Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Book Blab Episode 13: The Girl Who Drank the Moon Mini Book Club

Sorry, guys. I didn't mean to drop out here for most of May, but life got real busy here. So busy that I couldn't even find time to read (which I'll tell you all about in my end-of-month round-up tomorrow). What have I been busy doing? Well, mostly packing up my house, moving all our stuff to storage, and then traveling around the country (which you probably know about if you follow me on Instagram).

Anyway, the good news is that during all my traveling, I ended up in Utah with a few free hours on my hands, and got a chance to meet up with Amy in person to film our latest Book Blab! And our babies got to meet!

Amy and Suzanne, babies

So, so fun!

Anyway, the long awaited discussion about The Girl Who Drank the Moon is here, and we had lots to say about this book (seriously, once we turned the camera off, we sat around chatting about this book for another thirty minutes or so). If you haven't read it, maybe don't watch this. Spoilers abound. But if you have read it, we'd love to hear your thoughts! Please let us know what you think about this book. Show notes below.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Listening Comprehension and Children's Audio Books: Some Thoughts

In March's Book Blab Episode, Amy and I talked about the importance of reading aloud to kids (of all ages). We covered a lot of material, but two things we didn't talk about in that episode (but which I've been thinking a lot about since we started reading longer chapter books aloud to our boys last year) were listening comprehension, and children's audio books. These two issues are related, but let's take them one at a time.

First, comprehension. One of the biggest concerns I had with starting longer chapter books with my then four-year-old was whether he would be able to follow and understand a longer story that took days and weeks to read. Drawing on my training as an English teacher and my experience of reading aloud to my son for the past few months, here's my best advice on increasing listening comprehension while reading aloud.

1- Choose age appropriate books with stories that your kid naturally finds interesting. This is easier said than done, and it takes some trial and error to figure out the books that work and the books that don't. Reading aloud is a chance to expose your children to books that are above their own reading level, because children can usually have higher listening comprehension than reading comprehension (another reason it's great to read aloud), but if you go too far above comprehension can plummet. Likewise, if your child isn't interested in the characters or story, they are less likely to pay attention. It takes some work to find books that hit the sweet spot for comprehension, and we've had a couple of duds (but it's always fine to stop reading a book that's not working and just move on).

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Happy Bloggiversary to Me!

Hi guys! Four years ago this month I pushed publish on my first little blog post here at Such Stuff, and while I didn't necessarily have a clear vision about what I was going to do with this space, it quickly became my favorite hobby of all time. Writing about books? Meeting up with other wonderful bookish people? Writing about other rambly things completely unrelated to books? Yes and yes! This little blog has been so much fun for me and brought me so much joy, and I hope I can keep up with it while plunging into the depths of grad school work at the PhD level (not to mention still raising those three kids....).

To commemorate my bloggiversaries, I like to do a little face-lift and sprucing up here on the blog. This didn't happen last year because, pregnant, so things were kind of in desperate need of some updating (I mean, desperate). I made a few simple cosmetic changes (hope you like the new header, I drew it myself, if that isn't painfully obvious) and spruced up my pages, which is what I want to draw your attention to.

First off, I finally have a page devoted to the archives of The Book Blab! Yay! I've been meaning to put this page up since, well, since we started doing The Book Blab, so that was long overdue. Now if you ever want to view a past video but don't want to go searching through all my archives, you can head to that page.

Second, I changed up my Books page with a much more aesthetically pleasing view of (most) of the books I've read and reviewed on Goodreads, but I would appreciate your feedback on this page. Right now when you click on the book cover, it takes you to my Goodreads review of the book. I thought that would be the most useful because Goodreads is where I actually give a star rating for every book I read, but would you prefer links to my actual blog posts? Since I don't thoroughly review every book, or sometimes talk about books in multiple posts, linking to posts can get messy. But if I get a strong response from you guys about wanting links to my blog posts, I'll see if I can work something out.

Also, right now that page is organized by the order I've read these books (most recent reads at the top), because this organization is the most useful to me. But this page is supposed to be useful for you guys, so would you prefer alphabetical order? Or some other kind of organization? Or do you not really care at all? Let me know in the comments, because I can reorganize fairly easily (especially if you want it in alphabetical order).

Finally, do you guys have any other input for me? Things about the blog you wish I would add/delete/change? Comments or advice? Favorite types of posts? Things you wish I'd write more about (or stop writing about, as the case may be)? Questions? I'm all ears, hit me up in the comments or shoot me an email.

And can I just say, thank you so much for reading! I love all you, the readers I know in real life, the virtual friends I've made through this blog, and even the silent stalkers who never comment! I'd still write if nobody ever read, but it's so much more fun with an audience, so thanks for joining me here.

Here's to many more years of blogging to come!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Books I Read in April

Well, I only made it through five books this month. I really shouldn't be all that disappointed, considering this still beats my goal of a book a week (and actually, by the end of April I've already read more books this year than I read the entire year of 2014, so that's something). It's just clear that all my luxurious nursing reading time is a thing of the past, and I'm back to fighting and scraping to find time for reading amidst all the other demands on my time. Also, I'm in the middle of two really good books right now that I had hoped to finish last week but alas, the time did not materialize. Anyway, I've actually written about most of these books already, so these reviews will be short with links to my other posts.

Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery

It was charming and delightful, but I missed Anne. More thoughts here.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Stunningly beautiful. Beautiful story, beautiful writing, five star read. More thoughts here.

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery

Not the same kind of love as for the earlier Anne books, but still really good as a WWI book. More thoughts here.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Still really well written, but lost some of the novelty of the first in this duology (Six of Crows). Also, a bit dark and violent. Mentioned in this post.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

I finished this one for a special mini book club Book Blab episode with Amy, but then she went and had her baby, so we didn't get the episode filmed this month. I'm saving all my thoughts for whenever we do get that episode filmed, so stay tuned for that (but read it yourself first, because spoilers!).

Actually, I just realized that I "read" a few more books this month by way of read-alouds and audio books with my son, but I'm still on the fence about counting those toward my personal reading goals. I'll share more about those in an upcoming post. Let me know if you've read any of these ones, would love to here your thoughts!