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Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Readingby Nancy Goldstone
Synopses & Reviews
PENGUINS 7, JETS 0
How We Got Started
The day we picked to hold our first parent-child book group at our local public library was Sunday, January 10, 1999. Like everything else about the book group, this date and the time-3:30 in the afternoon—had been carefully chosen after months of planning. The first Sunday in January seemed ideal because, as the school vacation had just ended, families would be home and the children would be refreshed. We chose late afternoon to minimize potential conflicts with the other myriad activities in which Connecticut second graders participate. We knew, for example, that the basketball league held its games on Saturday, ice-skating lessons were Sunday morning, the Sunday dance rehearsals for the Nutcracker were over, and soccer practice wouldn't resume until early April.
It turned out, however, that we hadn’t thought of everything. The hapless New York Jets, a team that had not made the NFL play-offs in eight seasons or finished with a good enough record to host a play-off game in two decades, had that year miraculously achieved both. The young and hungry Jacksonville Jaguars were coming to town on, when else, January 10, and the winner would then meet the Denver Broncos for the right to go on to the Super Bowl.
Interest in the game approached the fanatical. The Meadowlands drew the second-largest crowd in the history of the stadium. (The largest had been for the pope.) Kick off was set for one p.m., which put the start of our little book group somewhere in the middle of the fourth quarter, when every living creature in the New York metropolitan area would be frozen in front of a television set.
At the last minute, however, it appeared that the fates might yet be with us. The game had descended into a rout and the Jets held a 31-14 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter. By the time we piled into the car to head for the children's department of the library with our books, markers, large writing pad, and enough cookies and juice to ensure the loyalty of our audience, we had brightened substantially. No one needs to stay and see the end of that, we said.
But no sooner had we backed out of the driveway-with the radio tuned to the game, of course—then Jacksonville scored a touchdown. During the five-minute trip to the library, they scored again. Before we could unload the car, the Jets had been intercepted and the potent Jacksonville offense had the ball once more.
Hang on to your hats, trumpeted the announcer. “This is gonna be a wild finish.
With indefatigable if slightly forced good cheer, we trudged in and dragged our paraphernalia up the stairs to the meeting room. We set up an easel for the pad at the front of the room, laid out the snacks, and waited. Ten minutes later, we were still the only people in the room.
Finally, the door opened and a librarian stuck her head in. Someone named Katherine's mother called to say that they can’t make it this time but they’ll be here next time, and one of the other parents called to say that neither the father nor the son had read the book and did that matter?
At 3:27, a mother and daughter walked in, looked around at the empty room, and wordlessly sat down. Soon another mother and daughter arrived and then, astoundingly, a father and daughter. They were followed closely by another fathe
The leaders of a parent-child book group and authors of Out of the Flames share their secrets for transforming children into dynamic and enthusiastic readers, offering suggestions on what books parents should read with their children and explaining how to talk to children about literature. Original. 20,000 first printing.
"Books are like puzzles. The author's ideas are hidden, and it is up to all of us to figure them out." In this reading companion, the Goldstones--noted parent-child book club experts--encourage grownups and young readers alike to adopt an approach that will unlock the magic and power of reading. With the Goldstones' help, parents can inspire kids' lifelong love of reading by teaching them how to unlock a book's hidden meaning. Featuring fun and incisive discussions of numerous children's classics, this dynamic guide highlights key elements--theme, setting, character, point of view, climax, and conflict--and paves the way for meaningful conversations between parents and children. "Best of all," the Goldstones note, "you don't need an advanced degree in literature or forty hours a week of free time to effectively discuss a book with your child. This isn't Crime and Punishment, it's Charlotte's Web."--From publisher description.
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