Do you ever wonder?

Why are there 40 phonemes in English and only 26 letters? Also, of those 26 letters, some of them duplicate sounds. No wonder everyone is confused about how to spell.

I’m not sure adding letters would have simplified the rules. There’s probably some history behind why we have fewer letters than phonemes.

When we teach children to speak and read, we focus on the letters many times. I see alphabet books with all kinds of themes to check out the letters – just the 26 letters. As I learn more about phonics, I wonder why we can’t stretch those phonics into picture books.

I’ve never written a picture book. I think about it from time to time. (Regular readers might remember that.) Perhaps part of the drawback is that children’s picture books go up to 32 pages? But I’m not sure we need to have only one phoneme per page. On the other hand, maybe that would be best.

It might be a fun summer project for me. Like I need another project! My daughter might appreciate it. It’s definitely something that would be fun to have around here, even if it doesn’t get published.

All it means is I could put lots of large, fun words in there to enrich her vocabulary. Might even throw in pulchritudinous, just for kicks.

She’ll be ready for the SAT before she starts Kindergarten. Ha!

Growing a Reader From Birth

It was difficult to process the information in this book, simply because there was a lot of it.

Diane McGuiness explains a lot in this book about children 0-5 years and makes her cases with scientific studies. It makes sense that when infants like something, they use their sucking reflex to share that.

Most of the book was dedicated to speaking to babies, what they understand, and how they learn to speak. The author explains each stage and what the parent is likely to see, not just based on age, but also on ability. For example, there’s a language explosion around 18 months, but it is less about the age of the child and more when he hits 50 words in his spoken vocabulary.

Toward the end of the book the Author first mentions the child reading. She asserts children may be distracted by pictures in  books and not understand the essence of the story. Also, she talks about the importance of telling stories to the child along with having him tell stories to the parent.

The last chapter dealt with a whole world, whole language and phonics dissertation. I’ve never been a fan of whole world teachings, and she gave concrete reasons why it doesn’t work to learn to read: basically, the mind can only memorize so many words if they are treated as random strings of letters. She used history to show that the languages that have a ‘whole word’ concept maxed out around 2000 words, compared to the approximately 50,000 words needed to carry on an adult conversation.

Every language that survived has used a method of breaking down the words into a “Basic Code” to decipher written material. English has 40 sounds, and only 26 letters – which she says could have been used more effectively. I don’t know anyone who could argue that.

I think the most out-there argument was at the very end, talking about how dyslexia is not a real disability. The author stated her reasons for believing this, but I do not know enough about dyslexia to know.

Don’t jump all over me – but here is her argument:
She states dyslexia does not exist except in English-speaking countries who have used whole word or whole language strategies to teach reading. It must not be a brain disability if it doesn’t exist in nearly the same percentages around the world. Therefore, dyslexia is a created problem that can be fixed, in her argument, with phonics.

It definitely gives something to think about. My one-year-old makes me understand her, and I know she gets more of what I say than she can say back to me. How much? That is always the question.

Tuesday

Okay, today isn’t Tuesday… But the book is. I checked it out of the library, doing a random run-through with my daughter looking for more books to read to her.

David Weisner wrote this 1992 Caldecott Medal Winner. It has 32 pages and very few words. Amazon says Tuesday‘s aimed at children 4 to 8. In this book, it catalogs many terrific happenings beginning on Tuesday around 8 pm.

In my opinion, picture books are to help parents talk to children and show them stories. It doesn’t matter how many words are on the page – I can describe the pictures to begin a conversation with my daughter. (Okay, it’s a one-sided conversation since she doesn’t have enough words to chatter back in a way I understand.)

I am excited to share it with her again as she gets older.

In other news, I entered two contests that ended at midnight last night. Cross your fingers for me.

Reading to Baby

I try to do this every day. Sometimes it’s difficult to choose the right books to read.

Writing and reading are related activities. I think about everyone agrees that reading to your children is a great activity to involve the family, but what do you read to your kids?

I vaguely remember the scene from Three Men and a Baby where Tom Selleck is reading to the baby from a sports magazine and telling one of the other guys, “It doesn’t matter what you read, what matters is the tone you use.”

Finding books on the subject isn’t too difficult. I’ve been reading Baby Read-Aloud Basics and I have another book on the subject that I haven’t perused yet. (love the library- they feed my brain!) They had it partly right. The tone does matter.

But it also matters what you read. Reading is giving your child a solid foundation of language. It’s also why you’re supposed to talk to the baby all the time. (even though it’s really hard when you never get coherent answers.) This is how the baby learns to speak, and the more you can do it, the better off the baby will be.

I know, that’s speaking. Reading is just as important though. Those books that you cart around have words you don’t always hear in regular conversations. It’s a wonderful way to boost the vocabulary. Yes, I mean baby books. No, I don’t mean Dr. Seuss.

Don’t think I’m knocking Dr. Seuss, though. He wrote wonderful books, but they’re for the beginning reader. (Proudly marked on their covers that way.) The beginning reader isn’t looking for tough things to say or read, just to gain familiarity. If we only read beginning reader books to our children, we aren’t giving them as many different, complex, learning tools for their vocabulary as we could be.

So one question is, when looking for a book for your baby: Will you be reading it, or will the child? Don’t shy away from books with larger words in them. What’s wrong with fuchsia for a color or exhilarating for a description when the adult is reading it to the baby? Absolutely nothing! If you never introduce your little one to those words, they’ll never know them.

It almost makes me want to read my dictionary to her, but not quite. Now if it had some pretty pictures…

The Green Bronze Mirror

Notes from the Author:
I wrote this book when I was 14, when I was a dreamy, bookish
adolescent who could listen to the teacher with half an ear and
write the book at the back of the class. My main reading at the
time was novels set in Roman, Greek or medieval times. A
weekend trip to Anglesey with my Mum gave the backdrop for
the starting point, and traveling back in time was always a
favorite fantasy. I believed my main character, Karen, was fictional, but with hindsight I realize she was me. Once started, the ideas flowed thick and fast and before the end of one chapter, the next would suggest itself. I did some additional research but even so slipped up on a couple of things that the editor later spotted, for instance the Romans had no tomatoes: they were brought to Europe from America centuries later.
I was thrilled when a publisher accepted it, and of course a huge fuss was made about such a young author. However, I spent the rest of my teen years trying to live it down. Boys didn’t go for clever girls and if anyone mentioned it at a party I knew my chances were snookered. The book has been gathering dust in my memory for decades, so I was frankly
astonished to be contacted by a private publisher last year, wanting to re-issue it. However, when I look at it again, I’m surprised how good it is, and friends of mine are now begging for copies and reading it themselves.
These days I’m a Speech and Language Therapist, but I’ve had a variety of jobs, including teaching English to foreigners, working in a bookshop, leading pony treks in the Welsh Mountains and running riding holidays in the Scottish Borders. I’m an outdoor person at heart, love animals, wild places and wine. I have two sons who are the best thing in my life, even though when I was younger I thought I didn’t want children.
If you want to write, just sit down and get on with it. Then go over what you’ve written, reduce and condense by at least a third, delete the word “I” wherever possible, and don’t stick to a strictly chronological order of events.
Review of the Book:
By Geraldine Ahearn,
Inspired by historical novels, which was Lynne Ellison’s favorite reading material for many years, she created a Masterpiece of historical adventure. This novel fills the pages with fantasy as it takes the reader on an amazing journey, after Karen looks into an ancient mirror that she found buried on the beach, and is transported back in time to the Roman Empire. What trials and tribulations must Karen face, during her struggles to return to her own time? I highly recommend this book to all fantasy lovers, children, and young adults. The adventure is breathtaking, the story is spectacular, and the unique characters come to life. The last thing Karen remembered was glancing into the mirror, while daydreaming, what happened to the island, and where did she wind up? How many years did the mirror take her back in time? Who asked Karen if she was a runaway slave, and where did he take her? What was Darvus ordered to do for Karen? Who was Cordella, and what did she give Karen? Where did Karen meet Kleon? Who bought Karen, and where was she going, after the auction? Where did Karen meet Locusta, and how did Locusta hide from the soldiers? Did Locusta’s magic help Karen find her way through the dark passages? Does Karen find her way back to where it all began, and is there a happy ending? Find out the answers in this breathtaking adventure as we follow Karen to see if there will be light at the end of the tunnel. “THE GREEN BRONZE MIRROR” is as mysterious as LEFT BEHIND and as captivating as Steven Spielberg’s, THE GOONIES.

Mozart in the Future

Reviews for the Book:

By: Lady D in San Diego
The book begins in a small village in Vorarlberg where we meet
Max one of the main characters who loves to play the piano,
along with his mom and dad, a sister, too. This family has a
similar lifestyle as mine, the love of gardening, cooking and
preserving food. Right away Tania reveals to us the family
dynamics of a laid-back father, a strict mother who strongly
desires for her two children to be successful in music and a four
year old sister who adores her brother.
The main characters, Max and Mozart meet one another and
develop a beautiful exchange of friendship. Young readers will
stay captivated as the plot flows along in today’s world with TV,
cell phones, elevators and escalators. The boys seem to need
each other and the spirit of music inspires them both. This
wonderful book written by Tania is a powerful love story of
music and a fun adventure filled with imagination and
inspiration for all young musicians and music teachers to read.
I was so impressed with Tania’s detailed descriptions with her
writing skills! Page 44 reads: “Max takes him to a room where the piano is. Mozart runs to it like a person who has not had a drink for days and suddenly sees a jug of water.”
If you are a creative person in need of inspiration to continue
with your composing and practicing of your instrument or if you
find yourself performing in front of crowds of family and friends
with joy and strength from your heart and just need a reminder
of refreshment to keep dreaming, creating and shining brightly
for all to see, then I highly recommend this great book to you. It
is definitely one that I will want my piano students to have in
their library. You will want to find out if Mozart can return to
the past when the future is in his mind! I love music and I love
this book! 5+ *****
There’s a Torte recipe at the end of the book that you will enjoy,
too!

By Glenda A. Bixler

What a wonderfully fun story–Mozart in the Future is not just for children who are interested in music! Written by Tania Maria Rodrigues-Peters, with beautiful illustrations by Pedro Caraca, the story can help children and parents realize and finda balance of activities in their lives. I love children’s books that take special care to provide appropriate and complementary covers, artwork and format. Indeed Mozart in the Future does that extremely well. For instance, instead of boring quotation marks for dialog, every line that shows somebody talking begins with a musical note – Isn’tthat Cool? And the young Mozart is simply precious, in my opinion.Then you will meet The Spirit of Music, who comes first to Max, as a beautiful woman dressed in yellow, whose violet eyes and hair match! Max is a young boy who loves learning how to play the piano, but also wants to play with other children. However, his mother believes he is the next Mozart and must constantly practice! Until Max becomes ill and the doctor orders complete rest. It was during this time that The Spirit visited! Because she actually knew Mozart when he was a young boy–and guess what? Mozart had a very strict father who demanded the same thing from him–constant practice! And Mozart had never had an opportunity to have a friend or play, just for the fun of it! Until The Spirit of Music brought Mozart into the future! Can you imagine what two small boys might get into when they meet for the first time, having had no time to play, or have a close friend? Can you imagine what Mozart, especially, must have been thinking when he saw all the magical inventions that were now available? Well, you really don’t have to imagine–Tania Maria Rodrigues-Peters, in Mozart in the Future tells us about Mozart watching TV for the first time, about his seeing an escalator, etc. But Mozart has a whole life of creating beautiful, wonderful music! How is he going to get back home, into his own time?You know what? I was having just as much fun reading this book, as you and your children will have! Yes, this is a perfect stocking stuffer for Christmas for any child, from say, 6 to 96! Bring a little music into the lives of your children… You’re going to love this one, just as much as I did! Don’t let this one go without checking it out!
About the Author:

Tânia Maria Rodrigues-Peters was born on a beautiful hot night in the summer time in 1964. She holds a professional teaching qualification in Artistic Education for pre-school children and completed a Media course in Publicity andAdvertising. She worked as a teacher in several schools teaching children from primary to high school level.

She won the first prize in a nation-wide travel diary competition of the Turismo Brasil Service Magazine and got 7th place in a short story competition in Spain.

After spending several years in Brazil, Germany, and Spain, she now lives in Vorarlberg, Austria with her husband and her three children.

Check out more about the book here.

… not self-published

Really, I’m not. Which is why I was so surprised to read this: http://www.thonline.com/article.cfm?id=262529

Most of the information is no surprise. I do reside in Des Moines, I am going to be reading from my novel on Saturday, but my publisher would be shocked to hear she doesn’t exist! (Right, Vivian?)

I sent a note to the paper, and I think I’ll also contact the bookstore. Just so my readers know: I won a contest at a small press publisher. I entered my manuscript in January 2008, and I found out in March that it won.

Since then, my small-press publishing company has editors who helped me improve the novel, and it was published in March of 2009.

It’s available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and through my publisher’s website. And if you don’t want to order online, I believe you can walk into any Barnes and Noble and ask them to order it for you.

Meanwhile, I’m contacting the paper and the bookstore. I’m even thinking about writing a letter to the editor about self-published vs small press authors.

I’m also gearing up for a reading at River Lights 2nd Edition. I’m really excited to make an appearance at another bookstore!

Geek Appeal

For Father’s Day, I gave my husband a book to read to our daughter. I’m not sure how amused he was, but it fits today’s topic, so I thought I’d give the authors a plug.

Science Verse is a fun picture book with rhymes about various things science-related. Some of them are taken off known songs or poems (Glory, glory, evolution). I just like to see the  take the authors did.

No, I swear I didn’t buy it just because it had the periodic table inside the front cover!

I’m putting the other book by the same authors, Math Curse, on my wishlist! They’re the perfect gifts for those geeky parents who wish to doom their kids, like I do. Wait, did I say that out loud?

Traveling with Baby

Throws the entire schedule off. Hers and mine!

I forget how much we almost have a schedule until we start messing with it by driving several hours to see family. Last time it wasn’t so pronounced. Hopefully she’ll manage to get back to something regularish… soon!

If you didn’t see the interview with Katie Hines yesterday, check it out here. I’m excited to say I’ll have another interview coming up, details when I get them.

Submissions

Just because my book is out, doesn’t mean I’ve quit with the short stories. Sent one out this week. Still waiting on one from December. I ought to see what else I could send out.

Admittedly I’ve been busy with book promotion, but mostly it’s the baby taking time. She’s sleeping while munching right now, so I am getting good at typing with one hand – either to blog, or do facebook and twitter, or to edit and polish projects.

I’m also reacquainting myself with the published works I am working so hard to join. “Literary Analysis” according to a friend, though most people call it reading.