Book BumsBook Bums NewsletterParentingReadingWriting

Newsletter – Mister Rogers and LaVar Burton February 16, 2024

BB skinny logo

Hello Book Bums families!

I recently listened to a podcast episode where the hosts focused on books they were embarrassed not to have read yet. But did you know that hundreds of thousands of books are published each year? (Millions, if you include self-published works.) Since there's no way we can read it all, enjoy what you read and don't be embarrassed. Thanks for including Book Bums in your reading life!

"I think reading is part of the birthright of the human being."
-LeVar Burton

Word of the Week

prominent (prah-mih-nent) adjective/describing word - standing out, noticeable

I enjoy a bookstore that displays "staff picks" in a prominent location so I can see what the booksellers themselves are reading.

Literary Calendar

  • February 16 is the birthday of LeVar Burton.
  • While he is well-known for some of his acting roles, he is beloved as the host of Reading Rainbow.
  • This show, which shared books with kids and promoted a love of reading, ran from 1983- 2006.
  • If you are nostalgic for the sound of Burton's voice reading to you, he has a podcast called LeVar Burton Reads where he reads a short story each episode. Recent episodes include stories from Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, and N.K. Jemison.

From our Bookshelves


While celebrating a birthday with my family this weekend, I learned about the book The Invisible String by Patrice KarstUpon hearing the great reviews, I promptly placed it in my Amazon cart but hadn’t completed the order.

Today, while tidying the books in our Book Bums Little Free Library, that’s located inside the Kids First Sports Center, I spotted a copy of the very same book. What are the chances? I tucked it aside to read when I had a moment, and when I did, I found a practical story about two kids who felt afraid during a storm and wanted to be close to their mother. Patiently, the mother explained, “You know we’re always together, no matter what,” and she held up an invisible string. She shared that people who love each other are always connected by a special invisible string that’s made of love. She referred to feeling “tugs” in our hearts when we think of each other, and I couldn’t help but think that that’s exactly how it feels.

There are so many times we think of loved ones who are struggling in their marriages, or dear friends who are on a long road battling cancer, or precious loves who are already on the other side of this life. We wonder if they can feel our thoughts, prayers . . . our love. I so enjoy believing they can feel the tugs of our Invisible Strings of love.

If you have kids who’ve experienced loss of some kind, this just might be the perfect book to place in a prominent spot on their bookshelves. Snuggle up and be encouraged, together.

Tips for Raising Readers and Writers

When it comes to promoting reading and writing with kids (and so many other things), Mister Rogers got it right. Establishing an atmosphere that inspires us to grow into who we can be wins over simply insisting on change. 

Examine your routines. Is there something you can do to inspire a better version of yourself? Is there something you can do to inspire your family to be better versions of themselves? Here are some ideas I had:

Create a cool book nook for the kids.
Use the “good” dishes.
Enjoy library visits with a milkshake afterward.
Have good, sharpened pencils and a snack ready for homework time.
Be deliberate about a bedtime routine where YOU do the reading.
Meal prep breakfasts so you can relax knowing it’s taken care of.
Place a delightful chair in the sunshine as it pours through the window and read something happy.
Buy the beautiful flowers and place them on the table.
Print some photos that make you smile and leave them around your spaces.
Drink from your favorite mug.
Roll the windows down—even if it’s chilly—and breath in the fresh air.
Post your goals and note how you’ll feel when they’ve been accomplished.
Write notes to your kids and highlight what makes them special.
Make a playlist of your favorite jams and promise to dance for 15 minutes a day.
Go to the antique mall. It’s a walk down memory lane that also counts as exercise.

Tips for Families


One of my friends placed this image on her Facebook feed, and she shared how this kind of behavior should NOT be tolerated. I see her point. I do.

At the same time, I’m really glad there aren’t many folks who see me playing my game of life, because sometimes . . . this is me. I’m the one who’s shouting—saying ugly things—at those who’ve invested in me, at those who count on me, and at those who’ve always got my back. I’m the ugly one.

And sometimes I’m really proud of that passion, for it calls up the aggression that helps me to get important things done.

In my game, I hear folks say, “What a blessing it must be for you to help so many kids learn to read.” Truthfully, sometimes it feels so very far from a blessing. Sometimes I’m as angry as Travis Kelce, the guy in this picture. I don’t know what he is saying here. I’m sure it wasn’t eloquently stated, but it just might have been something like, “We’re losing the @$%# game, here, and I know I can turn it around. Why don’t you just @$%# let me do my job? You know I’ve got what it takes, so just get me the @$%# ball!”

In my line of work, I’ve said words a whole lot like those. (Well, I probably didn’t say @$%#.)

Truthfully, aren’t there times when you want someone like this on your team? I’d want my oncologist to fight insurance companies with this fervor. I want my congressperson fighting for the underserved with this passion. I’d want my sons to protect their families with this level of vehemence.

Sometimes, confident aggression is needed for the win. And win he did.

One more thing . . . Kelce owed his coach an apology. I didn’t say that part. Sometimes righteous indignation gets the best of us, and we need to apologize and mean it.

I’m so thankful that on the very rare occasions when I am not as poised as I’d prefer to be, grace is extended and love prevails.

The tip? No one’s perfect. Let’s stop canceling people.

Pause for Poetry

Caged Bird
by Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Practical Grammar

We use between when referring to things that are clearly separated and we use among when referring to being surrounded by a group of things.

I am standing between the buildings and I am standing among the buildings mean different things. In the first sentence we’re talking about two particular buildings. In the second, we’re talking about a group of buildings.

Which should we use in the following sentences? Choose between between and among.
The boy lived _______ the wolves.
We chose _______ three kinds of ice cream.
Negotiations _______ the two parties began in earnest.
There was no unity _______ the people.
She felt comfortable only when she was _______ friends.
There was a competition _______ the schools.
_______ other things, the camping trip was cancelled.

Just for Fun


If you know someone who would benefit from our newsletter or tutoring at Book Bums, please share this email with them! Thank you.

Copyright © 2024 Book Bums, All rights reserved

Our mailing address is: 
7967 Cincinnati-Dayton Road Suite L
West Chester, OH 45069