ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday April 13, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 46

It’s the holidays! Don’t panic there’s an exciting world of books

By Namali Premawardhana

Avurudu has arrived, schools have closed for holidays, and most mothers are desperate for a way to keep their children safely occupied. Sports and extra-curricular activities are great, but they all involve the parents' time and energy, which sometimes is difficult to spare.

Is there a solution? Get your children to a nice comfortable corner and get them reading. This keeps them occupied, informed, and happy.

But reading is a habit that needs to be developed and nurtured. Studies show that the more children read, the better readers and writers they become. But what can you do to motivate your children to read more regularly?

Dilrukshi Gunaseela of the Young Learners Zone at the British Council suggests rewarding children to encourage the habit. "Here in our reading programmes we give the children a reading assignment and give them a small reward if they finish reading the book within a certain period of time. Of course, they are expected to write something about it as well, so that we can make sure they did actually read it." She goes on to say that although rewards can be seen as a form of encouragement, parents must make it clear that it is the experience of reading, and not the reward that is important.

The 'Reading is Fundamental' website suggests these ideas:

  • Learn more about your child's interests and suggest books, magazines, and articles that relate to those topics.

  • Keep books and other reading materials at home.

  • Take your children to the library regularly. Even a child with a well-stocked bookshelf needs a fresh supply of books. Encourage children to treat library books with the same care they show their own.

  • Read aloud with and to your child every day, children of any age can appreciate being read to. Experts recommend 30 minutes a day. Pick books that are too long or difficult for your child to read on his own, and are of genres that your child prefers.

  • Be a good role model - let your children see you reading.

  • Cook with your child to develop literacy! Get them to find interesting recipes, read them together, read the labels on ingredients together and make a family cookbook of favourite recipes. Reading could also be made appealing to children if it is seen as something special.

  • Find a special place for books. If your child's room doesn't have a bookshelf or bookcase, use a box, basket, or other sturdy container.

  • As often as possible, let your children choose the books they want to add to their ccollection. A book-buying trip is a fun Saturday activity.

  • Give your children books or magazine subscriptions as gifts.

  • Create a special 'Reading Corner' in a quiet area of your home. Have comfortable chairs, lots of cushions, and most importantly, good lighting.

  • Have a special family reading time when everyone will sit together to read aloud to each other or separately. Another way of encouraging children to read is to engage them in reading-related holiday activity.

A feast to whet young appetites:

Eldest - Christopher Paolini (sequel to 'Eragon') Fantasy-14/15 years

Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of King Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesméra, land of the elves, for further training in magic and swordsmanship, the journey of a lifetime.

Chasing Vermeer - Blue Balliet illustrations by Brett Helquist (Art/Fiction)

When a book of unexplainable occurrences brings Petra and Calder together, strange things start to happen: Seemingly unrelated events connect: Before they know it, the two find themselves at the centre of an international art scandal.

Getting the Girl - Zusak- Juvenile fiction

Cameron Wolfe is the quiet one in his family, not a soccer star like his brother Steve or a charming fighter with a new girl every week like his brother Rube. But what woman would want a loser like him?

Septimus Heap: Magyk - Angie Sage- (Fantasy)

The Magyk Begins Here… Septimus Heap, the seventh son of the seventh son, disappears the night he is born, pronounced dead by the midwife. That same night, the baby's father, Silas Heap, comes across an abandoned child in the snow -- a newborn girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take her into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is she and what really happened to Septimus?

Midnighters, Book Two: Touching Darkness - Scott Westerfeld. Also Book One: Secret Hour and Book Three: BlueNoon- (Science fiction)

The Midnighters of Bixby, Oklahoma, know that their town is full of secrets. After all they keep the biggest secret of all time; knowledge of the secret hour, the mysterious time at midnight when the world freezes - except for them and the creatures that inhabit the darkness.. As they learn more about the secret hour's twists and turns, they uncover terrifying mysteries.

When True Night Falls (ColdFire Trilogy) - Celia Friedman. Also Black Sun Rising and Crown of Shadows. (Fantasy)

Despite opposition by his Patriarch, warrior priest Damien Vryce again seeks the assistance of the immortal sorcerer Gerald Tarrant. While racing against time to prevent the enslavement of their world, the two men find themselves trapped between justice and retribution.

Feasting the Wolf - Susan Price- (Fantasy/Action)

When Ketil and Ottar sail away with a Viking band to join the Great Army, they dream of famous victories. But the boys are ill-prepared to survive a bloody and brutal battle with the Saxons. Courage and friendship alone must win the day in this adventure.

The Troll Queen - John Vornholt - (Fantasy)

Having freed the trolls of Dismal Swamp from the tyranny of Stygius Rex, the reluctant troll leader, Rollo, has left the swamp on a bittersweet mission: He plans to return his little friend Clipper to her people in the Forbidden Forest. It's a dangerous trip, but he is determined to go.

Puberty Blues - Kathy Lette/Gabrielle- Juvenile fiction

Puberty Blues is about top chicks and 'surfie spunks' and the kids who don't quite make the cut: it recreates with fascinating honesty a world where only the gang and the surf count.

Scrapped Princess: A Tale of Destiny - Ichiro Sakaki- Juvenile fiction

In the kingdom of Linevan, it was prophesized that the king and queen would bear twins-one male and one female-and that the female child, on her 16th birthday, would cause the world to end and therefore must be immediately executed. The queen, who could not bear to murder her daughter, sent her to live with a family friend and his two children outside of town. When the truth of her heritage is revealed, she sets out to see if the ominous prophecy is true.

Free Will - Chris Lynch- (Juvenile fiction)

Why are you here? Will was destined to be a pilot, to skim above surfaces. So why is he in wood shop class? When the local teens begin committing suicide, their deaths all have one thing in common: beautifully carved wooden tributes that appear just after or before their bodies are found. Will's afraid he knows who's responsible.

11 - 13, The Great American Mousical - Julie Andrews Edwards, Emma Walton Hamilton. (Children's Fiction)

Below the bright lights of Broadway, there sits a long-forgotten architect's model of the great Sovereign Theatre. In this secret space, a troupe of theatre mice busily rehearses its own show, "Broadway Airs". Suddenly, the Sovereign is threatened by demolition, and Adelaide, the leading lady mouse, disappears. Will the little theatre survive?

The Zodiac Girls (series) - Cathy Hopkins- (Children’s Fiction)

This series follows preteen girls as they get personal advice from the planets and stars - and discover that this gift is more about recognizing who you are, and what you are meant to be.

Slam Dunk - Donna King- (Children's Fiction)

Talented thirteen-year-old Ashlee Carson will do anything for a chance to win a place on the National Youth basketball team.

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl Series) - Eoin Colfer -(Science Fiction)

The Artemis books are extremely popular and creative! "When a twelve-year old genius tries to demand a ransom, the fairies fight back with magic, technology, and a particularly nasty troll."

Hardy Boys Starter Set - Franklin Dixon- (Mystery)

These have been around forever but they never cease to captivate that generation of detectives!

8 - 10, Sammy Keyes and the Runaway Elf - Wendelin Van Draanen - (Children's Fiction)

Sammy gets snookered into dog-sitting Marique, a furry, orange, hoop-jumping Pomeranian, one of the 12 dogs-of-the-month riding atop the Canine Calendar Christmas float. But at the height of the parade, Marique disappears just as three people dressed as the Three Kings throw panicked cats onto the dog-laden float.

Freddy and the French Fries: Fries Alive - David Baldacci -(Children's Fiction)

Freddy T. Funkhouser and his best friend know they need a tasty idea if they're going to save Freddy's dad's failing Burger Castle restaurant.

The Joke Machine - Alexander McCall Smith -(Children's Fiction/Humour)

A story about a wonderful wacky machine and the magic, the fun and a little bit of mayhem it brings.

Oliver Moon's Summer Howliday - Sue Mongredien, Jan McCafferty (Children's Fiction)

Oliver Moon is really looking forward to his summer holiday in the haunted forest. He can't wait to go ghost hunting and he'd love to meet the werewolves.

Seriously Spooky Stories - Chris Powling- (Children's Fiction)

Thrills and chills galore in this spine-tingling collection of stories about ghosts, ghouls, and haunted happenings.

Awesome Animal Stories - Elizabeth Holland-(Children's Fiction)

Easy-to-read type, engaging stories by popular authors, and appealing drawings provide just the right balance of challenge and support for young readers who are ready for the short story format.

Sir Gadabout Out of Time - Martyn Beardsley, Tony Ross- (Children's Fiction)

King Arthur desperately needs a haircut, and with the royal barber away, he foolishly accepts Sir Gadabout's offer to do the job.

Sarah, Plain and Tall - Patricia MacLachlan- (Children's Fiction)

Their mother died the day after Caleb was born. Their house on the prairie is quiet now, and Papa doesn't sing anymore. Then Papa puts an ad in the paper, asking for a wife.

Junie B., First Grader - Barbara Park- (Children's Fiction)

Yikes . . . It's a looth tooth! One of Junie B. Jones's top front teeth is loose! Only Junie B. is not that thrilled. Information courtesy Google Books, GoodReads and Vijitha Yapa Bookstores

For more tips visit the Reading Is Fundamental website at

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