Book Kids – Book of the Month – December

Book - A Christmas Carol - Charles DickensWe’re revisiting an old classic for the holidays, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This is one of our all-time holiday favorites. The story begins with what one might not necessarily associate with the “Spirit of Christmas.” We are immediately introduced to the somber thoughts, words, and actions of the story’s main character Ebenezer Scrooge, whose heart is as cold, dark, and hardened as the cold, dark Christmas Eve night that surrounds him. One might immediately be tempted to close the book and move on to something more gleeful, but one shouldn’t! It all ends well. Grab yourself a copy and see how.

Book Overview:

The story of Ebenezer Scrooge opens on a Christmas Eve as cold as Scrooge’s own heart. That night, he receives three ghostly visitors: the terrifying spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. Each takes him on a heart-stopping journey, yielding glimpses of Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit, the horrifying spectres of Want and Ignorance, even Scrooge’s painfully hopeful younger self. Will Scrooge’s heart be opened? Can he reverse the miserable future he is forced to see? Now in an unabridged edition gloriously illustrated by the award-winning P.J. Lynch, this story’s message of love and goodwill, mercy and self-redemption resonates as keenly as ever.

Our Teen’s Take on the Book:

What better way to get into the holiday spirit than with the classic, “A Christmas Carol.”  I love reading this book, especially around this time of the year because of its message of gratitude, generosity, and hope. 1) Gratitude – No matter what we may be going through, there are those going through worse. 2) Generosity – Our time and energy are better spent getting out and helping others, rather than dwelling on negative thoughts and deeds. 3) Hope – If grumpy old Ebenezer Scrooge can change, anyone can.

The book starts out with grumpy old Ebenezer Scrooge refusing to buy heating coals for his current assistant, Bob Cratchit, who is shivering cold. Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, soon shows up and invites his uncle to his Christmas party, and obviously, he refuses. Two men later approach him to support their charity, again he refuses. He rejects every opportunity that comes his way, that could possibly help humanity. He dislikes people. He dislikes Christmas. His overall dislike of humanity is heartbreaking. And he makes it quite clear for all to hear and see. But there is hope.

Scrooge is approached by the ghost of his previous (now deceased) assistant, Jacob Marley. Marley tells Scrooge that because of his actions, he has to live a gloomy afterlife. In an effort to redeem Scrooge, Marley informs him that three ghosts (Christmas Past, Present, Future) will each pay him a visit. Soon, Scrooge falls asleep and is awakened by the three ghosts one after another.

The first reminds him of his past, specifically of the incidence of his fiancée leaving him due to selfishness and greed. The second walks him through the present, giving him a firsthand view of the poverty-stricken conditions of those around him and how he’s deliberately ignoring their cries for help. The third gives him a glimpse into his future, where he sees that people are happy and relieved that he has died.

This realization of what his future holds prompts him to promise a change of heart. He states, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” Scrooge wakes up a changed man. He begins his generous deeds by sending a turkey to the Cratchit family and paying a surprised visit to his nephew’s party.

The story is inspiring in the end. Once you can get past the gloom in the beginning, you’ll discover the gleam in the end. It is a very refreshing read, and I recommend it for kids and adults. Gabe, 15

As always, we love hearing your thoughts on books. You may leave a comment or two about this book or other books you are currently reading.

By Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

Bite-Sized Reading Resolutions with Oversized Results

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New Year’s resolutions have their ups and downs. They are as easy to break as they are to make. For this reason, more and more people prefer to shy away from making them rather than deal with the disappointments of breaking them.

This is especially true when it comes to reading resolutions. We can certainly guarantee falling off the reading wagon at some point during the year, more times than we’d like to admit. Typically, we do when our expectations either exceed or fail to measure up to our abilities and level of commitment.

Truth is, we all mean well and have good intentions. The problem is we sometimes set the bar too high and become overwhelmed and discouraged before we even begin;  our goal then becomes seemingly unreachable. Other times we set it too low and become under-challenged and bored; our goal then becomes dull and meaningless. The solution is making sure the bar we set for ourselves align with our abilities and level of commitment. See how well these align with your abilities and level of commitment:

1. Read daily. I read daily, no matter how lengthy or short the reading material is. On a busy day, I read something short. On a less busy day, I read something lengthy.  Reading doesn’t necessarily have to consist of reading a book. Reading a newspaper or magazine article is indeed considered reading.

2. Visit a library weekly. Even when I don’t have a book in mind, I go anyway. Usually, I end up with a book or two that are well worth the trip. I also find that my weekly trips to the library amount to me reading more books, considering the fact that I am borrowing and returning books on a weekly basis.

3. Organize a family book club monthly. Select a book the entire family can read and discuss it on a monthly basis. This has been especially simple and doable for my family because our family book selection usually falls in line with Book Kids’ Book of the Month.  We encourage you to use this as your book selection guide as well.

4. Purchase a book quarterly. Treat yourself to a book you’ve always wanted and simply can’t wait to dive into. I use this as a reading reward for my kids and they love it.

5. Visit a book event biannually. Check your local event or community calendar for book events. These are usually held at schools, libraries, bookstores, community centers, etc. Moreover, these are held throughout the year so you’re bound to find one you and your family can attend.

6. Meet an author annually. Authors are touring year-round. Track down your favorites. This can also be a great opportunity to purchase an autographed copy of a book by your favorite author, a great supplement to your quarterly book purchase.

Keep in mind that, like any resolution, these reading resolutions aren’t one-size-fits-all; particularly taking into consideration the daily demands of life pushing and pulling us all in various directions. What works for one may not work for another. These, however, are easy-to-follow suggestions that will help keep you from falling off the reading wagon. Remain persistent and the rewards will be well worth the efforts. Happy New Year! Happy Reading!

What are your New Year’s reading resolutions? We would love to hear about them. Please leave a comment or two below.

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

20 Must-Read 4th of July Books for Kids

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There are many great aspects to holidays, from spending quality time with families and friends, to enjoying great food, fun, and fellowship. Meanwhile, somewhere in the midst of all the amazing festivities lies an opportunity to entice and expose kids to great holiday books. We use holidays as magnets to attract kids to books and reading. Kids love holidays and more often than not will welcome the idea of reading and learning about them. In light of that, here is a list of 20 highly recommended 4th of July titles to read with your kids over the 4th of July holiday week. 

We’ve included a wide range of titles and reading levels to appeal to a variety of age groups. Some will educate. Others will entertain. Many will inspire. All will get the kids reading. As always, we love to hear your thoughts on books. What are some of your favorite July 4th reads for kids. You may leave a comment or two.

the-4th-of-july-story The Fourth of July Story  (Author) Alice Dalgliesh (Illustrator) Marie Nonnast

4thJuly1God Bless America (Author) Irving Berlin (Illustrator) Lynn Musinger

4thJuly3  F Is for Flag (Author) Wendy Cheyette Lewison (Illustrator) Barbara Duke

4thJuly2 4th of July Mice (Author) Bethany Roberts (Illustrator) Doug Cushman

ab_cover American the Beautiful (Author) Katharine Lee Bates (Illustrator) Chris Gall

looking for uncle louie Looking for Uncle Louie on the Fourth of July (Author) Kathy Whitehead (Illustrator) Pablo Torrecilla

Hats Off 4th of JulyHats off for the Fourth of July (Author) Harriett Ziefert (Illustrator) Gus Miller

Let Freedom Ring3Let Freedom Ring! (Publisher) Parragon Inc.

The_Journey_of_the_one_and_onlyThe Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence (Author) Judith St. George (Illustrator) Will Hillenbrand

Story of Americas BDayThe Story of America’s Birthday (Author) Patricia A. Pingry (Illustrator) Stacy Venturi-Pickett

star spangledThe Story of “The Star-Spangled Banner” (Author) Patricia A. Pingry (Illustrator) Nancy Munger

America Patriotic PrimerAmerica : A Patriotic Primer (Author) Lynne Cheney (Illustrator) Robin Preiss Glasser

We the KidsWe the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the united States (Author) David Catrow

I Too Am AmericaI, Too, Am America (Author) Langston Hughes (Illustrator) Bryan Collier

4th of July BearFourth of July Bear (Author) Kathryn Lasky (Illustrator) Helen Cogancherry

grandma_truckGrandma Drove the Garbage Truck (Author) Katie Clark (Illustrator) Amy Huntington

A For AmericaA is for America (Author) Tanya Lee Stone (Illustrator) Gerald Kelley

ApplePie4thJulyApple Pie Fourth of July (Author) Janet S. Wong (Illustrator) Margaret Chodos-Irvine

Betsy Ross Betsy Ross and the American Flag (Author) Kay Melchisedech Olson (Illustrator) Anna Maria Cool

milojinx350 The Milo & Jazz Mysteries: The Case of the July 4th Jinx (Author) Lewis B. Montgomery (Illustrator) Amy Wummer

 

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids