Sunday, September 8, 2013


People need feedback. I teach kids regularly at church, and one thing I've learned (and I relearn this every single week) is how positively people respond to feedback.

The feedback doesn't have to be particularly positive or gushing, but when someone makes a comment in class, if the teacher takes a moment to truly respond to the comment, to pull something out of it, the other students in the class are ten times more likely to respond themselves. They see that their comments and opinions matter to the teacher and the class.

I want to point out now that LISA YEE (!!!!), one of our favorite authors around here, commented on my blog recently to thank Mary for liking her book, Warp Speed.

I shared this great news with Mary right away, and something pretty cool happened (after the blushing and the, "Really???").

First, she looked up Lisa Yee on the computer to read more about her.

Second, she got out the Lisa Yee books that we own and argued with herself about which one to reread.

Third, she read more in general the rest of the week.

Fourth, she wanted to talk about books with me just for fun. We'd both read the books and found we had lots to talk about.

One way to get your kids to read more is to give them feedback.

I'm not talking about, "You are so great, you read a book today!" kind of feedback. I'm not sure that's too helpful. It sounds to me a bit like giving kids a pizza party for reading a bunch of pages.

I'm talking about feedback such as, "Ah, so you're reading the ghoul books again—do you have a favorite ghoul? What do you like about that ghoul? When I was little, I liked books about fairies, not ghouls. Have you ever tried fairy books? Do you think I would like a good ghoul book?"

I guess I'm talking about a book discussion. A real book discussion where you are 100% focused on your child, and they are sensing that focus and they want to share. People need feedback, true, sincere feedback. Books should be a hot topic in our homes—are they? Are we throwing books at each other often saying, you have to read this book, I know you would love it because....

Are we writing to authors to let them know how much we loved their books? Many authors will give your kids motivating feedback. You never know if a wonderful author will say just the motivating thing.

Partially due to wonderful Lisa Yee, we had a great reading week with some serious devouring going on.

First of all, we read this:

The third installment of Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales
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The Donner Dinner Party

Every single one of my kids loves this book from Mary down to Flannery (who can't read the words). We went camping at the beach this weekend (it was awesome!) and there were fights over this book and its predecessors. Constantly. I almost had to ban the book, but then someone caught me reading it, so I gave up.

Calvin and Shaemus have got Big Bad Ironclad (another Nathan Hale Hazardous Tale) memorized practically. It's about the Civil War, and I got a Civil War game for Calvin due to his sudden interest in history. (This is the game: Product Details
Professor Noggin's Civil War Game)

Calvin knew tons of answers. Tons. In some cases, he knew things I did not know about the Civil War, and he learned every bit of it from Big Bad Ironclad. 


And something for your teen girls. We've recently discovered Georgette Heyer. She writes clean regency romances that I think would be labeled YA if they had been published recently. I will confess that I stayed up way too late last night reading Cotillion. 
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It's not something I'm exactly proud of, but Heyer is a good writer. Her plot (at least in Cotillion) felt fresh and new. The characters were interesting and intelligent. If you just can't read Persuasion one more time, but you need something approximating Jane Austen, give Heyer a try—and definitely give it to your teen girls. It is five thousand times better than so many of the YA alternatives out there, and it is fun to boot.

These are the Lisa Yee books we devour. They are all fantastic. Read them, starting perhaps with Millicent Min, Girl Genius or Bobby vs Girls: Accidentally. Sam, by the way, loves Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time (I think it's the basketball).

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Here's hoping to happy reading this week!!!


  1. Those Nathan Hale Hazardous Tales sound like books my boys would devour. They loved the ones by Shannon Hale that he illustrated. Also, I remember one of my high school friends recommending Georgette Heyer, and I completely forgot about it until recently when I read a review on one of her books. I've been meaning to pick one up at the library and give it a try. Sounds like fun.

    And how fun that Lisa Yee commented on your blog!