Imagination Library Graduate

Ian loves books and has for as long as I can remember.  This is in part because of his participation in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which started at a very young age.

In the state of Tennessee and a few others, children can be registered at birth and receive a book a month until they turn 5 years old.  Isn’t that an amazing gift?  I certainly think so!!

Pictured is Ian reading the first book that he got in the program — “Skippyjon Jones Up & Down” by Judy Schachner.  He was fascinated with the pictures and story. He enjoyed listening to us read it to him too.

We didn’t register him until he was about 7 months old so he still didn’t receive all of the books he could have during this first 5 years of life, but he now has an impressive collection.

Since he turned 5 years old on Tuesday, he has graduated from this program.  I am a bit sad since we so looked forward to what the books would be each month.  They were right on track with his age and interest.  Clearly they have a staff who knows about children’s books.

The good thing about this program was him seeing and reading books that we probably wouldn’t have picked on our own or hadn’t heard about.  Now he likes a variety of books and has learned to love reading.

Imagination Library was created by Dolly Parton.  She grew up in Tennessee and wanted to do something to give back to the community and the state.  Thank God for Dolly since she has done so much for childhood literacy!

This morning I looked at the program’s web site (www.imaginationlibrary.com) and saw that more than 600,000 children are currently enrolled.  That is an amazing amount of books being given away!

The book that Ian received this week for graduation includes a really nice letter from Dolly Parton.  The book itself is about kindergarten, “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!” by Nancy Carlson. This is great for getting kids ready for the next step.

Dolly Parton’s graduation letter says in part, “My, how time flies.  It seems it was only yesterday when your family and friends read you your first story.  You were just a baby.  Now you’re five years old and about to go to school.  How exciting!

“This may be your last book from my Imagination Library but you have to promise me you will keep on reading,”  the letter continues.

Yes, Mrs. Parton, we promise to continue reading and will go to our local library regularly to keep the love of reading alive in Ian!

We also like the new and used book stores, and Ian has a closet in his room that is his at-home library.  He will often say, “Mommy, I’m reading in my library.”  I love to hear that sentence!

My dream would be to write a children’s book that would be included in this collection!  That would truly be amazing!

Some of our favorites from this program have been:

  • “Skippyjon Jones Up & Down” by Judy Schachner
  • “Otis” by Loren Long
  • “Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain” by Verna Aardema
  • “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats, a winner of The Caldecott Medal
  • “The House That Jack Built” by Jeanette Winter
  • “Easy Street” by Rita Gray (about how roads are made)
  • “The Tale of Pip and Squeak” by Kate Duke
  • “Firefighters to the Rescue!” by Kersten Hamilton
  • “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper
  • “Holler Loudly” by Cynthia Leitich Smith

We will continue to read and hopefully can provide new books to Ian on a regular basis.  And, we hope that this program continues to grow and awaken the love of books in other children as it has in Ian.

Thanks again to Dolly Parton and the entire Imagination Library staff and authors of the books!  You are providing such an amazing service to so many!!

We Love To Read

“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.” — A.C. Grayling

“The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade.” — Anthony Trollope

“If you can read this, thank a teacher.” — Anonymous teacher

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss

“Children are made readers on the laps on their parents.” — Emile Buchwald

One of my favorite things to do is sit and read a good book. How about you?

A comfy chair or couch, or the beach, a good drink (depending on the temperature and weather, it could be a cold glass of water or hot cocoa), and a real book.  Ah bliss.  I like hard or soft bound books and ones with interesting art on the cover and a great story inside.  I still haven’t converted over the E-Books — at least not yet.

I enjoy being transported into another place and watching the characters deal with issues or learn something new about themselves. Some of my favorite authors are Carol Higgins Clark, Danielle Steel, David Baldacci, John Grisham, Wendy Corsi Staub, Jane Green, and Nora Roberts.  And, I have recently discovered Karen McQuestion and Jane Porter.

When I was younger, I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie” series as well as “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis, and “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett was another childhood favorite.

I also enjoy biographies of people such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Amy Grant, Julie Andrews, Susan Boyle, Ricky Martin, and Dean Martin as well as many, many other fascinating people.  And the story of Anne Frank is truly sad and moving. Finding out what makes people tick and their life history is truly fascinating to me.

I also enjoy reading my soap magazine to find out about the actors who tell the stories that I so enjoy.  And, it’s been fun that I have met a few of them through the years.  As you see, I have a wide variety of tastes.

And, now having a 4-year-old soon-to-be reader, I have enjoyed seeing his love for books!  He too enjoys pouring over a book and studying all about them.  And, once he hears a story read to him, he can then read it back to himself.

One of our favorites is Richard Scarry.  Ian can spend hours as I used to do looking at all of the animals on the page, the cool cars, and fascinating stories and characters.  And, he has recently discovered Dr. Seuss!  He loves “The Foot Book,” “The Sleep Book,” and “Yertle the Turtle” among many, many titles.  I think that these two are the best children’s authors.

Each month of his life, Ian has been getting a book as part of the Imagination Library.  God bless Dolly Parton for sharing the love of reading with so many people in Tennessee and other states!  Ian has looked forward to these books each month and we now have quite a collection.  His last book will be the month he turns 5 years old.  That will be sad but maybe Kirk and I can start our own collection for him.  Kirk too loves to read.

And, each month in the mail, Ian gets his High Five magazine which he really likes.  It is neat for him to be excited about a magazine and all of the great stories inside and funny things to look at!  Thanks to my parents for the subscription.

Each week we like to go to our city library.  Ian will often ask to go since he enjoys playing there with toys and puzzles, renting movies, as well as checking out a pile of books.  Right now we have three videos and 20 books checked out.  Among these are “Harry, the Dirty Dog,” “The Sneetches and other stories,” The Caboose Who Got Loose,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” and a few for me as well.

This summer our library will have its yearly reading program.   We signed up Ian a few years ago and read many, many books to him.  He loved it and the summer ended with a great party in the park behind the library.  A fun time, that’s for sure.

I have several friends who have published books.  It is an honor to know people who have been published since I know the hard work involved.  I hope to join this club one day!  In addition to my love of reading, I hope to be an author.  I really want to write a children’s book as well as a novel.  I am currently working on ideas and look forward to seeing what develops.

What books do you like?  What authors can you lose time with while being transported to another place and time?  Please share these with me and our other readers!

The Power of Books

This morning I finished a really good book by an author who I have enjoyed for a while now — Jane Green.

It was called “Promises To Keep” and without giving away the story, it is one that will make you think and truly appreciate your loved ones and how truly precious and short life is.

When I picked it up I didn’t realize the true subject of the book as it is deep in the story where you find out a main and loved character is very ill.

I have several friends who are ill right now and I couldn’t help but think about them and shed a few tears as I was reading the end of the book.  As I closed the book, I said prayers for my friends and asked for the Lord to pour out His love and mercy to them.  And, I prayed for their families as well.

Isn’t it something how much a work of fiction can affect us?  In either a good way or a bad way. We can lose ourselves in another world and truly come to love the characters we are reading about.

Then when you finish the book, you want to read more and not let those characters go.  You want to continue to go on their journey. That is how I have felt today with that book I finished.  I didn’t want it to end yet I knew that it would.

That to me is the sign of a great story.  There are many kinds that I like — chick lit, mysteries, stories about Amish people, police stories, romances, and many others.

Another book by Jane Green that I really liked is “Jemima J.” I have read this book three times. The book is about ugly ducklings and swans and the main character trying to lose weight (something I can truly relate to).  Jemima is a great girl who you can’t help rooting for and hoping that she will succeed. I imagine I will be reading about her once again.

I also like several other authors a lot and have read many of their books — Carol Higgins Clark writes wonderful mysteries as does her mother, Mary Higgins Clark.  And, I also really have enjoyed Danielle Steel for several years and recently discovered Michael Connelly.

I still remember one of my favorite books when I was a girl, “The Secret Garden.” This is the first book that I really remember enjoying and getting totally swept into. I want to re-read it and see if it holds any of the magic that it used to.

My favorite book series growing up were the “Little House on the Prairie” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C. S. Lewis.  These were two very distinctive and very different worlds that I was transported into.  I imagined the lives of the characters and wanted to be there with them.

Most of my family loves to read and we like a wide variety.  I am glad of that and enjoy talking to them about a story that was one that they couldn’t put down. Reading books is something to celebrate, in my opinion.

My son Ian has loved books for a while and is now in the early stages of reading.  We regularly go to our city’s library and check out 15 to 20 books at a time for him.  He grins and enjoys each story. I truly love seeing him light up when we read him a story and he later goes back and reads it to himself.

Recently, he has discovered Dr. Seuss.  We have “The Foot Book” and the ABC book as well.  He really likes both of those and recently quoted from The Foot Book.

I hope to write a few books one of these days.  I really want to write a children’s book or book series and will chat with Ian and my nieces and nephews about some ideas.

One idea is in the back of my mind, however, and has been for years.  My grandfather told us stories for many years about a few characters.  I want to compile these into stories for my family. Maybe this year I can work on that. I just need to see what they remember so we can get them recorded on paper before we all forget them.

I am also toying with the idea of writing either a short story or a novel.  I have a story already started and will see where it takes me. I will keep you posted on the progress of this endeavor.

I would love to hear about the books that you enjoy reading.  Please share with us the ones that really spoke to you.

I wonder if I can write as interesting a book as I enjoy reading.  I am going to try, that’s for sure.  Happy reading!!

Time to Lose, Etc.

Time to Lose Week 8

Yet another week has come and gone with the weight loss adventure.

The exercising didn’t go exactly as I had planned, but there is good news. I lost 2 pounds because of better food choices.  YEAH!  It truly is a combination of the two but quite a bit from healthy foods.

In each meal, I am eating either fruits or veggies and am having protein as well. That seems to be making a good difference.  I still, however, have a major appetite and am not sure when that will change.  Hopefully soon, so I am trying to fill up on healthier options – plums, pears, oranges, green salad, corn on the cob, etc.

This morning I tried on a dress that I haven’t worn in a while.  It seems to fit better than it has in recent months.  My shape seems to be improving and that is really nice.

I have to remember that weight loss isn’t all about the scale — but also about how clothes fit and how you feel.  These items are improving and I am very thankful.

There are still plenty of items to work on but each week it’s getting easier!  I still like the occasional really good hamburger with for example, Cali Cobb toppings (blue cheese, bacon, and avocado) and thin-cut fries.  This was a recent meal I enjoyed at a restaurant and it was delicious and the best hamburger I’ve had in ages.

And, I now like dark chocolate which is supposed to be better for you.  My favorite is Ghirardelli dark with mint.  I have learned that when I do want a splurge, it is going to be something I really like and will really enjoy the taste of.  I am not wasting my calories anymore on a so-so tasting item.

Here is to another week that more will be lost and more will be learned. Cheers!!

Etc.

**I have to say how glad I am that it is Friday.  It will be a busy weekend, but I still enjoy the different routine to a Saturday and a Sunday than the other 5 days of the week. Being able to sleep in a little bit on Saturday morning is a treat, as well as a special breakfast or event for the day. And going to church is the highlight for Sunday as well as lunch with the family and then a lazy afternoon.

*And, I have to say Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss.  He is one of the best children’s authors ever.  I have liked his books for many years. And, now I am so thankful that Ian is enjoying them too.  My grandmother recently gave him “The Foot Book.” Last night as he was going to bed, he quoted from this book.

I have to say that is the mark of a great book when a 4-year-old remembers the lines from it a week after it’s been read to him!!  I hope to write a children’s book one day and can only hope to aspire to a little of the genius of Dr. Seuss.

Hope you have a great week – no matter what you are doing!  I wonder if we can make the most of it and enjoy each and every day! Hope you will!

Time to Lose and Other Things

Time to Lose Week 7

Hi!  I am a day late in writing for week 7 of the weight loss quest. No loss or gain this week. Staying the same is something I am happy for this week.

I missed not writing last week, but the time got away from me. And, then we were busy with a lot of items yesterday.  Hope you have been well.

I have really appreciated all of the feedback and support I have been getting on this journey! It helps keep me motivated.

Eating the better food choices is still going well — although I occasionally like a treat that I shouldn’t probably be eating. I try to limit those items to just once a week.  I guess it’s all a matter of balance, isn’t it.  The item that I continue to struggle with is finding the time for exercise. I am over being so lazy but can’t seem to get out of my rut.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

This time of year is a lot of time spent inside and sitting. I need to move and get out more.  My entire family seems to do better when we do.  So, this next week, I am going to strive to make a point of exercising each day.  Even if it’s just 15 minutes of walking or dancing, that is still better than nothing.  I know that I need to be doing at 45 minutes of cardio each day and am working back to that again.

Other Things 

I had to share a few milestones for my four-year old son in the last two days.  Yesterday he woke up talking about dinosaurs and how much he wanted to learn about them.  He then added that he wants to learn to read.  How exciting is that? I love that he wants to learn!!

Today, he asked me to first write and then sound out Pre-si-dents’ Day. He then sounded it out.  I told him, you are reading, and he grinned from ear to ear. I think we have a breakthrough.

He then asked me what sound F makes.  He so wants to learn and is ready to take off!  YEAH IAN!!!!  Mommy is so proud of you.

Isn’t it great how children are so excited when they learn something new and can understand it?  He was so proud of himself, and rightly so.  I am going to try to have that same excitement about the items that I am learning on my journey!

I wonder if in this next week we can be excited about learning something new each day?  I am going to try to continue to encourage Ian as well.

God’s blessings to you on this first day of Lent!

A Different Time

I just finished reading an interesting book that I checked out from the library. It is called “The Girl in the Gate House.”

It takes place in England in the 1800s. This was a time of manners, everyone having a certain place (be it royal, servant, etc.), and a time when men and women had very clearly defined roles that one didn’t cross.

The main character is a writer which is something that in this story, women just didn’t do — well at least not ladies of any reputation. She writes anonymously and in secret.

I find it shocking that something I have loved doing for most of my life and have earned a living at would have to be done in secret. I can’t imagine living in a time when I wouldn’t have been able to do my vocation and a hobby that is so very important and vital to me. I have several friends who also write and are quite good at doing so.

The fact that this character (named Mariah) writes despite the times she lives in is quite inspiring. I found myself rooting for her as she figures out her way in life. The book is a very good one that kept my attention and was a fascinating look at a very different time.

Not being able to write is one thing, but there have been times in our history that people because of their gender, their race, their religion or who they chose to love have been restricted from normal living. Are these reasons truly ones to hate someone or to harm someone else? Or not let someone succeed or be successful in whatever their calling is? I don’t think so.

I can’t imagine disliking someone or restricting someone from anything for any of these reasons. It is beyond comprehension that Anne Frank and her family had to live as they did. Or that Rosa Parks lived at a time when she had to sit at the back of the bus.

I am in awe of the bravery that these two women had and what they had to put with in their lives. Despite everything that Anne Frank went through she still saw the good in people. Amazing and a true inspiration! These women and many others are ones to cheer for, appreciate, and learn from.

I wonder if we truly can learn from people who have suffered before us. And, I still wonder if we can appreciate the blessings that we have that others have fought for. I hope and pray that we can.