February 06, 2007
These days, many (if not most) programs that teach readin' and writin' start with a phonics approach. "Sound it out," is the name of the game.
Paulette and I read to the kids each night, and Alex has been particularly interested in the "Frog and Toad" books. In one of the stories, Toad makes a "To Do" list for the day:
- Wake up
- Eat Breakfast
- Go see Frog
- Go for walk with Frog
- Etc., etc.
After Alex had had this read to him a couple of nights in a row, he decided one morning that he should make a To Do list. He asked for paper, and began to write his list. The first item was something like "Wyk up", which ain't bad.
His babysitter was coming over that day, so on his list he wrote, "Gooleu".
You see, "G" can make a hard "guh" sound, as in "gutter", but it also makes a soft "j" sound, as in gist.
"Oo", of course, as in "moo".
"L" needs no introduction.
"E" can make a long "ee" sound, as in "me".
"U", naturally, sounds like "uh", as in "umbrella".
And therefore, Gooleu is his babysitter, Julia.
I'm not sure of whom I'm more proud: Alex, for his giant leap forward in writing skills at the tender age of four and a half, or Paulette, who could actually explain to me what he had written.
February 11, 2007
Last Sunday, the United States (and possibly parts of California) took a day to celebrate the end of the professional football season by settling in to watch the football game humbly known as the Super Bowl. As a nation, we came together by taking a day off from mundane concerns such as shopping (except to buy potato chips), working (except for pizza delivery guys -- those poor bastards), and generally keeping the economic engine of this great country turning and, instead, walled ourselves up in our homes or at Super Bowl parties, drank massive quantities, and watched the game and/or commercials.
It's a pop culture thing that contributes to a shared identity. We are Americans. Our footballs are oblong, and we don't riot (too much) after the game.
Likewise, later this year some among us will put on our pop culture party hats to at least acknowledge that professional baseball also has championship games. Etc., etc.
But pop culture celebrations can and do extend beyond professional sports (or college sports, for that matter) and Thanksgiving Day parades; we are drawn together by the stories that capture our shared imagination. Look at how we in the Western world lined up around the block to see each new Star Wars flick.
I am thrilled that one of the biggest pop culture events of 2007 is going to be the release of a book. A novel, no less! The announced publication of a big ol' slab of text is already causing a palpable buzz in the English-speaking world, as well as Britain, and I couldn't be happier.
On July 21st, 2007, a substantial number of people will buy (or receive their pre-ordered copies) of the seventh and presumably final book in the Harry Potter series. Instead of being united by the spectacle of men in tights and shoulder pads, the English-speaking world (and Britain) will join together to see how events play out in a popular work of fiction.
As part of my own preparation for this event, I've been re-reading the series that's been published so far, and I have to say that it just gets better upon further consideration. I've commented on a few themes and elements of the series in my pop culture section of this site, and it's amazing to discover how much deeper and richer the themes become when one considers the series as a whole.
So here's to you, J.K. Rowling. Your stories have transcended their spot on the children's lit bookshelves and become such a global phenomenon that the opening of your next book will be bigger than the opening of a Star Wars movie, bigger than a World Series or a World Cup or a Super Bowl. I'm excited to read the book, but I'm even more excited to see how many other people are excited.
This calls for a celebration. Anyone up for a Harry Potter party on the evening of July 20th?
February 22, 2007
Had to move rousselle.com to a new server. Here we are. New posts to follow. Also, comments that were added to my site after February 13th but before the actual move were dropped in transit, but I'll get them back on shortly.
February 25, 2007
I've decided to do it. I'm throwing a Harry Potter party this summer to celebrate the release of the final book in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. What cultural event could be more worth celebrating than children and grown-ups reading the same, excellent books?
I told a friend of mine this decision today, and he said, "So, what does one do at a Harry Potter party?"
Simple! It's just like a Super Bowl Party -- dress up in costumes commemorating your favorite team/player/character, eat munchies, engage in bravado and verbal sparring about what led up to this event -- only bookier.
Actually, I'm coordinating with our homeowners' assocation's Events Committee to commandeer the community center, where we'll also have children's activities (like coloring, games, and snacks), costume contests (where top prizes will be copies of the newly released book 7), a book club chat, perhaps a brief open mic thingy like I've hosted in the past, and then a showing of the first Harry Potter movie.
Who knew children's lit could be so much fun? Yee-ha!
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