29 May, 2018
If you missed the book reading my dear friend Jan did this past weekend, we’d like to recap the magic of what happened here, and we hope you and your kids can join us for the next!
The children’s area of the Barnes & Noble in Encinitas was a perfect setting for a reading from Reading Is Fun! Imagine That! complete with a forest-themed mural as the backdrop, books piled high on shelves, racks of puppets, and cloud-painted walls. The atmosphere alone helped create a world of fantasy and make-believe. And then Jan threw on her cheetah hat and the place transformed into a delightful place of imagination.
Jan got the children’s creative wheels turning by asking them a question designed to entice silliness and serious thought, all at once.
“What is the most creative way you can think of to drink milk?” she asked.
The kids grew quiet, their thinking caps fully intact.
“You could just lay upside down under a cow and drink from its udder!” one boy said, and the crowd laughed.
“You could drink pea milk,” said another boy, and his mom poked her head around the end cap of a nearby bookshelf and clarified the spelling of “pea” (not “pee” which, of course, the other kids assumed he meant and burst into laughter.)
Some took a practical approach with suggestions like drinking milk with noodle straws, while others thought it would be fun to sip milk inside of a maze or gulp rainbow-colored milk while sliding down a slide.
The answers were all as different and unique as the children sitting before Jan.
Once laughter and the sharing of ideas made the kids feel comfortable with one another, Jan read the story-poem titled “The Music Makers,” which talks about turning common, everyday items from home into musical instruments.
“Since instruments can cost a lot, let’s find another way,
We’ll use some well-made makeshift ones, that some of us can play.
I talked with several friends of mine, and said to make or find,
Some different kinds of ‘instruments,’ to play when they’re combined.
We’d like to form an orchestra, and test the sounds we make,
No instrument can cost a thing, and when they’re played, won’t break.”
The children’s eyes were big. They wondered what instruments they were going to get to play after she excitedly announced that she brought an instrument for all of them to play, and then take home!
There was a tissue-wrapped hair comb “kazoo,” a Tupperware “guitar” wrapped with rubber bands, a “shaker” made from Legos in a Tupperware container, and “cymbals” made from two plastic bowls.
Moms and parents raised their hands to receive their instruments, and after some rehearsal time of playing and singing “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” the group happily paraded around the children’s section of the store. They were filled with smiles and giggles as their marching orchestra drew in the curiosity of other children venturing into the children’s area.
Every book reading is this much fun…we hope you’ll join us for the next!
You can construct these clever instruments at home with your kids, as well as the ones below from the “Music Makers” story-poem in Reading Is Fun! Imagine That! (Just be sure to get Mom or Dad’s permission first.)
Use your own creativity to invent your instruments, but make sure they’re safe, and most of all do these concerts with your friends and family!!!
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She would like to see them in all of California’s elementary schools.-Rosaline Turnbull Past President of the California Parent Teacher’s Association
Yours is a comforting voice during a challenging time. Your stories are charming. Each one is uniquely warm and inspiring, and the messages are uplifting for children and parents alike. The books deserve to be in homes across the country — and the world. They remind me of one of my all-time heroes: Mr. Rogers! They are kind, nurturing, and so encouraging.-Tom Soma Former Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities
I think these books are perfect for children. They are colorful, bright, and the illustrations are awesome. I regret there were no such books in my childhood.-Ludmila Levine Chairman of the American English Department
They are fun to read. Both the writings and drawings are original. They are amazing. There are so many things that could be learned. One student commented she was also learning about American culture.-YiLing Chen Taught Women English
practical, playful, serious, affectionate, enigmatic, and varied.-Claudine DeFaye Former Professor
These books are absolutely incredible. An excellent job of inspiring children’s creativity activities.-Mosun Johnston Smith Former Teacher
The detail and care you’ve put in these stories is remarkable. I celebrated the wonderful wisdom those students reflected to me while reading your books.-Andie Cunningham Instructor