Book Reviews and More

Hi! This blog is for my classes at Texas Woman's University.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! Any Nanowrimo or PiBoIdMo participants out there?

Just a quick note to say Happy Halloween to everyone! We really enjoy Halloween in our family and are looking forward to trick-or-treating tonight. We get A LOT of kids in our neighborhood so it always makes for a busy night.

I'm rethinking my blog post schedule. I'd like to keep it up on a regular basis, discussing either book, writing or library-related issues. So my goal is to blog at least once a week, with Wednesday being my target day to put up a new post.

Speaking of goals, tomorrow is November 1st, which means the kick-off of such writing challenges as Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) and PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month). I'm signing up for both! Graduate school and extracurricular activities have kept me so busy that I haven't taken much time to focus on my writing, so I'm hoping these challenges will do the trick. If you're on the fence about participating, give it a try! Last year I did a modified Nano challenge, where I just focused on a certain word count a day. This year I'm going to try and actually hit the 50,000 words, but we will see how that goes.

I appreciate those of y'all who are still checking in every once in a while to see what is going on here on my blog.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Benefits of Uninterrupted Reading Time and Silent Reading Parties

Hi all,

For my Library Information Sources and Services class, we have to comment about current events relating to the library world. I found this article about the benefits of slow reading and the advent of Silent Reading Parties.  I thought the effect of technology on our brain and reading patterns was really interesting, and the silent reading events sounded like so much fun and something that libraries could easily host. So I wanted to share my post with y'all as well. Maybe you'll find a Silent Reading Party somewhere near you and take part - or at least use this as an excuse not to feel guilty about time spent curled up with a good book!

Here's my post:

A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out the benefits of a sustained, silent reading time - not just for kids in Elementary school - but for adults as well. The article goes into detail about how the advent of technology, texts, twitter, and screen reading has changed the way our brains focus and read text. "Screens have changed our reading patterns from the linear, left-to-right sequence of years past to a wild skimming and skipping pattern as we hunt for important words and information. One 2006 study of the eye movements of 232 people looking at Web pages found they read in an "F" pattern, scanning all the way across the top line of the text but only halfway across the next few lines, eventually sliding their eyes down the left side of the page in a vertical movement toward the bottom. None of this is good for our ability to comprehend deeply, scientists say" (Whalen "Read Slowly to Benefit Your Brain and Cut Stress"). Over time, researchers fear that this type of reading may impact our ability to comprehend complicated texts or contemplate new concepts. In addition, fewer people are scheduling uninterrupted reading time - without the distraction of incoming texts, pausing to check emails or other modern-day distractions. 
In reaction to this lack of reading time, some groups around the world have starting hosting Silent Reading Parties. At these events, often hosted at a bar or coffee shop, people bring a book (or e-book, as long as its internet connectivity is turned off) and sit around and read uninterrupted, but together. After about an hour or more, the readers then spend some time socializing with each other (Whalen "No Devices, No Talking"). 
So how does this relate to libraries? My first thought, when I saw a video interview with the Wall Street Journal reporter who wrote the article, was "Libraries could do this!" Libraries seem like a natural choice to host Silent Reading Events - we can even supply the books. Some modern libraries even have coffee shops connected to them, which could enhance the social gathering aspect of the event. I particularly like the idea of hosting one of these types of events at college libraries. As academic reference librarians, we could provide the information to the students about the benefits of uninterrupted reading time - and then offer them an opportunity to try it out. Even when helping them with their research, reference librarians can point out the difference between skimming material to find out if it is pertinent to their subject,  and the next step: slowly, silently reading the material to comprehend and apply what is being explained. It seems an important skill to point out, especially with today's millenial generation which has grown up with much shorter bursts of information bombarding them all the time.
I personally think one of these silent reading parties sounds like a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of every day life. To relax uninterrupted with a book sounds like a true luxury. How nice to learn that it is also beneficial for our brains!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October SCBWI Houston Book Reports

Hello everyone!

I hope that y'all are doing well. We had an informative and hands-on meeting with speaker Elizabeth White-Olsen from Writespace Houston. They offer a range of writing classes at affordable prices. I've taken two so far and enjoyed them both. Check out their website for more details.

Here are this month's recommended reading titles from our Houston SCBWI meeting.

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox and illustrated by Brian Floca. (PB)
Schwartz & Wade ISBN 9780375858888

The 14th Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm (MG)
Random House Books for Young Readers ISBN 9780375870644

Screaming at the Ump by Audrey Vernick (MG)
Clarion Books ISBN 9780544252080