Write for a Reader

Blogging about books

Goodbye 2008!

Posted by shelburns on December 31, 2008

Everyone around the blogosphere is doing wrap up posts where they are listing the books they’ve read in the past year, what they’ve done, changes they’ll make, etc.  Since I just started blogging seriously in September, I’m not going to list what I’ve read, because, to be honest, I didn’t do a very good job of keeping track.  Note to self, starting tomorrow, I need to do that! 

Personally, this has been a trying year at our house and I’m glad that it is over.  Next year has to be better!  We lost both of my husband’s parents this year, and that was the hardest thing I’ve had to go through with hubby since we were married.  My in-laws were in and out of the hospital since January.  My mother-in-law went to be with the Lord in April, and my father-in-law followed her in June.  Needless to say, the 1st six months of ’08 were pretty much a blur for us.  We are still not back to normal, but every day gets a little better and a little easier.

I moved out of the classroom this year and into a Reading Specialist role, which I am learning to love.  There are days when I miss the classroom, but I sure don’t miss the paperwork, grades, etc.  This is just one more step toward where I desire to be, a leadership position in a school.

As for blogging, I’m so glad that I took on this wonderful new venture in my life.  It has been so refreshing!  I love sharing my thoughts about books and reading with others.  I have met so many wonderful people through this blog and know that I will continue to meet others as this blog grows.  I will be making changes in ’09, like moving my blog to Blogger or WordPress.  Edublogs was a great way to start, but I would like to do so much more with this blog, that I can’t do here.  I will keep you updated as to when that will happen as I have to have help to get it done because I am still new to all of this and not sure how to do it all by myself.  Reviews will continue and hopefully be more frequent as I’m getting faster and know how to post for a later date.

Authors and publishers – thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in a new book blogger and sending me books to read and review.  I never dreamed that starting out I would get such a great response.  I love working with you and hope that we can continue to share the love of reading with others.

Blogger buddies – thank you for all your advice and encouragement as I got started with Write for a Reader.  You will never know how very much you helped me.  You continue to inspire me as I visit your blogs and gain ideas and knowledge from each of you.  I have many new friends, whom I’ve never met face to face, but who are there for me none the less.

Readers of this blog – thank you for stopping by, commenting, and reading my posts.  There are times when I wonder if anyone is reading what I write, but then you comment about what I’ve written, and I know you’re out there!  I hope that you will continue to stick around and enjoy Write for a Reader in ’09.

Are you glad that this year will be behind you or are you sorry to see it go?  See you all in the New Year!

Posted in General Posts | Tagged: , | No Comments »

Review – Christmas Makes Me Think

Posted by shelburns on December 30, 2008

I should have reviewed this one before the holidays, but time just got away from me.  Sorry about that, but here you go, while Christmas is still on your mind.

Thank you to Lee & Low Books for sending this to me.

Title:  Christmas Makes Me Think

Author: Tony Medina

Illustrator:  Chandra Cox

Review Copy Provided by:  Lee & Low Books

Summary of Book:  A young boy, narrator, is excited about Christmas, his favorite time of year.  He is looking forward to more fun, watching cartoons at night, no school, baking a cake with his grandmother, a beautiful tree, and lots of presents.  But, he starts to wonder about things.  What happens to the trees that don’t make it to Christmas?  What about all the people that don’t have a home, food to eat and presents at Christmas?  All this thinking sets the boy into action about giving his old toys to kids that don’t have any and hats, gloves, and scarves to homeless people.  He learns that Christmas is not about getting, but about giving.  It is best said with this quote, “Christmas makes me think about  others and not just me!”

My Review:  This is a sweet story.  It is told from the point of view of a young boy, which I love because boys will be able to relate to the character.  It is also an African American themed book, which is why I enjoy Lee & Low’s books because of the multicultural diversity that they are not afraid to put into books.  Kids need to have books with characters who look like them, and Lee & Low does that.  If I had had this book prior to the holidays, I would have shared it with my students because of the message.  Christmas isn’t just about the gifts you get, but what you can give to others.  I think children need to hear that as many of them are so “me” centered when it comes to the holidays.  This book would make a great springboard to writing in the classroom.  Many times throughout the book, these words are used:  “Christmas makes me think…”  After reading the story, I would give students those four words and see what they could come up with.  They could pattern it after the book, or just finish the sentence.  It would make a great class book to make during the holidays when students are excited and not real into working.  This would be fun for them I think.  I recommend this for young children, teachers, and parents.  It is a quick read for a read aloud, easy for children to read alone, and a story with a great message for kids and adults alike.

Free Teacher’s Guide available at leeandlow.com

Other info about the book:

   paperback $8.95
   hardback $16.95
Interest Level
Grades K – 4
Reading Level
Grades 1 – 2
African/African American Interest, Environment/Nature, Family Traditions, Holidays & Celebrations, Home, Religion/Spiritual, Sharing & Giving
Accelerated Reader
Level: 2.8
Points: .5

Posted in Book Reviews, Christmas, Lee & Low Reviews, Picture Books | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Review – The World that Loved Books

Posted by shelburns on December 30, 2008

Thank you to the author, Stephen Parlato, who sent me an autographed copy of this book, and thank you to The Picnic Basket for the chance to review this.

Title:  The World that Loved Books

Author:  Stephen Parlato

Illustrator:  Stephen Parlato

Review Copy Provided by:  author via The Picnic Basket blog

Summary of book (from back of book):  There once was a world where everyone loved books, even the animals.  Everyone loved to read so much that when they read their books, they became what they read.  When they closed their books they became themselves again…only smarter.

My Review:  This is an absolutely beautiful book!  I could sit for hours just looking at the pictures as each big picture is a collage of smaller pictures that take time to pick out and enjoy.  Imagine a horse made up of fish, or a cat made up of mice, rats, and hamsters.  It is truly unbelievable!  When I got this book, I was impressed with the cover art, much more so than the picture online did it justice.   I can’t wait to give this book to my students and see how they react!  Not only are the pictures amazing, but it has a great message.  There is not a “plot” to this story, just instances of how people and animals change with each book that they read.  I am always telling my students that with books you can go anywhere, become anything or anyone, and learn whatever you want to know.  This book solidifies the premise that we become what we read.  From each book we read, we take a piece of it with us and carry it around forever.  What a great message for kids and adults alike.  I will definitely be using this one with my reluctant readers because it is an easy read with a good message.  Some children may have a hard time reading it by themselves as the text is not always linear.  I like how the author manipulates the text into curves to accent the illustrations.  I know that there are a few of my boys that will fall in love with this book strictly because of the illustrations, and if that’s how I hook them, then I’ve got them!  I will recommend this to teachers and my librarian for the same reasons:  beautiful illustrations, easy read, great message.

I don’t usually give ratings to my book reviews, but since I am reviewing this book for The Picnic Basket, I was asked to rate the book on a scale of 1-5.  Here is how the scale works out:  5-Strongly Recommend, 4-Recommend without Reservation, 3-Neutral, 2-Recommend under Certain Reading Situations, & 1-Unlikely to Recommend.  When I review books for The Picnic Basket, I will be using these ratings and giving you my reasoning behind the rating.  So, without further adieu, I rate The World that Loved Books a 4 – Recommend without Reservation (This book should be in every picnic basket, it is as good as the perfect potato salad and would be welcome at a coastal or park picnic.  You would rummage through the picnic basket to read it.) based on the illustrations.  I think that children will ask to read it often because of it is short and so that they can see the pictures.

Stephen Parlato has another book, Dragons Love, that I can’t wait to get my hands on!

Other info about the book:

2003, Simply Read Books
36 pp, full color, 8 3/4″ X 12″, cloth with die-cut cover
Ages 6-11
US $16.95, CDN $22.95, UK £9.95, AU $24.95

Posted in Book Reviews, fiction, Picture Books, The Picnic Basket Book | Tagged: , , | No Comments »

First Book Needs Your Vote!

Posted by shelburns on December 30, 2008

Yesterday I received an email from First Book.  If you are a First Book follower, chances are you received the same email.  Did you go immediately and vote?  I did, and First Book is on it’s way to the 2nd round in the Change.org’s Ideas for Change in America.  What is First Book?  They are an organization that gives new books to children in need.  See the website for more details.  Being a teacher, I know how important it is for kids to have books, good books, in their hands and in their homes.  What is their idea?  Read below what I copied directly from Change.org’s site.

Launch Global Resources Network

Let’s permanently crack the ‘access’ issue plaguing programs serving low-income kids with First Book’s SELF-SUSTAINING MODEL and leave educational disparity behind forever.  Hundreds of thousands of community- and school-based programs in the US alone serving kids in need are entirely without basic access to resources like new, age-appropriate books and educational materials.  First Book has created a network of 20,000 groups and is providing free and deeply discounted books, etc., but this is reaching only a fraction of those heroic efforts in the US, let alone the globe.  A Global Resources Network would allow anyone serving kids in need to get the tools they need to create a vibrant educational environment.  First Book’s proven social enterprise model is perfectly positioned to offer a paradigm-shifting opportunity to change the way we serve our hardest-to-reach children.

You can read more on First Book’s Blog.

So, what do you think?  Will you vote and help get First Book to the 2nd round and hopefully get their idea presented to President-Elect Obama?  Hurry, 1st round voting ends tomorrow, Dec. 31.


Posted in General Posts | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Building the Flying Horse Farms Library

Posted by shelburns on December 29, 2008

As a horse owner and lover, I just had to get involved with this!  I am copying the email that I received.  I am hopeful, that in this season of giving, that you will feel inclined to share your love of books with these children, or at least pass this on.

Dear Friends,

My niece, Emily, has been battling cancer for over two years now. But that’s not all she’s been doing. She’s modeled in a show for Flashes of Hope, raised money for Rainbow Hospital and starred in a video for Flying Horse Farms.  I feel downright lazy next to her.

So here’s what I’m doing: starting a library of camp and horse related books for Flying Horse Farms.  Flying Horse Farms is a magical, transforming and fun camp for children with serious illnesses and their families. It’s an Ohio based 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and working to become a member of Hole in the Wall Camps, the world’s largest family of camps for children with serious illnesses. Watch the video.

I talked with the director, and he said that rather than one central library, he would love to have books available at several spots around the camp—the stables, the craft room, the main activity hall, the cabins,
maybe even the dining hall.

The books would be…

For kids to read while they wait for their turn on a horse.
For kids who suddenly discover they love pottery or archery or fishing and want to know everything about it.
For kids to share and discuss a cool quote or an inspirational person during nightly reflection times.
For kids who need a fast idea for a drama skit, or a nature craft, or a easy recipe.
For kids who need to rest.
For kids who love to read.
For kids who are kids and want to be kids and must be kids even if a serious illness complicates their lives.

If you want to help, here are some suggestions:

- I’ve set up a wish list on Amazon.  You can choose a book and donate it directly from there. The list is small now, but it will grow as the campers and counselors and the director add new requests to it.

- You may also buy from that list at your local independent bookstore and have them ship to the address below.

- You can blog about your favorite camp or horse related book. I’ll round up those posts, plus forward them to the director and consult them in expanding the Wish List.  (Little Willow already did this.  Thanks, LW!)   Feel free to copy this entire post or use the button I’m putting in my sidebar of my blog:

- If you’re an author or illustrator or publisher or blogger with a camp or horse related book, you can donate directly to the camp, but please remember that the camp serves kids ages 7-15 and your donation should
reflect the needs of the camp. (See the list of activities below.)  Please, in all cases: NEW, appropriate books. We don’t want to overwhelm the staff with boxes of old books to sort. This is not a book drive, but the beginning of a special library.

Questions? Email me at: [email protected]

*Here’s a list of activities at camp: Horses, Arts & Crafts, Painting, Woodworking, Pottery, Boating, Fishing, Swimming, Cooking, Ropes, Adventure (teambuilding), Nature, Sports & Games, Music, Drama

Fiction is also welcome, but at this time, we’re concentrating on stories with horses in them. Once the camp is fully up and running, I’ll add other fiction requests from the campers and counselors.

The address for donations:

Flying Horse Farms
225 Green Meadows Drive South, Suite A
Lewis Center, Ohio 43035

Website: Flying Horse Farms

To send directly from Amazon: wish list on Amazon

Watch the very short video about Flying Horse Farms.  It’s wonderful!

Emily and I are deeply grateful for your support.

Many thanks,
Sara Holmes

I know that if you read this blog, you read and love books.  I also know, that if you’re like me, you love to give books as well.  Children with serious illnesses spend alot of time in and out of hospitals, through no fault of their own, and these camps give them hope, laughter, and fun, that they don’t always get to have.  Books should be a part of every child’s life, so we should make sure they are available to all children, no matter where life takes them.  Won’t you join me in this endeavor?

Posted in Book Donations, General Posts | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Why I Love Christmas Break!

Posted by shelburns on December 29, 2008

Being a teacher has it’s perks.  One of which is an extended Christmas holiday, which seems to upset most of my family, but hey, it’s the job I dreamed of, so get over it!  So what if I don’t make the money you make?  I make a difference in kids’ lives and I deserve some time off every once in a while!  Anyway, I digress, and that is not what this post is about.  Can you tell I have this conversation with my family alot?

The things I love about Christmas break, in no particular order:

  1. Time to spend with my family

  2. Sleeping in

  3. Not having to get out of my PJs if I don’t want to

  4. Doing what I want, when I want

  5. Reading time

  6. Blogging time

  7. Renewal for my body and soul

  8. The chance to see and spend time with friends

  9. 7 whole days w/hubby (Christmas and New Year’s holidays)

  10. Lazy days

  11. Shopping

  12. Soap operas – I’m not addicted, but I do catch up!

  13. Seeing excited kids at Christmas

  14. Getting my house in order

  15. Cooking

  16. Baking

  17. Giving to others

  18. Christmas specials

  19. The Best of tv specials

  20. Time for me!

Whether you get 2 weeks off or just a few days, what do you love about it?  Please share in the comments by leaving your list or linking to your post.

Posted in Christmas, General Posts | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Amanda’s Giving Books Away!

Posted by shelburns on December 27, 2008

If you haven’t been over to A Patchwork of Books, you are missing out on a GREAT giveaway!  Here is what she has for you:

S is for Shamrock: An Ireland Alphabet
D is for Dancing Dragon: A Chinese Alphabet
B is for Big Ben: A London Alphabet

P is for Pinata: A Mexican Alphabet
A is for America: An American Alphabet

and also:

A is for Abraham: A Jewish Family Alphabet

Ai s For Amazing Moments: A Sports Alphabet.

Hurry over and get yourself entered; this giveaway ends tomorrow (Sunday) night!


Posted in giveaways, Picture Books | Tagged: , , | No Comments »

Merry Christmas to All!

Posted by shelburns on December 25, 2008

What an adventure this book blog has been!  Since starting in September, I have met many wonderful bloggers, authors, and publishers.  Thank you to all of you for helping me get started, following me, encouraging me, and reading what I have to say.

However you celebrate, whatever you may do; from my heart of hearts, Merry Christmas to you!!!

Posted in Christmas, General Posts | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Wednesday Wanderings – Christmas Eve – 12/24

Posted by shelburns on December 24, 2008

My blog posting has slowed down due to the holidays, but I didn’t want to leave out the Wednesday Wanderings post.  This post is filled with all kinds of holiday goodies.  Enjoy!!

Christmas Greetings from the Blogosphere

Holiday wishes are all over the blogosphere as bloggers are slowing down with posts to spend quality time with family and friends.  Here are some wishes I’ve found:  Happy Holidays from Picture Book of the Day, Merry Christmas from Bookroomreview’s Weblog, Merry Christmas from Florinda at the 3 R’s, Christmas Cards from J. Kaye’s Book Blog, and Yes, Virginia!  There is a Santa Claus – Christmas Eve Traditions from Lesa at Lesa’s Book Critiques.

Holiday Goodies

Need a dish to take to a family gathering?  Bermudaonion has posted a Vegetable Casserole today.  What about some holiday treats?  Holly at Brimstone Soup has Orange Vanilla Caramels, Masala Chai, and Olivia’s Sugar Cookies.

Do you have a cookie maker in your life?  Check out the book that Franki over at A Year of Reading just bought.

Get a Santa coloring page for the kiddos to work on while you cook, finish wrapping, or just to pass the time until Santa comes, from Elizabeth at Dulemba.com.


Still need some last minute gifts?  Books are great!  Head over to Books for the Holidays and look at all the suggestions.  You could also “give” a gift in someone’s name, like Melissa at Readergirlz suggests.


I did find some giveaways still going on during the holidays.  Head over to Parent Reviewers.  They are giving away a Brain Quest Workbook and they have opened up applications for to join the Parent Reviewer’s Team

Over at 3 P’s in a Pod, they are having a Lucky Mom giveaway

You could win a copy of the Golden Treasury of Children’s Literature from Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves.

Win a StrollAway from 5 Minutes for Giveaways.

I hope that each and every one of you has a very Merry Christmas!  Until next week…

Posted in Christmas, General Posts, Wednesday Wanderings | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Holiday Desserts

Posted by shelburns on December 23, 2008

I thought I would share with you what I am making to take to my parent’s house for Christmas Eve.  My dad has found it’s easier to have someone else do the cooking, so the local Mexican food restaurant that he frequents is making the fajitas.  The rest of us were asked to bring sides and desserts.  My step-mom requested a coconut pie, but since some members of my family (brother, cousins) don’t like coconut, I’m making a dessert for them too.  Did I mention I love to bake?  That’s one reason they ask me to bring dessert.  Even my sister-in-law requested a dessert for Christmas Day (I’ll post that later).   In case you are looking for something for the holidays, or anytime, here are the recipes.

 Caramel-Peanut Butter Bars

Cookie Base

1 pouch

 (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix


cup butter or margarine, softened




miniature chocolate-covered peanut butter cup candies, coarsely chopped



caramels (from 14-oz bag), unwrapped


can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)


cup creamy peanut butter


cup peanuts



container (1 lb) Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy milk chocolate frosting


cup peanuts, chopped








Print these coupons…


















About Concordance™







Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom and sides of 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter and egg until soft dough forms. Stir in candies. Press dough in bottom of pan. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown.


Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, heat caramels and milk over medium heat, stirring constantly, until caramels are melted. Stir in peanut butter. Heat to boiling. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 cup peanuts. Spread over warm cookie base. Cool completely, about 2 hours.


Spread frosting evenly over filling. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled. For bars, cut 9 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Add 2 tablespoons Gold Medal® all-purpose flour to dry cookie mix. Decrease butter to 1/3 cup.

Old Fashioned Coconut Cream Pie


  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked
  • 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed DIRECTIONS
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine half-and-half, eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in 3/4 cup of the coconut and the vanilla extract. Pour into pie shell and chill 2 to 4 hours, or until firm.
  2. Top with whipped topping, and with remaining 1/4 cup of coconut.
  3. Note: To toast coconut, spread it in an ungreased pan and bake in a 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

This will be my first time to make both recipes; we’ll see how it goes.

Posted in Christmas, General Posts | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »