Buchmesse FFM and more

This gives you an idea of the size of this event!

This gives you an idea of the size of this event!

Since parking my blog here earlier this year, I’m very aware that I’ve made precious few posts. I hope to be more active in the near future, posting an array of various materials. I have a few topics and articles and ideas on the top of my mind, so hopefully some of that will make it onto this site soon.

I’ve had a wonderful year. I’ve been very fortunate to travel several times to Europe (a few thoughts on that in general another day), to be involved in some exciting developments in my career, to share amazing times with my kids, and to discover and add to my life a beautiful new relationship. All in all, definitely a year to be remembered.

Now I am closing in on a very exciting adventure – I will go to the book fair in Frankfurt, Germany, in October. This is the largest and most important book fair in the world, and I (lover of books extraordinaire) get to attend. I’ll be able to meet and talk with publishers and authors, browse astonishing numbers of new books, party at the Literaturhaus (and perhaps a few other places), and attend readings/events over the course of the week. One of the things I’m most excited about is attending a reading by Sofi Oksanen (see my blog post about her only book translated into English here) – she is an astonishing talent, and I get to hear her read and talk (in English) and perhaps even meet her and get an autograph. Book nerd heaven!

To be honest, the fair is not the only (or even primary) reason I’ll travel to FFM in October, but this particular time for a trip was chosen specifically for the event. I hope to at least post a picture or two from FFM, and if I’m lucky, even a little blogging might happen.

Learn more about the book fair here: Frankfurter Buchmesse 2014

See some videos about the fair here

Oh yes, and there is Facebook too!
Frankfurt Book Fair page

Entry written by Matthew E Jackson

Banned Books Week 2014


Growing up, I read whatever I wanted to read. I only remember being told that I was not allowed to read one specific book – a Stephen King book, which I was reading in 5th grade. My parents told me I wasn’t old enough for the book, and to return it to my friend. I took it back to school, read it during breaks, and continued to enjoy King novels until about 8th grade. I don’t know if I actually liked the books, or if I read them primarily because I was told not to…but whatever it was, I grew out of that phase before long.

I have spent my life reading. Summer breaks were spent reading in my room. School breaks were spent with books. Nights, again, with my books and a coffee (once I was about 12, old enough for coffee). When I wasn’t entirely sure of what I wanted to do with my life, I went to college and majored in…you guessed it…reading (ie English). Now my kids are reading, and I encourage them to read anything and everything they are interested in. I will only decline to buy them a book for one reason – if it is too far above their reading level to make any sense (I think challenging them with more difficult books is good, but I’m not going to buy ‘War and Peace’ for my 2nd grader). I don’t refuse them books based on authors or topics or content…I let them read. It’s what I did, and I encourage them in the same way. And I hope that their love of reading will serve them as it has their father – books have brought me a lifetime of enjoyment and education, and I plan on continuing to spend my free time and my evenings with books for the rest of my days.

I don’t have particularly original things to say about this week, but I believe it is desperately important for people to be able to read and publish whatever they want. I will post some resources below on the importance of this week, and of freedom, the free access of information, and the harm of censorship.

After work today, I will go home and read a book – in honor of Banned Books Week…and because it’s what I do almost every day after work.

Books…they make our world a better place.

love-booksResources for Banned Books Week 2014
Banned Books Week (.org)
Banned Books Week on Facebook
Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read (ALA)
About Banned & Challenged Books (ALA)
Additional Resources

Entry written by Matthew E Jackson

Inspiring Our Children to Read

A Child’s Journey to Becoming an Adult Who Likes to Read

One of the challenges that many parents face is getting their children to read. We may even remember being reluctant to spend time reading when we were young, especially when the weather was nice or summer was here. Reading, comprehension, and retention are all crucial components of a well-rounded person, vital in everything from school to work to leisure activities.

As parents, we want our children to not only read, but to be inspired to do so. The enjoyment of reading is a gift that pays off in countless ways. As children or young adults, the importance of reading has been relentlessly stressed to us. The thing that is often missing is the development of a desire to pick up a book on your own and delve into the worlds of knowledge and adventure hidden within.

It is not enough simply to encourage our children to read, to discipline when it seems the effort is not there, or to reward good reading scores from school. The challenge is this: How do we help develop the love of reading in our children? Not just to read at the proper level with sufficient understanding, but how do we share the love of the written word?

What must we do to help our children understand how vital reading truly is to their personal success, and also to help them come to love it?

We teach this lesson in the same way we teach our children many things – we demonstrate it. A fundamental way that children learn and develop is by modeling behavior. By observation and imitation, our children learn to walk, to talk, and to interact in social situations. It is common to see children imitating adult behavior, from working in the yard with plastic tools to pretending to cook in play kitchens. They explore various roles and behaviors for themselves, learning and growing as they play.

The natural learning mechanism of modeling can be used by parents to help nurture children in many areas, including reading. Just as we model for our children proper behavior, healthy eating, and how to care for themselves and their toys, we also need to model reading.

Bedtime stories are one of the earliest ways that parents introduce reading to their children. From an early age, they learn to enjoy books with Mom and Dad. Later, as they mature, reading with them and allowing them to read to you will take the place of those bedtime stories. In addition, our children need to see that books are important in our lives. Sometimes they need to see us reading instead of watching TV, or hear us talking about a book we enjoyed. If our kids only see us watching TV, then inspiring them to read may be an uphill battle.

When I was growing up, my mother spent enormous amounts of time in her favorite armchair in our living room, sitting with a glass of iced tea and reading a book. By the time I was in the second grade, there I was, sitting on the couch with some juice, reading a book. As most children do, I loved my mother, and I wanted to be with her, doing what she was doing, as much as I could. So we sat in the living room on the weekends and in the evening, and we read together. She with her book, and I with mine. We read.

My own children do this today. They have grown up watching me read. We take weekend trips to the bookstore — not just for the kids to pick out a book, but I am there looking and buying books for myself with just as much excitement (if not more) than they. We sit in the living room together, and we read. I don’t send them to get books and invite them to join me. Rather, I look up from a chapter, and my kids will be around me, lounging on the floor or the couch, reading right alongside me. Of course, we do many other things together, but reading has always been a central part of our relationship.

Being serious about reading is a choice. If we, as parents, intend to teach our children to embrace the fundamentals of reading as well as to develop a love and enjoyment of books, then we have to up our game as mentors and role models. We can’t just talk about it or do it with them from time to time. We need to model the behavior for our sons and daughters. Our children need to see us reading, and enjoying our time in books, and then they, too, will want to see what lies between the covers of those marvelous volumes on the shelves.

Emma Jack, Volume 1, Issue 1, Summer 2014, pp. 22-25

Written by Matthew E Jackson

Navigating Social Media with Our Kids

Yes, it appears this site might actually be coming back…a little.

What follows is an article I wrote recently for a new magazine, Emma Jack. I will soon post the second article from that same magazine, as well as some other thoughts (in the form of actual blog posts) in the near future.

NavigatingSocialMediaNavigating Social Media with Our Kids

With summer winding down and everyone gearing up for the school year, there is a whole list of things that parents, teachers, and students begin to think about. In addition to the usual concerns for time, friends, and classes, there is another pervasive reality we need to consider — social media. So many of us, and our children, spend a great deal of time on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even some game sites that include social interactions. But how are we moderating (and monitoring) the things we view and post on these sites?

What follows below is not a list of static “rules,” but rather some food for thought about how we conduct ourselves online, and especially on the various social media networks.

Teachers — thoughts for online conduct and awareness
– Most school districts strongly discourage or prohibit teachers being friends with students on social networks, and this is an important rule to keep. Even if your activity online is mundane, there is a boundary that must be maintained between an educator/caregiver and a pupil, and part of this boundary is being entirely professional with students in every aspect of your interactions.
– The same sort of boundary should also be maintained with parents of your students and even with co-workers. Unless you are already friends in the “real world,” online interactions should be limited or avoided as much as possible. Again, this is simply a proper professional boundary.
– Because of your professional position, be very cautious of what you post and how you interact with others on social networks. Even if you maintain professional boundaries, social sites are, by nature, social, and people (including parents or students) can see the things you do on them. Inappropriate posts and interactions that appear on your wall can also be an issue, even from friends and others. Take proper care to help ensure that nothing happens that can damage your good reputation in the community.

Parents — thoughts for how we conduct ourselves online
– Remember that your children (depending on their age) can see everything you do on social sites, so the “advice” is simple — be careful, and always be aware that what you do can (and probably will) be seen by your kids.
– Just like driving, where you need to be aware of the other driver, you need to be aware of your connections on social networks. Monitor your social media to see what is being posted on your wall by others, and in cases where people can see your connections, be selective in whom you choose to be part of your network. Posts by others on your sites and connections you have can be seen as a reflection of you.

Students — thoughts for how guardians monitor kids’ online time
– Many children who are under the “suggested age” for certain social media sites still use those sites in applications and games. With allowances for the age and maturity level of individuals, children should either not be allowed on social media sites (these sites all have age limit restrictions), or their activity should be closely monitored. Teenagers should also be monitored, but given the level of freedom that guardians deem appropriate based on age and responsibility levels.
– Teach and remind kids that any of their online activity, especially on social networks, can be seen by other people. They should be educated about proper and acceptable online behavior, and (since children can be more impulsive and less concerned with future repercussions) have their activity watched as well. When issues arise, we can also use them as educational opportunities, teaching our kids why a certain post or activity could be problematic. These lessons, if learned, can be golden opportunities to avoid larger, potentially damaging circumstances down the road.
– Always maintain a “friendship” connection with your children on social networks. The reality is that the online world has the potential to be a dangerous place. We can do some simple things to help watch out for children’s safety, like watching friend lists and paying attention to postings and “likes.” This simply gives us an idea of what our children are doing, and we will be better able to ensure that they are making good choices with their online time.
– If we see something troubling on our children’s networks, whether it’s a new friend or a particular activity, the best approach is to have an open and honest conversation with them about what we see and why we, as guardians, might find that particular behavior problematic. This also gives us the chance to talk with our kids about what is going on in their lives, which is always an important conversation to have.
– Remember that, as parents/guardians of children, we need to be plugged into the lives our children are living. Parents have always had this job, and, in the modern era, this means technology and internet and social media. Even if we are not be the biggest fans of social networking, children worldwide are spending ever-increasing amounts of time on these sites, and as good and responsible guardians, we must be there as well.

With a little guidance and wisdom, the internet can be an amazing resource not only for the adult world, but also for our children and students. We’ve never before had so much information at the tip of our fingers, and the opportunity to access information for the right reasons is a tremendous benefit to our children.

Emma Jack, Volume 1, Issue 1, Summer 2014, pp. 18-20

Written by Matthew E Jackson