Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Top 10 Children's Must-Read Classics - No Childhood Is Complete Without These Favorites

The love of reading has to start with loving the stories you are read when you are very young. So let's start there! It has been said you can read anything to a baby or very young child and it doesn't matter what it is, well I say it does matter. I believe even the young can tell the difference between Peter Rabbit and a news article, if you don't believe me try it for yourself. While we are on the subject of Peter Rabbit by Beatrice Potter, that is a great start to childhood classics, it has adventure, intrigue, and some serious life lessons all rolled up into one great story.

Then there is Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne, he's not just a bunch of fluff and stuff, he actually is a good example of lasting friendship and imagination. Pooh have been friends with Rabbit, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Kanga and Roo for years and years. They have gone on many imaginary adventures together and I believe this can help inspire young minds to use their imaginations as well.

As our little ones grow up of course they will want more grown up stories. There are many really good books for young readers to read or to be read to. I think no childhood should pass without reading The Box Car Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. This is a great story and a great example for young people and might help young ones discover they can do a lot more to fend for themselves than they thought they could.

I know this is more than 10 if you separate the series but I don't. Going from one book to another in a series is just continuing the story so I still think of them as one. Books with great adventures and examples of responsibility and courage are:

• Harry Potter series by J. K Rowling
• Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo
• The Magyk series by Angie Sage
• The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black
• The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver

These maybe a for girls only read but Ann of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott are great stories that shouldn't be missed.

You may have thought I was going to list some of the greats like Tom Sawyer, Moby Dick, Oliver or Uncle Remus. They are all great and still classics of course but the language used in them is quite different and to some young people very difficult to understand these new classics are not to replace the old ones merely to add onto the list of great stories.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Children's Books on Different Kinds of Families

I was recently asked if I knew of any good children's books to help someone who is a single mom explain to her five year old son that his family is normal... That was a good question! There are so many different kinds of families and many adults don't know how to explain this to their children. Many children live in what the world thinks of as a "normal" family with a mom and a dad but more and more this is not the case, that doesn't mean that other families are not normal just that they are different but still normal.

Surprisingly there are few books written about families that are not the mom, dad and child scenario family. Most of the family books that are available have that scenario and don't seem to have room for any other family organizations, that leaves some adults and children wondering where to turn for the same literary comfort that is abundantly out there for the mom, dad and child scenario family. I was really astonished at the lack of books for young children on this subject, we have had several generations now of single parents dealing with all the issues that have to be dealt with. Oh there are lots of books for adults but the children are somehow left out of the mix.

The following books are among the few I found that might be helpful, but the list is short for a reason, there just aren't many books out there on the subject, especially for single parents.

• The Family Book by Todd Parr
• We Belong Together: A Book About Adoption and Families by Todd Parr
• Who's in a Family? By Robert Skutch
• All Families Are Special by Norma Simon
• Do I Have a Daddy? A Story About a Single-Parent Child by Jeanne Warren Lindsay

I promised the person who asked me about a book for her friend that I would write a book for young children who were in the single parent situation like her friend's little boy, (I do have a bit of experience on the subject). Even though I usually write fantasy adventure or science fiction for middle grade or young adults I will give this my best efforts soon. It is a difficult subject for us adults to broach and trying to explain it so that children can understand is not easy... then again maybe it's easier for them to understand than it is for us grownups, we seem to complicate things way more than they need to be.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Top 5 Children's Books on the American Revolution

I love history! It is sad these days when children say they hate history, "It's boring". I believe it's because they get bogged down in trying to memorize dates and lose sight of the people and adventures that happened all throughout history.

History is exciting! If we begin teaching our children when they are young they will learn to appreciate the wonderful stories and the exciting adventures that happened in history. There were so many regular people who became heroes and so many time periods to learn about. In this article I am going to focus on the Revolutionary time period. There are many different ways to get young people interested in this time period, the people were on a quest to explore the new country they had come to and determine how they wanted this new country to be. The people found great courage, and laid a foundation for a great country to be formed.

Even if we have our young readers read fiction based on different times in history it can help them appreciate what it was like in that particular time and how the people might have lived. The following is a short list of books I think children will enjoy reading about the Revolutionary time period. Some are factual and some are fiction with factual basis. All are fun to read and not "boring."

• The American Revolution by Bruce Blivin Jr.
• Felicity by American Girl Series
• Letters For Freedom: The American Revolution by Douglas M. Rife
• George vs. George by Rosalyn Schanzer
• Heroes and Heroines of the American Revolution by Peter F. Copeland

You will be able to find many more books for children to read with a little research, I hope we can instill in the young readers a love of history through literature.

I find that when I write my love of history is always evident. There is always some aspect of history in each book I have written and most of the short stories as well. I try to show the adventure and excitement of history and hopefully pique the interest of my readers to learn more about what was happening in that time period. For instance the book I am writing now has a great amount of time travel in it and I love doing the research for each place in time my characters go! One destination will of course be the Revolutionary time period where they will meet interesting people and have an exciting adventure!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Supernatural Good Fun

Aubrey Taylor's life in high school is a haunted one. Red haired, freckled, smaller than most of his classmates, Aubrey is haunted by insomnia, bullies, a ghost, and possibly a Sasquatch. Can life get any worse? Talented author Ashland Menshouse's strong YA debut, The Last Stand and the Tomb of Enoch is set in the quaint and cozy Appalachian town of Lake Julian. The setting is picturesque, and is painted in colorful detail by Menshouse, but underneath the beautiful backdrop the novel is set in lies dark secrets and powerful legends that have come to life, making what is often a very emotional and tumultuous time-attending a new school, especially a new high school-even more difficult to handle for Aubrey.

Add to this, his perhaps well-meaning but overbearing father, a big brother who bullies him as much at home as the ones at school do there, and a mother who has psychiatric issues and is generally in a self-imposed isolation in her bedroom. When I say "perhaps well-meaning but overbearing father," I mean that his father would prefer him to be more outgoing and athletic like his older brother, Gaetan, and participate in activities like playing on the football team.

His father wants what he thinks is the best for Aubrey, but Aubrey is not like his older brother, and his father doesn't want to accept that. He even accuses Aubrey, one night when a ghostly intruder invades Audrey's room, of being on drugs and possibly taking his mother's pills. Aubrey denies this, as he didn't take his mom's pills or any drugs at all, but his father seems unwilling to believe him. Of course, parents should be concerned if their kids start acting differently than they usually have acted, but Aubrey's father seemed to me to be kind of a jerk.

Fortunately, Aubrey has a couple of good friends to help ease his far from pleasant high school experience: Buzz Reiselstein and Rodriqa Auerbach. Buzz is paunchy but generally optimistic, trying to see the bright side of things. He's very intelligent, and inventive, and many of his inventions play key and sometimes humorous roles in this novel. Rodriqa's dad works at the Lake Julian dam, and she is an interesting character who instigates a budding friendship and perhaps romance with a new girl, Jordana. The cute, glasses-wearing Jordan is also a major character in The Last Seer. She also suffers from nightmare-induced insomnia and initially has a difficult time fitting in, like Aubrey. Her mother has mysteriously died, and she lives with her father, who has been horribly disfigured by being in some sort of accident.

Added to this cast of characters are Magnos Strumgaten and his buddies, Benjamin and Leonard Van Zenny, who are bullies who have followed Aubrey to high school from middle school. They are mean to Aubrey, and make him do their homework assignments in their Chemistry class. Buzz tries to intervene and help with an invention of his, but like most of the times he tries to help Aubrey, things go horribly wrong. The invention writes in invisible ink that won't appear unless it's held up to a light or heat source, which Buzz does, right at the beginning of class after the assignments are turned in, to prove that Aubrey wrote the reports on elements for them.

Aubrey was supposed to have signed them with his name. But, instead of Aubrey's name, each paper has written on it: Free Me. The ghostly figure who had paid Aubrey a visit wrote those words on the papers, instead of Aubrey. When Buzz tries to expose the bullies, he instead only embarrasses himself and Aubrey, and makes the bullies angrier than ever at both of them.

A battle is taking place in the sleepy town of Lake Julian, a battle between spurious specters and elusive mountain men, for the tomb of the Watchers. Will Aubrey and his friends get caught in the grip of the ancients' desire for revenge? Find out when you read The Last Seer and the Tomb of Enoch! It's a marvelous novel that I highly recommend to anyone who loves books like R.L. Stine's, with a quirky and cool mixture of humor and horror. The novel is the excellent author's, Ashland Menshouse's, debut, and I look forward to reading and reviewing more of his novels in the future.