Reading Tricks: Guest Post With Jennifer Bardsley

Trick your kids into reading something different

When you and your child read the same book together simultaneously, and then discuss what you have read, you can help your child learn new vocabulary, reading comprehension strategies, and the beginnings of literary interpretation.

But what happens if all your child wants to read is Captain Underpants over and over again?  How do you get your child to branch out?

One suggestion is to create an “I Read/You Read Challenge” box.

The way the box works is simple.  When your child finishes a book she drops it in the box and then mom or dad reads it too. That way you can discuss it. (So yes, you may end up having to discuss Captain Poo-Poo-Pants.)

Here’s the catch: the box also works in reverse.

Mom can read a quality children’s literature title of her choosing, and drop that book in the box. Now kiddo has to read the book too.

A deal is a deal right?     Jen Bardsley

Jennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column: I Brake for Moms  for The Everett Daily Herald.  Her dream is to spark a national conversation about how massive parental involvement is the key to high quality education. When she’s not reading books with her kids or tripping over their toys, she blogs about early education at: Teaching My Baby to Read.

We will have more from Jennifer next week.


Easy Apple Cake


Here’s an easy recipe for a Thanksgiving Dessert for those who aren’t fond of Pumpkin Pie. 


Beat: 1 C sugar, 3 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, ½ C oil, ½ C applesauce until smooth. In a separate bowl,

Mix:  2 C flour ( I mix several kinds together, white, wheat, spelt, buckwheat), 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon.  Add this to the wet mix.

Stir: until smooth.  Add in 3 C chopped apples (feel free to use several varieties), and 1 C chopped walnuts. Stir until blended.

Pour:  Into a greased and floured tube pan or square cake pan.

Bake: at 350 for 40-50 minutes.  Test to see if it is done by inserting a toothpick in the middle of the cake.  If it comes out dry…it’s done.        cake 1

Free Fall Friday – Kudos & Odds and Ends

Here are some success stories from fellow NJSCBWI members.

Writing and Illustrating

chana head shotI had the pleasure of critiquing Chana Stiefel picture book, Daddy Depot at the June SCBWI Conference where she also met agent John Cusick during one of the pitch sessions. This week Chana sent me a nice note thanking me for the critique, advice, and how I helped her get one step closer to her dream of being published. She just signed the contract with John Cusick for him to represent her. There is already an offer on the table from a major publisher, so stay tuned for that fabulous news. It is great to see a success in progress. Congratulations Chana! John is a great agent.

Then yesterday I found out that Kim Pfennigwerth signed a contract with agent Liza Voges from Eden Street Agency after having a critique with kimpf150her at the New Jersey SCBWI Craft Day Weekend – another success for the NJ-SCBWI! Kim submitted a rollicking picture…

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Touch Football…A Family Affair

With the football season well under way and Thanksgiving arriving in just a few weeks, you might want to consider getting the family outdoors for a game of Touch Football.  It’s perfect for all ages and a great way to get family members together.  No equipment is needed except a football and some enthusiasm.  If you’re unsure of the rules for the game, visit    and type in “touch football” in the search bar.  Then, go outside and have a ball!

More Great Books for Kids

Here are some books I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading.  They are each delightful in their own way and perfect if you are looking for a stocking stuffer or small gift to give a child for the holidays.

1. One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street (MG) – by Joanne Rocklin is a charming, touching and utterly delightful story about some brave, and clever children who try to save an old orange tree from being bulldozed to make way for a house.  Along the way, they end up saving a lot more.

2. A Soldier’s Secret (MG) – by Marissa Moss  tells the true story of Sarah Edmonds who fought in the Civil War with Union Troops disguised as a man.  She worked as a nurse, soldier, mail carrier and spy.  How was she able to hide her true identity and gender?  Read and find out in this riveting tale.

3.Kissing Brendan Callahan (MG) – by Susan Amesse is a sweet story of budding romance and learning who to trust when it comes to family, friendship, and doing what’s right.

4. The last two are PB’s with a delightful premise:  The Day The Crayons Quit – by Drew Daywalt is told from the point of view of the crayons.  How does it feel to be the most favorite color, the least favorite color, and the ones in between? The crayons will tell you a few reasons why they have had enough. One of the most clever and engaging picture books in recent memory.

5. Tea Party Rules by Ame Dykeman, finds a hungry bear who happens upon a little girl’s tea party. She’s serving cookies! The little girl is nowhere in sight. So bear pretends to be a stuffed guest just so he can have cookies. In order to eat them, he has to follow the little girl’s rules. Can he do it? You’ll have to read this delightful book to find out.

Confession: I’m a Book Lover Advocate

Jen's Pen Den

Last night, I took my 3-year old nephew to the Scholastic Book Fair at his pre-school. And it. Was. Awesome! Witnessing his vivid enthusiasm, listening to his incessant chatter, crouching on the ground next to him while he “read”…It was so, so, so cool. I was so proud and giddy and relieved to see him genuinely excited about books. And I was filled with newfound determination to keep him excited about them as he grows up. To be a constant book lover advocate around him and my other nephew.

1000249_10101282759371923_1382787765_nI’ve always been a book lover advocate (shocker, I know). It’s a task I joyfully take on everyday with everyone around me…Unfortunately most people aren’t interested in what I have to say. When I talk about books, people either politely smile and nod, blatantly ignore me, or point blank admit, “I don’t read. Reading is boring.” Reading is boring? I gasp inwardly.

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Authors For the Philippines Online Auction

Here is one way you can help victims of the Typhoon in the Phillippines.

Writing and Illustrating

phil_badge1Authors for the Philippines is running an auction to raise money to help the typhoon victims hit so hard by the devastating storm that tore through the Philippines this past week. Even though it is being held in the UK, they are accepting bids from all over the world and payments will go through the British Red Cross, so no need to worry about the money not getting to the victims or paying in pounds. 

The auction starts today, but you can still donate something to help, since they are looking to raise as much money as possible. You will find authors/editors/agents  giving away critiques, books, school visits, and character names. Besides raising money for a worthy cause, it also helps the author/editor/agent donating by getting their name and books out there in the marketplace. I would consider donating and bidding.

  • They’d like as wide a variety of items as possible (because they’d like to raise as much money as possible), so if you…

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How to Draw – Part 2

On Friday I posted some sites on how to draw. Today I want to highlight a great sight with drawing and arts and crafts projects of all kinds. Red Ted Art’s Blog has so many crafts and art activities for kids of all ages, especially with holiday themes for this time of year. The step -by- step instructions are accompanied by photos that are easy to see, so each project guarantees success. What better gift for a child to give to a loved one than something he or she made by hand. For great ideas and how to get started:  Check out   and let your child’s art and creativity soar.

How to Draw 101

If you have some budding artists around the house or bored kids who like doodling, try checking out some online sites that teach children how to draw.  The sites below provide step-by-step instructions for drawing all kinds of things from animals, vehicles, Disney characters, cartoons and much more. Who knows?  Creating art is a wonderful way to boost self-esteem as well as provide a positive outlet for creativity.  To start out, all that’s needed is paper and drawing implements.  For ideas on what to draw:

1.    This site also allows children to upload their favorite drawings to display on the website.


I welcome any drawing you create.  If you send them in, I will display them on this site.