Oct 18

How to Read to Children

Reading to my daughter is really one of the most enjoyable parts of my day. It’s a time when I can become a kid again for a little bit, and just fall into a familiar story. Plus, my wife and I are already seeing the benefits that my daughter gets from reading to her on a regular basis. Watching her sit on the couch flipping through a whole stack of books is a wonderful thing. She’s now starting to make up stories of her own to go along with the pictures, too, so that’s even better.

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Photo courtesy of kennymatic

Sometimes reading to your children can be tough, so I’ve put together a short list of tips that can making reading to children more enjoyable; both for you and the child.

  • Make the book a door to another world. Add some drama to the whole experience even before you open the book. Ask your child, “Where do you think this book’s going to take us?” Build up some anticipation even before you look at the first page. Remind the child (and yourself) that a book is more than paper and words on a page. It’s a ticket to other times, other places, even places where magic works and treasures can be found.
  • Get them involved. The more you can involve your child in the story that you’re reading the better. Many of the rest of the tips go into detail on this, but anything you can do to get your child involved in the story — do it. The main character’s name is hard to pronounce? Change it to your child’s name. There’s a cat in the story? Change the name of the cat to the same as your pet cat. Continue reading
Oct 14

[Review] Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

When I was in junior high school, we were assigned The Communist Manifesto. I can’t remember why we read it, or in what class, but I do remember thinking that the philosophy detailed in the book made some bit of sense. Something about it tickled the back of my head, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was my father who made me see the flaw in the whole theory. I told him I thought it was an interesting way to live, and he simply said, “It will never work. Every man wants to have something that is his, something that he owns and has worked for. Communism doesn’t allow for that.” That stuck with me, and at the heart of Atlas Shrugged is a story that aims to prove that statement out. I don’t want to get too political with just a book review, but with this book it’s kind of difficult. Just saying you like it is a form of political statement.

The Story

The story follows Dagny Taggert, operating directory of Taggart Transcontinental, a locomotive empire created by her father. At the beginning of the book, which takes place somewhere in the 1950s, things with the empire are starting to crumble. Small chinks at first, but as the book moves on, we realize that the men of industry, the greatest people that Dagny needs to fix things, are disappearing. Just went she needs them the most, they drop everything they are doing, abandon their factories and their businesses and disappear.

Dagny doesn’t understand what’s going on with the men who are disappearing, and she takes strength from her friendship with Hank Reardon, the creator of Reardon metal, and the other character that the narrative follows. Together, they do their best to combat the crumbling of all things good around them, fighting against incompetence, apathy, and a government that wants to tie their hands and claim everything good they’ve created.

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Oct 12

Book Review Blog Carnival

Novel Bloggers

Today, Novel Bloggers is hosting the Book Review Blog Carnival. A Blog Carnival is a great way to get exposed to many new blogs that you weren’t aware even existed. In this particular case, the Book Review Blog Carnival is specifically for blogs centered around book reviews. So, if you like book reviews (and if you’re reading this site, odds are you do), head over to the site to find some more great book review sites.

Oct 11

How to Read with Music

I can’t say why, but music and reading have always gone hand in hand for me. I find that I can read for longer times and enjoy the book more when there is music that goes along with it. I’ve had friends comment, though, that they have never been able to read and listen to music at the same time. They claim that it’s too distracting and breaks their focus.

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Photo courtesy of suchitra prints

 

Now I’ve never had a real hard time focusing on reading, but I understand the complaint, and here are some tips for being able to listen to music while reading.

  • Pick music with simple lyrics (or no lyrics at all). With all the talk of multi-tasking, your brain can really only concentrate on one thing at a time. To avoid distraction, don’t give your brain another set of words to decipher. If your mind is busy trying to figure out what “I need a photo-opportunity/I want a shot at redemption/Don’t want to end up a cartoon/In a cartoon graveyard” really means, then it’s going to find it hard to focus on the book you’re reading.
  • Pick music you already know. This goes along with the first tip. If the music you’re listening to is familiar, you won’t be trying to figure out what it’s saying. Plus, you won’t be trying to figure out if you like it or not while you’re also trying to read a book. Continue reading
Oct 09

[Review] Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg

As readers, my wife and I take it as an almost moral duty to make sure that our daughter is exposed to books. We try not to force it down her throat, but we also try hard to make reading a part of her life. Story time is an every day thing. In fact, with naps, it’s often something that happens multiple times in a day. Needless to say, when reading with your children, the discovery of a book that pulls you along as well is a welcome find.

Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg by Gail Carson Levine is just such a book. The story follows Prilla, a “newborn” fairy in Neverland, and one that has the unique misfortune of being born without a talent. She immediately befriends Tinkerbell and other fairies of Fairy Haven while trying to discover her talent. When misfortune comes to Neverland, Prilla along with the fairies Rani (a water talent fairy) and Vidia (a fast flying talent fairy) must take on a quest to find three rare items to fix Neverland.

If Only My Daughter Could Write this Review

There are very few books that get a physical reaction from my daughter. While I’m constantly surprised about how much she remembers when it comes to the stories we read together, it’s still rare when I see her emotionally invested in a book while we’re reading it. Not the case with Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg. Many times during the story she looked tense or excited, and by the end of the book she was participating fully in the storyline. I won’t say much, but the bedroom was full of the sound of a little girl clapping as hard as she could.

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Oct 07

[Review] Geeks by Jon Katz


Can one person really make a difference in another person’s life? Just by showing a bit of caring in what happens to another person, can you change a life’s direction? Does the simple act of taking an interest in someone really mean anything?

Those are the questions that are really at the heart of Geeks by Jon Katz. You wouldn’t know this from looking at the book, or really from reading the introduction. From that, you would think it was an essay on geeks living in the world today. I figured it would start with a good definition of what a geek was, which it did in a way, but from that point on this book became something I really wasn’t expecting at all.

What’s a Geek?

The defining aspect of geek-hood given within this book was a feeling of being outside the mainstream. The definition didn’t revolve too much around technology. Many of the people interviewed within the book talked about being geeks, and what it meant to them, and it wasn’t all about how they lived their life through a computer.

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Oct 05

Are Books Dying?

We’ve all heard the expression, “print is dead,” but does this really apply to books? Are books as physical things dying out? Will the internet, audio books, or digital readers spell the end for books?

I don’t think they will, and in this post, I’ll explain why I think that way.

If you’re reading this site, you’re more than likely an avid reader. So, off the bat, I’m writing to a readership that probably doesn’t think books are dead or dying. However, you are reading this on the internet, so you might also be a bit more tech savvy than the average book reader. You might see where things such as the internet or digital readers could foretell the death of the book.

Let’s look at a book for a second, though, and examine it from a material aspect. The book as a form has a long history, with copies of books being mentioned in Roman texts. When the printing press was introduced in the 15th century, books were mass produced for the first time, and almost anyone could have one. The book as a form is certainly not a new thing.

Books themselves have physical qualities that the internet, audio books or digital readers just don’t have. First, and foremost, is that they are extremely portable. A small paperback book can slip in your pocket. I remember running around Portland shortly after college with a copy of The Catcher in the Rye in the back pocket of my jeans. No laptop will ever fit there.

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Oct 04

[Review] The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Every once in a great while, you come across a book that affects you at such a deep level that it alters how you see the world around you. The Road is one of those books, but I still can’t bring myself to recommend it to everyone.

The story of The Road follows a father and his son as they try to make their way through a world that has been ravaged by some apocalyptic event. We’re never told exactly what happened, but whatever it was has burned the world and made it into a gray expanse of charred everything. Nothing new grows, and the few people that survived now live in a world where the weak take from the strong and where the most inhuman things are done in the name of survival.

Cormac McCarthy’s writing wraps itself around you in a way I’ve never experienced before. Many times I found myself looking up from the book and realizing the coffee house I was reading in wasn’t in the midst of a charred and gray world. Sometimes this realization physically shocked me, and sometimes I needed to look up to remind myself that the world still had color.

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