Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Children”

POM: April 10

There are a handful of contemporary poets whose poems resonate with me long after I’m done reading their words. Naomi Shihab Nye is one such poet.

The Rider

A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him...

Read Me a Story

One of my favorite classes in college involved learning how to read picture books out loud to children. Yes, and we did get credit for doing so. This class gave me real life skills. For true.

I learned there is a proper way to hold the book when facing the audience.

  • First of all, sitting down facing your audience, you hold the book’s bottom spine stretched out on your forearm.

*By the way if you are looking for a dazzling, scintillating meme-worthy Prezi, it ain’t happening*

  • You then read sidewise, yet facing your audience because eye contact is quite important. This is easier than it sounds because picture books usually have more illustration than words.
  • It is then important to properly turn the page. This is done by reaching over and across the top of the book, sliding the first two fingers done the present page and the next, and pulling the page over for the next spread. NOTE: though commonly practiced, it is not in the best interest in the book’s wear to turn from the middle bottom, especially towards the inside spine. Rippage and tearage can occur in doing so.
  • Proceed throughout the entire book in the proscribed method.
  • It is also important to use appropriate voices for characters, and it can be highly desirable to create separate voices for each given character. NOTE: characterization voices are best done by those who can do so without creating havoc among the audience. For example: if your Cockney mouse is such a smash hit your audience might laugh to the point of interfering with the story’s progress.
  • Body language is  also important. Leaning in to emphasize special junctures, or pausing for same can add a delightful amount of drama and dimension to the story.

I believe the course to be quite edifying and suggest signing up should the adult education flyer come through the mail. Today I utilize those skills reading to the grandkiddo, although I use my snuggle reading skills instead. I have read stories to my high school students. Yes, that is one reason I am known as the weird English teacher.

Then again, there are those who possess natural skill at reading and technique does not actually matter. Case in point is our boy Sherlock.

Have you a favorite technique for reading stories?  Or better yet–any famous readers you’ve come across? One of my most favorites is Meryl Streep’s audio book reading of Jeremy Fisher by Beatrix Potter.



Penthouse Ponders

image: Looking out over the world from my penthouse view…

This week I am on my yearly sojourn of eldest progeny visitation. She now lives in a third floor apartment with a view of the neighborhood park–well, sideways squint from the bathroom window. There is no elevator. This is an o-l-d building. If I were a realtor I would employ the words “charming,” “has character,” “a link to the city’s past.” In other words, the stairs are steep and the hallways long, and the foyer smell is a bit aromatic. The apartment itself is charming with lots of light from the east, west, and southern exposure. Her last place was a basement studio. The window and light were practically non-existent. The landlords seem to be trying to update the building. There are mock wood floors, cream-colored stucco walls, deadbolts, and newish windows. They don’t quite close all the way but there is hope for a fix in the works.

After the fourth night of staying in a third floor walk up having lived in relatively ground level dwellings all my life, I have the following observations:

  • Costco shopping hauls are ludicrous because all that is bought can only be hauled if held in each hand
  • Always think about if you have everything before leaving the apartment
  • Should I take the garbage down?
  • Looking at life from a bird’s-eye view lends a pleasant start to the morning
  • Going outside for some fresh air takes on deeper meaning
  • The opportunity to develop voyeurism is tempting
  • Less is more when it comes to gathering possessions, since it all has to be moved down eventually
  • Having neighbors below makes one more sensitive to noise being made since we were once the neighbor below
  • Streetside parking involves intuition and strategy
  • Buns of steel and stamina are a bonus to the view

These observations might be different if the building had an elevator–then again the rent would probably be higher. There seems to be an irony here: most places charge more for the tippy-top real estate, then again elevators must be part of the equation.

Perhaps if I were in my formative years of twentyish ,a walk-up domicile with windows would be exciting. At present, I am learning an appreciation for my yard, driveway, and ability to amass belongings without too much consequence.



Rainy Days of May

I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but we are having a spate of rainy May days in my part of the world. I personally don’t mind rainy days, at least not too much.  I enjoy the greenery it brings and all those flowers.  The rain also provides the excuse to stay inside and get caught up on my writing and reading because if it is sunny out I tend to feel guilt for not being outside reveling in the warmth and blue skies.  We have long winters here.  I’m trying to figure out a way to store up those sunny summer days in a jar to dispel those dismal days of December, January, February, and most of March.

When the progeny were kidlits I made sure rain did not stop their fun.  One of my helpers in this regard was a fabulous book called Rainy Days & Saturdays by Linda Hetzer. Inside our over 150 activities and ideas for chasing away the drizzle doldrums.


Check it some of our past favorites:

  • camping out inside–the old blanket over the table works, but we filled the entire living room with elaborate blanket and sheet configurations
  • bean bag throws–easy to make and hours of entertainment
  • sock puppets–old socks, buttons, felt and it’s showtime
  • finger painting–shaving cream mixed with food coloring in muffin pans equals pruny rainbow kids
  • tissue paper stained glass–an old jar, watered down white glue, a paintbrush, torn tissue paper, and stick in a candle
  • balloon volleyball–clear out the breakables and have at it
  • tornado tubes–toy stores have the contraption to join two liter bottles together to create the swirly fun
  • cooking–popovers, quesadillas, no bake cookies, homemade pizza
  • clay ornaments

I’m keeping this one for the grandkiddos coming over.  I can’t wait to build a fort again!



How about you?  Do have some rainy day ideas that work well for your bunch?

Neil Gaiman: Why We Need Libraries

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Neil Gaiman is one of those buzzword authors. Unfortunately, I have not harkened to becoming a reader of his works. I have tried, really I have. However, I do perk up when it comes to successful authors speaking up about reading, particularly about libraries. Last year, Gaiman spoke eloquently about the need for libraries and the lecture,  “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming” was reprinted in The Guardian.  


The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.

Another excerpt:

Libraries are places that people go to for information. Books are only the tip of the information iceberg: they are there, and libraries can provide you freely and legally with books. More children are borrowing books from libraries than ever before – books of all kinds: paper and digital and audio. But libraries are also, for example, places that people, who may not have computers, who may not have internet connections, can go online without paying anything: hugely important when the way you find out about jobs, apply for jobs or apply for benefits is increasingly migrating exclusively online. Librarians can help these people navigate that world.

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Check out the lecture. You will be cheering by the end of reading it. You might even feel like running down to your library and say to it, “Thanks for being here.” Don’t forget to hug and a librarian and say the same.

A Bit of Bard for the Kidlits

List of titles of works based on Shakespearean...

How well do your kids know this guy? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shakespeare. He probably isn’t on most parental to-do lists when it comes to childhood enrichment items. Then again–why not? We trot our kiddos to soccer practice, piano lessons, and the library to enrich their lives, why not foster the love of the Bard at an early age?
Acclaimed playwright Ken Ludwig believes infusing the Bard into our children’s lives is an essential, endearing adventure to undertake. His How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare is both inspirational and inventive in its approach. Although I no longer have kidlits at home since my progeny are now building their own nests, I can still adapt Ludwig’s methods by amending them to classroom instruction, especially since the ninth grade Common Core curriculum has a Romeo and Juliet section.

Teaching Shakespeare to our children is a notable endeavour. Ludwig states a few of his goals as to why he taught Shakespeare to his children on page 11:

  • giving them tools to read Shakespeare’s works with intelligence for the rest of their lives
  • enriching their lives
  • exposing them to literature to inspire them toward achieving great lives as they grow
  • providing meaningful shared experiences

Cool. Those are pretty much my intentions when I teach Shakespeare to my classroom kiddos.
Ludwig hits all the essential values of the “why” of Shakespeare:
1. The richness of imagery
2. The lilt of rhythm
3. The nuances and playfulness of language
4. The importance of memorizing and tucking away forever a few exceptional passages to pull out and nibble on throughout life
5. The joy of exploring character

Shakespeare’s plays showcase poetry at its best. Why wait until the kinder are all grownup before relishing the richness of English language? I am always amazed when I get a ninth grader who states, “Shakespeare? Who’s Shakespeare?” Admittedly that confession is rare. Unfortunately, the only Shakespeare most students know is Romeo and Juliet. On the other hand, by the time they leave high school they will become acquainted with at least three plays and a a handful of sonnets.  Sadly, I didn’t have any Shakesperience until I began teaching it.  That’s nearly thirty years of being Bardless.  Shocking, I know.  Now I’m a professed Bardinator and hope to put my acquired knowledge to page, one of these days.  We’ll see.  I have too many books in want of writing as it is.

For now, I am thrilled to introduce Shakespeare to my freshmen and strive to induce appreciation for his words and wit.

Mass-produced colour photolithography on paper...

Anyone out there have the Bard on their parent list? Is it squeezed in with ballet and soccer?

Summer Rain

At this point it’s wishful thinking…is it me, or is this an especially warm summer?


 fat drops
sizzle steam
on sidewalk, parking lot–
glistening watered beads
cascading down windshields and windows
generating puddles
drenching surprised picnickers,
dog walkers,
park bench people-watchers,
distracted paperback readers–
children frolic, gleefully pirouetting
on the grassy lawn.
I too frolic with them, safely at my distance
under a friendly tree

©C.Muse 2012

Related articles

Summer Sensory

Summer from my backyard…

comforting drone of the neighbor’s lawnmower

thrum of rising heat

tantalizing waffs of barbeque

smiling inducing laughter and squeals of the VBS children at play

drone of ovehead planes taking in the view

piercing horn blasts of the A-line trains traveling north and south

conversation snatches of runners and bikers passing by

bass thrum of teens cruising around

crescendo of motorcycles out for a spin

the dip and dives of swallows catching supper bugs

robin chirrup, chickadee beckon, crow squawk, dove wing chrill, chipmunk scold

sprinkler tick, tick, ticky, tock

aspen leaf lift and swish and sway in the cooling gift of breeze

Ahhhhhh, mmmmm, summmer…..

#3: Picture Books Are for Any Age!

“What do you write?” is a question often traded at a writer’s conference.  My answer is usually an embarrassed “everything.” It’s true.  I write middle grade, YA, adult, poems, non-fiction, plays, book reviews–I like to write!  My favorite genre, the one I no doubt have spent the most time on, is picture books.

There is something incandescently, transcendentally, most amazingly wonderful  when it comes to experiencing a picture book.  They are even better when shared with a child.  I don’t mind reading them on my own.  Oh, picture books are only for kids?  Is that a bona fide rule?

Moving on with my Cricket List: Musings of a Voracious Reader, I decided to tackle my #3: Picture Books.This is a tough one because it could go on from here until next Tuesday because I have so many favorites.  I could probably start entire blog about picture books.  So instead of a list I am posting thumbnail covers of picture books read, admired, reread, find timeless, find amazing, and want to share with the world. Barnes and Noble supplied the images.


Click, Clack, Moo Tacky The Penguin If You Give A Mouse A Cookie The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate The Wash The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales Sheep In A Jeep Book Cover Image. Title: On the Night You Were Born, Author: by Nancy  Tillman Book Cover Image. Title: The Story of Ferdinand, Author: by Munro  Leaf Book Cover Image. Title: Make Way for Ducklings, Author: by Robert  McCloskey Book Cover Image. Title: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Author: by Eric  Carle Book Cover Image. Title: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Author: by Judith  Viorst Book Cover Image. Title: The Quiet Book, Author: by Deborah  Underwood

 Goodnight Moon (Board Book) Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? Happy Birthday to You! Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business Chicka Chicka Boom BoomOpposites Frog and Toad All Year (I Can Read Book Series: Level 2) One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish Harold and the Purple Crayon (50th Anniversary Edition) The Runaway Bunny   Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel  Corduroy  Guess How Much I Love You Moo, Baa, La La La! The Little Engine That Could Mouse Paint I Am a Bunny It Looked Like Spilt Milk Little Bear's Friend (I Can Read Book Series: A Level 1 Book) Leo the Late Bloomer Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? Blueberries for Sal (Picture Puffin Books Series) Stone Soup Little Gorilla Lap Board Book Harry the Dirty Dog Good Dog, Carl (Classic Board Books Series) Prayer for a Child Whistle for Willie

Tree Is Nice Andy and the Lion Windows with Birds The Snowy Day

This is only a thimble’s worth in the sea of picture book reads.  I stopped at page 15 of Barnes and Noble’s picture book list.  Feel free to browse on your own.  And  make sure to pop a couple of picture books in your basket when shopping at your local library or bookstore.  Picture books are forever.

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