Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Banned Books

It's banned book week so the topic for Top 5 Wednesday for the Goodreads group is perfect. 
Today I'm going to talk about banned books. 

(This picture is of the display created by Rachel Moani in the Lacey Timberland Library)

When you look at a list of the books that have been banned and challenged throughout the years there will always be those that pop out at you as understandable. There are always a few that you think, "Yeah, I might not want my kid reading that."
However,  I don't think that is solved by censorship of the books. 
In some of them I might not like the story or content in general, some I might think is just not appropriate for their age yet. 
But as I help them to understand why something should or should not be read by them they will learn to make decisions that are best for them, not have someone else make those decisions for them.  
As parents, we are here to guide our children not push them.

“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.” – Voltaire

I read a great article about this just the other day written by Melissa at Imagination Soup called "Self Censorship Better than Book Banning". Check it out here.

I have been reading through lists of banned books over the last few days and pulled out a bunch of my books that are on the list. 
I am sure I missed some of them because there are so many different lists of banned and challenged books but here are just some of them: 

I decided to pick my 5 from the ones I actually own, not just the ones that I have read. 

#1: The Diary of A Young Girl, Anne Frank

This diary was banned because it was "too depressing". 
I think this is an important book because we see a real life. She isn't just a number in the people that were killed in concentration camps. We get to know her. It forces us to stop and think about all of the millions killed and remember that each one of them had a name, a face, and a story. 

#2: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

 Banned for its depiction of the end of slavery and blatant racism. 
In fact, just this year with the controversy surrounding the confederate flag, there have been many people trying to get it banned again. 
While, these accusations are partly correct- there is a lot of racism in this book, it doesn't portray everything completely historically accurate (it is fiction!)- I still think it was a very interesting book. 
It shows us all a side of the war/ end of slavery that we don't often look at or think about. I think it is always important to look at both sides of every story so we learn empathy and understanding of others. If we know why people react and act the way they do, we can help them to move forward. 
When questioned about inaccuracies in the book at a time when it was being challenged, Margaret Mitchell said she had spent " ten years reading thousands of books, documents, letters, diaries, old newspapers, and interviewing people who had lived through those terrible times" in preparation for writing the first draft.  

#3: Harry Potter by J.K Rowling

 (All of the books)
The Harry Potter books have been challenged and banned all over the world many times. 
The most cited reason is for its glorification of magic. 
When they burned it in New Mexico they said it was because it encouraged "lying, cheating, stealing, and witchcraft".
You can't google Harry Potter without having many hits for websites calling for the banning of these books. 
It makes me so sad. 
There is so much good to learn from these books: how to be a good friend, how to stand up for yourself and what you think is right even when it is toward your friends (I'm looking at you Neville), sacrifice, hope, love, loyalty, kindness, etc. I could go on and on. 

#4: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Banned for violence, for an absence of religion, for being anti- family (huh? She freaking volunteered to save her sister!), and for promoting rebellion. 
Yeah, it does promote rebellion. And that is a good thing. 
I am sure these people think that their children might start rising up against them with a three finger salute, whistling, when they are told to do their homework but to be honest if my kids did that I would laugh and then make them do their homework. 
There is a lot of violence and I can totally understand not wanting younger children to read that. 
I probably wouldn't encourage my daughters to read this until they are at least 12. But it is still a good story that shows self sacrifice and the consequences of war. 

#5: The Lord of the Rings by  J.R.R. Tolkien

These books have been banned in schools and libraries all over the country. 
Some of the reasons are: characters smoking, that it is anti-religion and Christianity (do they not know Tolkien was a devout Christian?), and that they are satanic and promote witchcraft. 
I love these books and think that if any of these people actually read the books they would realize that they are so wrong. 
Again, just like Harry Potter, the themes are of self sacrifice, loyalty, and friendship. 

I want to mention two honorable mentions. These books might have made my top 5 list but I don't currently own them. They are: 

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

1984 by George Orwell

To Kill a Mockingbird was banned because it was "filthy", "vulgur", and "racist". 
1984 was banned because it was "pro communist" and "explicit". 

As you read this and looked at my pile of books above, I hope it gave you something to think about. 
I think that most of these bannings and challenges come about by two things: ignorance and lack of communication. If you communicate with your children and teach them to self-discern they will learn to choose for themselves. And if they read something that they find disturbing or confusing, it gives you a great place to jump in with a conversation. 
So, go read some Banned and Challenged books and let me know in the comments which books you love that have been banned!

Monday, September 28, 2015

The month of September

 Maddy playing out on the patio... she was playing with play dough but decided to have a reading break. 

During my read-a-thon on Scones and Crackers, I took the girls to a park one day after school so I could get in some reading in the sunshine while they played. 

I heard about a really great app for keeping track of your books and movies. 
About a year ago I bought one for only a couple of dollars but then after doing a portion of my books it was out of space. Plus it took a really long time to do them all. 
So, when I heard about this newer app that could hold a ton of inventory and was FREE I was so excited. It's called Libib.
I downloaded it onto my phone and spent about a week scanning all of my books (except the holiday ones that are packed away- I will scan them every time we get out holiday things.) and our movies. 
I used the time to re-arrange the shelves as well. 
It was quite daunting to see so many books hanging out on the floor. 

I love the way the shelves look after the rearranging. 

Maddy decided that she wanted to be Pikachu for Halloween. 
I ordered the costume she wanted from Amazon. 
It arrived and we were so excited. 
I helped her to put it on and she had a meltdown. 

She looked adorable in it but it was hard to pull over her head. 
Maddy has this issue with things going over her head. 
If pajamas or shirts take more than a second she starts to crocodile roll and freak out. 
So, once it was on, even though she looked so cute, that and the fact that it was itchy made her swear she would never wear it again. 
Don't let this picture fool you. She is smiling through her tears because her sister was making her laugh. 
Luckily, Amazon let me send it back and not only did I not have to pay shipping but I got a full refund. Thank you Amazon. 

We went to the costume unveiling at our local Kid to Kid (a consignment type store). They didn't have any costumes we were interested in but they did have face painting. 
Maddy ended up getting her face painted like Pikachu. 

We went to the store that day to get a few Halloween things because the girls begged me to decorate for Halloween early. 
I found this owl with books at Walmart for only $5.

We came right home and decorated. 

Cute little witch. 

We decided to make Pygmy Puffs using a tutorial on Youtube for our Harry potter party and since we had enough of the fabric we decided to make a bunch of them. 
Abi helped me to sew them and they both stuffed them with fluff. 
It was a fun night. 

And lastly (for now), last night we went out to look at the supermoon eclipse. It was so cool.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Book Cover Fonts

 Yes, today will be another book post!
I recently joined a group on Goodreads called Top 5 Wednesday. 
 It is a group that started a couple of years ago. The moderator, Lainey, posts a topic each Wednesday that you are then to use for your Top 5 post or video. 
It looks like a lot of fun so I am excited to do my first post!

Today's topic is 5 favorite Book Cover Fonts. 
This was a little hard for me to decide as there are a lot of book covers that I really like. But I narrowed it down to the books that I own that, in my opinion, have the best font. 

They are, in random order: 

Harry Potter:

 I love how the P in Potter uses the lightning bolt of Harry's scar. 
It is instantly recognizable. 

The Beautiful Creatures series:

I used the second book in the series for the picture because the first one has the dumb movie cover... but they all use this same font. It is so pretty. 
I love how the letters extend so far and almost feel like vines. 

This Dark Endeavor:

This series is a prequel re-telling of Frankenstein
I love the feel of this font. It perfectly fits the dark, slightly gothic feel of the story. 
I loved these books the last time I read them. Now that I have actually read the original Frankenstein, I need to go back and read them again to see if I still like them as much!

The Shadow and Bone series: 

These books all have a variation of this same font. I think it is beautiful, eye catching (in fact I love this whole cover!), and foreshadows the tone of the book. 

The Incarceron series: 

This one might be my favorite with all the gears. 
I mean, take a closer look. 

So cool!

Do you have any books that use a cover font that you love?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Childhood Book Tag

I mentioned last week that I was really excited to move forward on this blog having a bit more fun! 
One of the things that I really love are tags. 
We used to do them all the time in the blogging world but I haven't seen one in a really long time. 
However, they happen all the time over on YouTube. So I decided that I am going to start doing some of the YouTube tags that I find. The reason I love tags so much is that you find out so many things about a person through their answers. Some of the things you already know, but some you don't . It really is fun to see what people pick for their answers to the questions and think about what you would pick. 
So, without further ado, I am starting with...

The Childhood Book Tag

1)What were your favorite books read to you as a child? Why?

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is the first thing that comes to mind. 

I can remember gathering around my mom at night and having her read to us. We read many books this way, but this one was my favorite. A few years ago Abigail and I went on a road trip to the east coast with my parents and we stopped off at Orchard House.

(You can see that post on our old blog here.  )
 While there my mom decided to buy a new copy of Little Women. When she did this I asked her if I could please have her old copy because it meant so much to me.

 I love that I can now read Little Women to my little women out of the same book that my mother read to me. I love the cover, the dark blue lined pages, and the many illustrations throughout the book (full page color like the one above as well as smaller black and white drawings). 

2)Do you have any special memories or traditions associated with these books?

This would just be what I have already mentioned- sitting around my mom in our jammies listening to her reading to us. It is one of the reasons that reading out loud to my daughters, even though they can both read, is so important to me. 

3)What were your favorite books or series when you were old enough to read and why? 

I will start in the order in which I read these. 
First, my favorite childhood books as a small child were....

*The Berenstain Bear books by Stan and Jan Berenstain. 
I absolutely adored these books. I have continued collecting them my whole life.

When I was in second/ third grade I started reading a new series. 
*Sweet Valley Twins by Francine Pascal

I really liked these books. I related more to Elizabeth than Jessica because I didn't care about clothes and popularity and most of the time I didn't even like Jessica much. But I really liked reading these books. I never collected the entire series but I have quite a few of them. 

In third grade I read a book that would forever change me. It would become a part of who I am. 
The author would become so important to me that I even have an entire bookshelf related to her (not to mention other parts of the house)

*Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I still remember exactly when I started reading this. We were driving home to California after visiting my grandparents in Utah. I couldn't stop reading this once I started. I had never related to anyone, fictional or non fictional, the way I did to Anne Shirley. My middle name is even Anne (with that E!).
I quickly gobbled up the rest of the series and the mini-series on television. 
This copy is the very same one that I read that very first time. It is so beat up... as are most of her books that I own and I really want to buy a new copy that is prettier but I know I will never get rid of this one. 

I was also really in to the Archie comic books. 
I used to buy these all the time. 
I remember putting on sock puppet plays of the short stories inside.

As I moved into fourth grade there were three books that became instant favorites: 

*The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

I loved the play on words that are spread throughout the book. I found it fun, clever, and interesting. 
It definitely fed my imagination. 

*The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

I adore this book. It is so clever and well written and I can't even tell you how many times I have read it! It is such a fun mystery and has great characters, especially Turtle. 

*The Family Nobody Wanted by Helen Doss

This one was slightly strange for a fourth grader. It is an adult non-fiction book about a couple that have trouble having children. They end up adopting children from all sorts of different ethnicity's in a time when people just didn't do that. They basically took in the kids that "nobody wanted". It is inspiring and so wonderful. 
I loved it so much that when we had to do a book report cake for school and everyone else was doing the children's books, I themed my cake around this book. 

As I got a little older, going into fifth grade, I became a little more "edgy". Or at least that is what I thought. 
My most read books were these three: 

*The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger 

I related to the turmoil this girl was feeling even though she was much older than me. I also had an older sister that was really fashionable and cool. It bothered the girl in the book more than it did me... but I still related. There were things going on in my family that were hard at the time and I felt like this got me through some of it. 

*Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade by Barthe Declements

Obviously, the characters were the same age as me and dealing with the same kinds of things at school that I was. It had a lot of "unfair" things in it that I also thought were unfair so it was a perfect fit for that time in my life. 

*Who is Bugs Potter by Gordon Korman

Bugs Potter was the first "bad boy" that I loved. He was a drummer and would sneak out at night to play as a guest drummer in night clubs. Nobody knew who this drummer was that just kept showing up and played so well. So it became this big mystery. Bugs was kind of a clueless dude just having fun. 

4) Who were your favorite book characters in these books? 

I won't go through all of them but just some of the more important ones to me. 
I loved Jo from Little Women the most. I was writing all of the time and had dreams of being an author as well as the fact that I felt like I was always just a little bit different than everyone else. This also can apply to Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. I never felt like I really fit in anywhere. (Still don't for that matter. Recently I did those personality tests and found out that I am INFJ which is apparently the most rare brain type and leads you to feel like you don't fit in anywhere. Go figure.)
My favorite character in the Archie comic books was Betty. 
And as already mentioned, it was Turtle in the Westing Game

5)What was your favorite book in a childhood series?

I will go with the Anne of Green Gables series for this one since it was my favorite. 

I love every single one of these books. But I think my favorites have to be the first and last because they start and end the series. 
Anne of Green Gables introduces us to the world and the characters we will come to love. 
Rilla of Ingleside is mainly about Anne and Gilbert's daughter Rilla, though the whole family is in the book as well. There are some really heartbreaking moments in this book but I really, really love it. I thought about Rilla as a middle name for one of my daughters. It was vetoed. 

6) Did you ever dress up like someone from a favorite book? 

Yes. For Halloween in fourth grade I dressed up like Heidi. 

And NO ONE knew who I was. I was so frustrated. When the kids at school asked who I was and I said, "Heidi", they would then ask, "Who's Heidi?" I couldn't believe it. At that time in my life I guess I was ignorant to the fact that not every one spent the majority of their times in books. 

7)Was there a movie adaptation of any of your childhood favorites? If so, what were they?

Yes. I LOVE these adaptations. 
Anne of Green Gables and the sequel were out when I was a child and I loved them instantly. Even though they aren't exactly like the books they really kept the feel and soul of the story in them. Gilbert Blythe (Jonathan Crombie) was my first love. 
I like to pretend that the third one and the prequel that Sullivan entertainment has made since then don't exist because they were just SO bad. 
Little Women is one of my favorites as well. In fact, funnily enough I just watched it yesterday. They really kept the feel of the book with this adaptation and the casting is spot on. I always feel a little bad about Jo and Teddy not ending up together but this is the only adaptation that made Professor Bear believable as someone she could fall in love with (at least in my opinion). 

8)Have you read any children's series as an adult that you loved? 

Yes. Lots of them. I do feel like a lot of the books that I think are children's books could be young adult so it is a little hard to decide which ones fit this category but these are the ones I have read as a teen and adult that I think fit into this category and I love: 

*Harry Potter
Of course, Harry Potter. It is one of my absolute favorites.

*The Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins
Just like with her Hunger Games series, Suzanne does a good job showing what war really does to characters. Happy endings that aren't necessarily happy.

*Brandon Mull
I think most of these books by Brandon Mull would be categorized as young adult but I would say that Fablehaven is a children's series. And I really enjoy it. 

*The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
I didn't read these until I was an adult and I think I would have loved them when I was a kid. 

*Emily of New Moon series by L.M. Montgomery
I didn't read this series until I was a teenager. I didn't think I would love any of her books as much as her Anne books but I love this series just as much. 

*Icefall by Matthew Kirby. 
I would almost classify this as Young Adult but I bought it in the children's section so I am including it. I LOVE this book. I never hear about it from other people and that surprises me because I think it is SO good. 

*Shannon Hale

Once again, a lot of her books can be classified as Young Adult but I think the Goose Girl and Book of a Thousand Days were bought in the children's section. They are my two favorite Shannon Hale books. 

There you have it. 
I hope you enjoyed reading about my favorite childhood books. 
This tag was created by KathleenKouture and you can watch her original video here.
I tag any of you that are reading this that have a blog, YouTube account, or anywhere that you can do it! 
Let me know if you do the tag by linking it in the comments!