September 22, 2011

Family Feature: My Friend Sam

 I thought it would be fun to crash in, I mean, drop in politely, on some of my friends and see what THEY are reading with their kiddos! Because I am NOSY. So every once in awhile, when I can find a victim, I mean, willing participant, I’ll do a family feature and see what other folks are into, book-wise!

My friend Samantha and I are two peas in a pod when it comes to humor, which we both like a bit silly, I mean, sophisticated and droll. We’ve been in each other lives off and on since we were five years old. Some of my earliest childhood memories involve eating tacos at her house, while watching the Muppet Show. We grew up in the same neighborhood in Hawaii, went to kindergarten together, attended most of high school together, and then reconnected via the magical entity called Facebook.

Sam teaches art to elementary school-aged kids and has two of the cutest, funniest and Most Delightful children you will ever meet: Alex (age 7) and Jake (age 5). I keep telling her I want to somehow bottle her son’s personality and sell it to the masses. We’d make a fortune and could maybe call it ‘Jake’s Happy-Sparkle Potion’. Recently I asked her WHAT WERE THEY READING?

Hi Sam! I've know you since I was 5! And now I'm interviewing you for my blog! This is so weird! And AWESOME. Aside from the Extreme Cute and Hilarious factor going on with your kids, what kind of books are they into? Are they into similar stuff at all?

Thanks, Melissa. Yeah, this is TOTALLY weird and RAD and AWESOME. I love your blog, I love kids’ books, I love you, so y’know, I'm like, all in love and stuff. My kids ARE hilarious and I usually end up picking out their books at the library because they get drawn into the coloring, computers, doll house and train tables. Except for Alex who is 7. She's a HUGE reader, which is so great. I love reading almost more than I love my kids so it makes my heart melt to see her reading while she's eating breakfast, while she's filling the bath, while she's supposed to be getting dressed in the morning...oh, wait, actually that's just annoying. But mostly it’s fantastic!!

So, Alex and I have finished the first ‘Harry Potter’ and are 1/2 way through ‘Chamber of Secrets’. It’s so MUCH FUN to read such rich, complex, well written stuff and have her beg for more. Be still my heart! Other than the Harry Potter books, Alex is into the Magic School Bus series, ‘Ivy and Bean’, ‘Junie B. Jones’, and pretty much anything else the girl can get her hands on. Jake, who is 5, still loves picture books. Our current favorites are ‘He Came with The Couch’, The Pigeon Series or really anything by Mo Willems (GENIUS!!!!!!!!), ‘Burger Boy’, and anything with space, weapons, or funniness involved. They do like the same picture books. They are 26 months apart and both of them love to be read to, so they'll pretty much sit and listen to anything.

How do you all handle story time? Do you read with the kids together or do you carve out different reading times with each kiddo?

Usually we do story time after jammies and teeth brush wrangling. We have a system where Rob (the husband) and I trade off kids every other night. That way each kid gets one on one time with a parent. Rob usually doesn't see the kids much during the week except for dinner and bed and I'm usually running around like a chicken with my head cut off getting dinner ready, cleaned up, lunch prepped for the next day, etc. Doing reading is a nice way to have quiet time with just one kid. We've just gotten into Mad Libs, so we do that as a family first sometimes, then split up. #1 word shouted out for our Mad Libs: POOP, POOPY, POOPING. I think you get the idea.

(note: Julia and I love the word POOP as well. We like to sing about it.)

 If one of us is doing both bed times, we typically read to Jake first while Alex reads to herself and then say good night to him and give Al 30 minutes of one on one reading. I have a nasty habit of falling asleep in kids’ beds. It’s one of my favorite things to do!

(Yep. I do this ALL the time too!)

Miss Sam, I have to ask. You mentioned some book to me about CHICKEN PIRATES. I think we need to hear more about these CHICKEN PIRATES please. And please bold those words when you are referring to them because CHICKEN PIRATES need to be bolded. I'm kidding, you don't have to do that.

Ok, CHICKEN PIRATES is actually a sequel. The original book is ‘Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies’, which we read after we found what I have to admit is the greatest title ever: ‘Henry and the Crazed Chicken Pirates’. C'mon, how can a book EVER live up to THAT title? Guess what...IT DOES!!! Other books I had to get based on hilarious titles which are fantastic are: ‘The Taming of Lucrecia Crum’, ‘Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed’, ‘Who Wants to Be a Poodle? I Don’t!’, ‘Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent’, ‘Leonardo the Terrible Monster’, and so many more.

As an educator, do you have any personal bits of advice you'd like to throw out there about how to grow little readers who love books?

As an educator and a parent and a life-long lover of books, I would say all you have to do is read! Read to kids when they are babies. Read around them. Talk to them about books. Take them to story times and libraries. Oh, and don't force learning to read. It will happen. Some kids learn to read at 3 1/2, some not until 7...but they ALL do.

I just wanted to give a shout out to the most beautiful of all children's books: anything by Robert Sabuda. His ‘Brava Strega Nona’ is amazing. Also, two new finds that I used in my art class this year: ‘Beautiful Oops’ and ‘The Dot’. WONDERFUL books about being free in art.

Thanks so much Sam!!! This was SO MUCH FUN! When I see the new Muppet movie coming soon, I’ll think of you!

 Sidenote: Julia and I checked out ‘Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed’ from the library about a month ago, and it is HILARIOUS.

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