Sunday, September 26, 2010

Written in Bone exhibit at American Museum of Natural History

Last Fall, I read and reviewed Sally M. Walker's Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland.  This is a book about the discovery of bones and artifacts from Colonial Jamestown, VA and Colonial Maryland. In that review, I said, "What makes this book exceptional are the stories it tells along the way. Not only do we learn more about the actual skeletons that were uncovered, but we learn about the way of life that was often brutal and even deadly during this period."

I also mentioned that I had visited the exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. before reading the book. I just revisited the exhibit after having read the book again, and this time, it was absolutely amazing.

Coming face-to-face with the lead coffins found buried under the church floor and seeing actual skeletons of the people who were found was a great experience.

Lead coffins discovered under church in MD.

Many of the displays were presented as "forensic case files," allowing visitors see how these cases were investigated and solved. There's even a hands-on lab that lets visitors become scientists.

Artifacts found during the excavations were also on display, and life-sized replications of some of the individuals found and forensic facial reconstructions really make you realize that the bones in the cases were real humans who lived fascinating, often brutal lives centuries ago.

Even if you haven't read the book, I recommend visiting the exhibit, but if you have the opportunity to read the book before you visit, it makes for a richer experience.

Video about the exhibit:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Banned Books Week

Today marks the beginning of this year's Banned Books Week. I stopped questioning why others decide to challenge and ban books. It makes me too angry and is something that I just don't understand. So my act of rebellion is to read as many banned books as I can. Especially during Banned Books Week, I try to read or re-read some of the books that have been most challenged during the past year.

See this year's top 10 and learn more about what you can do here.

This week, I'm starting with one of my all time favorites, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. I treated myself to the 50th Anniversary Edition. When anyone asks me who my favorite literary character is, Atticus Finch is always near the top of my list. What a wonderful character, a wonderful book, and what a downright amazing story.

I've read most of the other books on the top ten, but I've never read The Chocolate War. I think I'll try that next.

Are you doing anything for Banned Books Week?

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I finally had some time to read over the weekend and finished Mockingjay, THE most highly-anticipated book of the year for me. This is more my reaction than a "review" because you can find reviews all over the place. I've been purposely staying away from blogs and reviews because I didn't want to find spoilers, so I have no idea what other readers think of the book. 

What did I want to see in this final book in The Hunger Games series?

  • A resolution to the war. Check!
  • A resolution to the Katniss - Peeta- Gale love triangle? Check!
  • Twists and turns that you've come to expect from the series. Check!
 As you can only expect, the rebels and the Capitol are in the midst of a war, so it's probably THE most violent and goriest book of the series. But I have to say that the thing I liked most from the first two books, the first book especially, was missing - great character development. To me, this book had more of an "action movie" feel than a fully developed story. Sure, the first two books led up to this "final battle," but it seemed Suzanne Collins took less care with the characters in this book than with the action, and truly amazing books balance both.

That said, I did enjoy this book a lot, and I think readers will be satisfied with the ending (even if they were routing for Katniss to end up with a different person than she did.)

Now, I'm going to go read other reactions.

The links in this post are affiliate links. With every purchase you make through clicking on these links, you are helping support The Well-Read Child.  

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pictures of Kids Reading

I haven't updated the slideshow of kids reading on my blog for a while now. If you'd like me to post a picture of your child reading, being read to, or interacting with books in some way (babies eating books counts!), please send them to me at thewellreadchild AT gmail DOT com.

Also, if you've sent a picture in the past couple of months and don't see it on the slideshow, please resend. My e-mail crashed a while back, and I lost all of my messages and files.


A Reading First

I've been reading so many great books with my little ones lately, and lots of reviews are in the works. While I'm working on those, I wanted to share a fun "reading first" in my house.

Last night, my 3 1/2 year old daughter asked if she could read her baby brother a book. She sat down on the floor with him and pulled out Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? and started "reading" it to him word for word. While she can't really read, she has the words to a few books memorized and loves to show off her reading skills.

The baby was entranced by his big sister and stared at her while she read the entire book.  I was such a proud momma watching this wonderful literary exchange between the two.

What about you? Do you have stories of "reading firsts" with your children?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming, illustrations by G. Brian Karas

Always a fan of a great story, Clever Jack Takes the Cake is a new story with an old-fashioned fairy tale feel. Upon receiving an invitation to the princess's birthday party, a poor boy named Jack creatively gets the ingredients to make her a cake. On the way to the party, he meets a number of obstacles including a hungry troll and a dancing bear who, little by little, take pieces of the cake until there's hardly any left for the princess. However, Jack ends up giving the princess a delightful gift that is far more interesting than the usual tiaras and gems the other children bring her.

This is the kind of story that just grabs you from the very beginning and makes you keep turning the page to see what happens next. It's an original folktale that I think has lasting power. On first read, I didn't even look at the illustrations, which is pretty rare when I read a picture book but also the mark of a wonderful story. It doesn't need illustrations to support it, but when I finally did look at them, the soft antique-like colors offer the perfect "old-timey" tone.

As for the three-year-old test, it passed with flying colors. I can probably recite the book from heart since I've read it so many times.

With just enough humor and fairy tale magic, this makes a perfect story time book.

  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (August 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375849793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375849794
  • Source: Review copy from publisher 
The links in this post are affiliate links. With every purchase you make through clicking on these links, you are helping support The Well-Read Child.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Audio Books for Pre-Schoolers

We're gearing up for a 6+ hour road trip in the upcoming weeks, and I was hoping to check out some audio books from the library for my 3 1/2 year old. Do any of you have any recommendations?