Sunday, September 20, 2009

The end - almost

I just wanted to thank all of you for participating in the book club. It was quite an experience for me. I absolutely adore my new bookends too. They are so pretty I have not even set books between them yet. Just sort of lingering in the summer delight of it all.

I picked up the newspaper this morning and noted that the National Book Festival on the Mall is coming next week, Saturday, Sept 26th. I know that most of you will have your day filled with soccer games and other fall activities but I thought you might like to check it out if you can fit it in.

Some of the kids favorite writers will be there including
Kate DiCamillo, who wrote the Edward Tulane book, not to mention Mercy Watson, Because of Winn Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux.
Tony Diterlizzi of The Spiderwick Chronicles
Steve Kellogg who has written or illustrated nearly 90 childrens books. You probably have some in your home libraries.
Mo Willems, who worked 9 years on Sesame and wrote books like, Knuffle Bunny.
Even Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) and Judy Blume.
If the kids are a bit hesitant to meet their favorite author assure them that they love to here how much these kids like to read and want to know what they enjoy.

They will have adult authors there too.

The guide and times for the authors is in the Book World section in the Washington Post this Sunday.

Happy reading!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Meeting date

We will host the book club meeting on Tuesday at 7:30. We will introduce the Flat Stanley Adventure book - Mount Rushmore. Since we are introducing the book, I don't think the meeting will be long, probably just 30 minutes.

The following week will be our last book club meeting. We can keep it on Tuesday at 7:30 if that works for everyone. The book won't have to be finished of course but I figured it will be good to end it there as we get ready for school to start. At the last book meeting I thought we might have some simple snacks - cookie or something - to wrap everything up.

As you finish up Swiss Family Robinson, talk about what type of home would they choose to live in? What was your favorite invention? Did you have a favorite animal or animal encounter in the story? The Swiss Family Robinson movie is available to view on YouTube in short segments. They might enjoy watching it and comparing to the movie or if they did not enjoy the story see if their interest is peaked after watching the movie. Just a thought...

And as we are ending for the summer, I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the book club. The kids were great and I think/hope they had fun. It was a great experience for me and it definitely exceeded my expectations. I was quite tempted to continue it into the fall but after looking at all the activities all of our kids do, I found it would be harder to get a time that would really work for all of us. With that said I really appreciate all of the participation from everyone not just the kids but the parent envolvement and support was tremendous. Thank you guys!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A bi week

I thought about who would be coming to book club this week.... It looked like only two kids and since we talked about all the parts of the book, Swiss Family Robinson last week. I think we will take a break this week from meeting.

Our next meeting will be next week and we will start talking about the Flat Stanley book.

Please don't start it yet. We will start reading it after we talk about it at the meeting.

If you have any nights that definitely don't work next week let, please let me know. We have will have a visitor for part of the week so I just am looking to juggling around that.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Swiss Family Robinson

We had the chance to introduce the book last week. Reading a children's version of the book makes a big big difference. My book has chapters that are quite short.

I read outloud to the kids and actually we almost finished the first chapter.

The things I asked the kids to look at were...

Tell me who is this family from the title.
What is their last name?
Where are they from?
As we read the first chapter, who is telling the story?
Who are the family members? How many people?

As the ship is wrecked, the family gathers things they would need from the ship. What would you need? What would you take?

Where do you think they landed? In Chapter two of my book it talkes about flamigos and penquins on the beach. What other animals do you think they might encounter?

I asked for them to read about 1/3 of the book to the part of the EXPLOSION! In my version that was chapter 8 about page 54.

The next meeting will be Thursday night at 7:30.
I will end that meeting having them think more about what inventions they will be reading about. What would they invent?

See you soon

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Date for next meeting

I confused my dates on the calendar.

The next meeting will be Thursday the 6th at 7:30. Sorry about that.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A mini break

Since we had to head out of town we had a 'bi-week' this week.

I hope everyone is finishing or has finished the book - Ransom Note Blues. I think it was fun to work on the codes and see how they worked out the clues.

Our next book will be Swiss Family Robinson. It is a hearty read for us I think. I am trying to break it down into three weeks.

I want to finish the book club with a fun read just before we all head back to school. As I looked at the school activited and our family calendar I think we will stop book club for the school year. It will be too hard to work everyone's schedules together. But we can still encourage the reading throughout the year. The Rizzi's are thinking about ways to set up get togethers to do smaller reading activities, which sound great.

Our last and final book is Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures Series 1: The Mount Rushmore Calamity. It is a newer book to the series. I picked up ours at the bookstore but I am pretty sure I spotted a copy at the Mount Vernon Library too.

Due to a birthday party on Wednesday, August 4. I would like to suggest the next book club meeting next Thursday night at 7:30pm (August 6). Reminder, the kids only need to finish the Ransom Note Blues. We will discuss what to expect for the Swiss Family Robinson story and what the plan is for reading.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The ransom note

Today's mission if you choose to accept it...

An envelope will be delivered to the kid's house, hopefully today.
The envelope has a mission for them. The need to solve the code. Figure out who to send their message to. Decipher the question and figure out the answer.

This is what I have. I did not include the older kids in this mission but I think if you want to print out the coded questions they could try and solve them if they are reading the book.

Here are the kids who will be getting a note (along with their name code)
Sydney - HBWMVB
Annabelle - ZMMZYVOOV
Hannah - SZMMZS
Jessica - QVHHRXZ
Anna - ZMMZ
Megan - NVTZM (Megan just moved into the neighborhood and is going into 3rd)
Charlie - XSZIORV
Albert - ZOYVIG

What color would the thief 'turn the town'? Blue
Mr. Grandpa gave Alec what book to read last summer? The Bobbsey Twins
What was the name of the missing 'thing'? Full Fathom FIve
What was hidden in the real painting? Ghosted key
What is the name of the town where the mystery took place? Laurel Hollows
What was the speed Alec's brain was moving? Peanut Butter
What painting style did Jackson Pollack use? Layers of drips or abstract
Who made the art show possible? Mrs. LaViolet

Barring that I did not transpose too many letters they should be able to figure out the code. I have already discovered one typo so hopefully the rest are not too bad.

Assignment - For next Wednesday please try and read at least to Chapter 9 if not all of it.
Next Wednesday is the final book club meeting for the month of July. We will on vacation the last week so we will start with Swiss Family Robinson the first week of August.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Did they like Stink!

Oh my yes.
We had a smaller group in the morning but I think I say that those kids really liked Stink.

The second grader readers were ready to answer the questions that where handed out. One of our older readers enjoyed it so much that he created a crossword puzzle for the kids to do, using words found in the book. It was quite impressive.

So we answered,
What is popcorning? Where is Stink from? What is 'rainbow poop'? Who is Mrs. Birdwistle? and more.

They so wanted to read another Stink book, but I told them that they needed to do it on their own in addition to our reading.

I got the feeling that the level was just perfect for them too. The reading was not too hard when they wanted to read on their own and the reading aloud worked well too.

I have to try and find more like that but they definitely through me a curve ball with their selections for next time.

Kids Picks

Well, it was overwhelming. Most of the kids seem to enjoy reading Stink. The facts were fun. They wanted to read another one but I suggested we try some different books.

After a host of suggestions and a great book selection from Patrick Rizzi's visit with the local librarian, we voted on the next reads. The kids had a million suggestions and my head was actually spinning with all the options. We narrowed it down to 5 and then just two favorites. This is what they came up with.

The kids picked two books...a classic read and a mystery.

We are going to read Swiss Family Robinson (and maybe even have a movie night to boot) and also read The Ransom Note Blues. The Ransom Note Blues is a brand new book. So new it is not in the library yet and most main bookstores have not gotten it in stock yet. Margaret has located two copies at Alladin's Lamp and is picking them up on Friday. With my copy that gives us three right now. I thought that we could read the first 3 chapters (about 40 pages). Hopefully that will allow us to share our copies with enough time to read.

Right now, I am not prepared with any questions for the kids or activities. I hope to get some for them soon.

So assignment -
Get Swiss Family Robinson book (we have children's version called Classic starts and I think we got it in Barnes and Noble)
Get or borrow a copy of The Ransom Note Blues and read 3 chapters.

I hope we can read the mystery this month and follow up with the Swiss Family Robinsons.

The next meeting can be Wednesday, July 15 at 7:30 (or 7:00) at my house, if that works for everyone. And again a meeting on Wednesday, July 22 in the morning or evening works for us.

We will not have book club the week of July 27 - 31. We will be in Florida.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Stink, Judy Moody's little brother is having an adventure.
The kids want to read Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express.

I know it is a holiday weekend but I have challenged them to read the book. Trust me, I read it in 40 minutes so I think they might be able to do it.

I have given them some Challenges... for those who could not be there pick your own question.

How did Guinea pigs get the name "Guinea Pig"? This is for Nate
How do you get 'Rainbow Poop'? This one for the boys (of course), Charlie and Connor.
Where does Stink live? I gave this to Hannah. You need to read and pick up on the clues. I think he lives in Northern Virginia.
What is popcorning? This one I gave to Annabelle and Syndey, I believe.
Who is Mrs. Birdwistle and why is she important? For Jessica.
Who is Mouse? For Anna

The site for the book is quite good with some activities including a maze, draw your own comics and a few other activities. Check it out at

More Books -
So I have a few more I have added to my stack...
The Ransom Note Blues is a mystery with a secret message decoding twist to it. Perfect for this age group. We were sent a copy of the book by the author and she would be interested to see what the kids think of it. I told her we would send her feedback after the kids finish it. Perhaps we could do a short writing assigment in code to her.

The Penderwicks, A summer tale of four sisters, two rabbits and a very interesting boy, is still in the pile and I think it will be a longer read perhaps a read along type.

I picked up a new one at the library which is quite intriguing - Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains. It is a tale about a milkmaid, her best friend who is a prince and the set out to solve this mystery of Lucy's missing mother. I read the preface titled Before the Beginning Began, and it was quite good.

As always let me know if you or the kids have any thing they would like to suggest.

I think things have been going better than I orginially expected. I hope the kids are enjoying it, too.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Next Read - Stink

So the kids seemed to want to shift gears from this book.

I am suggesting Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express.

I should be an easier read.

I asked the older kids if they can do a writing assignment with this one. I would like them to write another chapter for this book. They can pick something in the story and write a different version of what happens next. They can be creative if they want to make it like a comic strip story as some of the illustrations in the book. It does not have to be long. Just clearly a begining, middle and end. If you child would like to do something different with the writing assignment let them go and let's see what they come up with.

I think they might be able to read it all by July 8, Wednesday. It looks like I can do an early morning meeting 9:15 if that works.

Finishing Edward Tulane

Let's finish up reading Edward for next Wednesday.

Some things to discuss while we are reading this....

Talk about the new characters introduced.
Nellie, why is she sad?
Hobo and his dog, how does being found by them change Edward? Does it turn his heart to long for those who he has been with and now miss? Why does he repeat their names?

When the old woman hangs Edward on a pole to scare away the crows in her garden,
Edward thinks, “I am done with caring.” He feels mocked by the stars, which seem to
say, “You are down there alone.” On page 113, he tells the stars, “I have been loved,”
and they reply, “What difference does that make when you are all alone now?”
Does it make a difference? - This is a good question for some of the older kids.

Why does it matter to Edward that he has been loved?

Who is Sarah Ruth?
Is there a difference between the love Edward receives from Abilene at the beginning of
the book and the love he receives from Sarah Ruth?
How are his feelings toward Sarah Ruth different from anything he’s experienced before?

What are some of the life lessons Edward learns on his journey, through good times
and bad?

Why do people seem to need this rabbit more than he needs them?

I am only half way through the book so I will probably post more questions later.

The girls seemed to enjoy writing down their words that they did not know. I will try to encourage that with more books.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sites to check out

There are tons of sites out there with information on books and reading. We can check sites like Random house and Scholastic which have information on books from their publishing sites.

Here are three other sites that have some interesting topics to keep them reading, and us too.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Meeting time change

Good Morning,
Our next meeting was schedule at 9:30 for Wednesday, June 24. I would like to change the time to 9:15 am. The meeting will not be longer than 45 minutes. I need to leave our house at 10:00 for Charlie's swim team practice.

If you can't make this meeting please try and read to Chapter 15 for the next meeting.

If you children have read further than chapter 7 (what we will be discussing). Ask them a few questions....

Why did Pellegrina say to Edward "You disappoint me." What was the meaning in the story Pellegrina told? Why does Pellegrina tell the story about a princess who loves no one and is turned intoa warthog by a witch to Abilene and Edward?
Why is Abilene indignant at the end of the story?
The story leaves Abilene on the deck of the Queen Mary, shouting to Edward,
“Come back,” as he tumbles into the ocean. Discuss what you think happens to
Abilene that day.

Have you ever experienced an adult or a person older than you who condescended to you?
How can you tell? Why do you think that person acted that way?
How did you handle it?

If they have read the chapters on their own, try asking them to read it to you so you can understand it. Have them put tone and voice to the story.

I think our following meeting will be

July 1, Wednesday
6:00 pm

Monday, June 15, 2009

First meeting

What an amazing group we have! You all were wonderful.

So to recap...

This book club is for anyone who wants to participate. My focus will be to help those younger kids look for things while they read however this should not deter any of the older kids who want to participate. If they enjoy reading they should enjoy the process we are doing.

Everyone was sent home with a notebook. They need to use this while they read to write down words or topics that they might not understand. Use this for research something from the story. Write down a question about the story they want to bring up with the group.

The 'assignment' for everyone. Read up to Chapter 7 for the next meeting. It seems to be a natural break in the story. Find out or research the "Queen Mary." I will be interested to see what they come back with for next week. Of course, parents, research is done with your permission via internet, library or research books.

Hope everyone enjoyed it. If you know of others who are interested... by all means invite them along. I just did not want to push it on folks who don't want to do it.

Next week - Wednesday 9:30 meeting.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ready, Set, Read

So I have thought about a few titles for the summer for our read along.

It was hard to pick out a few that I thought would have overall appeal and not widely read already. I personnaly have not read these books but am intereseted to read them with the kids and see why they are so talked about in the Children's literature world.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who treated him with the utmost care and adored him completely.And then, one day, he was lost. Kate DiCamillo and Bagram Ibatoulline take us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the top of a garbage heap to the fireside of a hoboes' camp, from the bedside of an ailing child to the streets of Memphis. And along the way, we are shown a true miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.

The Penderwicks (A summer tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy) by Jeanne Birdsall

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry

I am not sure how long or how much reading can be done between our get togethers but I think we will start with reading just 3 chapters after our first gathering.

I will post some more suggested titles to try.

Read for the summer and get a free book from Barnes and Noble

Keeping up with our reading for the summer will be easier with this incentive.

Barnes and Noble has a kids summer reading program.
See the attached link for all the details.

This process will include some of the elements we are using this summer, reading and journaling.

Have your kids pick 8 books to read this summer.
Use the Summer Reading Journal to tell us their favorite part of each book. A parent/guardian signs the journal when it’s complete. Once the Reading Journal is complete the kids can bring it to a Barnes & Noble store between May 26th & September 7th, 2009.
Barnes adn Noble will give them a coupon for a FREE book! They choose from a list of exceptional paperback titles. One coupon per child grades 1-6.

I am always up for Free Books.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Introducing the Summer Reading Ideas

So what can we do to keep these budding readers (rising 2nd and 3rd graders) reading over the summer months.

"What if we start a reading club?" we said one day while hanging at the bus stop. Lots of crazy ideas get started at the bus stop.

So I thought about it. What would we need to do? How can we make it not seem like work? How would we pick the books? I mulled it over and over. I talked to the moms. I talked and talked. I mulled and mulled. And then I decided. If I continued like this I would never get it started and the moment would pass.

So here it goes...

This is reading club is going to be for the summer 2009 and will be designed for rising 2nd graders. The catch is that anyone can participate. The reading choices will be wide in range so that we capture the interest of any kid and age. The books will be selected as a read a loud book, but if someone is ready to read on their own then they should go right ahead. The real goal is to get them talking about books, characters, and stories. We want to get kids thinking about the books not just reading the words.

The reading group will get together one early evening every two weeks. This is enable the kids to read with their families at their leisure and if they miss a week due to a vacation it won't be too much time between. The get togethers will be short and simple. We will have a picture book read out loud and talk about the characters and the event sequence. This will allow younger siblings to participate. Then the younger kids can play while we talk and ask questions about the story we are reading aloud as a group. When we finish the book we can do a project or host a movie night if the book has a movie the corresponds.

This blog will post questions about the books we are reading. We will also have a list of suggested books to try.