Tag Archives: independent bookstores

Turning the Summer Reading List Upside-Down

With just one week left in the Bristol-Warren school year, summer reading lists are sprouting up everywhere, provided by educators and administrators and other helpful souls intent on making sure students don’t lose any good reading habits they may have picked up during the school year.  The truth is, if a child has internalized a love of reading, then it’s highly unlikely he or she will abandon this joy over the summer (and it’s just as unlikely that any required summer reading+writing assignments will cause a child to develop a love of reading – and that’s the true goal, right?).  So then, what’s the best way to grapple with the ‘summer reading slump’?  Sixth-grade teacher Donalyn Miller has a few good ideas:

“The summer break is a marvelous time for readers, freed from the mandates of assigned school reading, to explore topics and books of their own interest. While it is challenging to require or monitor students’ summer reading, here are some suggestions for launching a school-wide summer reading initiative that encourages more children to read during summer break…” (read more)

Donalyn Miller is the author of The Book Whisperer, a compelling book full of simple practices and common-sense wisdom, and one of the books on our own summer reading list … The Arts Room’s Upside-Down Summer Reading List, a menu of suggested books for teachers, administrators, parents and other educators to read and ponder over the summer!

 The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller.  “Donalyn Miller says she has yet to meet a child she couldn’t turn into a reader. No matter how far behind Miller’s students might be when they reach her 6th grade classroom, they end up reading an average of 40 to 50 books a year. Miller’s unconventional approach dispenses with drills and worksheets that make reading a chore. Instead, she helps students navigate the world of literature and gives them time to read books they pick out themselves. Her love of books and teaching is both infectious and inspiring. The book includes a dynamite list of recommended “kid lit” that helps parents and teachers find the books that students really like to read.”

imagine_cover Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer.  “From the bestselling author of How We Decide comes a sparkling and revelatory look at the new science of creativity.  Shattering the myth of muses, higher powers, even creative “types,”  Jonah Lehrer demonstrates that creativity is not a single “gift” possessed by the lucky few. It’s a variety of distinct thought processes that we can all learn to use more effectively. Lehrer reveals the importance of embracing the rut, thinking like a child, and daydreaming productively, then he takes us out of our own heads to show how we can make our neighborhoods more vibrant, our companies more productive, and our schools more effective.”

*bonus read – Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative by Ken Robinson

 The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson.  “From one of the world’s leading thinkers and speakers on creativity and innovation, a breakthrough book about talent, passion, and achievement. The element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the element, they feel most themselves and most inspired and achieve at their highest levels. The Element draws on the stories of a wide range of people … With a wry sense of humor, Ken Robinson looks at the conditions that enable us to find ourselves in the element and those that stifle that possibility. He shows that age and occupation are no barrier, and that once we have found our path we can help others to do so as well. The Element shows the vital need to enhance creativity and innovation by thinking differently about human resources and imagination. It is also an essential strategy for transforming education, business, and communities to meet the challenges of living and succeeding in the twenty-first century.”

 The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn.  “Death and taxes come later; what seems inevitable for children is the idea that, after spending the day at school, they must then complete more academic assignments at home. The predictable results: stress and conflict, frustration and exhaustion. Parents respond by reassuring themselves that at least the benefits outweigh the costs. But what if they don’t? In The Homework Myth, Alfie Kohn systematically examines the usual defenses of homework – that it promotes higher achievement, “reinforces” learning, teaches study skills and responsibility. None of these assumptions, he shows, actually passes the test of research, logic, or experience. So why do we continue to administer this modern cod liver oil – or even demand a larger dose? … Kohn shows how we can rethink what happens during and after school in order to rescue our families and our children’s love of learning.”

*bonus read – Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Dan Pink

Drive by Dan Pink

A Whole New Mind A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink.  “In this insightful and entertaining book, which has been translated into 20 languages, Daniel H. Pink offers a fresh look at what it takes to excel. A Whole New Mind reveals the six essential aptitudes on which professional success and personal fulfillment now depend, and includes a series of hands-on exercises culled from experts around the world to help readers sharpen the necessary abilities. This book will change not only how we see the world but how we experience it as well.”

*bonus read – You’re Smarter Than You Think by Thomas Armstrong

You’re Smarter Than You Think

Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons by Howard Gardner.  “Howard Gardner’s brilliant conception of individual competence has changed the face of education in the two decades since the publication of his classic work, Frames of Mind. Thousands of educators, parents, and researchers all over the world have explored the practical implications and applications of his Multiple Intelligence theory—the powerful notion that there are separate human capacities, ranging from musical intelligence to the intelligence involved in self-understanding. This new edition of Multiple Intelligences covers all developments since its original publication in 1983, and stands as the most thorough and up-to-date account of the theory of multiple intelligences available anywhere.”

 Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education by Lois Hetland, Ellen Winner, Shirley Veenema, and Kimberly M. Sheridan.  “You do not have to read very far into Studio Thinking to feel that, like Lewis Carroll’s Alice, you have stepped through the looking glass into a fantasy world where the colors are brighter, the scenes richer, and the adventure altogether more engaging that what you recall about school. …So, having stepped through the looking glass into this strange world of studio learning, how do we make sense of it all? Here the pathways branch. Maybe the visual arts are a special sort of undertaking, some might say. Or maybe these are very special teachers and very special students. Or maybe this is the sort of messing around we can afford when we’re not dealing with high-stakes core subject matters. But what if none of these answers leads anywhere worthwhile? What if, far from a fantasy world, studio learning turns out to be much more realistic regarding the way learning really works than most typical classroom settings? …Here at last are the results of the first in-depth research on the habits of mind that are instilled by studying visual art – habits, the authors argue, that could have positive impacts on student learning across the curriculum.”

Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change The World  Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World by Tony Wagner.  “From a prominent educator, author, and founder of Harvard’s Change Leadership Group comes a provocative look at why innovation is today’s most essential real-world skill and what young people need from parents, teachers, and employers to become the innovators of America’s future. …Wagner identifies a pattern—a childhood of creative play leads to deep-seated interests, which in adolescence and adulthood blossom into a deeper purpose for career and life goals. Play, passion, and purpose: these are the forces that drive young innovators.” 

What shall we read tonight?

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?


The Last Chapter

A Novel Idea Booksellers on State Street in Bristol

from A Novel Idea Booksellers’ Sue Woodman,

“My fellow book lovers…   I’m sure you’ve all read a book that is so enjoyable that you never want it to come to an end but it does.   As with these great books coming to an end,  A Novel  Idea Booksellers will be closing its storefront on Friday, December 30th.

I’d like to thank all of the wonderful people who worked at the store over the years.  Megan, Richard, Mel, Molly, and Tara.  A special mention must be made to Liza who consistently gave our valued customers the best customer service and always with a smile. I could always rely on you and you have become an amazing bookseller! A particular expression of appreciation goes to Jane who was one of my first customers  and has become a dear friend. You were always there to listen to my “ideas du jour”, random thoughts, ramblings and to share a laugh with.  Thanks for all your help with our author events and of course your amazing gift-wrapping talents!  I hope you enjoyed this adventure as much as I did.

And I must thank my faithful canine companions, Maxi and Charlie Dickens who were great company at the store on those long days but not really great workers.  And how could I ever thank enough the best feline  “greeter” any bookstore ever had.  TJ was such a customer favorite that she had her own “fan club” that came in just to see her!  To all her fan club members, TJ is doing great enjoying her retirement and her new hobby of birdwatching.

I’d also like to thank my parents for their loving support and for encouraging reading when I was a child. Those Nancy Drew mysteries were the best!  I’m proud to have you as my parents and I hope I’ve made you proud also.   When I first became an independent bookseller in 2005, one of my goals was to “make a difference” and change people’s lives through the “power” of books and reading. I have been so fortunate to have been involved in numerous author events, school reading programs, and worked with local non-profits  to raise funds for their worthwhile causes.   I have seen children born in our community who received their first board book from A Novel Idea and are now avid readers reading on their own.  I have also seen children who were once reluctant readers who finally find the right book and now can’t wait to get the next book in their favorite series.

So as I head off for my next adventure I wish all of you a new year filled with peace, love and happiness.  I would like to think that somehow I did make a difference.  I do know one thing for sure though.   The life that changed the most was mine.  YOU have all made a difference in my life and I will treasure these memories forever.”


The Arts Room is sad to see our local bookstore close, but grateful to Sue Woodman for sharing her love of books and reading with us through A Novel Idea over these past several years!  We have no doubt that the bookstore made a difference in our local community; personally, in the last week before Christmas, I discovered a marvelous new book for my children – The Man in the Moon by William Joyce – that I might never have known about had I not stopped into the shop for some last minute holiday shopping.  It’s a particular joy to notice a beautiful book on a shelf, pick it up and begin to read through it, and somewhere along the way fall in love with the story.  I offer my heartfelt thanks to Ms. Woodman and wish her well on her next adventure.

This week there are some REALLY great deals to clear out the store’s entire inventory. EVERYTHING in the store is 50% off this week!  Other items (tables, linens, decorations, office equipment, etc.) are also for sale.  Stop in early for the best selection!  The store will be open from 3pm ’til 6pm on Tuesday, December 27th through Friday, December 30th.