Are you a fan of audiobooks? I am a big fan and have written about them many times in the past. Personally, I adore audiobooks because they allow me to multitask while reading a book. In addition to this, I know they are beneficial for many kids that struggle with reading or are reluctant readers. The parent and certified reading teacher in me encourages my own children to explore the world of literature with audiobooks.
While we were at the library recently, something caught NHL’s eye. Near the audiobook CD collection, there was a Playaway section. Intrigued, we went over to the librarian to ask about using and taking them out.
What is Playaway? It is a pre-loaded, all-in-one, compact device with an audiobook.There is no need to use up precious battery life on your smartphone or tablet. Now you can select the book on Playaway that you want to listen to and plug in your own headphones in the universal headphone jack. The pint sized device uses one AAA battery to run. Once your headphones are plugged in, turn on the power button and press play. The device gives you five narration speeds, volume control, and reverse/forward within or by chapter on a backlit LCD screen.
NHL is really enjoying this reading experience. We do not have to download an app, search online for an audiobook that is currently available, or haul a big tablet around. I adore that he’s reading different books and expanding his interests. I was jealous of this convenient portable book. I figured it would be great while walking, crocheting, or even to listen in the car. Not only can I read new kiddie literature options, there are plenty of books available for all ages. Many local libraries are now carrying Playaway circulation packs like the one above. Educators will love that you can purchase Playaway book packs that pair the device with a print copy of the book.
Has anyone in your home tried a Playaway all-in-one audiobook? I would love to know about your experience. As always, Tuesday Tales is about sharing our love of books. Please let me know what you have read recently. Be sure to link up to your book posts in the comments below. Include something you read on your own, with a child, or someone else.
Could you demonstrate the word normal? When Sterling Children’s Books reached out about a book tackling what normal is, I knew that we had to review this book. That is the premise of Normal Norman by Tara Lazar. A young scientist narrates the book as she shares her presentation on what normal really means.
Published by Sterling Children’s Books – ISBN 9781454913214 – $14.95 – Ages 4 and up
The narrator introduces us to Norman. Norman is an average animal. We see that he is an ape. As we continue along in the story, the narrator gets frustrated because Norman is not doing normal things. Norman has feelings and does not want to hurt a banana by peeling it. Of course, Norman tells the narrator this by talking. Apes do not normally speak English so that gets the readers attention.
The story continues as Norman shows ways that he is not normal. The beautiful illustrations by S.britt bring us into the different settings with Norman. We see his bed, family, friends, and more as they come alive in the perfectly drawn images.
In the end, we learn that normal is different for each of us. The lesson within the book is wonderful for kids of all ages and even a great reminder for adults. Within a classroom, this book could be used for chats about differences in all peers, accepting everyone for being unique, and embracing who you are compared to your classmates. Too many times, kids and adults think about societal norms. This way of thinking limits us and holds everyone back from being who we truly are.
This would make a perfect book for an elementary school teacher, library, or family of a child with special needs. I know as a parent of a child on the autism spectrum we often struggle with what people expect normal to look like. Way back, I tackled the word strange and wish a book like this was around. It’s taken us so many years and this book would have been wonderful to read when we first had the autism diagnosis. Normal Norman reminds us that everyone is their own normal and that’s all we want for our children.
Have you ever talked to your children about what normal is? I would love to know how you could use Normal Norman in your life. read any of The Night Before series? As always, Tuesday Tales is all about sharing our love of books. Please let me know what you have read recently. Link up to your book posts in the comments below. Include something you read on your own, with a child, or someone else. Also take some time to follow along on the Normal Norman blog tour. Below are the stops that will be celebrating the release of this new book.
Disclosure: As noted above, I received this book from Sterling Publishing to review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.
Do you know what books your children are reading in school? As a book nerd and teacher, I like to be aware of what my boys are reading. Both of them get excited when I am able to chat and ask them questions about the characters, plot, and beyond.
When NHL started middle school last year, I tried to keep up with what he was reading. The last novel that they read in sixth grade was brutal. I will admit that I fell asleep several times and could not read it. The book was not one I would have selected, but apparently New York State had picked it for their EngageNY modules.
This year, I wanted to know when NHL started a book so I could keep up on what he’s learning in school. Thankfully, NHL mentioned to me several months ago that they started the first book for seventh grade ELA. I picked up a copy of the book. A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is another book that I may have skipped over. I try not to judge a book by its cover, but something else got me. I started to listen to the audio version of the book which is partially based on a true story. Within minutes, the audio included gun fire and kids racing from a war zone outside of their school.
I admit that I sent a text to TechyDad because I was floored with the book choice. A lot of questions went though my mind.
Why were they reading this book in seventh grade?
What is the connection with the curriculum?
Would the subject matter bother my son?
How would the kids react to the war and deaths associated with it?
I took a deep breath and waited to talk to NHL about the story. He was not far into the reading and told me generic things about Nya and Salva. He explained how one was a fictional girl and the other a real boy from Sudan. For those that are not familiar with the book, here is a brief synopsis via the author in the book trailer.
Rather than contact NHL’s teacher about the book, I posted on Facebook to my family and friends. I was curious if any people had read the book and if they knew why it may have been selected. This is when I was told more about Salva Dut and his connection to New York State (I had not gotten far enough in the book to make the connection to know this on my own). My friend is a teacher in the Buffalo area and she told me great things about the book. She explained that I needed to give it more time. I mentioned how I was listening to the audio and it had extra embellishments that made me question things more. I was happy to hear that most seventh graders do extremely well with the book and discussions. My choice in the audio book likely clouded my initial judgment. In addition to this, she told me about Salva Dut going to her school and an event that her students attended to learn about Water for South Sudan.
I finished reading A Long Walk to Water before NHL. Every few days, I would check in to see where they left off in school. I wanted to know if they had talked about some deaths in the book. In addition to this, I was curious if they took more time to talk about the Sudanese “Lost Boys” that came to the United States. The connection to Rochester and New York State was big. Current events also could factor into this and I was curious if they talked about refugees that continue to come to our country from places like Sudan that are involved in war.
While I may have been concerned about the book at the start, I am glad that my initial feelings changed. A Long Walk to Water opened my eyes to the life of Salva Dut, the connection to refugees in New York State, and how teaching kids about this is important. While it may not have been my initial choice to read, I am happy that I read it along with my son to discuss the important topics that came up within it. Listening to Linda Sue Park’s recent TEDx talk has made me an even bigger fan of this talented author. This talk explains why A Long Walk to Water is so important for our children to read.
When I initially wrote this post, I had not seen the video above. It left me with goose bumps when you hear how much the young readers have raised for Water for South Sudan. This shows the power of a book that engages readers and makes them want to do more to assist others in need. As an educator and parent I am in awe of Linda Sue Park and thankful for the gift of her words in A Long Walk to Water. Now kids across the country can find the power to fight the worlds unfairness and so much more.
What books are your children reading in school and do you usually read them? As always, Tuesday Tales is all about sharing our love of books. What are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?
As a certified reading teacher, literacy has always been a big part of our family life. I read to both of the boys from the time they were infants. It was a big day when NHL and JSL each got their own library card. There may have been tears in my eyes when each boy became an independent reader. I knew this would mean that our time reading together would be different moving forward.
TechyDad and I are lucky that both of the boys still enjoy read aloud time. NHL and TechyDad have spent years reading Harry Potter together. JSL and I worked our way through The Magic Tree House books and last summer we began our own nightly reading of the infamous Hogwarts family. I cherish the moments when we read together. Right now, JSL and I have a great new audio book based on Star Wars that we are listening to each morning on the way to school.
Something that has been hard for me is watching the kids plow through books on their own. JSL is a voracious reader and goes everyplace with a book in his hands. I truly wish I could read all of the books so we could talk about them. The reality is that I can’t do this. There is not enough time in the day for me to read each and every book both of the boys read while also doing my own reading.
So what have I done? I pick and choose what I read to have a surprise chat with the kids. The kids adore it and it’s fun to be able to discuss what their thoughts are on certain topics. My smartphone and several apps have been lifesavers to keep me a bit more on top of things and organized. .
I have used Goodreads for years now. What I realized recently is that it’s a great way for me to index what the kids have been reading at home and at school. Goodreads allows me to put specific book titles into a tag of it’s own. Later on, I can go to that tagged list and select the book I would like to read. The app makes it easy to do. From the My Books tab, scroll to the Add a new Shelf button. This is where I made one for NHL and one for JSL.
When you have a new book title to add, simply type it into the search bar. Click on the title select the To Read option and mark anything else below that pertains to the title. For The One and Only Ivan, I selected that it was a book JSL has read so I am able to find it later on.
In addition to this, my handy dandy library app is great to request hard copies of books that I am not able to find online. In addition to this, I am able to take eBooks and audio books out via online library. I am able to read them on my Kindle app, or listen while on the go using my other favorite OverDrive Media app.
Do you keep up on the books that your children are reading? I would love to hear more about how you are able to balance this with older children.As always, Tuesday Tales is all about sharing our love of books. What are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?
Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.
It’s no secret that I love to color. While many are starting to realize the calming effect of adult coloring, I have known this for years. What I love these days is that there are so many book options to pick from. In addition to this, I have grown to appreciate some amazing artists that make these books for us. Thanks to Sterling Books, I was able to check out and review the latest coloring books by Millie Marotta.
Animal Kindom: Color Me, Draw Me – Drawn by Millie Marotta – Published by Lark an imprint of Sterling Publishing – ISBN 9781454709107 – $14.95 – Paperback 96 pages
Tropical World: A Coloring Book Adventure – Drawn by Millie Marotta – Published by Lark an imprint of Sterling Publishing – ISBN 9781454709138 – $14.95 – Paperback 96 pages
Both of these books burst onto the scene in September 2015. I had looked at books by Ms. Marotta, but never owned one prior to this. The books are stunning on their own. I could sit looking at her beautiful art because it is calming without pulling out the coloring items. Animal Kingdom is waiting to be colored and is filled with illustrations of whales, owls, flora, and other creatures. In addition to this, there are spaces left by Ms. Marotta with cues around them to inspire your own creativity. Tropical World is filled with images of flowers, birds, butterflies, and reptiles. When I started to use this book, I tried colored pencils since that is what Ms. Morotta suggests for blending and more depth. Prior to this, I used mostly Sharpie markers in my adult coloring books. I knew this was not an option for these drawings since the book has images printed on both sides of the paper. I had to try something that would not bleed through.
I need to get used to colored pencils again. I also tried some gel pens. I really enjoy these because they add sparkle and it’s even more therapeutic to see the strokes of the ink as you color in the spaces. The gels pens worked beautifully on the paper in these books. They did not go through the pages and do extremely well in the small intricate spaces.
Another item that I love, is that Millie Marotta has made a video of drawing an image from this book. It truly is fascinating to watch how she creates one of these stunning pieces of art. The process involved to make these books must be a labor or love.
If you are looking for beautiful books to gift to someone this holiday season, I would definitely recommend Animal Kingdom and/or Tropical World. Add in something to color with and it’s the perfect treat that someone may not purchase on their own.
If you could have Millie Marotta create a dream coloring book, what would it be? As always, Tuesday Tales is all about sharing our love of books. What are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?
Disclosure: As noted above, I received both of these books from Sterling Publishing to review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.