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    Writing to Save Your Skills

    Last updated 3 years ago

    Summer is a time to be out (or in) doing things! But that doesn't mean academic skills have to lag behind.  Writing practice can be fun if you add a little action to the plan. Here are a few activities to put your kids' imaginations into gear.

    Find your color
    Choose a color you have some feelings about—good or bad. With a notebook in hand, look around for things that have color. How about bottles, labels, your clothes, book covers, shadows, wood, trees. You get the idea. Colors are everywhere! When you have a good list, select the images you like best and begin to write. How about a story in which everything is the same color? Or maybe a list poem is just the thing. Let yourself go!
    Introduce some strangers
    Look for pictures of people and animals in magazines or online. Choose interesting poses and scenes that evoke curiosity. Cut out or print a selection of pictures. Put them together in random ways until you have a grouping that gives you an idea for a story.

    Text up a storm
    Tell a story or write a poem using only text messages, email, or social media formats. This is good practice with writing dialog and even playwriting. "ttyl" by Lauren Myracle is an example of a whole book written in texts between friends.

    Find yourself at home
    Look all around your room and your house. Choose five objects that represent you. Write about each one in turn. For each one, ask yourself: Why is this thing important to me? What part of my personality does it represent? How would I feel if this thing disappeared?

    Go somewhere else
    Tired of the same old place? Imagine that you've suddenly awakened in another country and no one can understand a word you say!  What is the first thing you would do? Or, look at pictures of events happening in another time. Now, imagine yourself there. Write about the adventures you could have in this new place or time.

    Imagine 6 impossible things
    Next time you're about to throw something away, stop! Put the object on the table (if it's not too dirty). Now, study it and imagine some new, completely unrelated uses for this object. Write down what you imagine and keep your notes for a story now or later.

    Writing activities like these are great avenues to self-discovery. They also provide a good workout for critical thinking skills and put kinesthetic, spatial, and linguistic learning styles to use. With practice like this, falling behind won't be an issue this summer!

    Reading San Francisco

    Last updated 3 years ago

    Taking a "staycation" this year? Or maybe you're having visitors from out of town. Either way, your sightseeing can be more fun if you enrich it with some reading about our great city. Here are five books you might consider:

    Book Scavenger - Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
    Love San Francisco? Scavenger hunts? Social media? This book is for you! It's the story of twelve-year-old Emily who is delighted when her family moves to San Francisco because her literary idol Garrison Griswold lives there. But things are not as she expected. Soon, she and a new friend are caught up in an exciting puzzle.

    Along with reading the book, join the Book Scavenger Game, where you read books, hide them in a public place, and leave clues through social media for other readers all over the country to find.

    San Francisco, Baby - Ward Jenkins
    Whether you have visitors or just plan to show your kids some sights in the City, this book is a good "tour guide" for younger children. The City is explored from a child's point of view, and your young ones will enjoy hearing it read aloud. Good reading practice for older siblings and fun for the family.

    This is San Francisco - Miroslav Sasek
    A classic children's book that all ages will love. Deceptively simple in text, this book is worth savoring for the impressions created by its illustrations of San Francisco's most famous places, painted "at cable-car slant," to communicate the beauty and sophistication of the city.

    The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett
    Described as "a brilliant literary work, as well as a thriller, a love story, and a dark, dry comedy," Dashiell Hammett's mystery novel The Maltese Falcon is almost synonymous with San Francisco. If you know the story only from the movie, you've missed the good parts. Read the book, take a walking tour, and get to know one of the best stories of the City.

    Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan
    Here is a story that captures the new spirit of the City and the Bay Area and takes us on an adventure with appeal for techies and book lovers as well. Clay Jannon, an unemployed web designer, is looking for work in San Francisco, "a good place for walks if your legs are strong." When he sees a Help Wanted sign in the window of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, the mystery begins!

    The Literacy and Language Center staff would love to hear about San Francisco books you would recommend. Let us know next time you come by.

    Books Are Bursting Out In June!

    Last updated 3 years ago

    The San Francisco Bay Area is renowned for its literary heritage, and that reputation keeps growing! Join in the fun, meet famous authors, and be inspired by the exciting literary events coming this month. Here are two you won't want to miss:

    June 6-7
    Bay Area Book Festival
    Downtown Berkeley's Art District

    Bring your kids to see stage performances, meet famous authors, learn about writing, participate in dancing, drawing, eating, and much more. A truly fabulous celebration of reading, writing, and creative spirit!

    June 18
    Grand Opening of The Mix

    San Francisco Public Library
    100 Larkin St., San Francisco

    The planning and preparation are almost over! The San Francisco Public Library's "innovative, youth-designed, 21st century teen learning space" will open on Thursday, June 18.

    This space is a new concept that will give young people ages 13-18 the opportunity and the "state-of-the-art digital media, video/sound recording, computer and creative maker equipment" to imagine, learn new skills, and have hands-on fun individually and in teams. Make plans now to attend Opening Day and join the fun!

    Possessive Distresses – Taming Problem Pronouns

    Last updated 3 years ago

    For such small words, Possessive Pronouns confuse a lot of people. Here's a look at some of the problems these words cause and ways we can handle them:

    We need pronouns so we don't have to repeat nouns over and over again. When we want to show that somebody possesses (owns or has) something, we use Possessive Pronouns:

    my, your, his, her, its, our, their come before the noun they possess:
    My book / Her favorite baseball team / Was their story was chosen?

    mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs usually follow the noun they possess:
    The blue car is mine. / Shouldn't the cake be his? / The best picture is ours.

    Problem 1 - Confusing Subject or Object Pronouns with Possessive Pronouns
    Have you ever heard someone say something like this?
    "The money will be important to Mark's and I's future." (If you haven't, you must not be a fan of reality TV.)

    By removing "Mark's and," the speaker could see her error: "The money will be important to I's future."

    Correct with Possessive Pronouns:
    "The money will be important to Mark's and my future" or "The money will be important to our future."

    Problem 2 - Which Pronoun goes with a Gerund?
    Verb forms that end in ing (being, skiing, having) are called Gerunds when they are used as nouns. The confusion comes when we need to show possession with these nouns.

    Which of these is correct? He being the boss wasn't my idea. / Him being the boss wasn't my idea. / His being the boss wasn't my idea.

    Answer: His being the boss wasn't my idea.
    The reason is this: Since the Gerund is a noun, when we want to show possession of it, we have to use a Possessive Pronoun before it: My formatting the charts saved him some time. / Your coming here made my day.

    Problem 3 – Apostrophes: To use or not to use
    Although we use apostrophes ('s) to show possession (Beth's iPhone / The City's plan), Possessive Pronouns that end in S (yours, hers, theirs, ours, its) NEVER take an apostrophe.

    Its probably confuses us the most. The pronoun is Its. With the apostrophe, It's means It is. (The cat licked its paws. / It's a new day.)

    Look online to find examples of sentences with Possessive Pronouns and exercises to practice using them. With awareness, we can roll right over the possessive potholes.

    "I thought I was going to be left behind."

    Last updated 3 years ago

    Sammy's story lets us see how lack of reading skill impacts a child's school experience and how learning to read can open his world.

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