Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Astronaut Instruction Manual

Endorsed by authors, teachers, scientists and Congressmen, The Astronaut Instruction Manual excites a new generation of space explorers. The book, designed for children between the ages of 8 and 13, is a functioning, first-step instruction manual. With excitement and honesty, it encourages readers to articulate and personalize their own vision of next-generation space travel.

This cool Space book is by Mike Mongo.  Mike is a writer who encourages students to pursue careers in space-related fields. He lives in Key West, FL.  The learn more, click here.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Will Rollins, a greenhorn--cheechako--(chee-chock-oh) is miserable in his new Alaska life. In addition to the bully after him, he can't seem to make any friends in school and doesn't know a thing about dogsleds, riverboats, hunting, or surviving at 40 degrees below zero. When Will darts out alone onto rampaging river ice to rescue a stranded dog, his bravery wins him a valuable, trained sled dog, Blackie, and a new human friend as well, an Alaskan Indian boy named Elias. It's Elias who challenges and inspires the cheechako to become a rugged outdoorsman and a real Alaskan. Will starts out by feeding, harnessing and then driving a sled dog team. He learns to throw a hatchet-and hit what he aims at! He learns to snowshoe and stay alive in the cold, to challenge his fears and to push on when everything he wants to do is quit. Best of all, he learns to be a good friend. But when a fierce, Siberian blizzard rampages across central Alaska, stranding Will's family, nearly burying their log cabin in wind-blown snow,it will be up to Will and Blackie to try to make it out alive. With Elias injured and Will's family in danger of freezing, can a cheechako save them? Can he save himself?

Cheechako is one book of an Alaska adventure series by Jonathan Thomas Stratman.  Mr. Stratman grew up Alaskan and has since lived in the Pacific Northwest. Whether for adult or youth, his novels richly recreate the core Alaskan adventure and experience.

Below, he recalls his first dogsled ride, about age nine.

"The musher sat me in the sled and told me, no matter what happens, hold on to this rope. I'm not sure what he thought might happen, but what did happen is that the sled tipped, he fell off, and his seven-dog team went flying down a frozen Nenana street dragging me. I remember bumping along on my back for awhile, then rolling over to slide along on my stomach. The team didn't even slow down until they left the hard-packed road to head out onto the river, and I turned out to be too much of a drag in the deep snow. It's the kind of first ride a boy never forgets."

Click here to learn more.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

From Ethan Hawke, four-time Academy Award nominee—twice for writing and twice for acting—an unforgettable fable about a father's journey and a timeless guide to life's many questions.

A knight, fearing he may not return from battle, writes a letter to his children in an attempt to leave a record of all he knows. In a series of ruminations on solitude, humility, forgiveness, honesty, courage, grace, pride, and patience, he draws on the ancient teachings of Eastern and Western philosophy, and on the great spiritual and political writings of our time. His intent: to give his children a compass for a journey they will have to make alone, a short guide to what gives life meaning and beauty.

Click here to learn more.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Youth Need Values and Dreams

Anthropologist Scott Atran is one of the leading researchers on the question of why people turn toward violent extremism. He's spent a great deal of his career interviewing members of radical movements all over the globe, most recently Islamic State (also known as ISIS) members in Kirkuk, Iraq, and aspiring members in Barcelona and Paris. He recently addressed the United Nations Security Council on how to counter ISIS's disturbingly potent appeal to some people, and he provided some key insights, some of them a bit counterintuitive. Atran's entire address is worth watching.  It's titled, Youth Need Values and Dreams, Click here.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Two Winters in a Tipi

Mark Warren is a naturalist, composer, novelist, and director of Medicine Bow, a “primitive school of earthlore.” In the summer of 1989, a streak of lightning scorched his house and everything inside, so he moved into a tipi. He tells his story in Two Winters in a Tipi.  I loved this book and it's perfect for intermediate to advanced readers.  If you have a reluctant reader, this is a great read-aloud book.  It's a story of one man's search for the soul of the forest.  Mark is an amazing storyteller and he expertly weaves an intimate yarn that you will not be able to put down.  You'll love his dog, Elly.

Mark is a very wise man and has lived an admirable, adventurous, and rich life close to nature.  We can all learn a lot from him as to how we too can reconnect with ourselves by reconnecting to the natural rhythms of the wilderness.  The world needs more men and male teachers like Mr. Warren.  If I lived anywhere close to North Georgia, I would attend as many of his workshops as possible.

Click here to visit Mark's website.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Paper Tigers Film

Paper Tigers is an intimate look into the lives of selected students at Lincoln High School, an alternative school that specializes in educating traumatized youth. Set amidst the rural community of Walla Walla, WA, the film intimately examines the inspiring promise of Trauma Informed Communities - a movement that is showing great promise in healing youth struggling with the dark legacy of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES).

Exposure to chronic and adverse stress (and the altered brain function that results) leaves a child in a fruitless search for comfort and escape from a brain and body that is permanently stuck in flight or fight. That comfort comes in the form of drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, sex, food and more.

Every year, millions of unloved and traumatized youth enter adulthood with damaged brains and hearts. They are highly predisposed to die from self-destructive behaviors, and highly likely to continue the cycle of abuse. Even those who do not engage in self destructive behaviors are highly predisposed to get cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and immune disorders.

The impact of unloved and traumatized children on society is profound and widespread. 85% of inmates were traumatized as youth. 27% of hospital visits can be traced to causes linked to childhood trauma. Hurt kids grow up to hurt people. The generational cycles of trauma and abuse are as stubborn as they are tragic.

But there is hope.

There are doctors, researchers, teachers, nurses, social workers and law enforcement officers that are turning the tide against the cycle of trauma and abuse. A movement is rising, one that sees aberrant behavior in children as a symptom rather than a moral failing. This movement asks not what is wrong with our youth, but rather what has happened to them. The paradigm is shifting from punishment and blame to a deeper commitment to understanding and healing the underlying causes of aberrant behavior. With this shifting paradigm comes the promise of great improvements in many of the society’s costly ills: less crime, less illness, less teen pregnancy, abuse, rape, divorce.

Simply put, it is cheaper to heal than to punish. Paper Tigers takes a look at what is possible.

Click here to watch trailer and learn more.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Dark Eagles

The Dark Eagles is an action adventure series that has become very popular with boys ages 10-14 and in particular to those who don't necessarily love to read.  So far there are two primary books in this series.

First Flight (Book 1) - Kief loves exploring the rugged mountains on his horse, Natch, with his best friend Tarc. But when he receives a mysterious map on his birthday, left behind for him by his dead grandfather, Kief is thrown into an adventure beyond even his imagination. Leaving home to pursue his childhood dream of attending the merchant academy on the coast, extraordinary events unfold propelling Kief, along with his friends and his map, toward the same perilous destiny.

Wells in Desolation (Book 2) - With his faithful friends and mystical stone, Kief sets out on his greatest adventure yet to seek passage across the dangerous seas in search of the dreaded Wells in Desolation. But there is more to fear than enemy soldiers and the pillaging rogues of the sea as others seek the power of the stone. Kief encounters new friends that help him along his journey and reveal secrets about his past and destiny. But a shocking truth threatens to doom the fate of The Dark Eagles.

These very cool books are by David Smith.  David says he set off to write an epic adventure of a boy and his horse and created a story of freedom, adventure, love, courage and sacrifice. 

To learn more about this epic adventure and David Smith, click here.

Friday, September 18, 2015

150th Anniversary at Andersonville National Historic Site

September 2015 marks the conclusion of the 150th anniversary at Andersonville National Historic Site. The entire month of September is dedicated to highlighting the history of the infamous Civil War prison, the plight of all prisoners of war, the end of the Civil War, and what happened after the surrender at Appomattox. There are many questions we hope to explore this month. How does a soldier go from war to peace? How does a prisoner go from captivity to freedom? How does a nation reunite after such immense division?

This month holds a great deal of meaning not only in Civil War history, but for all American Prisoners of War. The third Friday in September is officially National POW/MIA Recognition Day. With that in mind, Andersonville National Historic Site is hosting a three-day special event weekend. This weekend will mix Civil War history, POW veterans groups, active duty military, and civilians to explore the stories of survival and sacrifice by United States service members during the Civil War and today.

WHY 13,000?

During the fourteen months of operation, just over 12,900 United States soldiers perished due to the diseases, hunger and wounds that they received on the battlefield and while in prison at Andersonville. Over that time, their bodies were placed in long trenches for burial. Those trenches are the foundation of Andersonville National Cemetery. The national cemetery holds not only the remains of those original prisoners of war, but also Union soldiers killed across Georgia in those final years of war. The number 13,000 acknowledges that greater whole. Today, the national cemetery has over 20,000 interments.

Click here to learn more about Brothers of War and Andersonville.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What Your Kids (and You) Should Read This Summer, by Your Favorite Authors

Hello Everyone,

I hope that your summer is off to a great start.  I was interviewed by ParentMap in Seattle and want to share the article with you titled,  What Your Kids (and You) Should Read This Summer, by Your Favorite Authors.  Click here for the list.  15 Puget Sound literary luminaries developed a great summer book list.

Have a safe summer,


Sunday, April 26, 2015

High Wind to Idaho

High Wind to Idaho is a middle-grade historical airship adventure set during the America's first UFO scare of 1896, and foretells the later Japanese balloon bombs of W.W.II. Yoshi, a young Japanese boy steals a ride on a secret balloon and ends up in the USA, as the nation worries about reported Martian landings and mysterious airship sightings.

He lands on an Idaho farm where another boy, Billy, and his mother, hide Yoshi from a zealous
sheriff and vengeful neighbors. Yoshi must get back to Japan before the secret of this new balloon gets out and his uncle's reputation is destroyed. Yoshi and Billy learn to adapt to each others culture as Yoshi is driven to return and apologize to his uncle, or face the humiliation of betraying his ancient samurai family honor.

They hatch a plan to hoodwink the sheriff and leave town on a rail journey that exposes Yoshi to oriental hate and bigotry as Billy helps protect him. Once in San Francisco they are accosted by a Japanese Army Officer bent on returning Yoshi to Japan and chased by a female Pinkerton detective determined to capture Yoshi and hand him over to the new US Army Intelligence Service.
The novel was inspired by the Great Texas Airship Mystery of 1897 that occurred in nearby Aurora, Texas.

This cool adventure story is by Rod Barclay.  Rod is a retired Engineer and Industrial Designer who has studied aeronautical design and balloon developments of the 19th Century. To learn more about Rod and his books, click here.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Bandits Peak

I'm thrilled that one of my favorite authors, Chris Eboch has recently released a  new suspense novel.  Bandits Peak will definitely appeal to boys who like stories set in the wilderness.  It reminds me a lot of Hatchet.  Chris does a nice job of putting the main character, Jesse in a position where he has to make tough choices.  After discovering dried blood on a rock, Jesse meets strangers hiding in the mountains, he gets drawn into their mystery, and a fast-paced adventure story unfolds.

This unique plot will most certainly appeal to reluctant readers.  What I like most about the book is its length.   It's long enough to hold your attention, but not at all intimidating.  I call these kind of books, Skateboard Books.  These kind of books are great confidence builders. 

To learn more about Chris' books click here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Brookings Report

A recent Brookings Report has concluded that trying to get boys to enjoy reading doesn't improve reading scores.  Boys Read doesn't have a large scale scientific study to refute this report.  However, we have consistent, common sense anecdotal evidence from across the country from many caretakers and educators that demonstrate that if boys are served up enough interesting choices, they do learn to love reading.  Here's a quote we received via email just this week from a mom and Literacy Specialist: "I love your website. My 11 year old is a great reader, but hates to read because he never can find a good book.  Your recommendations have helped him get back into reading again."

Boys Read consistently receives best-practice quotes like the one above.  Our conclusion of the Brookings Report is best summarized as:  "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."

To read the report, click here.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Surviving Bear Island

After a sea kayaking trip with his father takes a dangerous turn, Tom Parker is stranded on the remote, outer coast of unpopulated Bear Island in the waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska with only a survival kit in his pocket. Desperate to find his father, Tom doesn’t know how long he can survive and must put his survival skills to the test as he fights to reach safety.

This cool adventure story is by Paul Creci.  Paul's been living in Alaska for 25 years, and has seen bears fishing for salmon, a pair of bald eagles building a nest, polar bears gnawing on a whale carcass, 10,000 walrus hauled out together on the Bering Sea coast, and120,000 caribou gathered on the Arctic Coastal Plain. And when he’s not teaching school or exploring the Alaskan wilderness, Paul Greci is thinking up ways to keep hungry moose out of his garden. Surviving Bear Island is Paul's debut novel.

Click here to learn more about Paul and be sure to see his cool pictures of Alaska's amazing wilderness.  What a life!  We look forward to reading more of his adventure stories.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom

Meet 11-year-old Prince Gavin, 13-year-old orphan Philip, and 15-year-old blacksmith apprentice Bryan. Each wants a future different from the others, but they all want to belong. They owe their friendship with each other to one man they call The Wild Man. When an advisor to Gavin’s dad King Wallace is murdered and the valuable jewell known as The King’s Ransom is stolen, The Wild Man is captured and proclaimed to be the culprit. Gavin, Philip, and Bryan bravely vow to clear their friend by taking the Knight’s Oath and embarking on individual quests to save The Wild Man. In the end, each one faces their fears and even death in their determination not to fail.

This adventure story is by Cheryl Carpinello.  She loves the Ancient and Medieval Worlds! She's a retired English teacher, and her stories inspire young readers to read more.  Click here to learn more about Cheryl's books. Click here to read an excellent article about Cheryl's writing.