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Newsletter – Visceral – May 31, 2024

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Hello Book Bums families!

This week in the newsletter we share some ideas for summer fun as well as book recommendations and tips about the science of reading.

As the school year ends and life moves at a more relaxing pace, we wish you lots of time for reading, spending time with your favorite people, exploring, and adventuring. Let us know what your family is up to this summer! 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

visceral (vih-ser-ul) adjective/describing word - felt, or felt as if, deep in the body

She had a visceral reaction to the good news, wiggling and squealing with delight.

Literary Calendar

  • May 31 is the birthday of nineteenth century, American poet Walt Whitman.
  • He wrote in free verse without strict rhyme or structure, and his most famous and influential work is the collection Leaves of Grass.
  • Themes of his work include nature, democracy, and identity.

Walt Whitman is featured in the 1989 movie Dead Poets Society as one of Professor Keating's favorite poets.

Pause for Poetry

O Me! O Life!
by Walt Whitman

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

From our Bookshelves

swan thieves

This weeks book recommendation Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova is one of those books with a certain gravitational pull to my heart. I believe this is the first book I’d noticed that visceral tug. I was perusing the book stacks at Costco, and there it was, sitting askew on a great mound of books, calling to me. Remember me? I walked right over, picked it up, and placed it onto my heart.

Sometimes we love books because they speak to us about us. Mirrors. Sometimes we love books because they provide insight about others. Windows. Sometimes we love books because they take us somewhere we’d never fathomed.

Because Swan Thieves explores the power of art, when we hosted the book club at the original Book Bums location, we invited a local artist, Chuck Marshall, to be our guest speaker. I’d purchased some sketch paper and pencils and that fun-to-play-with eraser putty to place as each attendee’s place setting thinking we’d get some interesting tips for sketching and, perhaps, learn to bring out our inner artists. We actually learned a lot about impressionistic art, a style of painting developed in France during the 19th century. This style includes small, visible, unblended brushstrokes that offer the bare impression of form and color.

Chuck shared that when looking at impressionist art in a gallery, it’s interesting to stand right next to the piece and to notice that it’s difficult to discern the content of the image, but when you step back, farther and farther, the image becomes clear. Pardon the irreverent comparison, but it felt like Magic Eye. Whoa.

Magic Eye
Hold the screen close to your eyes, then pull back and back . . .
It’s out of this world!

magic eye

Even if art is not your thing (yet), I’d still recommend Swan Thieves. And check out Chuck Marshall at his website.

Tips for Readers and Writers

in Science of Reading

Did you know that for a word to become orthographically mapped into your memory, it typically takes 1-4 experiences with that word when you focus on the letters and their associated sounds? That’s how we keep learning new words—even without a teacher, an assignment, and a grade.

I just typed the word visceral. As I was spelling it, I was unsure about it until I got to the end. Then I said, “Yes. That’s right.” We do this don’t we? If we’re spelling a word aloud, v-i-s-c-e-r-a-l, we’re pretty sure. But when we see it, we have a certainty. This knowing is the result of orthographic mapping.

Orthographic mapping is the process by which words become known on sight. We can read them without decoding. But to learn them in the first place, we associate the letters with the sounds.

This means we cannot simply look at a word and remember it by sight. We must notice some things about the letters and sounds. In visceral, we could notice that there are two back-to-back spellings of the sound /s/. We might notice that we see something similar to cereal at the end. We might also notice the three syllables.

Hey. Close your eyes and spell visceral. You know it now, huh?

Tips for Families

Summer Fun activity!

Have you seen this on social media? It looks simple enough. Just staple some graduated-sized papers together and add a handle. Kids can list the friends they want to spend time with, places they want to go, and things they want to do. Keep it where you’ll notice it and try to honor some of their summer wishes. It might be really interesting to see what they write.

bucket list

Practical Grammar

plane vs plain

Okay, so that’s plane and plain.

What about plein? Oh. It’s French, and it means full.

Plein air painting is when artists paint their entire finished pictures outdoors.
You can encourage your child to get into the plein air painting fun. I purchased this paint set along with some easel paper for my grandkids. I’ll be sure to have the garden hose handy!

washable kids paint

News from Book Bums

We’re in Toledo, OH right now training some great folks who’ll be using the Foundations for Literacy and the Little Letter Learners curriculum with their students this summer and this upcoming school year. We’re growing and the Science of reading is helping Ohio students achieve thier potential!

Just for Fun

Last night I had a nightmare that disco music was making a comeback.

At first I was afraid.

I was petrified!

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

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