense for your family. This includes any restrictions that parents feel are needed regarding books read by their children. And along with that, in my opinion, is helping your kids become  responsible citizens by helping them learn to make smart reading choices. That’s about teaching kids to acknowledge new ideas that they encounter in books. It’s about helping kids understand that they may not always agree with or believe in what they read. And it’s about helping children learn to accept the existence of differing opinions and choices they read about without necessarily taking them on as their own.

This isn’t always easy. But part of the responsibility of every parent is taking charge of raising their children in the manner that they see fit–whether or not they agree with or incorporate ideas such as the ones I’ve listed above.

The key words here are THEIR CHILDREN.

When parents try to control the books that can–and can’t–be found in public community libraries, public school libraries, and in public book stores, they’re trying to control the reading behaviors of ALL CHILDREN. By removing a book from public bookshelves, they’re taking away choices for all.  They are, in effect, trying to parent other parents’  children. And that, to me, is not OK.

To parents who have different ideas than my own about what THEIR kids can and can’t read, I say more power to you. Your house, your kids—your rules.  I may not agree with you, but I will tirelessly defend your right to parent your kids in the way that’s right for you and your family. However–we should all expect that same respect in return. To the parents who want to enforce their own limits on the reading habits of children who are not members of their own family, I say hands off. End of story.

What are your thoughts? I’m interested in what others think about this issue.  Please share!


24 Comments

Musing Mondays–Raising A Reader

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my Musing Mondays ramble for this week:

"Quiet Time In Favorite Chair" by Gina Brown

“Quiet Time In Favorite Chair” by Gina Brown

Neither of my parents were readers when they were kids. They both came from families where there wasn’t a lot of money, and books were an afterthought. I don’t think either of them had their own library cards until they were adults. My dad didn’t start reading for pleasure until he was in the military and he was loaned some books during down time. My mom started reading as an adult when a friend gave her a novel that sparked her interest.

When I came along, they still didn’t have much money, but they knew that they wanted to raise a reader. I had my own library card, and we went to the library every weekend. A trip to the bookstore was rare, but when it happened it was a very big deal. I received at least one book on every birthday. They somehow found the money to sign me up for the monthly Dr. Seuss book club (I STILL HAVE THOSE BOOKS!). I had my own bookshelf in my bedroom. They asked me about what I was reading and we discussed books at the dinner table. One of them read to me every night— no matter how much I may have misbehaved that day, that bedtime story was never taken away as a punishment.

So I was always the kid who had her nose in a book, and that was OK with them. They let me read whatever–and pretty much whenever–I wanted. I can’t remember ever having a book taken away because I was “too young for it.” I remember reading my mom’s copies of novels like “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn” when I was in 5th grade. When I had questions about what I was reading—and I often did—those questions were answered with responses that were appropriate for my age at the time.

Because my parents somehow figured out that books should never be off limits, they raised me to be a reader. I can’t even begin to guess at how many hours in my lifetime have been spent with books. I know I’m a more curious, well-rounded person because of it. I’m grateful for that gift every day.

How about you? Did your parents influence you to become a book lover? Or did you become a reader due to other factors? What have you done to help the kids in your life become lifelong readers? Please share—I’d love to hear your thoughts!