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Archive for the ‘reading’ tag

January 8th, 2013 at 5:01 am

A bilingual family’s New Year’s resolutions

It’s been six and a half years since I started raising bilingual children. I’m very happy with the results so far as my 6 1/2-year-old daughter is fluent in both English and Spanish and my 3-year-old son is well on his way. But there are some things I definitely want to change and since it’s the beginning of the year, I figured what better time to do so. I guess you could consider these my bilingual family’s New Year resolutions.

The first thing I want to change has to do with reading — one of the best ways to expose kids to the minority language. My daughter is an avid reader and can read in both languages better than I ever expected her to do so at her age. So I’m not worried about her.

The one I’m really concerned about is my boy. I hate having to admit that if I’ve read him half the books I read his sister by the time she was 3, I might be exaggerating. Life is so different when you have more than one child and it seems like by bedtime there’s never enough time to read. That’s why as of yesterday, I’ve started to read to him during the day. Way before bedtime. That way we’re not rushed and I can read him more than just one book.

The second thing I’m doing is going back to only allowing my kids to play apps in Spanish whenever I let them use my iPad or iPhone. I was pretty lax during the holidays and I let them play on these devices a lot more than usual. I’m cutting down on total use and so I’ve erased most of the apps that are not in Spanish.

Finally, I want to make sure I’m exposing them to as much music in Spanish as possible. My kids LOVE music and they both have CD players in their rooms, but most of their music is in English. Nothing wrong with that. I just plan on adding more Spanish options to the mix.

What are your family’s New Year’s resolutions?

Photo credit: dbrekke

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s the co-author of her first book, based on her blog. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.

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October 2nd, 2012 at 5:00 am

Too Much Online Content to Read? Let SoundGecko Read it To You

Ever wish you could read this blog while you were walking, driving, or doing your household chores? Think of all the parenting blogs and sites you wish you had time to read. Who has time to get to them all?

How about if you could have the items read to you? I found this really nifty app called SoundGecko that will do just that. This app will take any webpage text, translate it into mp3 audio file, and email it to you. Just click on the listen button in the email and you can play it on your computer or your smartphone.  So cool.

To get started, go to the SoundGecko website and register. Then go to any webpage that you want to read and, if you’re using Firefox or Internet Explorer as your browser, email the URL to [email protected]. If you’re using Chrome, you can download the extension that puts the SoundGecko icon on your toolbar that will send the email for you. It’s that easy.

There’s an iPhone app that lets you create a playlist of articles. You can even send your articles to the cloud (Google Drive, DropBox or SkyDrive) and listen in from any connected device.

The only downside is that  it’s machine generated speech, so it’s not the same as having a nice speaking voice read to you with all of the appropriate inflections and accents. But it does do a fine job of freeing you up to catch up on your favorite blogs and current events while you’re carpooling or making dinner.

That’s pretty efficient multitasking in my book.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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June 27th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Summer Animal Reading

As a writer with a particular passion for picture books, I often include a couple of reading suggestions at the bottom of my posts for you to share with your children. The long hot days of summer are perfect for reading together, and books about pets are a great way to prepare your family to bring an animal into your home (or to delay it a little longer by keeping your children distracted, if that’s your goal).

Fortunately, animals are a favorite topic among writers, and you’ll never run out of good stories. Here are a few of my favorites:

For the animal lover who is also an artist (at least at heart), try Art & Max by David Wiesner. Explore creativity through the eyes of a couple of amazing lizards. I love this book so much, I had to go back to make sure I hadn’t already recommended it to you.

Me … Jane by Patrick McDonnell is a wonderful introduction to the life, passions and diaries of renowned anthropologist Jane Goodall. We meet Jane when she was a small child, see how she fell in love with a little stuffed monkey and learned to love nature. It also includes bits and pieces from her childhood journals.

For pure fun and learning about color, check out Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin. Get ready to sing along.

If you’re looking for a read-aloud chapter book to get you through the summer, you won’t go wrong with Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux, a charming little mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea.

And finally one for mom. If you need a little pick-me-up, don’t miss Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter. Don’t forget the tissues.

Photo credit: Library Cat II by Pete Welsch via a Creative Commons licence.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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June 26th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Looking For a Good Summer Read? Check Out These Recommendation Sites

Read any good books lately? As a very busy mom, I long for time to get lost in a great read. Without that, if I’m going to risk sleep deprivation, I want whatever I choose to be so good that I’ll want to bring it with me everywhere, including the bathroom. Admit it, you’ve done that too.

There are lots of ways to choose what to read. Bestseller lists, friend recommendations, magazine reviews, kindle samples, and the book tables at Costco are just a few. And of course there are websites that can help. Here’s three that I find really useful.

Goodreads is a recommendation site that is really easy to use and fun. Pick the genres that you enjoy and the site gives you a list of the top books in each category. Rate the ones you’ve read and click on “want to read” for any on your list, and the page expands to list similar books as suggested next reads.

I had fun just going through the genres, rating and clicking. When you click on the recommendations link, you can continue to rate/want or you can simply choose “not interested”, and the results update accordingly. I could get so lost in this site.

The Staff Recommends is a site that keeps a simple approach. When you visit, there is a short list of current selections with reviews and a comments section. There’s also a list of past selections categorized by genre. So if you’re looking for a quick recommendation, without having to spend the time rating and browsing, this site fits the bill. And it’s not the regular list of bestsellers that you see in every other best reads list, so you might find some pleasant surprises.

I liked this site right away, because one of the current choices is a book that my good friend handed me a few weeks ago and said was a must read. I think it will be my next one.

The third site that piqued my interest is called Gnooks, which has a nifty feature called a literature map. Type in the name of an author and Gnooks will create a map of similar authors. The closer the author is to your original choice on the map, the higher the probability that you would also like him or her. Click on one of the other authors and a new map will be created.

Another feature uses three of your author choices to suggest additional ones. You can choose whether you like them, don’t like them or don’t know them. You are then presented with a list of Gnooks’ suggestions. This site is more about choosing writing styles than actual books. Clicking on an author will take you to discussions of threads. It also has a map feature for movies and music.

Gnook is based on the gnod search engine which uses artificial intelligence to provide suggestions based on what you and others like. It’s fun to watch the maps build and it’s intriguing how relevant the results are.

Happy reading! And please feel free to recommend a good one. I’m really enjoying Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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June 25th, 2012 at 12:01 am

Remember to Read this Summer

Summer is a great time to pick up a book…… while laying on the beach or at the pool, sitting at a picnic, or on a long road trip in the car. It is also a great time to get your kids to read and to read to them.

Have you checked out your local library for a summer reading program? My boys have loved to sign up for our library’s reading program. They get a fun checklist where they get a star each time they read a book for 20 minutes. Once they fill up 2 weeks of stars, they get a prize. We just collected our first prize and they were thrilled! It can be anything from free books, passes to kids events, or other local items.

I find bedtime during the summer is a little less structured and reading time sometimes gets forgotten. This is a great way to keep yourself in “check” to get some reading in during the summer days.

When I signed up the boys, they asked if I wanted to sign myself up for the adult program. I can read and win fun prizes all summer long too! Plus, it is great for the boys to see me reading as enjoyment.

Chuck E Cheese Summer Reading Program- Earn 10 free tokens

Scholastic Summer Reading Program - Log minutes to earn prizes

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Imagination’s Destination – Earn a free book by reading 8 books over the summer

Pottery Barn Summer Reading Challenge - Earn Free prizes by reading independently or together with a child

Soar with Reading - Log what you are reading, complete reading activities and check out what other kids around the United States are reading

PBS Kids Summer Reading Challenge – Win daily prizes with this FREE six week program

I’ve talked about our families love of reading before and some prizes just make it THAT much more fun to do! So, grab a book, sign up for a reading program and READ!

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

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April 9th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Grab a Book and Read!

Reading is such an important thing to do with your children. It not only is so wonderful intellectually but can connect people in special ways. It can be completely free (with the help of a library card) and is a great way to develop the imagination. Have you ever read a book and then found yourself disappointed when the story didn’t match the one you had imagined?

I remember when I was pregnant with my oldest, my husband would read the book What Daddies Do Best to my belly a couple evenings every week. As babies we always read to our boys. The book I read to them the most was an A-B-C  and other teether books. Garanimals sells ones just like these. I read these several times a day from infancy up. I also enjoyed reading the book, Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. As babies, I got to pick the book to read so I liked the mushy ones, but as the boys got older they wanted to pick other ones.

Reading every evening became a part of our  bedtime ritual. After getting on our sons’ pajamas and brushing their teeth, my husband always reads a story to them. They read That’s Not My Monster, which is part of the Usborne line, endless times. You can tell it was well loved as we have taped it together more than once. This was a great book when they were toddlers. As they grew into preschoolers their favorites were Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner and Mo Willems books especially Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

It is also great to see the differences in the books that each child picks out each night. After we finishing reading our book and saying good night, we encourage the boys to look at books until they fall asleep. Connor, my youngest, very much enjoys the brightly illustrated picture books, while Ian always picks out books that are more comic book in nature.

Ian is now reading on his own and loves to take an early reader chapter book to enjoy himself. He loves to explore the different series of books there are. In Kindergarten his teacher would read the Magic Treehouse Series by Mary Pope Osbourne and he loved to tell me about all the different adventures.  He just started reading that series again on his own. This year his teacher is reading the Boxcar Children Series by Gertrude Chandler Warner. This has opened up a great conversation between him and his Nana as she would read that series as a child. They love to sit and talk about the different characters. He has already started a book bucket list that will keep him very busy this summer.

I can’t wait for him to start reading some of my favorites by Judy Blume, Little House on the Prairie, and other favorites of mine. I have been reading some of the books he really likes myself. They are very quick easy reads and give me some insight when he explains them. I think I may have to check into a “book club” for young readers for him to join this summer.

What are some of your children’s favorite books?

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.


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November 8th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Kindle Lending Library – Tackle Your Reading List

I am an avid reader and a big fan of  the Kindle.

And this week they gave me another reason to sing it’s praises; the Kindle Lending Library.

It is now possible to borrow books (one per month) from Amazon for your Kindle for 30 days. When I heard about this I just HAD to check it out. Sure enough, when I checked my device I saw that there are over 5000 titles that can be borrowed for free. Is anyone else as excited as me?

Now there is a catch. In order to take advantage of this, you must own a Kindle, obviously, and be an Amazon Prime member. Amazon Prime is the paid shipping subscription, $79 per year, that gives you unlimited 2-day shipping on many of the items that Amazon sells. Products from non-Amazon vendors that sell everything from food to cosmetics are not always eligible.

When I heard about the Lending Library, I immediately had to check it out. And while not every latest and greatest bestseller is there, there are plenty of choices from my reading list that I’m thrilled that I can now borrow. Many of them I wouldn’t have bought anyway. I would have hunted them down at tag sales or the Goodwill, or borrowed from the libray. This just makes it so easy! Check out the how-to at this link.

At this time, the books are only downloadable to a Kindle device, not an iPad or smartphone. Not sure if that will change in the future, but I would guess that Amazon would want to use it as leverage to keep people buying their devices, and Prime membership. That’s ok for me, I still love my Kindle, especially at the beach or anytime I want to read outside.

Now, which one to read first? Thanks Amazon!

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.


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October 18th, 2011 at 5:00 am

So Many Books. So Little Time

For all of you fellow book lovers out there, this line rings so very true, especially when you’re in the stage of your life where family, job and everyday responsibilities don’t leave much time for the pleasure of reading.

I for one, am constantly wishing I had more time to read the books I’ve got on my nightstand, my Kindle, my bookshelves, and my friends’ and family’s bookshelves. Currently, I’ve got a Kindle book in progress (The Abbey) a book on CD in the car (The #1 Ladies Detective Agency) and a paperback that my friend Joanna sent me (The Red Rose Crew). It’s kind of crazy to be juggling all three but I can’t help it. Call it literary multitasking.

I’m one of those people who really likes books. I like reading them and I like reading about them. The first section of the Sunday paper that I read is the Book Review. I love Listmania on Amazon and seeing other people’s lists of favorites for good suggestions. I also make a beeline to the books whenever I go to a yard sale. So when I Stumbled Upon a website called World Book Night, which is a celebration of books that started in the UK and Ireland in 2011 and will include the USA in 2012, I had to explore it. The next World Book Night will be on April 23, 2012, UNESCO’s International Day of the Book.

What I found on this website is a living list of the WBN Top 100 Books. Perusing the list, I saw many of the titles that I’ve read and loved and so many that I’d love to tuck into. What I really liked though, was the ability to vote for my own favorites. As more people vote, the list changes. So naturally, I registered and started listing my own top reads and voting for ones on the list that I agree should be there. Yes, that’s my idea of a good time.

More than most people, I am fully immersed in technology on a daily basis. But when I need to decompress, which seems to be more often now than ever, reading a book is my first choice of activity. How wonderful that e-readers allow us to have 1,000 books on a device that fits in my purse. How equally wonderful it is to enjoy the feel and smell of an actual book or listen to a beautiful voice giving life to an audio book. When it comes to reading, I want it all and am grateful for having choices.

Now, back to the list…

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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