Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Step right up

A book is a gift you can open again and again. ~~Garrison Keillor

I went to one child's holiday program yesterday.  I was happy to hear the principal  tell the audience that the gift of books is a great thing.  I couldn't agree more.  She said that if you need suggestions you can ask your child's teacher.  But, you can find more resources than just your child's teacher!  Librarians are a great source of help.  At least we try to be!  Ask someone who works in a bookstore.  Chances are if these people can't think of any books off the top of their heads, they'll know where to look to find what you're looking for.

If you have a child who hasn't discovered the joy of reading, they may not have found the right book yet.  Maybe they aren't great readers.  Either way, it's a fun thing to start reading together.  It's amazing how much people enjoy listening to a story.   Don't worry about if the book is going to challenge your child, if the book is an AR book, if your child is going to learn anything from it, or if it's considered a "good" book by some higher power.  What you're looking for in a gift book is one the gift recipient will not hate. Granted, if you are shopping for a book hater, that might be a pretty tall order.  But, there is more than just one kind of book out there.  Take a look at Manga or Graphic Novels, audio books, activity books, how-to books, an almanac, a book of world records, a comic bookIf there are words in there somewhere, it's a book that they'll have to read.  If there aren't any words in the book, they'll have to make up their own story.  If it's an audio book, there is only the joy of the story.

I had to go to the bookstore yesterday to find a few books.  (I know I talked about this a week or two ago,) I had no idea what to get for a couple of my children.  They read a lot.  I don't always know what they read.  I have some idea of the types of books they like.  I also have some idea of the books I like.  So, when I'd come to a likely candidate, I'd take a little time and read the first few paragraphs.  It took a little while to find a couple that I thought they might like, but here's hoping that I got it.  If not, the bookstore is local and they're pretty good about making exchanges.
If your wallet is not in favor of you spending even more money on something that you aren't sure your child will enjoy, I can recommend the for sale pile at your local library.  Many libraries have them.  I know the Coleraine Public Library has books for sale in their basement.  I was there this morning, and picked out a few.  I know the rest of my family is each getting at least one book, so I made sure that I'll have a new book to crack open as well.  Maybe it isn't exactly new, but it is new to me!     

Books are a great thing to get children for Christmas.  They have many days of Christmas break to get through and it wouldn't be too good for their brains to do nothing besides look at a screen.  (Or a bunch of screens as the case may be.)  At some point in time they will get on a parent's nerves and then the parent can say, "Go outside or go read your book."  Maybe they'll choose to do both.  Maybe you'll get to sit with them while they drink their hot cocoa and read a chapter or two of whatever book they got for the holidays.  See?  They're a bit worn out from being outside, and now they might quiet down a little while you're reading.  Win, win.  Mom got some quiet time, and now she's unwittingly fueling their little brains.  Even more of a win, you all get to enjoy some quality time together enjoying a story.  And that is a memory few kids forget.

So, step right up and get a book for your loved one.  It will be money well spent, even if you didn't spend very much.   

Christmas 2009

“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it's much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!”
― Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12.12.12 days of Christmas

Lists are the butterfly nets that catch my fleeting thoughts... ~Betsy Cañas Garmon

Twelve twelve twelve.  The day we've all been waiting for.   Doomsday?  Lucky day?  To me all the date really signifies is that we only have 12 more days left until Christmas eve.  It means I need to work on my Christmas cards, finish my shopping, bake some cookies, wrap some gifts, bake some more cookies, and listen to Christmas carols until my ears bleed.

Bah, humbug, indeed.

But, today is the day we celebrate the number twelve.  I remember turning twelve.  It seemed a huge mile marker.  In the spirit of that feeling of joy, here is a list of twelve things I love. These twelve things are listed in no particular order beyond what I thought of next.

1.  I love the library because it has all kinds of good stuff to entertain and enlighten me.  And it's all free.  Unless I'm really late returning something, and then they just take the money out of my checks.  Just kidding!  They just pay me a reduced rate to balance things out.

2.  I love to go snowshoeing.  I will love it even more after we get some more snow.  We have about three inches.  Three more would be great.  We might get more this week which caused me to shout a hip hip hooray when I looked at the extended forecast this afternoon.

3.  I love getting Christmas cards from family and friends.  I would love to get cards from enemies too, if I had any and they cared to write once a year.  I like to see how everyone's family has grown over the year, and I like to look at the pictures on the cards and read the messages printed inside.  We've gotten many already, and it should be only another week or so until I get mine sent out.

4.  I love gingerbread men.  I love them.  I love the red hots and raisins they are decorated with.  For the past couple years, when my family gets together for our Christmas, I make gingerbread men and let the kids decorate them.  I really should take pictures.  Some of them are so full of red hots it's crazy.  This year I got some new cookie cutters.  Ninjabread men.  My nephews LOVED it, and so did everyone else.  The ninjabread cookies are gone, and it's now time to make more.  

5.  I love book club.  I have two book clubs.  One with my friends, and one with the library and my library friends.  The library club meets the last Wednesday of every month (except Nov. and Dec. when we meet a week earlier so as not to cramp our holidays).  I love meeting with people and discussing a book we've all read, or at least looked at the cover of, or thought about reading.  Neither of my book clubs is very strict when it comes to that.  Library book club meets next week.  We're reading A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg.  My other bookclub meets at some yet to be named date next month and we're reading Henry's Sisters by Cathy Lamb.  I love my book clubs.

6.  I love reading to kids.  I should amend that.  I love reading books that I've picked out to kids.  It's so much fun to introduce a child to the wonders of books.  I love it when I get to introduce them to some of  the authors and illustrators that are great at their craft.  Mo Willems is my favorite author/illustrator to read to any kid.  If you haven't had the chance to read a Mo Willems book, do so as soon as possible.  They are delightful.

7.  I love the relationships I have encountered while working in libraries.  I love the kids who come in on a regular basis and know what I'm like and seem happy to see me.  I love the patrons who come in on a regular basis and chat with those of us working behind the desk while they peruse for their next book.  I love that I know what some of them want before they do.  I love leading them to books that they wouldn't have picked up on their own.  I love talking to them about what they just finished reading and what they want to read next. 

8.  I love chocolate.   

9.  I love traveling.  I will go just about anywhere given the opportunity.  I love seeing new places.  I love exploring new places.  Hot, cold, sunny, rainy, snowy, it doesn't really matter too much.  Generally I bring a book with me so that I have something to do while traveling and it's a good back up plan for inclement weather.

10.  I love finding the quotes for these blog postings.  I also love finding the pictures and/or videos.  Usually the post leads to the quote, but sometimes it works the other way.  Sometimes I start with one and then have to change it to something else.  Sometimes the pictures spark more ideas than what I already had.  Sometimes a pictures says it all.  Sometimes it just hints.  It's fun to search for inspiration.

11.  I love cutting out snowflakes.  While I was coming up with the final two things on this list, I cut out a few snowflakes.  After I finish the posting, I'll hang them on the windows in the library.  They'll join the other four I made last week.  The two boys who were in here last week when I hung them up with impressed with my mad snowflake cutting skillz when they saw my yoda flake.  Yes, I love making snowflakes.  All it takes is paper and a decent pair of scissors.  

12.  I love all colors.  When asked what my favorite color is, I always answer with, "I don't have one, I love them all.  Except maybe puce."    I love mixing paints.  Blue with yellow, add a little white, then a little brown, then a little more yellow and see what you get.  I love how the colors change from one to the other, and leave spots of half mixed in between.  It's not so much the destination as the journey when I'm mixing colors.  The journey from blue and yellow to a sage-y green is fun.

And there's my twelve things for the twelfth day of the twelfth month in the year two-thousand-twelve.

A clock struck out the hour of twelve, and the bird in the hedgerow was still singing as we marched out to the roadway, and followed our merry pipers home to town.
Patrick MacGill

DJ's Christmas 2006 - the 12 days scene middle

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ode to Toys

The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value.
~Charles Dudley Warner

 Ho, Ho, Ho only 20 more days to go.  That's two and a half weeks.  Yikes.  Guess I better start being good and hope that Santa will forget about the rest of the year.  My children also need to start being extra good and hope that he'll forget about the transgressions of the past year.  Not that there were that many.  Or that they were terribly severe.  It never hurts to put in a little extra effort just to be safe.  

I have been working at cleaning out my house.  Kind of.  I went through the bins of stored clothing in the basement, and 2/3 of the childrens' dressers have been gone through.  Summer stuff and too small stuff moved out, winter stuff and stuff that fits moved in.  I started going through the toys, but I shortly found myself on the verge of a mental breakdown, so I quit for the time being.  I'll have to get that done soon.  There are things in the basement that none of them have touched in the past couple years; and really, I probably played with the Little People stuff more than they did.  (It was one of my favorite things to do as a child, but somehow they never found them as appealing as I did.)  We have books coming out of our ears.  I need to go through those as well.  The good ones I pass on to other kids, and the really horrible ones get dumped.

So I was a smidge crabby this morning as I sorted through an accumulation of stuff that we don't use.  Or want.  Or take very good care of.  Why in the world would I add to this mess with some Christmas presents that probably won't be remembered a year from now?  I got a little Grinch-y.  And then I remembered being a kid at Christmas.  We didn't get toys and clothes except for birthdays and Christmas.  Unless they were hand-me-downs; and those were generally an unexpected thrill.  My kids don't get much either, unless it's hand-me-downs or they buy it themselves.  They don't get a lot from us or Santa for Christmas, so I should just quit my grumbling.  In a month, I may get to pick some new socks off of the floor instead of just the grungy old ones.  

I'm going with the one thing way this year.  One thing you want, one thing you need, one thing to wear, one thing to read, and one thing they really truly want.  Ahhh, at least one of those things doesn't make me feel like a Scrooge.  Books.  But which onesThe girls are 11,9 (almost), and five.  Which books to choose?  Oh, I can spend a lot of time looking online, but it isn't nearly as fun as shopping in person for books.  Then I can read the 5-year-old's book to make sure it isn't one I'll hate reading.  In years past I always have a great idea for reads, but this year I don't.  They've checked out so many library books, and read so many books in school that I can't keep track of what they haven't read yet.  This means a trip to the bookstore.  I will gladly spend time in a bookstore.  

And with that, the Christmas spirit hits me.  The Grinch is gone, replaced by a book lovin' momma who wants to share some literary joy with her children. 

If you have any good suggestions for books, please share them!!  I don't believe I'm the only one who could use them! 

Christmas is for children.  But it is for grown-ups too.  Even if it is a headache, a chore, and nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chill and hide-bound hearts.  
~Lenora Mattingly Weber