Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Grammar Graphics: Desert vs Dessert

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

We know that mastering the English language and all its quirks can be tricky, so we’ve rounded up some commonly mixed-up words and invented some silly scenes to go along with them. Use our Grammar Graphics to help make these words’ definitions — and differences— stick!

Speaking of dessert, let’s take this week to tackle desert vs dessert.

A classic mnemonic device to differentiate the spelling of these two words is to tell yourself that when it’s dessert, you want to ask for seconds (because there are two S’s in dessert…get it?). We just wanted to top that off with a delicious desert scene and definitions.

Desert and Dessert

What dessert do you want a piece of this holiday season?

Don’t Take the Imagination Out of Literature

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

The middle school book club I teach on Saturdays just completed a piece of fantasy literature: The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. The book functions on the premise that Alice in Wonderland is real — but Lewis Carroll distorted Alice’s story while she was here on planet earth. The real Wonderland is a realm of violent warring factions who wage battle using sophisticated magic and technology. It’s a cool concept, and was definitely a nice break from the tougher stuff I tend to give my middle school class (This Boy’s Life was met almost unanimously with groans and I spent way too much time in class explaining why Toby can’t simply be dismissed as “a bad kid”).

The Looking Glass Wars was definitely a fun book, and Frank Beddor (the producer of There’s Something About Mary) basically basically wrote it as a blueprint for a Hollywood film. The book itself loaded with some befitting tropes: characterization happens really rapidly, people in the book embody the classic hero and villain archetypes, and themes like the power of imagination are delivered in a pretty in-your-face manner. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it presented me with a cool opportunity to get kids thinking about the elements of a Hollywood movie and common Hollywood character types.

But then there was this: the publisher inserted several glossy pages featuring very detailed “concept art” in the middle of the book. Upon seeing the illustrations, one of my students exclaimed, “They’re all white!”, a comment that elicited a chorus of giggles from her peers. (more…)

For Anna, it’s all about the page count

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Motivation is a huge topic in reading. So many parents and teachers deal with motivation issues every day. I saw this quote recently; I think it applies nicely to reading: Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. (Jim Ryun, author and runner)

Yesterday’s trip to the library was an interesting lesson for me about Anna’s motivation to read. After Anna slipped 3 or 4 really thick books into our bag, I had to ask her about it.

Me: You sure are getting some big books this time!
Anna: I know! Look! This one has 261 pages. And 18 chapters!
Me: Really! Wow. What’s it about? And what IS THAT on the cover?!

Anna is motivated these days only by books that make her feel older and more like a “real reader.” I remember her going through a similar phase when she wanted to make the jump to chapter books a little before her reading skills were ready (thank goodness for Amanda Pig and Henry and Mudge!)

What motivates a reader to read? For parents, it may mean gathering books about a vacation spot or one that matches your child’s current hobby, keeping the reading climate at home fun and engaging all the way from A-Z.

For teachers, motivating a reader might mean hooking them in through high interest-low vocabulary books or through some outstanding non-fiction picture books, or by getting the family involved through family literacy bags.

Whether you’re a parent or a teacher (or both!), I hope you’re able to find an extra minute or two today to figure out what’s going to create a habit for a special reader in your life.