Reading THROWBACK | The Sunday Paper

For many Americans, the Sunday paper was a part of a weekly family ritual. I remember my dad reading the Sunday paper from cover-to-cover. He would always save the “funnies” for me. I devoured the silly colored comics, blissfully reading the jokes and looking at the classic illustrations.

My mom would grab the “sales papers” looking for bargains and coupons. My sister and I would help her clip coupons, especially if we saw something we liked. If we found a coupon for a snack or treat, my mom was much more likely to purchase it for us during our next shopping trip.

The whole family shared the television programming guide. My sister would look at her favorite sections, which varied from week to week. As I got older, I started looking at the political sections of the paper. My dad spent a good deal of time ranting about what was written in this section and I wanted to understand what he was talking about.

When I got older and moved out, I subscribed to the weekend edition of the paper and continued this family reading tradition on my own. Eventually, I canceled my subscription. My paper kept disappearing from the porch of my apartment, which was annoying. I also found it hard to justify the costs once I acquired home internet services. All of the information I needed was online. I still purchase a Sunday paper occasionally, especially around Christmas time when retailers increafe their paper sales ads. But, even those are moving online…

Every now and then, I pine for this ritual. New technology is helping newspapers and magazines re-invent themselves. As much as I love technology, an LCD screen can never replace that newspaper smell and the sound of the thin gray paper crinkling as the reader unfolds and turns a page. I hold on to hope that the newspaper as we know it will never disappear. For today, I’ll do my part by picking up a Sunday paper.


5 Ways to Get Your Child to Read This Summer!

Summer is here! Kids are out of school and they have lots of free time on their hands. If your kids are like my son, they gravitate towards electronic games and videos for entertainment. While there is nothing wrong with an occasional family game night on the Wii, one of your goals this summer should be to get your child or children reading! I remember how my mom used to take me to the public library. We didn’t have much money to buy books, but I had read hundreds as a child, anyhow. My dad would save the “funnies” from the newspaper for me and I think that even this small gesture contributed to my life-long love of reading.

Studies show that children who read at home perform better on standardized tests and read at a higher grade level than their peers. Children need the mental stimulation that reading provides in order to retain the knowledge that they attained during the school year. Clearly, there are benefits to reading, but how can you get your child off of the game systems and into a good book? Try one or more of the five suggestions below. Your child will not only read, he or she will enjoy it, too!

1. Summer Reading Clubs

Local libraries and school districts host reading programs every summer. These programs offer incentives to children (and adults) who read over the summer and document the books that they’ve read. The Houston Public Library hosts a summer reading program for kids and teens that spans from June 1st to August 1st. Participants can earn free books, Astros tickets, and tickets to the circus. Check with your local library or school district to see if a similar program is being offered.

2. E-Readers

E-Readers such as the Amazon Kindle have been on the market for a while, but the new technological innovations are making these e-readers more affordable and kid-friendly. The Barnes and Noble Nook is a full-color e-reader that definitely appeals to children. Small kids can read picture books in full color and teens can read their favorite magazines. Adults can get in on the action, too, as the Nook offers a wide range of novels and other types of print media. Nooks are a bit pricey, but there are free e-reader options. Amazon Kindle and Google Books offer free applications that can be downloaded to the family PC or smart phone. Your teen may stop texting for a few minutes to flip through a book on his or her smartphone. Consider using an e-reader to get your child interested in reading this summer.

3. Family Book Club

If technology is not your thing, consider forming a good old-fashioned family book club! Choose books that your kids are interested in, such as vampire novels or anime and read them with them. You don’t have to sit with them and read, of course. Grab a copy of one of their favorites from the local library or bookstore and read it. Pick a time to sit down and discuss it, maybe at a local coffee shop or right in your own living room. Not only does the family book club concept give you an opportunity to bond with your child, you will also be leading by example. Once your kids see you reading, they’ll be more likely to read as well.

4. Publish Your Own Book

Self-publishing doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, it can be fun! Online software by StoryJumper makes creating, illustrating, and publishing your children’s book a breeze! Prices start at only $24.95. Teachers have been hip to this concept for years, often using such platforms to publish a book with their classes. Your little ones will love the chance to be create and bring their stories to life, while your older kids will embrace the opportunity to become a published author.

5. Make Connections

A last simple, but not so obvious option is to make a real-life connection. My son loves books about science and technology. I can feed his natural interest by taking him to the science museum or taking a walk outside to look at the stars. This simple connection (reading to real life) is a big incentive for him to develop a passion not only for reading, but for life-long learning. What are your kids interested in? How can you connect their natural interests to reading? Let them lead you. If your kids like gaming, buy them books and magazines about gaming. It’s not so much the subject matter, but the time spent reading, that matters most. Let’s face it – almost any published writing is better than text-talk.

These five simple suggests can improve your child’s summer and his or her reading comprehension for the better. Try them out and let me know how they work out!

I Love My Kindle :-)

This is not a book review – it’s a long overdue rave about my Kindle. I’ve been using my Kindle since Christmas when I purchased it as a gift for myself.

After 6 months of use, I can honestly say that my 3rd generation Wi-Fi Kindle is worth every penny! My Kindle is lightweight, slim, and it has an amazing battery life. I hardly ever have to charge it. The charge literally lasts for a month or longer!

I opted for the Wi-Fi version rather than 3g because it’s so easy to access hotspots and I also have Wi-Fi at my home. So far, I have not regretting skipping 3g service. The $50 in savings justified my later purchase of a leather Kindle case with the book light. It does add a bit of weight/bulkiness to my Kindle.

I have read and downloaded many books, including several free books. I like e-ink because I hate looking at LCD screens for an extended time. The Kindle works perfectly for my needs, but if I get an e-reader for my son, I’ll probably get him one with a color screen.

All in all, my Kindle was a great investment. They now have a $114 version with limited ads, but I can’t speak on that since I have the ad-free Wi-Fi version. If you’re in the market for an e-reader, consider the Kindle.

Barnes and Noble Book Reader/ 2010 Reading Goals

Barnes and Noble has a new book reader that’s relatively inexpensive, around $300. Of course, it’s sold out. Not that I had the money to buy it, anyway. 2010 is going to be a scaled back year for me financially.

In fact, I’ve decided to make a return to…guess where? The library! I’m actually going to try not to spend much money, if any, on books. I’m spending enough on required texts for my law school course. I’ve also decided to read more classics. I’m following the collegeboard’s “college bound reader” book list. Fortunately, I’ve already read more than half of the books on that list in high school and college (I was an English major), but I plan to re-read them. I really am a book work and I really should have pursued an M.A. in English instead of a J.D., but oh well!

Of course, I’ll be documenting my reading progress here. The first two books on the list are Beowulf and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. These are two of my absolute favorites! I should have no problem re-reading them. The language in Beowulf isn’t the easiest to decipher, but still….it’s a great story.

I also picked up Zane’s  Total Eclipse of the Heart. I don’t plan to really read it, just browse through it because I’m not crazy about Zane books. A friend of mine gave me two more books to read The Five Love Languages and His Needs, Her Needs. I’m not sure how long it’ll take me to work through these books, especially since I still have one more final exam and work next week, but I’ll try. As always, happy reading!

Bookswim, Kindle DX, And A New Read

As evidenced by this blog, I buy a lot of books. I buy and read more books that I post here, and after a while I end up with, well….many piles of books that I don’t need. Often, I try to re-sell the books to Half-Price books and I end up getting very little back for books that I paid a lot for. I also end up giving away books when I move or run out of space. Therefore, I have been looking for alternatives to just buying book after book for full price.

Kindle DXis the latest version of Amazon’s electronic book reading device. I’ve been contemplating whether the new Kindle DX is a good deal. I am venturing to say that it’s not. Apparently, there has been some controversy over digital downloads being “taken back” by Amazon without notice to or consent by the purchasers. Also, the device itself costs about $400, I believe, and you still have to pay nearly full price for books! Based on reviews from Amazon that I’ve read – it seems like users have encountered a number of other issues with the device, from poor internet reception (which means no new book or magazine downloads) to cracking or breaking the expensive reader, and of course, little to no quality customer service assistance from Amazon. Considering all these issues, I am going to pass on a Kindle, at least for now. It’s out of my budged and, overall, it seems like a great concept, but not necessarily a great deal.

Bookswimis a Netflix-style book exchange service. There are other similar services, but Bookswim is the first one that someone suggested to me, about a year ago. My only problem with the service is that it offers mostly bestsellers, with very few niche or ethnic titles. However, I have decided to start utilizing either this or another book exchange service very soon. I am tired of paying full price for new books that I don’t need or want anymore after a first read. I will keep you guys updated on which service I choose and, of course, I will provide a review!

Lastly, I’m reading See Jane Write: A Girl’s Guide to Writing Chick Lit. I hadn’t planned on reading it, especially since I haven’t finished reviewing all of the books posted under “What I’m Reading,” but so far, I am really enjoying this title. It motivated me to write 3,000 pages in one night! As soon as I log off of wordpress, I can go and write a few more. So, goodnight!

Novel Review: One L The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School

My take on  One L The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School by Scott Turlow

 One L is a popular book among entering law school students about the experiences of a One L (a first year law student) at Harvard University. Scott Turlow is an excellent writer and the book is certainly a page turner. This book DOES NOT read like a “how to” guide to law school. Instead, it is written as a memoir as Turlow looks back at his journal entries from his first year, which was many years ago. Although the law school experience has certainly changed (for example, Turlow had the choice of writing his exams on paper or using a typewriter, whereas now most law school students take their exams on computers) but the general spirit of competition, the anxiety felt by the students, the stress, and the rigor are still the same today. Any entering law school student who wants to understand the law school “experience” will greatly enjoy this book, but do not assume that law school is just as Turlow describes them. The main drawback is that the book is melodramatic, so do not take every word too seriously. Also, Turlow was married during law school, so he did not have to struggle financially and his dating life and social life only suffered slightly, which is not typical.

If you are looking for a law school “how to” try Insider’s Guide to Your First Year of Law School A Student-to-Student Handbook from a Law School Survivorby Justin Spiezman. It also read like a novel, but it is packed with lots of information about how to study, network, and look for a job.

Short Story Review: “Only Daughter” by Sandra Cisneros

“Only Daughter” is an ethnic short story about a young girl who is the only daughter in a family of 6 sons. The story begins with her childhood and how the daughter was unappreciated by her brothers who never play with her and her father who refers to her as one of his “siete ninos” or seven sons, even when he is speaking English he never bothers to correct the mistranslation. The daughter expresses her desire to go to college and the dad agrees because he hopes she will meet a man in college. She completes undergrad and grad school, still unmarried. Her father feels she has wasted her education. The narrator discusses how she was always writing for her father and people like him the “public majority disinterested in reading.” In the end, after she has been a professional writer for 10 years and her father has grown much more sickly, he reads one of her works that has been translated to Spanish (he could not read English) and enjoys it. In this way, he expresses that he is proud of her and the conflict between them is resolved.

This is a great story, but I would love to know the father’s point of view. He was trying to support nine people in foreign land and did not even read English. Anyone who has ever felt disconnected from their father would certainly enjoy this story.

Sandra Cisneros is also the author of House On Mango Street, which I am currently reading.

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