What’s your favorite book to read aloud with your kids? Today is World Read Aloud Day (and no, I don’t know who gets to decide these things), a day worth celebrating because reading aloud with your kids is one of the simplest, least expensive, and most rewarding activities you can share. There are mountains of studies that extol the benefits of reading aloud – it builds vocabularies, encourages reluctant readers, and inspires a lifelong love of reading – but what I love best is the fun we have and the happiness we get to share when my family reads aloud together. It helps to have books nearby that are pitch-perfect read-alouds, and it’s worth noting that not all great books are great read-alouds. For inspiration, you can look to the E.B. White Read Aloud Awards, an annual recognition bestowed by the American Booksellers Association. You can also ask our local children’s librarians, remember your childhood favorites, and trade recommendations with your friends. Personally, I love books that allow me to get a little silly with my kids, altering my voice for different characters, which means that we have lots of fun with Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner, the Charlie and Lola books by Lauren Child, and A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade by James Preller. What’s your favorite?
With February school vacation week on the horizon, I’m looking forward to allowing the kids to indulge in relaxed mornings and unstructured time to just - PLAY! But I also like to have in mind a few ideas for planned activities, just in case my sugar plum visions of happy-children-playing-together suddenly turn into dark tales of cabin fever…
Warren Art Spot on Child Street in Warren is offering four art workshops next week, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Kids and teens can learn cartooning techniques, explore the art of collage, and more – class size is kept small, so call 245-0190 and visit their website for details.
George Hail Free Library on Main Street in Warren is offering a week full of fun for children of all ages, including a children’s book author visit, the Traveling Tide Pool of Biomes Marine Biology Center, a ‘tween Just Dance! pizza party, Animal Experiences with Dave Marchetti, and two popular movies the kids will love! Several events require advance registration; call 245-7686 to reserve a spot. For more details, visit their website.
*please note: both George Hail Free Library and Rogers Free Library will be closed on Monday, February 20th in observance of Presidents’ Day.
Rogers Free Library on Hope Street in Bristol will also host Animal Experiences with Dave Marchetti, on Wednesday, February 22nd at 10:30am. Call 253-6948 for more information.
The Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s Environmental Education Center on Hope Street in Bristol is always a great place to bring the family, especially when cabin fever strikes! They have several special School Vacation Week activities planned (including nature-themed storytimes and arts& crafts), plus the photography exhibit “Flying Jewels”; call 949-5454 ext. 3041 for more details, or visit their website.
Blithewold Mansion & Arboretum on Ferry Road in Bristol has planned a fun-filled February Vacation Camp, with a different theme each day and plenty of enrollment options for parents to choose from (full-week, single-day, and even half-day!). “Snowflake Bentley Day” is sparking my interest, and “Mystical Magical Day” has grabbed my kids’ attention – call 253-2707 to sign up and visit their website for more details.
The Sailor’s Valentine Party planned for Sunday, February 12th at Blithewold Mansion & Arboretum in Bristol has been cancelled, but they plan to reschedule something similar in the spring.
●”Mary Poppins” is the featured movie this weekend at Saturday Afternoon at the Movies at Rogers Free Library on Hope Street in Bristol. The matinee begins at 1:30pm and the popcorn is free!
●There will be an opening reception at Hope Gallery in Bristol on Saturday, February 11th from 4pm ’til 8pm to kick off their newest exhibit, “Mini Masters”. Thirty-two artists will display in several media original fine art sized from 1″ square to 11×14 inches. If you haven’t yet had a chance to see the gallery’s newly expanded space, come take a look!
●Folk singer Allysen Callery headlines a concert on Saturday, February 8th at the Church Street Coffeehouse in Warren. The show begins at 8pm; doors open at 7:30pm. Tickets are $10 and are only available at the door. For more information, click here.
Looking for more things to do this weekend? Read our previous post, “Assorted Chocolates”.
Just a few quick notes while I nurse a headcold…
●The Mt. Hope High School Class of 2013 will be holding a Talent Show fundraiser on Thursday, February 9th at 6:30pm in the high school auditorium on Chestnut Street in Bristol. A talent show is like a box of chocolates (paraphrasing Forrest Gump) – you never know what you’re gonna get. But that’s what makes it interesting! Admission is $5 for students and $7 for adults.
●Love will be in the air at the George Hail Free Library on Main Street in Warren on Friday, February 10th at 7pm. Folksinger Joyce Katzberg is presenting her second annual Benefit Concert of love songs in honor of and appreciation for the library. A suggested donation of $10 will get you into this after hours romantic song fest. If you ♥ the George Hail Library, come with your heart on your sleeve (but please note this special request from the library: no perfume – this is a fragrance free event.)
●Blithewold Mansion & Arboretum on Ferry Road in Bristol is just refusing to let in the winter doldrums, planning a host of tempting events to get us out of the house this February!
Bring the whole family to Blithewold this Sunday, February 12th at 1pm for their Sailor’s Valentine Party, where you can sing sea chanties with Celtic harpist Mary King and create your very own sailor’s Valentines. Kids are encouraged to dress as mermaids, sea creatures, pirates, and princesses! And, Valentine’s Day treats will be provided! Tickets are $12 for member adults ($15 for non-member adults) and $7 Member Children ($10 for non-member children). Awwww, this event has been cancelled, but they plan to reschedule something similar in the spring.
●Also on Sunday, February 12th, at 3pm, the Community Concert Series@St. Michael’s presents the Boston String Quartet performing “World Song” at St. Michael’s Church on Hope Street in Bristol. Tickets are $20 ($15 for seniors; $10 for students) and are available at Paper, Packaging and Panache, or at the door. Since its formation in 2004, the quartet has been a creative leader in fusing contemporary music with classical tradition. Sunday’s performance will “roam the musical world with original arrangements of classical, jazz, rock and folk favorites, including Bulgarian, Taiwanese and Transylvanian folk songs, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Gershwin, Santana, Tower of Power and Harry Chapin.” (from the Bristol Phoenix)
-Now that’s an interesting box of chocolates!
Our basket full of holiday picture books is one of my most favorite Christmas decorations. Each night my kids take turns choosing a book for us all to enjoy together, even though my eldest has begun to roll his eyes over this family tradition. I did the same to my dad, as a bored teenage girl scoffing at our annual Christmas Eve reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. But you know what? Now I look back on those nights fondly, all of us squashed together on the sofa, my dad reading to me and my brother with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes, no matter how old we were or how much grief we gave him. It pains me not even a little to admit that I hide that title until Christmas Eve, saving the best for last to enjoy with my own little kiddos before they snuggle down to sleep on December 24th each year.
This week we have two more chances to enjoy a good story-
First, on Tuesday, December 6th at 6:30pm at the George Hail Free Library in Warren, Living Literature present their holiday 2011 show, “A Christmas Story”. This two person, 40-minute version of Jean Shepherd’s “Duel in the Snow, or Red Rider Nails the Cleveland Street Kid”, on which the 1983 classic movie, “A Christmas Story” was based, relates the comic tale of the mid-western, Depression-era child who yearns for an official Red Ryder air rifle for Christmas. This free program takes place on the main floor of the library; click here for more information.
Then, on Thursday, December 8th at 5pm the Rogers Free Library in Bristol is hosting an all ages, community read-aloud of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Beginning at 4:30pm there will be refreshments offered as readers and listeners gather, then the read-aloud will begin at 5pm and go until … it ends! If you would like to be a reader please contact Charlotte Burnham (253-6948) for details. This free program takes place in the Herreshoff Community Meeting Room on the lower level of the library.
Do you have a favorite Christmas story?