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Everyone Can Love Reading

LoveReading4Kids.co.uk

LoveReading4Kids.co.uk

I wanted to take a minute to share a great website with you if you have children. It’s called LoveReading4Kids.

I first came across it when I was helping a fellow parent who wanted to encourage her child to read. I suggested she look for Reluctant Reader books and she admitted she’d never heard of it as a category.

Reluctant Readers can be children who lack confidence, who aren’t interested in reading, or whose reading age is below their interest age. The fact that there are specialist publishers who focus on these areas (especially the latter aspect) is brilliant.

As it says on the LoveReading4Kids website, “When a reader is hooked on a story, his or her reading ability is proven to improve. He reads more fluently – because he wants to read on!”

The site goes on to say, “That’s why books for reluctant readers have to have fabulous stories. We’ve thought long and hard about the selection and we feel every one of the books selected provides a powerful and unputdownable story, even for the most reluctant reader.”

Their website is categorised into reading age and interest age, so it’s easier to find the right kind of book.

There is also a section on the site for readers with Dyslexia. The website explains,

“The term dyslexia literally means ‘difficulty with words’. In reality, it covers a whole spectrum of problems, not just with reading, writing and spelling, but also with comprehension, memory and organisational skills. With some 10% of people in the UK with dyslexia, here at lovereading we feel the time has come to provide some guidance on dyslexia-friendly books for children and teenagers alongside the leading publisher Barrington Stoke of dyslexia-friendly books and the charity Dyslexia Action.”

Dyslexia-friendly books concentrate on having the same layout and format, with cream pages and well-spaced, unjustified, paragraphs to make reading easier. It’s something I think all early readers would benefit from as I often notice my daughter losing her place easily on a close-written cluttered page.

Dyslexia-friendly book

Dyslexia-friendly book

As an aside, I read Mum Never Did Learn to Knock, by Cathy Hopkins last night in the library. It’s a short dyslexia-friendly book that is beautifully written, funny and perfect for anyone struggling with the loss of a loved-one.

I subscribe to the LoveReading4Kids newsletter, partly to keep on top of the market now I’m writing for children, and partly to find books my own children might be interested in. My daughter is a great but reluctant reader, which is partly why I started writing for children. I haven’t yet found the story she just couldn’t put down.

We have a great local library (a must for any parent!) but it’s small and the book selection is limited. It’s also not easy to tell at a glance what age a book is good for, as it’s divided into picture books, children’s fiction, and young adult. I’m learning there’s a huge difference between books for 8 year olds and books for ten year olds!

There are other great categories on the LoveReading4Kids website – books for boys, books for parents, must-read books, and If they like… They’ll love… Having given up on Amazon’s categories for children, which are hopeless, it’s great to have a whole website dedicated to books for children. It is a UK site, but I’m sure most books are worldwide published these days!

I should just point out, too, that I have nothing to do with the website, I merely think it’s a great resource for parents. And who knows, one day I might make it on there myself! Here’s hoping! :)

 

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What Teachers Teach, Measured or Not

What Teachers Teach, Measured or Not

Amanda Martin:

This is such a beautiful post about all the things tests don’t say about great teachers.

Originally posted on momocular:

Sonny and Ace’s school is wrapping up the latest round of standardized testing for this academic year. Sonny and Ace aren’t old enough yet to worry about the process or their results. Sonny rather enjoyed the testing, in fact—or rather, he enjoyed his class’s pre-testing “brain breakfasts” to fuel minds (and tummies) for clear thinking. He also looked forward to the occasional appearance on the screen of the wagging cartoon dog that said, “Good job!” Ace didn’t mind the tests, either, once assured that testing time would not conflict with gym class. He mainly looked forward to wearing the big headphones.

These tests measured their mastery of math and reading, both obviously crucial to educational success. They are assumed to reflect a teacher’s effectiveness. But while they may reveal some truth about a teacher’s influence, they do not tell the whole truth.

_ _ _

I stared at the lopsided…

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Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Parenting

 

Listening for Echoes

The Martin Kids

The Martin Kids

When I get stuck with my writing – when I’m not sure how a scene plays out or what happens next – I walk the dog. And while I’m walking, I listen for echoes of my characters’ voices.

It feels like hunting for butterflies with a gossamer net. A scene, a visual, a story line, for me, nearly always starts with a fragment of dialogue.From the words, the tone, the attitude I hear, when the words appear in my mind, I can tell the mood and action of the character.

At the moment I’m finishing the first draft of my third Seren Kitty novel. I knew how the story was going to end (I do planning now, get me!) but sometimes that is more a burden than a blessing.

When I reach the climax my writing falls into, “And then Seren did this, then this happened, then this went wrong, then she fixed it like this…’ It’s all too fast and frantic.

So today I stopped, just as the rain stopped hammering on the plastic roof (My poor daughter has been on an outdoor school trip today through torrential rain. She’s going to be soaked!) I’ve come out to walk the dog (who isn’t happy because the vet has said she’s not allowed off-lead while her foot heals, after a bad sprain.)

Almost immediately after I left the house in sparkling afternoon sunshine and puddles, I could hear Seren’s voice. She was calling her mum from the phone she just borrowed from the baddies. She’s explaining what’s just happened. Her voice is clear in my head. She’s scared, but she’s come through a lot already and she’s a plucky girl. And, besides, the rain has stopped falling on her too (which is even more important when you’re sometimes a cat).

Seren has spoken and I have heard the echo. Now I need to go home and make it real. After I’ve taken a towel to the school pick up, that is.

 

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Mother’s Day

Amanda Martin:

Beautifully put. Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who celebrates it today

Originally posted on The Belle Jar:

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This post is for my mother. This is in recognition of the countless hours of unpaid labour she did and continues to do for my sisters and I. This post is an acknowledgement of the fact that I have taken her for granted; she’s given her time and energy to me so freely and genrously that it wasn’t until I had my own child that I understood how much this must have personally cost her. She is someone whose love and support I can rely on even when she disagrees with the choices I make.

This post is for all the people who work in childcare and are underpaid because what they do is undervalued by our society. This is for the folks – mostly women – who are often offered minimum wage or less to nurture, engage, educate and love a child.

This post is for all the people who are helping me…

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Posted by on May 10, 2015 in Parenting

 

The Effects of Changing Medication

The Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect

I recently upped my dose of Sertraline, to help me deal with the school holidays. It sounds awful (and no doubt many think I’m a terrible mother. Pah, I’ve dealt with those demons), but I am strongly affected by not having periods of time alone to settle the churned up waters of my mind.

I become grumpy, short-tempered, teary, forgetful, shattered and eventually broken.

Changing medication dose isn’t as extreme as starting on them in the first place. I changed my dose just before the Easter holidays, so I’ve been through this once already. But I was splitting a tablet and my doctor disapproved – because you can’t get a precise dose. So, on recommendation, I’ve upped to two full tablets. It’s not as awful as the early days of starting on Sertraline (the yawning, the sweating, the perpetual motion) but there are still effects. (The same goes for missing a dose)

I thought it would be useful for anyone else starting on the world of depression medication, or concerned about changing their dose, to hear my experience.

The first day I increase my medication, my mind scatters. It feels like a pond after a pebble has been chucked into the middle of previously mirror-calm water. My thoughts become fragmented and rippled. My normally lucid incessant internal monologue breaks and distorts. I can pull out a single coherent sentence but it takes effort.

This is most noticeable in the quiet moments before sleep or while walking the dog. Sleep becomes elusive for a day or two.

Physically my body becomes restless. It feels like I’ve eaten an entire tray of Terry’s All Gold (not that I’ve ever eaten a whole tray of chocolates. ahem). My body becomes twitchy, agitated. I rub my feet together constantly and my arms and legs fidget like I need to run and run. Except I wouldn’t have the energy.

I feel trapped inside these reactions, as if they are happening to someone else. But I am calm, too, because I recognise them. I know the pond will gradually settle as the ripples spread and fade. The metaphorical sugar in my system will be used up and I’ll be me.

Me but happier, more tolerant.

Whole.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Depression

 

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A Mother’s Hymn

Mummy is broken, tired and yawning
Mummy is broken, shaken and stirred
Praise for the caffeine, Praise for the chocolate
Pass me some matchsticks, my vision is blurred

Mine is the long day, mine is the long night,
Tantrums and nightmares, cuddles and pee
Bring me the weekend, dream of a lie-in
One day when they’re older, and I can just be

Amanda Martin

To the tune of Morning Has Broken

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2015 in Parenting

 

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Feeling Crap and a Cry for Help

My novel for 9yos

My novel for 9yos

My radio silence during and after a school break seems to be getting longer and longer. I think as parenting becomes increasingly complicated, and my children’s language and questions become more and more sophisticated, my brain is squeezed dry when they’re home for twenty days straight!

I did write one blog post during the Easter holidays, but I couldn’t find enough silence to finish it.

Then, once the children were back at school and nursery, there were doctors, dentists and vets to see, housework to catch up on. A mountain of ironing. But mostly there was apathy, illness and subsequent writer’s block.

Every time I even thought about writing, a massive headache crushed my brain and I slept instead.

I have, however, read LOADS! The blog post I’ve half written is all about the great children’s authors I’ve discovered. It turns out fiction for nine year olds is also perfect for harassed mummies with little free time and a microscopic attention span.

The only downside is it increases my nervousness about writing children’s fiction. While there are admittedly some mediocre books for under tens, there are also some amazing ones. It’s going to be a difficult market to crack. Especially as I can’t find anyone I trust to give me an honest opinion on my progress so far.

So that’s where you come in. I’ve cobbled together an ebook of my first complete novel for c.9yo children, currently called Cat Girl Sophie (working title!). It’s only second draft, it certainly shouldn’t be live in the web world. But I’ve made it five bucks, so hopefully no one will buy it!

But if it happened that anyone reading this blog also regularly reads (or writes!) children’s fiction, or has a child that does, and would be prepared to give some honest and constructive feedback, well that would be marvellous. Or perhaps not, if the feedback is ‘give up now.’

You’re a nice bunch, though, and I know you’ll take into consideration this is only a draft. If you are interested, visit Smashwords and use the code SD75M for a free copy. Thank you! :)

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2015 in Children's Fiction, Parenting, Writing

 

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