Regular readers of this blog might be aware that I raised my son John as a single father. I’ve written about the challenges of single parenthood, about asking for help as a single parent, and about the importance of being an active father in your child’s life. But when I came across this article, everything I believed about being an active father in my son’s life felt validated.
Titled, “Embrace Fatherhood and Your Child Will Reap the Rewards,” author Wanda Wyont explores the changing role of fathers in the home, and uses scientific research and facts to back up the idea I’ve always known to be true—children benefit from a father’s involvement in their lives. Weaving statistics together with her own relationship with her father, and exploring the changes that relationship went through during her childhood and adult life, Wyont really captures the what it means for a child to have an active, involved father, rather than just the traditional breadwinner.
If you’re a father, in a single parent family or otherwise, or a mother who wants to better understand how she can work together with her partner to keep him as involved in your home life as possible, this article is a good place to turn to. She even includes quotes from children about their fathers! It is an encouraging, heartwarming read that gives me hope.
Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below!
I just saw Roald Dahl and Steven Spielberg’s movie, The BFG. (Big Friendly Giant to all you new guys.) It’s totally cool. For those who don’t know, it’s about this eight-year-old girl Sophie who gets snatched away from her orphanage bedroom by an awfully tall giant and whisked away to the giant’s cave way off in Giant Country.
I won’t tell you everything that happens after that. There’s the problem of the nine other bad giants that eat kids. (Our nice giant is a vegan.) And the trip to Buckingham Palace to warn the queen that the bad giants are about to invade. But that’s just plot stuff. The charm and essence of the thing is the BFG’s job. He captures dreams—in a butterfly net, no less—and stores them in jars and sneaks into town late at night and blows them into the bedrooms of sleeping children. With his long, skinny trumpet.
“Nice dreams. Lovely golden dreams. Dreams that is giving the dreamers a happy time.”
A great leitmotif are the Frobscottle and Whizzpoppers. Frobscottle is a bubbly green drink where the bubbles float down instead of up. So instead of burping, it has you making great green Whizzpoppers out of your down part. They lift you off your feet.
Sophie is a proper British girl and is put off by this, but she comes around to it in the end. As it were. Even the queen and her Corgis try Frobscottle and the results are diverting.
You’ve got to love Dahl’s wackiness. He’s the king of wacky. But I think my favorite thing of his is the way he sticks it to the grownups with this naughty stuff. He often said the key to his success was conspiring with children against adults. (I have found with my own children’s stories that the more I can slip past the naughty police, the better. Up to a point, of course.)
About the movie itself: It tracks the book straight down the line (except for changes that the genre demands). The visuals are great. (Hey, this is Spielberg, right?) The makeup is magical. (Think Harry Potter.)
And the acting: They say Mark Rylance (the giant) is the greatest stage actor of his generation. You may have seen him in Bridge of Spies and the TV series Wolf Hall. (A KGB colonel and Thomas Cromwell, respectively.) He deals with the BFG role wonderfully, and manages to get Dahl’s goofy words out cleanly. E.g., ughbwelch, probsposterous, quogwinkles. (I know, this is part of any good actor’s job, but YOU get the book and try rattling off some of these in the middle of a sentence!)
I put Ruby Barnhill (Sophie) at the top, though. She is eight years old in the story and looks it in the movie. Oh, maybe ten—but her front teeth aren’t even in straight yet. She handles the part of a proper little English girl like a twenty-year-old pro. Her delivery and enunciation are right there, and she comes off as a real, live kid. Like she’s done this for ten years. I can’t say she’s better than Rylance—she’s not—and anyway that’s apples and oranges. But I do put her performance at #1. For the true and ample reason that it’s easier to play a grotesque than a real, natural, sure-enough individual person. You can go look it up!
Last week on Twitter and Facebook, I posted a different children’s through middle grade book each day using the hashtag, #BoysWhoRead, to encourage anyone who wants their kid to become more of a reader to buy or rent (from the library) some of these books! In case any of you missed out on a day, here’s a list of all the ones I recommended.
I Funny: A Middle School Story, by James Patterson. Do you like an endearing, but absolutely hilarious character? Then you’re going to love this read! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll finish the book wishing you never had to put it down.
Ungifted, by Gordan Korman. Were you ever put in the gifted program in your school? Better yet, is your child in the gifted program, or wishing he/she was? Then you should try this book. It’s funny, sweet, and filled with many good lessons to be learned for any kid who feels like they are struggling to fit in.
The Loser List, by H.N. Kowitt. Kids can be cruel, and Kowitt takes that to heart in this story. It’s a book about everything that happens between nerd and cool in middle school—and you won’t want to miss it.
The Rules: Trust No One. A mysterious town, a sarcastic twelve-year-old, and a bond between two brothers that nobody could break—this novel will have your heart racing as fast as you’re flipping through the pages. Plus, this is an indie book, so it has a special place on this list and in my heart.
Remember, if you want to share your book recommendations with me, and with other parents, just post it on social media with the hashtag, #BoysWhoRead! I can’t wait to see what you have to say!
This past week, I has the opportunity to read two wonderful children’s books I think you would all love. Check out my review below.
Maggie Larche’s two little books, Charlie Bingham Gets Clocked and Charlie Bingham Gets Serious are two utterly cute stories! About a boy’s serial misadventures in primary school (I’m guessing in about fourth grade).
In Clocked, a friend’s pet lizard crawls inside the teacher’s favorite clock, an old-fashioned one with the big bells on top. Charlie and his friends borrow it to catch the lizard, and this sets off a zany and wonderful series of events. The trick is to get the clock back to Miss Walker (whom Charlie has a crush on) without getting into trouble. This turns out to be anything but simple. The clock gets passed from kid to kid like a hot potato and everybody gets totally stressed. I got stressed!
The story really is a primary-grade tour de force.
In Serious, the first line jumps right out at you:
“Sorry, Charlie. You’re just not hall monitor material.”
But this is precisely the thing Charlie has been yearning to be, for two good reasons. One, hall monitors get to leave class ten minutes before lunch and before the final bell. And, two, they get to wear really cool sashes. Owen, the head hall monitor, tells our hero he’s too much of a goofball for the august position. Charlie decides to prove him wrong by appearing as a line leader and sporting a line leader’s distinctive ribbon. First he has to get a girl to let him have her line leader spot for that day. And just like in Clocked, this sets off a wacko series of outcomes that had me really turning pages.
The stories’ point-of-view is first-person (Charlie’s), and this is exactly what you want in kids’ books. The narrative is clear and real and immediate, and would be no problem for young readers.
Miss Maggie calls these her “silly, funny” stories. She’s spot-on about that, but she may be a little too modest. I can’t imagine kids not enjoying these books.
Five stars at least.
Chances are, your kids’ Christmas/holiday gift lists consist of toys and technology (iPads seem to be one of the biggest hits), but what about putting a relatively cheap, simple, and thoughtful gift under the tree that your children can cherish their entire lives? Giving books as presents will help your kids to see books as fun rather than as associated with boring schoolwork, and the stories they fall in love with at young ages can turn them into lifelong readers. The trick to all of this is just picking the right book! Here are my top 5 favorite children’s books that will make wonderful stocking stuffers this season!
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, by Dan Santat. This children’s book is for younger readers (it features illustrations, but is broken up into chapters), and it made the American Library Association’s list of Notable Books for 2015! The short description is as follows: “In four delightful chapters, Beekle, an imaginary friend, undergoes an emotional journey looking for his human. Vibrant illustrations add to the fun.” Definitely a fun story that will stick with your children throughout their lives…and it’s a fun one to read together with your kids as well.
Beautiful Moon…A Child’s Prayer, by Tanya Bolden. This is a great one for the holiday season when you’re trying to teach your kids about gratitude and helping others. It follows the prayers of a boy thinking about the homeless, the hungry, those at war, and his family in a beautiful, touching way that is still accessible to children. It is another on the American Library Association’s List of Notable Books for 2015, and I’d say it’s placement is well earned!
The Boys Book of Survival (How to Survive Anything, Anywhere), by Guy Campbell. This one is a sillier book for a bit older children, ages 8-12. The Amazon summary says, “Lost in the desert? Stuck in quicksand? Confronted by a man-eating tiger? Trapped at a school dance? Fear not, brave reader! With this essential survival guide, you’ll find a way to get yourself out of every imaginable predicament, whether it’s an avalanche or a zombie invasion!” It’s a fun, easy read that kids don’t have to devour all at once—the perfect gift for guys and girls looking for a fun, mostly practical, and interesting read.
The Chocolate Touch, by Margot Apple. This book is a spin-off of the classic King Midas and the Golden Touch story, but features a greedy chocolate lover who might end up finally tiring of his favorite food. It’s silly, it’s cute, and it’s a fun read. Plus, I’m always a fan of spin-off books—let’s keep those old classic tales alive!
And of course, I can’t help but recommend the Night Buddies series! These books are easy enough reads that any child can find themselves getting sucked into the stories, but feature a broad enough vocabulary and interesting slang that will help them become better readers. I always incorporate a theme of friendship and teamwork into each book, which make them great reads for the holiday season!
Were you ever given a book as a gift? Let me know in the comments!
With so many parenting books on the market these days, it’s difficult to sort through and choose the ones that will be most applicable to your situation and your life. This is why I’ve provided a few different types of parenting book titles below—from ones aimed to parents of young children, to general parenthood stories, to books targeted directly to fathers. I hope you find that each one of them has something special to offer you and your children!
Father for Life: A Journey of Joy, Challenge, and Change, by Armin A. Brott: In this book, Brott explores how fathers evolve from the time their child is born and on, and how children influence their fathers’ development. The author combines his personal experience with advice from experts and interviews with other fathers, adding up to a “wise guidance on what it means to be a devoted dad over time.”
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish: This is one of the most popular parenting books on the market, and for good reason. Mazlish and Faber delicately and logically explore what it means to effectively communicate with your children. It has been referred to as a “parenting Bible,” and I can’t say I’d disagree.
Raising Boys, by Steve Biddulph: This book explores just what it says in its title; that raising boys is an altogether different task and therefore requires a different approach than raising girls. Being written from a psychologist’s point-of-view, it is filled with bits of scientific information, but is still easy to follow and downright humorous at times. It includes chapters on testosterone, sports, and how boys’ and girls’ brains differ, and focuses on boys’ development through many phases of life.
The Velveteen Father: An Unexpected Journey to Parenthood, by Jesse Green: This is my favorite of the list, which is in part due to the beautiful storytelling and in part due to the fact that the author was an acclaimed writer before turning his subject matter to parenthood—I’m always supportive of dad-writers! This book tells Greene’s story of falling into parenthood unexpectedly and the many unexpected challenges and joys accompanying that lack of preparation. Amazon wrote it best when it said the book explores, “the transformative effects parenthood can have on people who least expect to become parents—and of how we are repeatedly made anew by the love of children who need us.”
As parents, do you enjoy reading parenting books? Have you found any to be particularly helpful or insightful in your own life? Let me know in the comments below!
I’ve written a few posts now about how important it is for us as parents to help our children fall in love with reading. But today I want to take this one step further—I think it is important for us to get kids interested in reading about history. History is one of those subjects that a majority of people sleep through during grade school and don’t even consider studying past their few general ed requirements in college. But it’s also one of the most important subjects out there, if only to keep our world from repeating its past mistakes.
I’ve been a history buff from the time I was a kid, and I think that is largely due to teachers who made the subject interesting for me and books that made historical stories come alive in a tangible way. So I’ve compiled a short list here of some books for kids that hopefully will do the same for them.
Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry
I’m sure you’ve heard of this classic already, but I couldn’t help but put it on my list. It takes place in Copenhagen during World War II, and it is a beautiful story that helps children to see the difficult reality of the Holocaust, while also telling of a friendship worth risking lives for.
Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos, by Robert Lawson
First published in 1988, this funny, entertaining story tells the story of Benjamin Franklin and the founding of the United States of America through the eyes of a mouse named Amos. According to the book, Amos gave good ol’ Benjamin all of his best ideas. It’s a very charming book filled with important historical information, and I guarantee your child won’t be able to get enough!
She Was Nice To Mice: The Other Side of Elizabeth I’s Character Never Before Revealed by Previous Historians, by Alexandra Elizabeth Sheedy
Yet another historical tale told with the help of mice! This one takes place in the Elizabethan era, and follows the life of a mouse living in Queen Elizabeth’s courts. What I think is interesting about this book is that it was written by a twelve-year-old. It really helps kids relate to an era from long ago because it was written by a child who related to it herself!
Pink and Say, by Patricia Polacco
This picture book (still intended for kids ages 5-9) is set during the Civil War. It tells the story of a black Union soldier named Pinkus Aylee finding and rescuing white Union soldier, Sheldon Curtis (who goes by Say). It is a tragic story based on true events from the author’s own family history. To me, the Civil War is one of the most interesting historical events, and I give this book my highest recommendation.
Did you read any historical fiction when you were a kid? Did it help grow a love of history in you as an adult? Leave a comment and let me know!
The big moment is here. We are finally announcing the Night Buddies Go Sky High official release date! Drum roll please . . .
The third installment of the Night Buddies series is going to be available for you all to read on March 16!
We over here at the Night Buddies Headquarters could not be more excited to share this next adventure with you, and we can’t wait for you to find out all that John and Crosley have been up to! To get you excited about this next book, we’re sharing with you some of the early reviews it has received so far.
“Lively and wildly imaginative. A wacky adventure. Crosley, the likable crocodile and his buddy John go on a zany nighttime romp through the stratosphere.” Randi Mrvos, Editor of Kid’s Imagination Train
“The Stratosphere’s the limit in this third Night Buddies adventure, as John Degraffenreidt and Crosley the red crocodile must go up up up to check out a mysterious roving dot in the sky that just might have it in for them. Their racing blimp may defy the laws of physics but it obeys the prime rule of storytelling: unstoppable action equals lots of fun. Sands Hetherington again combines expressive language, whimsical inventions, abundant delicious (and disgusting) food, loyal pals and wicked foes, in Night Buddies Go Sky High.” Lynne Barrett, author of Magpies and co-editor of Birth: A Literary Companion
“Overall, Night Buddies Go Sky High is a cute book for kids with fun illustrations!” Billy B., blogger for Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer
“Where Night Buddies Go Sky High excels is in the pacing of the story–lots of lingering time to laugh, but equal momentum time to make the adventure exciting for children. Hetherington is so adept at writing for children that his books become instant classics–and that means that after lights out, parents will tiptoe in and grab some of this confection for themselves! Highly recommended.” Grady Harp, Reviewer for Literary Aficionado and Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer
“This science fiction book will probably help young readers’ minds drift away for awhile into a fantasy of what can happen in a blimp in the sky […] My review = 5 out of 5 stars.” Jill H., blogger for Book Review Travels
So remember, on March 16, be sure to pick up a copy of Night Buddies Go Sky High! You will be able to find it as a print book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at all fine bookstores near you. It will also be conveniently available as an ebook on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, iBookstore, and elsewhere!
For those of you who have been following this blog regularly, you know that we over here at the Night Buddies Headquarters are gearing up for the release of Night Buddies Go Sky High, the third book in the Night Buddies series! If you haven’t seen the cover yet, here it is again.
Well, we have some pretty big news to share with you. Grady Harp, the prominent Amazon Hall of Fame reviewer, posted an amazing review for Night Buddies Go Sky High! For those of you unfamiliar with Harp, he is a 66-year-old gallerist, retired surgeon, and poet who has reviewed over 3,500 books, CDs, and movies for Amazon, as well as a reviewer for Literary Aficionado. In turn, he has attained a kind of celebrity, a number 7 ranking, a prominent profile on Amazon, and a pretty hefty following.
Some snippets of the review include:
“Hetherington’s manner of dialogue writing is unique and at all times a delight.”
“Where Night Buddies Go Sky High excels is in the pacing of the story – lots of lingering time to laugh, but equal momentum time to make the adventure exciting for children.”
“Hetherington is so adept at writing for children that his books become instant classics – and that means that after lights out, parents will tiptoe in and grab some of this confection for themselves! Highly recommended.”
We couldn’t be happier with the review, and we hope you all go out and give it a read! Thanks so much for continuing on the Night Buddies journey—we will continue releasing more information about the release in the coming weeks!