Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Political Questions

I usually blog about words, books, and kids, so I hope readers won't mind that this post is off topic.
I've been thinking about politics lately for obvious reasons and have some questions.

Why do political parties exist at all? I don't think the Constitution mentions them, though it has been a few years since I took the Constitution Test in 8th Grade.

Who decided that seats in Congress should be arranged according to the political parties of members? Is that in the Constitution? If not, why not eliminate it?

And, why do the parties get to nominate candidates for the presidency? But, if they didn't do it, who would?

And, what about the Electoral College? Who decides who the members are? And what would happen if those members chose to vote differently than the majority in their states? If they can do that, then they have immense power and the USA isn't actually a democracy. 

If the Electoral College were to be abolished I guess we'd have to wait until every single vote had been counted to know who won elections. This year it would have taken weeks for us to get the results.

And why not count our votes according to the individual citizens instead of involving states at all? That way every person's vote would count the same.

I'd love to hear your answers and comments on these questions. Thanks.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Imagine That

I'm happy to live in a neighborhood where kids can play outside on sunny days without adult supervision.

I wonder if they use their imaginations and pretend things as we did when I was a kid, but I certainly don't want to be nosy and spy on them.

Today's kids are using I-phones and pads so much of the time they don't have much opportunity to use their own minds to create possibilities.

And most of them are constantly under adult supervision so they stop pretending at a much younger age than my generation did.

I grew up just after World War II and, if people returning from military service had PTSD we never heard about it. I personally knew some airmen who had served in the Korean War, and my mother worked at Hamilton Air Force Base as Civilian Personel so I met quite a few other military people. They all seemed perfectly normal, though some might have hidden their trauma.

I wonder if part of the reason some war veterans have PTSD today is because they were used to shooting and killing people all the time with their computer games and didn't realize how different the real thing would be.

I wish kids could just go out to play and pretend for a few hours every day without the use of technology.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

King of Shadows

I've read thousands of books for kids in my life, and King of Shadows by Susan Cooper is certainly one of the best.

It's about a boy in a drama troupe rehearsing to produce a play by Shakespeare who is transported back to the past and actually meets Shakespeare himself. But there's a lot more to the plot than that.

Anyone who is interested in Shakespeare or history will enjoy this book.

Anyone interested in drama or the theater will enjoy this book.

Anyone who likes a book with an exciting plot, realistic characters, and excellent writing will enjoy it.

And anyone who enjoys all three will absolutely love it, as I do.

Now I'll have to read more books by Susan Cooper.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party

I recently read Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine.

The book is based on the author's personal experiences growing up in China under the Communist "Cultural Revolution."

Middle grade kids who read it will be amazed at the sort of things people experienced in China back then, but people in my generation heard about all that in the news back when it was happening.

The book is well-written and the main character is easy to care about.

In spite of the terrible things going on, the book isn't depressing, has a satisfying ending, and will encourage young readers to stand up for what they believe is right.

I hope lots of today's kids will read it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

I Have A Voice

I've been interested in, and worked with, people who have special needs most of my life, but the main character in this book has a condition I'd never heard of before. It's called Selective Mutism.

Jamie is unable to speak to anyone except members of her immediate family, and she'll be starting Kindergarten soon. What can she do?

Her mother takes her to Dr. Faye, who helps her work through her problem.

When Jamie meets another girl on her first day of school she is able to speak without a problem. She is no longer selectively mute!

Joni-Klein Higger has written other books for kids, and did this one with assistance from therapist Flora Zaken-Greenberg, Ph.D.

While the story, and colorful pictures by Eileen Goldberg, are intended for kids, the information at the back of the book about Selective Mutism will be helpful to adults who know someone with this condition.

In my opinion, every school with Special Education classes should have a copy of this book, as should anyone who knows or works with children who have Special Needs.

And lots of kids will enjoy reading the book because it has a positive message and will help them accept others who are different from themselves.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

I'll make this short, but I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

I hope 2017 is wonderful for all of you.

Do-Over

Today is the end of the year, 2016. While we'll all be celebrating the new year tonight, I think this is a good time to look back.

Of course we could consider the news, much of which was upsetting, but let's focus on our own lives instead.

What was the best thing that happened to you in 2016?

Personally, I can't choose between all the good experiences I had.

Many times I got to be with people I love, see beautiful things, read good books, attend events, and have fun. I had quite a few articles published and learned that one of them made a big difference in the life of someone who read it.

I can't even remember what my New Years resolutions were for 2016, but I also tried making some seasonal resolutions. Unfortunately I didn't accomplish everything on those lists. And there are a few things I certainly should have done, especially getting all the papers in my office sorted and cleaned out.

And I wish I had done more to help other people ,and gotten more things written and published.

But if I had the opportunity to do 2016 over again, I wouldn't take it. It was a good year in my life and it's time to move on to 2017.

If you could do 2016 over again what would you choose to have done differently?