Delicious Thursday – Float

floatdavidWant something delicious? Try Float by Daniel Miyares. A slim, wordless picture book, Float is perfect for a snuggle on the couch with your favorite kiddo, perhaps on a day when the weather isn’t cooperating. A young boy creates a paper boat from a sheet of newspaper on a rainy day (instructions included!), and he sets out to play and watch it float. Of course, things don’t always turn out as we want them to, and he returns home, disappointed in what Mother Nature has done to his boat. But never fear! Life is always better with a hug, the ability to get dry and warm, and start anew! The sun will shine again – both in the sky and on this boy’s face – and another sheet of newspaper can create a new plaything (instructions included!).

Keep Reading,

the FPL

Possible Extensions:

~ I suppose it should come as no surprise that it would be very easy to use the book’s instructions to make a paper boat (or – spoiler alert – a paper airplane) of your own! Your local/school library likely has paper airplane and origami books, and of course, you can find instructions online, too, should you want variations to the one in this book. (And? Might I add? Following instructions like making paper airplanes is a pretty great skill. Who do you want to assemble his IKEA furniture later in life? Get your kiddos to do these things now! Train that brain! Also? You might be surprised how challenging it can be for a young child to fold paper. Sound silly? It’s true. Making paper boats, hats, origami is excellent fine motor practice.)

~A science lesson on rain, puddles, water, reflection, ripples, and the like. Mixing fiction and non-fiction can have great effect!

~Talk about what people wear for different circumstances! What this boy wears outside in the rain is different from what he wears inside and different from his clothing when it turns sunny. Grab all kinds of clothing, put it in a box, reach from it, and talk about when you would wear what piece and why?

Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

Summer Rules! Are you a Reading Role Model?

summer rules (2)Right?  Once again, I doodled for my daughter rather than bore her with another empty letter. Still raining here. Scrubbed the toilets and flossed my teeth today. I decided to remind her that SUMMER RULES – and for a million reasons.

Today it rules because summer means hopping off the porch and driving a couple of hours to visit my aunt and uncle. It means a lovely visit with two people whom I rarely see in my adult life, and afterwards, it means another 2-hour drive home.

I should mention that 2-hour drives are absolutely nothing to us Texans. Two hours barely gets you out of Houston, after all. I can’t imagine I’ve attracted a very large audience in Blog Post Number Three, but if I have, may I remind you that while 2 hours of driving might get you a few states away in some parts of the country, Texans actually measure distance by hours. Laugh now, but live in Texas and you know.

Right. So. Back to our drive. The hubs, dog, and I will be in the car, driving, thanking summer for this opportunity for a visit with relatives we haven’t seen in a few years. Thanking summer for this opportunity to read.

Read? Yes, read.

We read aloud to each other at least a book a year – always in summer, usually on a drive. We’ve done the audiobook thing, and it was fine, but somehow we prefer our reading. I think when you read aloud it becomes more personal and intimate. You can also stop the reading when you want to laugh at something, discuss something, go back and re-read something or just take an emotional break, depending on the book. Of course you can pause audio, but, I’m just here to tell ya, reading aloud is a powerful thing. When you read aloud with someone else, it becomes an experience. Something you can talk, laugh, cry, kvetch about later. It is something you share, and quite frankly, can turn deeply personal. Take it from the hubs, who, aside from our summer reading venture only reads “things with an index.”

Right. Back to our drive. And Summer. And how it rules that we’re looking 4 hours in the car and practically giddy that we’re going to start a new book. Our kids are not with us, and yet this effects them, too.

Parents who are readers raise kids who are readers. I know, I know, I’m generalizing. On the whole, it is true, though.

And that’s a little bit scary.

I mean, if being a parent isn’t overwhelming enough.

Isn’t reading to our children enough, you ask? (Another post for another day…)

It’s not.

Yes, we should be reading to them, but we should also be reading to ourselves. They need role models when it comes to reading, too.

We ask them to read. We want them to be lifelong learners. We tell them to find the balance between their electronics and the games and books and hobbies. We’re speaking out one side of our mouths if we don’t also follow suit, you know.

And our children? Man, they’re smart. They see pretty much everything. So, tell me this: when they hear and/or observe you, reading a book – either by yourself, on audio, or with your partner – what’s the message?

When they see you picking up trash from the street – what’s the message?

When they see you being compassionate to your elderly uncle – what’s the message?

When they see you volunteering at the animal shelter – what’s the message?

When they see you joking and talking about a book you read over the summer during what otherwise might have been a rather dull drive – what’s the message, I ask you?

Oh, believe you me, when my children wander downstairs on a sleepless night, they’re just as likely to find me watching TV or cruising Facebook as they are seeing me with a nose in a book. This librarian isn’t always reading, but I suppose the hope is they find me exercising some semblance of balance between all the ways to pass time that are available to me. The hope is that, among other things, they’ve been shown that reading is a pleasurable, wonderful, special way to pass the time, worthy of them spending their valuable time on, too.

Really, it isn’t too difficult to be a reading role model. Find a good book! Read it! As an adult and a parent, when was the last time you treated yourself to a delicious read? Make sure it hasn’t been too long because you deserve to get lost in a good book (whether you do so alone or aloud with your partner), and your child? She deserves to see you do it.

It’s still summer. No better time – make it RULE. Start a Good Book (and then swing by the front porch and let me know what you read. I spend most of my time reading children’s books and am always grateful for excellent adult book recommendations!)

Keep reading,

the FPL


P.S. I’m getting old, and my memory is fading. But, if you want to spend a few more minutes on the front porch, I can tell you a few of the books we’ve tackled in the past, in case you’d like to give it a try, yourself. The thing of it is, you might like to try some of these books – but you’ll see they all come with a story, which makes the whole read-aloud thing so special. It might feel awkward at first, but honestly, it can be a raw, honest experience to be read to and to read to someone whom you love. Go for it!

The first summer we were married, we lived in College Station and owned and shared a small pick up truck that lacked air conditioning. (It also had the locks to the driver’s side door superglued thanks to a feud between the previous owner and a neighbor. On hot days, the key wouldn’t work, so we’d have to get in on the passenger side or through the window a la Dukes of Hazzard style. It was laughable. I wasn’t a librarian back then, but in a way? I was.) We drove that summer from College Station to Corpus Christi, Corpus to Houston, and Houston back to College Station. Even though Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird was assigned reading in high school, the hubs hadn’t really read it. I was horrified. Boom. Got the job done.

Can’t tell you which summer it was, but we hit the beach in Galveston multiple times. Each drive contained a chapter/story of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. One of many books that, while appropriate for children, is just as meaningful for adults.

The movie, The Help was being advertised, and the hubs made the comment that we should go see it. I retorted that never, ever, never-ever-ever-ever is the movie better than the book and as such, the book needed to be read first. We librarians are real stick-in-the-mud that way. Ok, he cheerfully agreed – and then he saw the book. His face said “are you kidding?” His actual mouth said a whole lot more than that. We struck a deal: let’s start it, and we’ll just see how we feel. I don’t even know how many weeks later, I finished reading one evening with just a few chapters left. It was a perfect amount for one final night of reading, we agreed. At 3 a.m. when my I’ve-had-two-children-bladder awakened me, I discovered, to my horror, the hubs silently finishing up the last of it. Caught him with his hand in the cookie jar.

During a 7 or 8 hour drive from Asheville to Beaufort, North Carolina we took up our son’s required summer reading, Little Bee by Chris Cleave. I heard that it was a rather heavy piece, and boy, no kidding. We hadn’t quite finished it by the time we arrived, but we were unwilling to stop, so we ordered sandwiches and finished it about one in the morning.

Today, we will have 4 hours to read The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck. There will be a story to accompany the adventure; it remains to be told. The shared experience, however, will be priceless.

Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

Delicious Thursday – Polar Bear’s Underwear!

Today is Delicious Thursday, yes it is!

Shall I explain?

When kiddos check out books from the library, I’m always telling them to find something delicious. Every year, I get a few confused looks and sometimes thunderous reaction. “Delicious?! Books aren’t delicious!” Oh, but they are, aren’t they? Delicious for your brain, your mind, and your soul. Well, they can be. If you pick the right one.

So, how ‘bout on Thursdays, I thought to myself, I pick a fun book to highlight. One that is delicious. Why on Thursday? Why not?polar bear's underwear

Today’s pick is eccentric and silly and wonderful. If you’re searching for a happy read aloud, listen up! Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera is unconventionally charming. Poor Polar Bear can’t seem to locate his underwear! With the help of his friend, he looks at various pair of underwear, only to find (with the use of cut-outs and lively illustrations) they always belong to someone else. Do you really expect me to give away the ending? I won’t do it, but the good news is, this darling picture book isn’t very long, so you can get to the bottom of where Polar Bear’s underwear is pretty quickly. The other piece of good news? It is such an entertaining little book, that you’ll not mind reading it again and again.

This has everything a picture book read aloud needs: dialogue, excellent pictures, and humor; read it just for fun!


Possible Extensions:

~ Have students create their own book similar in nature, but this time look for Polar Bear’s hat, shoes, shirt, or scarf!

~ When Polar Bear finds his underwear, he sings a little song. Ask students who like to perform to put it to music – or rap it, even! Have them write another verse – or, ask them to create a song that could appear at the beginning of the book about the lost underwear.

Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

Happy Days

happy days

My children are at camp, high in the green of the Blue Ridge Mountains: their happy place. I write them letters frequently, but there comes a point in time when you don’t have much else to say. Did another load of laundry. Took the dog for a walk. Unloaded the dishwasher. Life moves on at the same pace, and my day-to-day stays largely the same with them gone. While waiting for the hubs to get off a conference call so we could eat dinner the other evening, I pulled out some pens and started a doodle. It wasn’t until I had folded it up to place in an envelope that I realized not only was this a lovely sentiment to send to my daughter in lieu of a letter, but it would be the perfect accompaniment for My First Blog Post Ever.

Happy Days are yours and mine. It really is a Happy Day to finally start this blog, which has been fully created with all kinds of bells and whistles in my head for oh, about 5 or 6 years now. In reality, I’m still learning the ropes, but hope my baby steps will grow into giant leaps that will allow me to be more comfortable on this platform. I can run my mouth with the best of them; it is time to run a blog.

It is inevitable: if you’re a lawyer, someone, at some point in time, will ask you a legal question. Doctors, too (“Do you mind taking a look at this bump on my arm…?”). My own husband is a computer guru, and his computer knowledge isn’t limited to work – friends are always asking his opinions about tablets, networks, whatchamacallits, and thingamabobs (is it obvious that I, myself, am not a computer person?). And so, this blog. Just like everyone else, people stop me, email me, visit with me at the grocery store about what books their child might like or what book they should gift a new mom or my thoughts on audiobooks or early readers. I love these conversations, and I always have an opinion. Truthfully, books and children and reading and the adults-in-their-lives are my passion.

I blog on my front porch (literally sometimes but figuratively always) because the front porch, next to a library, of course, really is a wonderful space to explore new ideas, have meaningful conversations, sometimes stray off topic, while still feeling cozy and comfortable – and usually, with some form of delicious beverage nearby. The front porch, next to the Blue Ridge Mountains, is my happy place.

So, join me, why don’t ‘cha? I’m regularly out on the front porch — pull up a chair, relax, and let’s have a chat. I hope you swing back by often. Happy days are yours and mine, indeed.

Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com