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let’s all unplug…

16 May

A long baseball game tonight didn’t leave us much time to read…or rather as much time as we’d all like to read. But we did manage to pick up a new picture book at the library today and couldn’t wait to dive in.

We read Dan Yaccarino’sDoug Unplugged“.

doug unplugged

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The story follows a bright little robot–named Doug (which was Tom’s favorite part about the story)–who is hooked up to a machine by his parents each morning so he can download all sorts of information and be a smart little robot. But one day, he notices a pigeon on his windowsill while downloading and wonders what he might learn about pigeons (and other things) if he unplugs and goes outside.

And so he does just that. A lovely little adventure unfolds and the kids and I had fun following Doug through his day as he learned, unplugged style. (Lucy noted her favorite part of the book was that he just kept learning…good answer!)

Not only are the story entertaining and the illustrations playfully, but in this super cyber-connected world we live in, this book also has a poignant message…one that kids and adults alike can take to heart.

So tomorrow, or this weekend make time to unplug and observe the world around you. You, like Doug, will be amazed at what you learn!

Godspeed!

doug really unplugged

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my kind of week…

14 May

[Cue slightly out of tune, jolly voice]

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

No I’m not anticipating Christmas and snowy landscapes (it just finally warmed up here in Iowa for Pete’s sake!)

IT’S CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK!

CBW-champion-FINAL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It just might be my favorite week of the year! I fully admit, I’m acting like a kid at Christmas. I can barely contain my excitement and want to spend part of my day bouncing up and down and squealing with delight…pausing now and then to read!

Clearly, I love books for children! I really do! I want to read them…all of them. I want to write them. I want my kids to want to read and write them.

So I am, of course, all for a week that celebrates all that is wonderful about the world of children’s literature.

Today I wanted to make sure you knew this important week was happening. I just want to get you excited! I’ll be spending the rest of the week sharing some book reviews on recent reads (or listens–have you discovered books on tape in your car with the kiddos yet?!) here at the Giorgio household.

But please don’t contain your excitement! Share what you are reading, loved to read as a kid or would like to read in the near future. For that matter, I would recommend that in honor of Children’s Book Week (which runs now through May 19th, by the way) that you pick up a copy of your favorite book from your childhood. Picture book, chapter book. young adult romance. Whatever it was. Pick it up and read it again. I PROMISE you’ll be as delighted this time through as you were the first time you read it.

See you tomorrow…

the importance of kindness…

5 Mar

I just finished reading “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio.

wonder book cover

It tells the story of a young boy, August Pullman, who is about to enter the 5th grade and a mainstream school for the very first time. Now to most middle schoolers, the idea of starting a new school is intimidating enough. But for August, or Auggie, the idea is especially painful. Auggie was born with a severe facial deformity that even he knows is hard to look at. The story unfolds as Auggie learns to manage the world of middle school. It is very interestingly told not only through the eyes of Auggie but also through the perspective of several of the other pre-teen and teenage characters that come into his life.

One of my favorite parts of the book is that Auggie’s English teacher Mr. Browne gives the students a new precept to consider each month. The first precept the students are introduced to is: “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”

It’s a simple but powerful phrase. The message is carried throughout the whole book–in a very middle school way–and leaves the reader thinking about the ways we treat and talk about others.

“Wonder” is one of those books that sticks with you after you are finished reading. Many books do of course, but this book had me thinking about how important it is that we remind our children day in and day out of the importance of kindness. The book couldn’t be more timely, as bullying is a hot topic is schools and in the media. For me, it’s one of the things I worry most about as a parent…that others aren’t unkind to my children and that my children always practice kindness.

If you have or know a 4th, 5th or 6th grader encourage them to read this book. In fact most all of us could learn a lot from Auggie Pullman and the other pre-teen and teenage characters this story revolves around. Our world needs to hear its message of kindness.

But we can’t just stop and acknowledge we need more kindness.  The author certainly didn’t stop with writing the book. She is challenging readers to commit to choosing kind at every opportunity.

Check it out and take the pledge here. And just choose kind!

on the move…

21 Feb

In case you hadn’t heard, the Cedar Rapids Public Library is making a big move this week…across the street from their temporary home at Westdale Mall into a newly renovated space now known as the Ladd Library.

This is exciting on a number of levels…from the fact that the library will now feature public restrooms (I know what you are thinking…really, that is important?! But trust me, if you go to the library with a 5-year-old regularly it’s important!) to the notion that this marks an exciting evolution for the Cedar Rapids Public Library. Not only will they open this fabulous new branch library in 2013, but the much-anticipated and long (but patiently) awaited new downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library will also open later this summer!

Now I am not just saying this because I love the library (and think the world of several key staff members) but the folks at the Cedar Rapids Public Library have a fun attitude and innovative approach to most everything they do. I mean what do you do when you are moving, but ask for help from friends and family. And that’s just what the Cedar Rapids Public Library did. They invited library card holders to come in and check out as many books as they could carry in an effort to help the library make the move.

Given the fact that I’ve moved more times in my life than I can count on my hands, I consider myself a semi-professional mover. So of course I wanted to do my part. It also helped that Tom and Lucy happened to think this was an awesome (and hysterical) idea.

So last Friday we rolled into the library (yes, I totally brought a rolling bag) and stocked up on as many picture books (Lucy) and nonfiction titles (Tom) as we could handle.

See!

moving the crpl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We came away with 35 books (which I might add is darn heavy even with wheels) and one movie.

Then once we got (heaved) the books home we decided we need to make a mini Cedar Rapids Public Library to house them all while in our care.  (We didn’t want any mix ups with the books we already have here at home!) Lucy was my enthusiastic helper.

See!

mini crpl

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were and are excited to be part of the Cedar Rapids Public Library’s big move. We’re even more excited to see the new  space! There’s a big party Friday night (you can still get tickets!) and the grand opening celebration continues on Saturday. So stop in and check it out!

ps…Can you just remind me that my stash of books is due back March 8th?!

marc and arthur…

4 May

You know Arthur right? A cute, young aardvark (with an obnoxious little sister) who’s been on countless adventures both in books and on TV.

Well, we’re pretty familiar with this character here at our house.

That’s why last night my best boy Tom and I jumped at the chance to hear Marc Brown, prolific author and creator of Arthur, speak. He was visiting Cedar Rapids as part of the Metro Library Network’s Out Loud! author series. He shared insights on how and when he created Arthur (in a bedtime story for his son Tolon 35 years ago), where he works on the Arthur adventures (he lives on Martha’s Vineyard surrounded by lots of animals with entertaining names) and what he is working on now (illustrating a heart warming new book by author Judy Sierra). He even drew a few versions of Arthur…right before our very eyes!

He was very funny and honest and I could have listened to his stories all night. I decided Marc Brown is a kid at heart.

Perhaps that’s one of the keys to being successful in the world of Children’s Literature….for 35 years…and still going!

After he spoke Tom and I waited as patiently as possible for Mr. Brown to sign our Arthur books. Tom was anxious because earlier in the day he’d drawn a picture of Arthur he wanted to give to the Arthur master. He realized when creating his drawing he’d forgotten Arthur’s glasses…no problem, said Marc Brown….borrow my marker and add the glasses. Tom did and handed off the drawing. Marc Brown was genuinely touched. I was told later by another attendee that he saves all the drawings kids make for him. Add that fact to the growing list of reasons I heart Marc Brown.

We chatted with Mr. Brown for just a moment while he signed books. We chuckled at the fact that we have a D.W. at home (Lucy of course!) Marc Brown made the point to say that even though little sisters can be a little much when you are young (he would know…he has three!), that they grow up to be fun people. Again, bonus points for the author. He knows his stuff.

We snapped a cute picture…

Aren’t they cute? Marc Brown is saying “pizza!”

…thanked Marc Brown, and were on our way. And I am sure the memories will last, like Arthur, for at least 35 years.

being a giver…

26 Apr

Monday night I had the distinct pleasure of being a “Book Giver” for World Book Night.

The idea was simple and powerful. I was given a box of 20 copies of The Hunger Games (yes, I was squealing like a teenage girl!) to give away to random people…reluctant readers, readers who might not necessarily be able to get their hands on a book, or whomever I thought might just need a random act of bookness as part of their Monday night.

First, let me tell you I love this book…OK, I’ll say it…I’m obsessed with this book and all things related to it. So how cool that I found myself  holding copies in my hand that would allow me to share something so exciting with others?!

(my box of books just before distribution...and look at the fun cover!)

What might be even cooler is that there were something like 50 people chosen to do this (with a wide variety of titles…check them all out on the website) all over Cedar Rapids. Think about that…1,000 books were given out on Monday night right here in my hometown. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. Cedar Rapids was, in fact, one of the top twenty-five cities in the world participating in this event!

My dear friend Sara (whom I’ve gone on literary adventures with before) was also a giver (handing out The Book Thief…another of my favs and a must read). We decided to make a stop at Foundation 2, a local emergency shelter for youth between the ages of 11 and 17, who are experiencing a personal or family crisis, which makes it necessary to temporarily live away from home. I’ve known about this organization for quite some time and value the work they do in our community. We thought those kids just might like a new book on a random Monday night.

As soon as we set foot inside the door and mentioned free books the teens swarmed us like tracker jackers (oh but not venomous and out to kill us…bad analogy!) Let’s just say they were eager to get a copy and it was such fun handing the books out. But the best part was they’d take the book from us–very graciously I might add–then plop down on the couch, flip it open and start reading. Right then and there. Magical! And exactly the point.

Next Sara and I stopped to visit our old high school English teacher and surprise her with some books that she could then share with others. She was delighted. As we chatted it struck me that it was a very neat moment to be sharing with someone who helped shape and inspire my love of literature, especially young adult novels (with strong female protagonists I might add.)

As expected the whole thing was an awesome experience and I can’t wait for the official World Book Night to roll around again.

Maybe next year you’ll join me!

read ALOUD!

2 Mar

You may or may not be aware that this coming Wednesday, March 7th has been deemed World Read Aloud Day, which may very well be my new favorite holiday. I mean it’s obvious that I love books, but I also happen to love to read them aloud to anyone who will listen. Usually it happens to be these two characters…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wait…here they are prepared to be better listeners…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love reading to my kiddos…it’s the best part of my day, every day. As part of our nighttime routine we read anywhere from two to six books…that we pick out from the St. Matthew School Library, the Cedar Rapids Public Library, or our own ever growing library here at home.

Today–because it’s snowing and frankly we thought we were done with the white stuff–we snuggled up and read Ponyella (Lucy’s pick and recommendation) by Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans, Stick (which Tom actually read to me and Lucy…LOVE!) by Steve Breen, and Dr. Seuss’s ABC (which my 60-year-old father-in-law still has memorized from reading to my husband when he was little) written by none other than Dr. Seuss (whose birthday is being celebrated in a big way today…he would have been 108!)

You see I think reading to your kids is a requirement of parenting. It is not only fun, quality time together, but it also helps you raise a child who loves to read (and boost their brain power, among other benefits while you do it.)

It will come as no surprise that I signed up in support of World Read Aloud Day…you can too! The best part is that you don’t have to jump through any hoops or make a huge commitment to be part of something so important. Just read to your kids…or with a friend…or to an elderly person. Heck, even your dog would enjoy a  good read aloud session. I plan to read to the kids at Tom and Lucy’s school…and to Tom and Lucy of course.

The way I see it, every day should be read aloud day!