Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Amanda Travels

World Book Day was March 7th this year which also happens to be my birthday. When I was asked to visit an International School close to my home in Spain on March 7th, I was delighted. There is nothing I would rather do on my birthday than spend it with Grade 4, 5 and 6 students talking about my books and writing in general.

To celebrate World Book Day the students created book spines of favourite books to display on a wall. I was pleased to see Amanda in Spain amongst titles by Roald Dahl, J K Rowling and other great authors.

I spent the entire school day presenting to three grades of about forty students each. The children were very attentive, enjoyed the PowerPoint presentation, listening to the readings and eagerly joined in the brainstorming activity. I always love the Q and A session because you never know what you will get. Every group is different. One young person asked me “How long does it take to perfect a story?” Wow! Usually, they ask how long it takes to write a book but don’t even think about perfecting it. That prompted a discussion on revision. Another clever student asked me if I knew more about my main character than was in the book. From kids aged 10 to 12, these were astute questions.


Because they knew it was my birthday, I was given a lovely gift of chocolates and hand-made cards. I felt very special.

My birthday cake was made and decorated by Cakes ‘n’ Bakes, the local Coffee Shop I held a book signing at last year. Isn’t it just perfect!!


Since I was busy on my birthday, we decided to have an open house party on Sunday, March 10th, a sunny afternoon. About twenty friends, family and neighbours dropped by. Everyone had a great time and I was so happy to be surrounded by people I love.


Nice to see family

and writer friends

“It wouldn’t be a party without you” party plates

Some of the cake is gone but we are still having fun.


I was delighted with all the beautiful flowers I was gifted. You can never have too many flowers. 

So now I am another year older and look forward to the coming year! Life is good when you have friends, flowers, chocolate, sunshine and a dog!

Dot had a good time too, but was exhausted after the party.

I am delighted to be featured on Aurora Alexander’s blog once again.

Writer's Treasure Chest

It is a very special pleasure for me to welcome you back on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’. In your former visits we learned about your writing, your writing process and asked for some advice. But there are so many more questions to ask!

Let’s see what you can tell us today:

1. Would you please describe your writer’s spot?

If you mean where I do my writing, it is usually in my office in my home in Spain. It’s the spare bedroom which we have turned into my office with a desk, computer and comfy office chair. I’m surrounded by books, magazines, a dictionary, thesaurus and other writer’s aids. Pictures of my family grace the walls. It is not a neat and tidy place but it works for me. I also hand write in the car (while hubby is driving, of course) on airplanes and sitting on my sunny terrace.

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I follow the blog of pre-school teacher Jennie Fitkzee at A Teacher’s Reflections. Jennie is an amazing teacher who truly loves her job and shares her 30-year teaching experiences with her readers. In some of her posts, she talks about the importance of reading out loud and of reading chapter books to children who cannot yet read. Here is some of what she has to say.

Jennie and her students with a favourite chapter book

The Importance of Reading Chapter Books by Jennie

In order to read, and more importantly to want to read, it all starts with parents and family reading aloud to children, every day. The statistics on reading aloud and its link to academic success in all areas is profound. If reading is a pleasurable experience, then school work is by far easier. Every child begins school wanting to learn to read. In other words, we’ve got 100 percent of enthusiastic kindergarteners when they start school. The National Report Card found that among fourth-graders, only 54 percent read for pleasure. Among eighth graders, only 30 percent read for pleasure. By twelfth grade, only 19 percent read anything for pleasure daily. Yikes! What happened? The better question might be, what did not happen?

The seeds of not only learning to read but loving to read were not planted early. Reading aloud to children for 30 minutes every day, starting at birth and continuing after they have learned to read, is the single best thing a parent can do to build a reader. I know this. When I read aloud in my classroom, it’s the time that children are totally absorbed. Totally. A good story, read aloud, is the best learning and pleasure experience I give to children. It opens the door to questions and discovery.

People often ask why I chapter read.  After all, many of the children in my classroom are three-years-old.  When we chapter read, the children don’t have an image from a picture book.  They have to make the pictures in their head.  That requires language development.  The more they hear, the more they learn.  Even the youngest children benefit enormously.  For example, they may not ‘get’ the humor of the goose repeating everything three times in Charlotte’s Web, but they are still getting a huge dose of language.  And, that language is sparking their imagination.  No pictures; just words pouring into eager, young minds and creating their own images.

Jennie discussing a chapter book with a student

Chapter reading is one of our treasured moments of the day at school.  Books bring to life the imagination, the world, and the past.  The anticipation of ‘what happens next’ stirs excitement every day.  Children listen and talk.  They ask questions.  When I ask children, “At chapter reading where do you make the pictures?” they answer “In your head.”

Reading aloud is the best thing I do with, and for, children.  They are preschoolers.  Yes, I chapter read to four-year-olds.  It is marvelous.  After three decades of teaching, I know this is “it”.  Learning can happen unexpectedly, and reading aloud is often the catalyst.  Children don’t need to sit and listen to a book in silence.  Asking questions is a good thing!

Reading aloud is the gift of language, and language is the most important element in a child’s development and success in school.  Wow!  The number of words a child knows can be directly attributed to his or her success in school; not just in English, but in Math and Science as well.  Perhaps these are the most important words a parent can hear.  Reading aloud is a strong part of my classroom curriculum, and children love it!  The more you read aloud at home increases your child’s development!  The biggest bonus is bonding together.  Nothing beats snuggling with Mom or Dad, one-on-one, reading a book.  Life is good!

Jennie

I have often been asked why I don’t have my Amanda Travels books illustrated. This is why. I want my readers to create their own images. I also hesitate to categorize my books for 8 to 12-year-olds as many pre-schoolers enjoy my books being read to them by adults or older siblings. One grandmother read my books to her three-year-old granddaughter, who loved them and drew pictures of Ali Baba the camel from Amanda in Arabia. This young woman is now 12 and still enjoys reading, including the Amanda Travels series.

Follow Jennie’s blog with more meaningful reflections of an experienced teacher https://jenniefitzkee.com/

On my recent trip back to my home province of Alberta, I was fortunate to visit two schools where I did presentations, readings, and workshops. I may have mentioned before that doing school presentations is my favourite part of being a writer. These two visits were very special.

I was invited by a school in Airdrie, Alberta to visit as the Grade 4 classes are currently reading Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. I did four presentations to the grade four classes at Herons Crossing School the day after I landed in Calgary. The students were delightful and devoted Amanda Travels fans. Some had read all the books. They said they enjoyed the use of cliffhangers in the stories. I love that kind of feedback. They were all well behaved and asked very good questions.

Students eagerly listening while I read from Amanda in Alberta.

A few days later I visited Irvine School, just outside Medicine Hat, where I did a presentation in the library to about 70 grade 3 and 4 students. After the recess, I did a workshop with one of the Grade 4 classes.

This was a double special visit as I went to Irvine School myself many years ago and it is now the school my great-granddaughter attends. It is not the same building I attended as the original school burnt down in 1989 and has been replaced by a modern building. But it was a memorable visit for me. I brought along my old high school sweater and yearbook to show the children that I had once attended that very school.

Presentation in the library

Considering it was just a couple of days before the Christmas break, the students were very attentive and asked great questions. After sitting on the floor for quite some time, the teacher had them get up and do a few exercises.

After the presentation, many came up to ask more questions.

Later, I facilitated a workshop on using all the senses in writing. Using a photograph as a prompt, we brainstormed words describing the five senses. Everyone participated. Later they were given ten minutes to hand write something based on a picture, using as many of the senses as possible. Some shared their writing. I was amazed at how eager they were to do the assignment and how they produced such incredible work in a short time. A great example of how children still love to read and write.

Facilitating a workshop with eager participants is so much fun.

My oldest grandson was my driver, helper, and photographer. He was a huge help.

My grandson and his niece (my great-granddaughter)

I was so impressed with the school, the teachers and the staff. There was such a positive vibe in the place. Wonderful quotes decorated the hallway walls.

And look what I found on a door in the girl’s washroom!

Talk about positive reinforcement!

I went back to my old school and found that the future is in good hands. 

Check out my conversation with Colleen Chesebro, where I talk about libraries, my supportive family and upcoming projects.

The Faery Whisperer

Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you a new author, at least to me, Darlene Foster. I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. We all aspire to be successful authors and the best way to learn some of the tricks of the trade is to ask questions.

First, please meet my guest, Darlene Foster.

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends.

Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”. She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people.

She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul. “Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume…

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I am very happy to be a guest of Charles Yallowitz at Legends of Windemere where I share some tips on how to find time to write. Charles is a prolific writer himself. Check out his amazing fantasy series.

Legends of Windemere

Finding Time to Write

You have a great idea for a book. You’ve been thinking about it for a long time, probably years. But you’re too busy with a job, kids, aging parents, volunteer work and life in general. So you put off writing the book. But it is always there, nagging you, begging to be written. If only you had time to write!

Sound familiar?

For many, writing a book seems like an insurmountable task. So they never even start. That is where the problem is, they are thinking about writing an entire book.  Like any large, time-consuming project, to make it happen the task needs to be broken down into doable amounts.

A good way to do this is to set goals – long term, med term and short term goals. These goals should be realistic and time limited. And that will be different for everyone.

A long…

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Thank you so much to everyone who entered the recent Amanda in New Mexico giveaway. And a huge thank you to all of you who shared and promoted it. It was fun and using Raflecopter made it very easy and fair. I was pleased that there were so many entries that I had Raflecopter pick two winners. So drum roll, please…

The two winners of a copy of Amanda in New Mexico-Ghosts in the Wind are –

Lynn Davidson 
Bette A. Stevens 

Congratulations to both of you. I have contacted you via email.

Book cover Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind by author Darlene Foster

Amanda in New Mexico-Ghosts in the Wind is available at most bookstores, although it may need to be ordered in, and online on the following sites

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Amazon.co.uk

Kobo

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends and family! There is so much to be thankful for. Among many other things, I am thankful for the followers of my blog.

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In Canada, picking a pumpkin is as important as picking a Christmas tree. The trick is to find a sincere pumpkin patch.

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Watch this space, there may be more giveaways!


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