Guys Read

My husband has three sisters. One has no children, and the other two have three children. Add that to our two and you have some serious "cousining" when they are all together. Eight children under the age of nine and seven of them are boys. On my last visit to one of these homes, my brother in law and I got to talking about books for boys. I thought I’d list some resources for fathers and their boys and hope that the rest of the LJ community will chime in with other ideas. 

The first stop on our Guys Read tour is Guys Read. (funny that) Jon Scieszka, rhymes with Fresca, is the catalyst for the site and funds it with help from the New York Foundation for the Arts.  He is also the newly appointed National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature. The position is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council. Use this site with your kids to input your favorite books, and authors to create a list of recommended books for your child.

I’ve found that my boys had a sort of "ah-ha" moment when the stars aligned and the time, book and mood was right and then they took off. Until then, read to them, read with them (page for page, or paragraph for paragraph.) A great resource for this is the We Both Read series. 

Boys tend to be infokids. They love to learn about new subjects and learn more about what they already know. I’m sure many of us have seen our child check the same dinosaur, baseball, volcano book from the library a million times. We roll our eyes and wonder why they don’t want something new. Fugedaboudit! Let them take out that book and pack yet another dry bologna and American cheese sandwich and just watch them smile. To learn about interesting nonfiction for kids check out I.N.K.

Penguin group also has an early version of the Guys Read reading list here
A mom and pop site is here.
An internet "hotlist" with links on the subject and reading lists here.
Another blog "Books and Boys" with great links here.
A Random House book list is here.

If you have a teenage boy, make sure they bookmark Guys Lit Wire. This blog generally posts on Mondays and Fridays from a stable of contributors including our own kellyrfineman . Here you’ll find  YA reviews, discussions, news and books, books, books. 

(Necessary disclaimer: As always, please check out any internet site to make sure you think it is appropriate for your child.)

Remember that there are a lot of ways to enjoy books and reading. The sports page of the newspaper? Sure. Comic books? Absolutely. Humor or subjects that you might not enjoy yourself? Even better because they feel independent. Audiobooks? Yes, yes, let them enjoy these stories however they can access them. Trips to the library? All the time! Meeting authors? Whenever you can. Online book extensions and author websites? Please do. All of these experiences will bring your boys enjoyment when they read, and that’s the goal. 


Creative people often work in isolation so some of us will do anything to see other humans (adult humans). This weekend, I boarded a plane and flew to Manchester, NH where my good friend Joyce picked me up and drove me to the Poland Springs Campground. Here I get a chance to schmooze with all these amazing writers and friends. We work, we laugh, we talk, we eat, we drink, we eat, we drink, we laugh more… you get it. My hubby has been away quite a bit so I totally needed this break. On Monday, I’ll be back to work and busy but for now, I’m so happy being surrounded by support and love. 


 Most bloggers know about tags but for those who don’t, they are the words or phrases you assign to your journal postings to organize them. Theoretically, if someone wanted to know "about me" they could click on the "about me" tag on the left side of my journal page and all of the journals I’ve ever written with that tag would be available for them to peruse. I didn’t know about tags myself until April 4th of 2007 (I started the blog on Sept. 26th, 2006). I use them with other people. For Kelly Fineman, for instance, sometimes I have a poetry form question and can go in and check for her posts regarding a sonnet or haiku.

What is interesting about my tags is that they change in font size depending on how many of the entries are tagged that way. Recently, the "conference" tag has been growing at a steady rate along with the "writing" tag. You can pretty much tell what I’m spending my time on that way. You can also see what I’m not working on…illustration, reading books. Ah, well… to every thing there is a season. 

May you find peace on this solemn day.

My Election Story

 Today carriejones has a great post on why you should vote and why local elections are so important. I thought I’d just throw in my own personal story. 

In 1996 I ran for the Maine State Legislature. (As Carrie is doing now.) I was 25 years old, my husband was away on his first Navy deployment, and I was teaching full time. I had always been involved in politics as my parents were very active in DC local politics. They used to throw fundraisers all the time. This is where I learned how to shake hands confidently and tell someone my name while looking them in the eye with a smile. (Not an easy task for many.)  Maine is an interesting place and there are really two types of Mainers.  The born in Maine, northern, "ayuh", yankee ingenuity and independence mind, and then the summer-people-who-love-Maine-and-see-it-as-heaven mind. The later type are called people "from away." I am "from away." Moreover, I got there through a husband who was in the Navy. (Keep this in mind.)

 First I had to compete against two other Democrats to be nominated. I won the primary handily. I was young, enthusiastic and well spoken. I stayed on message (environment, education, economy) and knocked on many doors. In the general election, I was pitted against another new politician, the son of the local car dealer. This guy had money, and name recognition, and rested on his parents’ laurels. The election got a little nasty when he accused me of being a "Washington Insider" (I left when I was 18) and a carpetbagger (I stayed in Maine for 15 years until our recent move).  I knocked on more doors, answering his accusations. (2000 total) 

On election day, I visited polls and then waited with my friends for the outcomes. The race was tight. I had won in most of the towns but the last town hand counted their ballots and so we waited. In the wee hours, we got the numbers and I had lost. Lost by 51 votes. We asked for and got a recount but there was no significant change. If 52 more people had voted for me, I would have been elected. That’s not a whole lot. In his term of office, my opponent was only present 25% of the time. He was rebuked for playing water guns in the state capital. Needless to say, he did not run again. So if you think your vote doesn’t count, your wrong. Please register and vote for the whole ticket.

Monday in Maryland

A lot has been going on for me recently which means that every once in a while, I have to shake my head to clear some more space. Perhaps I am so groggy because we got back to Maryland at one in the morning after the 12 hour drive from Maine. We were in Maine to clean up  and fix up our house for the new tenants who move in today. The problem with cleaning and fixing for others to enjoy is that it makes me say snarky and grumbly things about my hubby. For example, "Why couldn’t you finish that trim when we lived here?" Or about myself, "How hard would it have been to wipe the disgusting finger prints off the door sill." Or about the garden, "Why do you have to be so beautiful and blooming when I won’t be here to enjoy it." Never-the-less, the renters are a kind family, and I’m sure they will enjoy it. 

It was definitely a list day. I couldn’t focus well without one. Mostly conference related work as we are getting closer to the September 15th deadline for workshop proposals. I have to tell folks that we are getting wonderful submissions but are short on illustrator submissions. (Not surprising, but if you know an illustrator who should propose a workshop give them a nudge.) Also I’ve received a couple of submissions directly to my email and these cannot be accepted. We have an online application at the following URL.

In other news. We have a Birthday! So here is a  birthday breakfast for you Jo Knowles. What do you mean it’s not breakfast time? It’s always breakfast time, especially when it is your birthday. See you soon dear.

(I know I need a new Birthday illustration. I’ll work on it.)

 In eight minutes I will swing into action making PB & J’s, prodding small children out of bed, and nagging them toward the bus. Thank goodness they are not big enough to take the middle school bus 6:30 or the high school bus 7:00. I just said good-bye to hubby. September is full of business travel for him (three weeks in a row but home for weekends.) We are headed to Maine for two of those weekends. One to visit his family and attend the Great State of Maine Air Show. (Bring your ear plugs.) The second time to take me to my writers schmooze. I can’t wait.

I’ve been working hard on my novel. Writing, reading craft books, and thinking. A lot of thinking about who my character is and what he would really do. Trying to let him write the story and not insert myself too much. Since he is loosely based on my older son (9), I’ve found myself delving deeply into I.’s personality. All characters need a flaw, and he certainly has them (as do we all). As a mother (a jewish mother : )) it is hard to believe that my son could have any, so the journey into this character and into this book (with an anti-semitic and bullying plot) is emotional.

Once the kids are on the bus. I’ll settle down with a cup of tea and my laptop and write another couple of chapters. Hope I can revise the first draft by schmooze time. Until then, I’m looking forward to cool nights, loons on the lakes, and you all.