March 6th is Read Aloud Day!

According to Holidays for Everyday, March 6th is Read Aloud Day (along with National Chocolate Cheesecake Day and the anniversary of the first day Oreos were sold…both of which deserve their own post). In honor of this wonderful holiday, I’ve put together a list of my favorite books to read out loud. When was the last time you had someone read to you? Let me tell you, it is a wonderful experience at any age.

My list:

the-giving-tree.jpg Ah, a classic.  There’s something so touching about this book, that just lends itself to hearing it in someone else’s voice. It’s the type of book that brings a tear to your eye and leaves you with happy chills at the end, and you always want to share that with someone, no?

the-raven.jpg Ooooo….creepy. Several years ago my husband made a poetry book for me for Christmas, and he included this book. The creep factor of this poem is crazy high–perfect for curling up and reading aloud.

when-the-frost.jpg This was also included in my poetry book, and this one has a much different feel than The Raven. The cadence and rhyming found in this poem is perfect for listening, and always gives me a chill.

where-the-wild-things-are.jpg There is nothing more fun than this book! Especially for one of my generation. What a great memory.

harry-the-dirty-dog.jpg Another one of those childhood memories. There’s just something about having books read to you as an adult that yo had read to you as a child. All I need now is to turn on the Smurfs while hugging my old bankie and I’ll be a child again.

oh-the-places-youll-go.jpg This is one of those early childhood inspirational books…and every once in a while it’s nice to remember that old inspired feeling. It just isn’t the same if you have to read it to your self.

make-way-for-ducklings.jpg This is the only book on this list that I didn’t love growing up. Nope. In fact, I don’t remember this book at all growing up. I actually got it as a present last Christmas as part of my goal to collect all the Caldecot Award winners, and my husband read it to me Christmas morning. I loved it. Have someone you love read this to you tonight, and I guarantee a happy evening.


Published in: on March 5, 2008 at 8:41 pm  Comments (1)  

Harry Potter Secrets: Highlights of J.K. Rowling’s US Book Tour


October brought US fans of Harry Potter a rare treat: a meeting with the wizard’s creator herself: Ms. J.K. Rowling. Rowling has done few publicity tours in the U.S. during the course of the book, but the final installment of the series sent her to several cities to meet with school children. During these meetings, she read exerpts from Deathly Hallows, answered audience questions, and gave tidbits of information about characters and storylines for those of us who are just dying to know more. Here’s the highlights:

  • Ms. Rowling is thinking of authoring a Harry Potter encylopedia to bring fans up-to-date with the exploits and future endvors of beloved characters. She has not begun working on it yet, however, stating “It’s not coming along, and I haven’t started it yet. I never envisioned that as being the next thing I did. I wanted to take a break and a step back and then [do that] in due course.”
  • After Voldemort was vanquished, Kingsley took over the ministry of magic and eradicated the latent discrimination there
  • The Malfoys did not get into trouble following the death of Voldemort because they allied themselves with Harry in the 11th hour
  • Harry and Voldemort are distantly related through the Peverells, although the Peverells’ blood runs through many wizarding families
  • Dumbledore could sometimes see Harry beneath his invisibility cloak by using the incantation “homenum revelio,” which did not need to be uttered aloud
  • Winky the house-elf (originally belonging to the Crouch family, and freed in book 4 to work at Hogwarts) continued to work at Hogwarts, and she was one of the elves who attacked the Death Eaters in the final battle
  • Hermione greatly improved the life for house-elves after her graduation
  • Teddy was raised by his grandmother, Andromeda, but often visited Harry and Ginny, since Harry was his godfather
  • Harry, Hermione and Ron all went back to school after the final battle to finish their education
  • Ron took Fred’s place at Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes
  • Ginny became a celebrated player for the Holyhead Harpies, then retired after a few years to become the Senior Quidditch correspondent at the daily Prophet
  • Peeves is a spirit of chaos that entered Hogwarts long ago, and has proved impossible to get rid of. He has nothing to do with the Bloody Baron’s story
  • During the final battle, Remus was killed by Dolohov and Tonks was killed by Bellatrix
  • In the last scene of the final book, Snape’s portrait is noticeably absent in the headmaster’s office. Because he abandoned his post before dying, wizarding tradition did not allow his painting to be hung. Harry, however, ensured that Snape’s likeness was eventually placed in the office, where it should have been
  • Umbridge was able to conjure a patronus while wearing the locket (as Harry was unable to do) because her nature was uncannily aligned with the locket’s essence. It therefore helped rather than hindered her
  • After Kingsley took over the Ministry of Magic, dementors were no longer used at Azkaban. The use of dementors was a sign of the underlying corruption of the Ministry
  • The Hufflepuff common room is accessed through a still-life painting near the kitchens. It is the opposite of Snape’s dungeon in decor, and sports lots of yellow wall hangings and comfy armchairs. Dorms are accessed via underground tunnels that lead to perfectly round doors
  • George never gets over his twin’s death, and names his first born Fred
  • When Dumbeldore looked into the Mirror of Erised, he saw his family returned alive and well, and his brother reconciled with him
  • Lily loved Snape as a friend, and may have grown to love him romantically if he did not love the Dark Arts so emphatically
  • You cannot destroy dementors, but you can limit their numbers if you limit misery and despair
  • Fawkes permanently left Hogwarts when Dumbledore died, which is why he did not aid Harry in the final battle
  • Lockhart never recovers
  • Harry ensures that Snape’s heroism was known throughout the wizarding world, although Rita Skeeter writes a piece entitled “Snape: Scoundrel or Saint?”
  • Teddy Lupin is not a werewolf–he’s a Metamorphmagus like Tonks
  • To create his horcuxes, Voldemort had to murder humans. To create the diary, he murdered Moaning Myrtle; to create the cup, Hepzibah Smith (who owned it previously); To create the locket, a Muggle tramp; To create Nagini, Bertha Jorkins; to create the diadem, an Albanian peasant; to create the ring, Tom Riddle Sr
  • Dementors do not have souls, which is what makes them so frightening
  • The third smell Hermione smelt in the amortentia potion was the smell of Ron’s hair
  • Slytherin becomes diluted in subsequent generations, and is no longer the pure-blood bastion of years past
  • Harry’s son, James, eventually found the marauder’s map in his father’s study and sneaked it out
  • Harry can no longer speak parseltongue since he is no longer a Horcrux
  • Dung sold Sirius’s two-way mirror to Aberforth
  • Dumbledore’s boggart is the corpse of his sister
  • Umbridge is imprisoned for crimes against Muggle-borns
  • Hermione brought her parents home and restored their memories directly after the final battle
  • James knew of Snapes feelings for Lily, which is why James picked on Snape so often
  • Narcissa Malfoy was never a full Death Eater; she just firmly believed what her husband believed
  • Mr. Weasley eventually fixed Sirius’s motorcycle and gave it to Harry
  • Firenze was eventually welcomed back to the herd, and the herd had to accept that his pro-human leanings were honorable
  • A wizard’s Patronus often mutates to take the image of the love of one’s life, since they often become the “happy thought” that generates it. This is why Snape’s Patronus was a doe, while James’s was a stag and Liliy’s was a doe
  • Krum eventually found love in his homeland of Bulgaria
  • The death of Hedwig marked the end of Harry’s childhood and innocence
  • Harry, Hermione and Ron all get their faces and histories on chocolate frog cards. Ron describes this as his finest hour
  • Snape was the only death eater that could produce a full Patronus, since a Patronus is used against things that Death Eaters usually generate and fight along side, so they don’t need one
  • After Voldemort’s death, the dark mark on every Death Eater faded to a scar, much like Harry’s lightening bolt
  • Bellatrix’s true love was Voldemort; she only married another because it was expected of her
  • Dumbledore is gay. He fell in love with his friend Grindelwald, and was heartbroken when Grindelwald began working with the Dark Arts
  • Neville Longbottm married Hufflepuff Hannah Abbot. She eventually became the landlady of the Leaky Cauldron
  • After their graduation, Remus Lupin was supported by James and Lily Potter because he was unemployable as a warewolf. James had enough family money to support the three of them
  • James, Sirius, Remus and Lily were full time Order of the Phoenix members. Once Lily became pregnant, James and Lily went into hiding and stopped fighting
  • Portrait occupants can only move freely to other portraits within their dwelling, or to another portrait in which they are depicted. These are strict rules that Ms. Rowling followed throughout the series
  • Hagrid never marries. The giant wars caused a shortage of females of the larger persuaion, and the one he did meet during the books was a bit more refined than he
  • Molly Weasly was always slated to finish Bellatrix during the final battle. Ms. Rowling wanted to pit the obsession of evil against the love for family, while showing that Molly was a wizard to be feared
  • Harry, as a Horcrux, wasn’t destroyed when he was stabbed by a basilisk fang because Fawkes was there to mend him. Horcruxes must be destroyed beyond repair to be fully gone, and since Fawkes was able to repair Harry quickly enough, he wasn’t destroyed
  • Luna Lovegood becomes a great naturalist and marries a fellow naturalist
  • Cho Chang marries a muggle
  • Snape teaches potions because Ms. Rowling hated chemsitry while in school; she penned this as revenge against her chemistry teacher
  • During the taping of the movies, Ms. Rowling talked to the actors and actresses, reveling the ultimate outcome of their characters (to some extent). Emma Watson new the most, although Danial Radcliff pretended to know the ending of book 7 before it was released
  • Dumbledore is a Machiavellian figure, pulling lots of strings behind the scenes
  • Crookshanks is half Kneazle
  • Hermione’s birthday is September 19th
  • It took 45 wacks with the ax to almost behead Nearly Headless Nick
  • Fred and George were born on April Fool’s Day
  • Ginny’s full name is Ginerva and was the first girl to be born to a Weasley in several generations
  • Mrs. Weasley’s maiden name is Prewett
  • Harry Potter became the head of the Auror Department in 2007
  • Arthor Weasley was slated to die in book 5 when the snake attacked him. Ms. Rowling decided she didn’t want Ron to grow up so quickly (which a death of a parent will do) but still wanted one character to mirror Harry’s parentless childhood. She traded Mr. Weasley’s life for that of Lupin and Tonks
  • Ron was written as the loyal and funny friend that glues the group together. He was also the last to mature–he did so as he destroyed the horcrux
  • Harry was able to see through Nagini’s eyes because both were horcruxes–they both shared a portion of Voldemort’s soul. This is also why Harry was able to speak parsletongue
  • Aunt Petunia almost told Harry “I know what you’re facing and I hope it all turns out well” as she left him for the last time, but stopped herself
  • Dumbledore reminded Petunia of her wish to attending wizard school like her sister Lily when he wrote her a letter asking her to shelter Harry
  • Lily’s sacrafice proved to protect Harry (while James’s didn’t) because Lily was given the choice between life and death, and time to think on her decision
Published in: on October 22, 2007 at 6:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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It’s Banned Books Week! Woo!


Well, as you may or may not know, the week of September 29-October 6 is banned books week. What a wonderful celebration! This week marks the 26th anniversary of Banned Books Week, and is the perfect time to pick up one of the many fabulous books that you are still allowed to read, despite the numerous removal requests.

Did you know that you could challenge books you find offensive? Weird! I always thought I just wouldn’t read them, but you know, whatever. (Now I have a picture in my head “My child accidentally spent 6 hours reading 300 pages that offended her parents! How dare you let these books loose on an unsuspecting public!”) I did some digging and found that the most common reason for challenging a book was “sexually explicit content.” Does that surprise anyone at all? Not me. The close second was offensive language, followed by unsuited to age group, occult theme, violence, promoting homosexuality, and promoting a religious viewpoint. A few books were also challenged for nudity (um…nudity? Really? Did these books have pictures, or were the people challenging the naughty thoughts in their own heads?) racism, sex education, and anti-family.

New goal! I’m going to read all the books on the ALA’s “100 most frequently challenged books” list! That sounds like an all around good time to me.

For those of you who want to know, here are the top 10 most challenged books of 2006: (from ALA’s site)

“And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, for homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group;

“Gossip Girls” series by Cecily Von Ziegesar for homosexuality, sexual content, drugs, unsuited to age group, and offensive language;

“Alice” series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor for sexual content and offensive language;

“The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things” by Carolyn Mackler for sexual content, anti-family, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

“The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison for sexual content, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

“Scary Stories” series by Alvin Schwartz for occult/Satanism, unsuited to age group, violence, and insensitivity;

“Athletic Shorts” by Chris Crutcher for homosexuality and offensive language;

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky for homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

“Beloved” by Toni Morrison for offensive language, sexual content, and unsuited to age group;

“The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier for sexual content, offensive language, and violence.

And for those who also want to know, here’s the top 100 most challenged books from 1990-2000. I wish they’d do an all time list–I’d love that!

  1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
  2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
  3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
  8. Forever by Judy Blume (Really? Judy Blume’s on the list? Aren’t here books a staple for third graders everywhere?)
  9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (You know, I bet this is on the list just because it made people cry. Stupid book! Now I expect Old Yeller and the last Harry Potter to be here, too.)
  10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
  12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
  16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine (Umm…Goosebumps? Did someone try and ban hastily written horror-lite for teens? Actually, that might be a better reason than some of them on the list….)
  17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
  18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  19. Sex by Madonna
  20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
  21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (Uh, why? I can’t remember anything remotely offensive in this book. Maybe someone really hates physics or something.)
  23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
  24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
  26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
  27. The Witches by Roald Dahl (Oh, good lord. I bet this one just got on the list because it has witches in the title. I’ve read more offensive things in the Sunday Comics in Virginia.)
  28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
  29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
  30. The Goats by Brock Cole
  31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
  32. Blubber by Judy Blume (Look! It’s Judy again! I guess people were super offended by a story about a little girl getting picked on in school.)
  33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan (Alright, this book sound really good. I think I’m going to start here.)
  34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
  35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
  36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
  37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras (Yep, I can see why this is here. Girls should not read about their periods! That is a subject for parents to uncomfortably address two days after a girl freaks out because she’s bleeding somewhere strange!)
  41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
  45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
  46. Deenie by Judy Blume
  47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
  49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
  50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
  51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein (Now wait a minute…is it even legal to try and ban Shel Silverstein? I don’t think it is! I bet it was that poem about eating peas with honey…that did screw me up as a child for awhile, after all. Peas and honey are gross. And it’s hard to eat with only a knife. Stupid poems. )
  52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice) (Well, ok, I can see the offense in these. But they were so pornographically good! People need to get laid more often, I think.)
  54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
  55. Cujo by Stephen King (This one is just here because it’s my least favorite Stephen King book, I bet. There were bunches of Stephen King fans who thought “oh, what is this crap?!? Ban him!”)
  56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (Well, yes, giant peaches are offensive, after all.)
  57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
  58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
  60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
  62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (Judy again! That’s number three, lady! Good for you.)
  63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly (Hey, I liked this book. People are weird.)
  64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
  65. Fade by Robert Cormier
  66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
  67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
  68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
  69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  71. Native Son by Richard Wright
  72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
  73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
  74. Jack by A.M. Homes
  75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
  76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
  77. Carrie by Stephen King
  78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume (Judy! Judy!)
  79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
  80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
  81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
  82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
  83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
  84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
  87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
  88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford (Um, are these those find Waldo books? Really? Was someone offended by the striped hat and cane?)
  89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
  90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
  91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
  93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
  94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
  95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
  97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
  98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
  100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Well, want to do something else? In honor of Banned Book Week, I just took a few moments to email my U.S. Representative and remind her about how important certain freedoms are to me. You can do the same! Enjoy the week!


Published in: on October 2, 2007 at 4:21 pm  Comments (6)  

Madeleine L’Engle, Rest in Peace

Author Madeleine L’Engle passed away yesterday of natural causes. She was 88. Mrs. L’Engle was a Newbery Award winning author whose talent will be greatly missed. Read about it.

Published in: on September 7, 2007 at 6:16 pm  Leave a Comment