Night Buddies - Adventures After Lights Out

How Reading Before Bed Will Improve Your Life

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Do you remember the days you were a kid, falling asleep to your parents reading you a bedtime story? Well, it turns out immersing yourself in a good book before falling asleep actually has benefits that can last you your entire life! As tempting as it is to get on your phone and scroll through social media until your eyes get heavy, or to turn on a TV show to play in the background while you nod off, here are four reasons you should abandon those habits and pick up a book when it gets dark out. (more…)

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4 Ways to Find Inspiration as a Writer

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One of the most fun and most difficult parts of being a writer is finding your next story. Sometimes a bestselling idea will hit you out of nowhere, but more often than not you have to go out into the world and seek inspiration. But where do you go? And how do you do it? (more…)

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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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What Science Has to Say About Raising Sons

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This week, an article went up on The Stir called, “Our Baby Boys May Need a Totally Different Kind of Parenting.” In it, the author discussed a study that was published in the Infant Mental Health Journal which suggested that because boys brains mature at a slower rate, they may actually be more sensitive and slower at developing emotion than girls. She notes how this goes against what society has been telling us for years—boys can “tough it out” but girls need to be emotionally supported as children. (more…)

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4 Tips to Help You Read More in 2017

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Now that we’re midway through January, your New Year’s resolutions should be in full swing! Behind getting fit and healthy eating, a New Year’s resolution I often hear friends and family make is to put down their phones and turn off Netflix more often in order to get back into reading. For some, it brings them back to their childhood days when they had ample time to read and smartphones didn’t exist yet, while others simply want to learn new things and be better informed. Whatever your reason, here are some tips I’ve found help me in the pursuit to making reading part of your daily routine! (more…)

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Reading Tips for Children on the Autism Spectrum

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A recent statistic came out saying one in every 68 children has an autism spectrum disorder—which is no small number. For that reason, as a librarian, special needs teacher, or parent, it is helpful to know the ways in which reading can help these kids. Here are five ways in which to effectively use books to help autistic children not only learn to love reading, but also use it to effectively help them cope with their disorder. (more…)

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How to Boost Your Child’s Love for Reading During Back-to-School Season

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Getting your child interested in reading during the summer seems almost too logical—they have months of free time, there are tons of “summer light” stories for them to get easily invested in, and they can take a book anywhere from the beach to the pool for an afternoon of relaxation. But when back-to-school season hits, their enjoyment of reading can often get pushed aside in the chaos of new classes, homework, and extra-curricular activities. How do you help them to still maintain a healthy love for books, even when their schedules fill?

Help them choose books they will love for silent reading hours. Most schools require students to log a number of silent reading hours per week, but if your kids don’t enjoy the books they choose, this can feel a lot more like homework than fun. Make sure to help them choose books that they have an interest in, so even if it’s slightly more challenging to read than their summer fun novels, they’ll get excited for their silent reading hours!

Limit their TV time. With all of the things kids are required to do these days—hours in sports practices, music lessons, doing homework until they fall asleep—it’s no wonder that during their down time they want to park it in front of the TV with their favorite shows. And while I don’t think TV hours need to be banned, limiting them to watching one or two programs per night will make them find other ways to relax…like sitting down to read their favorite book!

Set the example. If you want your children to make time for reading, that means they need to see you making time for it as well. That means you need to follow the above tip as well—take a break from the TV and pick up a book in your free hours!

Make it a game. Pick a family-friendly read that all of you can enjoy, and then challenge your kids to reading a certain amount per week. Whoever gets through their section the fastest gets a reward, whether that’s being able to choose what to eat for dinner on Friday, gaining control of the TV remote for an evening, or getting to go out for ice cream!

How do you keep your love of reading when times get busy? Do you have any tips to add to the above? Let me know in the comments!

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Should Kids be Reading on Tablets? The Benefits and Drawbacks of Reading on the Screen

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You can call me old school, but I don’t do the e-reading thing. I like to sit down with a book in my hands, flip through the pages, write in the margins, and keep all the screens at bay even if for just a few hours. Reading, to me, is an escape from the world. And lately, it seems like the world is full of nothing but smart phones, laptops, and tablets.

But what about the next generation? The parents raising kids now, not those of us who raised our kids thirty years ago? It seems they won’t be able to avoid keeping tablets in the house, and with cheaper books and easier access, shouldn’t switching from books to screen actually be a benefit to today’s children?

In some ways, yes. Books are more easily available than they have ever been. Children’s e-books are usually made with interactive features now, so kids can feel even more like they become part of the story they’re reading. They can guide the content, write pieces of the stories themselves, draw pictures of the characters, and take their creativity to entirely different levels.

An article on amplify.com said it best: “Kids aren’t just passive receptors anymore, they expect to be able to interact, remix some of the content, and work collaboratively with others to do things with the content.”

Kids are excited to sit down with these e-readers, because it’s no longer a time just to clock silent reading hours—reading has turned into another kind of game time. And while I am glad that books are getting out there and children are reading, I would also argue that this is the exact problem.

The experience of reading changes when it is filled with hyperlinks, game times, and endless upon endless distractions. It distracts from the general enjoyment of reading—losing oneself in a narrative. Why have interactive features when you can instead take the place of someone else’s consciousness, and live a different life than your own for a few hundred pages? An article on mom.me quoted a study which said, “Of those who took part in the UK’s National Literacy Trust survey, only 12 percent of those who did their reading on a screen said they enjoyed reading, while 51 percent of those burning through pages said they liked to read. Print readers, even if they mixed it with screen reading, made up a larger percent of above-average readers compared to those who only read on a screen—15.5 percent vs. 26 percent.”

Long story short, we can turn reading into a sort of game time, but real game time is only going to be a tap of the screen away from their book. Why spend a few hours reading when Angry Birds is just as easily available on the same device?

I think kids and parents benefit from putting away the distractions, locking the screens away for just an hour or so, and sitting down to read books together. You can still encourage your children to create stories and imagine for themselves—that’s how the character Crosley from my book series was created—but without a tablet and all the distractions tablets come with in the way, hopefully the pure pleasure of reading a book will continue to be passed on through the generations.

Do you prefer reading books or on tablets? Let me know in the comments!

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Why Your Local Library is the Perfect Summer Hangout

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It’s official . . . school is out for the summer! While your child is probably jumping for joy at the idea of spending an entire season away from classrooms, homework, and early mornings, us parents tend to have a few more hesitations during this long break. How do we keep our children busy? How will we afford to keep them entertained? When are we going to get all of our work done? (A hard enough task for stay-at-home parents when school is in session!)

The best answer to all of these questions? Make the local library your regular summer hangout spot. Here’s why:

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Libraries are free entertainment. You’ll get yourself and your children out of the house when they’re going stir-crazy, there are usually summer programs like shows and games for kids during the summer months, and there’s an endless supply of free reading material to keep your kids from watching too much television! Added bonus—when it’s time to head home, you get to take the entertainment with you for free.

Libraries provide an environment for you to work in while your children are being entertained. Pick a nice desk close to the children’s area, set up your laptop, and you’ll be good to go. During those performances or game hours, you’ll be free to enjoy an uninterrupted, quiet hour of work or writing. Added bonus—you won’t have to pay for a babysitter since you’ll always only be a few feet away from your kids!

Libraries are air-conditioned. Save some money on your electricity bill and escape the summer heat in the library. Added bonus—for some reason, every library I go to ends up feeling cooler than my own house!

You’ll be helping your kids progress their reading skills even during their time-off. Chances are, your kids won’t want to feel like they’re doing homework over the summer; they’ve had enough of logging their silent reading hours and writing book reports. But when you enter them into library contests and they end up reading multiple books in a week hoping to win prizes, they’ll be learning just as much as they did in school and will be prepared to enter their next school year. Added bonus—you’re helping them learn without hearing complaints!

So there you have it! The next time your kids are feeling bored with their summer vacation, take them down to your local library. It’s the perfect place for kids and parents to spend their time.

When was the last time you visited your local library? Let me know in the comments below!

P.S. I want to thank everyone who entered in my Amazon giveaway last week. There were so many entries that the giveaway ended the same day it began; it blew me away! Be sure to stay tuned on my Twitter page for more information about future contests!

 

 

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Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Sit Down to Write Your Children’s Book

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So one day it hits you—that perfect idea, the one you know is your key to becoming a children’s book author. You do a little character developing, you download Scrivener, you’re ready to take that idea and turn it into a children’s book, right?

Wrong. Almost every person believes they have a book inside them, but without taking the time to consider your writing goals, those books never make it to “The End.” Before you sit down at your computer and start typing out that great bestseller you’ve been brewing, I suggest you take some time to sit down and think about these questions.

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Why are you writing this book? Do you desire fame, wealth, or critical acclaim? Do you believe in and love your story? Do you simply want to read the book to your child, family, or friends? I’m not going to say that any motivation for finishing a book is better than another (though I’m not holding my breath to become a millionaire author anytime soon), but I do think that without knowing what’s motivating you, you’ll lose steam around page thirty and your book won’t ever be completed.

What time commitment are you giving to this book? Will you write every day? Should you set a daily word count? Are you planning on writing whenever the mood or inspiration strikes? Giving yourself clear and realistic expectations for the amount of time you will dedicate yourself to this project will keep you from being frustrated if it takes you awhile to finish. Knowing ahead of time that you only plan on writing 100 words a day will allow you to realistically be aware that you’ll be working on this book for over a year or years to come.

How much of your story do you know? You don’t need to be the person that writes an in-depth outline before you start writing chapter one, but you should have an idea of what the beginning, middle, and end of your story will be. If you start writing the book with a strong, developed beginning, no clue as to what will happen in the middle, and a vague idea of the ending, you could get lost and give up the whole project.

Would you want to read this book? This is the most important question to ask yourself—and the one a lot of wannabe authors don’t give enough importance to. If you don’t believe your book is important, if you’re not having fun writing or reading it, and if you don’t care about your book as if it was your own child, you won’t have the energy to fight to get it written and eventually published. Don’t bother to start writing something if you don’t start the project with more passion than you’ve ever felt in your life.

Deciding to write a book is deciding to start one of the longest, craziest, emotional, frustrating, and rewarding journeys you’ve ever been on. If you feel confident in answering all of these questions, you’ll be prepared to see your book through to its end.

Are you a first-time writer? What are some of your answers to these questions? Let me know in the comments below!

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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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