Night Buddies - Adventures After Lights Out

4 Reasons You Need to Start Using Goodreads

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If you haven’t yet heard of Goodreads…where have you been?! All kidding aside, Goodreads is a social media platform for readers. Users have the opportunity to rate, review, and find great book recommendations—and that’s only the very basics of what Goodreads has to offer.

I’ve been a user of Goodreads for a few years now (if you haven’t seen my author profile, check it out here). I can honestly say it is one of the greatest inventions for authors and readers alike to connect the books we love to the people who love them too! Here are some reasons I love using Goodreads, and why I think you’ll love it too. (more…)

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5 Things Only Book Enthusiasts Will Love

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I’m not a book nerd—I’m a book enthusiast. Or at least that’s what I tell my friends. The people in my life can always count on that enthusiasm when they’re looking to buy me a gift, and it never fails! If you’re a fellow book enthusiast, or you’re close to one, here are some fun and clever things you’ll obsess over! (more…)

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Top Benefits of Creativity

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For this week’s blog post, I’m revisiting an important topic that we’ve discussed on the blog before—why creativity is important. 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 thought to be less important. But did you know that working the right “creative” brain has crazy benefits too?

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Best Apps to Get Your Kids Reading!

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These days, there’s an app for everything—and for people of any age. From finding places to eat, helping you to set and keep daily goals, to keeping you up-to-date on news relevant to you, it seems there’s nothing these smartphones can’t do for us. But did you know how many great and educational apps there are out there for kids?

I’ve compiled a list of my favorite ones to help on the mission to get kids reading. And while I’m usually a fan of encouraging them to pick up a book instead of their tablet, sometimes combining the two is most effective!

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10 Creative Writing Prompts—For Kids!

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I am an advocate for children using and expanding their imaginations, not only through reading, but through writing! Whether your child struggles with Language Arts or is reading four levels above his or her grade level, providing kids with a creative outlet such as writing has the opportunity to enrich their lives and their classroom performance. But how do you get them started? One good idea is using this Scholastic website, which provides silly and fun writing prompts in a game-like form (when I put in my preferred genre and name, the wheel told me to write about a fuzzy green elf who must return to the sea—yes, please.) But if you’re looking for a straightforward list to return to, here are 10 fun, whacky writing prompts they can try!

1. Your favorite animal just stood up and started talking to you—what conversation do the two of you have?

2. You get cast in a super hero movie…do you play the hero or the villain? Why?

3. Your dad just built a time travel machine! Will you go back in time, or forward? To what year, and why?

4. Write a list of 20 of your favorite things!

5. If you were invisible, what would be the first thing you do?

6. What is the best memory you have with your family? Write a story about it.

7. Invent a new food—describe in detail what it looks like, what it’s called, how it smells, and how it tastes.

8. Describe a time when you were really afraid.

9. Your favorite fictional character has come to life. Who is it, and what do the two of you do together?

10. Write a list of 5 things you love about your best friend. Then, use those things to write them a letter!

Do you, or your children, like to use writing prompts? Let me know what your favorites are in the comments!

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4 Ways to Give Your Kids the Best Summer Break!

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It’s finally here! After we’ve all come back from our Memorial Day weekends, the reality of summer break has finally hit. But as exciting as the prospect of two summer months to fill with fun and relaxation can be for kids, it can be difficult on parents to strike the balance of giving your kids an amazing summer break, while still needing to take care of your other responsibilities. Luckily, there’s a way to do both. Here are some tips on how to do so!

Look into summer camps. When you can’t afford to take a vacation yourself, it can be best to let your kid have a fun getaway on their own with a reputable summer camp! You can choose one according to location, interest (dance camps, band camps, Christian camps, etc.), or based on which camp their friends are attending. This will allow your kids to learn independence being away from their parents, give them a fun vacation in a new area they’ve never explored, and allow them to make new friends! And it also gives you a week or two (however long the camp goes on for) to have a kids-free staycation of your own.

Look into day camps. If it isn’t financially feasible for you to send your kids to overnight camps, day camp is a great option! A lot of times local churches, YMCAs, or other community organizations will host day camps throughout the summer where kids can stay entertained and make new friends while you have to spend a day working, or running errands. Save them some boredom, and you some time!

Plan local day trips on weekends. And let your kids help choose the location! Maybe you go to a local park for a picnic and games, or to the next town over for your favorite lunch spot. If you live by water parks or the beach, pick a day to take a trip over there. Whatever you decide to do, it will give your kids something to look forward to during the slower weeks at home when you have responsibilities to take care of.

Make sure they spend some time OFF of their screens! It’s so easy to let your kids plop down in front of the television or their video games when you need them to be entertained, but those memories aren’t going to last all their lives. Try to get them to spend an hour outside in the sun, whether they walk the dog around your neighborhood or play in the sprinklers in your yard. And make sure to remind them that reading is always a great way to stay entertained when they complain about being bored!

What are some of the things you remember doing during your summer breaks as a kid? Let me know in the comments!

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Book Review Tuesday!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

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What Happened to #BoysWhoRead?

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As many of you who have been following this blog for a while know, I started a campaign some time ago called Boys Who Read, which aims to encourage children and parents together to make reading an enjoyable habit in their lives. As a children’s author, father, and lifelong reader, I wholeheartedly believe that books are an important part of expanding a child’s inner life, helping them to understand the world and the people within it with greater empathy, compassion, and curiosity.

As C. Gordon puts it, “A book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter any other way.”

And don’t our children deserve to know the pleasure of walking on that red carpet?

I have written about it before, and I will write about it again: As parents, we need to encourage our children to turn off their screens, turn off the Netflix, and pick up a book once a day. But the approach with which we encourage them to do so is extremely important. If we treat reading a book like a recreational activity (you’ve finished your homework, now you can read!) and going to pick out a book like an exciting outing (why don’t we go out for ice cream and pick out a new book!), then their mindset will follow.

But what is also important in helping your children fall in love with reading, is choosing the right books. Which is why every day this week on Twitter and Facebook I will share a book I think your child will love, using the hashtag #BoysWhoRead. Follow along, and share your own book recommendations with the hashtag so that parents all over can benefit and help their child become lifelong readers themselves!

Let’s work together to create a new generation of #BoysWhoRead. Can’t wait to see what you all have to say!

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Spring Break Book Recommendations!

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With Spring Break upon us (or quickly approaching, for some), that means an entire week of trying to find ways to entertain your children! Whether you’re planning a beach trip, road trip, or just hanging out at home, it’s the perfect time to get a book in your kid’s hands. Here are my top 3 recommendations!

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio

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This middle grade book is about a boy named Augustus, who was born with a facial deformity, and his and his communities search for acceptance. The official synopsis says, “August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.” This is a thrilling, beautiful book that teaches a valuable lesson; highly recommended!

 

Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate

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As an author who writes about a boy and his crocodile friend, I have to recommend the book about a boy and his cat friend, Crenshaw. The official synopsis reads: “Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again. Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?” It’s a charming middle grade book about friendship, what’s not to love?

 

My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights, by Brooks Benjamin

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A boy who wants to be a dancer, vs. a father who wants his son to play football. Yes, please! This is another great story about finding acceptance and perseverance, but filled with excellent humor! This is a great, feel-good read—perfect for a relaxing day at the beach!

Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you think, or leave your recommendations for me in the comments!

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The 2016 New Year’s Resolution You and Your Child Need to Make

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We are just a few days away from the start of the new year, and with that typically comes a reflection, or an assessment, of where we are at, what we’d like to improve in our lives, and what we’d like the coming year to look like. Some people do this in list form, forming a number of goals, or resolutions, for the upcoming year, others choose one word they’d like to theme the next year of their life. However you do it, I know that you’re looking to make some New Year’s resolutions, and for parents, resolutions tend to involve figuring out how to better their children’s lives instead of just their own.

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But what if I told you I had a resolution that would improve 2016 for both you and your child/children?

For regular readers of this blog, you know what a big advocate I am of parents and children taking the time to read together. And as such, I like to promote the campaign, Boys Who Read, which encourages the younger generation to fall in love with reading while taking advantage of all the benefits that come with it! (Read this article for a list of benefits reading has on child development.)

So as 2016 is rolling in, I am going to challenge any of you parents out there to make a New Year’s resolution of spending at least ten minutes a day reading a book, or short story, or poem with your child. It will not only help them in the numerous ways listed in the article above, but it wall also help you to strengthen your parent/child bond, and maybe even encourage you to remember why reading books can be so much fun!

If you take my challenge, reach out and tell me via Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #BoysWhoRead, or send me a picture of what you and your child are going to read together this year! I’d also love to hear if any of you are going to start out the challenge with a Night Buddies book!

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Wishing you all the best New Year. Thank you for yet another amazing year on this blog, on social media, and at all of the book signings and events I met you at this year.

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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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