Posts tagged ‘books’
I always wanted my kids to be readers. Actually, let me rephrase: I was determined that if I did nothing else in my career as a mother, my kids would be readers. My own “book lover” credentials are pretty solid – editor dad, literary agent mom, elementary school career spent holed up in a closet writing (bad) poetry. Throw in the fact that I put books in the same category as food and water, and that pretty much sums it up.
I can’t say there was a real philosophical underpinning to my determination to transfer my love of books to my sons. I just knew they
HAD to be readers, because that love of reading would connect us always. And I knew it was good for them without having googled a bunch of educational research.
I’m sure there are many paths to the same result. This is what I did, and how it worked. - Anna Barber, Scribble Press co-founder and CEO
- Be a reader. I regularly, consistently, frequently read in front of my kids. I read memoirs on my iPad, the New Yorker, The New York Times, paperback business books, hardcover fiction from the library. They have always connected “Mom reading” with “Mom relaxing.”
- Read out loud. I do this sporadically. I mean, I work and have a crazy life, and sometimes can’t stomach even 20 minutes of Mary Poppins or whatever it is. Or I’ve been talking all day and just don’t want to hear my own voice anymore. I know parents who have read all of Harry Potter out loud. Good for them – I can’t imagine. We read the first book, plus a few others – enough to make it a regular thing.
- Have lots of books around. Books are home decor, they are a fingerprint, a personal history. While I love my iPad (and my Kindle and my Nook too) kids engage better with the actual paper copies that don’t also come loaded with Angry Birds. Make sure the lower shelves are full of stuff they might like – your old geology textbook, an Encyclopedia, picture books, comic books, whatever.
- Don’t be precious about what they read. You may have a vision of your ten-year old digging into Tolstoy, but be happy when he turns down a tv show to read Captain Underpants. It’s going to lead somewhere good, I promise. The potty jokes can’t go on forever.
- Go to the library and check out a ridiculous amount of books. This is something we’ve done consistently, every two weeks, for years. I let each child check out AS MANY books as he wants. They love the freedom of picking something because they MIGHT be interested – with no pressure. It’s a treat. As a side note, pay your late fees and round up. Donate if you can. We need our libraries.
- Talk about reading as a reward, not work. If you say “read 30 minutes then you can play,” you are sending a different message about reading than if you say, “clear your plate from the table and then you can read.” Scheduling reading time, hoping it will then stick, doesn’t work – in my experience.
As I sit here typing this my eight year old is reading THE GREAT BRAIN and my six year old is reading a book about Stink, Judy Moody’s little brother. It wasn’t always this way. They weren’t so excited to go to the library the first 20 times. I stuck with my program, and about two years ago the light went on for my older son. Just last month, it happened for my younger one. ”Mom?” he said. ”We are rich in books.” Yes, I said. Yes, we are. And there is no better way to be rich.
“Once upon a time there was a guy who worked at the pound, which means he was a dog catcher.”
The story goes on to tell us how exhausted the dog catcher is from chasing one vexing dog in particular and how much he needs a vacation. Of course, the dog catcher’s tranquil stay at the Four Season’s is abruptly interrupted by… guess who.
For two days straight, I read this story aloud to a rapt audience of campers. Ten classes of more than 20 second and third graders followed every page, every picture. By the last class, I was sure the nurse in the room adjacent to ours would come barreling in and holler, “It’s President Obama’s dog!” – of course, spoiling the story’s random but entertaining ending. Thankfully she exercised restraint. And the children were left to cheer and laugh as the story concluded.
Written by Daniela Perez, The Missing Labrador was a raging storytime success. No listener called out “I’ve read that book before!” or “This is boring.” Everyone wanted to see just what it was that they, too, could accomplish. After all, Daniela was only in third grade.
There is such value in sharing the stories that children write. We are mistaken to think only the glorious bound book of a best-selling author can inspire a child’s creativity. In fact, I might argue that children are the best writers for other children. After all, they share a certain appreciation of the improbable.
How else can you explain the universal acceptance of the idea that the exasperating, chicken-stealing dog causing mayhem at the Four Season’s ACTUALLY lives in the White House?
Want to create a space that will heighten your child’s creativity?
Sometimes, it really is about space. Not the size so much. Just a nook where you can read your favorite book, a favorite chair that slides up to the tabletop just right so you can write with ease, a special lamp that casts light just the right way on the page. The same way we like our “stuff” the way we like it, so too do kids need their space. Especially their creative space.
While having the luxury to gift your child a writer’s lounge or art studio in the home is unlikely, there are some simple things that parents can do create “space” for their young authors and artists.
First things first. You will likely need to embrace the concept of creative chaos – which means this space may not be neat to your typical standards. That does not mean there is no organization. Figure out the tools your child needs and then work together to place these things in an accessible way. Paint some coffee cans to hold the pencils. Put up a shelf or two for the various kinds of paper or art supplies. And then, get your child a tabletop or desk space that is his own. I would argue that a postage stamp-sized surface is better than half of the dining room table – which, let’s face it, either is piled with your own tower of unfinished projects or is cleaned regularly by someone who can’t stand piles at all. This is your child’s space. Let ‘em have it.
Then, let ‘em write on the walls.
Seriously. Get a white board or a large piece of poster-sized paper and put it on the wall. Encourage your child to outline and story bubble and sketch out ideas before sitting down to the creative task at hand. Give him a bulletin board to collect notes and ideas and funny pictures of things that may inspire.
There are so very many reasons to do this. First and foremost, it makes your child’s thinking visible. Even better, it introduces your child to the process of developing and reflecting on ideas before barreling ahead. Regardless of whether your child is a visual or verbal learner, the process helps creative minds purge the clutter. Okay, yes, that means they are purging onto your wall. Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay. White boards can eventually be erased.
In time, if you pay attention, you might even start to notice some things—like how ideas in your child’s head are best sorted out. Does he use more pictures, shapes, charts, words? Or it a smorgasbord of all of them? When the time comes to help junior get organized with homework and writing assignments, knowing “how” his mind works things out and the tools that work for him will be invaluable.
Rest assured, in time the process will likely come down from the wall and become a bit more mobile (and aesthetically tolerable)—a box of index cards or a notebook to carry around. But for now, let creative chaos spill onto the walls of your child’s creative space. Unlike the art projects that go on the refrigerator door, these musings and pictures are for your child. Judge not. Ideas are supposed to be big and messy. Embrace the chaos.
And if you’re really daring…buy your own white board and see what happens.
It’s official! In November, we’re opening our third Scribble Press at 84th St. and Broadway. Zabars, H&H, The Museum of Natural History, Lincoln Center….We can’t wait to be part of the neighborhood.
So why the Upper West Side? We already have a studio in Manhattan – First Avenue and 84th Street. A few reasons: First, the thought of going to a totally different city for our third store seemed really challenging, and there are so many great locations in New York City and Los Angeles that would welcome another Scribble Press. We wanted to stick with a market we already knew and loved.
The Upper West Side is such a busy, vibrant community filled with families that it seemed like the natural next place for us. Also, we can travel from one store to the other by just hopping on the 86th Street Crosstown bus – kind of like I used to do when I was a seventh grader on my way to Brearley.
We found a terrific space at 84th and Broadway. It’s catty corner from Five Napkin Burger (YUM) and right across from a Loews Multiplex Cinema and a Victoria’s Secret. (Although, I am not sure what our connection there might be – moms can buy thong underwear while their kids write a first novel?)
We’re going to a be busy for about eight weeks building marker caddies and painting the bathroom pink. Not to mention, setting up all the magical bookbinding equipment, creating an amazing party space and decorating a cool lounge area. This UWS location is going to be a fantastic destination for fun and creativity. Stay tuned for news on our November opening!
Do you have any suggestions for what you’d like to see at the new store? What things do you like about the Upper East Side location that you want us to carry over to the Upper West Side studio? What would you suggest we change or add? We’d love to hear from you!