Articles tagged "reading"

Guest Blog: Learning about America’s Presidents

2 min read


Written by former advertising executive turned TV producer, Toni Steedman Zelickson, and illustrated by nationally renowned caricature artist, Jeff Mangum, “The 45 Presidents” is an 84-page, large format activity book featuring a caricature of each president, presidential trivia, First Lady matching activities, and other iconic images such as Air Force One, the White House, and Mount Rushmore. “The 45 Presidents” book is also part of a multi-media trio that includes a new original song and music video by the Raggs Band, the Emmy-Award winning characters from the Raggs children’s TV series.

Early this year, “45 Presidents” was awarded a Silver IPPY from the Independent Publishers Association and handpicked by Homeschool.com, “The 45 Presidents” placed second in the multi-media category from a field of nearly 5,000 worldwide entries across all categories!

Jeff & Toni

The book is a companion to the multi-media offerings Raggs presents, in the form of audio (a extensive library of over 300 tracks) and video located at www.raggs.com. Kids can have fun learning about the history of American Presidents, with fun facts, illustrations, and a historical timeline. Summer is here, and it may be tough to think about learning with the sunshine and vacations on the horizon, but now is the time to get ready for the fall and keep your kids interested and excited to learn about the history of the USA’s leaders!

The accompanying music videos are free-to-view on YouTube, and supplement the book with more ways to learn about the Presidents. You can find the videos at the book’s home page, the45presidents.com.

Raggs is an Emmy Award-winning, musical preschool series about five colorful pups who learn life lessons though an innovative mix of live action stories, music videos, concerts, cartoons and interviews with real kids. With over 200 episodes, 300 original songs and animated new media music videos, Raggs is available worldwide in English, Spanish and Portuguese and has begun dubbing in 15 additional languages for distribution in 100 countries in 2017. The Raggs brand includes CDs, DVDs, toys, books and live shows, including a partnership called “Play at Palladium with Raggs” with the Palladium Hotel Group at resorts in Mexico, the Caribbean and Brazil. The original characters were created by Toni Steedman, a Charlotte, NC, advertising executive, for her then six-year-old daughter Alison. Raggs and all rights are owned by Blue Socks Media LLC, Charlotte, NC. For more info, go to www.raggs.com.

Common Grammar Mistakes

3 min read

We all make mistakes. That’s what first drafts are for (and second…and third).

Being a self-published author, you might not have the desire or the resources to hire a professional editor or proofreader, so you’ll have to comb through the file yourself with an eye for grammar, spelling, and usage mistakes. Believe me, you should NOT be the only one looking over the file for these kinds of things. But in the end, the responsibility to ensure your book looks clean and professional falls on you.

Here’s a few grammar mistakes that get made often, particularly in early drafts, and are important to  keep an eye out for while reviewing your drafts:

1) Subject / Verb agreement

This one is usually pretty obvious, as the difference will stand out when you read the sentence. If the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular, and likewise, if the subject is plural, the verb must be plural.

Example:

Incorrect: Proofreading have been the most difficult part of editing.

Correct: Proofreading has been the most difficult part of editing.

2) Commas

We’ll cover two common problems that arise from comma use: the dreaded Oxford comma, and missing commas.

The Oxford is subject to much debate. It is the last comma found in lists, series, and compilations (see the comma after ‘series’ in this sentence? Oxford comma). In general, it is acceptable to use it or not use it as you see fit stylistically, with the exception being any instance when the meaning of the sentence is questionable without it.

Example:

With Oxford Comma: Our book is about music, dance, and culture in the 1980s.

Without Oxford Comma: Our book is about music, dance and culture in the 1980s

The Oxford comma is only critical in a sentence that needs it to make sense:

For breakfast I had eggs, toast, and orange juice – this sentence is a list of what I had for breakfast.

For breakfast I had eggs, toast and orange juice – the meaning may still be clear enough, but this is me telling toast and orange juice that I had eggs for breakfast.

Missing commas are much clearer, and are another little bit of formatting easy to miss in an early draft. Most often it is added after an introductory phrase, to break the rhythm of the sentence, and clue the reader in to the meaning, so confusion is avoided.

Example:

Incorrect: In case you didn’t notice I covered that in chapter three.

Correct: In case you didn’t notice, I covered that in chapter three.

3) Pronoun Reference

Pronoun is defined as: “a word that can function by itself as a noun phrase and that refers either to the participants in the discourse (e.g., I, you ) or to someone or something mentioned elsewhere in the discourse (e.g., she, it, this ).” Because of its use to replace a noun, it is critical that the pronoun reference be clear, lest the sentence cause confusion for the reader.

Example:

Incorrect: When Fred read Jim’s assessment of the draft, he didn’t like it.

Correct: Fred didn’t like Jim’s assessment of the draft.

4) Split Infinitives

Split Infinitives refer to any phrase or sentence with “to” and the associated verb separated by another word. This will usually be an adverb. In general, there is no rule against split infinitives, but it is smart to try rewriting the sentence without the extra word (or with the extra word relocated) to see which reads better. Often times a split infinitive can break a reader’s cadence or throw them off when reading.

Example:

Split Infinitive: I’ve got to quickly read this book.

Non-Split Infinitive: I’ve got to read this book quickly.

5) Correct Words/Forms

English is a tricky language sometimes. There are numerous words that sound the same, but have different spelling and meaning. Be careful to look at these closely to be sure the correct word and form are used in all instances.

Example:

Incorrect: There taking they’re book over their!

Correct: They’re taking their book over there!

Don’t let these and other grammar pitfalls hurt your marketing plans! A clean, correct manuscript is critical to keep readers invested in your book. Readers will forgive a mistake or two, but if your book is riddled with problems that can be caught and corrected in the proofreading process, they may not be willing to buy another of your books.

 

 

 

6 Ways Reading Will Improve Your Life

2 min read

Students Youth Adult Reading Education Knowledge Concept

Did you know it’s #WorldSmileDay? To celebrate, why not pick up your favorite book and immerse yourself in a story that makes you beam. Reading can definitely improve your mood and make you happy, but we have 6 solid ways it can also impact your life and make every aspect of it happy and healthy.

  1. Reading improves your memory
    Exercising your brain is just as important as exercising your body. One of the major health benefits is that your memory is strengthened by reading. People who read consistently over their lifetime have healthier and more active brains in old age. The Alzheimer’s Research Foundation found that reading significantly slowed cognitive decline and individuals who read more preserved valuable memory and thinking skills.
  2. Reading reduces stress (and anxiety!)
    A group of researchers at Mindlab International, University of Sussex discovered that reading worked best to reduce stress — better than exercise or a cup of tea or coffee — lowering stress levels by 68 per cent. They described losing yourself in a book as the “ultimate relaxation.”
    chillax
  3. Reading helps you live longer
    Even a half-hour of reading a day can add to your lifespan, a study in Social Science & Medicine shows. Simply put, reading more can help you live longer (and learn more!). Compared to those who didn’t read at all, the study showed that readers live an average of 2 years longer. That’s a lot of extra time to read more books!
  4. Reading increases your attention span
    Humans currently have an attention span that is one second shorter than that of a goldfish. Even so, millions of people still read — and it increases their attention span by leaps and bounds, well beyond the goldfish. Simply reading regularly has shown to be beneficial to increasing attention span, but the University of Leicester lists a number of ways to get the most out of a text and how to process what you’ve read.
  5. Reading increases your emotional intelligence
    Emotional intelligence? That’s a fancy way of describing how reading can broaden your emotions and understanding of them — as well as the world around you. Readers have been found to be more empathetic, and social skills are developed and improved by reading. Reading, particularly fiction, allows a reader to step into the shoes of different people and also stimulates the brain. Researchers in Spain found that metaphors and texture-based word imagery had a profound impact on participants’ brains and stimulated the mind in a positive way.
    emotions
  6. Reading helps you understand other cultures better
    Increasing empathy and understanding (see #5) also leads to better understanding of other cultures. Even if you can’t travel far or often, reading a book is an incredible way to learn more about the unknown. Writer Ann Morgan challenged herself to read one book from every country and she mentions that instead of just armchair travel, her experience took her so far as to “inhabit the mental space of the storytellers.” She was also struck by the power of diverse stories: “More powerful than a thousand news reports, these stories not only opened my mind to the nuts and bolts of life in other places, but opened my heart to the way people there might feel.”

From strengthening your mind to opening yourself up to different cultures, the positive benefits of reading are limitless.

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Print Books Bounce Back

2 min read

The reports of the death of the printed book have been greatly exaggerated.

Sales figures from the end of last year show that while they don’t dominate the marketplace as they once did, print books are showing a good amount of resiliency during the precipitous rise of eBooks and the shifting of content from the printed word to a digital sphere. According to the Wall Street Journal, the role of eBooks might have been greatly overestimated. “It may be that e-books, rather than replacing printed books, will ultimately serve a role more like that of audiobooks — a complement to traditional reading, not a substitute.”

It’s fair to say that a seamless transition from printed books to digital ones just isn’t happening, and the marketplace that we live in now — where both printed books and eBooks are having brisk sales — might be here for some time. According to a 2012 survey by Bowker Market Research, 59% of Americans say they have “no interest” in buying an eBooks. While I believe that this number will go down as more and more Americans familiarize themselves with reading on digital devices like tablets, it goes to show just how much of the population is still wedded to our old friend, the printed book. This transitional market bodes well for authors looking to explore multi-platform publishing, as they will be able to test the waters of both a digital and print readership, and see which one works best for their content.

While it doesn’t appear the the rise of eBooks has stopped in its tracks, it has definitely slowed. When it comes to eBooks, a lot of consumers and providers are still working out the kinks. Publishers are still trying to figure out how much they should cost, while libraries are desperately trying to make them widely available to the public. In the goodwill of making eBooks and an author’s content as widely available and as equitable for both the reader and author as possible, Lulu recently said goodbye to DRM. So while the market has definitely shifted over the past few years, we won’t be living tomorrow in a world without the printed book, and probably won’t for years to come.

Early Age, Early Adopters: How Kids’ Aptitudes for Tech Change the Face of Reading

2 min read

Photo Credit: http://ar.gy/38fP

Children interact with technology in a different way than we do. Their brains are like sponges, which means they are able to intuitively use any new technology without reference to older ones.

Give a child an iPad and watch what happens — within minutes he’ll be more proficient than you. When it comes to eBooks, the demographic difference between young and old readers is just as stark: according to a new study on digitalbookworld.com, more than half of U.S. kids are reading eBooks, which is more than double the proportion of adults who are e-reading.

Consider what this means as these young readers mature to become the dominant consumer block. These readers will be mostly digital-natives, their cherished childhood reading memories formed in the glow of an iPad and not the heft of a book.

While sales for eBooks have slowed their pace recently, all signs point to them becoming the dominant form of book within the next few years. Young readers will take the surge of eBook reading from the Children’s genre to Young Adult, and eventually to Contemporary Fiction. The study also found that young e-readers are reading a lot: 85% of young e-readers are reading at least one book a week, which, if you’ve worked with children, is a pretty outstanding figure.

Still, some impediments remain for young e-readers. Only 54% of children have access to tablets, where most young readers find eBooks. Once tablets and handheld computing become more popular and less expensive, we can expect the number of young e-readers to rise even more.

School programs that utilize tablets, as well as the popularity of smartphones with larger screens, will make eBooks soon indispensable to the learning environment, eventually turning an entire generation into e- readers.

And while we aren’t saying goodbye to print just yet, it does seem like there are going to be swaths of the population in a few short years who simply have never read a print book. For print books, its not the pricing that may be their downfall, it’s the speed at which children can adapt to new technologies.

Collaborative Storytelling with Kids

2 min read

When I was little, I took stories my parents told me and added to them as I drifted to sleep. My mind would take a story and turn it into something very different. Bedtime stories becomes so much more than just stories in the imaginative minds of children — they become worlds.

Thanks to independent publishing, children and parents are using teamwork to create polished novels that can be shared with other young readers. A profile in Wired details how a father and his two young sons were able to collaborate on a successful fantasy book for children. Nimpentoad, which the family published independently, has been a success as well as a learning experience for the two young authors, Josh and Harrison. The boys have been selling their book at farmers’ markets, participating in public speaking engagements and agreeing to interviews for profiles in Young Entrepreneur Magazine. They are learning at an early age that publishing is just one step in the process of becoming a successful author.

Josh, Harrison and their father, Henry, are part of a long history of intergenerational writers who have used writing as both a teaching experience and a way to bring generations together by changing storytelling into a more participatory process. Writing groups around the country use intergenerational writing practices to keep seniors and young people interacting with one another.

Intergenerational writing can also help children with learning disabilities by encouraging them to continue to write outside of the classroom setting. Hal and Alex Malchow wrote their fantasy novel, The Sword of Darrow, when Alex, who is dyslexic, needed encouragement to continue his uphill climb toward reading at his own grade level. Alex was able to use the confidence from writing the book to tackle his own disability.

What intergenerational writing have you done? What have you learned from young storytellers, and what is your best advice for them?

Related Services: Children’s Formatting Service

Creativity Strikes! Interview with Children’s Writer Sandra Arthur

5 min read

As the social media manager here at Lulu, I have the lucky task of monitoring our Facebook Page. I can’t tell you what a delight it is to communicate directly with so many of our authors and to get a chance to see the creative ways you all have to reach your readers. I’m constantly impressed. The other day I saw a post from an author named Sandra Arthur and wanted to share with you about an ingenious workshop she created to get kids excited about reading and to teach them about endangered orangutans and the rainforest of Borneo. She kindly agreed to an interview (shown below), so I hope you will enjoy getting to read a bit about one of your fellow Lulu authors.

Can you please share a few words about the Jungle Workshop you organized?

I ran a “Jungle Workshop” to provide a fun storytelling experience for children. I was lucky to get support from a local, independent bookshop/café/toy shop. I created a Rainforest Room with a tent and decorations.

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