I am happy to be working with WOW - Women on Writing, to bring you this blog tour. Fiona Ingram, author of Secret of the Sacred Scarab has graciously stopped by to offer her insight into transforming the non reader into a reader. This is a topic that educators as well as parents are very interested in, so I thought it would be suitable for the blog today. Fiona also has a list of websites and books to encourage children to learn more about Egypt, the setting for her book. Enjoy!
I can't remember NOT having a book in my hand. My schoolmates called me a bookworm, and nothing's changed since then. I was brought up on the children's classics because my parents are also avid readers. My earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, I entertained my three younger brothers and their friends with serialised tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. Haunted houses, vampires, and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favorites in the cast of characters. We also acted out the stories for my long-suffering parents! I graduated from the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, with a double first in my B.A. (French & Drama). After completing my Honors in Drama at Natal, I then went to the University of the Witwatersrand to do my Masters degree in French-African literature. I also studied drama at The Drama Studio in London and mime at L’Ecole Jacques le Coq in Paris. Upon my return to South Africa, I immersed myself in teaching drama at community centres, and became involved in producing community and grassroots theatre with local playwrights and performers in Natal for several years. A move to Johannesburg took me in a new direction—that of journalism. I have written freelance for the last fifteen years on everything from serial killers to relationship advice. Writing a children’s book—The Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for my 2 nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied me on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into a children’s book, the first in the adventure series, Chronicles of the Stone. I'm already immersed in the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans. Although I do not have children of my own, I have an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is just discovering the joys of reading for pleasure. My interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films.
You can find Fiona and more about the book at the following sites:
http://www.secretofthesacredscarab.com/ - at this page, there is a book competition page where readers can answer a question about Egypt and win a book for their school, as well as a gift for themselves.
Book Synopsis: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab
Fiona just learned that The Secret of the Sacred Scarab was just nominated as a Finalist in the Children's Fiction section of the USA National Best Books 2009 Awards. It got the same nomination earlier this year in the New Generation 2009 Indie Book Awards.
As all parents know, books, reading, and comprehension skills are paramount in the development of their child’s learning abilities and imagination, and indeed to life learning and understanding of the world. But you know all that … so, how does one change a non-reader into an avid reader? There may be a number of reasons why your child isn’t keen on reading. If you’ve ruled out physiological problems with eyes and attention span, then it could just be your child perceives books as ‘boring’ and reading a chore. How do you change this?
• Capture the imagination of your child. You’ve seen how a child will sit for hours working out a game or puzzle that intrigues them. Excitement and interest are the keys to getting your child into those bookshelves. Take a look at what makes them light up, what makes them talk excitedly. You want to hold their attention, sustain their interest and create a hunger for more and more books!
• Children follow by example so if you’re a reader, now make a point of your child seeing you read—except read (with avid interest) something you’d like them to read. Don’t put the television on as a matter of course. Rather sit with a book so they become curious as to what could possibly keep you so occupied. It’ll be natural for them to want to see (read) what has kept you so captivated. You can fuel this by exclaiming how much you can’t wait to continue the book if you have to interrupt with dinner or other commitments.
• Choose topics your child is interested in, even if it’s Miley Cyrus’ biography. Textbooks or school reading books may not be the spark to ignite your child’s imagination. Your child may also not be interested in the classics you loved as a child. It doesn’t matter what they read, as long as they read. Age appropriate magazines (get a subscription addressed directly to your child) are also suitable. Collectibles such as ‘part series’ (science, the planets, animals, music/pop stars) are also very good and keep the child’s interest ongoing.
• Invite your child to read with you. “I think you’ll like this!” is a wonderful inducement to make the child feel special—something he or she can share with a parent makes the child feel important. Together you can enjoy the marvellous world contained within those pages. Your child will find your enthusiasm infectious. (You could even let them ‘help’ you with one or two words you might be struggling with.)
• Be innovative. For example, reading to each other or acting out the various characters’ parts will make it fun (children love acting), and if another parent or enthusiastic family members are the audience the ‘cast’ have to work hard to entertain. You could spend some time beforehand polishing your skills together, reading alternate paragraphs, or picking particular characters. This is a great moment to show off your Repertoire of Funny Voices as well. Make it more memorable by having a special dinner and getting your child to write out ‘invitations’ to the rest of the family.
Shared laughter is an incredibly bonding and uplifting experience. By now your child should start seeing reading as a fun experience. Later on they will develop their own tastes and read on their own.
Here are a number of fascinating sites that will provide information as well as many fun activities to do with your child or pupils (teachers).
• Learn more about the pyramids www.eyelid.co.uk/pyr-temp.htm (recommended)
• Do hieroglyphics look like Greek to you? http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/trinity/projects/egypt/alphabet.html
• Ancient tombs of Egypt www.nms.ac.uk/education/egyptian/index.php (tomb adventure)
• Read an Ancient Egyptian story http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/Stories/History/Tattooed-mummy
Some interesting books on Egypt to inspire thoughts of adventure and amazing events! All available on Amazon.
Egyptology by Emily Sands
Join Emily Sands' expedition to find the lost tomb of Osiris. A jeweled amulet glows on the cover, inside the book, there are fold-out maps, postcards, drawings and photographs, ticket stubs, mummy cloth, a scrap of papyrus. (Activity book) And, don't miss the hieroglyphs writing kit from the desk of Emily Sands: Egyptology Code-Writing Kit.
Tutankhamun: The Mystery of the Boy King by Zahi Hawass
Journey back to the time of Tutankhamun with famed Egyptian archeologist Zahi Hawass—experience the thrilling discovery of Tut's tomb by Howard Carter, the boy king's life reconstructed (how old he was, how tall, what clothes he wore, what games he played) and most recent studies of Tut's mummy. Gorgeous photographs. (Picture book)
Secrets of the Sphinx by James Cross Giblin, Bagram Ibatoulline
Get the scoop on the Great Sphinx through the centuries, the sculpture of a lion topped with a man's head. Find out about builders of the Sphinx, rediscovery by Thutmose a thousand years later, protecting the sculpture today. Fabulous illustrations, including reconstruction of the Sphinx with a red face and blue beard. (Illustrated chapter book)
The Ancient Egypt Pop-Up Book by The British Museum and James Putnam
Ancient Egypt leaps off the page in this irresistible pop-up book—a 3-D boat on the Nile, Ramses II in his war chariot, whole pyramid complex at Giza, an Egyptian villa, Hatshepsut's temple at Deir el Bahari, Tutankhamun's funerary mask and mummified head, and Tut's tomb. (Pop-up book)
If I Were a Kid in Ancient Egypt by Cricket Books
Take a step back in time and find out how kids lived in ancient Egypt—eating with your fingers, shaved heads, family fishing trips, popular pets, board games, going to school to become a scribe, and more. (Picture book)
Fun with Hieroglyphs by Metropolitan Museum of Art, Catharine Roehrig
Find out what hieroglyphs mean and how to say them, then write like an Egyptian with 24 different rubber stamps, plus counting, hieroglyphic word puzzles, and secret messages. (Activity pack and book)
The Egyptology Handbook by Emily Sands, Ian Andrew, Nick Harris, and Helen Ward
The companion book to Egyptology, this is a good introduction to the wonders of ancient Egypt—history and dynasties, the great pyramids and tombs, food, dress, work and play, palace life and warfare, hieroglyphs, gods and religion, tales and myths, plus activities to do in each section and stickers. Beautifully illustrated with drawings and historical photographs. (Activity book)
The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone by James Cross Giblin
Find out why this modest-looking black stone is the key to ancient Egypt—where the stone was found, what's inscribed, and how Champollion, having decided at age 11 that he'd read the hieroglyphics, solved the puzzle. (Chapter book, illustrations)
An ABC Escapade through Egypt by Bernadette Simpson
Discover Egypt from A to Z, especially food, animals and culture—dates (Egypt produces the most dates in the world), konafa (traditional dessert for Ramadan), watermelons (cultivated 5,000 years ago), goats, camels and jerboas, village life, city markets and more. Unique and fascinating insights. (Picture book)