This past Saturday, I took my youngest to hear Caldecott award-winning author/illustrator Kevin Henkes read from his latest work, The Year of Billy Miller, a short novel for the early elementary grades. The reading, a sort of pre-event kick-off for the full-on Wisconsin Book Festival which launches in earnest on October 17, was staged in the bright, cheery and enormous kids area of the new Central Library.
My daughter, having graduated from Henkes' mice books to his young adult fiction like Olive's Ocean and Bird Lake Moon a while ago, was quite a bit older than most of the literati in the audience. But she was still excited, nonetheless, to get to go to her very first author reading, by one of her all-time, favorite authors, to boot.
When I asked her, as we enjoyed a post-event almond steamer at Michelangelo's, if she'd enjoyed the program, I expected, and got, an affirmative answer. But instead of raving about how cool it was to see a see an idol strut his stuff in person, or how inspired she was to devour her next Henkes book for kids her age, she reminded me of something equally important.
"You know, mom. It's still pretty nice to have someone readout loud to you."
My daughter is now closer to 12 than turning 11. And it's probably been at least five years since we retired our nightly ritual of heading up to bed and picking out a picture book, poem, or kid-friendly novel for me to read to her. Curled up next to me is where she first discovered Henkes' mice books, Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends and Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, among other classics.
My husband and I, both exhausted after long days of doing whatever we were doing, would often quibble about whose turn it was to act as storyteller. But there is little question that what either of us may have seen as "losing" at the time, was actually a win. We both fondly remember dozing off beside her (often us first) while making our way through Harold and the Purple Crayonor Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.
But these days she heads upstairs on her own, brushes her teeth (I hope), changes into pjs, and spends her last few minutes of wakefulness reading a few pages of tween girl fiction, Stone Soup magazine or Tiger Beat herself. All fine choices. But they don't involve me.
It's not so much that I want to return to the days of my reading bedtime stories. And I'm even less sure such rituals can be reclaimed once you've let them go. But I am glad that children young and old, as well as parents like me, will have some excellent opportunities to be read to during next week's Wisconsin Book Festival. On Oct. 17, pre-parents can to listen to Emily Oster discuss Expecting Better, her book about empowering women with the information they need to make the pregnancy decisions that are right for them. Later that evening, teens can check out First Wave's Hip Hop arts showcase where visiting youth poetry slam champions from cities across the Midwest will perform their work.
On Friday, both the author of the young adult work, Personal Effects, E.M. Kokie, as well as the novel's audio book narrator, Nick Podehl, will demonstrate how different voices make a book more interesting with a side by side reading. And on Saturday, American Girl doll lovers can come hear Jessie Haas read from and discuss her novels in support of the company's 2013 Girl of the Year, Saige.
Yes, listening to Kevin Henkes this past weekend did remind me that there is much magic in hearing a book read aloud. Even when no one is wearing his or her pajamas.comments powered by Disqus
This will not (although it could) be a treatise on the value of "alone time" for a healthy marriage, though. Nor will it be an ode to how nice it was for me to have a few days off from lunch-packing, carpool-driving and homework-nagging.
For those of you who haven't yet seen it, the eight-week-long transit campaign, placed both inside and on the outside of buses, features a photo of an orange tabby with a stainless steel bar drilled into its head accompanied by the line "I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments!" Just as PETA hopes, the image is shocking and demands an immediate response.
If I had my druthers, I'd sit out the entire shopping week that follows Thanksgiving. Black Friday, for starters, has corrupted the fine art of bargain shopping and turned it into a gladiator sport. There is no percentage off that is worth losing sleep, or even worse an eye, over. Especially if you have kids in tow.
When you shop for toys, there is always the conflict between what you think is appropriate/adorable and what the child being shopped for might actually want/play with.
Many of the pop-culture seasonal touchpoints of my youth are completely lost on my kids. You see, while I may have memorized every word to both the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser's songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus, I'm pretty sure the only Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special my kids have ever seen has been Rudolph.
I am so thrilled that the United Way is sponsoring a Teen Gift Drive this holiday season. Sure, teen "wants" often aren't as fun to shop for as precious baby dolls and sweet Lego sets. But middle and high school kids still "need" to feel valued and loved during this time of year. And helping a family in need to provide this for their child is a wonderful way to get in the spirit.
My 11th-grade and 8th-grade sons have heard "the chant" for years. You know which one I'm talking about -- the ESFY (U?) chant (I'm not sure what the parenting post rules are for writing two of the more forbidden four-letter words in the English language) that appears to have both Barry Alvarez and Chancellor Blank quite concerned.
There are many different criteria parents use when evaluating which pre-school programs will be right for their children. Some parents might be looking for an educational philosophy that stresses creativity and community. Others may desire an option that revolves around learning through play or is more academic in approach.
We spent hours poring over name books and checking for inappropriate initial combinations. We looked at meanings, variant spellings and popularity charts. And, as I am sure every parent does, we thought we'd hit the name jackpot with each of our kids. But there are always surprises.
A generation or two ago, the pediatrician was the guy (yes, they were mostly guys) who gave your kids shots and prescribed big bottles of antibiotics for every sniffle. Madison's Dipesh Navsaria is a different breed of pediatrician.
Gamehole Con will be the premier tabletop gaming convention in the region. And with Wisconsin being the birthplace of Dungeons and Dragons, as well as the nation's leader in gaming stores per capita, it kind of makes sense that the convention's organizers want the Dairy State to be known for more than just cheese, beer and bratwurst.
This year I will also try to ease up some of my previous costume concerns. Sure, the world is rife with inappropriate dress up choices for our kids; there is no parent out there that is keen on his or her child dressing like a pint-sized prostitute, even for one night.
This past Saturday, I took my youngest to hear Caldecott award-winning author/illustrator Kevin Henkes read from his latest work, The Year of Billy Miller, a short novel for the early elementary grades.
I was greeted at the door by Tom Moen, who has served as executive director of what he likes to call "Madison's best kept secret", for the past 39 of the center's 47 years. Located in the middle of the subsidized Truax Park apartment complex, EMCC, with its vast array of offerings for kids, seniors and everyone in between, is unquestionably the heart of the neighborhood.
Madison's Kashmira Sheth has written four award-winning novels for middle grade and teen readers, and a popular chapter book for six- to nine-year-olds, but right now her picture books are what she's excited to talk about.
A few summers back, my daughter, maybe 8 or 9 at the time, decided to take part in our swimming pool's annual water ballet show. I'm not really sure what initially piqued her interest in the somewhat under-the-radar, very much under-the-water sport of synchronized swimming.
We rarely included a stop at the Central Library as part of our regular outing. For those of you who've been in Madison for a while, I'm sure you'd agree that the old building was pretty run down. Not to mention, dark, cavernous and depressing. Libraries, at their best, should be portals to discovery, right?
My eleven-year-old daughter spent most of last weekend alone in her room, door shut. It wasn't a temper tantrum or an overwhelming need for tween privacy that led to her self-induced isolation, though. Instead, I didn't see her (except for meals) for two days because she was, in her words, "going through her closet."
Yes, the 2004 classic comedy Mean Girls is an absolutely delightful movie. But it's definitely not the smartest mother/daughter viewing as your child is about to enter her inaugural year of middle school.
Despite celebrating 30 years in business this year, Knowledge Unlimited Inc. remains relatively unknown in the community. Those concerned with closing the achievement gap in Madison's schools, however, may want to take note. This award-winning educational-materials producer, based in Middleton, is unique in emphasizing multiculturalism throughout its lines of educational posters, DVDs and children's books.