Adventuresome teens

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.
John A. Shedd

I’ve always loved a good adventure! My parents tell the story of when I was just three years old I ventured out into the neighborhood alone. I was gone a couple of hours before my distraught mother finally found me. The story goes that she found me a few houses away, painting the front door of the house. I guess I found some paint and decided it would look good on that door! Our family traveled a lot and moved a lot because my father was in the U.S.Navy. Moving every two years to a new place was always a terrific adventure for us. Now, after many more adventures and travels throughout my life, I also enjoy sitting down and reading adventure books in which others go out to see and experience the world. I’m amazed at the imagination and determination of some people! It’s so impressive to read about the preparation that goes into an adventure and the high goals set by some.
I’ve just read about Laura Dekker, a New Zealand born teen, that sailed solo around the world at the age of 15. Pretty astounding! She had a lot of experience sailing and of course was well prepared for her trip, but what strength and courage to attempt it!
In looking for a good list of adventure books, I looked at some “oldies but goodies” that are exciting adventure books that everyone should read! Here are some of them:
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Duma, The Crater by 73James Fenimore Cooper, Ivanhoe by Walter Scott, Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, Kim by Rudyard Kipling, The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley and of course, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.images

I'm Bored!

When I was young, I quickly learned that announcing I was bored brought on the intense displeasure of my mother. My brother, sister, and I didn’t say it very often because of that. Mom would say, “Only a boring person is bored! Go find something constructive to do!” Not very helpful when we couldn’t think of anything to do! Inevitably she would speak a list of things we could do, knowing full well we didn’t want to do any of them. “Go fold the laundry, and there are toys to pick up in the living room, and while you are at it, you could change the beds.” We would immediately run out of the house and go find something to do. Going outside was just the answer for my boredom! I never got tired of skipping rope, riding my unicycle, playing marbles with my brother, swinging on the swings, climbing trees, or the zillion of other things I could think of to do outside. Inside we played endless games of Scrabble, Sorry! and Monopoly. I also got really good at Jacks! I loved to doodle with colored pencils, and I liked to sit and read. I wasn’t an early reader. I remember not knowing how to read in second grade. We had just moved to a new state and I hid my lack of reading skills by pretending to be shy. So, when I actually learned how to read, I was really ready for a good book!
Reading a recent article in the newspaper about being bored really got me thinking. It stated that today’s many technological advances and devices don’t allow us to be bored. What if I had never been bored? What if I could have turned to my phone, the internet, video games, TV, or Netflix? Would I have developed the skills I have now? Would I love the outdoors and always be able to find things to do outside? Would I enjoy playing board games with my sister and brother and later with my own children? Would I have learned to enjoy reading? Would my art projects bring me joy?
I’ve recently read some studies about boredom. In each one researchers found that allowing oneself to be bored may increase a person’s creativity. I think my mom was right. Being bored–and finding ways to alleviate that boredom on my own–helped me become a more creative person. A creative person takes on boredom and turns it into something to do!
If you find your family turning on a device when boredom hovers, check out the list of ideas for screen-free fun in this great article, first published in Oak Meadow’s Living Education and later in Peggy O’Mara’s blog. It’s written by Deb Velto, mom, teacher, and Oak Meadow’s K-8 Program Director. I love her last sentence!

December 16, 1773

tea_party_Boston_HarborDisguised as Mohawk Indians, the Bostonians, on December 16, 1773, destroyed all the chests filled with tea on three British merchant ships in Boston Harbor. The people of Boston were angry that King George III made them pay heavy taxes on the tea. This “party” was one event that led to the American Revolutionary War. Those of you that have studied with the fifth grade Oak Meadow curriculum know why the conflict took place on this December morning. In the end, the conflict actually made matters worse because Britain was very angry with the tossing of the tea. The British Parliament set out to punish Boston and closed the port. Parliament demanded that the citizens of Boston pay for the tea. They also took away land that the colonists had claimed as their own. As a result, the First Continental Congress was formed and they began to organize their revolution. In just six short months after the Boston Tea Party, the American Revolution began.
It’s fun to answer some trivia questions on this December 16th day! Here goes:
1. Who were The Sons of Liberty?
2. The people against the British were called “__________.”
3. Did Paul Revere help with the Boston Tea Party?
4. What were the names of the three British ships in Boston Harbor that had tea aboard?
5. What was the “Tea Act” and who was responsible for making it?


As the winter approaches here in New England, I long for a good book to read while I sit by a warm fire. I like to read a real book. I like the feel of it in my hands. I like the way I can put it down anywhere and pick it up anytime I want. I like that I can put a favorite book mark on the last page I read, and I like that I can fall asleep holding it. Some people I know are using their devices to read books on. I do have one book on my phone that I read if I’m at a loss for something to do while I’m waiting, or riding the train or subway. For those of you that would like suggestions of books to read, I’ve found Bookworm 4 Kids to be a terrific site for suggestions. I subscribe to the monthly newsletter that describes new books each month. For those of you that would like to read a book on a device, try StarWalk Kids Media for free access to over 500 books from December 24-January 5.
By the way, I’m currently reading Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson. It’s an amazing account of an historical event.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

51kj6kPHswL._SL160_On October 14, 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize. He was the youngest man to ever receive it. He was just 35 years old and so committed to his cause that he donated the prize money of over $50,000. to the civil rights movement. His protests and his “I Have a Dream” speech are world famous and his accomplishments still are celebrated today.
In his honor, on October 14th this year, start planning what you and your family may do to promote King’s values on January 19, 2015. It is the Martin Luther King Day of Service.
Each year I plan to mentor students in my community that experience challenges in school. It’s a service that I enjoy very much!

Make Stuff!

“Welcome to my odd, little world of paper toys, holiday cards, valentines, sun boxes,

baskets and bags, origami and ephemera… all for you to make.

My goal is to help grownups and kids spend time together making things.

It is my wish to amuse and delight.


Marilyn Waters”

Marilyn Waters has created some wonderful things and it’s all free at THE TOYMAKER

If you love making things, you will love the paper creations from the Toy Maker! The woman that creates the items is so artistic and she generously offers her creations for free. We are planning to use some of her creative items at the Oak Meadow Open House. Drop by and try one out!

Guess The Cover!

Here’s a great challenge from Harper Collins, publishers. I really had fun doing this with a bunch of friends! Guess the titles of the books just by looking at the covers.
Warning: The answers are at the bottom of the page, so if you don’t want to know the answers don’t scroll all the way down. Here’s the link:

Retellings of Fairy Tales

It seems as though every library shelf or bookstore shelf I see in the youth section these days is a retelling of a fairy tale. I LOVE THEM!
Maybe you’ve read Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Peter and the Star Catchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, or The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor.
I’ve just gotten A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce and I’m looking forward to reading it soon. It won ALA’s William C. Morris YA Debut Award. If you want to try some of these retellings, I’ve come up with a list for you. If you have some to add, please let us know!

Try these: Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix, East by Edith Patou, Breath by Donna Jo Napoli, The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley, Straw Into Gold by Gary Schmidt, and the Sisters Grimm series.

Audiobooks for free this summer!

It’s going to be a great summer for listening to audio books! SYNC, a program for young adults ages 13 and over, is sponsored by AudioFile Magazine and it is offering two free audiobook downloads each week! The two titles are matched thematically with each other. For instance, TORN FROM TROY by Patrick Bowman is matched with PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. If you like listening to audiobooks and you’re 13 years and older, download your free audiobooks each week. (You have seven days to do it.) Once you have them downloaded, you can listen to them any time! They are yours to keep.
The downloads operate through the OverDrive Media Console. You can download the software for free and it can be installed on most devices. Go to to find out more!

Banned Books

 And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell

Banned Books Week is celebrated each autumn in the United States. The American Library Association is the main sponsor of the event because it is an event that proclaims intellectual freedom and the right of all to have free and open access to information.
“The American Library Association is the main sponsor of Banned Books Week. Their website provides ideas on how to celebrate the annual event in your community or school, lists of frequently banned books, and resources for fighting a local challenge. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.” Banned Book Week promotes our freedom to choose, and the importance of the availability of books on all topics and about all viewpoints for those that want to read them.  ALA: Banned Books
Check out the list. I’ll bet you’ve read some of these books like The Hunger Games, And Tango Makes Three, or The Golden Compass.

Let us know:

 Do you think that any book should be banned? Have you read a book that is on the list?