Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

teens reading books

As a mother of a tween and a teen, I often feel frustration finding other bloggers who focus on or are geared towards teens and tweens. I get rather excited when I find a new site or blog. I recently came across blogger, , who also is the mother of two teenage sons, as well as a college age daughter. In addition, she is a self-published author and an accredited home daycare provider for preschoolers.

I read a review on her Lisa’s’ site about a site called Clean Teen Books: Helping You Choose Clean Books for Teens. This site was founded by a single mother, Alison Craig, a teacher who holds a Masters degree in English. Her site was inspired by her time (8 1/2 years to be exact) volunteering at a local Juvenile Justice Services facility, working regularly with juvenile offenders to improve their reading.  While searching for books to interest the teens and young adults, she experienced difficulty in finding not only books that they would enjoy reading, but also determining whether or not they are objectionable material. She developed a policy that she would read or heavily skim the books prior to introducing them to young readers.  Understanding other parents and teens and tweens too, most likely experienced similar frustration, she created Clean Teen Books.

I think it is an excellent concept.

She primarily reviews books from major publishers but will review books from other publishers as well. Her reviews are in a variety of genres, subjects and reading levels. Each with a “rating” indicating bad language, sexual content, violence, etc.. Her website is divided into sections: Teen Section, Parent Section and Subscriber Section. The parent section contains “spoilers” to the story, which are withheld from the teen section so as not to ruin the end of the book for a teen.

I have often struggled with this same issue. Once when one of the boys was 10 or 11, he came home with this book he checked out of the school library. I just assumed it was age appropriate content and was mostly just thrilled he was reading it.period. After glancing at the cover then reading the back, I started skimming through the book, to find awful language, violent behaviors and references. I was appalled – it was disgusting, and in the school library?

After this experience, I have been more careful with their selection of books and they know what is expected and accepted material. I love the site Alison Craig has created and was just thrilled when I found it on Lisa’s site.

Both ladies seem just lovely, I encourage you to visit both of their sites.

Photo credit: Photostock from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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We have a new favorite book – or should I say Reed has a new favorite book, but his mommy is quite hooked on it too.

Fred Visits the Emeral Coast

He received this book as a Christmas present from his grandmother. One of the neat things about the discovery of this book is that my mom purchased it at the North Texas Kids Expo event I was working in November with She Is Dallas. She had met me up there to pick-up Reed to watch him while I was attending my booth. Before they left, she walked the expo from booth to booth and came across one with some children’s books. She met and chatted with the author, Diane Shapley-Box of Rockwall, TX, who according to my mom was “just lovely and a delight”. My mom fell in love with her books and was immediately drawn to them by the amazing illustrations done by Shapely-Box herself.

Reed received Fred Visits the Emerald Coast written and illustrated by Diane Shapley-Box and she also purchased another book, Tator’s Race for my niece, Miss C.

I am a firm believer of the power of reading and doing so from birth. I myself love a good book, have always enjoyed reading and am just tickled when I find wonderfully, beautifully written and illustrated books for my children. This book, Fred Visits the Emerald Coast, is about a sweet little frog, Fred, who visits the beautiful Emerald Coast with his best friends. While venturing off exploring alone, he runs into a sea turtle and a starfish who are frightened and in need of help. He bravely helps them without pause and in return they both tell him, “No matter if you live near or far, I will be your friend wherever you are”.

The next day, Fred and his friends from home go sailing and he runs into trouble, falling into a chest which locks and is thrown into the sea. The sea turtle and starfish hear his cries for help and swiftly run to his rescue. It ends with Fred reciting the same sweet words his new friends said to him, “No matter if you live near or far, I will be your friend wherever you are”. 

The story is followed by a Fun Facts page highlighting the sea animals mentioned in the story – a fun and educational addition to an already brilliant book.

Shapely-Box has done a wonderful job with rhyming verses and glorious illustrations. This is a beautiful book about friendship, kindness and goodwill. My son enjoys it as much as I enjoy reading it to him, turning the pages one by one admiring the beautiful sea creatures and greenish-blue water of the Emerald Coast. I strongly encourage you to add one of these endearing books to your child’s collection. She is right here in Dallas/Fort Worth and you can easily order her books online.

I can not wait to pick up the other two books to complete his collection and we will anxiously await for more to come out.

Diane Shapley-Box

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We recently took a trip to College Station, TX to attend our sweet cousin and dear friends, Katherine & Chris’s wedding.

We had some down time the afternoon before the wedding and decided to take the boys to the Bonfire Memorial at Texas A&M.

The “Aggie Bonfire” was a long standing tradition at Texas A&M University, as part of the college rivalry they had with University of Texas-Austin. Each year, the students a.ka. Aggies built and burned a bonfire on campus to prep and rally for the big game against UT. Known to the Aggie community simply as “Bonfire”, the annual event symbolized Aggie students’ “burning desire to beat the hell outta u.t.” This traditionally occurred around Thanksgiving. I recall when my brother was attending school there, he would not come home during this holiday, for this exact reason.

Aggie bonfire 1909

The first on-campus bonfire was in 1909 and consisted of trash and debris.

The Aggie Bonfire was a celebratory event for students and so much work and dedication went into this event each year. The history is truly amazing. I encourage you to read up on this.

The Aggie Bonfire burned every year since the initial Bonfire in 1909, with the exception of 1963. That year Bonfire was built but torn down in a tribute to President John F. Kennedy who was assassinated on November 22, 1963. A quote found here , touched my heart “ Texas A&M Head Yell Leader Mike Marlowe said, “It is the most we have and the least we can give.” ”

The second time in A&M’s history that Bonfire did not burn was almost exactly 92 years after the first Bonfire due to its collapse on November 18th, 1999 at 2:42 a.m.  The collapse killed 12 Aggies and injured 27 others.


At the ring’s center is a black-granite marker, 18 inches in diameter, representing the Bonfire stack’s Centerpole. Positioned on the exact spot used for Centerpole, the marker is engraved with the date and time of the collapse: 11-18-1999 2:42 a.m.

Five years later, the Bonfire Memorial was dedicated on the exact location of the ’99 Bonfire.



The interior of the Spirit Ring may be accessed through 12 portals, one for each Aggie lost in 1999. The outer, granite, portals stand 16 feet tall; and the interior, bronze, portals 12 feet. Each is on a line extending from the center of the ring to the hometown of the Aggie represented, and the bronze portal is engraved with three memorial elements – a portrait, his or her signature and a written reflection.

At the Bonfire Memorial every single piece of construction represents a particular aspect of the Aggie Bonfire: tradition, history and spirit. It was a wonderful experience and truly touching to each of us.

If you are ever in the area, I would definitely recommend you stopping by. At the entrance of the memorial, they have brochures, that define each element of the structure and what they represent – pick one of those up and read through it as you are walking through. It definitely impacts your whole experience and the symbolic nature of the memorial.

Prayers for all the Aggie students, family, friends, faculty & staff and all those that were directly or indirectly touched by this event, as we are approaching the anniversary.

Peace & Love

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