Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Speaking of Libraries...

Trinity College Library, University of Dublin
"In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them." --Mark Twain

In a couple of posts recently, I've mentioned fun excursions to branch libraries in our local area (a children's program, a fun MG title), but the other day I came across this wonderful tease--an article on "10 Mind Bending Libraries from Around the World." Oh, the places we could visit, the wisdom we could absorb!

Of the ten listed (check out the link for ideas for your travel wish list), there's the Philological 'Brain' University in Berlin, Germany--shaped like a human brain, and the National Library of Belarus which has 22 floors. The name for the shape of its building? Rhombicubocatahedron. (What??) San Diego's University of California hosts the Giesel Library, named in honor of Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss). The French National Assembly Library in Paris was originally created with books belonging to the clergy and aristocrats who left France during the French Revolution. Book lovers can only imagine the wealth behind these walls.

Photos of the libraries in the article show how truly mind-bending these places look, outside and inside. The one that shouted "visit me!" is pictured above, the Trinity College Library at the University of Dublin in Ireland. They say its history goes back to the the founding of Trinity College back in 1592. How would you feel walking through those doors?

Just thought I'd share. If you check out the link, I'd love to hear from you which of the mind-bending libraries you'd like to visit. Which one could you imagine yourself getting lost in?

We can dream big can't we?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On Summer Reading, and a Story of an Amazing Reading Streak

"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory." --Dr. Seuss

Pinkalicious came to town this week and visited one of our local libraries. We joined with a gazillion other mothers, grandmothers, and kids to get a look at her. The room was packed.

Familiar with the Pinkalicious books? I'd guess most of the five-year old population knows her. She's a figment of Victoria Kann's imagination and has captivated little girls now for several years. Who can resist her? All the pink, frills, and sparkles. Not to speak of adventure. Fun books to encourage reading at an impressionable age.

Speaking of encouraging the love of reading--which we're all in the business of doing, right?--I came across an article entitled "Seven Ways to Inspire Your Kids Summer Reading," by Jim Denney. You can read the article here. Among Denney's ideas, he suggests creating a cozy reading nook for your child, starting a family book review blog, and/or encouraging your child to write (yes!) and illustrate their own book.

But the best tip came with a story that tugs at the heart. The tip? "Read with your kids." Something I think most of us loved--and love--to do. But the story that illustrates the point? See if this doesn't touch your heart, too...

Denny writes of a single father, Jim Brozina, who desired to maintain a close bond with his daughter Kristen, ten-years old at the time. So they made a pact--they would read together every night for 100 nights. They started with L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz.

Guess what? 100 nights turned into 200, then 300, then..well...all the way up until nearly nine years passed, up to and including the night Kristen moved into her college dorm. They even read on Kristen's prom night--she all decked out in gown and upswept hairdo. Can you believe it? And the book they read that last night? The Wizard of Oz--the tale that started it all (shared, it is said, as both choked up)! Their streak went for 3,218 consecutive nights.

Isn't that the sweetest story of reading to your kids you've ever heard?

Postscript...the story of Kristen and her father's reading streak has been recorded, by Kristen herself, in her book The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared. Written under the pen name Alice Ozma (taken from "Alice in Wonderland," and the "Oz" books), Kristen is now dedicated to spreading the word about reading. Her story is quite the testimony to a most important practice. I haven't yet gotten a copy of My Father and the Books We Shared, but the title is high on my list. You can check out "Alice Ozma" at her website, The Reading Promise.

Any "reading to your kids" stories you have to share? What inspirational stories have come your way recently that tugged at your heartstrings? Maybe even some special something that you do in your own family? Do you like Pinkalicious?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Artistic Playground

"Writing is very much a playground--an artistic playground. It's the most fun thing I do." 
                                                                                                                                                                                                      --Shania Twain

We headed for a playground a day this last week with the little ones. Clear skies, cool breezes, slower pace, children's laughter. Perfect for recharging a writer's battery!

As always, I kept the camera close. The above image that I captured will be my inspiration this upcoming week when I head off to play with words. I plan to have fun. How about you?

And the photo begs a caption. If you were to write one, what would it be?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Baseball and Writing, A Connection

"Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half physical."--Yogi Berra

We have a few Cincinnati Reds baseball fans in the family--my almost-90 year old mom and my hubbie the two biggest ones. Me, not so much--only because I can't seem to sit still long enough to finish a game in its entirety. But when Mom came to spend a few days with us, the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum down by the stadium topped the list of things to do.

The museum was a whole lot bigger than we expected. Of course there was history--of players, ball fields, records, owners. There were interactive stations--a batting cage, umpire's window, the *catch* at the outfield wall. There was the batter's box, the bullpen, the announcer's booth. Awards and record-breakers. It was all fun, even for a lackluster fan.

Before long the writing side of the brain kicked in, and I began to see analogies to the writer's life.  (No surprise here, I'm sure.) Like the writer who dreams of publication, the team started with a dream. In the case of the Reds that meant visionaries back in the 1860s. Add skill, talent, and practice--all things writers need to develop, too. Build a bull pen of fellow writers, view the manuscript through the umpire's eyes of critique partners, enter the batter's cage of submissions ('let them fly'), and walk boldly into the announcer's booth of marketing.

Let's turn it over now to words from some professionals of the game itself, and see what they say:

#1. "Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game." --Babe Ruth

#2. "There are three types of baseball players: Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens." --Tommy Lasorda

#3. "No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference." --Tommy Lasorda

#4. "I've never questioned the integrity of an umpire. Their eyesight, yes." --Leo Durocher

#5. "Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things." --Robert Frost

And the classic of all classics: #6. "It ain't over 'til it's over." --Yogi Berra

Ah, do you see connections here to the world of writing? A few lessons we can apply in order to achieve our dreams?

Summer pastimes, summer fun. Any writerly connections to other warm-weather activities come to mind?