Gift Ideas: Middle Grade Books for Kids Who Love Sports

 

It is not always rainbows and butterflies when it comes to getting young people to read. We live in a world where there are so many things that are competing for their attention that it can be very difficult sometimes to convince them that books not only feed their brains, but they also can take you on wonderful adventures and captivate you with great stories. To me, the best stories, especially for young readers, are the ones that are are relatable. Stories that you can completely picture yourself in or someone else that you know can be some of the best stories that you have ever read. To see things that you know about articulated into an entire book can sometimes be gratifying as we often don’t know the right words to use to describe our experiences.

Which brings me to this latest post…

I have a friend who has a child that absolutely loves sports, but she struggles to find books that keeps his attention so I have been tasked with finding some books that he may like. I have seen a few books YA books in passing but never gave them a 2nd glance because I figured that Rahni would never read them because she’s really not into sports. I didn’t consider that just because there was a guy on the cover with a helmet on, that there may be a great story behind the cover. As I started doing my research and reading excerpts,  I found quite a few books that I not only think my friends son would love, but I also want to read them myself!

Below are some of the great books by some great authors that I have picked out during my search. If you have read any of them I would love to hear your thoughts and if you have any suggestions, please feel free to drop them in the comments!

If you have a reader that reads middle grade level books and loves sports, maybe they will enjoy some of these selections too!

*Synopsis are taken straight from the author’s or retailer’s site.

The Crossover

Synopsis: Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

Suggested for ages: 10 and up

Why I chose this book: Many reasons, but mainly because it is poetic prose and the summary sounds very interesting. Kwame Alexander takes a story about basketball and makes poetry of it in the form of a chapter book and to me, that is absolutely brilliant! While reading the excerpt, I found myself reading the verses first as regular prose and then as poetry, and it made the experience so much more exciting. I really think this is a book that readers can come back and find new meaning as they progress in age and maturity.

Other books by Kwame Alexander  similar to Crossover

Booked

Synopsis:Nick Hall lives and breathes soccer. But when he’s sidelined by an injury, his word-loving father takes the opportunity to try to instill a love of reading into his reluctant son. Nick’s mother leaves for a job out of state, he and his best friend hit the skids, he’s dealing with a bully, and on top of all of that, he has to navigate the highs and lows of a first crush.

The Playbook

Synopsis: Illustrated with photographs by Thai Neave, The Playbook is intended to provide inspiration on the court of life. Each rule contains wisdom from inspiring athletes
and role models such as Nelson Mandela, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Carli Lloyd, Steph Curry and Michelle Obama. Kwame Alexander also provides his own poetic and uplifting words, as he shares stories of overcoming obstacles and winning games in this motivational and inspirational book just right for graduates of any age and anyone needing a little encouragement.

To read more about Kwame Alexander and his other books click here.

 

 

Heart of a Champion by Carl Deuker

Suggested for ages: 12 and up

Synopsis: Jimmy Winter is a born star on the baseball field, and Seth Barnam can only dream of being as talented. Still, the two baseball fanatics have the kind of friendship that should last forever. But when Seth experiences an unthinkable loss, he’s forced to find his own personal strength–on and off the field.

Why I chose this book: Again, I am a sucker for a great plot. After reading chapter 1 I found myself wanting to know more about Jimmy and Seth. I am not a huge fan of baseball nor do I understand it a great deal and the great part is that I don’t need to in order to enjoy this book. Friendship, growing up, loss, love, joy and pain- who cannot relate to those things on some level? Also, Carl Deuker’s storytelling is phenomenal! I think that like the books by Kwame Alexander, these are also great ways “sneak” in a little something extra besides just sports.

Other books by Carl Deuker similar to Heart of a Champion

Swagger

Synopsis: When high school senior Jonas moves to Seattle, he is glad to meet Levi, a nice, soft-spoken guy and fellow basketball player. Suspense builds like a slow drumbeat as readers start to smell a rat in Ryan Hartwell, a charismatic basketball coach and sexual predator. When Levi reluctantly tells Jonas that Hartwell abused him, Jonas has to decide whether he should risk his future career to report the coach. Pitch-perfect basketball plays, well-developed characters, and fine storytelling make this psychological sports novel a slam dunk.

Painting the Black

Synopsis: In his senior year of high school, late bloomer Ryan Ward has just begun to feel the magic of baseball—the thrill of catching a wicked slider, of throwing a runner out, of training hard and playing hard. His friend Josh, the star of the team, has helped Ryan push his limits. But when Josh clearly pushes the limits too far, Ryan is faced with a heartbreaking dilemma: he must choose between his love for the game and his sense of integrity.

To read more about Carl Deuker and his books click here.

 

 

The Walk On by John Feinstein

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Suggested for ages: 10 and up

Synopsis: Alex has the better arm, but Matt has more experience—and the coach’s loyalty. Alex finally gets a chance to show what he can do when Matt is injured, and he helps win a key game to keep the Lions’ bid for the state championship alive. But just when his star is rising, Alex gets blindsided—the state has started drug testing, and Alex’s test comes back positive for steroids. Alex knows that’s not right. But he doesn’t know if it’s a mistake—or if someone wants to make sure he can’t play. . . .

Why I chose this book:  As you all know from a previous post, I love good books that are in a series. Sometimes a story can be over sooner than we are ready to say good bye to our new fictional friends. Luckily for us, with this series called Triple Threat, we don’t have to. In this series Alex, the protagonist is a triple threat in high school sports. He is a new kid in a new town trying to prove himself and navigate through his new life. The story line is pretty solid and at times it deals with some heavier issues for a middle grade series, however, they are real life topics that a lot of kids deal with or go through. I think John Feinstein has done a great job of really creating great stories around the sports, not just about them. I can see some really great lessons and discussions coming from this series.

Other books by John Feinstein similar to The Walk On

The Sixth Man

Synopsis: It’s basketball season. And for once, triple threat Alex Myers is not the one in the spotlight. There’s a new new guy in town, Max Bellotti—and he promises to turn the Lions’ losing streak around and lead the team to a conference title.
Alex is psyched, but some of the older guys on the team resent being benched in favor of an upstart freshman. And when Max comes out as gay, not everyone takes the news in stride. Snide comments and cold shoulders escalate into heated protests and an out-and-out war with the school board. While controversy swirls around them, the Lions have to decide: Will personal issues sink their season, or can they find a way to stand together as a team?

The DH

Synopsis: Alex Myers’s football and basketball seasons were mired in controversy, and his dad’s been MIA since his parents split up. All Alex wants this spring is to work on his fastball and hang out with his maybe-girlfriend, Christine. But he runs into unexpected competition. Matt Gordon was suspended from sports after he admitted taking PEDs during football season, but the athletic board has decided to give him another chance. So he’s on the team—and he’s got something to prove. He’s also got his eye on Christine.
The question this season—is all fair in love and baseball? Or are some things truly unforgivable?

To learn more about John Feinstein and his books click here.

 

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Gift Ideas: Boxed Book Sets

books3It is almost that time again and if you are anything like me, you are somewhat (read totally) lost as to what to get your kiddo or other kids on your list for Christmas. I used to try to rely on wish lists and dropped hints but my kid sometimes changes what she really, really wants from day-to-day, so I find the lists and clues to be somewhat unreliable. Also, I am attempting the 4 Gift Rule this year which is:

1. Something they want

2. Something they need

3. Something to wear

4. Something to read.

I am pretty sure that I can  stick to this rule, I just need to find Gift 1. Something she wants. Luckily, numbers 2 and 3 are my specialties, and also so is number 4…something to read.

Hence this post.

It is not that I cannot find her anything to read, the exact opposite is true. My biggest challenge is going to be only getting 1 book for her to read. I have said it before and I will say it again, this is such a great time to be a person, specifically a kid, who loves to read! There are so many great books out there by so many great authors with so many different stories to tell, it seems almost magical! I know for me, after reading a really good book, I have this urgent need to read something else. I immediately log into Good Reads or Amazon looking for another book by the same author or a similar story so that I can stay on that reading high that my last book took me on. There’s nothing like it! The best thing to me is reading a really good book only to find out that it is part of a series, and I may be wrong, but I assume that winning the lottery has the same kind of feeling as this discovery. 🙂

This Christmas, give your reader or other readers on your list the same feeling of excitement with some of these great box sets.

Mercy Watson Boxed Set: Adventures of a Porcine Wonder

This set includes: Mercy Watson to the Rescue, Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, Mercy Watson Fights Crime, Mercy Watson: Princee in Disguise, Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig, and Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes

Suggested for ages: 5-8

Amelia Bedelia Chapter Book 10-Book Box Set

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This set includes: Amelia Bedelia Means Business, Amelia Bedelia Unleashed, Amelia Bedelia Road Trip!, Amelia Bedelia Goes Wild!, Amelia Bedelia Shapes Up, Amelia Bedelia Cleans Up, Amelia Bedelia Sets Sail, Amelia Bedelia Dances Off, Amelia Bedelia on the Job, and Amelia Bedelia Ties the Knot. Also includes a collectible full-color bookmark!

Suggested for ages: 6-10

This alt value should not be empty if you assign primary imageThe Judy Moody Uber Awesome Collection: Books 1-9

This set includes: Judy Moody, Judy Moody Gets Famous, Judy Moody Saves the World!, Judy Moody Predicts the Future, Judy Moody, MD.:The Doctor is In!, Judy Moody Declares Independence, Judy Moody Around the World in 8 and 189 Days, Judy Moody Goes to College, and Judy Moody, Girl Detective.

Suggested for ages: 6-9

The Spiderwick Chronicles

The Spiderwick Chronicles (the Complete Series)

This set includes: The Field Guide , The Seeing Stone, Lucinda’s Secret, The Ironwood Tree, and The Wrath of Mulgrath

Suggested for: ages 6-10

A Series of Unfortunate Events Boxed Set: The Complete Wreck (1-13)

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This set includes:  The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window, The Miserable Mill, The Austere Academy, The Ersatz Elevator, The Vile Village, The Hostile Hospital, The Carnivorous Carnival, The Slippery Slope, The Crim Crotto, and The Penul Timate Peril

Suggested for ages: 8 and up

The Complete Ramona Collection

The Complete Ramona Collection

This set includes: Beezus and Ramona, Ramona and Her Father, Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Ramona Forever, Ramona the Brave, Ramona the Pest, Ramona’s World

Suggested for ages: 8-12

Judy Blume’s Fudge Box Set

Judy Blume: The Complete Set of Fudge

This set includes: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Superfudge, Fudge-a-Mania, and Double Fudge

Suggested for ages: 8-12

Judy Blume Essentials

This set includes: Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret; Blubber; Deenie; Iggie’s House; It’s Not the End of the World; Then Again, Maybe I Won’t; Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself

Suggested for ages: 8-12

Wayside School Boxed Set

Wayside School Boxed Set

This set includes: Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Wayside School is Falling Down, and Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger

Suggested for ages: 8-12

The Essential Kate DiCamillo Collection

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The set includes: Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tiger Rising, The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and The Magician’s Elephant

Suggested for ages: 8-12

Special Edition Harry Potter Paperback Box Set

Special Edition Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (1-7)

This set includes: Harry Potter books 1-7

Suggested for ages 8 and up

The Baby-Sittercs Club Graphix 1-4

This set includes: The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels 1-4

Suggested for ages 8-12

Dork Diaries Squee-tastic Collection Books 1-10 (Hardcover Boxed Set)

This set includes:Dork Diaries #1: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life, Dork Diaries #2: Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl, Dork Diaries #3: Tales from a Not-So-Talented Pop Star, Dork Diaries #3 1/2: How to Dork Your Diary, Dork Diaries #4: Tales From a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess, Dork Diaries #5: Tales from a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All
Dork Diaries #6: Tales from a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker, Dork Diaries #7: Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star, Dork Diaries #8: Tales from a Not-So-Happily Ever After, Dork Diaries #9: Tales from a Not-So-Dorky Drama Queen, and Dork Diaries #10: Tales from a Not-So-Perfect Pet Sitter

Suggested for ages: 9 and up

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Boxed Set (Books 1-5)

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Boxed Set (Books 1-5)

This set includes: Book 1: The Lightning Thief, Book 2: The Sea of Monsters, Book 3: The Titan’s Curse, Book 4: The Battle of the Labyrinth, and Book 5: The Last Olympian

Suggested for ages: 9 and up

Smile and Sisters: The Box Set

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This set includes: Smile, Sisters

Suggested for ages 9-12

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

This set includes: The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, and The Last Battle

Suggested for ages 9 and up

Charlie Boxed Set

Charlie Boxed Set: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

This set includes: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Suggested for ages: 13 and up

10 Gift Ideas for Geeky Kids

GoldieBlox Ruby Rails Skydive Action Figure

(Click headings for more information)

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Price range: about $25
Age range: 5 years old and up

Goldie’s tech-savvy and stylish BFF Ruby Rails is ready to head out on a skydiving adventure. She has fully-articulated joints, hands that grip, and a kit to build her coder backpack and working fabric parachute – all she needs is you.

I was very excited when this doll came out for many reasons, but the main reason is because she looks like my daughter. I cannot stress enough the importance of positive images for children, and the importance of them seeing characters that look like them represented in the media and products. I think that Goldie Blox really won with this one, as she makes me more excited for all of the great products that they offer that promotes STEM curiosity in girls.

Also, check out
Ruby’s Sky-High cable car

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 Cloudbit Starter Kit

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Price range: about $89.99
Suggested age range: 14 years old and up

Take what you have and make it a smart device!

This kit includes the CloudBit plus 5 of our favorite prototyping modules; everything you need to create internet-connected devices in seconds. Recreate the most popular smart devices, use littleBits to prototype the next billion dollar idea, or invent a project that solves your own, unique problem.Perfect for hackers, designers, makers and tinkerers of all levels–without the programming, soldering and wiring normally required.

To find out more check out the video below!

 

 OgoSport OgoBild Animate It Studio Kit with Webcam
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Price range: $59- $75
Suggested age range: 6 years old and up

Looks can be deceiving! This is actually a lot cooler than it appears. Admittedly when I first saw it, I thought it looked pretty basic and boring. But the more that I have researched it and the more videos I have watched, I have discovered that this is actually pretty cool! The figurines, which look like add connector toys, are very conducive for stop motion as they are easily ,manipulated and have a wide range of motion due to their flexibility. Your child can create some pretty gnarly looking characters from what’s provided in the studio kit. There are also additional kits for character pieces that are sold separately.

If your child is interested in film, photography, or animation, this would be a pretty awesome gift!

Still not convinced?
Check out this video, that is sure to change your mind.

With the stop motion animation, you can virtually use anything as long as you have the proper equipment. There are many online tutorials and short films of people using various things from Minecraft to LEGO. Check out the videos below!

Meccano MeccaNoid G15

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Price range: $99-$200
$299-500 for G15 KS
Suggested age range: 10 years old and up

I just do not know where to start with this one. The MeccaNoid G15 is a personal robot that constructs up to 2 feet tall. The arms and legs are movable due to 6 motors. The MeccaNoid can mirror images, respond to voice commands, and comes pre loaded with over 1000 jokes, phrases, and fun facts. The android Meccabrain actually walks you through part of the assembly process..wow! The MeccaNiod can be controlled with the free MaccaNoid app installed into your smart device. There is also a motion capture feature that is used woth the MeccaNoid and your smart device to capture movement.

There is no way I can put into words just how amazing the MeccaNoid G15 or it’s big brother MeccaNoid G15 KS are so please, check out these videos below.

This is truly an awesome time to be a geeky kid!



LEGO Dimensions

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Price range: Starter pack $59-$99
Level packs: $14.99- $50
Suggested age range: 7-14 years old

LEGO Dimensions is a quest game that gives players the opportunity to mix characters and worlds as they journey to defeat Lord Vortech. The Dimensions brands include Back to the Future, DC Comics, Dr Who, Jurassic World, LEGO Chima, LEGO Ninjago, Portal 2, Scoooby Do, The LEGO Movie, The Lord of the Rings, The Simpsons, and The Wizard of OZ.
The game supports 2 local players and mixing of matching of characters and worlds.
To get started, you must have either an XBox, XBox One, PS 3 or 4, or Wii U and a starter pack. You also, need an internet connection.(The internet connection is for updates only right now.) After that you build your collection through various expansion packs with different characters and items from their worlds.
To see how you get started check out this awesome diagram from Gamestop.com

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Also, head over to LEGO for these really cool videos and FAQs!

Action Plates Drawing Set

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Price Range: $19-$25
Suggested age range: 5-12 years old

This is a little less bells and whistles, but to me it’s just as great because it lets kids use their imagination and creativity. We all remember the fashion plates sets from childhood, right? It had various templates of girl models with different out fits that you rub on the outline and color it in. I loved those things as kid! I would spend hours upon hours making different pictures planning how I would someday take the fashion industry by storm!  I recently  discovered this very cool activity set that features action heroes in place of fashion models. With the resurgence of comic books and super heroes into pop culture, this gift would be perfect for your little geek. I am not too excited about the crayons that comes in the set, but that’s easily remedies by using your own. And for about $20 it’s not such a bad choice t all!

Light Up Tesla Kit (Blue Tooth)

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Price Range: $85-$100
Suggest age range: 8 and up

This is one of the coolest toys that I would definitely recommend for any child whether they consider themselves geeky or not. LightUp introduces kids to engineering, tinkering, and coding with a construction kit that includes magnetically connected circuits.   There is an app that is used in conjunction to the kit. Using pre-designed, magnetically connecting circuits and switches, plus a large programmable microcontroller, kids get to build, rearrange, invent, and even program all kinds of real electrical circuits.

For more information watch the video below!


 

The Original Spirograph Deluxe Set

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Price range: $19.99- $25
Age range: 5 years old and up

Created by mechanical engineer, Denys Fisher – the Spirograph, originally a drafting tool, was an instant hit in the toy world. It’s been fascinating people ever since its first introduction in 1965.
Beautiful, intricate designs from the motion of gears around wheels – the mathematics and art of it are awe-inspiring.

Mighty Makers Home Designer Building Set

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Price range: $50-$75
Suggested age range: 7 years old and up

Who say’s girls don’t like to build?

K’Nex is another company that has launched products and campaigns geared towards promoting STEM for girls and it’s pretty awesome. They have an entire line of Mighty Makers with really cool construction kits that include an airplane, green house, Ferris Wheel, and more.

Build your dream house from the ground up with Brianna and Sophia in the Home Designer Building Set. Sophia loves building, while Brianna helps with the finishing touches of the interior. These best friends are a dynamic duo when it comes to building and decorating houses. Help them build different styles of houses – a colonial, a brownstone, and a ranch. Decorate the houses using the included accessories and make their home, your home with the Home Designer Building Set from Mighty Makers. Most models can be built one at a time.

View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack

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Price range: $27.99- $45.00
Suggested age range: 7-15 years old

This ain’t your mama’s View Master!

Mattel has partnered with Google Cardboard to bring VR technology to the youngest audience. Aimed at kids 7 and older, the VR Viewer works with a compatible smartphone to offer an immersive experience in space, landmark destinations, and cool wildlife.

http://www.amazon.com/View-Master-Virtual-Reality-Starter-Pack/dp/B011EG5HJ2%3Fpsc%3D1%26SubscriptionId%3DAKIAICE7LOAJMK3SSLPA%26tag%3Dpcm_bkmrklt-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB011EG5HJ2

Summer Learning


School has officially been out 3 full weeks and Rahni has been hitting it hard and I could not be more impressed with her! For the last 2 weeks we have been refreshing addition facts and working on the multiplication facts that she has not memorized (4, 6,7,8,9). So far we had to review multiplication facts of 3 for a full week and we just finished with 4’s so next week we will put factors of 6 into the mix. She is doing pretty good, I must say, and I think that her understanding that multiplication is just addition over and over (arrays)  makes things a lot easier. That is one thing that I am thankful for with Common Core. Just that one thing so far though. 🙂

As far as reading goes she dove head first into comics and graphic novels a couple years ago and has not looked back since! We recently made a trip to a couple of local comic book stores, The Book and Music Exchange and also The Great Escape and Rahni racked up! She seems to be pretty pschyed about The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, a new comic from Marvel that came out December 2014. She got the lastest copy #6 and now wants to get all of them, of course. Also, she got a few Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers which were pretty expensive considering how old and not so great they looked. I assume that these will only go up in value over the years so I feel pretty confident that the price was justified. Another favorite from her haul is Archie Comics Sabrina The Teenage Witch. From what I have researched the comics for this particular series originated in around 1971. We so far have been able to procure about 30 comics but there are several out there because there seems to be at least 3 different series she appears in not including the Little Archie series. Luckily, we were able to find a lot of the volumes available for digital download on the Archie Comic website for her to read, but our goal is to obtain more paper copies for her collection.

Although it’s been hard to tear her away from her comics she has also been making time for at least a chapter a day of Harry Potter and the Sorcer’s Stone (book 1). She is just now taking it seriously after us purchasing it about a year ago. I think she got discouraged because the words were complicated and some of the concepts were still foreign to her. What a difference a year makes! At my suggestion that she start the book over with new eyes, she started re reading it last week and has 2 chapters to go before she’s finished. Since she is swearing that she has never seen the movie Sorcere’s Stone, (which I know isn’t true because we own all the movies and I have watched them a million times)  I told her that if she finished the book and did the questions from this absolutely awesome guide that I found online, (which you can access here) that she and I would make a night of watching the movie and comparing it to what she’s read. I must confess, I am a bit more excited than she is.

I must say  that I had forgotten how great the books were! When I read them as an adult and it literally took me days to read each one because I was so enthralled with the story. While I did allow my imagination to do most of the work in Sorcer’s Stone, I will also admit that reading them became much easier after having character voices and faces along with landcsapes and visual refernces to use from the movies. Now, seeing it through her eyes and hearing her feedback, it’s almost like a new experience. I will definitely be reading book 2 with her. It’s funny because she says to me the other day, “it’s weird that Snape is a teacher because he seems like a bad guy or Harry Potter’s enemy.” I couldn’t say much for fear of ruining everything. Also, I want to hear and see her reaction once she puts everything together in the Deathly Hallows and see if she has more resolve not to cry like a blubbering idiot like myself and so many others did. Since she is my child, the chances of her not are pretty slim lol!

We don’t have much by the way of a reading list because our focus this summer is to read for comprehension and finding a deeper understanding and meaning in texts. Though she will always have free reading forever and always, her required reading this summer is just 2 books, Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets. I think that the relationships and scenarios are so complex in the Harry Potter books that we could literally spend endless amounts of time analyzing and discussing them. Also, the fact that she is really getting into them and is wanting to duscuss these things makes it that much more of a great opportunity now.

Even though we don’t have a summer reading list we would still LOVE to hear from you guys about what you’re reading and suggestions. Please email us or comment to let us know!

We’ll be posting soon about Read Aloud so stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

Rahni’s Book Club

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I have been saying for months that I was going to start a children’s book club, and today, I finally did. I called the library and reserved a meeting room for our first official meeting. It will be in a month and now I have to invite people and find a book.
There is no particular age range for the club, but the books will be appropriate for kids aged 7 to about 10 just because I don’t want the books that we select to be too difficult or too easy. Since Rahni is 8 and most of the kids that I am going to invite are around her age give or take a couple years, this should hopefully work out. Of course we can always make adjustments as necessary.
Upon looking for our first book selection, I came across some very interesting books that I have never seen before. It seems like these days there is no shortage of books or authors for children to choose from. While representation of ethnic diversity is lacking in characters, today I have found, despite my initial thought, that there are a good amount of books that have both female and male main characters. Admittedly, I usually do not browse for books that boys specifically would be interested in because I don’t have a son. However, when we do go to book stores and libraries, I notice a lot more books with a lot more female protagonists.
When I asked two of my trusted mommy friends about books that both boys and girls would like, they both gave me 2 really good options; one being Sweet Farts series book #1 by Raymond Bean and the other was the Rotten School series book #1 by R.L. Stine.
I never knew the R.L .made any series outside of Goosebumps, so this came as a pleasant surprise to me. The series is not scary, but is funny, and has a good amount of the gross humor that kids tend to like. The first book is titled The Big Blueberry Barf-Off, if that tells you anything. I read excerpts from the book and it seems to be about a very annoying and bratty kid that challenges another kid that is just as bratty to a pie eating contest. It seems legitimately funny and there are short chapters and great illustrations.
Before today, I ashamed to say that I have never heard of author Raymond Bean. He writes children’s humor book series Sweet Farts and School is a Nightmare. He also has a series titles Benji Franklin that I absolutely fell in love with after reading an excerpt from book #1 Benji Franklin Kid Zillionaire. Benji is a child genius and inventor. He wins an award for one of his inventions and becomes the world’s first and only zillionaire. It is a book about creativity, imagination, and also good will. This is definitely a book that goes on our “to read” list.

These are some of the books that I think would be great options, some are newer and some are classics, either way  I think they all appeal to boys and girls.

Click the links after the photos for more info!

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The Magic Shop (series) by Kate Egan
Elray Jakes (series) by Sally Warner 
Club House Mysteries (series) by Sharon Draper   
Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja (series) by Marcus Emerson
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (series) by Judy Blume
The Mouse and the Motorcycle (series) by Beverly Cleary
Freckle Juice by Judy Blume
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Friendle by Andrew Clements
The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling
Stuart Little by E.B. White
George Brown Class Clown (series) by Nancy Krulik

Check It Out!

(photo from lifeofzarf.com)

This is going to be a very quick post because 1. I am on lunch break and 2. I only have 10 minutes left:)

I have been sitting here the last 20 minutes trying to find new books to show Rahni and I come across this littel gem Life of Zarf The Trouble With Weasels by Rob Harrell. What initially drew me into it wa sthe cover art for the book that is featured on Penguin’s website. I am a fan of Harrell’s other books such as Big Top and Monster on the Hill. I was totally unaware of this book, I am so glad that I clicked the link!

The book has all of the elements that we look for; great illustrations (of course because Harrell is amazing), cover art that will grab your attention, and a great plot (from what I read in the excerpt).  I love that it is a comic style/graphic novel style book with just enough prose that she doesn’t get bored or fly through it too quickly. Since she is really into the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, Big Nate, etc I think that this book will go over pretty well with her. Another thing I love is that the web page not only information on the book and author, but also it’s cahracters. To me, this really is great because it goes deeper than just what you read on the pages. It helps to expand your imagination about the characters and most importantly it promotes fandom amongst young readers. This is awesome to me as I am attempting to raise a geek:)

If you have time, definitely check it out! You can also read an excerpt here.

Rahnicraft

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My kid is obsessed with Minecraft and I kinda like it too, though neither one of us truly understand all of the ends and outs of it. She loves to learn new tips and watches so many Youtube tutorials on how to make herself a better player. (I wish she was that interested in learning how to do her schoolwork.)
She just recently started playing on the PC after months of playing the pocket edition on her tablet and it is a completely different experience. Thankfully, The Minecraft Essentials Handbook that she has had for so long came in very handy. Now, if she can manage to get enough supplies to build a real shelter and gathers enough food, maybe she can make it past a couple of nights without having to respawn. 🙂
Well, tonight after she was done with her homework, we were browsing ideas for classroom Valentines Day cards and I thought it would be really neat if we could some how create a Minecrat character out of candy or juice boxes. I still haven’t figured it out, but one thing we discovered were all of the different avatars, or characters that people have created for themselves. While I am no tech geek or very literate in any of the Adobe products, I do know how to manipulate Microsoft Word. She has been wanting her own character for so long, I thought it would be fun to try to create one just for fun.
It’s pretty rough, but the fact that she said it was beautiful and was absolutely blown away by it makes it so worth it!
Who knows, maybe I’ll take some Illustrator classes and see where they take me, you’re never too old to learn new things!

I had some high expectations for this blog

Ok. So I started this blog for Rahni. I had a baking blog (let’s not even talk about what happened to it) that she was intrigued by and wanted her own blog. Of course at the time she was 6. What would a 6 year old’s blog be about?? I decided that she and I would collaborate with the expectation of her getting older and taking over the blog herself.
About that…
We started off really great; she would review books, I would post them. We posted pics of all the books we picked up at the library, I made book lists, etc. Here lately though? Not so much. What happened? Life. Life happened.
I can’t remember the last time we posted a book review or the last time I made any lists of book recommendations. Every time I log into Pinterest and see all of the other bloggers/great moms with their “books for Halloween” or “great books for 3rd graders” types of list, I reflect on just how much effort I have not been putting into this blog and immediately translate that into my terrible parenting skills. I know, I know. I’m crazy. But it seems like I’ve had so many missed opportunities for great blog posts, yet so little time. For instance, one of my friends said she was going to take a look at the blog to get some gift ideas for her girls. …wait? Gift ideas? I felt like I was caught with my pants down. People actually remembered that I have a blog and looked at it??? What?? Here it is mid Nobember and I haven’t made any mention of the holidays on any posts so far. Not even as much as a picture of a turkey, a cornucopia…nothing! Meanwhile I’m sure there are tons of other blog sites/great parents who blog that probably have new Christmas themed backgrounds, blinking lights, activities, contests, gift ideas, etc. Le sigh. I seriously need to get it together. My brain is like a web browser with a million open windows and I just don’t have enough time to execute all of these really awesome projects that I have bookmarked for later.
Speaking of which, we started a podcast. We have 1 episode up on the blog and I was supposed to record one yesterday…however, I have an awful cold. My voice is shot and I feel terrible. I’m currently writing this post while laying in my bed hopped up off of NyQuil on my phone. So far the score is Podcast staying on track 0 me being sick 1.
I will not be dettered though. Sometimes you just have to take things in stride. As far as the blog goes, this is my 3rd post in as many days so yay me for that! No book reviews though, which was the main intention of this blog. I hope that I can keep up this momentum and post some more helpful and entertaining things for you guys. I seriously appreciate the follows, the likes, the reblogs, etc. you guys are so awesome!
My goals this week are to
1. Get better
2. Make a gift ideas list
3. Record a couple more podcast episodes.
Wish me luck!

My Child Can Read ANYTHING…or can she??

Let me just start by saying that my daughter can virtually read ANYTHING. And by ‘read’ I mean just that. She can read long multi-syllabic words by sounding them  out phonetically and she usually gets the pronunciations correct. HOWEVER…she does not always comprehend what she is reading. And by ‘always’ I mean OFTEN. Do not get my wrong, at her grade level she comprehends just fine. She is able to grasp the meaning and if there is a lesson, she pretty much is able to figure that out as well. The problem with this is that she flies through books that are at her grade level. As any other parent that is completely blown away by this, I started feeding her more and more books. In her home library she has over 100, and that is not including what is on her Kindle apps on her Ipod and Galaxy…or my Iphone. In Kindergarten, she started reading  Junie B Jones chapter books. And just last week, she got her first Harry Potter book after her constant begging for it.

 

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Well……

As much as it prides me that my 7, soon to be 8 year old is able to pick up a dictionary and read each word with ease, it kind of worries me that 5 minutes after she reads a book she has no idea or has a hard time summarizing what happened. I felt like this was very problematic, hence her re reading Junie B Jones book 1 that she read 2 years ago. At first, I was hesitant to go back a few grade levels because I didn’t want her to get bored or to stop trying to excel at reading. I didn’t want her ultimate goal of reading “big people” books to be forgotten or abandoned. To my surprise neither of these things have happened! She still enjoys reading books like Junie B, if not more so now then when she was 5. She still flies through the book, but with the shorter chapters and larger print, it’s not as much information for her to have to process. Now when I ask her what happened, it is a lot easier for her to recall and she has a very good understanding of what happened.

Now that I think of it, she is more like me than I thought. About 3 years ago, when the first Hobbit movie was coming out, I decided to re read the book because I am ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. If there is a book to movie, it is imperative that I read the book first (this excludes books based on motion pictures). I know, I’m a snob:) Anyway, keep in mind that I have not read The Hobbit since high school. It only took me a couple days to read it…because I was reading it at work. I absolutely LOVED it! I cannot remember loving the book in high school. I don’t know if it is because I was forced to read it, or because my imagination and level of comprehension has expanded since then. Either way, the dots connected and the light bulb went off.

Seeing and understanding how this works for her now, I will continue to encourage her to read more grade level appropriate books for her level of comprehension. However, we have already made the agreement that for free reading time, she can read anything she wants. Of course, this is within reason as she is also itching to read Game of Thrones. I told her maybe in middle school. Maybe. Probably. We’ll see. 🙂

From Mom: I must be a bad parent. Oh well!

This week I watched a video about strength finding. In this video, Marcus Buckingham, the co author of Now, Discover Your Strengths, goes on to discuss how people focus so much on trying to
correct their weaknesses that they very seldom build their strengths. Marcus does a lot of seminars for people who are looking to be more successful in their careers. His message is, to me, geared more towards managers, companies, and individuals in corporations or business, and even college.
In this video, one example he used was when a child gets all A’s on their report card but gets one F in a subject parents tend to focus solely on the F. They start investing all of their time and resources on basically something that the child just doesn’t get. This apparently is not the correct thing to do and the overall message that the class got was, “everyone will not be strong in everything so why waste your time trying to improve something if it’s not one of your strengths?”
…wait, what?
I was sitting there, jaw dropped in total shock and awe. In the video, Marcus talked about how he wasn’t a good at speaking and how his employer had him take classss and do excercises and in the the end he went from completely sucking at public speaking to being really bad at it. I got it. The overall message he was giving in that example was that speaking, at the time, was not his strength. Ok. Makes sense. But the other example still had me miffed.
…Then came the class discussion. Everyone in the class was like, “yeah, my parents made me study math, blah, blah, blah and I STILL didn’t get it! Such a waste of time!” I also heard, “why would you make someone who isn’t good at painting take painting classes?”
…wait, what?
Immediately this starts playing over and over in my mind.
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At this point, I am totally confused. Is this really happening? What world am I in? All I could keep thinking was that these examples he’s giving DO NOT APPLY FOR SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN!!! Of course if you, as AN EMPLOYEE somewhere are not the best at analyzing data, or public speaking, etc. you simply do not apply for jobs in these areas. You build a CAREER on your strength, but most of us only are able to get said career AFTER we have completed some kind of education.
When you are in a school that has a pass/fail grading system, whether you feel like a subject is your strength or not, you still must pass the subject in order to be promoted to the next grade level. We may all feel like algebra is a waste of time, and hate to convert fractions into whole numbers, but guess what? We HAVE to learn how to do it in order to graduate. Period point blank. Unless you have unlimited financial resources, you can’t just pick what you feel like your children should be graded on and taught in school. In public school, you very seldom have that luxury.
I’m the parent that focuses on the bad grade. I’m the parent that invests time and resources into subject matter that my daughter is not the best in. I’m the parent that does drills and worksheets for us to do after school to supplement what she is/isn’t taught . Not only do I do these things because she MUST learn them in order to be successful in our school system, but because I know that the way she is being taught these subjects in school, may not be the way that she can learn them effectively. I do it because everyone learns differently and at different paces. I do it because I don’t want her using a crutch like, “math isn’t my thing” to skate through school and be mediocre. I do it because I don’t want her to be afraid to learn new things just because at first they may seem difficult. I do it because I know she can learn it.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many people that have learning disabilities. The brain is a very complex thing. I know that everyone will not grasp everything no matter how much we try to teach and explain it no matter what methods we use. There are also people who don’t get things AT FIRST. They need repetition, examples, charts, reading material, etc. in order to completely understand and apply what they have learned. My daughter happens to be one of those. Many people happen to be like that. I went my entire career in secondary school thinking that I “wasn’t good at math.” That I “just didn’t get it.” It took me to start baking and applying different math concepts for the light bulb to FINALLY go off. 10 years out of high school, and I felt like I had finally gotten it.
Then there are also things in life that you either “have it” or you don’t, like painting, drawing, dancing, singing, etc. But for the most part those are natural abilities that just come to you and they usually cannot be taught. You don’t have to be able to draw to become a doctor. You don’t have to sing a perfect scale to go to college or get a job at a Fortune 500 company. But you do have to know basic math and English.
My daughter gets high scores in reading. She’s is well above her grade level and she thoroughly enjoys reading. She has well over 100 books currently in her library and numerous E-books on her Kindle. Once I realized in kindergarten that she was gifted in reading, I IMMEDIATELY started cultivating that. We ALWAYS read, we frequent our public libraries, we make journals, we discuss books and literature. I started THIS very blog because I wanted to share our journey and resources. I don’t only focus and invest in her so called weakness in math, I also build upon her strengths and motivate her to do better and to more while still making it fun and intriguing for her.
There has to be a balance. I think that we MUST invest our time and resources into our children’s strengths as well as the weaknesses, especially when those weaknesses are the difference between a scholarship or an educational opportunity.
When it comes to our children, especially in their early education, I don’t think it’s a good idea to just basically say “f$&k it, reading isn’t his strength anyway” and only focus on their strengths. If I did that now, with my 7 year old, I could only imagine all of the problems she would have later on down the road.
While I absolutely LOVE the idea of strength finding in the workplace or personal life, I do not think that the concept can be placed in all life scenarios.