Tag Archives: books

Halloween in Toronto 2014

PumpkinsHalloween is one of the most exciting times of the year for kids. From halloween costumes and jack o’ lanterns to haunted houses, it is a day that fuels kids’ imaginations. Although it is primarily a day of fun for the family, as it should be, it doesn’t hurt to capitalize on you kids interest with these educational activities.

What better time to read stories to your younger children, or to suggest a novel or two to your teenagers. Everyone enjoys a ghost story, monster tale or horror novel around halloween, these are our recommended books for the entire family which are guaranteed to be halloween hits.

  • The Witches by Roald Dahl
  • The Legend of West Fork by J.T Lewis
  • The Raven and Other Poems by Edgar Allen Poe
  • The Shining by Stephen King
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Host by Stephanie Meyer

There are some really fun (educational/cultural) events happening around Toronto this weekend that will be a fun day out for the whole family:

Boo at Toronto Zoo!

Up to two kids in costume (12 and under) get in free when accompanied by an adult. All kids are eligible to take part in the “Critters and Costumes Parade” at 11:40 am and 2:40 pm daily, departing from the Waterside Theatre. Also on hand for the Boo fun is My Little Pony who will be at the Zoo’s Courtyard Stage. Kids can also drop by the Play-Doh Play Centre next to the Courtyard Stage to create their very own Zoo animal or Halloween creation. Check out Zoo animals receiving festive pumpkins throughout the day.

Symphonic Spooks – Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Delight in hair-raising, spine-chilling classical music, as creatures of all kinds come to haunt the concert hall. Perfect for trick-or-treaters of all ages, well-known spooky works, including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera Overture, selections from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Symphony fantastique will be heard echoing throughout the hall.

The Haunted Walk of Toronto

From the old military town of York to the metropolitan city of today, discover Toronto’s ghost stories and darker history.  Hear of the city’s  haunted theatres, public hangings and the terrifying encounters at Mackenzie House.  Definitely not for young children!

We hope you have a lovely halloween week, let us know what you get up to! We’d love to see pictures of everyone dressed up! 

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How to improve your child’s reading abilities

So I ended the blog last week without providing any solutions to your child’s reading problems. I understand that might seem odd, but don’t freak out, because this weeks blog will focus on the best way to improve your child’s reading skills.
Yes, you read that right. I purposely used the singular “best way” in my description. I say this because I believe the best way to improve reading skills is to read more material, more often. In fact, as a parent you can take certain actions to promote your child to read more. Here are some of those actions.
1. Read to your Child
Your child may not be reading because they are struggling to read. This creates a catch 22. You can break the cycle and help build your child’s confidence by reading to them. As you read together, get them to read and sounds, then words, then full sentences, and finally whole pages. Slowly they will eventually be able to read basic words and sentences by themselves.
2. Surround Your Child with Books
In order to boost your child’s vocabulary, they need to continue to read more material.  Yes, you could buy one or two book at a time, but I recommend having a great variety of books on different subjects. The reason for this choice is because it will help ensure that your child will find a book that they deem interesting. If your child is interested in the book they will be more engaged and read more often.
3. Set up a Reading Time
If surrounding your child with a greater variety of books doesn’t spark their interest, it’s a good idea to become more active and make sure that they are reading. You can ensure that they are reading by setting aside a time in the day that they have to read. This can be whenever, but at least an hour (can be more) should be set aside for reading. If you need some help to ensure your child is reading, Light in the Attic learning has a homework hub with a licensed instructor who can do this, and also answer questions about a word’s meaning and pronunciation.
4. Reading is Just Not About Books
Reading can be done anywhere. I take this notion to heart and when my son was learning to read I took flash cards and labelled the entire house. This is a true story and just proves that your child can read anything, anywhere as long as they are reading. It is important to find something that interests them and run with it. The only thing is to make sure you can sustain your child’s interest in this type of material over time. Broadening the material your child’s reads will ensure they never run out of content.
Before I close this blog, I like to say that all of these options are not mutually exclusive and can be used together! Which way do you think is the best?
All the best,
David

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Books every child should read

booksI hope you and your child had a great day reading on Sunday’s Family Literacy Day! Did your child by chance run out of books? Or maybe you’re interested in updating your child’s reading library. Whatever the case, I got you covered with what I believe to be some “must own” books that every child should read.
For Children in Early Elementary School (Junior Kindergarden to Grade 2)
  • A Light in the Attic by ShelSilverstein: This classic collection of poems is interesting, easy to read and a really a great starting book for any child. Plus, the rhyming scheme used in the poems helps children recognize the connection between how a word is spelled and that word’s pronunciation. With so many benefits you see why Shel Silverstein’s book was the inspiration for our tutoring center!
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: Another must own classic. Where the Wild Things Are’s beautiful pictures really bring the story to life and keeps children coming back for more. I swear, when most children pick up this book they can’t put it down.
  • Madeline by Ludwig Bemelans: This book maybe better for an advanced Grade 2 student, but with that in mind, if your child can handle it I say let them read it. This is a classic, more realistic story that every child should have the pleasure to read.
For Children in Late Elementary School (Grade 3 to Grade 6)
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein: Another Shel Silverstein book (yes, we love him) for more advanced readers. The reason I categorized this book in the more advanced section is because it deals with many important, more mature issues, such as love, self-sacrifice and environmental conservation. A little more maturity that comes with age might be needed to fully grasp and understand this book.
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White: Arguably the most classic book in all of literature, Charlotte’s Web has survived the test of time. For myself, the well mapped out characters really bring this book to life and make it a necessity for every person to read.
  • Early Harry Potter Series By J.K. Rowling (Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets): Has your child read the Harry Potter series yet? They should! They’re great books that tap and allow your child to grow their imagination. However, due to the more mature and darker content in the later books, I can only recommend the first two books in the series for younger children.
For Children in Middle School   
  • Later Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: Just like the first two books in the Harry Potter series, the final five books in the series are amazing. However, these books are more mature so it might be better for a middle schooler to read it.
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen: The ultimate survival adventure story. This book is intense, adventurous and good for any boy or girl. Hard to really describe the book without ruining it. All I can say is your child should read it!
For Children in High School
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: The Holocaust will be discussed frequently during your child’s high school education. Before beginning grade nine, I believe an introduction to the emotional and complex time period should be given. This book by Anne Frank, a young girl and victim of the Holocaust, really puts the entire situation into context. However, just a warning, expect many questions about the Holocaust after your child reads this book.
  • How To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: If there is one novel that will stay with a child for the rest of their life this is the book. The book is extremely emotional and really a good lesson on why people act in certain ways. Mature content is why I believe this book is only appropriate for students in grade 11 and 12.
  • Macbeth and/or Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare: Shakespeare is hard to read. Some children might have an easier time with it, but for most of us, his style of writing is simply outdated. Even if his style of writing is outdated, his stories themes and characters are timeless. With Shakespeare’s impeccable storytelling ability, he is a must for any child to read. However, due to the difficult and vocabulary in the books I recommend buying your child a copy with some modern day of phrases translations in the footnotes.
 This is a small list of the thousands of books your child could read. What is your or your child’s favourite book to read? Tell me in the comments below!
All the best,
David

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