Guest post by Bay Collyns
At the early of age five, there were many enjoyable memories for me and my brother especially when our mother took us to the public library to check-out our selections of books. I remember the warmth and feelings of solace being in the library while reading our books and watching as others were attentive to their studies. As I look back, we were also delighted to see the mobile library come to the neighborhood park during spring break as well the summer months; we were amazed how convenient it was to have available library books. Currently, the availability having resources at our finger tips is quite remarkable. The cellphone has made it easy to read and retrieved information within seconds. Which makes me wonder, are libraries needed today?
Did you know that the first library was created in ancient times? The first library stored clay tablets that were used to document knowledge. One of the largest libraries in the world is the Library of Congress; it is the national library where millions of books, newspapers, and manuscripts are within its collections. There are research materials from all parts of the world in more than 450 languages. This library is worth visiting.
Libraries today continue to be known for their printed books, multimedia resources, and periodicals. They have grown to include audio and eBooks, as well as other technology, 3-D printing, and materials from the Library of Congress.
Today’s libraries are places where children of all ages are able to read their first book, high school and college students meet to collaborate and do required research, first-time parents take a birthing class or a grieving widow meets for a support group, and there are classes to learn to play chess. These are places of transformation on so many levels.
Globally, libraries are adapting and responding to the needs of their local citizens. My mother, who is on a fixed income, enjoys meeting and discussing the assigned book club reading of the month and checks out the assigned book for the next month before she leaves the library. She is thrilled to share with me the book discussions and who agreed and disagreed with her. It is an exciting part of her week where she gets to converse and meet people.
I think libraries will continue to evolve to meet the diverse needs of the communities for which they serve. Libraries are needed as a place to learn, to explore creative ideas, and develop critical interest.
The Writing Mama
Guest post by Jessica Williams
How do I find the time to write? Seriously.
I get up at 6:00am. Dogs are begging to go outside to do their business. Lunchbox packing. Then breakfast has to be made. School homework. Was that done last night? The husband is asking about a favorite pair of socks he can’t find. The mountain of dishes are still there from the night before. And your child is yelling for mommy about where his shoes are!
I have a zoom meeting with the boss at 9:30am. And now it’s 8:00am, and magically I can somehow do all of that, and get a shower and somehow not injure myself while shaving my poor hairy legs! Oh yeah, and I have to drop the kid off at his first day at school! I almost forgot!
Me? Time to write? You’re funny.
But amazingly, I do find time to write.
It will sound crazy. Maybe even insane.
But I do find time for my most favorite hobby in the whole world....writing!
It’s my favorite type of therapy. And heaven knows, I desperately need my therapy!
And if the day is full of chaos and people not leaving me alone! Well. There is one place, that I can guarantee 5-8 minutes of solid writing time. It may not be much! But it’s better than nothing on those days.
That’s right, you guessed it.
The bathroom! There’s even a seat in there for Mama to sit down and chill for a moment!
Don’t have a notepad? No pencil? No pen? No problem! Me neither.
Tug that little piece of handy dandy technology right out of that pocket or bra and open a draft email and start typing whatever comes to mind, sista’.
There’s no rules. No games. No chaos.
Just you, being you. Writing from what is coming from your soul, your heart, and your mind. All those raw, real feelings and thoughts that are not being judged or interrupted.
It’s amazing how fast I learned to type on my iPhone.
While sitting on a toilet.
I know. It’s not the most beautiful image in your mind. Neither is childbirth. But you know what?! Mama has to do what she has to do!
And if sitting on the toilet for an extra five minutes to obtain sanity or peace (or both), then have at it, love.
You deserve it!
As a matter of fact, you’re quite possibly sitting on your toilet right now reading this. Oh I get it. I understand. I really do. I’m right there with you, girl. Now if you could just figure how to play 20 minutes of relaxing music while enjoying that warm shower without a pair of fingers knocking on the door asking, “Mom!!! Where’s my Pokémon cards?”, you would probably win the lottery.
I. Totally. Get. It.
I truly do.
It’s why I’m sitting on my own toilet right now writing this to you. There’s my secret. For the whole world to know and hear. My secret writing place is not a tiny laundry room, like it was for Stephen King when he was a struggling writer.
It’s a toilet.
Jessica Williams is a Freelance Writer at Citrus County Life Magazine, Prevention Coordinator at Anti-Drug Coalition of Citrus County and Contributor / Writer at Celebrations Magazine.
Literacy for Our Kids
Guest post by Tami Lowe
At our basic level of knowledge, we know that literacy is an issue in the United States and across the human landscape. We also know that the obligation to read to our own children is very REAL. We may even feel guilt about that, in the form of: “Am I doing enough?”
Without getting into your psyche of self-talk to steer you away from feeling insufficient as a parent, how can I help you and your child?
To Parents and Caregivers:
Gone are the days where reading was done from paper in candlelight, or only at schools.
The Lexile Framework for Reading is used across the U.S. and the world as a measuring system to monitor and assess the levels of reading in children. Specifically, it is used in Florida, where I reside.
Generally, kindergarteners are expected to be reading at Beginning Reader (BR) Lexile Level. The range for first grade has number levels of BR 0-185. Unfortunately, there are children who start first grade at Below Basic levels. What am I talking about?
Perhaps the important thing to know is that teachers are measuring reading levels of kids, and also levels of books, and matching them up. According to Julie Barb, a first grade teacher in Livingston County, Michigan, the other children are not supposed to know what levels their classmates are at, but they often do. The teacher might use colored bins to keep the levels separated, but everybody knows: She reads better than I do, and they read worse.
Pediatricians recommend parents start reading to children in their infancy. There is a cadence and a flow. The mind internalizes and creates pathways with the sounds. The sooner we start reading, the better.
There is research to support benefits to human brain connectivity of writing with a pen versus typing to a screen. I was not aware: reading from a screen has also been shown to be related to lower reading performance in school-age kids through adulthood.
Though paper is still ideal, as a parent or caregiver of any kind, providing more words on every medium cannot hurt. Universally, let’s turn the closed captions to ON in the settings of all of our screens. The brain will see the words, along with all the colors, shapes, and sounds. It’s a simple setting adjustment that can give our kids a better chance at recognizing and using words.
If you are not a parent or caregiver:
We hear stories of people giving what they truly can in this effort. A barber shop in Pennsylvania pays one dollar to children when they sit in the chair and read aloud. Tiny book shelves are installed near sidewalks for neighbors to exchange family books.
I volunteer for Florida Writer’s Foundation (FWF). The FWF fundraises for grant money which they award to literacy programs in our state. Access to books is a consistent goal for many organizations and volunteers in our communities. To get books into the homes of children on every street and part of town is a worthy goal. If you have an idea for helping in this effort, you can submit a grant proposal found at our website, floridawritersfoundation.net. These are the stats we use under our letterhead on our donation forms:
“Twenty-five percent of Florida’s fourth graders do not pass the yearly reading assessment, and 60% are not at reading level. Twenty-five percent of adult Floridians read at an eighth grade level or lower and one in eight is functionally illiterate. We invite you to join us in doing something meaningful about these statistics.”
What can we do to help? First, establish your own sphere of influence, at the core. Then add a layer when you feel good about leveling up. You’ll know when you’ve got that core solid. I encourage all of us to reach beyond our homes, to find the one. The ripple effect is incalculable. Of course, giving to others brings happiness and purpose to us as well.
Thanks for reading!
Tami Lowe is a digital marketer, writer, and blogger. Her book, MAKING SPACE FOR ME, MY MORMON ADOPTION STORY, was published in 2018. As a Board Member of the Florida Writers Foundation and Chair of their Silent Auction, she helps raise money for literacy in the state of Florida. Tami is a member of the Florida Writers Association and Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She is the FWA RPLA Submission Coordinator. She judges for the RPLA competition and for WFWA’s Rising Star Award. Check out her website: tamilowe.com and follow her on social media: Facebook @tami.l.whiting and @Positive.Writing.Vibes, Instagram @peacegenie, and Twitter @tamiloweauthor.
Arielle Haughee is the owner and founder of Orange Blossom Publishing.