The ABC of Child Whispering: R is for READING

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading is a huge pleasure for many of us and we hope children will also experience this wonderful opening to many worlds, knowledge and ideas.
I notice that most teachers attending my literacy courses tend to read more non-fiction than fiction and report lack of time to be a major reason for this.
Actually I wonder if this is really true. I would bet even money that most of us spend more and more time on Pinterest,  Facebook, Netflix etc and that reading is not always the chosen “go-to” for spare moments. I also wonder if perhaps there is a sense of guilt associated with reading fiction and “escaping”.
In order to be a model for children, parents and teachers need to read and be seen to read for pleasure. They need to see us reading non-fiction AND fiction. They need to know that reading is an enjoyable and popular pastime and to see it is valued by the people they love the most.
Reading, and in particular reading fiction, opens up other rooms in our minds. It gives us opportunities to develop empathy for characters and to explore different settings, plots, ideas and scenarios. Reading fiction helps us to grow and problem solve. It stimulates our brains and helps our EQ to grow.
Reading fiction does the same for children. There are so many wonderful picture books and novels written for children of all ages.
It is worth spending time to find out about great authors and to help children discover books they can really engage with. Our libraries are a fantastic source of FREE books- both

paper and digital, and there are endless lists of children’s literature to explore.
I have a Pinterest Site to help parents and teachers find great books: https://au.pinterest.com/victoriacarlton/books/
This colder weather is perfect for snuggling up with a book, reading to your children and also establishing a family reading time each evening.
Simple switch off the TV and enjoy 20-30 mins where EVERYONE reads. Play quiet music in the background and at the end encourage  some discussion but DON’T make your children talk about their books if they prefer not to. Don’t turn a pleasurable exercise into a chore!
Happy WINTER reading. I’m off to curl up with a blanket, book and hot chocolate!

Ready-get-set-go for the literacy adventure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

All parents watch with baited breath as their children begin their school careers and all hope for academic success and a life-long love of learning.

We watch closely for the signs that our child is truly reading and in many ways the first words read feel like a sort of “literacy magic” is being woven around our children. We relive our own school careers as we watch and nurture this learning process with our little ones.

There is much parents can do to help children prepare for success at school. It just takes a little planning and forethought to use the more “teachable moments” that occur naturally in our days.

In order for children to learn easily and maximise progress in literacy they must be at a specific stage of “readiness” for formal learning skills. Their bodies, minds and maturational clocks must be ready to begin.

In order to successfully learn early literacy skills, children need to develop phonemic awareness. This is simply the understanding that the English language can be broken into phonemes (the smallest units of sound). Parents can use a “silly, sound language “when talking to children to help develop auditory discrimination and help children hear all these parts. They can break their spoken instructions to children into units of sound so children clearly understand that all words are made of sounds.  E.G. M-e-ll-i-ss-a     p-l-ea-se    g-o   a-n-d   f-i-n-d    a  t-oy    f-or  b-a-b-y   -i-m!  Use this broken up speech often to emphasise the sounds in words. You can also ask children to give a sign such as a soft clap each time they hear a special sound e.g. “b” while you read them a story. These simple activities can have a profound effect on future decoding and spelling skills.

Reading stories often to children helps children switch on their inner “mind’s eye” and get ready for the imaginative component of reading and writing. We know that children who listen to stories improve their “linguistic store-houses” and this also flows over into comprehension and writing. As children listen to stories they add words to their spoken vocabularies, make mind pictures and start to comprehend narratives and thee ways they work. They also improve listening and comprehension skills.

Memory training is important for early readiness skills. Children need to develop their auditory and visual discrimination before successful reading and writing skills can take place. Auditory memory skills can be developed by insisting that children repeat instructions and then carry them out. Whenever you ask children to do a series of actions e.g. Get your school bag, pack your homework and go out to the car-ask your child to repeat the instructions. After a few months of this repetition they will automatically begin to repeat the instructions silently and it will facilitate your child’s ability to follow instructions at school.

You can also play memory games such as concentration with sight words or “I looked in my Grandmother’s trunk and I found a_______________” The next person says the same and adds one item and so on.

Children have to learn that repetition-although at times tedious and boring, is the key to basic skills such as spelling and multiplication tables. Children are helped with these skills by being able to perform a physical action such as bouncing a ball or jumping on a trampoline while practising the learning.

Visual memory skills are essential for effective reading skills and can be developed by asking children to compare pictures, look for differences, play flashcard games such as Snap and match up flashcards around the house. E.g. You can put signs on common objects –This is the fridge or bathroom-and children can match up their flashcards. This simple activity will really boost beginning reading skills and acquisition of sight words.

A knowledge of the alphabet is so important and has been demonstrated to be one of the key indicators that children are ready for formal learning. This can be developed by children saying the alphabet in different voices-loud/soft and maybe jumping/hopping as they say them. Ask children to trace the letters in bright colours, model the letters with plasticine and draw the letters in the air.

Both fine and gross motor skills are very important when children begin school. For successful printing to take place fine motor skills need attention. Allow children to cut, colour, paint and manipulate equipment and thread beads. It is a good idea to establish a “creativity box” full of recycling materials for making things and general enjoyment. Make sure you  include scissors, scraps of paper, materials and paints, crayons and markers.

Appropriate gross motor skills are crucial to learning. Children need to have the requisite balance skills to successfully sit at their desks and not continuously back and forth search in for a centre of balance. Take your children to parks and playgrounds to help them develop these all important skills. Well developed balance skills will help your child to be able to sit and listen well and concentrate.

They also need to be able to cross their midline with facility and so simple exercises where your child touches their left hand to their right knee, right hand to left knee (this can also be done while skipping, and forwards, backwards and on a small trampoline), will develop these essential midline crossing skills.

Do remember that if your child is showing tendencies to be left- handed, it is imperative you do not change this. Children can develop directional difficulties and speech and language problems if they are forced to change handedness. Do remember that many of the greatest thinkers in history have been left-handers and that there is a strong possibility of very strong creative skills being developed by these children.

Eye muscles need to move efficiently. Children cannot read if they cannot move their eyes successfully from right to left, and be able to copy from the blackboard-focusing and re-focusing as they complete a copying exercise. If children are not encouraged to play outside and use their eyes for looking near and far, and spend a great deal of time watching TV and playing electronic games, then these skills may not be well developed. Tracing a “lazy eight” in the air will help a great deal with this. Ask your child to imagine a big, fat eight laying sideways in the air (like an infinity sign) and then trace around it, starting from the middle and going up to the left. You can also draw large “lazy eights” on scrap paper for children to trace around in bright crayons.

Listening skills need to be at an appropriate level. It is vitally important that children can listen to instructions and carry them out in an exact fashion.  You can help this by talking to your children every day at the dinner table and ensuring the TV goes off at family meal times. Families that converse properly and really listen to each other, really help young children to learn the importance of listening. Listening to music and singing simple songs will help listening skills to develop.

Awareness of rhyme is important. Read nursery rhymes and nonsense rhymes regularly. This will increase the children’s sense of rhythm and rhyme- two important components of the early reading process.

There is an emotional component to the development of early literacy skills. Children know how you feel about their reading and will want to make you feel happy. They sense parental anxiety and then become stressed and even more unable to reach the high standards you may be setting. It is important to realise that all children have an individual maturational clock that ticks away until they are completely ready for the literacy process. Displaying anxiety and disapproval will only hold your child back and further delay their success. Trust the process, enjoy your child’s early attempts and celebrate every success together. All children learn in different ways and rates so do not compare them to their siblings and above all-soak them in books and model the literacy process yourself. Let your children see you reading regularly and perhaps writing in a personal journal. If they know you value literacy, they will also feel the same and the wonderful, magical literacy journey will begin!

ELVES, WISHES, HOT CHIPS AND SPELLING!

 

 

elf

 

ELVES, WISHES AND SPELLING!

On Saturday we commenced our WINTER FESTIVAL.

I told the kids the old solstice legend of people hanging their wishes from trees for the elves to see and hopefully grant! The kids were keen to do the same so we hung our wishes on our learning tree.

I also told them that elves HATE spelling mistakes and don’t read wishes that are misspelled! What a change- they all checked their spelling carefully, checked in with teachers and used dictionaries. I have a feeling these spelling elves are here to stay at ICE!FullSizeRender (002)

I was fascinated to note their wishes. Many asked for gifts for their families. One child wished for immortality. A few asked for happiness and peace.

I truly believe rituals and celebrations are very important for children. They love the “wheel of the year,” and are fascinated by old traditions. They help children feel grounded, part of the community to understand their connections to the past.

This week and next we are celebrating this MIDWINTER time with a veritable festival of learning activities. We have even obtained a fake log fire to add to the atmosphere!fire

Here are some of our activities- they can easily be adapted for any classroom and are great to use at home!

  • Studying and writing about ice crystals http://encyclopedia.kids.net.au/page/ic/Ice_crystals
  • Mindfulness sessions- staring into a candle or fire and sharing what came into your mind.
  • Cook and eating wintery food such as baked potatoes, apple bread or hot chips.chips
  • Expressing gratitude for all the wonderful blessings we have experienced this year and setting goals for the warmer months ahead. You could light a tiny tea-light for each blessing children tell. (Keep up high!)
  • Reading and writing about the Earth’s orbit around the sun and why we have seasons.
  • You tube cold weather clips of crackling fires and snowy scenes. https://youtu.be/25SV6zqTl1k

https://youtu.be/zGD5C4wLsrs

So put plenty of layers on, make huge hot chocolates and celebrate this lovely deep, introspective season. It offers opportunities to go deep, get introspective, re-adjust the sails and just take a much needed deep breath!

 

Your child is only at level 23!

A view of a sad prisoner in jail
A view of a sad prisoner in jail

I have had to sit on this subject for 2 days as as it was connected to an incident that left me white hot with rage! All I could do was rant and rave with my colleagues who all agreed privately but pointed out they are often bound to work within this crazy system!

I worked with a perfectly normal 6 year old this week who is just beginning to sound out and recognise some words. He has a lovely sense of humour and is obviously a very active, creative child who will do well at school.

BUT he comes from a classroom where the levels may as well be inscribed on children’s wrists like those in POW camps! His parents were told the sad news- “Only at level 23!”

Up to level 23 in reading? What does this mean? Of course I know there are various prescribed lists of levels suitable for children with books that fit within these lists. Many of these lists are put together by publishers of particular reading schemes and teachers (searching for a sane, easier way of assessing) are grabbing at these levels and giving out comments such as “Oh dear! Your child is only at level 23- he should be at 30.”
Who said?
What about the fact that he has started his reading journey and now recognises all the single sounds, many digraphs and can sound out simple words?

What about the fact that he loves picture books, comprehends well and has great ideas for writing narratives?

Aren’t they things to celebrate for a 6 year old? But NO!

Because some children can master all their phonics at 5 years we now judge those who take a little longer.

This is utter madness and teachers know this deep down.
Evaluation is a complex process and cannot be pinned down to numbers like this.

You have to get to KNOW a child to evaluate them. Not only do you apply baseline testing, you have to observe, figure out their thinking patterns and watch them in action.

When we make these fast judgements we are lowering our standards as educators and behaving like teaching machines.

The results are sad kids with low self-esteem who already hate school at 6! At 6? Crazy!

I know some teachers are pushed to place kids against very questionable ranking scores but this causes unbelievable harm for children and parents.

We can do much better than this!

Now when I assess children and ask them how they think they are doing at school, they answer me like this,
“Oh Vicky- I am only at level 15.” When I ask them what that means they haven’t a clue and neither have I.

Let’s get back to solid, on the floor observation, talking to children, identifying learning styles, finding what they can do, running records and closely monitoring phonological awareness, word identification and fluency. I tell kids when they have problems and I make up plans to help them rather than giving out some meaningless score! We are teaching children- not machines!
What is happening is stupidity of the first degree and I cannot stand back and watch what is happening with a closed mouth.

Come on educators- speak your minds and parents- DEMAND to know exactly what these levels mean and why your child should have to be a carbon copy of some “idealised” robot child!

MUSIC IS THE SWEETENER FOR LEARNING DIFFICULTIES!

21114525“Just A Spoonful of Sugar Helps The Medicine Go Down In A Most Delightful Way”
Music can help increase learning for children, particularly those with autism and other learning musicdifficulties.
Music activities provide much needed sensory input through mind and body stimulation at the same time to engage learning. A well-designed music programme will stimulate different parts of the brain at once to process rhythm, emotion and movement, while encouraging creativity, experimentation and exploration in a most delightful way!
Music helps the whole child engage both physically and mentally especially in the early stages of reading and decoding text. Because tempo, pitch and beat are crucial elements in learning to read, children who have been exposed to music demonstrate a higher ability to anticipate words, rhythms and concepts when learning to speak, write and read.

Exposure to singing, dancing and playing (a variety of instruments) help to develop and sharpen proper voice control, motor planning and fine-tune fine and gross motor skills.
Children who experience learning difficulties, if encouraged to participate in music lessons, are more easily able to practice and assimilate new concepts in grammar and punctuation .

This is key in allowing the child to engage faster and scaffold their learning more effectively.

Children with learning difficulties, in particular on the Autism spectrum, who are part of a consistent music program also demonstrate increased focus, more voluntary attention, better memory, increased social interaction and greater ownership and enjoyment of their literacy journey.

When a child with learning difficulties experiences success in music, this leads to increased self-esteem, effective fine and gross motor control, a greater awareness of the world around them and better social and communication skills.

Music can also enhance discipline and move a child towards a more positive, affirming attitude while giving them a sense of pride in their work.

Music is a means that enables a child with learning difficulties to show their emotions in a creative, non-verbal way they might not otherwise be able to express. Where once there was frustration anxiety, unhappiness, struggle and resulting behavioural difficulties, music is the spoonful of medicine that provides healing for a child experiencing learning difficulties and gives them a sense of achievement and purpose!

Music MATTERS! by guest blogger Joanne Sundra

Children In Singing Group Being Encouraged By Teacher“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
– Plato

Teaching music to kids is CRUCIAL- not an optional extra!

When learning music students learn to let language flow and improve auditory memories through listening to beats and copying rhythms.

Repetitions when singing charted songs improves word recognition and reading fluency.

Children LOVE to make up simple songs about their daily happenings and this increases their MUSICAL INTELLIGENCE.

They can take favourite books and poems and sing them. (Just like in the popular TV show Spicks and Specks)
.
Music forms a bridge of understanding so children may learn about the world through stories and songs.

Many concepts are learned and deepened when children learn nursery rhymes and common songs.

Children with speech problems such as stutters, improve when given daily music practice.

Many children can remember facts about tables, grammar and spelling rules by singing simple songs written to help them revise these concepts.

The music and maths intelligences have many connections and the sense of order and harmony in music is expressed in the patterns and order of mathematics.

Music is an effective stimulus that affects students’ emotions and makes the memory work more effectively. Think about the memories that flood in when you hear favourite pieces of music.

Elderly people can recall first loves, people with alzheimers can be helped to improve memory with regular music sessions.
Music is a POWERFUL learning tool!
By using music in the curriculum, teachers create an environment that is conducive to learning, stress is reduced, and the stage is set for SUCCESS!

We will be commencing JOLLY MUSIC this term and teaching children to listen, concentrate and respond to simple instructions. They will learn to use their voice as an instrument and auditory memory, phonological awareness and understanding of rhyme will improve.

There is no doubt that maths and literacy skills increase when carefully sequenced and well – researched programs such as JOLLY LEARNING are used with children.

All CHILDREN DESERVE THE CHANCE TO LEARN MUSIC!

Tomorrow we will write about ways parents can effectively integrate music into their home environments to promote harmony, a sense of fun and improved learning outcomes.
Call 92714200 or email iceinfo@iinet.net.au for more information about our programs.

She can even teach the dog to read!

dog in glasses with a book

Today I read about how dogs are being used in Lancaster County to encourage kids to read. I was immediately catapulted back down a time tunnel to a previous time!

I was teaching kids from a back room in my house and had about 15 kids reading, writing etc on my enclosed back verandah. My greatly beloved dog of the time (Zach), was outside and constantly barking.

I told the kids I would try to quieten him as it was quite annoying. I grabbed a large piece of paper and wrote in thick marker:
ZACH- BE QUIET NOW!

I held it up to the window, thinking he would take no notice at all. 14 kids watched! Imagine my surprise when a rather startled dog stared at the sign and went completely quiet!

One of the boys commented in a reverent tone- “She can even teach the dog to read!”

My greatest moment of fame! Thanks Zach!

READY- GET SET- GO! FOR LITERACY ADVENTURE

 

All parents watch with baited breath as their children begin their school careers and all hope for academic success and a life-long love of learning. We watch closely for the signs that the our child is truly reading and in many ways the first words read feel like a sort of “literacy magic” is being woven around our children. We relive our own school careers as we watch and nurture this learning process with our little ones.

There is much parents can do to help children prepare for success at school. It just takes a little planning and forethought to use the more “teachable moments” that occur naturally in our days.

In order for children to learn easily and maximise progress in literacy they must be at a specific stage of “readiness” for formal learning skills. Their bodies, minds and maturational clocks must be ready to begin.

In order to successfully learn early literacy skills, children need to develop phonemic awareness. This is simply the understanding that the English language can be broken into phonemes (the smallest units of sound). Parents can use a “silly, sound language “when talking to children to help develop auditory discrimination and help children hear all these parts. They can break their spoken instructions to children into units of sound so children clearly understand that all words are made of sounds.  E.G. M-e-ll-i-ss-a     p-l-ea-se    g-o   a-n-d   f-i-n-d    a  t-oy    f-or  b-a-b-y   -i-m!  Use this broken up speech often to emphasise the sounds in words. You can also ask children to give a sign such as a soft clap each time they hear a special sound e.g. “b” while you read them a story. These simple activities can have a profound effect on future decoding and spelling skills.

Reading stories often to children helps children switch on their inner “mind’s eye” and get ready for the imaginative component of reading and writing. We know that children who listen to stories improve their “linguistic store-houses” and this also flows over into comprehension and writing. As children listen to stories they add words to their spoken vocabularies, make mind pictures and start to comprehend narratives and thee ways they work. They also improve listening and comprehension skills.

Memory training is important for early readiness skills. Children need to develop their auditory and visual discrimination before successful reading and writing skills can take place. Auditory memory skills can be developed by insisting that children repeat instructions and then carry them out. Whenever you ask children to do a series of actions e.g. Get your school bag, pack your homework and go out to the car-ask your child to repeat the instructions. After a few months of this repetition they will automatically begin to repeat the instructions silently and it will facilitate your child’s ability to follow instructions at school.

You can also play memory games such as concentration with sight words or “I looked in my Grandmother’s trunk and I found a_______________” The next person says the same and adds one item and so on.

Children have to learn that repetition-although at times tedious and boring, is the key to basic skills such as spelling and multiplication tables. Children are helped with these skills by being able to perform a physical action such as bouncing a ball or jumping on a trampoline while practising the learning.

Visual memory skills are essential for effective reading skills and can be developed by asking children to compare pictures, look for differences, play flashcard games such as Snap and match up flashcards around the house. E.g. You can put signs on common objects –This is the fridge or bathroom-and children can match up their flashcards. This simple activity will really boost beginning reading skills and acquisition of sight words.

A knowledge of the alphabet is so important and has been demonstrated to be one of the key indicators that children are ready for formal learning. This can be developed by children saying the alphabet in different voices-loud/soft and maybe jumping/hopping as they say them. Ask children to trace the letters in bright colours, model the letters with plasticine and draw the letters in the air.

Both fine and gross motor skills are very important when children begin school. For successful printing to take place fine motor skills need attention. Allow children to cut, colour, paint and manipulate equipment and thread beads. It is a good idea to establish a “creativity box” full of recycling materials for making things and general enjoyment. Make sure you  include scissors, scraps of paper, materials and paints, crayons and markers.

Appropriate gross motor skills are crucial to learning. Children need to have the requisite balance skills to successfully sit at their desks and not continuously back and forth search in for a centre of balance. Take your children to parks and playgrounds to help them develop these all important skills. Well developed balance skills will help your child to be able to sit and listen well and concentrate.

They also need to be able to cross their midline with facility and so simple exercises where your child touches their left hand to their right knee, right hand to left knee (this can also be done while skipping, and forwards, backwards and on a small trampoline), will develop these essential midline crossing skills.

Do remember that if children are showing tendencies to be left- handed, it is imperative you do not change this. Children can develop directional difficulties and speech and language problems if they are forced to change handedness. Do remember that many of the greatest thinkers in history have been left-handers and that there is a strong possibility of very strong creative skills being developed by these children.

Eye muscles need to move efficiently. Children cannot read if they cannot move their eyes successfully from right to left, and be able to copy from the blackboard-focusing and re-focusing as they complete a copying exercise. If children are not encouraged to play outside and use their eyes for looking near and far, and spend a great deal of time watching TV and playing electronic games, then these skills may not be well developed. Tracing a “lazy eight” in the air will help a great deal with this. Ask children to imagine a big, fat eight laying sideways in the air (like an infinity sign) and then trace around it, starting from the middle and going up to the left. You can also draw large “lazy eights” on scrap paper for children to trace around in bright crayons.

Listening skills need to be at an appropriate level. It is vitally important that children can listen to instructions and carry them out in an exact fashion.  You can help this by talking to your children every day at the dinner table and ensuring the TV goes off at family meal times. Families that converse properly and really listen to each other, really help young children to learn the importance of listening. Listening to music and singing simple songs will help listening skills to develop.

Awareness of rhyme is important. Read nursery rhymes and nonsense rhymes regularly. This will increase the children’s sense of rhythm and rhyme- two important components of the early reading process.

There is an emotional component to the development of early literacy skills. Children know how you feel about their reading and will want to make you feel happy. They sense parental anxiety and then become stressed and even more unable to reach the high standards you may be setting. It is important to realise that all children have an individual maturational clock that ticks away until they are completely ready for the literacy process. Displaying anxiety and disapproval will only hold your child back and further delay their success. Trust the process, enjoy your child’s early attempts and celebrate every success together. All children learn in different ways and rates so do not compare them to their siblings and above all-soak them in books and model the literacy process yourself. Let your children see you reading regularly and perhaps writing in a personal journal. If they know you value literacy, they will also feel the same and the wonderful, magical literacy journey will begin!

By Victoria Carlton      www.ice-au.com

 

NOISY AUSSIES!

I have just competed my morning swimming laps in the hotel in Singapore and even though it was only just past dawn there were quite a few parents and kids in the pool- all Aussies! They laughed, shouted, squealed, chatted and generally made a lot of noise! It was great and I thought a lot about teaching oral language as I lazily completed my laps! Oral language underpins all our teaching efforts and without it, vocabulary, comprehension and grammatical understanding will not grow.

We need talk- talk, talk and more talk! I read some scary research a few years ago that stated we are talking so much less to our children: fathers often only using 7 words per day to their children, and these are probably words like, “Will you go to bed right now!”

Holidays of course are great times to increase the communication between family members and get to know each other in a relaxed environment. That is why I feel sad when I see parents texting, chatting on their phones and giving children phones and tablets to play with- rather than talking to them.

Talking takes attention, energy, interest and motivation- the motivation to want to know another human being. It takes the ability to establish eye contact, listen carefully, notice emotions, respond appropriately and empathise. It leads to higher degrees of emotional intelligence and cannot be replicated by text messages, face-book contact etc. As human beings we need to talk and listen to each other. I salute those unknown Aussie parents and their kids- their joy, love for each other and their noisy conversations will happily reverberate in my ears all day and remind me to be optimistic. We CAN all learn to talk to each other and to our kids again.

Today- please talk, talk, talk to everyone!

MY FAVOURITE JOB EACH YEAR

Today I have tackled my favourite job-actually more of a sacred duty!

I have gone through all my picture books-hundreds!- and chosen the ones I want to use this year. (Of course I will find many more!) Then I have put them in order of appearance and started planning how we will use them. I LOVE this part of the planning process as I want children to love books as much as I do and choosing from the best available gives me so much pleasure!
Of course I have to re-read and sit staring ay amazing illustrations- not to mention showing my selections to the teachers and children at ICE today!

As I handle each book, ideas fly in and I imagine what we will do to deepen understanding. Ways of linking titles and authors to study start to appear! I realise that Colin Thomson will be big this year!
All my Aussie books are boxed and ready for the Australia Day lead-up and I can’t wait to share Bronwyn Bancroft’s fantastic Aboriginal pictures. Sally Morgan’s “In Your Dreams” is whispering, “read me this year” and so I will!
Karen Treanor’s marvellous “Sleepy Harley” calls loudly and I remember with pleasure how the children loved this story last year because it is set in our street!

Bill Martin’s wonderful poem anthology yells, “Pick me!” and suddenly I realise I have done it again-chosen 3x more than we need yet somehow it doesn’t matter! The feast of literature has started- the food is in the book pantry and we begin to taste! Ah-delicious……