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.

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