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Newsletter – Family Stories and Summer Reading – June 21, 2024

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Hello Book Bums families!

If you're local (Greater Cincinnati area), we hope you've been staying safe and staying cool!

This week in the newsletter we're sharing the writing of a favorite author, Barbara Kingsolver. We also have ideas for keeping a family journal, articles about famous typewriter collectors, and more from Dr. Christy about the Science of Reading. Grab a cold drink and enjoy! is an Amazon Associate; We earn from qualifying purchases. This means that if you click on a link to and make a purchase, We may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. We do recommend the products. Feel free to find them by other means.

Word of the Week

snippet (snip-it) noun -person, place, or thing - a small part of something, especially a quotable passage

I often share snippets of the book I'm reading with whomever is in the room when I get to a funny passage.

Literary Calendar


June 23 is National Typewriter Day, marking the day in 1868 when the patent was granted to Christopher Latham Sholes.
Typewriters are still popular among writers and collectors.
Tom Hanks is a famous collector. You can read all about his interest in typewriters in this NPR article.

From our Bookshelves

bean trees

The Bean Tree felt like as good a book as any to launch my summer reading plan. (It grabbed my attention real good.)

After having finished the book, I realized it was Kingsolver’s first novel, and I am now in awe. How did she do that? I mean, I was captivated from the first page. I adored the sweet Appalachian voice that said things that made me want to be a better mom like . . .

The thing you have to understand is, it was just like Mama to do that. When I was just the littlest kid I would go pond fishing of a Sunday and bring home the boniest mess of bluegills and maybe a bass the size of your thumb, and the way Mama would carry on you would think I’d caught the famous big lunker in Shep’s Lake that old men were always chewing their tobacco and thinking about. “That’s my big girl bringing home the bacon,” she would say, and cook those things and serve them up like Thanksgiving for the two of us.

It made me want to learn more about this fascinating world in which we live . . .

“So how does a toad get into the middle of the desert?” I wanted to know. “Does it rain toad frogs in Arizona?”
“They’re here all along, smarty. Burrowed in the ground. They wait out the dry months kind of deadlike, just like everything else, and when the rain comes they wake up and crawl out of the ground and start to holler.”

It made me want to be a better friend . . .

“Oh, hell’s bells, Taylor. I don’t even care.” Lou Ann relaxed immediately once she knew we hadn’t been mangled in a car crash. “I don’t know how many times this week I’ve said I’d give a million dollars to talk to Taylor, so here’s my chance. It just seems like everything in the world has happened. Where in the tarnation are you, anyway?

And it made me want to be braver . . .

“I don’t know how the good Lord packed so much guts in one little person.”

There are so many big truths in this little novel.


Barbara Kingsolver is the author of ten bestselling works of fiction, including the novels Demon Copperhead (in my “on deck” pile), Prodigal Summer (loved), The Poisonwood Bible (loved), Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, Animal Dreams, Unsheltered, as well as books of poetry, essays, and creative nonfiction. Her work of narrative nonfiction is the influential bestseller Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (loved). Kingsolver’s work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned literary awards and a devoted readership at home and abroad. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country’s highest honor for service through the arts, as well as the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work. She lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

Pause for Poetry

How to do absolutely nothing
by Barbara Kingsolver

Rent a house near the beach, or a cabin
but: Do not take your walking shoes.
Don’t take any clothes you’d wear
anyplace anyone would see you.
Don’t take your rechargeables.
Take Scrabble if you have to,
but not a dictionary and no
pencils for keeping score.
Don’t take a cookbook
or anything to cook.
A fishing pole, ok
but not the line,
hook, sinker,
leave it all.
Find out

Tips for Readers and Writers

Have you ever thought about the things your family says that were passed down through the years—maybe even generations? Things like, “You’ve got to eat a peck of dirt before you die.”

FYI: peck = 8 dry quarts


(I can just hear Ms. Kathy, from our old Book Bums story time, singing, “I love you. A bushel and a peck . . .”)

In our family we have a lot of movie quotes, crazy grandparents’ sayings, and snippets from fun times that we share again and again. I was thinking that it might be fun to try to capture them in a journal of some sort. What if we recorded some family sayings that notoriously pop up in conversation when we’re all together?

Here’s one from my family:

Once, when he was in first grade, our youngest son, Cameron, said he wasn’t feeling well. He urged his daddy to get the family Feverscan Forehead Thermometer Strip out of the cabinet to see if there was, indeed, a fever at hand. In a moment of sheer brilliance, my oh-so-wise husband said, “Cameron, I can’t find the thermometer strip, but I DO have a rectal thermometer. Would you like me to use that?” Cameron innocently asked what a rectal thermometer was. Mike explained that this thermometer is put in a child’s bottom to determine if he has a fever. Cameron gaped, incredulous, placing his hand upon his forehead. He said, “And it goes all the way up to here?!”

You’d better believe something from that story comes up whenever someone has a fever!

Don’t we all have stories that deserve to be recorded? I challenge you to grab a notebook and devote a little time each day to recording some of your family’s stories.

Tips for Families

If your child is being asked to read 15-20 minutes a day and they are not sufficiently equipped to decode the words on the pages, there is nothing left for them to do but to guess what the words say; and that’s an unfair ask.

Saying “sound it out” won’t work if kids only know the associated sounds for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet. Kids need to learn the sounds for letter combinations, and they need lots of practice using those combinations for words to become orthographically mapped in their memories.

We can promote orthographic mapping by providing plentiful, fun-focused experiences reading and spelling words. That’s what we’ve been doing at Book Bums since 2005. Yes, we’ve been at it for almost twenty years! We’ve been doing the Science of Reading (SoR) before it was even called SoR.

Can your children share the sounds we make when we see the following letters and letter combinations?

a, e, i, o, u, ch, th (x2), sh, oo (x2), ar, ow (x2), ou, or, aw & au, ar, er, ir, or, ur, ai, ea, ee, ie, oa, oa, ue, ui, ay, ey (x2) ing, ink, -ng, -nk, al & all (x2), oi, oy, ed (x3), wh (x2), y as a vowel (x3), ce, ci, cy, ge, gi, gy, ea (x5), ie (x2), ei (x2), ck, tch, dge, ew (x2), igh, ph, etc.

And there’s more to it than just knowing the sounds. Kids need to know how words work. We’re really good at helping kids have fun while cracking the code so they can finally access those stories they’re longing to read.

If you know someone who needs help, email Dr. Christy at [email protected].

Practical Grammar

Slight vs Sleight - Do you know the difference that 'e' makes?


There will be only a slight change in the temperature.

In this sentence it means: small in degree; inconsiderable

He felt slighted when no one asked for his input on the matter.

In this sentence it means: to insult (someone) by treating or speaking of them without proper respect or attention.

and then there's...


The magician’s sleight of hand magic had the crowd spellbound.

It means the use of dexterity or cunning, especially to deceive.

Just for Fun


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