Why I Write For Children

Although my writing career began at the bottom rung of a very small magazine, I have always written, even if it was just plays which we acted out for my long-suffering parents when I was young. I have four brothers (a great cast) and we would create grandiose plots gleaned from books and dress up and act it all out. By the way, my parents would also pay for ‘tickets’ to these fantastic performances. I also had a long-running serial to entertain my younger brother and their friends – a ghost story, in weekly installments called Gruesome Gables. This involved monsters, vampires, skeletons, coffins, a haunted house and a dungeon filled with nameless terrors. My parents were really poor while the five (yes, five!) of us were growing up, so we read what was on the bookshelves. We entertained ourselves with a fantasy world that we created from the books we read, generally the traditional children’s classics. That world was very special, very poignant, and it was hard to relinquish it and ‘grow up.’ In a way, writing for children is how one can revisit that amazing world.

I began writing for children purely by accident. Being a journalist, I have written loads of articles of course, but a book….? It just ‘happened!’ My mother was the catalyst. Then in her late 60s, she had always wanted to visit Egypt. She also invited my two nephews, then 10 and 12 to accompany us. It was an amazing trip, filled with interesting experiences. My nephews were at that wonderful age where everything is new, exciting, and possible. Their enthusiasm was totally infectious and their delight at everything we saw or did got me thinking. Ultimately their enjoyment and passion for the trip proved to be the inspiration for the book. When I returned, after we’d admired the souvenirs and the many photos, I thought I’d write a short story based on our experiences, naturally including myself (a journalist) an intrepid globe-trotting grandmother, and two young boys. That was the beginning of it all. The short story became a novel; the novel became a children’s adventure series (Chronicles of the Stone) because at the end of the first book I realized that the story had grown into something quite spectacular.

The book is aimed at middle grade readers, ages 9/10-14, around the real ages of my nephews when we went on the trip. I am not sure if I chose the book or the book chose me because I ended up feeling very comfortable with the workings of the 10-12 year-old mind. I adopted a disadvantaged African child the same year of the trip. She was aged 11 and that also added to my experience with a middle-grade reader. Surprisingly, adults also love the book, and so many people have told me it makes them feel like a child again, open to adventure, and the excitement of something fun and interesting.

Although I have written two historical romances and collaborated on an adventure epic, I love my children’s book series. There is something unique about the world of children’s literature. It is magical, the possibilities are endless, and you’re limited only by your imagination. Imagination … if only we could keep our childlike imagination and beliefs as we step into adulthood.

Visit Fiona Ingram Amazon Author’s Page To Select Great Books For Your Children and Grand Children

Copyright 2017 Fiona Ingram

Transforming A Non-Reader Into A Reader by Author Fiona Ingram

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.

Visit Fiona Ingram Amazon Author’s Page To Select Great Books For Your Children and Grand Children

Copyright 2017 Fiona Ingram

 

Finding Time To Share The Joy Of Reading With Your Child

Reading with your child, or sharing activities that involve reading is a wonderful pastime with so many benefits. Not only does this special ‘together time’ strengthen the bond between you and your child, but it enables you to monitor your child’s progress. You’ll see the growth of your child’s vocabulary, awareness of the world, social behavior skills, listening skills, confidence, and many other developmental aspects. However, in a busy day filled with work, chores, ferrying to and from school, where does the frazzled parent find time to capture those few precious moments called ‘free time?’ Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate reading together for the family with not much time to spare.

  • Reading doesn’t always have to involve books. Our world is full of text. Use it! A busy parent can create a fun game in the car where the child reads road signs, billboards, helps with a road map, or spots registration number plates and creates words with the letters.
  • Shopping? The supermarket is a great place for looking for labels, reading labels, helping with the shopping list, and checking the listed ingredients on a tin or packet.
  • Meals are also a fun way to incorporate reading. If you’re busy, have your child read something to you while you’re preparing dinner. This time it can be a book they are currently enjoying, something from the newspaper or their choice of magazine. Encourage your child to express an opinion about what they are reading to you. This will draw your child closer to you because your interest will cement the bond between you. Children love being the focus of their parents’ attention, and especially when they are doing something special with the parent.
  • Kids love baking! Make cookies and candy even more fun by getting your child to read the recipe to you first while you collect all the ingredients required. Then they can continue reading the instructions while you perform the task. Later (while the family is eating the cookies) you can say how much help they were. Praise is vital to your child’s performance. It boosts their confidence and makes them want to do this again.
  • Dining out? Your child can have fun reading the menu and deciding what they want to eat. Having friends over for dinner? Ask your child to create a beautiful illustrated menu to show your guests. Most kids love the opportunity to get out those crayons and coloring pencils.
  • Audio books are a wonderful way of helping your child concentrate and develop listening skills while you’re driving. After a few minutes, stop the tape and ask your child questions about what they just heard. Make it interesting by asking what they think will happen next, or what they would do in a certain situation. This will help your child engage in the literary process in a fun way.
  • Find time in tiny bites. Don’t think that reading to or with your child involves 60-minute marathons. Just before bed is a special time between parent and child. Just 10-15 minutes every evening is possible, and will reap marvellous rewards.

Whatever you do and however much time you manage to squeeze out of your day for reading with your child will all be beneficial. It’s not the daily amount of time that is so important; it’s the quality of your word time together that counts. Don’t forget to have fun!

Visit Fiona Ingram Amazon Author’s Page To Select Great Books For Your Children and Grand Children

Copyright 2017 Fiona Ingram

Turning Children Into Successful Readers by Fiona Ingram

Any parent who is an avid reader will have already thanked their parents for getting them started on the road to reading.

Through the magical world of storytelling, children learn, experience emotions, and begin to understand the world within as well as the world around them. But, in an age dominated by digital entertainment, how does the somewhat “old-fashioned” habit of reading for enjoyment develop in a child?

It’s all up to you, the parent, to ignite that spark within your child and it’s a lot easier than you think.

  • Capture and keep your child’s attention by projecting reading as the most interesting thing anyone can ever do. Make the reading process a fun, desirable activity by using creative ways to incorporate books into your child’s daily life.
  • Get enthusiastic about books for starters. At meal times, chat to everyone about what you’re reading and how much you’re enjoying it. Children love to share things with their parents and even if the idea of books isn’t exactly what they had in mind, they’ll go along with you … and that’s all you need.
  • Go shopping for things to do with books: words, games and puzzles. Most book shops are laid out in an interesting way with loads of gloriously exciting book covers, posters, display tables, etc. Browse with your child and then make him or her part of the experience by asking, “What do you think of this?” or “What would you like to buy?” Often shops give away postcards or bookmarks related to a particular book they’re promoting. On your book expeditions make sure to purchase, not just browse.
  • If your child is not quite ready to dive into something bulky, start small with a board game involving words. Scrabble is an old favorite, for excellent reasons. Set up a family challenge night with team Mom and one child versus team Dad and someone else. Make popcorn, keep proper scores, and offer a prize for the winner—a book gift voucher, of course.
  • Once your child starts seeing books in a positive light, empower him or her by suggesting they spend that voucher. You can recommend titles but ultimately praise your child’s choice.
  • Go one step further by making special space in your child’s room for their own bookshelf with encouragement about filling it in no time at all.
  • Ask family members and friend to give books, book vouchers or appropriate age magazine subscriptions as birthday or other gifts.
  • Movies are a fabulous tool for getting a child interested in a book. One splendid book-turned-movie is Road to Terebithia—a moving and creative look at the power of children’s imagination. The Spiderwick Chronicles is another excellent choice. Of course you’ll have to purchase and read the book together because (as everyone knows) they can’t put everything in the film. The initial visual stimulus will certainly be enough to get your child wanting to read up on the characters and action.
  • Read together as a family. The experience brings everyone together in a wonderful spirit of sharing. Put on funny voices, get your child to read particular passages, and look up difficult words together with a dictionary (kept handy for the occasion).

The joy of reading is infectious and if parents are exuberant in their attitude towards books, the child will soon follow.

Visit Fiona Ingram Amazon Author’s Page To Select Great Books For Your Children and Grand Children

Copyright 2017 Fiona Ingram

Better Book Readings For Kids

Better Book Readings For Kids

I recently gave a book reading at a local Montessori school here in Johannesburg for a middle-grade audience eager to find out more about my book. My previous reading at a literacy centre had been great because the teacher organized a fancy dress parade and the kids had worked on some creative writing to read to me. All the children arrived in Egyptian costume with poems and prose for me to hear. There was such fun and excitement that much time was taken up with the judging of the writing and the costumes. I read a chapter, they loved it, and that was that.

This time I wasn’t going to get off so easily. This particular teacher asked if I could chat to the kids about creative writing, plots, characters, and structuring a story of their own. I had recently written a blog post on that very subject, but writing and explaining it out loud to kids are two different things. My task that day was somehow to initiate a discussion on creative writing and to use my book to illustrate my points. I discovered that using simple but effective items to enhance your topics adds interest to the reading and contributes to the fun!

I had already turned to my book and website illustrator Lori Bentley for some ideas on accessories such as bookmarks and postcards to give away. Lori’s ideas were so stunningly effective that I was able to tell the assembled kids the entire story of the book and discuss creating a plot just by using the bookmark. I hope you’ll read Lori’s account of how she came to create her magnificent illustrations.

Some ideas to enhance your author readings for kids at schools, libraries, or bookstores:

  • Chat to the teacher, librarian, or organizer in advance and find out if they’d like an educational theme (a school probably will) or an artistic theme such as kids coming in costume, doing their own illustrations of your book’s themes, or even some creative writing to read out aloud.
  • Encourage the organizers to put a mention in the local newspaper or community press. Often newspapers will send a photographer along for some local newsworthy events. This will help spread the word about your book. You should also publicize it using your own social media outlets.
  • Bookmarks and postcards are a fantastic yet simple and cheap way to promote your book. If your book is illustrated, you can (like Lori did) use thumbnails on the bookmark, with tantalizing hints of the plot outlined next to each picture. Postcards are effective with the book cover image on the front, a brief plot synopsis on the back, and don’t forget to include either your contact details or author website or the book’s website details. Parents will want to know where they can buy your book if your reading is not at a bookstore.
  • Posters are also cheap and effective to promote your title. If you’re having some kind of contest then a signed poster is a great prize for an excited child. Don’t forget to give one to the venue hosting your book reading. A school or library will definitely put the poster up in the venue. That way your book will linger in their minds long after you have gone.
  • Have a pen ready for the unexpected. I was astounded that all the children at the reading wanted to have their bookmarks signed so be prepared for that as well. Remember, to your audience you are an amazing creature – a real live author – and that’s incredibly exciting for them. They’re going to want a little piece of the excitement to take home. This is particularly pertinent if you are reading at a bookstore because parents will more than likely purchase the book right there and the child will want you to sign it.
  • A visual impact is important. If your book is set in a different location and you have photographs then take them along. Kids love to know where something ‘really happened’ and images are important. If you have artifacts related to your book, even better. A bit of ‘show and tell’ will fix your book in every child’s mind if there is more to it than just words. (I have some painted papyrus so was able to use those pictures to explain how the ancient Egyptians made paper.)
  • Once you’ve had your initial intro, discussion, and answered questions, you can focus on the book reading. Choose the most exciting chapter possible. Kids don’t have to know everything in advance and a brief outline of the story will be enough. Using my bookmark, the kids chose the image of the giant cobra menacing my two heroes for a riveting 20-minute read. (Have your glass of water at hand – you’ll need it!)
  • During your reading make sure you interrupt yourself to ask the kids questions such as “Where is so-and-so place?” or ask them if they know what particular words mean. My book is set in Egypt so talking about an exotic country was great, and asking them to explain words like ‘sarcophagus’ kept us busy. You’ll find plenty of interesting material in your own work. You can also keep an eye on their level of concentration.
  • Don’t forget to thank the organizers for inviting you to read and give them your business card so they never forget you. After all, you’ll be reading your next book there, won’t you?

A captivating book reading is an excellent way to create interest in your book, the kind of interest that remains unforgettable because it is both innovative and fun. Come up with creative ideas of your own based on your book’s themes and what resources you have available.

Visit Fiona Ingram Amazon Author’s Page To Select Great Books For Your Children and Grand Children

Copyright 2017 Fiona Ingram

Just Begin: Some Tips For Young Writers by Fiona Ingram

Writing can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of your life. There are many reasons a person decides to write: to share their life’s experiences, to tell a good story, to express the feelings and situations of others … the list is endless. Some people even write just for fun. I wrote my book because I visited Egypt with my two nephews and wanted to write a short story to help them remember a special time. To my surprise, the short story turned into a book, and then a book series. So, you never know what’s going to happen once you begin!

Any good story is composed of a really gripping plot and realistic, believable characters. What comes first? Everyone has their own ideas but I believe the plot should come first. What’s the point of great characters if they sit around and don’t achieve very much. So, step one, write your plot down in a few words (that’s all you need). “My story is about … who manages to … and goes on to ….” Example from my book: two cousins go to Egypt with their aunt Isabel and their Gran and are given an ancient scarab that plunges them into a whirlpool of exciting events. I have my two main characters, two secondary characters, a great location (open to all kinds of amazing events), an important object, and … well, the amazing events are up to my imagination.

How To Choose a Great Story Topic. You may think, “But what can I write about?” Write about what you know best, or what excites you, or what you enjoy. You’ll find that when you are really keen on something—it can be an activity, a place, an event, or a person (real or imaginary)—it becomes easier to write. Do you love reading about faraway exciting places? Then research a place you find interesting and set your story there. Do you enjoy mysteries? Think about something that’ll keep people guessing. Are you good at a skill or a sport? Set your story around a character with those abilities.

How to Construct your Storyline. Structure is very important otherwise you’ll end up writing away like crazy but forget some vital detail here and there, and your story will fall to pieces. Sit down and draw your storyline—remember, you have already written it down in a few words. You may not stick to it exactly, but it’s important to map out where the story is going. You don’t want to give away the plot too soon, or tell the reader everything all at once. So begin with a simple 3-point system: the Beginning (your hero appears—what is he doing? What does he want to achieve?); the Middle (something will happen to him and he has to …? ); the Ending (your hero resolves the situation). From those three vital points you will fill in your other plot points—how did… why did… what happens next…

Make Your Characters as Interesting as Possible. Tip: take them from real life examples. You could write about someone like yourself, or else model the characters on friends at school, teachers, or other people you know. The dialogue between your characters is also important because that’s one place to develop the plot line. Their interaction will reveal the chain of events as the characters work out various situations.

Make your information to the reader as interesting as possible by weaving it into the story. Don’t say that it’s cold. Get your character to shiver because he left his jacket at home. You can set the scene around your characters by using adjectives and adverbs to enhance your descriptions and actions but don’t overdo it. The reader is also going to use his or her imagination, so don’t overload your writing with too many descriptions.

A final piece of advice: writing should be fun and exciting. Just enjoy yourself and let your imagination take you to places you only ever dreamed of…

Visit Fiona Ingram Amazon Author’s Page To Select Great Books For Your Children and Grand Children

Copyright 2017 Fiona Ingram

 

One Child’s Journey Into The Wonderful World Of Words by Fiona Ingram

Mabel Learns To Read

I don’t remember actually learning to read; it’s as if I always did. Although we grew up poor (five children to feed, clothe, and educate), my parents always had books in the house. And then of course, there were the books we inherited from my grandparents. My very old copy of The Wind in the Willows, with those simple yet beautiful illustrations, is still on my bookshelf. Ratty and Mole were my heroes (and still are!). Other old friends are The Secret Garden, with exquisite color plates, The Water Babies, Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series, my collection of the Lucy Fitch Perkins’ twin series, with her poignant stories of children of all eras and places around the world. I particularly loved Anne of Avonlea, The Little Princess and many others.

The list of children’s classics is endless and not so long ago I read them all over again. I ‘inherited’ an African foster child from a disadvantaged background. This little girl came to me at age eleven, practically illiterate, scoring only 19% for English at school. Opening the doors into the wonderful world of books seemed insurmountable because she simply did not understand the connection between the written and spoken word. What to do? Begin at the beginning seemed a good idea.

I started off with my old favorites and Mabel loved them. Suddenly, the words were not frightening because she was hearing about places and people she’d never imagined. She’d lean over my shoulder, breathing down my neck as I read, my finger tracing the words as I sounded them out. The pages began to surrender the magical words, and she found them enchanting! Fired with success, we moved onto the rest of the library, slowly devouring my children’s classic book collection in very tiny bite-sized pieces. I was still doing most of the reading.

One day, Mabel decided she’d help out with the books, and began reading to me. It was still incredibly slow but I began to see the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. We got movies of books, watched them, and then read the books, just in case the movie makers had left out some important bits. We expanded our repertoire book by book. I found other ways to sneak words into her day, not just when we were doing ‘serious’ reading. She read recipes with me when we baked; she read the instructions on the packaging to me while we prepared dinner; she read advertisements to me when we shopped. Suddenly words were a constant part of her life.

Mabel also began to show her imaginative side at school. Her poems and creative writing pieces began to change, reflecting more color, bigger words, more complex themes and emotions. What a breakthrough! The final moment of success came when just recently she turned to my mother and said, “Gran, will you buy me a book?”

My mother nearly fell off her chair and replied, “You can have as many as you like, darling.”

Mabel grinned. “Oh, then can you buy me all the Twilight books please?” Thank you Stephanie Meyer for being the first author Mabel ‘owns.’ (Apparently vampires rock.)

Her latest ‘own’ books? Inkheart, and The Golden Compass.

Her latest marks for English? A magnificent 75%.

“I can do much better,” she said, frowning. “I’m going to have to improve on this if I want to be a writer.”

I have now adopted Mabel, not having my own children, and I can say the greatest compliment is that she has decided to become a journalist or a novelist (just like me).

Recently I called her and, hearing her voice coming from her bedroom, asked, “What are you doing?”

Reply: “I’m reading!”

Music to any parent’s ears!

Fiona Ingram was born and educated in South Africa, and has worked as a full-time journalist and editor. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel has resulted in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series. Her first book in the series was inspired by a real trip to Egypt with her two young nephews and her mother.

Visit Fiona Ingram Amazon Author’s Page To Select Great Books For Your Children and Grand Children

Copyright 2017 Fiona Ingram

Transforming Your Non-Reader Into A Reader Over The School Holidays

It’s the school holidays and what better time to transform your non-reader into a reader! Hopefully you can take time off to be with your kids, because getting kids hooked on books needs lots of input from Mom! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your child was an absolute bookworm, devouring regular piles of books and you could see the results in their literacy and comprehension skills at school? Sadly, this is often not the case. Either school reading lists don’t inspire your child, or textbooks are boring, or there’s just too much other ‘stuff’ going on that creates strong diversions. The holidays are perfect for remedying this. You can create lots of interesting, fun projects to do with your child that get them reading.

  • Sit down with your child at the beginning of the holidays and do not say “We’re going to read 100 books by the time school starts.” Instead say, “Let’s have loads of fun this holiday. We should make a list so we don’t miss out on anything special.” Don’t mention books at all. Make a list of things to do together.
  • Day trips are great because there’s lots of reading involved to prepare for it. It could be to an animal park, a nature reserve, a theme park, or an aquarium—in fact anything to do with nature is the perfect topic because most kids love animals and the outdoors.
  • Next stop is a visit to the library to pick out relevant books to read up on the trip. Ask your child’s opinion, or let them decide between two books. At the same time, select books for yourself and suggest your child gets their own library card. If the child does not take out a book right then, don’t worry.
  • Was the trip fun? Wouldn’t Grandma (or favorite relative) like to know about it? An ideal opportunity to say, “It’s a pity Grandma couldn’t come with us. We can still share the fun though. Wouldn’t you like to write down what you saw while I sort out the photographs?” You can plan for this in advance by purchasing an attractive blank-page album so the good deed becomes a full project, involving lots of writing.
  • Any length of time in the car is a great opportunity for an age-appropriate audio book. Make it an adventure, something exciting involving action to keep your child riveted.
  • Time for shopping … at your local stationers or book store. This time let your child pick their own stuff. Reading material does not have to be books. Boys are great fans of video games, so a magazine devoted to the topic is a good way to spark interest. Girls are often infatuated with celebrities and the plethora of gossip magazines out there will be enough to keep her turning those pages.
  • It’s movie time! Pick a movie you know is from a book, such as Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Road to Terabithia, Spiderwick Chronicles etc. Have a fun afternoon at the movies with popcorn, and then on the way home say, “We should get the book!” After the visual stimulation and excitement, your child will not refuse. Buy the book and the movie!
  • A holiday diary is also a way of getting your child to write down feelings, experiences, updates, and ‘stuff.’ You can make it a shared experience by writing in it as well.

These are just a few interesting and fun ways to share the experience of reading, without shoving books under your child’s nose.

Thanks to Fiona Ingram for stopping by with these wonderful ideas to get your kids excited about reading! In addition to the creative examples above, Ms. Ingram has provided some additional resources if your kids want to learn more about Egypt:

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).

General:
www.ancientegypt.co.uk/time/explore/main.html
www.ancientegypt.co.uk/
www.historyforkids.org/learn/egypt
http://history.howstuffworks.com/ancient-egypt/ancient-egypt-history.htm/printable
www.ancient-egypt.org/

Specific:

  • 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 (search the titles 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)

Visit Fiona Ingram Amazon Author’s Page To Select Great Books For Your Children and Grand Children

Copyright 2017 Fiona Ingram

The Rainbow Child and Her Paper Mom

The Rainbow Child and Her Paper Mom by Fiona Ingram, a South African writer who loves books, travel, animals, antiques, and adventures of all kinds! Read Fiona’s author site and find out about her recently published children’s adventure novel.

I never ever imagined myself as a mother. Growing up with four brothers, three of them younger than me, meant I had my fair share of bottles, nappies, homework, bedtime stories and all the things big sisters do. My studies and career came first for a long time and the men I dated weren’t interested in having kids. Then the biggest drawback of all: I never felt “grown-up enough” to take on the responsibility of my own child. The year I went overseas with my two nephews, the year that inspired my first children’s book, I suddenly had this desire to adopt a child. Not give birth, please note, but adopt some little mite who needed a home. Two weeks in Egypt with my nephews aged 10 and 12 were enough to rid me of any maternal feelings and make me decide to just stick to being a good aunt. I had changed my mind about children.

About three months after this trip, I had a visit from a domestic worker who had worked for me a few years back—she had a problem. She arrived with her daughter Mabel, now aged eleven. I remembered Mabel as an enchanting child aged six, all arms and legs and a big smile. But I got married, Josephine left my employ, and we didn’t see each other for another five years. Josephine came straight to the point and asked me to foster Mabel so she could get a better education.

Thinking for the briefest of nano-seconds that “nothing would change,” I said yes. Of course, everything changed. I developed maternal feelings worthy of a lioness guarding her cubs from danger. I also became an expert on the shortcomings of our ever-changing education system, the life-cycle of any insect, reptile, or bird you care to mention, and in anything to help my foster child get an education. Mabel had already failed Grade 2, was advised to repeat Grade 4, and was basically illiterate. How is that possible, I asked myself? I began the slow and often painful task of teaching her all over again, supplemented by many extra lessons.

Mabel baulked at first, having never had to apply her mind or develop motivation. She’d been told so many times she was a failure—what else was there to look forward to? Eight years later, she is scoring 70-80% in most of her subjects, plans to be a writer (just like me!) and is an amazingly well-adjusted, charming, sunny-tempered young lady with a delightful sense of humour. She is a credit to her mother, Josephine, and to me, her Paper Mom (as she calls me, since I am legally her ‘mom’ on paper). I adopted Mabel in February 2009 at the specific request of both her parents, since they believe that with me she will “have a real life.” Those are her mother’s words, one of the bravest women I have ever known, for who else but a brave and unselfish woman would willingly give her child to someone else for that child’s sake.

Mabel completed her Matric with flying colours and is enrolled in a 3-year media and journalism course at Boston College. My mother passed away recently and she was, as Mabel says, “the only gran I ever had.” My daughter was a rock of strength during Mom’s illness. Always helpful, ever-loving, and making my mom feel appreciated and special all the time. Mabel has a mighty heart, filled with love and I am proud to be her mother. Mabel has grown into a beautiful young woman, as you can see from her Matric dance photo.

Visit Fiona Ingram Amazon Author’s Page To Select Great Books For Your Children and Grand Children

Copyright 2017 Fiona Ingram

Exploring Worlds Within The Pages Of A Book by Fiona Ingram

Fiona Ingram has been a journalist for the last fifteen years and has written a children’s book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. Ingram has finished the second book in the Chronicles of the Stone series, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans—which is due to release soon.

Ingram has been kind enough to share some tips on exploring worlds and how parents, teachers and children can go beyond the pages of their favorite book.

A recent blog survey by Susan Orleans (in the New Yorker) on books that have changed children’s world’s reveals that many times the books are possibly the parents’ choices. This could be because until the child can go out and choose and pay for their own books, the parent is usually the book buyer, and therefore, is by default the book chooser. Parents may purchase enchanting classics because they want their children to enjoy the books they grew up with. It could also be that parents consider some books to be inappropriate. Perhaps the subject matter is too shocking in some cases. For example, when I first read Lord of the Flies (now a classic) at a very tender age, I was shattered. Violence and death seemed impossible. Nowadays, the number of instances of child on child violence is rising. Or is it? Possibly, with wider media coverage and the age of the Internet, more cases are being reported because the dissemination of information has become so much easier.

When I taught my adopted daughter, Mabel to read I naturally turned to my old favorites, children’s classics, because many of those books changed my world. Mabel loved lots of them but began to spread her literary wings as she grew up. Your child may not enjoy the beloved books of yesteryear that were your friends and companions. Times change, technology marches ever onward, and children’s tastes develop. Any parent wishing to foster and develop a love of reading in their child should be aware of the new and often difficult pressures on children today. Issues that did not exist thirty years ago may be of compelling importance now. Subjects that were never spoken of such as child abuse, incest, violence, drug use, death, a dystopian world, global warming, war, racism, nuclear threats, etc. unfortunately rear their ugly heads in today’s society. Children are also bombarded from an early age with media messages that create confusion. Are kids growing up too soon, parents wonder? Should they be reading this or that?

Some practical tips for parents wishing to enhance their child’s reading pleasure:

  • Subscribe to children’s book review sites or publisher newsletters to keep abreast of kids’ books. Often reviews are helpful in deciding whether to purchase a book or not.
  • Look at what your child is reading at school and discuss whether they are enjoying it, and if not, why not.
  • Visit a good bookstore with your child and look at the books most prominently displayed. Get the store assistant’s opinion on what is popular, and what they would recommend. Find out if, any authors will be doing book readings or if there are any book launches coming up.
  • Local librarians are a fount of often-unappreciated knowledge. Ask about book readings or library sessions where there is a fun activity planned.
  • Buy books that target your child’s interests and hobbies.
  • Encourage your child to make their own choices.
  • Depending on the age of your child, help your child expand their experience by getting the movie about the book, or purchasing a ‘companion guide’ (usually illustrated) to a compelling book series. If the book is set in a particular historical period or geographical location, go online and look for images or extra information to enhance your child’s understanding.

Don’t be afraid that any one book will change your child’s viewpoint in a negative way. Life is full of all sorts of experiences that they must eventually confront. Books are a way for kids to dip into another world or explore topics safely.

Visit Fiona Ingram Amazon Author’s Page To Select Great Books For Your Children and Grand Children

Copyright 2017 Fiona Ingram

Getting Kids Enthusiastic About Reading

Some creative ways to spark children’s imagination and help them discover the exciting world of books.

Getting kids enthusiastic about reading may seem like a monumental task when you see all the techno-competition around such as video games, movies, computer games etc. Actually, one can use all sort of elements to get kids as enthusiastic about books as they are about all their other gadgets.

  • Most of the time, children are either bored or switched off by the reading choices at school. Kids are riveted by what interests them, so find out what captures your child’s imagination, and direct their attention toward the books on that subject/s.
  • Kids love computers so turn the idea of reading around—let them create their own story, become an author. What could be more empowering! This will allow them ‘ownership’ of the story, and that’s an irresistible challenge for any child. The subject can be about them, an incident, or a fictitious character. They’ll not just create it but illustrate it (either their own drawings or using images available from the Internet), design it and print it out. You’ll be amazed at what happens once the child takes charge of their own project. You can help your child develop the story, getting them to write it out first by hand, and then going through it several times (maybe another family member can also give their input). They can then create the project on the computer. When it’s finished, suggest the child hand it in to their grade teacher for inclusion in the school magazine or newspaper. Or perhaps it’s a gift for a grandparent or family member. You could even have it properly bound at your local stationers.
  • Praise and success are incredibly motivating factors in any child’s development. They’ll automatically feel inspired to achieve more. Now you can introduce new activities that show books in a very novel light.
  • Find a book you both like and, besides reading together, ask your child to suggest alternative actions on the part of certain characters, asking if they agree on how the story is unfolding, and how they would have written the characters’ actions if they disagree. Encouraging a thought process will make your child feel their opinion counts. Once the book is finished, have your child write a ‘review’ and even send it to your local bookshop or library. Imagine their pride and delight if the review is published in a local newspaper, or put up on the library notice board.
  • A book series is a wonderful way to capture a child’s imagination. If they ‘bond’ with a character such as a young hero/ine, they’ll be eager to continue reading the series as each new book comes out. Two of the most popular that spring to mind immediately (apart from my own Chronicles of the Stone!) are Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter. You can cement this enthusiasm by buying hard cover books for your child as ‘collectibles’—something to be cherished and read again and again. If there’s a movie, even better, and merchandising such as T-shirts, mugs, badges etc, also keep the enthusiasm going.
  • Following on with the above, most successful books have websites with interesting aspects to explore. Is the series set in a real or fantasy place? Do the characters have important choices to make? Don’t be afraid to let your child get onto the computer and read all about the series, the author, the movie, the actors, the settings, and the characters. Ask your child questions about what they have learned and praise their research.
  • The Secret of the Sacred Scarab has a great website www.secretofthesacredscarab.com with an interactive journey the reader can take with the book’s heroes. Photos, clues, Hidden Chapters, and (the best) a great Curse of Thoth that leads you into the first chapter of Book Two—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur.

It doesn’t matter how your child comes to enjoy the written word, but that he or she does. Some imaginative ways of ‘packaging’ the reading process will reap wonderful results.

Visit Fiona Ingram Amazon Author’s Page To Select Great Books For Your Children and Grand Children

Copyright 2017 Fiona Ingram