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Flex Those Writing Muscles by Picking Up a Book

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

As most teachers will tell you, reading is one of the best ways to improve a child’s writing skills.  But, it may be hard to get Junior out from in front of the TV/computer/game screen after a long day of diagramming sentences and sorting through nouns, verbs, and prepositions. 

The good news is he doesn’t have to read encyclopedias and English books to improve his writing.  Spending 15 to 30 minutes a day reading anything - even if its 30 minutes of the same Captain Underpants story each day – will help the creative juices flow.

Here are a few suggestions for October reads that can help flex Junior’s writing muscles:

AGES 4 TO 10

Granny’s Clan: A Tale of Wild Orcas by Dr. Sally Hodson (Dawn Publications, 2012), $8.95.  Vibrant, detailed pastels tell a beautiful story of the orca (or killer whale) family unit.  From mothers to granddaughters and aunts to cousins, the entire orca clan is on hand to welcome their newest member, Suttles.  Granny leads the celebration with each member of the family WHOOSH-ing and singing songs of welcome.  Granny also keeps the family well fed, her 100-years of sea experience guiding them to where the salmon are.  Written by the former director of the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, Washington, this tale is based on actual research combining science with a story line of how orcas live and survive.

AGES 4 TO 12

Nature’s Patchwork Quilt:  Understanding Habitats by Mary Miche (Dawn Publications, 2012), $8.95.  Using the theme of a patchwork quilt, this lovely book weaves together a story of how many different habitats piece together to form the Earth.  Interdependence, niches, prairies, food chains, and adaptations are all discussed, showing young readers how inter-related our planet is and why eco-systems are so important.  Fun activities suggested at the end of the book allow parents and teachers to reinforce scientific concepts about our natural world.

AGES 7 TO 10

Molly, by Golly by Dianne Ochiltree (Calkins Creek, 2012), $16.95. During a heavy snowstorm, Molly Williams, a servant , earns her place in history as America’s first female firefighter when she rushes to a burning house to help the local volunteer fire department put out a blaze. Through beautiful illustrations, young readers can thrill to the true story of Molly’s heroic courage, determination and willingness.     

AGES 9 TO 12

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick Press, 2012), $17.99. Clara Wintermute, daughter of a wealthy London doctor, is enamored with the way puppeteer Professor Grisini can manipulate his puppets so well they look like they’re alive.  She begs her father to hire Grisini to perform for her 12th birthday party.  But after the puppet show, Clara disappears along with Professor Grisini.  Grisini’s two assistants, orphans Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, begin the search for Clara and Grisini and are pulled into Grisini’s dark, criminal past.  This is a hair-raising tale of intrigue and mystery just right for the Halloween season.


Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax (Penguin, 2012), $7.99.  Three strangers find out they have something in common, and it’s not good.  Hints of the Bernie Madoff scandal resonant in this book about three women, Avery, Nicole and Madeline, who find their worlds turned upside down when financier Malcolm Dyer disappears with their money.  He did leave them something, though: a beachfront “mansion” on the Florida coastline.  But, when the three women arrive to inspect Bella Flora, their hopes for regaining any lost money are dashed.  The dilapidated mansion has seen better days.  But, instead of slinking home with their heads hung low, the women decide to band together to save every penny of what’s left of their “estate.”  Plot twists keep this read at a good pace.

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Tags: Education, Featured Story

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