Saturday, October 30, 2010

unpleasant surprises

So I was just fooling around on my computer, waiting for the cupcakes in the oven to finish baking. I had on a recording of Carmina Burana with Hans Graf and the Houston Symphony, circa 2001, and was feeling nostalgic for my high school music days in Houston. My sophomore year of high school, I was in the children's chorus of Houston Grand Opera's production of Mefistofele, and I started to wonder if any of those kids were on facebook. I could only remember a couple of full names. There was one friend that I especially hit it off with, Rachel. I was pretty sure I had her name right, but I couldn't find her on facebook, so I decided to google her. What came up: her obituary. She died five years ago at age 21 in a bike accident. That really caught me off guard, and I just needed to share it somewhere to deal with that a little. She was really smart, as well as a fine singer. I thought she must be doing something great by now. What a terrible surprise.

Friday, October 8, 2010

picture books

Wow, this story really annoys me:

My dad insisted that I NOT learn to read until I started kindergarten (childhood is for being a child), so that's what I did. I started out behind some of the kids whose parents had been teaching them to read, but that did not last long. I loved reading from the beginning, maybe because I never felt forced to do it. I certainly do no think that I have suffered educationally or linguistically as a result of learning to read a little bit later than some.

On top of that, picture books are excellent ways to get kids to enjoy reading. Most people enjoy mastering something that they have to make an effort for, but if they have to struggle too much, they stop enjoying it. Picture books are perfect for kids in this way: they have to make an effort to read, but the pictures help them along, and they feel more accomplished for having figured it out themselves. Chapter books are just be boring and frustrating if they're beyond a child's level, and I would think that would turn them OFF to reading, instead of helping them to enjoy it.

And how many wonderful children's picture books are out there? My life wouldn't have been the same without The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad, No Good Day, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Dr. Seuss, the Pinkerton books (about the Great Dane), Alphonse the Loch Ness monster, anything by Tomie DePaola (my all-time favorite: Prince Pazzo), so many excellent books that I remember clearly and fondly to this day! I will always love The Snowman, which fueled my creativity when making my own snowmen, and I also enjoyed the beautiful movie they made of it( In fact, I remember attending a Hartford Symphony performance of it, with the orchestra playing the music to accompany the movie. Or what about the beautiful Father Twilight, or Miss Rumphius? I could go on forever. Anyway, I just had to balance the universe and pay tribute to the wonderful world of picture books, which are apparently not being treated with their due respect these days!