A Book Lover’s Valentine–International Book Giving Day

Purple WritingHappy Valentine’s Day!

Greetings my book-loving friends! While most of the world is busy celebrating (or mourning) Valentine’s Day, here is an international holiday that I think should get a lot more promotion. Today is International Book Giving Day!

While I like sweet cards from my hubby, chocolate, and roses, if you really want to give me something I’ll love, give me a book. Don’t you agree?

International Book Giving Day

I love that the emphasis on this holiday is not on getting, but giving. (I know, Valentine’s involve giving, too. However, so many people get so fixated on the receiving).

So who do you know that would be delighted by the gift of a book?

My List

  • my four adorable grandchildren who I love to encourage to read, write, and draw
  • a sci-fi writing friend (I reread Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book over Christmas and thought over and over as I read that I needed to pass it on to her. However, I felt conflicted, and as I didn’t see her, loved the book, and didn’t want to part with it, I did nothing. The solution: give her a copy of her own!)
  • my hubby: it is my great joy that he looks to me to be his personal librarian!
  • the teen parents who attend my school–I and several other staff members use Scholastic Reading Clubs‘ $1 and $2 deals to keep a box stocked with picture books that our students can take home for their kids. I frequently remind them that one of the best things they can do to help their children succeed is read to them.

Your Turn

Using the comment box below, tell us who you would give a book to. Even better, tell what book and why. After all, as book lovers ourselves, aren’t we all looking for the next great read?


Have a Very Merry Christmas & an Awesome New Year!

Candles In Terracotta Pots

Snow blessed us with an early start to Winter Break this year. What beauty, what wonder, what delight!

As I bake and sew, preparing for a celebration with loved ones, I want to pause a moment and wish you a blessed holiday season. May you know peace, the smiles of those you love, and wonder, awe and wonder. (And may you find a little time to curl up with a good book.) Have a very merry Christmas and God bless you in the coming year!

Christmas Star Dangle

P.S. I will be taking a little time off, I’ll see you back here January 5, 2017!

A Fourth of July Blast From the Past

4941bfa021c7c1594a9eae51ac64b200I am visiting my mom this Independence Day, so I thought I would share a “blast from the past.” To read the full post click here.

My husband, son, and I went to a bar-b-que at my daughter’s house. In addition to our family, which includes my absolutely adorable granddaughters, were my daughter’s sister-in-law and husband who came with their five little girls.

As always when I visit her house, my granddaughter, Gracie, wanted me to come play in her room. We played house. I was the mommy and she the little girl, when two of her cousins caught up with us and joined in. We “ate” breakfast (plastic waffles and eggs), “went to the park” (the living room), “went home” and “ate” lunch (more plastic food), “went swimming”(the living room area rug),  “ate” invisible goldfish crackers followed by dinner (plastic cake with fruit on it–Grace was running out of healthy food that came in quantities of four), and went to bed.

Now Grace, nearly four years old, likes to go to bed with a flashlight, and she has several, so me and the girls curled up in her bed, each of them with her own flashlight. One brought a book and asked me to read it.

There we snuggled in the dark, me pointing to the part of the page where the words were printed and three little girls training their flashlights on them. We read Ten Naughty Little Monkeys by Suzanne Williams, then Up All Night Counting by Robin Koontz.

My delightful audience giggled as I did the voice of the doctor in Ten Little Monkeys, and marveled as they lifted the flaps and jiggled the pages of Up All Night Counting.

Who cares if I missed the poker game in the backyard or the firing up of the fire pit for s’mores! The time I passed reading with those three little girls was magic, and I hope the memory will be one they savor as well as I.

My Gracie has now completed third grade and this week is borrowing Edward Eager’s Half Magic. She has two delightful sisters and a new baby brother, and they are the joy of my life.

I hope this 4th finds you enjoying the holiday with loved ones and provides a little literacy magic.

Please share your happy happenings, and have a safe and blessed holiday!

Summer Reading

Reading I know my Goodreads list of reviews looks like I have not been reading this summer, but believe me, I have. What I have not done is get around to posting and reviewing the books I’ve read. My apologies. I have been rather caught up in other responsibilities–organizing my home and office (I promise, I’ll post pictures when done) and preparing for the two writing conferences I will be attending (Willamette Writers and Oregon Christian Writers).

The stack of finished novels on my desk is growing so unwieldy that I’m sure the imminent danger of it toppling over on me will elevate it on my to-do list to the level of emergency.

Until then, what have you been reading this summer. Any recommendations to add to my “want to read” list?

P.S. If you are a parent, don’t forget to use some of your summer “down-time” to read to and with your kids!

The Best is Yet to Come

J Tower LogoAlas, summer is nearly over, and despite my best intentions, I have not been able to return to posting regularly because I have spent most of it sick. I am so sorry!

However, the up-side is that I have read many fascinating articles, collected tons of inspiring quotes, and have been squirreled away oodles of index cards and random slips of paper containing scribblings of ideas for nurturing your children’s and expanding your own literate lifestyle.

And so, I thought it was about time I acknowledge my involuntary hiatus.

I pray you enjoy these last, lovely days of summer. Read, write, read to you kids, read with your kids, tell stories, and build memories.

I hope to be back blogging regularly this fall.

The Best Trip? A Trip to the Library

If you have visited my Pinterest boards, one thing you may have noticed is that I love libraries. My board is full of grand and glorious libraries from all around the world. However, the best library, the most useful library, and the most accessible library is the one right in the town where you are.

I have dreamed of Beauty and the Beast libraries. But truly, the libraries that hold my heart are the local ones that have graced my life.

My first beloved: Grass Valley School Library, in Oakland, California. This is where I can still close my eyes and see exactly where Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books sat on the eastern wall (on a shelf right at floor level). My favorite princess anthology sat dead center on the northern wall, and when I first laid eyes on C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair, it sat on display on a table near the windows. (Rosemary Sutcliff’s Dawn Wind was located on the western library wall at King Junior High.)

When I attended the University of California, Berkeley, the main library awed me. The marble stairs had worn indentations that cupped your feet like loving hands as you went up the main stairs to those wonderful rooms. I loved the card catalogues. I had to do a paper for a Bibliography class, plotting the research for a fictitious project of my choice. It was amazing how many fascinating topics were housed in that long room, in those worn, oak cabinets, in their tiny drawers, on little cards. (And it was even more amazing the tantalizing books I discovered on cards neighboring the ones that were the object of my quest.) After graduation I willingly plunked down the money for a lifetime membership in the alumni society just so I could retain the right to use that fabulous library.

And I have precious memories of “story times” with each of my three children at our various local libraries. My daughter’s storytime library was housed in a little, red brick building in the old, gold rush town of Grass Valley, California. We’d enter the library, go down a creaky, little, narrow 1800’s stairway to the children’s room in the basement. It was a magical place. There my daughter was entranced by storytelling, read-alouds, and puppeteering, while I rediscovered my beloved Elizabeth Goudge. After storytime the two of us would go into the old brick building next door and up another creaky flight of stairs, to dine on Cornish pasties, a legacy of the Cornish miners who had populated the region, and look down on the activity in the streets below.

Does your hometown have a library? If it does, visit it. Make the trip special. Go to a story time or author visit, or simply to pick out books then go out for ice cream or something special afterwards. It could be as simple as an easy breakfast-for-dinner evening or hot dogs roasted over the bar-b-que, with plenty of time after to enjoy your library selections in summer’s long twilight.

This summer, visit a library. Even if you’re traveling, check out the library wherever you are. You’ll surely find something to delight you and your children, and to add to the treasure trove of your memories of life with books.

Spring Reading

Yesterday was the first day of spring. While I, like everyone one else, look forward to spring after the darkness and cold of winter, often as the weeks flit by, spring can start to feel like an endurance race. Sports and outdoor activities pick up their pace, and school begins its frenzied wind down to summer. One of the things that can get lost in the onrush of all this activity is family reading time.

Do you read to you kids?

Do you read alongside your kids?

Even if you do so other times of year, be aware spring is a season where family reading time can get lost. So be deliberate about it. Schedule time for it like you would for baseball or track practice.

At the end of the day, gather your kids together and read picture books, short stories, or folktales. Read a novel together, one chapter every night. After the busyness of work, school, and activities, a family reading time provides a peaceful way to relax and reconnect.

Or get comfy and curl up and read your own selections side by side.

Reading refreshes the mind and the spirit. Read, read, read your way into Spring. Be refreshed, like the world waking up outside your windows.

If you’ve been reading to your kids, what are some of your favorite books you can recommend for other families to read.

Plots and Endings: Reading Response Exercise #52

Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes. When you are done, think about what you have read.

What is happening now in your story? If you were the author, how would you end this story? Why?

Write down your responses or discuss them with your reading partners.

For pre-readers, read a picture book to your child. About two-thirds of the way through, stop reading and ask how he or she would end the story. Discuss his or her ideas before finishing the book.

The Storytime Couch

Little did I know when I picked out and purchased the blue floral couch–the first piece of furniture I had ever selected and bought on my own–how important it would come to be in my family’s life.

It became the living room couch, giving that little used part of the house a splash of color and polish.

However, after my second and third children were born, it took on far greater significance in our family life. Because I was committed to reading individually to each of my children before bedtime, it became that most cherished of spaces–the storytime couch.

It was a place for enjoying nursery rhymes, counting and alphabet books, and folktales. It was where we read Maurice Sendak‘s Where the Wild Things Are, Barbara Berger‘s Grandfather Twilight, and Barbara Cooney‘s Miss Rumphious, and where we sang Tomie de Paola‘s Friendly Beasts each Christmas.

It was there I read the opening chapters of Lloyd Alexander‘s Book of Three three times to my oldest son until he was finally ready for a book without pictures and we read the whole series through to the end.

It was there my daughter and I read Laura Ingalls Wilder‘s Little House series from beginning to end. When we got to the last book, at the point where Laura leaves home to get married, I had to stop reading. Tears were pouring down my cheeks, and all I could think was, someday that will be my Gen leaving home. She finally had to read the rest of the chapter to me. I bought her the book as an engagement present.

My youngest son thrilled to the tales of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter on that blue couch, and the gentler enchantment of Edward Eager‘s Half-Magic Books.

And all of us, good Oregonians that we are, laughed ourselves silly over Beverly Cleary‘s books–Henry, Ribsy, Beezus, and Ralph. Even the boys loved Ramona.

My memories of the times shared on the storytime couch are ones I will cherish forever. Although it slowly became frayed, lost its uumph, and generally broke down, it was with a tear in my eye that I finally replaced it.

However, I can still see it, beautiful, blue, and new in my mind’s eye, and its spirit is celebrated each time my granddaughters come over and ask me to read them a story.

What about you? Do you have a special place where you like to read, be it quietly to yourself or with a loved one? Tell me about it, or better yet send a picture. And if there’s nothing like that in your life right now, consider creating a time and a space for reading with the ones you love.

Reading Response Exercise #45: Veracity of Plot

Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes.

Did what you read seem as if it could really have happened? How did the author make it feel that way for you. If what you read seems too unreal to be possible, what kinds of realistic details did the author use to help you connect with the tale.

Write or discuss your response.s

For Pre-readers: Read a picture book together. When done, ask your child if he thinks what happened in the story could really happen. Discuss his response. Discuss what you and she may find to be realistic and unrealistic in the story. You could even make two lists. Remember to read your lists back to your child when done, pointing to each word as you say it to reinforce the one-to-one correspondence between written and spoke word. You and your child could even spend some time illustrating this list with drawings or pictures cut out of magazines.