Friday, August 05, 2011

Week in Review – Chan Staheli, At the Movies

Any of you who know my son Chan knows that he is not only a movie affectinado, but also that his life intention is to be an actor and film director. You also know that Chan is not afraid to let the public know about his passions. This has been evident quite a bit lately from his appearances as a variety of film characters as he attends the opening night shows of new movies starring his favorite characters. I’ve been three of those movies with him recently myself, and it’s those films I’ll write about today. Of course, I’ll also let you get a chance to see just what life can be like with Chan Staheli in the house. Why did I think since I had no daughters that I would ever have to worry about playing dress up?

Cowboys and Aliens
The second we heard this movie would be starring Harrison Ford, there was no question but that Chan, and the rest of the family, would be seeing this one. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve probably already seen photos of Chan, or perhaps watched his movies, of Star Wars and Indiana Jones, seeing him in his full costume regalia. Harrison Ford is not only an icon, but he is nearly worshiped in Chan’s world. I’m happy to say that Harrison Ford did not let us down. Okay, the concept sounds dorky---a Western town invaded by scary aliens? And one cowboy’s ability to fight them because of some incredibly chunky bracelet he wears? The screenwriter was kidding, right? Nope, and it turned out to be okay. If you like westerns, you’ll love this film. If you like frightening aliens, you’ll also love it. Put the two together, add Harrison Ford and stir in some Daniel Craig, and Cowboys and Aliens was a winner!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The boy wizard has been part of our lives from the beginning. I was the first one to discover Harry, having read Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets long before the series became the phenomenon it is today. We have Harry Potter dolls, wands, and board games at our house. My husband became so addicted he listened to the CDs every time he commuted to Los Angeles from Utah, which is quite often since that’s where he works and we live in Utah. He would read the books themselves in the first 24 hours after they were released. He, along with Chan, Kent and I have enjoyed the movies as well, usually going together as a family on opening weekend. As luck had it, my husband was working in L.A. for this time around and he was bummed---not only would we see the movie before he did, but we also had early tickets to see it before the midnight show. But that didn’t stop the rest of us from going, and enjoying it enough that we’ve been back to see it a second for Zach and me, and third time for Chan and Kent. This is the darkest and most violent of the films, but if you’ve grown up with Harry, you’ll definitely need to see this one. It’s already made it into the Billion Dollar Club with worldwide tickets sales, so I know many other people agree with me. Either Chan or Kent had a Harry Potter costume one year for Halloween, but somehow the one Chan put together for this event seemed a little more authentic.

Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides
We are a Disney family. We have annual passes and have been to Disneyland several times already this year. The last time we went as an entire family, Chan wore part of his Captain Jack Sparrow costume into the park and had a great time feeling the part on the Pirates of the Carribean ride and at the Pirate’s Lair on what used to be Tom Sawyer’s Island. When you get a look at this photo of Chan (yep, that’s really him and not Johnny Depp) is it any wonder that we’ve seen the newest version of Pirates several times? I really enjoyed this movie, loved the subtlety of the jokes broadness of the physical comedy. We already have the Blue Ray 3 pack DVD set on order, and I’m sure we will be watching this one again and again. But until it arrives, we always have Chan around to remind us of the best lines from the movie.

Anybody want to hire this kid for a personal appearance at a child's birthday party?

Monday, August 01, 2011

Books, Books and More Books: A Parent and Teacher’s Guide to Adolescent Literature

In 1994, I had the wonderful opportunity to being selected as Utah’s Christa McAuliffe Fellow. For that fellowship, I read 100 Middle Grade and Young Adult novels—I know, such hard work!—and prepared Discussion Guides for each of them. I also wrote chapters about ways to help teen readers improve their literacy skills, ideas for both classroom and home school teaching strategies, and ways to use books to increase literacy and provide a safe ground for discussing problems that teenagers often face. All of this work came together into one volume, which had limited release on a CD-ROM.

With the advent of e-publishing, specifically through Kindle, I am now happy to make this book more widely available to teachers, parents, librarians, or anyone who is interested in finding some great books to read. In case you don’t have a Kindle, let me remind you that a free Kindle app is available for your PC, iPhone, iTouch, iPad, Blackberry, or Android.

I’m currently working on making two additional sets of 100 Discussion Guides available in the next few weeks, and I’m starting to organize a third set for books published in 2010-2011. Check back at here for release dates and at Amazon to order.

In the meantime, here’s the Product Description for Volume 1.

Reluctant Readers. Individualized Instruction. Too many books and not enough time to read them all. What’s a teacher supposed to do? Where can a parent turn for help to find that perfect book for their teenage readers? Where can they find teaching strategies and books guaranteed to motivate students for a pattern of reading success?

At last those problems are solved. Award-winning author and educator, Lu Ann Brobst Staheli shares the methods she has used successfully for 30+ years in guiding students to become motivated readers, while bringing adults into the world of 100 books they can share with their teens.

In an easy-to-read format, each guide includes thought-provoking questions and extension activities sure to improve student engagement with reading, while making the job of finding just the right book a little easier for teachers and parents.

Includes 100 book guides by authors David Almond, Laurie Halse Anderson, Avi, Joan Bauer, Gary Blackwood, Meg Cabot, Orson Scott Card, Eoin Colfer, Caroline Cooney, Sharon Creech, Chris Crutcher, Christopher Paul Curtis, Paula Danzinger, Kate DiCamillo, Jack Gantos, Sharon Draper, Paul Fleischman, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Will Hobbs, Kimberly Willis Holt, Gail Carson Levine, Norma Fox Mazer, Carolyn Meyer, Walter Dean Meyers, Claudia Mills, Gary Paulsen, Richard Peck, Phillip Pullman, Ann Rinaldi, Louise Rennison, John H. Ritter, J.K. Rowling, Pamela Munoz Ryan, Louis Sachar, Lemony Snicket, Jerry Spinelli, Carol Lynch Williams, Virginia Euwer Wolff, Jacqueline Woodson, Lawrence Yep, plus many more.