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Newsletter – Readers live longer – June 14, 2024

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Hello Book Bums families!

This week in the newsletter we're thinking about some of the building blocks of language and communication: vowels, word roots, and commas. We're also sharing book reviews, gift ideas, a sing-along song, and more.

As a community of readers, our Book Bums family knows the value of reading in our own lives. A recent study from Yale University has found that reading is also good for your health! Check out the article here, and go enjoy some reading time. 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

subtle (suttle) adjective/describing word - not immediately obvious or understandable

While red is clearly different from purple, there are only subtle differences between some colors in my Crayola box of 96 crayons.

Literary Calendar

• Do you like a little sc-fi in your summer? June 16 is the birthday of author Andy Weir.
• He is best known for his novel turned blockbuster movie, The Martian, as well as other sci-fi writing such as Project Hail Mary.
• He also collaborated with illustrator Sarah Anderson to create a YA graphic novel called Cheshire Crossing where Dorothy, Alice, and Wendy cross paths and team up to save Oz, Wonderland, and Neverland.

Andy Weir - Author
Andy Weir - Author

From our Bookshelves

Station Eleven

Station Eleven: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel is a national bestseller that has earned 4.3 stars (out of five) on Amazon—and it’s 39% off right now. I highly recommend that you read this book. It will change how you feel about the world in which you live.

Here are some of my favorite reviews:

“Station Eleven is so compelling, so fearlessly imagined, that I wouldn’t have put it down for anything.” —Ann Patchett

“A superb novel . . . [that] leaves us not fearful for the end of the word but appreciative of the grace of everyday existence.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Station Eleven is the kind of book that speaks to dozens of the readers in me—the Hollywood devotee, the comic book fan, the cult junkie, the love lover, the disaster tourist. It is a brilliant novel, and Emily St. John Mandel is astonishing.” —Emma Straub, author of The Vacationers

“A surprisingly beautiful story of human relationships amid devastation.” —The Washington Post

“A genuinely unsettling dystopian novel that also allows for moments of great tenderness. Emily St. John Mandel conjures indelible visuals, and her writing is pure elegance.” —Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers

“Disturbing, inventive and exciting, Station Eleven left me wistful for a world where I still live.” —Jessie Burton, author of The Miniaturist

Is your appetite for this treasure of a book sufficiently whetted? Click here to get your own copy.

Tips for Families

If you have an upcoming graduation party, this might be a great gift idea. Simply purchase an inexpensive 8” x 10” picture frame and fill it with gift cards and some cash. Add a note that says, “In case of emergency, break glass.” What a fun way to congratulate your favorite graduates!

grad gift

Tips for Readers and Writers

phonics curriculum

One of the most foundational lessons in our Book Bums phonics curriculum, Foundations for Literacy, is the short vowel lesson. In this lesson we teach our students that every single word must have a vowel. Not only that, but every single syllable of every single word must have a vowel.

For more than a decade, we’ve met students from all over the greater Cincinnati area who didn’t know what a vowel was and they certainly couldn’t name them. Today, things are changing.

Governor Mike DeWine has had a magnificent impact for good when it comes to literacy instruction. For the first time, I’m seeing struggling readers who can spell most short vowel words correctly. That’s not enough to get struggling readers back on track, but I’m seeing steps in the right direction.

This summer, you can sing the short vowel song with your kids. It’s sung to the tune of “Old MacDonald had a Farm.”

The tough part about learning the short vowel sounds is that they are all made with an open mouth, and nothing distinctive is happening there. Go ahead. Make the short vowel sounds: a, e, i, o, u. The changes in the mouth are subtle and that can make it difficult for kids to distinguish the sounds (especially short e and short i). That’s why we add motions. Our hand movements help kids to produce the accurate sounds that promote accurate decoding and encoding .

FFL vowels

Wordology Workshop

• The Latin root sci means know.
• You can find it in the word science.
• Paired with pre, meaning before, you get prescient.
• Paired with omni, meaning all, you get omniscient.

Practical Grammar

I was told by a very dear friend that each of us is given a limited number of commas to use throughout our lifetimes— and that I had already used all of mine up! So this would never be a problem for me, but missing commas can lead to some real trouble.

use commas

Have you seen this book? It’s the same idea. The commas completely change the meaning. Eats, shoots, and leaves could be a murderous story while Eats shoots and leaves could describe a panda’s diet.

Eats shoots and leaves

Just for Fun

are you sleeping

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