Fletcher and I just finished reading The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster – a book I remember reading as a child and one which I loved reading again with my sweet boy. It is chock full of silly twists of language and surprisingly intelligent puns with a few bits of sage advice thrown in for good measure. These three quotes below are among my favorites, spoken by the Princesses of Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason. In Fletcher’s words “Wow – they sure are wise!”
“You must never feel badly about making mistakes,” explained Reason quietly, “as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.”
“But I could never have done it,” he objected “without everyone else’s help.”
“That may be true,” said Reason gravely, “but you had the courage to try; and what you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do.”
“And remember, also,” added the Princess of Sweet Rhyme, “that many places you would like to see are just off the map and many things you want to know are just out of sight or a little beyond your reach. But someday you’ll reach them all, for what you learn today, for no reason at all, will help you discover all the wonderful secrets of tomorrow.”
I can’t wait to get this book for Fletcher. And Lola Gray, too.
Have you heard about Readeo? I just discovered it today, and I’m curious . . . .
Readeo was founded in 2009 by CEO Coby Neuenschwander while living in Chicago with his son Oliver. Because of the distance between Oliver and his grandparents, they were having trouble establishing a meaningful relationship. Visits only happened a couple of times per year, phone calls were inadequate, and video chat alone didn’t hold Oliver’s attention. Reading together became the vehicle for establishing and strengthening the relationship between grandparent and grandchild.
I love the idea. I love the thought of my parents and in-laws being able to read with my children online. Love the thought of my kids being able to read with their cousins and share that experience across the miles. But I’m not convinced. I signed up for a “guest” membership which allows you to read the Book of the Month for free and to preview other titles in the library. There aren’t a ton of books in the library yet, but there is a good range in terms of age-appropriateness and diverse interests and they say they will be adding more titles every month. I haven’t asked anyone else to sign up yet to try a “face to face” interaction, and that may be the deal clincher with this.
My hesitation is two-fold. First, the fee is pretty steep, though right now they are offering a 59% discount off the yearly membership, dropping the price to $49.95. Not bad if it is used a lot . . . but a lot more expensive than the public library! Also, while I love the graphic that makes it look like actual pages turning, the pages seemed a little small on my laptop screen and the words were a bit tough to read. I want Fletcher to be able to show off his reading skills to his grandparents, but if he can’t see the words . . .
Has anyone out there given Readeo a try yet? I’d love to hear what you think!
My boy is reading.
For a while now we have suspected he could read more than he was letting on. He is zipping through the readers at school, and easily passes every sight word test. Every now and then he would pop out with something he read, but if you asked him to read for you? Forget it.
I’m not sure what has changed in the last few weeks, but now he is just sitting down and reading like it is no big deal. I love it. And I love this photo of him. He seems really grown up to me all of a sudden. . .
No ham for us, but we did have green eggs (and zucchini tomato muffins) for dinner last night to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday. How did I go all these years not knowing that my father and Dr. Seuss share a birthday??
We had great plans to meet friends at the park this morning – the kids excited to splash in the fountains and play freeze tag with their friends, I excited to have coffe time with the girls. Unfortunately, we awoke to pouring rain. I’m not normally deterred by a little rain, but the thunder was pretty ominous . . . better to stay inside today.
Fortunately, the kids have rediscovered their Leapfrog TAG readers, and have spent all morning reading to themselves and playing games! Have you seen these TAG readers and books? I think it is such a fabulous idea – they have dozens of storybooks, some classics like The Little Engine That Could, and some new ones that must have been written specifically for Leapfrog. And they look just like regular books with nice hard covers and paper pages that you turn to read the story. BUT, touch any word on the page with the TAG reader pen and it says the word out loud! Touch the pictures for sound effects! The reader can read the entire story, with a special sound to let children know when to turn the page, and it plays games to reinforce reading comprehension. Fletcher especially loves the games and collecting “rewards” online.
They have played all morning and have not even asked once to turn on the television! The only down side has been that they keep asking me to switch the books on their readers, since their version only holds a few books at a time (newer versions hold a lot more I think.)
Lola Gray was perhaps a bit young when she first got her TAG for Christmas last year. At barely 3 she had a hard time understanding what to do with the pen and holding it properly to make the reader work. Leapfrog has since come out with a TAG Junior version for 2-4 year olds that looks a lot easier for little ones, though we haven’t actually seen it in action.
The books cost a little more than regular books, but not much, and they are coming out with new titles all the time. It is such a brilliant marriage of technology and tradition – one I feel much better about allowing my children to play for hours on end than other more “digital” games. Not that digital is all bad. Fletcher has learned a tremendous amount playing his Leapster and now Lola Gray is asking for her very own pink Leapster so she can play the princess games and Dora games that Fletcher will not allow on his. Perhaps for Christmas . . . or the next rainy day!
I love reading to my children, especially when we read really good books. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that Captain Underpants is great reading to a 5 year old, and Angelina Ballerina is magical to 3 year old girls . . . but that’s not the kind of reading I’m talking about. I’m talking about children’s books with lyrical prose and poignant characters, books with words that flow like music and stories that take you places you never expected to go, books that are as much a joy for the reader as for the listener. We have discovered a handful of these gems lately, and I’ve decided that as I find them, I need to share them here. My new favorite author is Kate DiCamillo. We just finished reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and all I can say is Wow.
This story of a china rabbit touches on everything that is real in life – love, loss, pain, patience, moving on. It’s heavy stuff for a children’s book. Fletcher may not have “gotten” all of it but I know he enjoyed the story and I can not tell you how much I enjoyed reading it to him. This is the 3rd book we have read by Kate DiCamillo, and I am a total devotee. She is amazing. Most everyone has heard of Desperaux by now, thanks to the animated movie based on the book. We have not seen the movie, but I can tell you the book is amazing. Dark and passionate in a way you don’t expect from a child’s book, but then again, what is more dark and passionate than a child?
DiCamillo also writes picture books, though the fact that they are not novels should not make you think they are any less sophisticated. Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken is about wanderlust and adventure and the comforts of home. Beautiful.
Today was the annual Savannah Children’s Book Festival. Though it poured down rain last night, this morning was beautiful and mild, a perfect day to spend in the park.
The highlight of the event, for me, was seeing Mo Willams, author of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Leonardo the Terrible Monster, Knuffle Bunny and many others. He was a fabulous speaker, and a master at entertaining both the little ones and their parents! He read several of his books and then he taught everyone how to draw his famous pigeon – they even handed out paper and crayons and Fletcher drew and amazing pigeon. After the talk, Mo signed books for both of the children.
Fletcher & Lola Gray's pigeon drawings
For the kids, the highlight of the event (besides the cotton candy) was meeting Miss Rosa from PBS. She was wonderful with the kids, and I think they are now both in love with her. Fletcher asked her where Hooper was (Hooper is the animated hamster that hosts the show with Miss Rosa) and she did not miss a beat. She said Hooper was on vacation, then asked Fletcher if he ever went on vacation with his family. That started a whole conversation about camping, and I would swear she seemed genuinely interested!
Raymond also took the kids to see Freight Train author Donald Crews, who again signed our well worn copy of his book.
Rain put a quick end to the festivities, but we had lots of fun splashing in puddles on our way back to the car!