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September 24, 2010

Easy On The SweetFarts

Today’s Wall Street Journal has a great opinion piece by Thomas Spence titled “How to Raise Boys Who Read.”  I encourage anyone who reads this blog to click on over (after finishing reading this of course).  I won’t steal Mr. Spence’s thunder, but I have noticed the disturbing trend he speaks of in his piece.  As I kid (and I may be dating myself here) reading The Hardy Boys and being caught up by the books of Jack London, John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway (Old Man and The Sea in particular).  Now, when shopping for books for the Little Man we’re faced with choices like SweetFarts, Captain Underpants and SpongeBob Squarepants.  It is easier to find a cab in Manhattan on a rainy Friday night at 5 then it is to find any decent books for boys these days.  The article was like the alarm going off after hitting the snooze a few times and it is time to wake up.  The best intentions pave the roadstraight to SweetFarts.

September 9, 2009

Get That Pig Some Pants!

Poppleton the Pig is a beloved character in our house.  If you aren’t familiar with the books by Cynthia Rylant, they are about the adventures of Poppleton, a good natured pig, and his friends.  The stories are great to read to little ones and include great illustrations by Mark Teague and now that our house has a burgeoning reader, they are just right for early readers. 

 The things that kids notice is always interesting to observe.  Recently, it was noticed by Detective Little Man and Inspector Mommy, that Poppleton appears, in most cases, to be missing pants.  Now, this isn’t cause for great concern and in no way should deter you from these great books.  It’s just a bit curious is all.  Cherry Sue the Llama gets full outfits, as does Fillmore the Goat.  Hudson the Mouse, he’s a well dressed chap.  Why not Poppleton?  He is the star of the show after all and he’s running around half dressed!

 We have found one instance of Poppleton with some pants, but we’ll leave that for you and your detective squad to figure out.  In almost all cases, Poppleton is pantless.  Turns out it is a fun game with a great series of books.  Kind of like finding the mouse in Goodnight Moon (one of my all-time favorite books and one of my most memorable reading games trying to find that mouse on each page).

July 29, 2009

Free Books You Say?

Even though I’m quickly approaching the age of which we dare not speak, I’ve embraced the digital world completely with open arms. Capital of Bulgaria? Google it. Need a doohickey for that whatchamacallit on your desk? Amazon to the rescue. Heard a great song on the radio? Download it from iTunes. Out with the old and in with the new.

So on this rainy summer Wednesday with a six year old quickly edging towards the precipice of “spoiledville” with an accelerating onslaught of “I’m bored,” what’s a parent to do? Panic? Good start, but ultimately not helpful. Punish? Short term relief spoiled by years of therapy bills. Any more TV or computer time and his brain could turn to mush (according to Hulu). There’s no delivery service for rainy day entertainment (in my budget at least) so we need an outing!

Trying to be good parents and encourage some modicum of learning over the summer, we’ve done bits of math and reading here and there. My ever present guilty conscience tells me not enough though, so what to do? Being out in the country, our options are limited. Playdates don’t run a plenty out here and more TV is off the table. What about that place where they have books, magazines, movies and even computers to use? What’s it called again? Oh, that’s right. The Public Library!

Load up the car and five minutes later we’re browsing kids books, animal books, and even a movie or two. Plus the added bonus of a gold star for an educational outing. I have to admit that’s it’s been a while since I’d been to the library and I’m sure there are parents out there screaming at me through cyberspace saying “Duuuhhhhh – everybody goes to the library!” Well, why didn’t you guys tell me, then?

In a digital world of instant gratification via TVs, DVDs, iPhones, downloaded movies, Xboxes, Playstations, Wiis and the like, the public library is one to remember. An outing with a payoff in all respects! Heading out the door with books for reading (one for me too!) and even a movie for later, smiles lit up the cloud covered sky and disaster was averted, if for one more day.

For you New Yorkers, check out all the good stuff at the New York Public Library at http://www.nypl.org/. Everyone else – Google (or even Bing) it of course!