Monday, July 30, 2012

Queen's Reading Tips: Helping Reluctant Readers

Happy Monday friend readers!
The Queen here with another post from the archives. With school quickly approaching, I can't say enough how important parents are in encouraging their children to be good readers. A love of reading offers so many great opportunities for a youngster. 

So, today, I wish to talk to you again, about helping those reluctant readers along the way.
Happy Reading,
The Queen


Just the other day, I was relaxing in my grand library, watching the young dragons and future knights pick their literary treasures for the week. I thought to myself, reading is what will one day make them great. It's true. The child who suffers in reading is the one who will suffer in life. 

Of course, there's my young trolls and ghouls who are not such avid readers. They reluctantly tramp through the many shelved adventures, snorting and grumbling that there are better things to do with their days. (such as chasing dragons and crushing knights.) We all have encountered them, have we not? Those reluctant readers? 

This dilemma sends my tiara twirling. I would love to simply declare a new law that all must read and love it, but alas, we can't make a youngster love to read, can we?

We can, however, strive to make reading times more enjoyable. Consider some of these possibilities on how to make reading a little more fun for your ghoulish reader.

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.  ~Mark Twain, attributed

Let's face facts, a love for reading has to be developed. 

First things first: if your child struggles with reading, eliminate any possibility of there being a learning disability or reading problem such as dyslexia. If words are jumping around the page, or if they have difficulty hearing words or sounding them out, then they will never love reading without help. Schools have programs designed specifically to help children with dyslexia, or those learning below their level of ability. 

However, if your child has no disabilities, then they can find reading enjoyable if you make it fun. Every site I explored about helping reluctant readers repeated the same two things: read out loud to your children and provide plenty of reading material throughout every room in the house. Did you know there are books that can be taken into the bathtub? 

Reading aloud means more than sitting in a chair to read a book. Take them to the bookstore and library for story times. Look for places that have exceptional storytellers and revisit often. There's nothing like hearing a story to help children find enjoyment in the written word. 

If you have never said "Excuse me" to a parking meter or bashed your shins on a fireplug, you are probably wasting too much valuable reading time.  ~Sherri Chasin Calvo

Make time for reading. This is a must. Here at the Castle, we avoid turning on the television until after dinner. That quiet time before is reserved for reading and homework. If it's scheduled, it'll become a routine which then forms a lifetime habit. 

What about when you are waiting in lines at the grocery store? Instead of fighting over getting a piece of candy, challenge your child to read the wrappers, or the magazine headlines to you. If they do it well, then maybe they've earned a treat. 

With the popularity of smart phones and ipads, any time spent waiting can be time spend playing word games or reading e-books. 

"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray. Go throw your TV set away! And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall." 
--Ronald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

OK, I know asking people to get rid of the television isn't going to happen. However, you can use it to your benefit. Use television time as a reward, not a necessity. Do keep viewing time to a only a few hours a week if possible. 

Here's something fun you can do while watching the tube: 
Turn the volume down on their favorite TV show and hit the subtitles button. Read the script with them and try to mimic the character's voices. Sponge-bob has an exceptionally, high whiny sounding voice. 

Challenge your child to read a book that has been made into a movie. Once the book is finished, watch the movie together and compare similarities and differences between the two. They may soon find, as most of us know, that the movies really aren't as good as the book itself. 

"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island."
— Walt Disney

Remember, reading is something meant to be enjoyed. Don't force your child to read. Do, find ways to encourage them by providing material on things they enjoy doing. If they'd rather be outside playing soccer, find books about how to be a better soccer player. 

Most important, take time to read yourself and model a love of reading. They will follow you. Especially if you make it special where you connect and spend time together discussing the marvels inside those adventurous pages.

Repost from Sept. 2011

Friday, July 27, 2012

Freebie Friday - Story Problems Worksheet

The Trolls here with another Freebie Friday. We like Freebie Fridays because we like to have fun. Especially if it's free fun. We are so there!

Every story has a problem. If there were no problems for the main character to overcome, then there'd be no story. None. Zip. Just boring rabble.

Who wants to read that?

It's not only necessary to be able to recognize the story problem in a book or short story you are reading, you need to know how to create a problem when you write your own stories. And boy howdy, do Trolls know how to create problems. Ha!

So, let's look at a few examples:

Harry Potter series: 
What is the problem? Harry belongs to a magical world where there's a bad wizard who wants to kill him.
Who is causing the problem? He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named
How is it solved? Harry must eventually defeat the dark lord. 

Charlotte's Web:

What is the Problem? Wilbur grows up to find out he will eventually be sent off to the meat house.
Who is causing the problem? Society in general. That's what happens to pigs that live on a farm.
How is it solved? Wilbur befriends a talented spider who decides to spin webs to save his life.

Are you getting it? Good. Now go read a book. See  if you can figure out the story story problem.  Fill in the boxes. Color Brutz because he's kinda cool. You could also use this worksheet to think out your own story. Make Brutz your main character, he loves being in stories. 
Click to download and Print Story Problem Worksheet

Happy Reading and Writing!
The Trolls (who love to have fun stuff to do if they have to read.)
It's just how we roll.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Fun... You know They'll Make You Write About it

Hello fellow scribes.
Today, we are veering off the beaten novel writing path for something a little different. Today I want to present a challenge. Today, I encourage you to open your creative minds and think.

What is one of the first assignments teachers ask from their students? Write about what you did this summer!

If you'll follow these simple instructions, you will be ahead of the game. You will knock your teacher's socks off and let's hope she's wearing clean ones because they'll probably fly across the room.

This week, let's make a Summer Fun Book.

Here's the first thing you do:

Make a book. You can get fancy or simple. If you are unsure how to put together a book of your own, here's a few links that might help.

A Place of Our Own: Homemade books

The Crafty Crow provides several options

There are more sites out there to get your ideas flowing, but these should provide a great start.

And why, you might ask, would I, Wizard Lexiconi ask you to make a book, instead of purchase the book? Because putting your time and personal touch to it makes it more special to you and you will more likely actually use it.

Now that you have your book made, divide your book into summer month sections. Say you have 10 pages. Use three pages for June, three for July and so forth. Leave the first page for your title and dedication and all that stuff that goes at the beginning of a book.

Now, think about one or two fun things you did in each month. Do you have pictures? How about a brochure or small souvenir? Something flat, preferably.

You can even draw pictures of a place you went, activity you  did and people who were there with you. Write a few sentences answering these questions:
1. Where and when did this event happen?
2. Why did you enjoy it so much?
3. Who was with you?
4. What, if anything, did you learn or experience that was new to you?

If you would rather simply write about what happened that day, that's fine, too.
There are no set rules.. This book is strictly for you.

Now, when you return to school, you are ready for that writing assignment. You have something to show your class. You have something interesting to talk about. And you'll razzle-dazzle your teacher with your brilliance and creativity. That's always a great way to start off a new school year. Trust me.

It's a win-win activity. I hope you'll join in.

There is always the frog pond for you if you don't.

Happy Writing friends!
Let your imagination weave some wacky tales. 
Wiz. Lexiconi, Sr. Mage 1st class: Fabulist extraordinaire.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Helping Young Readers Make Good Choices in Books

 Happy Monday dear Readers!
The Queen here with another post from the archives. Summer seems like a good time to sit and reflect on topics that bear repeating, especially with school nearing. One of the challenges I've had with some of my young readers, isn't always getting them to read, but being concerned about what they are reading. I've thought often about this and below you'll find what conclusions I've come up with.

Please do spend a little time researching what your children read. I've seen some instances where an author ties their book to one that teenagers are very fond of. Then teens think it's a book they can read, when in reality, that book is very inappropriate for a teenager. I can't stress enough. Make sure you read what the book is about. Check out review to see what other readers thought of that book. You'll not regret it.
Happy Reading,
The Queen


Good Day, Dear Reader Friends.
The Queen here wondering about book choices for young children. How do you decide what is acceptable to read, and what isn't. Perhaps you peruse review sites looking for what others think about a book before you'll allow your little ones to glace at the book cover. Or maybe you are comfortable letting your little bookworms pick and choose as they please.

I've often struggled with this issue myself. Back when the Harry Potter books first came out, I head all sorts of warnings and suggestions to keep the kids away from these books. Yet, the popularity grew and they were stocked in the school libraries and I knew if my kids wanted to read them, they could get them easily. Finally, I read them myself.

And I fell in love with the books. Now I'm more of a fan than they are. Go figure.

The same thing happened with the Princess when she came across the Twilight books. I looked at them with great trepidation at first. Vampires. Oh please.

Yet, again, I knew she could get the books easily and read them on the sly if she really wanted to. And she really did want to read them. So I got US a copy and we read them together.

The result: Lots of discussion about falling in love, making a person so important they just about become your god. And loosing yourself to another when you try to be like him.

What Parent's Are Doing:
I've heard from parents who are strict and watch everything their children read. They check the reviews and even read the books themselves when they can. I've talked to other parents who let their children make the choices, believing that if a child chooses it, then they are more likely to read and enjoy it. Everyone has to do what best fits their family.

What You Can Be Doing:
I think, friends, that it's important to be involved with your child's reading.
I believe it's important to read what your child reads so you will know what is going into their minds.
I encourage all parents to be open, but honest with what their children read. If there are some bad influences, use those topics for lively discussions.

In the Wimpy Kid books, I have a few issues with the main character Greg. Some of his character traits aren't so amiable. He's quick to throw his friends under the bus. He's a slacker and he's quite selfish. However, he does learn in the end. Some.

Instead of telling my little Prince that he can't read these books, which I get a real chuckle out of, as well, I use them to point out things about friendship, honesty, and what happens when you try to think only of yourself.

Teaching Our Kids To Read Wisely:
The most important key is to teach your kids when to close the book themselves.

We want our children to make wise choices about what they read. We don’t want them to be afraid of books, but to choose wisely and think intelligently about what they read. I always tell my kids, there are thousands upon thousands of books out there waiting to be read. If one makes you feel bad, or doesn’t meet up to your standard, toss it and go on to the next. Don’t miss out on the really great reads by wasting your time with something that doesn’t appeal to you.

Same goes for dragons. But that's another issue.

Happy Reading.
The Queen

Friday, July 20, 2012

Freebie Friday - Rankus coloring page and online book sites

Happy Friday dear Reader friends--

The Queen here with another Freebie Friday coloring page.

Some of you may have met Rankus the Dragon when he talked about writing for elementary students. If you missed his fun lesson, go back over the past Wizardly Writing Wednesdays and take a look.

For today, you can find his coloring page by clicking the link.

Color Rankus the Dragon reading a book. What books have you read this summer? Write the titles on the background. Maybe Rankus has read them, too.   

Here are some other fun places you can check out for books online:

UTales is an online interactive bookstore where parents and teachers can find loads of picture books.

Storyline is a video collection featuring actors from the Screen Actor's Guild reading picture books. The videos transition smoothly from the actor/actress holding the book to pictures from the book. The videos pan from the actor to the book smoothly and often have music accompaniment to go along with the story. The experience is quiet enjoyable. 

Whichever way you choose to read a story, do make sure you spend time every day with a book. It will enrich your life beyond measure.

The Queen

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wizardry Writing Wednesday - Writing Prompt

Hello again young scribes of the Castle Library realm.

I've checked ye old calendar of days, and realized that sometime in the next couple of months, many of you will be returning to The Halls of Knowledge... aka school.

Now, my young pen pushers, is not the time to grow slack in your journalistic practices. (aka writing)

You don't want to be at the tail end of the writing spectrum when you return to your nearest learning institution, now do you?

Did some frog croak "Yes?"
I know you don't wish to be turned into pond scum, do you??

Okay, quills and parchment ready? (Pen and paper for you trolls).

Here is this week's picture:

Now, just where do you suppose this fine fellow is off to? Perhaps some party? A fashion show? A snail parade? What do you think? Let your imaginations run wild. Has the fairy court invited him to their festivities?

Some Questions You Can Answer:
Give him/her a name.
Write one quirky trait the mouse has. Such as:whiskers twitching, tail twisting... you get it?
Where is the mouse going?
What does the mouse want more than anything?
What does the mouse do when he can't have/do that anything?
How will the mouse get around that obstacle? 
When the mouse does get what he wants, what is the result?

Tie up your story in a awesomely cool ending.

You now have another story. Keep these stories. You might need them when school starts. Make sure you draw some pictures of your mouse and illustrate your story.
Happy Writing,
Let your imagination weave some wacky tales.
Wiz. Lexiconi, Sr. Mage 1st class: Fabulist extraordinaire

Monday, July 16, 2012

Reading Readiness for Pre-schoolers

Happy Monday Reader Friends.
Today, I'm digging through the vault of past post and re-sharing some tips I believe are still valuable. For younger children who haven't been to school yet, preparing them to be good readers can make or break their educational experiences in the years to come. Start early. Start now.

Here's a few ideas you can do at home...
Happy Reading,
The Queen.


Children who are provided with plentiful reading opportunities are more likely to succeed and go further in school than those who don’t have reading materials provided at home. This is a finding by the International Survey Center and University of Nevada, Reno, United States, in the article; Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations (2010). 

Good reading habits start in the home. It doesn’t matter what kind of educational background parents or caregivers have, what matters is what a parent does to promote a love of reading before their child starts school. Helping a child toward being a skillful reader requires a few simple steps and habits that will lead them toward being an enthusiastic learner.

From just a few months of age, children want to explore everything and will look at pictures, listen to your voice and point to objects that interest them. Helping toddlers associate pictures with words is a big step in their understanding words relate to things. Point out signs you pass by while driving and read as many words as you encounter.

Read every day to your child. This can’t be stressed enough.  Books help stimulate a child’s imagination so that they can see the world outside of themselves. Toddlers are so self-centered, reading stories and talking about what the character is feeling and thinking helps them to realize other people have feelings, too. 

Activity: Reading Free-choice
Allow your child to pick out the books they want to read. If they pick out difficult books, you can still help them with picture reading and picking out words they do recognize. Listen when your child reads a book. No, they will not actually be reading words at this age, but they will mimic what they’ve heard you read, and they will read the pictures. Ask questions as they read.

“What is the puppy doing here?”
“What do you think he’s digging for?”
“Does he look happy/sad? Why?”

Talk about what they see and ask them what they think. This stimulates their reasoning skills and helps them to relate to what’s happening in the book, showing them how to be an active reader. 

Pre-School Age
When your child reaches 3 to 5 years of age, their curiosity about the world is at a staggering height. Feed that curiosity by letting them do things with you, especially those things that require reading. Cooking a cake requires reading the recipe. Show your child the back of the box. Most have pictures of what is needed. Help them to find the word eggs that will match the picture of the eggs. Continue the word and picture association which reinforces that words have meanings. Now is the time to add letters to their learning. Letters make up words that have meaning in our world.

Activity: It’s in the Name
Young children love seeing their names and knowing that word belongs to them.

Card-stock or cardboard paper
Pencils, crayons, markers
Macaroni, beans, glitter, sequins or other small crafty objects

Start by printing an outline of your child’s name in either dashes or using a yellow highlighter. Allow them to trace the letters. They must say each letter as they write it. Once their name is written, allow them “write” the letters with small beads of glue. Younger children will need help. Make sure they say each letter as they add the glue. Now, let them decorate their name with the macaroni, beans or whichever item you’ve chosen. Once their creation is dry, hang somewhere where they can run their fingers over the letters and repeat them over and over.

Let them make their whole names. The more letters they begin to recognize, the closer they are to memorizing the alphabet, which is a big first step in reading readiness.  

Simple, fun activities done throughout the summer will help your child be ahead of the game when school starts in the fall. 
re-post from 6/11

Friday, July 13, 2012

Freebie Friday- Book Open a Universe of Possibilities

Good Friday dear readers!
The Queen here with another fabulous Freebie Friday.

Do you know why I love books so much? It's because there are no limits to where your mind can travel in a story. And not only fiction books, but if you wish to learn about the universe, stars, mountains... anything, there is probably a book out there that talks about it.

If a child can read... if a parent teaches the importance of reading to a child... they've opened a door to unlimited possibilities for that child. But when a child struggles at reading, it's like chaining a huge stone to their legs. Every step they take through school, and life, will cause such great effort, they want to give up.

So, that's why we are here, dear friends. To cheer you on. To encourage you to make reading fun. To open the door a peek at all the wonderment to be had in the stories our world has to offer. There are so many. So many.

Surely, every single person can find a story that speaks to their heart, that piques their interest. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. That special story is out there. Waiting for you to find it.

Don't give up. It might mean the world to someone.

Click on the link beneath the picture for a printable version of this week's free coloring page.

Click for Today's Coloring Page
Let your imagination soar with creative wings to take you wherever you want to go.

And don't forget if you'd like to be in the drawing for Monday's book give-away, leave a comment on either Pipper's Secret Ingredient post, or today's post to be included in this weekend's drawing.

Until next week,
Happy Reading
The Queen

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pipper's Secret Ingredient and A Book Give-away!

Happy Monday, dear readers! We are back from a week off of celebrating and enjoying our summer here at The Castle Library. The dragons did behave and everyone was able to enjoy a spectacular fireworks display that evening.

But today, I'm excited about presenting a new book and being able to offer it free to the winner of our Pipper's Adventure Drawing!

I found Pipper's Secret Ingredient to be quite different than most books I've read. However, I loved the brilliant illustrations and simple story line. I think this would be a wonderful book for fledgling readers who need short chapters, enjoy lots of engaging pictures and require simple text. Plus, for teachers, home-schoolers and parents who wish to take the story a step further, please check out the Activity Guide on

NOW... here's how the drawing will work.
Unfortunately, because of postal rates, I can only award the book to people living in the USA at this time. If you'd like a chance to get a free copy of Pipper's Secret Ingredient, leave your name in the comments section and a link to your blog or website so I can contact you if you win.

This weekend, I'll pull out a name of the winner and post it here next Monday. Check back in case I'm unable to contact you. 

I'm so excited about our first book give-a-way, my crown is spinning!!
Happy Reading,
The Queen.


Author: Jane Murphy                                                                           Illustrator: Allison Fingerhuth and Neal Sharp


Book Information:

Publisher and date: Mutt Media (March 30, 2012)
Reading level: ages 8+
Book Info: Hardcover: 145 pages
Genre: Fiction chapter book
ISBN:13: 978-0615388083

Book Theme:
World travel, cooking, friendship, mystery, dogs, blogging

Book Summary

Meet Pipper, food blogger, world traveler, and best friend to a tight group of canine companions. Join her on her tail-wagging adventure in search of the secret ingredient to the perfect treat. Meet her loyal friends and the characters she encounters as she gallops across desert dunes in a camel race, pedals her way through the streets of Paris, chases through the cars of the Orient-Express, joins rock-and-roll fans at Katz's New York deli, and climbs the Inca Trail, all with Bumbles Brug on her tail. Contemptible Bull Bogus, who is determined to find the secret ingredient first, hired the clumsy flunky Bumbles to do his dirty work. Will Pipper succeed and keep the secret ingredient from the paws of Bumbles and Bogus? And what surprise awaits when she returns home from her travels? This Snoutz adventure is better than a T-bone on a desert island after a romp in the waves.

Activity Adventures:

Pipper's Secret Ingredient website offers pictures from the story, information about the book, and a 31-page Activity Guide with lesson ideas, worksheets and writing prompts.

Which leaves little room for me to add more here.

However, I would suggest you take some time to try out Pipper's recipes found at the back of the book and spend some time Googling and researching the places she traveled to. I'm sure you'll find a lot of interesting facts and perhaps you can plan a trip of your own one day soon.

Authors Arena

Jane Murphy is author of a variety of food, parenting, and business books. As a partner in KIDVIDZ special interest videos for children, she wrote and produced a line of award-winning videos for school age children. Jane is a professionally trained chef and was previously a partner in CHOW, a company that created food-related programming for kids and families. Jane's been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Rockefeller Foundation National Video Resources. She has served on the Tufts Children and Media Advisory Board, Grolier Publishing Advisory Board, and Harvard-Radcliffe Childcare Council.

Allison Fingerhuth is a product development, marketing and licensing professional who has worked in a variety of business sectors, including educational publishing, children's television, and food/entertainment. Among her many creative and strategic accomplishments, Allison managed the creation and development of several Nickelodeon award-winning consumer product lines. Allison is real life mom of Old English Sheepdog, Lu, the inspiration for Pipper and the BowWOW Bakery.

Neal Sharp has illustrated award-winning children’s books, including Just Teddy. Neal focuses on extensive character design and enthusiastically proclaims, “I have learned never to underestimate the discerning taste that kids have for good stories and pictures.”

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Taking the Week off for Independence Day

Hello friend readers,
The Queen here with all her dragons and trolls and knights here to wish you...

Dirkus, leave those fireworks alone! Your fire might set them off before it's time, for goodness sakes!

Oh where was I?
Wait, I remember, we wanted to wish all our reader friends a wonderful Indep--

Rankus, do something about your brother!! For goodness sakes, see? I told you that might happen. Knights, bring in the water trough. Yes, yes, sit it right beside the fireworks and somebody put those dragons outside.

Independence Day, yes, I hope it's full of fun, and family and loads of adventure. Oh, and stop by your local library to check out a book about how it all happened. There's loads of fictional and non-fictional accounts of how the fourth of July came to be.

Oh, oh, oh my what WAS that noise? Oh dear. 

I'm afraid I have to go now. Come back next week for more book news, reviews and Freebie Friday. Stay safe.

Which one of you blasted lizards sneezed on the fireworks display?