Another Way to Enjoy Books

There is something very special about hearing a story. For many people, it summons warm memories of snuggling up with mom or dad and a book at bedtime, overhearing adult family members share stories around the kitchen table, or telling ghost stories around the fire.

What’s more, hearing a book read aloud can go a long way to making the many benefits of reading accessible to even struggling or “reluctant” readers. Vocabulary can improve, comprehension goes up, and a book can be enjoyed that might have been too challenging for them to read alone. Even for fluent readers, there is a lot to like about hearing stories out loud.

I can only remember hearing a few books on tape as a child. But a few years ago, I discovered that the wait list for audiobooks is often significantly shorter than the wait list for print copies. Ever since then I’ve enjoyed listening to dozens of short stories and novels. I still like to sit with an actual book when I get the chance, but here’s a list of a few more things that I especially like about audiobooks:

  • I can listen to books in my car, on my phone, online, on cd (yes, I still own and use a Discman)… so, just about everywhere.
  • I can listen to books at times when it would be impossible (or super dangerous) to read them (while driving).
  • On nights when I am too tired to even read a few pages before I go to sleep, I can still put on my headphones, close my eyes and listen to a story instead.
  • Some books are performed as a radio drama with a full cast of voice actors and sound effects. Sometimes authors narrate their own stories, that’s pretty cool too.

So, whether you are considering things that you can do together as a family, or if you’re tired of the long commute into work and back everyday, consider trying out an audiobook. And if you’re feeling up to it, grab a glass of water and read a book to someone you love.

 

 

Love on Mother’s Day

I miss those days of Mother’s Day gifts handmade from a variety of things – pipe cleaners, construction paper, lace, paper dollies. All held together with a ton of glue!

Homemade coupons for a cup of tea or a foot rub. There were so many treasures that were perfect for any mother! I had many favourites. One of them was a melamine plate that could be drawn on. My son drew us holding hands. He told me that “this is you and me, walking to the park.”

Cards that said, “I love you, Mom’’ or “You are the Best’’ in big bold letters.

The excitement near Mother’s Day when the “secret” was coming in the door! The scurry to the bedroom to hide that special gift which was tightly wrapped with tape. On Mother’s Day, my son yelling “close your eyes” until the treasure was safely placed in my lap. I loved those times.

Learning the gift of giving.

Breakfast of a bowl of cereal with milk on the verge of flowing over the top, scrambled eggs with a chunk of egg shell, well done toast with smeared peanut butter.

The days of impressing me with those handmade gifts are gone; my son is an adult with a life of his own.

Last week he asked me a couple of times what I wanted for Mother’s Day. I knew he was struggling to come up with an idea so I told him to come and cook something on the barbeque and spend some time with me. That would be the greatest gift he could give me.

And oh, yes I asked him to help me clean my windows!

I hope that you had a wonderful Mother’s Day too!

 

The End of Winter Means a New Garden… Yes, it Will Happen!

Eventually it will warm up and our thoughts may turn to planting a garden – at least one can always hope. Over the winter I debated about how to do my garden this year. I always have a ton of weeds and not enough time to keep up, but I still like having a garden. To find a solution, I went “digging” for information.

I found an idea that I’d previously disregarded because I have always done my garden the way my mom did hers when I was little. But if I want to get rid of weeds without using chemicals, the easiest thing to do would be to just cover up the garden. I’ve decided to compromise and cover half the garden with containers to kill the weeds – especially after finding this neat growing tip.

What is this brilliant idea? Well, normally part of my garden is potatoes and they take up a lot of room. This idea takes that horizontal space and makes it vertical – you go up instead of out, using much less space! Growing potatoes vertically also seems like a fun way to garden. How is it done? This website has some instructions:

http://www.kiddiegardens.com/growing_potatoes_in_tires.html

What does this have to do with literacy? The potato garden will be a project with my kids this summer. If we decide to use tires, as suggested, there will definitely be some decorating to do. We will have to decide whether we need weed cloth under the containers. We will need to figure out how many tire containers to plant. We will measure the potato plants regularly so we know when we have to put on more dirt. We will need to figure out how much water to give them and when. All of this is going to use a lot of vocabulary, numeracy and creativity.

The other thing we will do is read a great book called The Enormous Potato by Aubrey Davis. Asking questions about what my kids think will happen when our potatoes are ready to be harvested will be a fun way to tie in the book. Also, we’ll talk about what we’ll do with the potatoes at the end and look up recipes for a great way to close the project in the fall.

As I said in my last post – there will be an end to winter and a time to start planting. Have fun with your children, get dirty, and make it a literacy rich experience!