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Reading Can Strengthen Family Ties

by Tracie Grimes
Tracie is a monthly contributor to Kern County Family Magazine

School, basketball practice, homework, chores, dinner…kids these days are busy!  Trying to fit one more thing into the schedule may seem impossible, but finding just 20 minutes a day for reading will make a world of difference in Junior’s future.

Consider these facts:  reading improves listening skills (what parent doesn’t want to get in on that action?); reading builds early literacy skills; reading improves Junior’s performance in school; and reading acts as “brain food” by stimulating several areas of the brain.  But more than any of these, reading can build a relationship with your child like nothing else.  There’s nothing more relaxing on a busy day than the time you spend snuggling with your child, reading a favorite story.  Even if Junior is too cool for snuggle-time, spending 20 uninterrupted minutes sitting in the same room, doing the same thing can do wonders for keeping the two of you in touch.

Looking for suggestions to use for snuggle-time?  Take a look at these titles:


My Purple Toes by Blair Hahn (My Purple Toes, LLC, 2011), $15.95.  Dad’s purple toes pop up everywhere!  Purple toes in snow, purple toes in leaves, and purple toes in the bathtub.  Mama may roll her eyes at Dad’s purple toes, and Brother may be embarrassed, but the only thing that’s important is that Dad loves his purple toes.  A silly, cute, artistic way of teaching children the importance of enjoying life, even if what you enjoy most is not popular with everyone.

My Purple Kisses by Blair Hahn (My Purple Toes, LLC, 2011), $15.95.  The second book in the “purple” series, My Purple Kisses, shows young readers a Mom who loves to give big, soft, purple kisses.  She loves to kiss everything from Daddy’s lips to Gus the dog’s nose.  Mom’s purple lips just can’t get enough of kissing!  A sweet illustration of the warmth of a mother’s love.

Wild Rose’s Weaving by Ginger Churchill (Tanglewood, 2011), $15.95.  Young Rose is wild.  She loves to play in the meadows and watch the storms.  “Come, child, come learn how to weave,” Rose’s grandmother implores as Rose runs outside to play with the sheep, watch the lightning, and shudder at the thunder.  But when she comes inside to see her grandmother’s beautiful rug, Rose finds a new way of viewing the beauty of nature.  An enchanting look at the connection between art and nature.

The Day Roy Riegels Ran the Wrong Way by Dan Gutman (Bloomsbury, 2011), $16.99.  “Let’s make some history today, fellows,” shouted Roy Riegels, center for the University of California Golden Bears as they took to the field to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the Rose Bowl in 1929.  Told through the voice of a radio announcer giving the play-by-play to fans over the wireless, this tale relates the true story of Roy Riegels’ day of infamy.  “He’s running…he spins…it looks like he’s going to score…but there’s just one problem…ROY RIEGELS IS RUNNING THE WRONG WAY!”  A fast-paced tale for sports fans of all ages that reminds readers mistakes are not the end of the world.  It’s what you do after the mistake that counts.


Chippy Chipmunk:  Babies in the Garden by Kathy M. Miller (Celtic Sunrise, 2011), $19.95.  Who knew there could be so much fun in an ordinary garden?!  Rachel, Rosalie, Roosevelt, and Benjamin Chipmunk found out just how amazing a garden could be once they were old enough to explore their new world.  Touching, tasting, playing leap-frog and follow-the-leader; every day was filled with beauty and wonder.  Beautiful photographs of butterflies, flowers, birds, and Chester the cat will fill young readers with wonder as they watch the young chipmunks discover the world around them. 

AGES 9 TO 12

Animal Tales:  Dreams of a Dancing Horse by Dandi Daley Mackall (Bloomsbury, 2011), $6.99.  A horse that was born to dance?  How can it be?  But Fred the plow horse had rhythm in his soul, and from the minute he could stand on all fours, he felt the need to groove.  He never fit in with any of the plow horses on the farms he was sold to, because his heart was not into plowing.  Fred was destined to dance.  But when Fred’s love for rhythm gets him kicked off the farm, he has to find a new home.  A dancing horse looking for a place he can truly be at home…is there really something out there for Fred?  Quirky characters come to life in this tale of a creature just trying to fit in.  A great read for horse-lovers who are graduating from chapter books.


Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston (HarperCollins, 2011), $28.99.  It’s nature against science as seven Cambridge grad students embark on an adventure of a lifetime in Honolulu, Hawaii.  The students, all specialists in various microbiology fields, make the trek from their windowless lab in Massachusetts to the lush tropical rain forests of Hawaii to check out job offers from Vin Drake, a wealthy venture capitalist promising to bring them on as part of the scientific team for his company, Nanigen Microtechnologies.  They never dreamed they would become the prey of some of the very insects they studied.  This novel is vintage Crichton with pulse-pounding action practically from page one.  Although death in 2008 precluded him from finishing Micro, acclaimed science writer Richard Preston took up the challenge and finished in true Crichton style.

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Tags: Education, Enrichment, Featured Story

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