Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Yes, I know it's Christmas Eve and this post should be full of joyful wishes. In a way it is, because not everyone will experience a warm, fuzzy Christmas this year.
I ordered Max Lucado's book, For these Tough Times, Reaching Toward Heaven for Hope and Healing, thinking it would be about the economy. Instead it's a gift book meant to help people dealing with personal problems. As I read it I kept thinking of people I know who need the help and encouragement the book offers, and intend to give my copy to one of them right away. Probably what my friend will find most helpful is the discussion of how a good, loving, and powerful God can allow bad things to happen.
After all, being miles from home and having no place but an animal's feed box to put a newborn baby isn't exactly warm and fuzzy. God can use absolutely anything for good.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I meant to publish this several days ago, but accidentally sent it to the wrong blog, so here it is. "The Moon Shines Down" is a brand new picture book written by Margaret Wise Brown, who has been dead for a long time. Yes, that is possible. The original manuscript, written years ago by the famous author, was recently found, but it wasn't long enough for a book so someone else added to it. The theme of unity between people all over the world is a great one, and the illustrations are cute and cheerful, though, of course, they're different from those in Wise's well-known book, "Good Night Moon." The meter and rhyme scheme are off in several places and, as a former English major, I find that very irritating, but it probably won't bother 'normal' people very much. The page mentioning a Christmas celebration makes the book an especially appropriate gift for this season.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
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Monday, December 1, 2008
If you're a writer, beware! Once people know what you do they may react in peculiar ways. For example, I used to write feature articles for a newspaper in the San Francisco Bay Area and someone I knew would call me and complain every time the newspaper wasn't delivered to her house on time. It made no difference how often I tried to explain that neither I nor my editor had anything to do with circulation. She was sure I could control her delivery person. Fortunately the delivery was usually on schedule, so she didn't feel the need to call me about that very often.
And then there was the first time I spoke at a Christian writers conference. Several of the wannabes who had never attended a conference before followed me around all weekend, acting like they worshipped me. That was scary. Fortunately it never happened again at any other conference where I've spoken, and I hope it never will. That experience sure made me feel sorry for the movie stars, politicians, and other celebrities who are treated like that all the time.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Several weeks ago I began writing about my journey as a writer and told about my first publishing experiences. After attending conferences, reading books, and improving my craft I began having things published in periodicals and newspapers on a regular basis and had definitely become a professional writer. But my dream was to write books for children, and I finally signed a contract for a picture book that will be published in the Fall of 2009. Soon I'll be an author, not "just" a writer.
Now I'm learning an incredible amount of new information about book publicity and marketing, especially the internet kind. As a beginner, when I joined the virtual book tour group I didn't realize it was far too early to begin that sort of publicity for my own book, so I won't be doing that sort of thing again for a while. However you can still expect to see book reviews here every so often because it's hard to resist sharing about the ones I read.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Yesterday I read Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Patterson. This story about children and the horrible working conditions, dishonest mill owners, and labor strikes back in the early twentieth century is well told and appropriate for kids to read in our own difficult economic times. Even with all our problems, we're so much better off than we were back then.
Patterson's book makes me wonder if the overseas "outsourcing" by some of our companies results in employees in other countries dealing with conditions today like those we had here a century ago. But would those people's lives be any better without the jobs? If they went on strike the owners could just move their factories to other countries. The only way labor unions could make much difference today would be if strikes were worldwide, and that's not likely to happen.
Wouldn't it be great if we could figure out how to solve our economic problems in a way that helps people everywhere? It isn't likely, but it's not impossible because modern technology like TV and the internet has united the world in a way nobody could have imagined back then.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
For those of you who have read the review of Gilleland's book and his interview, here are some other things you might like to know about him: Harry E. Gilleland, Jr. is a 64-year-old southerner. Born and raised in Macon, Georgia, he earned a B.S. (1966) and a M.S. (1968) in Microbiology from the University of Georgia in Athens. Following three years of service in the U.S. Army as a captain, including a tour of duty in Vietnam, he returned to earn a Ph.D. in Microbiology from UGA in 1973. He then headed north to complete a two-year fellowship at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. In July of 1975 he joined the faculty of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. After twenty-nine years of teaching microbiology to medical and graduate students and performing vaccine research, Harry retired in July of 2004. Today Harry lives in Shreveport with his wonderful wife Linda and their Corgi, Rusty. Harry enjoys being able to engage in his passion for writing full-time. Harry has previously published three books of his personal poetry: Poetry For The Common Man: Storoems and Poems (2003, ISBN 1411600649), Gilleland Poetry: Storoems and Poems (2005, ISBN 1411629272), and Poetic Musings of an Old, Fat Man (2008, ISBN 978-1-4357-1242-3). In addition, Harry has published two books of prose, a tale of fantasy entitled Bob the Dragon Slayer (2005, ISBN 1411633156) and a contemporary romance story entitled White Lightning Road (2006, ISBN 978-1-4116-8693-9). They are available at http://www.lulu.com/harry Harry Gilleland's poetry has been included in four multi-author print anthologies of poems and short stories, in several poetry e-zines, and on numerous Internet poetry forums, in addition to his own three published collections. His storoems (story-poems) and poems are readily accessible to all readers, including those who do not regularly read poetry. Harry views the world with a poet's eye. Poetic Musings of an Old, Fat Man is a new collection of 81 storoems and poems that will engage its readers by making them think about life and leaving them pondering their emotions and beliefs. It will also bring smiles and maybe a tear or two. Contained within this collection are forty-seven rhyming poems and "storoems", a format coined by Gilleland. A storoem is a hybrid between a story and a poem, i.e. a story told with poetic techniques. The collection also contains twenty-eight free-verse poems, four acrostic poems, and two limericks. These writings are poetry for the thinking person, be he/she someone who is a poetry lover or someone who normally does not read poetry. This poetry is easily readable and accessible to all -- poetry for the poet and the common man alike. A wide variety of subjects are addressed, including everyday life events, observations of nature, tales of fantasy, expressions of love, and much more. This wonderful collection will surprise and delight all readers. For more information about Harry Gilleland and his writing please go to http://www.gillelands.com/poetry. He has blogs at AuthorsDen.com, Facebook, and WordPress and he can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Welcome to OnWords Blog, Harry. Here are some questions for you: Q. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up and did you do it? A. As a kid, I was always interested in nature and animals. I loved the woods and collecting bugs, catching tadpoles to watch them turn into frogs, turning over rocks to see what crawled out. I was a biologist at heart and wanted to be one when I grew up. At the University of Georgia, I discovered microbiology and fell in love with biology on a micro scale.I became a microbiologist and had a career as a teacher of microbiology to medical students and graduate students at LSUHSC, School of Medicine for 29 years before retiring. As a Microbiology Dept. faculty member, I conducted scientific research into a bacterial vaccine and published papers, wrote grant applications, presented my data at conferences. I accomplished my childhood career dreams fully. Q. How do you define your writing, A. I see myself primarily as a poet whose storoems and poems address everyday topics in a way that speaks to the common man, people that don't normally read or like poetry. You don't need a M.F.A. to understand and enjoy my poetry. Yet some of my poems address profound subjects. I'd call my writings thought-provoking and engaging. Q. You told me storoems are story poems. Can you please explain why you write? A. Writing is pure pleasure to me. Using words well so that I deliver my message precisely as intended gives me such a feeling of satisfaction on those occasions when I feel I have accomplished this. I have so much I want to say that I have to write. It fulfills a need deep inside me. Plus, I want to leave behind something to represent who I was for posterity. I want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to be able to know what sort of man I was once they reach adulthood. Even if I am dead by then, my writing will be their window into my mind. Q. Why do you write poetry instead of prose? A. I started writing poetry late in my life and career in 2001. I had written scientific prose for years by then. Scientific writing is quite formal and strictly objective - just the facts, please. One day while brown bagging it at my desk for lunch, I was using the Internet and a pop-up ad appeared. It read, "Write a poem, and win a super-duper prize." On a whim , I tried my hand at writing a poem. I found it fun and liberating. Imagine after years of strictly writing scientific prose, being able to take flights of fantasy, use humor, use emotions in my writing. I loved writing poetry immediately and have been writing it ever since. Hopefully, I've gotten much better at writing poetry over the years. However, I do write prose occasionally. In fact, after writing only poetry for several years, a friend of mine challenged me to write a prose story. It turned into a YA-Adult novella, published as Bob the Dragon Slayer. Since then I have written a second prose novel, entitled White Lightning Road. I was trying my hand at contemporary romance with that book. Nowdays, I scatter some prose writing into my primarily being a poet. It sounds like you're doing well. Thank you so much for sharing with our readers today. (I'll post more information about our guest, Harry Gilleland, in a few days.)
Friday, November 14, 2008
As a former English major, it's embarrassing to admit that I seldom read poetry anymore. However I recently made an exception and read an unusual book of poems, "Poetic Musings of an Old, Fat Man" by Harry E. Gilleland, Jr.
At first, while I was impressed with Gilleland's honesty in revealing his personal experiences, I wondered if the book would reach a very wide audience. People don't often read about others they don't know except for celebrities. But as I continued to read, it became clear that the musings in the book went far beyond his own experiences. Gilleland covers everything from everyday life to historical events, including love, beauty, religion, politics, birth, death, and everything in between. His poems are really about the meaning of life and, like life itself, are sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, and can be tragic, joyous, and of course all that's in between. Gilleland seems to be a wise man and I look forward to interviewing him here in the near future.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
One of my college Linguistics professors told us when someone is studying a different language and they come to a term the native speakers can't define it means the word represents a concept absolutely basic to that culture. In recent years there have been several terms we used to define easily in American English that people no longer agree on. For instance there have been conflicts about what it means to be dead, how to define a human being, and the meaning of the word "marriage." Although our country has been a "melting pot" made up of immigrants from all over the world, most of us have always agreed on the definitions of those basic terms. But things don't stay the same and our world is certainly changing. In fact there have probably been more changes in the last hundred and fifty years than in the preceding thousand years. I predict that it will be quite a while before we can ever agree on those basic terms again.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
As a high school student I spent my summers volunteering with a society for "crippled" children, who had various "handicaps" like being "deaf and dumb" or "mentally retarded." Later those terms stopped being used and "disabled" was substituted as something less insulting. But wait! (as they say in TV commercials.) The new term was also considered demeaning by some so we've tried things like "developmental delays," "special needs," "differently abled," and a few other ways to describe people who have various limitations, but are still worthy of respect. I think the last one does the best job of describing their situation, but it's probably too long to be accepted by everyone. Besides, we all have different abilities just as we all have special needs.
Hey! Maybe that's the point. Just because people have physical or mental limitations doesn't mean they aren't people first. What an amazing idea.
If you'll pardon me for being politically incorrect, my response to that is, "Well, duh!"
Saturday, November 1, 2008
I've just added a list of other people's blogs, which you can see below the history of this blog. Some of the ones listed are other authors or artists published with Guardian Angel Press, which will be publishing my picture book, Secret Service, A Call to Adventure. The rest are other authors and there will be more in the future. We want to help each other get the word out about our books by sharing information on each others' blogs.
Authors used to depend on book tours, which involved traveling around the country doing book signings and events, for publicity, but today, although we still do some of those, it's so much easier for authors to spread the word through the internet. When people cooperate, everyone benefits so we'll be hosting interviews and doing book reviews for each other. Those are called blog tours or virtual book tours and you can look forward to seeing many of them here in the future. Maybe you'll see me on some other sites too.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I just finished reading Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin. She's a well known autistic woman who does a fascinating job of describing how her mind works and how it may differ from "normal' people's minds. If you've read previous blog posts here you probably know I'm fascinated with language and brain development, and I've spent a lot of time with people who have various special needs. Grandin's book includes all those topics, so it's no surprise that I enjoyed reading it a lot.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I told you about the first time I was published for pay, but here's what happened the first time I was published at all.
I was a total social misfit in High School - what we called a square back then. Our school was going to publish an anthology of things written by students, and I submitted something to my English teacher, who was in charge. He asked if it would be okay to publish something else that I'd written for class and I said, "Sure." But I'd forgotten about the thing I'd written months earlier and he'd asked to keep or I would have refused. When I saw it in print for all the school to read I didn't know whether to be more pleased or mortified, but mortified won out since it was extremely personal and revealing. As an adult I think it was pretty good writing and can see why my teacher chose it, but as a student it was very embarrassing. Maybe I'll dig it up and share it in another post so you can see what I mean.
At least I learned always to be careful what I submit for possible publication.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
My senior year in college I got a new roommate who asked what I wanted to be when I graduated. I'd given up the idea of writing (cf previous post) but didn't know what else to do, so I told her I wanted to be a writer. "Do you have any rejection slips?" she asked. "All writers have rejection slips."
I had none and she wouldn't let me alone. For months she kept asking me to show her my rejection slips and I got sick of her nagging. Finally I sent something I'd written as a little kid to a publication I knew couldn't possibly accept it. Sure enough, I got a rejection slip, showed it to her, and she let me alone.
Years later after getting the first thing I'd ever submitted published right away I began sending out other manuscripts and getting - you guessed it - rejection slips. That was a bit disappointing, but also exciting because they showed I was a real writer.
I've been grateful to that roommate, Sheila Walsh, ever since and wish I could get back in touch with her to express my gratitude.
Friday, October 17, 2008
I don't intend to post something new here every day, but I just read a picture book that ties in so well with yesterday's post that I couldn't wait to tell you about it. It's called Jamie's Dream and tells about a little boy who wants to get a dream for his mother. The book is a cute fantasy involving a dragon and a unicorn written by Susan Berger and Christopher Corbin. The authors are a mother and son and Christopher helped Susan write the book when he was only nine years old. Getting it published must have been a dream come true for both of them even though it didn't happen until many years later. The words "believing is seeing" are repeated several times in the story and the book itself shows that at least sometimes that's true. So please keep believing in your dream, whatever it may be.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
From early childhood I wanted to be an author when I grew up and majored in English in college. My first semester at UC Berkeley a professor asked me what I wanted to do after graduation. When I replied, "Be a writer," he told me, "You'll never make it. You have no creativity."
Since he was a brilliant university professor I believed him and gave up the idea of ever getting published though, of course, I continued to write. About twenty-five years later I remembered that conversation and realized I'd been trying to write everything in his class according to the thesis sentence outline required to pass the college entrance exam. I'd been trying to be as uncreative as possible. I wrote down a story I'd been telling my kids, sent it off, and it was accepted right away. I even got paid for it. And that was just the beginning of my writing career.
So if you have a dream of becoming a writer, don't give up. If it's what you're called to do and you keep on trying, your dream may come true.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
First I must apologize for not posting much recently. I've been overwhelmed with other things, but promise to do better from now on. One of those things is signing a contract for a picture book. My work has been published in periodicals for years, but this is my first book, and in today's world authors are responsible to do a lot of the marketing and publicity. The amount of information about how to do that is amazing. It's about what you'd expect from a whole semester class in college.
Although blogging is one marketing tool mentioned in the material, I won't turn this blog into just a way to advertise my book. There will still be posts about compassionate communication and I'll probably review other people's books from time to time, but I'll also share information about how I became a writer and the steps it takes to get a book published and made available to people who would want to buy it. I hope you'll come back and join me on the journey.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Although I seldom read books because they're best sellers I just finished reading The Shack. If not for the foreword I might not have kept reading through the next 15 pages describing an idyllic family life and beautiful scenery, but when the action finally started it was gripping. The book is an excellent example of compassionate communication and the author (or authors?) manage to include deep theological information naturally through the action and dialogue. I found the book inspiring and can certainly understand why it's selling so well. If you haven't read it yet and would like to learn more, try this URL: www.theshackbook.com.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
The other day I read an article in a magazine at a doctor's office about how to keep from being a victim of bullies. The article was in the September edition of Wondertime and can be found at their website, http://wondertime.go.com. It refers to a book called Bullies to Buddies by Izzy Kalman.
Basically the information says bullying is a game that's won by getting the target person upset, and the best way to avoid being bullied is by not getting angry or scared.
I know the method works because of some personal experiences, including one in my childhood. I was the class victim and a total coward, but one day I did something brave. A neighborhood bully had knocked me down on the sidewalk and was sitting on my chest, ready to punch me in the face. Nobody else was around, so I had no hope, but for some reason I calmly explained that she was unpopular because she was a bully and kids would like her better if she stopped hurting them. She got up, left me alone, and never bothered me again. She moved away soon afterwards so I don't know if she ever took my advice.
I suggest that anyone who works with kids, has kids, or is victimized by bullies check out the article mentioned above or go to Kalman's website, www.bullies2buddies.com.
Turning the other cheek really does work.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I've recently read a fantasy series for kids called The Mistmantle Chronicles. Written by a British author, these books are similar to many because they're about talking animals living in a medieval-like setting. But there have been lots of books like that published because kids enjoy them. This series has some unique plotlines, well-drawn characters and the magic is not the standard sort. People who don't read the series in order and some younger readers might find the multiple characters a bit confusing, but escaping to a world where life is exciting and dangerous but good always triumphs makes the series well worth reading.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Compassion means to "feel with" someone else. Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller, written by Sarah Miller, is a wonderful example of that. This book is officially fiction, but Miller did so much historical research and writes so well it's almost like the reader is actually watching through a window as Annie Sullivan struggles to reach the blind, deaf, and extremely spoiled young Helen. Readers will gain a new appreciation of their senses while experiencing this page-turner and realize the appropriateness of the beautiful cover art. I highly recommend this book.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
One of the most fascinating books I've ever read is The Scientist in the Crib by Alison Gopnik, Andrew Meltzoff and Patricia Kuhl. It's about how babies' brains develop and the part about how they learn language was especially interesting to me. Even though the authors all have Ph.D.s the writing is is easily understood by us "normal" people who aren't part of the academic world.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
When traveling in urban areas I often notice a very low level of literacy. Unlike other parts of America, it's amazing how many people in and near cities don't seem to understand the simple four letter word often seen on octagonal signs; S-T-O-P. Of course that probably shouldn't surprise me since the same people are apparently numerically challenged and can't comprehend the numerals on speed limit signs either.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
The two books in the series, Beyond the Western Sea, by Avi are real page turners but the exciting plots are a bit too complex for younger children, even if they can read above their grade levels. The characters are believable, the settings are realistic, and the books carry the reader away into a world far different from their own. They might even learn a bit about history as they experience the thrills. Older kids will love these books. The only problem is, there are some minor unanswered questions that should be resolved in a sequel and there doesn't seem to be one. However that shouldn't stop anyone from enjoying the ones that do exist. I think these books are great!
Sunday, June 15, 2008
"Talking Hands" by Margalit Fox is a fascinating book for anyone interested in linguistics or how our brains work. It's about a Middle Eastern community where the people have developed their own Sign Language because of frequent hereditary deafness. Even the hearing people who live there use that language in addition to their spoken one.
The book is popular in style and comfortable to read, but it relates the experiences of scientists studying the local Sign Language as well as insights they're gaining about how our brains work to process language. I found it fascinating.
Monday, June 2, 2008
With the current economic problems many people won't be able to afford trips to amusement parks, movies, and other forms of entertainment. Here's a way to have fun without spending much money; READ!
While many people enjoy curling up with a good book and little kids love to hear bedtime stories, lots of folks may not realize what a pleasure it can be for a family to share a good book by reading it aloud. Reading can take you anywhere in the world, to fantasy kingdoms, or even allow you to time travel to the past or future. Expensive destinations can't begin to compete with the possibilities, and sharing those wonderful experiences can bring families closer. So, why not try it?
Sunday, May 25, 2008
This blog was not intended to be just book reviews, but there are so many good books out there I keep thinking of just one more I've got to mention. There will be other things mentioned at times, I promise, but here's my honest confession; I'm a bookaholic with no intention of recovering. And I'm probably not the only person guilty of bibliolatry. Perhaps we should form a support group and call it Bookaholics Unanimous.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Here's a picture book that appeals to both girls and boys because the protagonist is a feisty girl and the story involves wheels. (I've seldom known a boy who could resist those.)
The book is "Zoom" by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko. It just happens that the girl needs a new electric wheelchair and can choose between various models. She picks the one that goes fastest of all - amazingly fast!
I like this book partly because her disability isn't the main focus. There's no appeal for sympathy, it's just a fun story. The illustrations are great, too.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Sometimes it's hard to get kids, especially boys, interested in reading. Here's a book reluctant readers are likely to enjoy: Running With The Reservoir Pups, by Colin Bateman. It's not at all like the Series of Unfortunate Events books (though it does take place in England,) but kids who enjoyed that series will probably like this book. And there will be others about the same characters to enjoy.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Someone made a comment asking why I mentioned a performance I'd seen years ago in my last post. I hate to admit it, but the reason is I just found something about the play at the bottom of The Box. Often when I clean my office and file the papers on my desk there are some that don't fit into any of the usual categories so I just drop them into The Box, but this time it was so full I had to deal with everything in it.
That reminded me of a method I used as a preschool teacher to get the kids to clean up the room after playtime. I'd sing the Alphabet Song v-e-r-y- s-l-o-w-l-y and if all the toys were put away by the time I got to the end, the kids won, but if I finished the song before they were done cleaning, I'd win. Of course I'd help clean while singing and would win once in a while, but usually the kids would beat me. They didn't get a prize, just the opportunity to feel successful. The same method worked to get my daughter to clean her room - at least sometimes. Maybe if I tried singing that song after filing the papers on my desk I wouldn't be so tempted to finish the job by stuffing whatever was left into The Box.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
The best live performance I ever saw in my life (IMHO) was "Big River." It's a musical version of "Huckleberry Finn" and the 2004 performance I attended in San Francisco was done in both English and American Sign Language. There were a lot of deaf people in the audience and a lot of hearing people, but only a few of us were fluent in both languages. For us it was an incredible opportunity to experience the show - which was great in either language - on both levels. And I couldn't help noticing the parallels between the racial prejudice experienced by Jim and the prejudice deaf people and those with disabilities often experience today. I wish I could see Big River performed like that again.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Humans tend to be afraid of people who are different. As an asthmatic kid who got teased, and as a teacher working with kids, I've seen that happen many times. And it still happens with adults. Grown-ups usually don't tease people who make them uncomfortable, but they may avoid them and show by their body language that they consider people with disabilities or from another culture a little bit - well, scary. But we can treat people who are different just like we treat everyone else.
Being different isn't contagious, but being friendly is.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
In my years as preschool and Kindergarten teacher, parent, and grandparent I've read over a thousand books to hundreds of kids. The one book most of them have loved is Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are." Except for two little girls who were frightened by the monsters, all the other children have wanted to hear it over and over again.
But what makes this book so popular? I guess it's partly because all kids can identify with misbehaving and getting in trouble but having their parents love them anyway, and with using their imaginations. Another factor is the great illustrations.
In my experience, the majority of the picture books kids love are either written and illustrated by the same person or by an author/illustrator team that often works together. Of course there are exceptions, but this is the case at least half the time.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Long ago I started to learn American Sign Language from an interpreter who is now my husband. Besides working at the California School for the Deaf for many years, I served as a church Sign Language interpreter, raised three Deaf foster sons, and have taught American Sign Language to lots of people. Our daughter started learning it when she was born.
My husband and I even taught sign language to our first dogs, who were deaf dalmatians. One of them, Brenda, became able to understand about 350 signs (mostly names of individuals and foods) and taught us to understand about 30 animal signs. Brenda was a brilliant dog and able to understand human language about as well as some two year old people do.
A few years ago I read a scientific study somewhere (sorry, but I've forgotten the details) that was supposed to determine which method of teaching reading worked best. After interviewing many college students the scientists doing the study determined that it made no difference at all what method had been used in their schools. But the high achieving students did have one thing in common; when they were little kids their parents had read to them for at least 20 minutes nearly every day.
So if you have any kids, please, please, please, read to them until they're old enough to enjoy reading comfortably on their own. And set a good example by letting them see you read to yourself.