Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

“What to do with the kids during a snowstorm?” Hmm…

March 14, 2017

“What to do with the kids during a snowstorm?” Hmm…

It’s not often that my reaction to something online is, “Oh, come on!” ūüôā

Well, that’s how I felt about this

CNN post by Kelly Wallace

Our now adult kid lives in the Boston area, and they are expecting a snowstorm. That’s not usually news ūüėČ but this one is, and it’s meaning that some school districts are closing for a “snow day”.

I get that a change in routine can be challenging, especially if you have kids who are quite young…I’ll go with under five.

It also may mean that an adult is staying home in an unusual situation, and that can be hard, too.

However, the answer seems easy to me for older kids, or would have been easy for me and my siblings.

It’s a four letter word.

It rhymes with “need”.

Reeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaddddddddd!

ūüėČ

Certainly, that’s what I would have done as a kid if “trapped” in the house.

I would have looked forward to a day like that, for just that reason. It’s also what my parents would have expected me to do.

The “what to do with…” can indicate what the disposition should be (“What should we do with all these bubble gum wrappers?”), or indicate something you will both do together (“What should we do with Kris and Pat tonight?”). Both meanings work with reading. You can let your kids read on their own, or you could read to (and with)¬†them. That works even if they are too young to read (but old enough to enjoy it…which can be quite young).

A situation like this particularly lends itself to “binge reading”…starting through a series.¬†There are several great series that you can get legally¬†for free (Oz, of course, for me immediately comes to mind…I’d start with the second book, The Marvelous Land of Oz), because they are not under copyright protection (they are in the “public domain”…the public owns them).

My record in a day as an adult was three and a half novels. ūüôā It was the Expendables series by Richard Avery. They are “popcorn books”, definitely quick reads. Unfortunately, not available (at least legally in the USA from Amazon)¬†for the Kindle.

I was once (literally) on the island of Bora Bora, and read through all of the books I brought (one of the great things about having the Kindle…I can bring a lot more books than I could bring in my separate book suitcase). The only books I could buy were

The Executioner series (Mack Bolan) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I read something like ten of those.

Similarly, my life was changed for the better when I was in Alaska, and serendipitously picked up some of the Bantam Doc Savage reprints.

I want to say that I think it’s important that you don’t worry about being able to get through the whole¬†series in the one day! It can be a great way to inspire your child to continue to read after the snow day, if you don’t.

Of course, reading just one book can be good, too. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame¬†might be a good choice. It’s a much slower pace than many works, although there is adventure in it. Don’t be put off by it being British…I’ve always loved learning words from outside my personal experience, and it’s easy enough to understand, in my opinion. Of course, on a Kindle, you also have tools (including the dictionary) which can help. If your internet doesn’t go out, the Wikipedia look up could also help.

Anyway, one thing that surprised me about the article was that nobody in it mentioned reading as an option…despite the fact that two of the experts quoted are listed as being authors! ūüôā

Snow days weren’t really part of my childhood experience, but how about you? What memories do you have reading when snowed in? What books or series would you recommend either for children to read on their own or for adults to read with them for the next couple of days? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

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Happy World Book Day, UK and Ireland!

March 2, 2017

Happy World Book Day, UK and Ireland!

While I know this blog tends to focus on the USA (since that’s where I live, I have most access to that information), I do have readers around the world…including the UK and Ireland.

The first Thursday in March is celebrated there as

World Book Day

Booklovers around the world can love this event!

It really celebrates reading, and in fun ways!

Kids dress up as book characters…they would say “fancy dress”, in the USA we would say they come “in costume”.

Every kid in school (as I understand it) gets a one pound certificate (that would be like a kid in the USA getting a $1 gift certificate…although it’s really about a buck and a quarter (($1.25)) exchange right now with the British pound. In Ireland, they get¬†‚ā¨1.50). That certificate, or token, can be exchanged for a book. This year, there are ten specially produced books on the list, with well known characters (Horrid Henry, Where’s Wally ((the equivalent of Where’s Waldo)), the Famous Five).

What’s really cool is that they get those books at a local bookstore…so that gets them to go there.

Oh, and in case you might think there would be concerns about which books are produced for WBD, students can alternatively use the token for a discount on any full-priced book (it needs to be a minimum of¬†¬£2.99 (or ‚ā¨3.99 in Ireland…and it’s worth¬†‚ā¨1.50 there).

While today is World Book Day in the UK and Ireland, the international one is on Miguel Cervantes’ birthday (April 23rd). The UK and Ireland do World Book Night on that date, but there were conflicts that made it not make sense to have the school day celebration on April 23rd (it has a conflict with other holidays, including St. George’s Day).

Check out the site! It’s a lot of fun, and I think well produced. One thing you can do there is listen to audio excerpts of books read by celebrities (Joanna Lumley, Isla Fisher, David Tennant…):

http://www.worldbookday.com/world-of-stories/

I don’t think we do as big a thing with this in the USA on April 23rd (although I did see that one city, Kensington, Maryland, has a street festival).

Here, I see more coverage for

Free Comic Book Day

which has some similarities (specially produced comics are given away), although not the same government involvement.

Coincidentally, today (March 2nd) is Dr. Seuss’ birthday!

Dr. Seuss Kindle books in the USA store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

There doesn’t appear to be a special sale today (the least expensive Kindle edition I’m seeing is $7.99), but it’s still worth noting! I know of at least one pediatric department when employees are wearing Seussian garb today…which is a bit like World Book Day!

Cheers to the UK and Ireland for encouraging reading!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Sentenced to read

February 9, 2017

Sentenced to read

In a recent case where a group of teenagers defaced a school with insensitive graffiti, the judge threw the book at them.

While a book wasn’t literally thrown, the phrase is much more apt here than in the usual sense of giving someone a severe punishment.

The judge ordered the minors to read a book a month from a specific list and write a book report on it (they can also watch movies from a list and review those).

CNN story by Sophie Scott

Book ’em, Dano.

I am torn on this one, and I’ll be very interested to read your comments.

I think a lot of it will have to do with what you think the outcome of a conviction should be.

If you think that the goal should be to rehabilitate the guilty parties, then the judge’s requirement seems like a reasonable one.

I do believe that reading books tends to improve one’s empathy, and there has been evidence to that effect.

One of the books on the list is

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

The book helps you see other’s points of view. When you read dialog “spoken” by a character, you are, in effect, looking out through that character’s eyes. You will naturally try to understand their thoughts in that situation, to better understand the dialog and the book.

If we say that these teens lack empathy, and that at least certain books can improve empathy, then ordering these teens to read books is not all that different from making a condition of parole that someone attend a chemical dependency program.

It could be treatment.

It could also be education (like required attendance at traffic school after a moving violation), which could be considered to be part of treatment. If you believe that the defendants really didn’t understand the impact of what they were doing, educating them could be helpful.

I recall two instances from when I was a young child where I said/did something out of ignorance that would be considered offensive.

My family was very involved with the civil rights movement, and I don’t think I was particularly prejudiced…that would have been unlikely, I would say, when I was under ten years old being raised in that environment and around the types of people I knew.

Still, I mentioned to my Significant Other recently that I only easily recall a very prejudiced parody version of a TV theme song, not the actual original version. It had the “n word” in it, but I literally did not know what that word meant at that point. I had a vague sense of it being something mythological, like a unicorn. When I said the word, I had absolutely no intent to be saying anything bad about anybody. I didn’t relate it to real people, and I had never heard the word around the house, I’m sure.

I also recall being in Mexico as a kid and seeing a translated version of the comic book “Blackhawk”. I excitedly said something like, “Oh, ‘n*gro’ means ‘hawk’ in Spanish!” I’d forgotten that in Spanish, the adjective comes after the noun. I thought it was a cool, powerful image.

I debated with myself just now censoring that word, which is a Spanish word for a color (it means ‘black’). It has many legitimate uses in Spanish, certainly, and it’s used in a lot of contexts in the USA (there is an Oscar-nominated documentary about James Baldwin ((James Baldwin))with it in the title this year), but some people find it offensive so I figured I would err in that direction.

If you believed that these 16 and 17 year olds didn’t know what a swastika actually was, then educating them would make sense. I find that hard to believe in this case, though. When you look at the target and what was said, it certainly seems that they understood the context.

If you are looking for rehabilitation (and education can be a component), then this sentence makes sense (it also includes visiting some specific museums and writing about it).

In that perspective, I like the sentence.

The other major perspective on “crime and punishment”, though, is punishment.

Many people think that punishment and deterrence is the purpose of the law, and I’ve seen that suggested in the comments on this blog, by people I consider to be intelligent and compassionate.

That’s a big concern for me with this story.

It could easily be interpreted that reading is being used as a punishment, especially when children might hear about it. They are going to tend to think that a judge punishes, not heals (a jail term isn’t a vacation, and a fine isn’t a present)…and this then tells them that reading is an onerous task.

Regular readers also know that I’m unconvinced by required reading in school…encouraging reading, absolutely, but I think many people didn’t like books they were required to read in school…even though they may like them when they re-read them years later.

Will being sentenced to read make it less likely that they become regular readers later?

I do like that the judge is giving them a list, rather than a specific assignment each month. The teenagers will, I think, have a hand in choosing the book to read, which invests them in it to some extent.

Having thrashed my way through this in this post, I’m comfortable with the judge’s intent…but I’m still not sure about the collateral effects it may have.

What do you think? Do you agree with the judge’s sentence? Does it make a difference that these are juvenile offenders? Would you do something different for a 25 year-old…or an eight-year old? Can reading books improve people’s empathy…and would that reduce this kind of activity? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Imagine sharing a book with 829 other…children

July 14, 2016

Imagine sharing a book with 829 other…children

When I was a child, I was fortunate in that I had books which were my own.

In fact, although it was true for some things like encyclopedias, I don’t remember sharing books with my three siblings, unless we specifically “loaned” one of our books¬†to someone else.

I feel like I always had books that were mine in my room. I still have some of those self same copies in our library.

I’m guessing some of my readers had that same situation.

Having books was empowering.

Now, picture living in a poor neighborhood.

Your¬† parents want you to be able to read books. Through a lucky break, you have $5 to spend. Let’s say you won a writing contest at school.

Your parents would take you to your neighborhood bookstore…but there isn’t one.

Your local food market, not really a grocery store, doesn’t carry books.

There is exactly one place you can get books…the dollar store.

They are mostly cheap reprints of public domain books that will likely fall apart in¬†a year (or “remaindered books” that didn’t sell).

You remember seeing a copy of Treasure Island there last time your family bought a box of cereal.

When you get there, though, it’s gone.

There isn’t a single children’s book available.

A recent study by New York University, reported in this

New York University article

found that in Anacostia,, a poorer area of Washington D.C. there was one children’s book available to purchase per 830 children.

The study also found that even “borderline” poverty communities had many more books than those with high poverty rates…and middle class neighborhoods had many, many more books.

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore owner, I can tell you that books are expensive to sell…especially cheap versions. You are paying rent for the space under that book, and it isn’t a small amount of space.

Books can also be¬†service intensive (which also costs money). When you are buying a¬† jar of pickles, you have a pretty good idea what you are getting. You don’t need a clerk’s help.

Books are different. It can easily take ten minutes to sell one book.

Now, there are three things that might be alternatives to having books for sale in your neighborhood.

One is your public library. That can work…but there aren’t a lot of public libraries in poor neighborhoods, and they have limited number of books…you might be on¬†a waiting list. You may also need an address in order to check out books, and not everybody has one. You might be able to get books from your public school library, but again, it might not have many copies. As part of an educational project, I spent some of my childhood school days in a public school in Ocean Hill-Brownsville in New York, which is a poor neighborhood. There weren’t a lot of books available for kids there.

Another is buying over the internet…but you probably need a credit card (or debit card) for that, you need that address…and you need a safe place to receive mail.

The third one? E-books.

Yes, you need something on which to read them…a phone, and EBR (E-Book Reader), a tablet, a¬†computer.

Access to those may be more available than you think.

You might be reading public domain e-books on a computer in a public library, but it’s somewhat of an option.

Non-public domain e-books can usually only be checked out by a limited number of patrons at a time.

E-books are of the better¬†options…but I have to say, the study was discouraging.

I gave away a Kindle through this blog a while back (with readers helping select a child to get it), and I’ve donated one, and both of those felt great! However, that doesn’t make much of a difference.

Hm…maybe I’ll do a giveaway of a subscription to

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That would let a child read books like Harry Potter…and I could certainly do a month of that pretty easily (although they would need an e-mail address). I’ll think about that one.

Shopping using AmazonSmile and designated a children’s literacy promoting organization as the beneficiary of the half a percent of the money you spend donation from Amazon.

Still, we have to be grateful for the opportunities we’ve had. The divide of book availability based¬†on income levels appears to be widening, at least in terms of physical books. I do think e-books can help…but I can’t help being sad about it and wanting to do what I can to help.

What do you think? Did you have your own books as a child? Do you have a favorite charity that gives books to underprivileged children? Do you think my giving KU subscriptions makes sense? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

*¬†I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you‚Äôll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)‚Ķand the good feeling you‚Äôll get.¬†:)¬†Shop ‚Äôtil you help!¬†:)¬†By the way, it‚Äôs been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to ‚Äústart at AmazonSmile‚ÄĚ if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Introducing Amazon Inspire: new free educational resource

June 27, 2016

Introducing Amazon Inspire: new free educational resource

School books used to be strongly associated with McGraw-Hill.

ALM used to do a lot of foreign language learning materials.

Amazon has been involved in schools for some time, but what they announced in this

press release

has the potential to have the e-tailer deeply integrated into primary school learning in the USA for decades.

I’m sure some people will have a knee-jerk reaction to that, but this is not Amazon writing textbooks for profit or to shape public opinion in its favor. It is essentially a curriculum sharing program…and it is free.

I’m a trainer (for the most part) in my “day job”, and there are similarities in a minor way with what I do and what happens in school districts across the country.

We have a number of smaller geographical area groups within my area, Northern California.

We logically cover a lot of the same things. One of the tools we use (but only one) is job aids, where we created a document which someone can use to follow step by step how to complete a process.

There is no point in, say, twenty of these being created independently from scratch to cover the same process. Probably 90% of the job aid content would be the same.

We have worked (and are still working) on having an efficient curriculum sharing system. If one of us creates something, it is made available to the others of us in different areas…who can modify it for local needs if they need to do that.

That problem of parallel development is vastly multiplied when you look at American school districts.

We aren’t particularly talking about textbooks here: those will continue to be produced by professional publishers and authors.

Let’s say the topic is, oh, Gutenberg. While there will be a lot of different approaches to the importance of what Gutenberg did, the basic narrative and issues are going to be the same. It could greatly enhance the teaching of that topic if a teacher in San Francisco had access to what a teacher in Atlanta had written, and vice versa.

However, you want that access to be efficient. You want a robust infrastructure, searchability, and you want it to be friendly to students with disabilities.

You also want it to be affordable, ideally free.

That’s the mission of

AmazonInspire

It’s in the early stages, and they are encouraging the involvement of educators in its evolution.

I think this is going to be big, although there are some difficulties in implementation. Textbooks are often charged with prejudice, both by what they include and what they exclude. There will be a much bigger scrutiny of Amazon, even if they are just really the platform here. Some people aren’t comfortable with Coca-Cola providing services for school lunches, even if all they provide is water.

This is going to be interesting to watch…

Bonus deal: my sibling’s book One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is ninety-nine cents right now…I don’t know why or for how long. ūüôā

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Open eBooks now available to connect students with free e-books

March 6, 2016

Open eBooks now available to connect students with free e-books

I said years ago that I thought the traditional publishers would participate in making e-books available to those of lesser means on a needs-tested basis.

Those tradpubs used to donate p-books (paperbooks) a lot…it was one of the reasons why, when I was the manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, we couldn’t donate the “strips”.

What’s a “strip”?

When a brick-and-mortar buys a book from most large publishers, they are guaranteed that they can sell it. If they don’t sell it, they can get credit from the publisher to purchase other books.

Naturally, you had to prove you didn’t sell it.

You could mail the whole book back, but that’s expensive…so we would tear the covers off paperbacks and send them back in an envelope.

Well, my employees would do it…I really had a hard time emotionally with tearing a book apart like that.

After you tear the cover off, you¬†still have a book you can read. I wanted to donate them to local organizations, but I was told we couldn’t do that. However, we could simply identify the organization to the publisher, and generally, they would donate books to them (I think they had to have the right tax status, but I’m not sure).

Since tradpubs did that, I figured they would do needs-tested licensing of e-books…they aren’t losing sales to someone who couldn’t afford the book otherwise.

We haven’t really seen that with the general public through public libraries or directly through the publishers, but I was excited to see an initiative start up for students.

WhiteHouse.gov blogpost by R. David Edelman, Special Assistant to the President for Economic and Technology Policy

explains the program, and as an introductory video by Michelle Obama.

It’s probably important to note that this isn’t a government program…it was “…created by a breakthrough coalition of literacy, library, publishing, and technology organizations who worked together over the past year to make the initiative possible.”

Baker & Taylor, a major book distributor, is involved…but so are ten (so far) tradpubs:

  • Bloomsbury: Providing unlimited access to over 1,000 of its most popular titles.
  • Candlewick: Providing unlimited access to all relevant children‚Äôs and young-adult eBook titles in their catalog.
  • Cricket Media: Offering full digital access to all of its market-leading magazines for children and young adults, including Ladybug and Cricket.
  • Hachette: Offering access to a robust catalog of their popular and award-winning titles.
  • HarperCollins: Providing a vast selection of their award-winning and popular titles.
  • Lee & Low: Providing unlimited access to over 700 titles from this leading independent publisher of multicultural books.
  • Macmillan: Providing unlimited access to all of the K-12 age-appropriate titles in their catalog of approximately 2,500 books.
  • National Geographic: Providing unlimited access to all of their age-appropriate content.
  • Penguin Random House: Committing to provide an extensive offering of their popular and award-winning books.
  • Simon & Schuster: Providing access to their entire e-catalog of books for children ages 4-14, comprised of 3,000 titles.

As you can see, that includes all of the Big 5 largest US trade publishers.

There is a lot of information available at the official site:

http://openebooks.net/

The basic workflow is that “…Any adult who works in a Title I (or Title I eligible) school, or a program or library that serves at least 70% of children from in-need families” signs up, and is then provided codes for their students.

The students can each have up to ten books out at a time, and keep them as long as they want…which is similar to Amazon’s paid subscription service,

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That’s pretty much it. ūüôā

Some people wonder about the children being able to access the books…do lower-income children actually have access to devices on which to read the books?

Some devices are donated, but I thought this was a fascinating statistic in the WhiteHouse.gov post:

“According to a national survey, 85 percent of families with young children (6-13 years old) living below the poverty line have access to mobile devices.”

Amazing!

When the Kindle was first introduced in 2007, it cost about $400.

This doesn’t say that they actually own them, just that they have access to them. It does show, though, how important and mainstream they’ve become.

With a $50 device, and access to Wi-Fi (and there a lot of places to find that for free), the family could have TV, e-mail, a homework resource, and more.

Now, thanks to this program, they can probably also have access to in-copyright e-books.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Today (March 2nd) is Read Across America Day

March 2, 2016

Today (March 2nd) is Read Across America Day

Today is the NEA’s (National Education Association’s) Read Across America Day!

Official Site

This is an event…actually, lots and lots of events, focused on children reading, and especially on reading to children.

You can even pledge to do your own event at the site above.

I was interested to see that there are also events taking place outside the USA (Hong Kong; Alexandria, Egypt; Minsk, Belarus…), although they seem to focus on English-speaking and perhaps American students.

Why March 2nd?

It’s the birthday of

Dr. Seuss (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I would suggest that Theodor Geisel (birth name) may be one of the most influential authors to get children into the fun of reading.

Certainly, the rhyming helps…it makes it possible to memorize an entire book before you can read it, which makes it easier to then associate the words with the sounds (since you know which words go with which pictures and pages).

However, I think it’s also important that not everything is happy in a Seussical world.

There are real conflicts and concerns. There is even social commentary.

The Cat in the Hat is certainly not the sort of completely even-keeled, happy, conformist type of character that some people think exemplifies children’s literature.

The Cat is a rebel. Even though there is a voice of reason (in a fish bowl) arguing against the mischief, it’s there.

Green Eggs and Ham is all about a conflict.

I think having real emotions, and real reactions to events, helps the Dr. Seuss books resonate with children (and other humans). ūüôā

I recently got for my birthday and read

Dorothy of Oz (at AmazonSmile*)

by Roger S. Baum, the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum.

I’m a big Oz fan, and I really appreciated getting the book (I actually got a hardback as a collector’s item, and then bought the above Kindle version to read).

However, it didn’t feel very much like my beloved Oz books, despite having a pretty good knowledge of the points of fact from the originals.

One of the biggest things that stood out to me is that there was really no conflict between the “heroes”.

In the originals, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and Dorothy often have conflicts of opinion. They have to at least talk out their different points of view. They respect each other, certainly, and they are really friends…but that doesn’t mean they instantly agree on everything all the time.

Roger S. Baum’s version doesn’t have that…it appears that being a good person means that you agree with all of the other good people all of the time.

That’s not the world Dr. Seuss shows us…

Lest I be taken for a dogmatic Zax, though, I can understand people wanting to read conflict-free books to their kids…this just wasn’t a good tonal match for the Baum (or Ruth Plumly Thompson, for that matter) books.

That’s one of the great things about reading! Every book is a way to see the world from a different viewpoint than yours, which I think is one of the most valuable things in the world.

Enjoy Read Across America (and the world) Day!

What do you think? Are you involved in any events today? Does conflict belong in children’s books? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #300: best books, books on buses

June 25, 2015

Round up #300: best books, books on buses

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

That’s right…300!

Wow! This is the 300th round-up! The first¬†one was on October 24th, 2009. Let’s see, that means I have averaged…just about one a week (one every 6.9 days). That seems about right. I have a lot of fun doing them, and they are often a way for me to make a quick mention of something which I can’t (at least at that time) expand into its own post.

There are also times when it lets me let you know about something before I feel like I’ve really explored it. I might hear about something complicated, or controversial, and not be ready to give an evaluation…but still want you to be informed.

Amazon’s Best Books of the Year So Far

Amazon has announced their

Best Books of the Year So Far (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They didn’t just name ten or twenty…here is the list:

  • Best Books of the Year So Far
  • Amazon Editors’ Top 20 (15)
  • Amazon Editors’ Top 20 Children’s Books (20)
  • Arts & Photography (20)
  • Audiobooks (16)
  • Biographies & Memoirs (19)
  • Business & Leadership (20)
  • Children’s Books (100)
  • Comics & Graphic Novels (16)
  • Cookbooks, Food & Wine (20)
  • Crafts, Hobbies & Home (20)
  • Fashion (15)
  • History (19)
  • Humor & Entertainment (20)
  • Kindle Singles (20)
  • Literature & Fiction (16)
  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense (19)
  • Nonfiction (18)
  • Romance (13)
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy (17)
  • Teens & Young Adults (20)

Their top book overall?

H is for Hawk (at AmazonSmile*)
by Helen Macdonald
4.2 stars out of 5 | 384 customer reviews

Two updates

On my Kindle Fire HDX, it’s clear that there has been some (minor?) update to the Amazon Kindle reader. I’m at 9.9, and I’ve noticed a couple of changes.

When I tap the top middle of the page to bring up the menus, a little thumbnail of the cover now appears.

The other thing is that the text-to-speech (something I use every day) play arrow is on the right when it used to be on the left.

Doesn’t sound like much, but that’s all I’ve noticed so far.

The other update was to my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It looked like a system update…but it was showing Voice Input. I’m not noticing any difference, and I did test it with a few things. Still, it’s nice to see the Fire Phone still getting love. ūüėČ

Books on Buses

I love it when adults read, but I do think it’s important and special when people take steps to encourage children to read. According to this

WDBJ7 by Jean Jadhon

the city of Roanoke, Virginia is doing a summer reading program on city buses.

There will be book bags at the front of the buses.

Parents (hopefully, legal guardians) with children can take a bag. It will have five books in it…and they can even take a book home, sort of like a library. They would bring it back later.

I think that’s great!

This was my favorite part of the whole article, though:

“I love reading books!” children chanted as they stood outside the Roanoke City Main Library Monday.”

ūüôā

The future is bright…

Amazon Echo mini-round up

The

Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

went on public pre-order yesterday. I will be covering it as part of this blog, but yesterday’s post just on it was an anomaly. ūüôā A few notes…

  • The return policy wasn’t on the product page…I was assuming it was thirty days, like Kindles and ¬†Fires, but it isn’t. It’s 180 days! That’s right…about six months
  • There are now over 20,000 reviews…still average 4.5 stars
  • Somebody asked, so I checked: yes, it works with a synthesized voice. That can be important for people with certain challenges who need to use a synthesizer
  • I liked that it knew the appropriate response to, “Alexa: ¬†Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?”
  • There are still pop culture questions and answers I think it should know…and I may set up something to inform Amazon. For example, I asked it today, “Alexa: who knows what evil lurks within the hearts of men?” The appropriate answer, of course, is “The Shadow knows…” followed by a maniacal laugh. I think people would really like it when the Echo said something like, “Ha haha haha” for the laugh ūüôā

When is an average not an average?

I have to say, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this.

According to this

CNET article by Ben Fox Rubin

and other sources, Amazon is changing its review system.

Certainly, the current system is flawed. There have been a lot of problems with…biased reviews, even ones which have apparently been purchased. For example, a company might give you a free copy of a book, if you are willing to write a five star review of it.

Amazon’s approach is going to be to use “machine learning” to put more weight on more popular and more recent reviews.

In terms of moving them up higher on the page, I have no problem with that. We’ve had those “most useful” reviews for a while.

What concerns me is that those weightings will affect the average of stars (which I often report…I did it on the Macdonald book above, for example).

I’m going to guess that the specific algorithm is not going to be revealed…so we will no longer know what 4.5 stars really means.

I’d be okay with it with the option to see either one…unweighted or weighted.

I’d also like to see an option to see the difference between Amazon Verified Purchase reviews and non-verified…that seems like useful data.

However, let’s just make something up. ūüôā

Let’s say (and again, I have no reason to think these are the numbers) that reviews posted in the last week are worth twice as much as older reviews.

A book had five reviews which were all three stars more than a week ago.

Now, the publisher gets five people to put in five star reviews all at once.

The older reviews are worth 15 “points”. The new ones are worth 50 points (five reviews of five stars times two).

That makes the average 6.5 stars…on a scale of 1 to 5. ūüôā Presumably, they’d round down to 5 stars.

It would appear the book had a perfect score, despite earlier mediocre reviews.

Now, it could certainly be argued that the newer reviews may be more valid. What if the publisher updated the book, fixing mistakes, and even adding new material?

I just don’t like that I’ll never know what the average actually means, and that I won’t be comparing apples to apples. They may all use the same algorithm, but one review getting votes as useful (when those votes might actually be because the review is well written) could raise the average on a book over another equally liked book.

What do you think? Do you like the new review system? If not, what should Amazon do about the review system, if anything? How about books on buses? Can you think of other ways for cities to encourage reading…and does the choice of the books by the government concern you? What are your best books published in 2015 so far? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Taking away a child’s reading “privileges”

June 11, 2015

Taking away a child’s reading “privileges”

For a child, is reading a privilege…or something else?

After reading this

Publishers Weekly article by Josie Leavitt

I am making a Vulcanian effort to control my emotions as I write this post. Like Mr. Spock, I am using mental discipline to reassert the dominance of my logical processes over my irrational response.

That reaction is one of horror, disgust, even making a mad dash over the cliff towards anger (which is a plunge I very, very rarely take).

What’s causing that?

A parent punishing a “willful” child by taking away reading “privileges”…for a week.

Having raised a child, I understand the frustration that can lead you to try to find another way to influence behavior.

Some people introduce a negative into the child’s environment to try to change something. That could be yelling, for example, or threatening something (sometimes¬†hyperbolic…”Do you want me to turn this car into the oncoming traffic?”).

Another option is to promise something good for good behavior.

A third way is to take something pleasant out of the child’s life.

I remember doing that.

My Significant Other and I agreed that we would never take away our child’s (literal) security blanket (named “Stripes”), and we never did.

One time, though, I took away a favorite videotape (Parachute Express).

Honestly, I don’t even remember if that was effective.

It had a big emotional effect, sure, but I don’t recall if it actually changed the behavior. It wasn’t for a long period of time, and the tape just went into the garage temporarily.

It did change the situational balance in the short term, though, I remember that.

Take away reading?

Never.

I would never do that.

Reading is a positive…not only a huge positive for the child in the long run, but a benefit for the adults even in the short run.

What child is misbehaving while reading a book?

Maybe they aren’t participating in the way you want in something (some families have “no reading at the dinner table” policies…of course, not many families eat that way any more, I think), but they aren’t actively doing something wrong.

I think one issue here for me is the question of how fragile is the desire to read? Could you break a child’s habit of reading by doing something like this, or, like the Jurassic Park dinosaurs, will reading find a way to survive?

Many adults would testify…you can be a serious reader, and then get to a situation where you aren’t. Starting up again is like having been a runner, taking a break for two years, and then trying to run a marathon straight off. Reading takes commitment, it takes effort…you need to withdraw to some extent from other things to do it, and there are a lot of temptations.

The parents in this case weren’t, I’m sure, trying to send a message that reading is bad. However, ¬†for the child, that association seems apparent to me. “I’ve been bad, I’ve been reading, they are taking away my reading, and now, apparently, I’m good…so I shouldn’t read.”

A child (this is a nine-year old) is going to assume that a parent is trying to protect them…if they remove something from the environment, it must be because it is a negative, not because it is a positive.

Children should always be encouraged to read, not discouraged from it.

That’s true even if they are reading things you think are silly (geeks like me really understand that).

Nothing will empower your child more, or make them more empathetic, in my opinion, than reading.

Okay, I think I’m calmed down at this point…my breathing is back to a normal respiration rate. ūüėČ

I do want to mention that this child was really into reading

The Hardy Boys (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

(the PW post is written by the child’s bookseller). I love that it is an older series like that that was helping this child build a bright future in and for the world as a reader.

What do you think? Would stopping a child from reading¬†ever be an appropriate action? ¬†Can a guardian make a child a reader? Can a guardian break a child from being a reader…and if so, how hard would that be to do? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

New! Kindle for Kids bundle

May 29, 2015

New! Kindle for Kids bundle

Amazon sent me an e-mail about this one, and it’s an interesting combination:

Kindle for Kids Bundle with the latest Kindle, 2-Year Accident Protection, Blue Kid-Friendly Cover (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They are setting this up for being “in time for summer”, and it is that. ūüôā

Honestly, I think a lot of kids become life long readers during the summer. That’s an interesting debate, and perhaps for another time…but I think kids are more likely to get into the habit when they are “free range reading”, rather than when they are following a curriculum which requires book reports or other analysis.

What do you get for $99?

You get the latest generation of the entry level Kindle, the one I call the “Mindle Touch”. That’s normally $79 for the ad-supported model (“with Special Offers”), but this is without the ads…so that would be $99 right there.

You also get a cover in a choice of five colors:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Pink
  • Green
  • Purple

The say the cover is worth $19.99.

The third thing is a Square Trade extended 2-year warranty, also worth $19.99.

Amazon says you are saying $39.98…they actually are wrong. ūüôā Since you are getting it without the ads, you are saving $59.98 ($20 for the ad-free version, plus getting the cover and the warranty).

I’ll alert them to that…maybe they mean it is the ad-supported version, but I don’t think so.

Then, the page does a nice job of going into the benefits of Kindle FreeTime (which is free on the device). That lets parents/legal guardians do a lot of things…control which books are accessible, set goals, kids can get badges…it’s nice. ūüôā

They also say that kids can search with images, rather than words…they can apparently tap an image of a princess or a dinosaur to search the book. I’d be very interested in seeing those images, and what cultural choices they made. One obvious question: can they search for a prince, or just a princess? When they search for a car, what does it look like?

Gee, I wonder if Amazon will ever have those images be sponsored…so kids click on Sleeping Beauty for a princess (and Disney pays for the privilege) or a SmartCar for the car ūüėČ Pure speculation, folks….nothing behind the curtain. ūüėČ

At the bottom of the page, they recommend some specific books.

I do think this is a good deal.

I would say it is most appropriate for younger kids. If I was looking at responsible ten-year old, and I could afford it, I’d go with the

Kindle Paperwhite (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and a family subscription to

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

However, that would be quite a bit more money. I’d be okay with them seeing ads (I’d lock down the purchasing with the parental controls anyway), so that’s $119 for the device. I’d recommend some sort of cover. We like the Fintie covers

Fintie Kindle Paperwhite SmartShell Case – The Thinnest and Lightest Leather Cover for Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Both 2012 and 2013 Versions with 6″ Display and Built-in Light) (at AmazonSmile*)

That model is $13.99 at time of writing…and comes in forty colors and patterns, some of which are perhaps more kid friendly than the single color style of the bundle cover.

It would depend on the kid, I suppose, but I’d skip the warranty in most cases.

Still, that’s a lot more money…plus the $9.99 a month for KU.

Part of it depends on how soon you think you’ll need to replace the device. I think the Paperwhite is a fine device, and could last a child for several years…but it might depend a bit on what gets introduced in the future and how “necessary” that seems. ūüėČ

If you just to really introduce a younger, active child to reading, Amazon’s bundle is worthy of consideration.

Bonus story: Amazon is now doing free same day¬†delivery in fourteen metro areas¬†for Prime members. It’s not every item (but they let you filter search results for eligible items), and you need to have at least $35 worth of items and order by noon (typically). If same day isn’t available, you get free one-day delivery.

Yowza!

That’s quite an improvement at no additional cost for Prime members where it is logistically possible.

The fourteen metro areas (you still need to be in an eligible ZIP** code) are:

  • Seattle/Tacoma
  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego
  • Phoenix
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth
  • Indianapolis
  • Tampa Bay Area
  • Atlanta
  • Washington D.C.
  • Baltimore
  • New York City
  • Philadelphia
  • Boston

You can check your individual ZIP code here:

Amazon Free Same-day Shipping (at AmazonSmile*)

Our adult kid is eligible! We aren’t. Still, it’s the recipient ZIP¬†code that matters, so we could send something the same day.

For more information, here are the

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) (at AmazonSmile*)

I realize there are some reasons you might still go to the local store (trying on clothes, or something which isn’t eligible for this, or it’s under $35)…but I do think this will cut into local stores somewhat.

What do you think? How long do you expect a Kindle to last nowadays? Is a Paperwhite worth that much more than a Mindle Touch? How young a child would you let have access to Kindle Unlimited…recognizing, of course that children vary a lot? Would you buy the warranty? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

**ZIP is actually an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan, so it should be all in capitals

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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