Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter!

Someone special is celebrating a birthday!  Yes, it is Harry Potter's birthday today, but more importantly, it is also the birthday of author J.K. Rowling, creator of Harry Potter and his world.  The Boys and I have been Harry Potter fans for many years.  In fact, one of the boys believed that he was Harry for some time.  

The other was Neville Longbottom.

Last summer, we were lucky enough to take a trip to Hogwarts.  It was awesome!

While in Hogsmede, we went to the Three Broomsticks, and the Butterbeer was amazing.  We still have the mugs.  It has taken us over a whole year to try to re-create the tasty brew, but in honor of Joanne and Harry, we whipped up a couple of batches.  We decided to try two recipes, one from MuggleNet pictured on the left (click here for the recipe) and a more authentic-looking one from Tablespoon.com on the right (click here for the recipe).

 And what was Neville Longbottom's verdict?

MuggleNet's recipe (with a little whipped cream on top!)

While my Boy and I were cooking, we talked about our favorite books in the series, and I mentioned that J.K. Rowling was encouraged to use initials instead of her given name, Joanne, when publishing her books.  Apparently someone in the "business" had told her that boys may not be interested in reading a book written by a female author.  

C.J.'s wise response, "But I choose a book because it is interesting with adventure and funny stuff in it, not because of the author's name."  

I would say that Jo's books are all that, and more.  No matter if you are a Boy or a Girl, Wizard or Muggle- they're magic.

Monday, July 30, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Today the Boys and I are linking up to a meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey as well as Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.  It's called: It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  Check out both of their blogs for many, many, more wonderful book recommendations!

Today one of the boys is at camp, so we have Mom and C.J.'s book reviews to share.  P.J. is about 50% of the way through Dreadnaught (H.I.V.E. #4) by Mark Walden.  I'm sure we'll have his full review by next Monday, along with multiple mosquito bites and a layer of mud, which he will also acquire this week at camp.

Here's how the rating works (as written by P.J.):

For every "rock" it means something different, like 1 rock is not very good, 2 rocks is ok, 3 rocks is good, 4 rocks is great, and 5 rocks is amazing! Well now that I got you up to speed, let's get into these book reviews.

"Greetings inferior one." I am C.J. the unimaginable and it's book report time now!

Title:  Vordak the Incomprehensible: How to Grow Up and Rule the World
Author:  Vordak T. Incomprehensible, Scott Seegert

Goodreads summary:*  Slip on your acid-free gloves, make sure you have a duplicate copy of How to Grow Up and Rule the World (just in case something should happen to this one) and try to follow along as the incomparable, superior-in-all-ways Vordak the Incomprehensible teaches you a thing or two about villainy.  Now you, too, can try (and fail) to attain Vordak's level of infamy.

From selecting the most dastardly name, to choosing the ideal henchmen, to engaging in witty repartee with disgustingly chipper superheroes, experienced supervillain Vordak the Incomprehensible guides readers step-by-step toward the ultimate goal of world domination (from his parents' basement in Trenton, New Jersey).  

With chapter titles like "Bringing Out the Evil" and "Building a Top-Notch Evil Organization," numerous bold illustrations, and detailed quizzes to assess your level of dastardliness, this book provides everything necessary to rise above the masses, and then rub your ascent in their faces.

In return for this wealth of knowledge, Vordak requests nothing more than an honored place in the evil regime of he who achieves control of the world. (And, of course, the opportunity to assume command, should things not work out.)
What I think:  I think it was a decent book.  It was about a guy named Vordak who is trying to teach you how to RULE THE WORLD!! MUHAHAHAHA!!!  I think the book is just a huge hilarious joke, in the good way.   People who like Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey: you would like this book.  Ages recommended 8-12.
Favorite quote:  "GREETINGS inferior one!" (pg. 1)

Rock Rating: 4.5 out of 5!  

Next reads for C.J. include:

Vordak the Incomprehensible: Rule the School by Vordak T. Incomprehensible, Scott Seegert


My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian

Last week, Mom decided to join a friendly challenge between teachers and librarians called SUMMER THROWDOWN!  (round 2).  

To find out more about this good-natured reading fun, check out this post from The Brain Lair (click here).  Mom is a little competitive, so she stepped up her reading a bit.   GO TEAM TEACHER!!! Here's this week's list.  Click on any of the book titles to link to Mom's reviews on Goodreads:

 Camp Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker (audiobook version)

Also, Mom continued her Kate Messner author study this week by reading:

Real Revision by Kate Messner

Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner

Mom has decided that Kate Messner is her idol.  She hopes to be like her when she grows up.  

(There,  I said it.  Yes, it's true!) 

Here's to another fantastic reading week!  Happy Reading, and Happy Monday!

*"How to Grow Up and Rule the World, by Vordak the Incomprehensible." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 July 2012. <http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7327318-how-to-grow-up-and-rule-the-world-by-vordak-the-incomprehensible>.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Listen. Can you hear me?

I am a visual learner.  I am drawn to art, movies, and the written word.  Knowing this about myself, I often find that I have difficulty remembering facts and following directions if they are given to me verbally.  Just ask the Boys' Dad.
As a coping mechanism, I will often jot down a note, mark a reminder on my calendar, or draw a quick sketch so that I can "see" and remember what I need to do or learn.  Due of my visual tendencies, I love reading all kinds of books: in print, e-books, books with and without pictures, and animated video books, but there is one type of book that I have not tried (even at my ripe old Mom-age).  Audiobooks!

Today I decided to try something new.

I read Clementine by Sara Pennypacker auditorally- which is a word that I think I just made up which means: with my ears.  In other words, I listened to the audiobook version of the story.  With an open mind and willingness to learn differently, I sat and allowed the narrator's voice to pull me into Clementine's world.  And do you know what?  I saw it!  
Just as I visualize a story that I read on paper (or on my Kindle, or other e-reader), listening to the audiobook version produced the same effect for me.  I just closed my eyes and let the narrator's words create a video in my mind.  It was wonderful, and it absolutely makes sense.  I love listening to storytellers, so why not audiobooks?  I only wish I had tried this sooner.

I want to do it again, and I'm imagining the audiobook possibilities for kids and Moms alike.

Checking our online catalog at our local public library, I found that there are thousands of audiobook titles available, including 385 Juvenile titles for check-out.  New titles are added every day.  Some of the titles are even offered for instant download.  Awesome!  Some books come with a minimal fee, but many are free with your library card.   

In the spirit of a concise blog post, today I am just going to list my ideas for incorporating audiobooks into our reading life here at home.

  • Make mundane jobs like folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, and mowing the grass more fun by listening to an audiobook!
  • Is the house too quiet?  Add audiobooks to your iPod or other MP3 player as an alternative to music.  (Ha Ha, Mom humor.  Boys are rarely quiet!)
  • Listen to audiobooks instead of watching TV.  Everything is a re-run right now during the summer, anyway, right?
  • Driving somewhere far away like the beach, lake, or other summer vacation spot?  Pop in an audiobook instead of a movie.
  • Work out at the gym with audiobooks.  People will look at you funny for laughing or crying at the good parts, but who cares?
  • Listen to an audiobook to relax and wind down before bed (but only if it is a happy story, no scary ones at bedtime).
Because I am so excited about audiobooks, from today forward I plan to weave this lovely discovery into my life as much as I can.  (Although I may try the driving one when Dad is at the wheel, because I have trouble multitasking, and the whole closing-eyes thing might not be so safe...)

And, of course, my Mom/teacher brain is planning (plotting, scheming... whatever) to introduce the Boys to this wonderful discovery.  I'm thinking that my x-box-YouTube-Minecraft-iPod-loving reluctant one may especially enjoy this "other-media" way to read.  We can still have our comprehension conversations and use our strategies: inferring, connecting, predicting, vocabulary-building, evaluating, and more!  It's a win-win for all of us. :)

I'm sure there are many, many more ways to enjoy audiobooks, and we would love to hear your ideas!  Tell us all of the ways you listen to audiobooks, and happy (auditory) reading!

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Today the Boys and I are linking up to a meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey as well as Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.  It's called: It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  Check out both of their blogs for many, many, more wonderful book recommendations!

The boys have a couple of books to Rock Rate this week, and here's how the rating works (as written by P.J.):  For every "rock" it means something different, like 1 rock is not very good, 2 rocks is ok, 3 rocks is good, 4 rocks is great, and 5 rocks is amazing! Well now that I got you up to speed, let's get into these book reviews.

Hey this is C.J.  It's as sunny as a rainy day, and this is book report time.

Title: Capture the Flag
Author: Kate Messner

Goodreads* summary: 
"Three kids get caught up in an adventure of historic proportions!

Anna, José, and Henry are complete strangers with more in common than they realize. Snowed in together at a chaotic Washington D.C. airport, they encounter a mysterious tattooed man, a flamboyant politician, and a rambunctious poodle named for an ancient king. Even stranger, news stations everywhere have announced that the famous flag that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner" has been stolen! Anna, certain that the culprits must be snowed in too, recruits Henry and José to help catch the thieves and bring them to justice.

But when accusations start flying, they soon realize there's more than justice at stake. As the snow starts clearing, Anna, José, and Henry find themselves in a race against time (and the weather!) to prevent the loss of an American treasure."

What I think:  I personally think this is the greatest book evah! It's in the adventure genre so if you like adventure books this book is for you!  This book has some questioning parts in it.  But I won't say anything about those parts, because it would ruin the book.  Those parts made me ask questions about who the culprit was, and it kept me interested until the end.  I strongly recommend this book to everybody!

Rock Rating: 5

 out of 5!

Hey this is P.J., and this is my blog!

Title: Escape Velocity
Author: Mark Walden

Goodreads summary:
"Students and staff at H.I.V.E.—the Higher Institute of Villainous Education—are horrified to discover that Dr. Nero has been captured by the forces of H.O.P.E.—the Hostile Operative Prosecution Executive—the world’s newest and most ruthlessly efficient security force. Otto decides that the only way to find Nero and the truth behind the lies is to escape H.I.V.E. But he’s also struggling with some newfound abilities: Can he really unconsciously interface with computers without physical contact? And if he can, what exactly do his new powers mean? In his search for answers, Otto must flee H.I.V.E., and take the risks that come with being a rogue agent. Then he just has to break into MI6….."

What I think: I think this was a great book.  It always left you reading for more.  The only bad thing about this book I would say is that if I didn't know there were more books in the series, I would think that this was the last book.  Overall it was great.  I love the way that Mark Walden showed how elaborate Overlord's plan was, and it almost seemed flawless.  I am definitely going to read the rest of the books, and I am sure that I am going to love them all!  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mystery and adventure novels in grades 5 through 8.

Rock Rating: 
5 out of 5

Here is what Mom read this week:
Marty McGuire by Kate Messner

You can read my review on Goodreads here.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Read my review on Goodreads here.

I'm also very close to finishing Real Revision by Kate Messner.  I am absolutely eating this one up.  It is a fantastic resource for all teachers of writing.  Look for my review of this book, as well as The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christoper Healy, Horton Halfpott by Tom Angleberger, How to Grow Up and Rule the World by Vordak the Incomprehensible by Scott Seegert, and more next week! 

"Capture the Flag." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2012. <http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12975886-capture-the-flag>.

"Escape Velocity (H.I.V.E. #3)." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2012. <http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4617762-escape-velocity>.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mid-way Checkpoint

Did I mention that I am a reading specialist by profession?  Yeah, well one of the perks (em... quirks) of reading specialists is that we have a tendency towards data analysis.  I especially enjoy looking at data (stop laughing, I'm serious here), because it is a good way to step back and get an overall picture of kids as readers.  In my job, I use a variety of sources of data, and I am very handy with the excel spreadsheet.  (Stop, I know.  Please understand that I am not trying to make you jealous of my number-crunching skills.  I'm just providing a little background so you can see where I'm going with this.  Seriously.  Stay with me.  Stop laughing.)  
While this chart is not even close to the awesomeness that I create at work, I thought it would be a good way to snapshot our summer bookaday progress so far.  Can you believe we are halfway through?  (Sorry about the quality.  If you are really interested in the chart up-close, you can click on it and expand for more detail.)
Here are my observations:

P.J. has a pretty clear idea of his interests as a reader.  He loves fantasy and non-fiction. While this is a great thing to know, and I appreciate his focus and commitment to books (especially series books), I'd like to gently nudge him towards some other genres.  Just to try.  Expand horizons, for fun, and I think overall it will give him other perspectives and put a frame of reference around his love of fantasy.  With his interest in history and non-fiction, I think I'll suggest some historical fiction titles.

C.J. has been very adventurous as a reader so far and has tried many books from a variety of genres.  He has also abandoned quite a few books (almost half of the ones he tried), and he has not been too big of a fan of others that he did finish.  Can you say reluctant reader?  My only hope- he is currently reading a mystery/adventure that he is enjoying immensely!  He is 80% through and gets excited when he tells me about the latest plot twists each day.  He's even making some real-world connections and talking about themes in our conversations!  Whoa!  So, the challenge for me is to continue that momentum on our next book choice.  I want to keep that freight train rolling!

It was surprising for me to see my huge realistic fiction kick.  I did a little author study spurt at the beginning of the summer with Jennifer Holm's books (they were all historical fiction titles, which I love as a genre), but I am really hitting the RF genre hard.  They are mostly YA titles as well.  I promised myself that I would do more professional reading, too, and with the summer already halfway over (eeek!) I need to get hopping on those titles.

I hope our little data chart is helpful to you Moms (and Dads)  out there as you step back and take a peek at your own childrens' reading this summer.  

My next step (as always) is to go forward and suggest "next step books" for the boys, and I am excited to have found this super-cool website that makes individual book suggestions based on personal interests.  It's called YourNextRead (imagine that)!  It's so easy and visual, which I love, because it makes a web of book suggestions based on whatever books you like.  Just type in your favorite book, click the search icon that looks like a magnifying glass, and (poof!) it generates a web of books that you will enjoy reading.  If you've read all of the suggestions, then click on one of the other book covers, and it will pop up more title suggestions for you.  Even better- if you already have a Goodreads account, you can link both sites together to get a monster-web of book title suggestions!  



Monday, July 16, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Today the Boys and I are linking up to a meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey as well as Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.  It's called: It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  Check out both of their blogs for many, many, more wonderful book recommendations!

This was another busy summer week at our house, but here are the Boys' reviews:

Hello this is C.J.  Cows are awesome and this is book report time. Today I am rock rating the book Lunch Lady.  For every "rock" it means something different, like 1 rock is not very good, 2 rocks is ok, 3 rocks is good, 4 rocks is great, and 5 rocks is amazing! Well now that I got you up to speed, let's get into this book review.

Cue in narrarator voice!  (Dun dun dun!)

Title: Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit
Author: Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Goodreads summary: The Breakfast Bunch is excited for the upcoming bake sale—and the best part is that it's raising money for an awesome field trip.  But when all the snacks go missing, it's no laughing matter.  Someone is sabotaging the bake sale.  But why?
Lunch Lady and the Breakfast Bunch are hot on the trail . . . one brownie crumb at a time.
Un-cue narrarator voice!

What I think:  It was a decent book. Not too good but, good. It had random stuff happening here and there.  I mean a lunch lady superhero?  Really?!

Re-cue narrator voice!

I recommend this to grades 3-5. You would also like this book if you like Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey or My Weird School Daze series books by Dan Gutman. And yes, it's spelled Daze.

Rock rating: 2/5

Hey this is P.J. and this is my blog!  I am reading the book Escape Velocity by Mark Walden, and it is still good. They finally found out where Nero is being held captive, and the book confirmed that number 1 is the leader of H.O.P.E  (before that it was just what the characters thought). The Contesta is losing control of the school, after she turned H.I.V.E. mind off, it has been hectic in the school. This has been my short update on what I have been reading.  I hope you enjoyed, and peace out!

Mom update:  
This week, I read (click on the titles to read my reviews on Goodreads):

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner

This   Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy

I am currently halfway through Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, and C.J. and I are 28% of the way through Horton Halfpott: or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset by Tom Angleberger.  We are reading Angleberger's book aloud, and it is a hoot! :)

Stay tuned for more Mom2Boys posts coming up, and please feel free to add comments below.  The Boys love to hear your feedback and book recommendations!

"Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit (Lunch Lady #5)." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 July 2012. <http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8148668-lunch-lady-and-the-bake-sale-bandit>.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mom is not Chuck Norris

An AWESOME idea popped into my brain today.  I am the best Mom ever, and oh so clever!

Inspired, I ran the idea past the Boys:
"Wouldn't it be cool if we organized a mid-summer book swap with our friends?"

<tumbleweeds> or, more likely <shocked silence>

"I mean, what a great excuse to have a party!  We can celebrate books, recommend our favorites, and get 'new' ones to read.  For free!  And it will be fun!"


"We can have refreshments?"

<eye roll>

The response:  "Mom, I am not a complete nerd.  I do not recommend books to my friends."

Now, Chuck Norris is awesome.  Would Chuck Norris host a mid-summer book swap party?  With refreshments?  My guess is probably no.
C.J. discovered Chuck Norris this year. He has been doing martial arts for the last 5 years, taking Tang Soo Do classes twice a week. I'm not sure if it was this influence or just plain old 5th grade boy-ness that drew him into this meme.  Many, many Chuck Norris sayings and jokes have been written over time, and I recently found this one about reading in a blog post online:  "Chuck Norris doesn't read books.  He stares them down until he gets the information he wants."  At face value, this doesn't bode well for my book-swap party, but if you read the whole post, you'll find that the author has put a positive spin on the statement.   These jokes are fine for a chuckle, but my problem remains:   If Chuck Norris exemplifies awesomeness, then I need to harness some of his power to gather book-swap party momentum.

Thinking about the "Chuck Norris" of the reading world, I automatically go to Kelly Gallagher, author of Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It.  Gallagher is a High School English teacher, and he exudes teacher-y awesomeness.  I read this book a couple of years ago, and refer back to it occasionally throughout the school year to re-charge my power when I need a boost.  He is passionate about his students and reading, and the short summary of the book is this:  Schools are killing reading because of the over-emphasis on standardized testing as the only measure of achievement.  Other reading world "Chuck Norris-es" are Ann McGill-Franzen and Richard Allington, who have done many years of research on summer reading loss and the widening achievement gap between students who have access to books over the summer and those who don't, as well as the Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller, who inspires her students through modeling, choice, engagement, and stealing reading moments throughout the day, every day.

Now you must understand, the Boys have plenty of books.  They also have unlimited access, choice, and opportunity to read.  They have had wonderful teachers and were nurtured in a print and language rich home environment.  But they also have access to other "stuff."  Probably too much, with camps, sports, iPods, X-box, and computer access.  This extra "stuff" is the E-Factor (Extra-Factor), which multiplies exponentially and also overwhelms their motivation to read.  So many Things and Activities are much, much more exciting and distracting and awesome than books.  Why?  Have they been the victims of Readicide?   Is the E-Factor overwhelming them?

I'm not entirely sure of the answer, and I don't think it is simple.  Furthermore, it is not my intent to complain or place blame.  My job and my purpose for the Boys this summer is to figure out how to put the Chuck Norris back into books.  I have the power to make this change.  One solution is to create and nurture a community of readers.  With the piles and piles of books that we own, no recommendation from Mom is going to have the punch and kick that comes from a peer.   The boys still spend WAY too much time playing Minecraft online, but what I've noticed more than anything is their excitement when a friend is online playing with them.  How can I harness that power of community and funnel it into the reading world?

One idea is a summer book-swap party.  A Chuck Norris book-swap party.  P.J. said it would be cool if we could play paintball, too.  I told him I'd get back to him on that one...

Here are some new Chuck Norris jokes that we made up:

Chuck Norris doesn't swap books.  He seizes them.
Chuck Norris doesn't swap books.  He he takes them hostage.
Chuck Norris swaps books with a flying sidekick.

My new personal favorite:
Chuck Norris doesn't just read. He devours words with his mind.

Hey this is P.J. and this is my blog. I know I have not been writing my blog for a while, but I have been so busy lately!  Today I was reading the book Escape Velocity which is the third book in the H.I.V.E. series. This book is great so far. Nero got captured (that's not good) and there is more revealed about the Resistance initiative.  Probably the biggest surprise is that the Contesta (she betrayed H.I.V.E. in the second book) was appointed headmistress of H.I.V.E.  Chuck Norris would not approve. That was my blog and I will write again tomorrow.

Hey this is C.J.  Chuck Norris approves this message and this is book report time.  Just yesterday I started reading Chomp by Carl Hiaasen.  This book is about a kid named Wahoo whose family owns a lot of rare animals.  Sadly Wahoo's dad (Mickey) gets hit on the head by a frozen iguana and gets a concussion.  The medical bills made Wahoo's family poor and made them behind on their mortgage. Wahoo's dad eventually got better and was offered a job that gave him $1,000 a day. The job was giving animals to a TV show involving survivalists. You will have to read the book to find out the rest.

Mom's note:  This book that C.J. is reading (Chomp by Carl Hiaasen) was recommended to him by his good friend and fellow Chuck Norris Fan-Club member. :)

Ollila, Petteri. "5 Priceless Self-Improvement Tips from Chuck Norris." PickTheBrain. PickTheBrain, 2010. Web. 10 July 2012. <http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/5-priceless-self-improvement-tips-from-chuck-norris/>.

Gallagher, Kelly. Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do about It. Portland, Me.: Stenhouse, 2009. Print.

Miller, Donalyn. The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Print.

Walden, Mark. Escape Velocity. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, 2011. Print.

Hiaasen, Carl. Chomp. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. Print.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Celebrating Independence

Today marks a special day in our history.  One of the Boys is having a BIG birthday.  For a very long time he was convinced, with no contradiction (and maybe just a little encouragement) on my part, that the firework displays were all for him.  Every year in his Boy history has been marked by exploding lights in the sky.  Coincidentally, we also celebrate our nation's birth on this day as well (Yay USA!).
He did eventually make the connection and the distinction between his special day and Independence Day, but in our house, we make the most of each and every burst and boom in the sky on July 4th.  And with each passing year, he becomes more mature and independent.  From a Mom's perspective, this independence is both a source of pride and a tiny prick into my heart, as I know that some day he will be all grown up and go off to live his grown up life without me.

This summer is all about independence.  Independent reading, that is.  In an earlier post, I had written about the connection between emotional response and reading which you can read here.  Essentially, my goal this summer is to nurture an intrinsic, positive connection between independent reading and pleasure so that the love of reading carries over into the Boys' adult life.  However, even though our children are older and are capable of reading independently, we should still take opportunities to read to them out loud. 
It may seem counterintuitive~ I had said that they should be motivated to read independently, yet now Mom (and Dad) should read out loud TO them?  To that I say, Yes!  We should do both, actually.  Now, we are long past the days of reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (which I absolutely Know By Heart), but yes, I continue to read to the boys aloud.   
In education, research has shown that read-alouds should continue throughout a child's schooling, even through the upper grades and into high school.  For that matter, it should continue through adulthood.  Think about it.  Can you honestly say that you don't enjoy being read to?  If you are raising your hand, you are a liar.
Read-alouds are just as important as independent reading, not just for their pleasure-factor, but also for brain building learning, even in the upper grades.  While reading to your children aloud, you are building their vocabulary and language, increasing their comprehension and critical thinking, as well as revealing authors' writing style, craft, and story structure.  You are a role model for your child as you think out loud about the story and talk about something that was especially surprising, confusing, or hilarious.  And, of course, there is the snuggle factor...  Yes, even with big kids.  Even with Boys.

Happy Independence Day!  Celebrate it with a great read-aloud, after the fireworks.

Here are some great resources for you to use while you read aloud with your kids:

Read Aloud Tips and Parent Resources
Reading Rockets: Read Aloud
Read Aloud Questions/ Book Conversation Tips
Make the Most of Reading Aloud
Podcast: What Should I Read Aloud?
Resource Books for Parents via Read Kiddo Read

Book Resources
Read Aloud America
65 Favorite Read Alouds for Boys
Books to Read to Boys Before Age 10
Books 4 Boys
Guys Read

And of course, The Declaration of Independence 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rock N' Roll!

Thank you for reading our blog!

Hey this is P.J. and today I am going to be doing a book review on the book Overlord Protocol. The way I am going to rate this book is on how much it rocks.  For every "rock" it means something different, like 1 rock is not very good, 2 rocks is ok, 3 rocks is good, 4 rocks is great, and 5 rocks is amazing! Well now that I got you up to speed, let's get into this book review. *

Title: Overlord Protocol (H.I.V.E. #2)
Author: Mark Walden


Otto Malpense and his friends thought their first year at the Higher Institute of Villainous Education was the most adventurous and exciting that they would ever encounter. They were dead wrong.
When Otto and Wing are allowed off campus to attend Wing's father's funeral, they have no idea it's a trap, all part of a lethal plan organized by Cypher, the most ruthless supervillain any of them have ever known. He intends to use them to retrieve the Overlord Protocol, a device that has the capacity to help him take over the world. But when things go terribly wrong, Otto will stop at nothing to hunt him down and make him pay.
With the help of Laura, Shelby, Raven, and his former nemesis, Dr. Nero, Otto must find a way to defeat an enemy that has overcome some of the planet's most infamous villains without even breaking a sweat. Because if he doesn't, the world as they know it will be changed forever."

What I think: This was a very good book that had a lot of twists and turns and always had something to surprise you. I loved the cliffhanger that the book left you on, and I am so glad that the third book is already out, because I would be dying for it.  I think this book reveals what Number 1 is really up to and helps you realize how deceptive and evil he really is. This book also reveals that Overlord is still alive and is very capable of destroying the world. This book kind of reminded me of the Harry Potter series, because Otto is going through school just like Harry, and he has adventures every year just like Harry Potter. I believe that if you liked the Harry Potter books you would like this series except that they are evil villains and don't do magic.        

Recommended for: grades 6-9, and people who love mystery and action adventure novels.

I give this book 5 rocks out of 5!

Hey this is C.J!  Mustaches are tasty and this is book report time. Today I am recommending and rock rating the book Fake Mustache.  Here are my results.

Title: Fake Mustache
Author: Tom Angleberger

Goodreads summary***: "Award-winning author Tom Angleberger flexes his comic muscle in this hairy adventure story with twists at every turn.
Regular kid Lenny Flem Jr. is the only one standing between his evil-genius best friend—Casper, a master of disguise and hypnosis—and world domination. It all begins when Casper spends money from his granny on a spectacularly convincing fake mustache, the Heidelberg Handlebar #7. With it he’s able rob banks, amass a vast fortune, and run for president. Is Lenny the only one who can see through his disguise? And will he be able to stop Casper from taking over the world?"

What I think: I think it was a funny, interesting and confusing book.  It was funny because the main character at one point dressed up as a TV character who is a lot like Hannah Montana. (That part was also confusing.) What was interesting was that the person who created the fake mustache used real mustache hair to create it. What was confusing is that I could never imagine a fake mustache doing that much havoc. But overall you did a great job Mr. Angleberger! 

Recommended for:  Ages 10-13.  If you have read The Strange Case of Origami Yoda or any other Tom Angleberger book,  I would recommend this for you.  In Origami Yoda strange things happen, and in Fake Mustache, the mustache is like the Yoda except it's a mustache.

Currently I am reading another Tom Angleburger book called Horton Halfpot and so far it's pretty good.

Rock Rating: 4 rocks out of 5!

Mom's note:  I think the Boys ROCK!  They are finally on a roll with their reading!!  Heh heh heh!!!

*Thank you to Jen Vincent and Kellee Moye at Teach Mentor Texts for being our "mentor blog" for the Boys' review today.  Check out their blog for many, many more rockin' book reviews!

**"The Overlord Protocol (H.I.V.E. #2)." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 July 2012. <http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1446826.The_Overlord_Protocol>.
***"Fake Mustache." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 July 2012. <http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12426366-fake-mustache>.