Posted by: Debby | February 9, 2017

President Abraham Lincoln–What a Writer!

happy-bd-president-lincolnAbraham Lincoln’s Birthday

Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is this Sunday the 12th. (I know this dates me, but I still miss getting to celebrate Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays separately!)

Of all our U.S. Presidents, Lincoln is one of the one’s I most admire. Why?

  • He was a man of integrity.
  • He was not just faithful to God, but actually relied on him and spoke of his reliance publicly.
  • He held our country together through its greatest crisis.
  • He was gracious in victory.
  • He was a shrewd observer of humanity
  • He had a great sense of humor.
  • And, he was an awesome writer.

There are so many wonderful quotes attributed to him, for example:

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

“With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.”

 

“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”

The Gettysburg Address and Parallelism

When I began teaching 7th Grade Language Arts, I was surprised to find the Gettysburg Address included in the text-book. In reading the teacher’s guide, I discovered it was there not simply to reflect its period in the history of literature, but for the purpose of teaching the literary device, parallelism.

Parallelism is a technique used to condense long, similar sentences, but even more important its use creates a dynamic rhythm in the prose.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Lincoln’s Use of Parallelism

Lincoln uses this technique to connect just two ideas:

Instead of saying: Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation.
It was conceived in liberty.
In addition, it was dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

He said: Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

He also uses it connect many ideas in his moving conclusion:

Instead of saying: It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.
We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.
This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.
Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

He said: It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vainthat this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

To further complicate this sentence, one of the parallel clauses contains a parallelism of it’s own!

that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

When analyzed, this short speech is incredibly complex in structure, creating an effect that is both eloquent and memorable which has contributed to its being treasured far beyond the dedication of the battlefield that was the context for which it was created.

Your Turn

Do you have favorite quote from Abraham Lincoln ? Please use the comment box below to share it with your fellow readers.

*The selection of quotes came from: BrainyQuote, and the Gettysburg Address from: The National Park Service: Lincoln Home.

Posted by: Debby | February 7, 2017

Send a Card to a Friend

radient-flower-cardToday is National Send a Card to a Friend Day. What a great way to promote the enjoyment of literacy (not to mention an opportunity for creativity)! Wouldn’t we all love getting a card from a friend? So, what might you do?

Send a Card To a Friend–Where to get the Card

Obvious resources are just using any stationary or blank notecards you already own.

Other options include making cards. Click on the link to my “Card Gallery” board on Pinterest. There are lots of ideas there. However, you do not need to do anything particularly complicated. You don’t even have to have special card stock, scrapbook paper, or those many delightfully tempting tools you can find at any craft store.

sun-greeting-cardHere is a simple, but striking idea using materials everyone probably has on hand:

  • Fold a piece of printer paper. This is your card.
  • Find a contrasting paper–it could be scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, a brown paper bag, or even a scrap of fabric.
  • Trace an interesting shape, no bigger than your “card” onto the paper/fabric. Cookie cutters work great for this.
  • Cut it out.
  • Glue the shape onto your card.
  • Embellish as you wish with colored pen or pencil, glitter, bows–whatever you fancy. Caution: because this is supposed to be a simple card I would do no more than one of these options.

Now you have a card.

Write a Note

  • What should you say? Here are some ideas:
  • share a memory
  • share a hope or dream for the two of you together–could be as simple as meeting for a walk next Tuesday
  • express appreciation for this relationship
  • encourage a friend who may be going through a rough time
  • just say, “Hi! I miss you.”

Easy Peasy, as a friend of mine might say.

Get the Kids Writing and Creating

Are you a parent or a teacher? What a great way to encourage literacy!

In the classroom, if you want to do this but don’t have a lot of time, pass out index cards, instruct the students to decorate the blank side with crayon, markers, or colored pencil, and write the note to a friend on the lined side.

At home? Have a blast making cards with your kids. Pull out all your crafting stuff. Make more than one. Make some to have on hand for next time you need a card.

When done crafting, each of you select a card–parents and kids; it is important we model our enjoyment of literacy for our children. Then write to a friend. (For pre-reader/writers, ask your child to dictate a letter and you write what they say down. After, read it back to your child pointing to each word as you say it, thus reinforcing their understanding of spoken to written word correspondence.) Use this as a learning activity to teach your kids how to address an envelope. Put a stamp on it, and send it off.

Your Turn

Please use the comment space below to share more ideas for topics that would make a good note to a friend or some other fun card making activities.

And…Dear friends, I am so grateful to have you as readers.

Posted by: Debby | January 31, 2017

Best Books of January

What was Your Favorite Read During the Month of January?

Here we go, it’s the end of another month. So, what is the best book you read in January (either for yourself or with your child)? It could be fiction, nonfiction…any genre. What book did you really enjoy? Or, which one made a major impact on you?

Please use the comment space to share the title and author and to tell just a snippet about your book to whet our readers’ appetites. Is your child old enough to write? Invite him or her to write a recommendation for the blog.

The Kiss of DeceptionMy Reading Recommendation 

The book I would recommend from my January reading is The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. I would recommend this novel for several reasons. First, like my own The Swallow’s Spring, its protagonist is a princess who does not want to marry as her parents have arranged for her to. Second, two of the secondary characters start out identified simply as “the prince” or “the assassin.” When these terms are used, you don’t know which male lead it is referring to. When these terms are not used, all you know are the male leads’ names. Therefore Pearson kept me wondering and hypothesizing about who is who. Third, it is one of only two books I finished reading this month. (The other was Thornspell by Helen Lowe–also a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy.)

Your Turn

What was the best book you read this month?

Posted by: Debby | January 26, 2017

Introductory Sentence Frame for Analyzing Two Texts

Common Core State Standards has brought some big changes to Language Arts education (along with much protest, praise, crazed hair-pulling, and an uptick in students abilities to read and analyze nonfiction texts).

The biggest challenge for my GED students was to transition from writing about their own opinions to writing critical analyses of texts. A challenge they either pass or fail in their opening paragraph–which sets the parameters for rest of the essay.

So, here is a sentence frame I use to teach them to establish an analytical focus for their work.

analytical-c-c-intro-sent-frame

Your Turn

How do you help students establish an analytical tone for their writing? Please share in the comments below.

*CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1A: Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

Posted by: Debby | January 24, 2017

Wonderful Words on the World of Children’s Books

In an age when a limited diet for hundreds of millions of Americans daily is prescribed through the medium of TV, there is more nourishment, more privacy, and—best yet—more freedom of selection to be had in children’s reading. Because it is personal and powerful, reading can help weather children into an individuality which will help them to weather that which is impersonal and powerful.

~Gregory Maguire, from Innocence and Experience: Essays and Conversations on Children’s Literature: Introduction

Your Turn

Are you reading with your kids?
What would you recommend to read to a child? (Or simply to enjoy on your own!)
I’ll start the list with two, one an old favorite and one a new:

  1. The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
  2. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pierson

The Kiss of Deception

 

Posted by: Debby | January 19, 2017

Books and Hobbies

National Hobby Month

January is National Hobby Month. What a great idea–taking the time to celebrate all the things that help keep us creative. While I am a writer and many may say that is enough of an exercise in creativity, I would beg to differ.

Hobbies and Me

I have always had hobbies, activities that nourished and stretched me, before taking up writing professionally and after. My hobbies not only feed my spirit, but more important still, nourish my imagination.

51uhcbqew3l-_sy377_bo1204203200_

Hobbies Pre-Writing Life

These hobbies stretch all the way back to my early childhood. My mom has always been an artist. She loves to draw, and so our home was well stocked with paper, crayons, watercolors, glue, glitter… She even took art classes when I was a child, which helped me internalize the idea that creative activity is something to value.

The most awesome things she drew for me were paper dolls. I had a Little House on the Prairie doll. Mom drew two. Mine was Laura and my friend’s was Mary. (And no, she did not just favor me by giving me Laura. She put both drawings behind her back and we had to pick a hand. In my eyes, I lucked out and got Laura.) I had a Sleeping Beauty paper doll. And my best friend and I had paper dolls that were girls like us. I’d like to say we made up adventures and stories for our dolls which fed my love for writing. But the honest truth is, we spent more time making clothes for these dolls than actually playing with them. Each one had a “Guenevere going to the stake” gown, a Star Trek uniforms, and dresses copied from illustrations in books. Needless to say, the clothes we colored, colored our play. (And that, I suppose, is what nourished my storytelling.)

Mom also taught me to hand sew (and machine sew, but it is the hand sewing I love to this day). This took the form, mostly, of embroidery, which along with school art classes were my favored creative outlet through my teen years. I added in poetry writing from high school on.

is

Hobbies + Writing Life

I’ve never lost my love for sewing handwork and drawing, and have pursued each with varying degrees of vigor alongside my writing life.

Hand sewing, be it hemming or embroidery, brings me such a sense of peace. I really ought to let myself do it more often, but, silly me, feeling peaceful doesn’t feel like I’m working. With my recovering-perfectionist, workaholic nature, I do not allow myself to indulge in it nearly as much as I would like. (Working nearly full-time and writing professionally do not leave a lot of time for other endeavors.)

Drawing, I neglected for very long time, unless I was drawing something to embroider–I seldom use purchased designs. However, for a short time when I was teaching middle school, I got to teach a couple of art classes. I used Jude Welton’s Tate Gallery Drawing: A Young Artist’s Guide as the core of my curriculum. Then, a few years ago, I read Sybil Macbeth‘s Praying in Color which opened my eyes to the many opportunities to squeeze in a little drawing time. I love taking blank index cards to church and doodling the sermon. I also enjoy doodling prayers for others. But my doodling and drawing have expanded way beyond sermon notes and prayers.

I find great joy playing with line and form, symmetry and asymmetry. And great joy in creating drawings, even though most are about the size of an index card. It’s a great way to celebrate, capture a moment, image, or mood, and–best of all–to play with my Grands. I justify these indulgences by telling myself I can use these drawings to make cards and therefore save some money. (Greeting cards are so expensive!) But the truth is, I haven’t made a card yet, and my file is full of many drawings.

402700Books and Hobbies

If you check out a book store, craft store, art store, library, or online you will find there are books for just about any hobby. I know people who like to tie flies, make jewelry, scrapbook, quilt, and sculpt. And there are oodles of books for each of them.

My Favorite Hobby Books

I have salivated and dreamed over many hobby books. However, my all-time favorites remain the ones I discovered when my children were young–the Ed Emberley drawing books (Be sure to follow the link. His website is really cool!). Emberley breaks drawing down into distinct add-a-shape steps. You can draw pirates, firetrucks, castles, fish, dragons, and knights. My favorite thing I drew from an Ed Emberley book is a deer. I still harbor dreams of turning it into a Christmas card one day.

What About You?

  • How does pursuing a hobby enrich your life?
  • Do you have hobbies you love or hobby books to recommend?
  • I’d so appreciate it if you’d leave a comment below. And take some time to celebrate your creativity this month!

9780316235969-us-300

 

Posted by: Debby | January 17, 2017

Roles–An Expository Play With Your Words Prompt

Writing

Prompt

What is your role, your obligation, your purpose in relation to yourself and to your community?

*CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.10

 

PreWrite

Brainstorm a list for four categories:

  • your role/s in relation to yourself
  • your obligations to your self
  • your purpose for yourself and you life
  • your role/s in relation to your communities (home, school, work, faith…)
  • your obligations to your communities (home, school, work, faith…)
  • your purpose in relation to your communities (home, school, work, faith…)

Once you have a list, circle the ideas you want to write about and number them in the order you want to write them.

Write 

You are now ready to write your response. When you’re done look it over to see if there are any changes (revisions) or corrections (edits) you would like to make.

Share

Feel free to share any of your insights in the comments.

Posted by: Debby | January 12, 2017

Best Books of December

best-books-logo

A Return to “Best Books of…”

The end of December is long past, however, I want to get back to a routine that was born with the inception of Literate Lives. Instead of me sharing all the books I read last month (you can still find these on my Reading Log page) I am going to pick my favorite for the month and talk about it a bit.

Your Role

Then… (Here’s where things get tricky.) I want to invite you (implore you, actually) to use the comments section to share about your favorite read from December. Please don’t let me down! The title of this post will be a lie if no one else chimes in with a book recommendation.

Okay, so…I’ll go first.

My Favorite Book of December

doomsdaybook1stedI love to read Christmas novels during the month of December, and this time, I kicked the season off with a re-read that proved every bit is gripping the second time around as it did the first. Even though I enjoyed the other books I read immensely (see Reading Log), The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis must rank as my favorite.

The Doomsday Book is a science fiction novel set in a futuristic Oxford, England during the weeks surrounding Christmas. Scientists have begun to master the dynamics of time travel, and historians have begun going back in time to do research–only not back much farther than two to three hundred years. The Oxford medieval department is eager to get in on the action and the book opens on the launch of a graduate student to the 1300’s–before the plague. Chaos ensues. The technician who oversaw the launch collapses with a mystery illness before he can confirm the student has arrived safely. The doctor who prepped the student for the launch gets caught up in trying to diagnose the mystery ailment. The history professor who observed the launch frantically tries to find another technician to confirm the arrival. As Oxford is placed under quarantine, the doctor’s twelve-year-old nephew arrives for the Christmas holiday and is entrusted to the care of the history professor. Meanwhile, the graduate student who lands in the 1300’s also gets sick. …And did I mention the bell-ringers?

Doomsday Book is a gripping tale, and I had a terrible time finding places to stop reading so I could go to sleep at night.

Your Turn to Recommend a Book

So, I shared my favorite December read. Tell me, please, what was yours? It could be fiction, nonfiction…any genre. What book did you or maybe your children really enjoy? What book made a major impact on you? Please use the comment space to share the title, author’s name, and just a snippet about your book to whet your fellow readers’ appetites.

 

Posted by: Debby | January 10, 2017

Reading Rotation 2017

So Many Books, So Little Time

As those who have been with me long know, I have developed a somewhat quirky system for choosing what book I will read next. The need for such a system is threefold:

  1. I used to like to gorge myself on whatever genre I fancied until I’d read so many, I ruined myself for reading any more books of that genre for a long, long time. (It’s sort of like working in a candy store and being told you can eat as much as you like then finding you have made yourself so sick of candy you do not even want to look at another piece.
  2. I have eclectic reading taste. Therefore gorging myself on one genre neglected all the others I loved, which my inner five-year-old felt was very unfair.
  3. I tend to buy books faster than I can read them, therefore the “to be read” titles in any given genre were stacking up so alarmingly, I needed a system to equalize the build-up on any one bookshelf. (Yes, I have bookshelves in every room and our home library is sorted like genre–as, come to think of it, is my school library.)

The Solution: A Reading Rotation

I’ve brainstorm all the genres I like to read, considered which I like best (fantasy, historical mysteries, and historical fiction) or need to read (fantasy –since I am a fantasy writer and books about writing to help me grow as an author) then compile them in a list with repetitions where needed.

For each book I choose to read, I date that genre on the list and look at what comes next so I can eagerly anticipate what my next read will be. And so I work my way from top to bottom of the list, and then start all over again. Hence, a “Reading Rotation.”

This year I determined I am not reading enough non fiction, so I have established two lists–fiction and non fiction, to be read three fiction books for every non fiction book. I am very excited about this. I love novels, but I’ve missed the types of non fiction I enjoy.

The New, 2017 Reading Rotation:

new-2017-reading-rotation

A Book Nerd

I know. If you hadn’t thought of me as a book nerd before, you will now. I love to read! And I look forward to a year of awesome reading, and hopefully to learning about what you are reading, and thereby discovering more gems as well.

Happy Reading!

Posted by: Debby | January 4, 2017

Pen Pals and Reading Buddies: Literate Lives 2017

pen-pals-reading-buddiesStarting a Blog is like Starting a Pen Pal Friendship…

That is how I began my second post here at Literate Lives.

As I was doing my blog-housekeeping last week, I was captivated by this post. “Yes,” I thought, ” Now art thou Romeo!” (translation: now you are acting like yourself! See Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene 4.) Therefore, as with my previous post, I wanted to start a new year with some excerpts and additions:

Pen Pals & Reading Buddies

I have decided starting a blog is like starting a pen pal friendship. You begin by explaining to each other who you are, and as your individual identities become established, you begin to write about ideas and events in your lives and the common interests you share.

So, who is this person (me, Debby Zigenis-Lowery) who is trying to reach out to readers, writers, parents, teachers, and anyone else who loves reading or writing?

I have been (and-oftentimes-still-am) a child, as well as a wife, mom, writer,  student, preschool teacher, librarian, and middle and high school English/Language Arts teacher. And through it all, I have always been a reader.

Books were the first things I ever chose to collect. They have been my friends, guides, encouragers, windows to other worlds, and companions in scary, sad,  and lonely times. I love books–the look of them, the feel of them, their typefaces, cover illustrations, page and line art. And I love the materials that go into making them—pencils, pens, paper—so many wonderful kinds!—computers, word processing software, fonts, dictionaries, reference books, 3×5 index cards, notebooks, and any slip of paper on which I can scribble a new idea.

What do I read? I am a fantasy loving Christian. I love fantasy stories intended for all kinds of readers– children, young adults, and actual adults. Other favorite genres include historical fiction and historical mysteries. (I love the Middle Ages!)

As you may have noticed, I included children’s and young adult fiction in my fantasy favorites. Why? Because I grew up loving fairy tales, and eventually found C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Lloyd Alexander. I now not only read fantasy fiction, I write it. I have had retold folktales, published in Cricket magazine, have written Set in Stone, a middle grade novel and The Swallow’s Spring, a coming of age novel (and am now seeking publishing homes for both of them), and am working on a new middle grade novel and a YA.

I am a teacher, member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and two critique groups. In addition I am a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and serve as the Pal Communicator for our Oregon region’s Ad-Com committee.

I am so looking forward to making new friends, as well as enjoying those I’ve long cherished, in the months ahead. So tell me about your reading, writing, and teaching interests. Who are your favorite authors? Your favorite genres? I hope Literate Lives will be a place you can come to enjoy, interact, and share.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories

%d bloggers like this: