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Raising Readers - Write it Down!
June 15, 2009

My name is Steve Barancik. Welcome to Raising Readers, the official newsletter of Best Children's Books.

Our goal: to help YOU raise better readers.


1) The Intersection of Writing and Reading

A child who writes is likely a child who reads. If you provide a writing journal, is there a chance your child might use it?

Keep a Quotes Album and Value Your Child's Words, by Steve Barancik

Taking a picture can capture a moment. Writing down your child's words can do the same thing...and more.

3) Stories from a Century Ago...Free!

Nearly a century ago, Beatrix Potter wrote The Tale of Peter Rabbit and 22 other wonderful books. Have you exposed your kids to these classics?

4) Do YOU Like Expressing Yourself?

Saying it in writing isn't just for kids. Your thoughts could be up on the web, inspiring others. Your wisdom could be up on the web, teaching others.

Functionality Alerts!
If any links in this newsletter don't work, it's probably because your email software cuts off the link text at a line break, then prints the rest of the link as plain text. To use one of these links, try copying the WHOLE link then pasting it into your browser.

This email was designed to be read in an email reader that reads html. If you don't have one or yours is turned off, this letter might not look great but I'm guessing you're still smart enough to make sense of what I'm saying!

1) The Intersection of Writing and Reading

Your child is likely to maintain more of an interest in reading if he/she develops an interest in self-expression. (And by self-expression, I don't mean texting friends in indecipherable code or killing the opponent in a video game!)

Writing that one does for oneself is a wonderful form of self-expression. When a child chooses to do this, they're asserting that their thoughts are worth recording. Talk about a self-esteem builder!

This month's feature article below discusses recording your younger kids' thoughts for your (and their) future enjoyment. For older kids, how about providing a blank journal so they can do it themselves?

Your child might take to it or might not, but isn't it worth a try? In these days of deteriorating writing skills, wouldn't you like your kid to be the one honing those skills in her/his spare time?

The link below is an Amazon search for writing journals. I'm afraid they aren't cheap, but what your children do with them could be priceless!

Blank Writing Journals

Keep a Quotes Album and Value Your Child's Words
by Steve Barancik

I often hear parents of young children say, "You'll never believe what my kid said yesterday!" I always have the same response:

"I hope you wrote it down!"

Surely we can agree that one of the things that makes humans unique is language. It makes us unique from all other species. And the way we use it makes us unique from each other.

When I first became a parent, my foster daughter was 3 years old. The things that came out of her mouth amazed me. Not keeping a record of it was unimaginable to me. In the same way that some parents seem unable to let any moment pass undocumented photographically or on video, I had to capture all those amazing sentences or else risk them being lost to me forever.

That collection is more precious to me than any photo album ever could be. It captures who my daughter was more aptly.

Now, as a screenwriter, I have a bit of an ear for dialogue. I knew this was great stuff!

What your child says reveals what they know of the world and what they think of it. It captures their perceptions and their misconceptions. Their limited vocabulary means they have to work all the harder at getting their thoughts across, and the results are often magic.

My album of quotes brings back special moments to me in a way that a phto album doesn't. And something else...

My daughter eventually caught on that I was recording some of her brilliant thoughts. (A couple times she said to me, "Write that down. That was good!")

When you take a picture of your child, you convey, "Look how cute you are!" When you quote your child, you're conveying, "Look how smart you are."

(Make sure that your child knows that. You don't want to convey to your child that she/he is the butt of a joke.)

I mention all this because a focus on words can't help but promote the importance of reading. And saying something that's worth translating into the written word? Well, that's quite a statement if you think about it! Especially if your child isn't able to put his/her own thoughts in writing yet.

And of course, someday you'll have the opportunity to share your collection with your grown child. While a picture says, "Here's what you looked like," a quote says, "Here's who you were."

Start your own "quotes album" today!

3) Stories from a Century Ago...Free!

It used to be that books passed out of copyright in a reasonable amount of time, then entered the "public domain." That meant anyone could publish them.

Well, big conglomerates (like Disney) now fight to keep that from happening. Works have to have been published in the U.S. before 1923 to be confident they're in the public domain. That doesn't leave us with many public domain picture book works that still resonate with children today.

But it does leave us with Beatrix Potter!

I've added five of the most popular works by Ms. Potter to the site. Stop by and reacquaint yourself with her work. Try one out on your kids.

If her charming stories and even more charming illustrations go over well, it might be time for a trip to the library. Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales contains all 23 published works.

4) Do YOU Like Expressing Yourself?

We've spoken a lot this issue about your children's self-expression. What about your own?

Keep reading to learn about a Site Build It special.

I've lived a charmed life, making a living expressing myself in words. The truth though? It used to be harder than it is now.

Pre-internet, I had to find people who would pay me to write. I was competing with all the other writers who had the same goal.

But now, I don't need a publisher or a movie studio to get my work out to the public. I just need a keyboard, an internet connection, and a company called Site Build It.

Now don't get me wrong: you can write your little heart out and post to the internet and still not get an audience. That's what happens with most websites and most writers.

But because I used Site Build It, my site gets found...over 1000 times on a typical day!

(Heck, this single page was viewed over 6000 times in the last month.)

It costs a little money to start with Site Build It, but any businessperson will tell you that you have to spend money to make money. For the rest of this week though, you can get started with Site Build It for significantly less than the usual cost.

All you need is a friend! Or a relative!

That's because with SBI's Summer Special you can start one website for the regular price and get a second for 2/3 off. Go in with someone else and you'll each save $100!

During these economic doldrums, don't you wish you had something else going?

Call a friend. Convince a relative. The SBI Summer Special ends June 21.


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Thank you for subscribing to and reading this edition of Raising Readers. If you have any comments or suggestions, I hope you'll contact me.

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