Night Buddies - Adventures After Lights Out

Tips for Writing Children’s Fiction Like A Pro!

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Writing a book that children will fall in love with at a young age is an important goal for many reasons, the most important of which is that one good book can turn a child into a reader for life. Do you remember your favorite book as a kid? Ol’ Sands does. When asked in an interview what his favorite book as a child was, he answered, “The OZ series. Critics said Frank Baum had no literary merit, and I understand what they meant, but kids weren’t interested in literary merit. They knew what they liked, and that guy had a captivating imagination if anybody ever did.”

So that brings us to the question, what makes a good children’s book? Should it possess the same qualities of adult literature? What makes it special? (more…)

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Turn Your Child Into a Reader This Summer!

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There’s nothing better than the feeling you get as a parent when you walk into your child’s bedroom and see their nose buried in a book, completely lost in a world between pages. Today most children spend more time on their iPads or watching television than they do reading books, but I know that just one great book can turn a child into a lifetime reader. Here are some of our suggestions to help you make that happen before back-to-school!

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1.) Pick out a book for them that is tailored to their interests. If you know your child loves horses, pick out a book that revolves around horses. If they like television programs about witches and wizards, pick out a book that is about witches and wizards. Make sure you pick a book at their reading level so that they don’t get frustrated reading it (once they start reading more, you can steadily find books that will be more difficult for them to read). In the beginning, it is just important to find a book your child will enjoy, so that they begin to associate reading with fun.

2.) Set aside a specific time, preferably right before bedtime, for them to read. This makes reading turn into a habit, and makes it more likely for them to choose to read at that time on their own later on. Plus, studies have shown that watching television before bed might interfere with sleep quality, so reading is a good, calming alternative!

3.) Don’t take away their other forms of entertainment. This will make reading feel more like a punishment than a reward, and you only want them to have positive associations with reading if you want them to fall in love with it. If your child is used to and enjoys watching a certain amount of television or playing video games for a certain amount of time in the day, allow them to continue. The goal is to incorporate reading into their routine, not to completely change their routine.

4.) Take them to your local library and let them explore. Libraries can be an exciting place for kids, especially during the summers when most libraries offer reading contests and rewards. Plus, allowing your child to pick out his or her own books gives them a level of independence, and it lets them try new things and develop their own reading tastes. Taking them to your local library once every couple of weeks can be an exciting excursion for you two to share!

5.) Read with them. Some of my favorite memories associated with reading are the times when my mom and I would trade off reading chapters of my favorite books as a little kid. Not only does your child get to learn a better vocabulary as you help them through the difficult sections, they get to bond with you at the same time as they are falling in love with books. When you read with your child, it’s always a win-win situation!

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Say No to Cyber Bullies: What You Need to Know

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By now, cyberbullying is something every parent needs to be aware of. A study by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids investigated how often children (6- to 11-year-olds) and teens (12- to 17-year-olds) had been cyberbullied—and the results were astonishing. One-third of the teens and one-sixth of the children reported that someone said threatening or embarrassing things about them online.

Sometimes as parents, it is easy to feel helpless to stop this bullying trend, whether your child is being bullied or is the bully himself. But there are measures you can take to minimize the risk of cyberbullying taking over your child’s life. (more…)

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Wackiest Father’s Day Cards!

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With another Father’s Day come and gone (the one day we can get away with just about anything!) I scoured the Internet to find some of the funniest cards families gifted their fathers to say thanks. And boy, did some of them get creative!

“Dad, I thought I’d give you this card in lieu of an awkward hug. You’re welcome.”

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“As far as Dad’s go, I could’ve done a lot worse.”

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“Dad, without me today is just another day. You’re welcome.”

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“Happy Father’s Day! I got you a present, but if you want to get technical…technically you bought you a present. By the way, can I borrow $20?”

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“Dad (crossed out Mom), you’ve always been my favorite.”

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Did you get a funny Father’s Day card or gift this year? Let me know in the comments below!

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I’m a Self-Published Author: Here’s Why You Should Be Too

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In today’s world, self-publishing is an option available to every author, on any budget. With the mass of books being released this way, you might wonder if putting your book out in the world without a traditional publisher is worth it. Will anyone read it? Are you wasting your time?

As someone who has successfully self-published three juvenile fiction titles, I’m here to tell you that in a lot of ways, self-publishing is actually better for authors than traditional publishing. Here’s why:

Once you are satisfied with your book, you can release it.  When you want to publish traditionally, there are a number of hurdles you have to overcome before your book is released. You’ll spend months seeking out agents, months revising the novel once (and if) you find an agent, months seeking a publisher, and if it doesn’t work out, that’s close to a year or longer of having a completed novel that nobody is able to read. And even if you do lock down a publisher after all that searching, it’ll probably be a year or two before they release your book. When you choose to self-publish, as soon as you’ve written your book and spent time editing it or having it professionally edited, you can release it—you would have a book on shelves for people to read in the same amount of time it would take for you to finish your first round of agent querying!

Your have full control over your story. Traditional publishers may decide to publish your book under certain conditions: it needs a love triangle included, the crocodile should really be a dinosaur, etc. They want the books they publish to resemble what is already selling, and if your story aims to be a bit different, they might ask you to change it. When you publish your own book, it is 100 percent your story, on your terms.

You reap the benefits. Let’s say you write a bestseller. Or even just a moderately successful novel. If you had it traditionally published, chances are the contract you signed gives a huge amount of the royalties to the publisher—most take up to 85 percent. You’ll also have to share 15-20 percent of the profits with your agent, leaving you with . . . well, you get it. When you self-publish, you earn a much higher percentage of your royalties. With Createspace, one of the most popular self-publishing services, for example, authors earn 40 percent of the royalties. I’d say that’s a pretty outstanding difference.

How you go about marketing is up to you. Even with traditional publishers in today’s world, marketing is a responsibility mostly left for authors to take care of themselves. But if you self-publish, you can decide if you want to take on a publicist, who you want as your publicist, and how exactly you want to go about promoting your book. Since all the money for marketing is coming out of your wallet (which I know can be a bummer), you get to decide what levels you will go to in order to publicize your work. You don’t have to settle for a subpar publicist and mediocre marketing if you’re not on your publisher’s list of most-anticipated novels; your book is your priority, and you can publicize accordingly.

When we put so much effort into writing and perfecting our stories, I think it is only natural that we have as much control over the publishing process as possible. I certainly know that I wouldn’t have chosen to publish Night Buddies any other way.

How do you feel about self-publishing? Would you consider going that route to publish your book? Let me know in the comments!

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It’s Time to Get Creative with Your Child!

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So often in today’s education emphasis is put on science and math skills for children to work on and improve, pushing things like writing, art, and music to the side because they are labeled as “less important.” But Ol’ Sands knew when he started creating the Night Buddies stories with his son that allowing children to strengthen their right brain and explore their creative sides can actually benefit them just as much as learning science and math skills can! Here are the top four benefits children gain from being creative:

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Helps develop communication skills. When you ask a child to draw a picture or write a story about a certain topic, they have to think about how to communicate a certain theme or message creatively. They have to truly understand their subject, make conscious choices, and be able to clearly justify their creative decisions. This helps build their ability to communicate clearly and concisely with the people they engage with. Give your child a prompt, or a specific task, such as “I want you to draw our family,” and ask them why they make the dog a bow, or why they put a big smile on your face and a frown on their sister’s face. When you engage with your child as he or she creates, you help build their communication skills exponentially.

Allows your child to work through emotions or anxieties they might not even truly understand. When your child writes a story, he or she will probably choose themes and story-lines that reflect what they might be dealing with in their life. Maybe they’ll choose to write about or draw a small kid battling giants, reflecting their own feelings of being bullied at school. Maybe your child is experiencing stress over your recent divorce, so they work through the pain on paper in a safe and productive way. Gaining the skill to work through their emotions through creativity is a benefit that will last all their life—there is a marked difference between adults who know how to manage their stress and ones who drown in it.

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Improves problem-solving skills. When your child wants to draw a picture a certain color, let’s say pink, but doesn’t have that color crayon, he or she is forced to experiment to see what colors can mix together in order to create the desired color. Or maybe they write a story like Night Buddies—getting their main character into trouble leads them to the decision that, as the author, they also have to get their character out of that trouble. In this way, creativity actually helps your child with their mathematic skills, because their brain will be oriented toward problem-solving.

Gives your child a taste of independence and ownership. When your child has a finished drawing, painting, story, or poem in their hands, they are rewarded with the satisfaction of having created something entirely on their own. They made each decision that went into the piece, they put in the time to create it, and they get to own the satisfaction of seeing your smile as you praise their hard work. No matter if your child is the next great American novelist or Picasso, or not, as long as he or she put in effort and is proud of the final product, they have earned the right to feel proud of themselves.

So the next time your child is telling you all about their imaginary friend Crosley and showing you all they wrote down about their adventures, don’t laugh it off or worry too much about them (this is a technique used by John’s mother in the Night Buddies series). Instead, read their stories, hang them on the fridge, and know that your child is reaping all kinds of benefits from that overactive imagination!

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Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark!

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Afraid of the Dark

One of the most common fears among people, both kids and adults, is being afraid of the dark. Not all of us have a big, friendly Crosley visiting us when night comes! Sometimes we’re afraid of being alone at night, and sometimes we are afraid of the possible unseen threats masked by nightfall, but no matter what lies at the root of your fear of darkness here are some tips that will have you feeling cool as a crocodile when the lights turn off.

Figure Out the Root of Your Fears. Do you think there could be an evil iguana hiding in your closet or under your bed? Have mom and dad check it out! Do you hear strange noises amplified when darkness comes? Try and locate the source of the noise during the day, when you’re less likely to feel threatened by it. Knowing where your fears come from makes it easier to dismiss them.

Distract Yourself. Try listening to soothing music as you fall asleep, or break out a flashlight and read your favorite book. Keeping your mind on things that put you at ease will make it harder for fear to creep in.

Keep Some Company with You. Ask your mom or dad to sit with you for a few minutes when the lights first go off until you get comfortable with it. Or keep your favorite stuffed animal/action figure/doll on your bed to help you feel less alone. John and Crosley face their nighttime adventures together, and you should do the same!

Use a Night Light. Sometimes just having a small amount of light will help you realize that the dark doesn’t actually change anything around you. Use the light as your safety until you no longer need it!

Sometimes night is the best time to go on an adventure, whether it’s a Night Buddies Program or just in your own dreams! Don’t let your fear of the dark hold you back!

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Children's Museum of Alamance County
217 South Main Street
Graham, NC 27253
Phone: 336-228-7997
Reading begins at 3 pm


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