Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘reading

A great post on the importance of reading, that made me think of the books I read as a child and how they influenced my life.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

In celebration of the imminent release of Jessica Norrie’s new book on July 22nd, I will be sharing her literary column posts again every fortnight over the summer. More about The Magic Carpet later in the post.

Reading from the very start

What is the beginning?

Before I wrote fiction and blogged, I was a translator, teacher and teacher trainer, with students ranging from 3 – 80+. I learned if a child learns young enough to appreciate different points of view through reading stories, the habit ebbs and flows but is never quite lost, with huge repercussions for how their lives develop.

Non-fiction can be told as stories too. The beginnings are usually clear, the plotting goes all over the place, the ends may be murky, but there’s always a story in there somewhere. It may be obvious – Henry VIII and his six wives, Harriet Tubman, Mahatma Ghandhi. Sometimes…

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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/

I read some amazing books this summer and I thought I should share some of them with you, along with my reviews. It’s always great to get ideas for new books to read, even if you have a huge TBR list like me. Here are three I just loved.

The Artisan Heart

by Dean Mayes  Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant paediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organized by Bernadette. When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind. A chance encounter with a precocious and deaf young girl introduces Hayden to Isabelle Sampi, a struggling artisan baker. While single-handedly raising her daughter, and trying to resurrect a bakery, Isabelle has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his own fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own. As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future. My review I am already a fan of Dean Mayes and am impressed with his ability to write in diverse genres while at the same time maintaining consistent quality. This book is a wonderful read, filled with incredible characters that jump off the page. I love how the characters play off each other so well. My favourite being Genevieve, a seven-year-old deaf child with spunk. I just wanted to hug her so many times. And then there is the wonderful setting of Walhalla, a cozy Australian mountain village, which is actually the main character for me. While reading this book, I felt myself walking the streets, smelling the freshly baked bread, smiling at the residents, listening to the birds and admiring the gardens. This is a place people come to get away from it all and discover who they are meant to be. A feel-good book with some tense moments, full of emotion and real people. I highly recommend this book. One I would read again.

A Place Called Winter

by Patrick Gale In the golden 1900s, Harry Cane, a shy, eligible gentleman of leisure is drawn from a life of quiet routine into courting and marrying Winnie, eldest daughter of the fatherless Wells clan, who are not quite as respectable as they would appear. They settle by the sea and have a daughter and conventional marriage does not seem such a tumultuous change after all. When a chance encounter awakens scandalous desires never acknowledged until now, however, Harry is forced to forsake the land and people he loves for a harsh new life as a homesteader on the newly colonized Canadian prairies. There, in a place called Winter, he will come to find a deep love within an alternative family, a love imperiled by war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism.

My review

I purchased this book after hearing the author speak at the Winchester Writer’s Festival. His books all sounded interesting but I was drawn to this one as it takes place in the early 20th century in the Canadian prairies. This is where I’m from and my great-grandparents were among the many immigrants who settled this part of Canada. I was not disappointed. The land, the people and the impossibly tough life were described so well, I felt like I was back there working alongside these individuals. It was all there, the unforgiving terrain, the threshing crews, chokecherries, bachelors’ balls, country churches and dashed hopes. The story centres around Harry Cane, a British gentleman who had never worked a day in his life. After being disgraced, he leaves England to stake out a homestead in Winter, Saskatchewan. Little does he know what awaits him. The story is so well written, you can feel the isolation and the cold. “As for the cold, he had never experienced anything like it, a dry, iron clamp upon the land, like death itself, full of unexpected beauty, like the hard crystals that formed on the inside of the windows. The cold did something to the quality of sounds around the farm, deadening all background noise so that the smallest scratching or whisper was emphasised.” Harry’s story is filled with incredible characters, pain and heartbreak. But it is also filled with love. A beautifully written book, well worth a read.

Apprenticed To My Mother: A Memoir Of Barbara Le Pard 2005 to 2010

When my father died in 2005, I assumed my mother would need more support and someone to help with decisions she previously shared with her husband. What I didn’t realise was the role she had in mind for me: a sort of Desmond 2.0. Over the five years until her death, I played the role of apprentice, learning more about her and her relationship with my father than I had gleaned in my previous 50 years. We laughed, we cried and, occasionally we disagreed, and throughout she manipulated me as, I learnt, she had my father. Neither of us minded much; we were both her so willing fools, for she was an extraordinary woman and we both knew we were in the presence of someone very special.

My review

A wonderful heartwarming book that will leave you laughing and crying, sometimes on the same page. Mr. Le Pard has a great way with words and gives us a delightful glimpse into the lives of his parents. Sprinkled in between amusing episodes of his life as the youngest of two sons, are poems brilliantly composed by his father, most written for his wife, the love of his life. The stories paint a picture of past times in a lovely part of England, where issues are resolved with a cup of tea and a piece of homemade cake. Barbara Le Pard is a delightful character, strong-willed, tough and with a huge heart. This book is well written, entertaining and most important, it is written with love. All of these books are available on Amazon, Kobo or through any good bookstore.  I will tell you about a few more in another post. If you have read a great book or two lately, please share in the comments.

I am a guest today over at Jacqui Murray’s amazing blog, WordDreams. I answer her question, How do you create readers for life? See what I have to say.

WordDreams...

darlene fosterOne of my summer reading discoveries is Darlene Foster’s six-volume Amanda series. I’m a teacher-author so I’m always eager to find fresh books that my K-8 students will love. When I came across Darlene on her blog, Darlene Foster’s Blog, I have to admit, I was really excited. I’d never found a children’s travelogue series that would appeal to kids the same way fiction does. This series does. In it, kids travel all over the world, to those names that excite every adult–Amanda on the Danube, Amanda in Arabia, Amanda in Alberta, as well as three more fun world locations.

I asked Darlene if she would mind doing an interview for my blog–just one question. That’s all I had:

How do you create readers for life?

Because that’s what these books have the power to do–turn kids into readers. Here’s her answer:

Writing for children…

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When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes. ~ Erasmus

I am a reader. I have been a reader for as long as I can remember, or at least as long as I have been able to read. My first trip to a library was like going to Disneyland. I was in awe of the worlds and possibilities before me. I am also a consummate bibliophile and collect books with a blind passion. There are books in every room in my house. My husband has commented that there would soon be no room for him. If given a choice of a piece of jewellery or a book, I will always pick the book.

pile of books

As a child, I was one of those who read under the covers with a flashlight after lights out. I would do my chores with a book in my hand, annoying my mother when I burnt the laundry as I read while ironing. I begged the teachers to let me read instead of playing sports. As a teenager, I ruined many dates by being more interested in my book than them. At house parties, I often get lost in the host’s library discovering new books. Don’t get me wrong, I am a very social person; but I find the best conversations are around books.

 

I am now a writer. I have a full time job as an Employment Counsellor and tutor ESL students some evenings and weekends. I am a wife, mother and grandmother who loves to spend time with her family and many friends. Any spare time I have, I am writing or marketing my work. My reading time is somewhat limited. I should add I am also a slow reader, as I love to savour the story. So this has been my dilemma, finding time to read?

Then I came up with a clever idea. Since last summer, I have a 45 – 60 minute commute to work 5 days a week. When the traffic is heavy, it can be very frustrating. I decided to try taking the bus. Eureka!! I now have almost 2 hours a day to read and I get to work feeling refreshed and eager instead of frazzled. I am also saving money on gas, and helping out the environment. I am so happy to be able to read all those books I have bought, borrowed and been given, that have been piling up waiting to be opened and devoured. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

 

One day I was so involved in my novel I missed the stop and had to walk 10 blocks back to work. The exercise was good for me.

How do you manage to find time to read?

Winners

Posted on: June 28, 2011

Book Launch

My husband Paul made the draw, and the winner of the blog book give-away is Donna McBroom-Theriot, a new subscriber. Read more about her on her hilarious blog http://mylife-in-stories.blogspot.com I am happy to know that Amanda is going to be read in Louisiana.

Reading

The launch for Amanda in Spain was a huge success. I want to thank the good folks at Albany Books for making me feel so at home in the bookstore. I also want to thank the many people who attended the book launch in body or in spirit. I am blown away by the love and support of my friends, colleagues, fellow writers and the community. I want to especially thank a special young lady, Aimee, a loyal Amanda fan, who gave a great description of the camels in the first book, Amanda in Arabia, to the audience. It was a perfect tie in to the second book. I may need to take her along to all my book readings.

Everyone who reads books is a winner in my estimation. If you read a good book, please tell your friends about it. Also, please support the local independent bookstores. I would hate to see them disappear.

reading

I guess my next project is to finish writing the third adventure. I am currently working on Amanda in England-The Missing Novel. I better get writing!


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