Tag Archives: #Reading

On writers and publishing

Most of us booklovers have probably dreamt of writing our own masterpieces someday.  That dream may be more achievable than you think – the internet has given us more opportunities to get our work noticed, both in terms of helping us connect with potential mentors, buddies and audiences, and also in terms of self-publishing (physical books, eBooks and online).  Here’s some inspiration, information and motivation to finally get started on “that book you have in you”.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Did you know that this acclaimed novel of a woman’s battling early-onset Alzheimer’s disease was originally self-published?  After receiving no interest from traditional publishers and literary agents, Lisa Genova chose to self-publish, then set about engaging with potential readers through social media.  Her persistence was rewarded with internet buzz and solid sales, and eventually led to an offer from a major publisher.  E.L. James’ 50 Shades trilogy is another famous and successful example of a book that was self-published before gaining attention from traditional publishers.

How to Make a Living with Your Writing by Joanna Penn

This is the manual for Living the Dream – how to support yourself as a full-time writer.  Joanna Penn is an author, speaker, marketer and publisher who has developed a growing business – and a six-figure income – out of her creative output.  In How to Make a Living with Your Writing, she uses her own experience to show how to make money from books, and also how to capitalise on your creativity in other ways, such as by blogging, public speaking, coaching and content marketing.  Also checkout her website, The Creative Penn  for a wealth of (free) tips and resources for aspiring writers.

The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig

Chuck Wendig has built a successful writing career by embracing new formats and media – his works include a blog, eBooks, computer games, scripts, comics as well as novels.  He also writes great writing advice – his tone is sharp and in-your-face and aims to challenge and provoke.  The Kick-Ass Writer starts from the beginning – how to get started, how to build characters and dialogue and develop suspense – and onto how to deal with publishers and agents, and how to promote, connect and market yourself.  It also discusses crowd funding, self-publishing writer’s block and how to handle rejection.  A great resource for helping you become the Kick-Ass Writer you want to be.

Publishing: a Writer’s Memoir by Gail Godwin 

For an insider’s take on writers and their relationships with the publishing industry, you cannot go past Gail Godwin’s memoir.  Gail Godwin has been a writer for five decades, with over 20 published works.  Publishing: a Writer’s Memoir reflects on Gail as a writer: her hunger to be published, her craft, and what it means to be a modern author (there is a great anecdote about branding and self-promotion).  It also reflects on the changing nature of the publishing industry, from a more “gentlemanly”, literary enterprise to big business. Gail Godwin offers fascinating insights to anyone curious about the book industry.

 

From blogger / vlogger to author

Developing great blogs and vlogs (eg YouTube channels) are an increasingly common pathway to a book deal.  Blogs/vlogs are powerful tools that can help you hone your writing skills, develop/promote your brand and connect with potential readers.  Many popular authors – particularly in the humour / food & wellness / lifestyle / parenting categories – first became known through their blogs. Two of my favourite bloggers/vloggers-turned-authors include:

Advanced Style: Older and Wiser by Ari Seth Cohen

Advanced Style started as a blog celebrating stylish, older New Yorkers, and has turned into a worldwide movement.  The colourful portraits in Advanced Style urge us to be bold, take risks and dress how we like, whether we are 15 or 85.  I saw the eponymous documentary a few years’ ago, and not only was there great style on-screen, many of the audience were bold and stylish too.  Advanced Style is joyous and gloriously inspirational.

The Dumpling Sisters Cookbook by Amy and Julie Zhang

Amy and Julie Zhang are popular YouTubers whose Dumpling Sisters videos showcase modern takes on homestyle Chinese dishes. 

The sisters – born in China, raised in New Zealand and now living in the UK – love their food because it’s a reminder of their Chinese background and their childhood, and also because it’s a great way to connect with their friends.  Dishes such as oyster sauce beef and broccoli, and prawn and spinach wontons, are great whether for some quiet me-time or for fun and casual entertaining.

Reading resources that help foster the love of reading

Mad for books?  Have a number of different versions of the same book?  *Refuse* to watch a film adaptation of your favourite book because it will ruin it for you?  You, my friend, are book obsessed.  A bibliophile.  A book addict.

Booko features many resources and guides to help support both children and adults to improve their literacy.  But what about those people that don’t need support, they just need a *support* group?  We’ve uncovered some absolute gems of resources that can not only feed your addiction but also connect with other book lovers from all over the world.

Image from Instagram.com

 

Audiobooks

Audiobooks were once the realm of the older members of society who listened to the Classics from the comfort of their Jason recliners.  Now in the modern world of multi-tasking, we are listening to books while we drive from A to B, fold the washing, make dinner or walk the dog.  In a world where you’re expected to be well versed in the latest books, music and Ted  Talks, audiobooks are a great way to get across some of the new releases or favourite classics while you’re on the move.  We have compiled a great selection that you can choose from here.

Apps

As you can imagine, there are a huge number of apps that can enhance your reading experience.  We’ve explored some of the best ones for you:

This award-winning app is a bookmarking service which is owned by Pinterest.  Web pages can be marked to read later on another device such as an iPad for example.

A speed-reading app for iPhone, this service allows you to speed-read all your favourite articles, allowing you to read faster.

This app is a reader that allows you to read your Ebooks comfortably.  The use of visually pleasing font and ability to just display the text of the book you are reading without distraction, you can adjust the brightness of the screen to make the reading process more enjoyable.

iReadItNow is a great way to manage all the books you are reading or planning to read.  Its a great historical record of your reading life – what you read, how you read it and what resonated with you.

Book Clubs

Book Clubs are a great way to discuss your favourite books with like-minded book addicts. Depending on your schedule and your preferences, there are some great face-to-face and virtual Book Clubs you can join.  If you are a fan of a particular genre, it might make sense to join a book club that suits.

Some of the most popular options are the Goodreads Book Club (Emma Watson has her own Goodreads Feminist Book Club) or some great face-to-face options via your local city.

Experiences

If you’re keen to visit famous bookshops or literary places of interest, there are some great travel options for you to choose from.  The Lonely Planet features a range of literary walking tours around the world which explore the birthplaces of famous authors and significant places that are featured in books.

If beautifully quaint bookshops are more your thing, there is a travel agency that specialises in bookshop travel.  If you are interested in visiting bookshops in a more virtual sense, check out one of our recent blog posts.

10 ways to foster a love of reading for your child

Learning to read, or rather teaching someone else to learn to read can be a daunting task – do you start with phonetics, rhyming, sounds or learn the name of letters? Whatever way you choose, sharing the love of reading needs to be fun, relaxed and exciting. Our favourite book on the topic is The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, it’s been a wonderful resource for several of the Booko children. Here are our top 10 tips from the book:

  1. Begin reading to your children as soon as possible. The younger you start them, the easier, and better it is.
  2. Set aside at least one specific time each day for a story and make it part of your daily routine.
  3. Start with picture books that have only a few sentences on the page, then gradually move to books with more text and fewer pictures before building to chapter books.
  4. As you read, keep listeners involved by occasionally asking ‘what do you think is going to happen next?’
  5. If the chapters are long, or you don’t have enough time to finish one each day, find a suspenseful spot at which to stop. Leave your little audience hanging and they will be counting the minutes until the next reading.
  6. Allow your listeners a few minutes to settle down and adjust their feet and minds to the story. Mood is an important factor in listening, make sure you foster a receptive one.
  7. Use expression when reading. Change your tone, adjusting pace and lowering your voice in suspenseful parts makes it all very exciting.
  8. Slow down. The most common mistake is reading too fast. Reading quickly allows no time for mental pictures to be made and more expression to be used.
  9. Bring the author to life. Google the author to find out more about them. This lets them know that books are written by people and not machines.
  10. When children wish to read to you, it is better for the book to be too easy than too hard, just as a beginner’s bicycle is better to be too small than too big.

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Upon its first publication in 1982, millions of parents and educators have turned to Jim Trelease’s beloved classic for more than three decades to help countless children become avid readers through awakening their imaginations and improving their language skills. It has also been a staple in schools of education for new teachers. This updated edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook discusses the benefits, the rewards, and the importance of reading aloud to children of a new generation. Supported by delightful anecdotes as well as the latest research (including the good and bad news on digital learning). The Read-Aloud Handbook offers proven techniques and strategies for helping children discover the pleasures of reading and setting them on the road to becoming lifelong readers.

 

Here’s a few of our favourites to help you share the joy of reading aloud:

 

Creature abc by Andrew Zuckerman.

Alphabet books can be valuable for teaching kids the sounds that letters make — but only if they are fun to read! Creature abc is fun; it features amazing animal photographs and an entertaining format. On one page is a letter (e.g. “Aa”) and a photograph of an animal’s body part (e.g. an alligator’s hand). When I read this book, I make the letter’s sound, and my kids guess what animal they will see on the following page.

 

 

Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox

There are red sheep and blue sheep, wind sheep and wave sheep, scared sheep and brave sheep, but where is the green sheep? The search is on in this cozy, sheep-filled story from beloved author Mem Fox and popular Australian cartoonist Judy Horacek. Complete with sleepy rhymes and bright illustrations, this book is sure to delight children of all ages, from the very young to those just beginning to read. Mem has never owned a sheep, let alone a green one, but she does admit to having woolly thoughts from time to time. Judy loves drawing things, especially sheep. This is her first flock.

 

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

This gentle bedtime story, which has lulled generations of children to sleep, is the perfect first book to share at bedtime. In a great green room a little bunny is tucked up snugly and safely in bed and is getting ready to say goodnight to all the familiar things in his room, one by one. Margaret Wise Brown’s comforting, rhythmical text accompanied by the warmth of Clement Hurd’s classic mid-century illustrations make Goodnight Moon a timeless picture book, which is known and loved around the world.

 

I Am So Strong by Mario Ramos

This is a terrific read aloud – it’s a book with some yelling in it, with a handful of  familiar characters like a wolf and Red Riding Hood and three pigs, joined by a couple of dwarfs, and a baby dinosaur and his HUGE mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of all, have fun together!

Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks

As our friends in the US celebrate Thanksgiving today, we at Team Booko are also reflecting on Thanksgiving and thankfulness in general. Thanksgiving traditions are borne of the harvest festivals of Europe, and of the age-old practice of giving thanks to God at significant events; modern-day Thanksgiving is characterised by travelling home – there are more long-distance travellers at Thanksgiving than at Christmas – and of course, a traditional feast including roast turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.   Although Thanksgiving seems a quintessentially American holiday, it is celebrated in places as diverse as Canada, Liberia and Norfolk Island, and its messages of gratitude, community and sharing will find resonance in any part of the world.

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh, illustrated by Helen Sewell

The Thanksgiving Story is a classic picture book about the events leading up to the first Thanksgiving, as seen through the eyes of three children.  Giles, Constance and Demaris Hopkins are travelling on the crowded Mayflower with their parents, bound for a place where they hope to practise their religion freely.  Alice Dalgliesh adds lots of historical detail to enrich a familiar story of early hardships ultimately overcome with the help of the Native Americans, leading to the first successful harvest. A Caldecott Honor book.

‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey

’Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving is no ordinary story – simply because it is written by Dav Pilkey (of Captain Underpants fame).  Dav has taken the classic Christmas poem and given it a Thanksgiving twist.  Eight children are enjoying an excursion to a turkey farm on the eve of Thanksgiving. When they realise that the cute baby turkeys are earmarked for Thanksgiving dinner, some quick thinking is required. Sufficed to say that those children end up with plump feathered guests at their respective (vegetarian) Thanksgiving feasts!  Something funny and a bit different for this tradition-laden day.

1621: a New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac

The events surrounding the first Thanksgiving have become mythologised over the past centuries.  1621: a New Look at Thanksgiving invites readers to see through the myths, by showing the events from the perspective of the Wampanoag, one of the Native American tribes who shared that first Thanksgiving feast.  It is richly informative about the Wampanoag’s culture and way of life.  1621: a New Look at Thanksgiving reminds us that history is often subjective, and challenges us to think and question what we know.

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr

When you are a kid and the grownups keep nagging you to say “thank you” to everything, it can be hard to understand what there is to be thankful about.  The Thankful Book, with its bright colours, simple pictures and gentle text, reminds us of the little things that brightening our days – music that makes us want to dance; friends that make us smile; hair that make us unique.  The Thankful Book is wise and joyous, and sure to spark good conversations about happiness and thankfulness.

The Gratitude Diaries: how a Year Looking on the Bright Side can Transform your Life by Janice Kaplan

“Always look on the bright side of life” can have life-changing effects – just ask Janice Kaplan.  The editor and former journalist made a new year’s resolution to show more gratitude for a year, and it had remarkably positive effects on her physical and mental well-being. Janice Kaplan discovers that not only can a positive attitude influence our sense of fulfilment, it can change our neural pathways and even influence our children’s happiness.  The Gratitude Diaries is a skilful blend of self-help, memoir and popular science that will both entertain and inspire.

What we can learn from the Slow Books movement

source: www.huffingtonpost.com

Are you a booklover who struggles to find time to read?  If, like me, your answer is yes, then the Slow Books movement is for you.

Slow Books is the extension of a philosophy first appearing as Slow Food. It encourages people to rediscover “old-fashioned reading” – sit down and read a book, uninterrupted, for at least 30 minutes each day. Such reading should be deliberate and reflective, not simply trying to finish as many pages as possible.  Slow Books devotees suggest that slow reading reduces stress, as well as improve people’s ability to think, concentrate and empathise.

Slow Books ties in with digital detox; an opportunity to reduce mental clutter and to re-develop our attention spans and comprehension – known negative effects of our increasing reliance upon online reading.   The Internet’s effect upon changes to our cognition is explored in Nicholas Carr’s provocative book The Shallows: how the internet is changing the way we read, think and remember.

Besides Slow Food and Slow Books, the Slow philosophy can also be applied to activities including travel, education and relationships.  Carl Honoré’s In Praise of Slowness offers a compelling overview of the Slow ideal, including how it can be applied to daily life.  This subversive book also spawned a popular TED talk.   The guiding principle of the Slow Movement is the rejection of the “faster is better” mentality ; instead it advocates a mindful approach where we slow down to do something properly – savouring the process along the way.   

And if you need any more encouragement, just remember that a recent study from Yale has found that regular book-readers live almost two years longer than non-readers.

        

How to get started: Ingredients for enjoying books, slowly 
  • Create a comfortable reading spot – beanbag, armchair or in bed?  An internet search on “reading nooks” will reveal gorgeous examples, from cosy to quirky to elegant.  
  • Make time for reading – before it becomes a natural habit, use reminders to help you set aside a regular timeslot.  You can even join a Slow Reading Club if you prefer to read in a social environment.
  • Find a great book – a gripping story that will draw you in and help you forget the passage of time.  Start with a genre you enjoy, or try some current bestsellers such as The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty.

Books as a gateway to a simpler and more fulfilling life

The act of reading a book is a time-honoured way to connect us to the simpler things in life. It helps us make sense of the world in which we live. The age-old habit of sitting down in a quiet place, perhaps with a cup of tea or coffee, and opening the pages of a book is in itself conducive to relaxing, learning and, as a result, relieving stress.

But what about going one step further? How about reading books that inspire you to engage in mindfulness and the slow life? Books, ebooks and audio books teach, inspire and help us to find our way to a simpler, more fulfilling life.

One of the surest ways to relieve stress is to opt for a simpler, happier lifestyle; one closer to that led by our previous generations. All of these books help teach us to slow down, to practice stress-relieving activities, such as meditation, minimalism and mindfulness. In other words, to take time out to smell the roses!

Here are a few titles to help you learn and practice methods of reducing stress in your life and reconnect with the simpler things in life.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:dalaiThe Art of Happiness: a Handbook for Living

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is possibly one of the most respected spiritual leaders on our planet. His gentle lifestyle guidance and teachings are directed, not just at practitioners of Buddhism, but the whole world. In The Art of Happiness, His Holiness — in collaboration with psychiatrist Howard Cutler — teaches us there is a path towards happiness. The key is being able to recognise what in our lives causes us to be happy and then, by cultivating the right mental practice, we can achieve a balanced, contented state of mind.

Through stories and meditations, he shows us how to beat daily insecurities, anxieties and stress, leading us gently towards what he describes as “the purpose of life”, that of true happiness.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:mindfulnessThe Miracle of Mindfulness

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh’s classic guide to mindfulness is still considered one of the classics in its field, over thirty years after its original publication. Originally written as a letter to a fellow brother suffering under atrocities during the Vietnam War, Buddhist monk Thich uses stories and allegories to urge his brothers to continue on the mindfulness path.

The book has served as an instruction manual for the now widespread practice of meditation and has become recognised as a powerful guide to (in His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s words) “show us the connection between personal, inner peace and peace on earth”.

The Miracle of Mindfulness is full of thought exercises, allegories and wonderful examples of how to practice mindfulness in everyday living in commonplace acts such as washing up and drinking tea.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:chickensZen and the Art of Raising Chickens

Clea Danaan’s book Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens is a quirky, entertaining and informative book about how raising chickens in an urban or suburban environment can help get you back to the simpler things in life and reduce stress.

Written to make you smile as much as inform, the author nevertheless points to a few truths about chickens. Namely how their personalities, habits and idiosyncratic ways slow us down to their rhythms. Chapter titles such as “The Sound of One Wing Flapping” and “The Mind of the Chicken is Ungraspable” underline the way their “chickeny” characteristics can make us relax and laugh. Anecdotal evidence is (thankfully) abundantly documented by the author who also shows us the practical, healthy side of raising chickens in your own backyard.

Original and full of wit, yet containing a central truth about how keeping chickens can help ground us in a healthier, less stressful, more mindful lifestyle; Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens inspires and teaches as well as entertains.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:actionMindfulness in Action

Interested in learning more about simplicity and the power of meditation to change lives? Mindfulness in Action takes you to the very core of simplicity and awareness through meditation exercises and teachings. The author uses wisdom and insight to teach us to simply sit still and reconnect with the very concept of being human in our ever faster-paced world.

The book is edited by Carolyn Gimian, a longtime student and expert chronicler of Chogyam Trungpa’s teachings. This remarkable book offers something for everyone, whether a novice or experienced meditator.

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:joyThe Joy of Less

The art of minimalism revolves around doing more with less. In this fascinating account, author Francine Jay points to the benefits of decluttering your home or workspace, in a way that brings us back to simpler, more satisfying living.

Not only does the author give tips on how to save money by ridding your space of excess material, she also demonstrates how living with less can be a path to greater happiness and simplicity.

Reading is the ultimate activity in enjoying “quiet moments” that centre our days and help to reduce the stress in our lives. In doing so you are joining the generations of people before you, from mystics, to learned scientists, to poets and professors, to just lovers of a good book, all who have used the written word to learn, relax and relieve stress.

Join them and find out how books can change you to appreciate a slower, more relaxed and fulfilling life.

 

6 books that will change how you see the world

Consider what words of advice, experiences or books you have read that have made a lasting impact on your life.  The best thing about reading when you are going through a challenging time or even just a period of change, is that someone who has been there before can help, if only in a small way.  Here are our recommendations of books that have changed our lives for the better, or tipped our perspective on its head for a moment in time.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:invisiblegorillaThe Invisible Gorilla and Other Ways our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris & Daniel Simons

The funny thing is, we feel like we have a reasonable understanding of how our mind works.  The authors of ‘The Invisible Gorilla’ challenge this when they show just how our mind plays tricks on us and why people succumb to everyday illusions.  The Invisible Gorilla shows how our intuition deceives us and how we can ‘train our brain’ to withstand it’s effects.

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:stumblingStumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Why are lovers quicker to forgive their partners for infidelity than for leaving dirty dishes in the sink?  Why does the line at the grocery store always slow down when we join it? In this book, Harvard psychologist Gilbert argues that our ability to remember past happiness is flawed.  Added to this is that our ability to predict what will make us happy is not well developed.  The net result is that our human minds are working against our own happiness.  This book explores how we can best challenge ourselves to seek happiness.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:moneyYour Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

The premise of this book is that every day you go to work to trade the hours of your life for money.  If you spend that money on things you don’t need, you are essentially trading your life for material possessions that don’t add value to your life.  This is a classic financial self-help book that offers a nine-step program for how to live a more meaningful life, showing readers how to get out of debt, save money, reorder priorities, and convert problems into opportunities.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:thinkethAs a Man Thinketh by James Allen

“A person is limited only by the thoughts that he chooses.” A classic book that has helped thousands for over a century, “As a Man Thinketh” is based on the premise of ‘you are your thoughts’ and provides a guide on how to use your thoughts to the betterment of your life.

 

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:shallowsThe Shallows by Nicholas Carr

This book explores the thinking that the internet, for all its instantaneous information, is making us stupid.  We are losing the ability to think deeply due to the ease with which we can easily source the answers to just about any question we can think of.  “The Net’s interactivity gives us powerful new tools for finding information, expressing ourselves, and conversing with others. It also turns us into lab rats constantly pressing levers to get tiny pellets of social or intellectual nourishment.”

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:fooledFooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets by Nassim Nicolas Taleb

From the author of international bestseller The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness is the bestselling account of the hidden role of chance in life and the markets.Everyone wants to succeed in life. But what causes some of us to be more successful than others? Is it really down to skill and strategy – or something altogether more unpredictable? This book is the word-of-mouth sensation that will change the way you think about business and the world.

How reading makes you more creative

Our lives are fast flowing and are becoming increasingly so.  In this digital age of capturing virtual Pokemons, streaming TV, social media, apps and games, it’s worthwhile considering the impact all of this has on our reading levels.  Unsurprisingly, we do seem to be reading less: children under 13 still enjoy the act of reading a book but studies are showing a decline in reading after the onset of puberty.

So what are we missing out on?  The standard benefits of enjoying a book are relaxation, improvements in our literacy as well as its soporific effects.  But what if I told you it could help improve your creativity?  Creativity for Life recommends  reading books (as opposed to blogs, short stories or small passages of writing) as a way of ‘turning on’ your brain.

Experiencing different genres

20 minutes set aside each day to read different genres will gradually enable your mind to think differently and as such, your creativity will be released.  If you are a fan of a particular writing style, challenge yourself with another.

Building our concentration levels

There are so many channels that we have access to (mobile/social media/television etc) that we don’t truly concentrate on a single thing at any given point in time.  We are becoming the kings and queens of multi-tasking – but at what expense?  Books have a way of truly absorbing our concentration like other channels can’t.  The benefits of this are that, like any muscle, constant use will increase our concentration levels, which improves our creative abilities.

Improving our vocabulary

I was a prolific reader during Primary school in particular.  I also featured in the top end of town when it came to spelling tests.  The reason?  I discovered words I had never been taught in the classroom just from reading books.  This improved my spelling abilities as I came across and then unpicked these new words.  Reading improves our vocabulary like few channels can.  Constantly challenging ourselves by reading more complex texts and different genres will compound this effect.  That’s something you can’t get from Facebook.

Increasing brain functionality

Research that came out of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, has discovered that reading books increases connections in the brain which makes permanent neurological changes (like a muscle memory).

So there are a number of great reasons to pick up a book instead of your smartphone.  Here are our recommended reads that celebrate the art of reading:

https-::covers.booko.info:300:readingSo Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Nelson

A self-described ‘readaholic’, Nelson’s memoir highlights the interplay between our lives and the books we read.  “How do you choose your books?’ my friends had asked. Less than a week into my project, I can now tell them the beginning of the truth. I don’t always choose the books, I’ll say. Sometimes the books choose me.”

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:ruinedRuined by Reading: A Life in Books by Lynn Sharon Schwartz

The author explores the role of books and literature in our lives, interweaving the story of her own Brooklyn childhood with memories of special books and thoughts on how books have shaped her world.  “Like the bodies of dancers or athletes, the minds of readers are genuinely happy and self-possessed only when cavorting around, doing their stretches and leaps and jumps to the tune of words.”

 

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:lifeHow Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen

Quindlen provides her thoughts on the role that books and reading have played in her life.  She also discusses the importance of reading broadly with reference to some of the favourite books she has read. “Books became the greatest purveyors of truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

 

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:pleasureThe Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs

In recent years, cultural commentators have sounded the alarm about the dire state of reading in America. Americans are not reading enough, they say, or reading the right books, in the right way. In this book, Alan Jacobs argues that, contrary to the doomsayers, reading is alive and well in America. There are millions of devoted readers supporting hundreds of enormous bookstores and online booksellers.

 

For further reading on books as brain food, visit our Pinterest page.

Take 5: Favourite Children’s Books

What are your favourite children’s books? This is the sort of question that leads to passionate debate – because childhood favourites can leave such strong impressions on young, uncrowded minds; they may even inspire or shape the young reader’s identity.  Here are five critically acclaimed and hugely popular books that may already be part of your Favourites List; they certainly deserve to be the catalysts that trigger a lifelong love of reading:

Matilda by Roald Dahl

It’s hard to single out just one Roald Dahl book, but as a booklover-turned-librarian, I have a soft spot for Matilda.  Matilda is a story that celebrates intelligence and the transformative power of reading; there is sympathetic portrayal of libraries and librarians (the best ones are always welcoming and non-judgmental), and there is a good-versus-evil battle that makes you want to shout and cheer!  The success of the recent musical adaptation has renewed awareness for this well-known and well-loved book.  What better way to relive the show than to revisit the original book, in this theatre tie-in edition?

The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

The Jolly Postman has everything that will delight little children – rollicking rhymes, fairytale mashups, cute drawings, things to spot in the detailed illustrations, and little cards, letters and a mini-book to take out of dainty envelopes!  On one busy day, this Jolly Postman rides his red bicycle delivering mail to villagers including Goldilocks, a Giant and the Big Bad Wolf.  Can he avoid being eaten and get home in time for dinner?  Books by the Ahlbergs feature regularly in “Best of” Lists, and The Jolly Postman is a classic example of their affectionate and whimsical style.  There’s lots of laugh-out-loud humour for both adults and children too.

Mirror by Jeannie Baker

Mirror is a brilliant picture book for all ages, because it is not only beautifully crafted, but inspiring and thought-provoking as well.  It has a creative dual-book format that shows the stories of two families – one in Australia, one in Morocco – unfolding simultaneously.  The visually stunning spreads, in Jeannie Baker’s distinctive, meticulous collage, show that despite external differences such as landscape and clothing, the two families are essentially the same, in their need for connection and belonging.  Winner of awards in both Australia and the UK for its technical excellence and humanitarian message, Mirror is worth revisiting now, when foreignness is creating much fear and doubt.

The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth may be better known in the US than in the UK and Australia; but with fans including Maurice Sendak and Philip Pullman, think of it as the choice of Those in the Know.  The Phantom Tollbooth is about Milo, a bored boy who goes on a fantastical quest after driving through a magical tollbooth.  Norton Juster has huge fun with words in the Phantom Tollbooth, where much of the action is linked to wordplay (for example, Milo’s watchdog companion is half-dog, half-watch; to reach an island called Conclusions, they have to jump).  This annotated edition celebrates the incredible richness in Norton Juster’s language, which references mathematics, philosophy, and science besides the extensive wordplay. The Phantom Tollbooth reminds us of the power of learning, and has been described as a modern-day Alice in Wonderland.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

With over 450 million copies sold, the Harry Potter series is probably the most popular children’s books of all time.  Although the original books and films concluded years ago, Potter mania shows no sign of waning – with a thriving fandom developing its own traditions including a Quidditch World Cup (which recently attracted 21 teams from countries worldwide).  The story of the Boy Wizard has classic themes of friendship, adventure quest and personal growth that doubtless will continue to engage and resonate with readers. In anticipation of the soon-to-come Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, relive the original story with this beautiful full-colour illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

 

How to set up a reading space for kids

There’s nothing like having a comfy, quiet space to enjoy reading a good book.  In order to spark an interest and engagement in reading with our kids, the same idea applies.  When it comes to teaching your child to read, finding a special reading space promotes quiet and calm and is particularly good for children who struggle to concentrate.

f8aec4e4abc4c6275272e74231d018c5A reading nook doesn’t need to cost hundreds of dollars or follow the latest design trends, but we’ve looked into some of the recommendations from My Little Bookcase and Creatingalearningenvironment.com to firm up our ideas.  Here are our tips on setting up a reading space for kids:


Light
– Set up a space in a light-filled room.  Use lamps when required to create a warm, ambient glow.  There should be enough light to be able to read the books easily but also create a lovely atmosphere.

4460438978_9174e6f4e5Enclose a space – Children love the idea of a ‘cubby’ or a secret space just for them.  It’s also nice to enclose a space within a larger room, so their reading nook is easy to identify.  Different ways to do this are to set up a tent over a few floor cushions.  Other ideas are to take the doors off a cupboard and deck out the shelves with books, adding seating into the bottom.  We love this version by Playtivities.com


Make it cosy
– By adding floor cushions, soft toys and throw rugs, the reading nook will become a favourite place to ‘chill out’ and relax after a day at daycare or school.  Adding  comfy elements will also allow the child to ‘make it their own’.

readingbench-225x300Add some books – Make sure that books are at your child’s eye level.  Find different ways of storing the books, such as in baskets and bins.  Mix up the books so that a selection of their book collection are sitting in the reading nook.  A great idea is to ask your child to select which books are brought into the reading nook at a time and when they should be swapped for new ones.  This promotes ownership of the space.  Other ways to store books is to create a reading bench, such as that featured in Creatingalearningenvironment.com.  A simple idea of turning a bookshelf on it’s side, adding a padded top and filling it with books creates a beautiful and cost effective DIY reading bench.  We love this!

So that’s it!  A reading nook doesn’t need to be over-engineered, it just needs a few basic elements to become part of your child’s learning journey.

Looking through the ideas on Pinterest there are amazing and intricate reading nooks and spaces that clever people have created for their children.  Here are some of our favourites.