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6 Summer Reading Tips for You and Your Child

"The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can't." —Mark Twain

Summer is a great time to slow down and connect with your kids. Stop laughing, I'm serious! You can slow down! Whether it's a vacation or evenings at home, Summer is a great time to connect with your child through reading.

Out and About with Trees ...and Books?

This is a guest post by Ave Mulhern, NFI's Director of the National Responsible Fatherhood Capacity Building Initiative. She shares her memories of exploring the great outdoors with her dad as a child as part of NFI's campaign to help Dads "Get Out: Hit the Great Outdoors with Your Kids This Summer."

Being in the great outdoors was not a big part of my upbringing. I tend to be more comfortable in the great indoors.

That being said, I do remember some wonderful times being out and about with my father who had a love of books and trees. I am the sixth child of a family of eight. Five boys first, then three girls - I am the first girl. In a way, we were like two separate families. The wild, older boys were all car fanatics and they worked in my fathers business, a service station. When we girls came along, my dad was obviously an older, kinder and gentler version of a father. Don’t get me wrong, he was always a bit of a grump and in his later years, he was called (to his face) “Grumps.” This probably was due to a disappointing life for a bright and scholarly man on his way to becoming an attorney who ended up owning a service station fixing peoples cars. Life happens, but with this latter, gentler, girl family he was able to leave the grease behind, for a bit, and have an attentive audience of three to spend time with and share his love of learning - and we believed he knew just about everything.

My father Cornelius (aka Connie) was an avid reader. I can barely muster up a mental image of him not reading a book. He loved history books, business and real estate books, biographies, and nature books. In the summer, he literally took us to the library every single week – and if we didn't bicker in the car, we might get an ice cream at Chernoff’s Pharmacy. He took us to quirky old used bookstores and he owned a lot of books. One collection was the little Golden Field Guides - you know, those little pocket sized nature books titled Birds of North America, Rocks and Minerals, and SeaShells of North America? I suppose they have versions for other areas than North America? But the one I remember most is Trees of North America. I still have it around here somewhere.

Dad would drive to nearby Morris Arboretum armed with the little tree book and he would send us off to identify certain trees. I once successfully spotted a Beech tree based on his vivid description of how the enormous and magnificent branches grow out and down to touch the ground like a giant 70-foot-wide shrub - but underneath, those low branches create a sort of “house” or “fort” that you could play in. He reminded us that these trees must be planted with enough foresight to ensure the proper setting and enough room to mature into their magnificence. Dad drove us around town showing us where the township built the sidewalk around a 200-year-old oak tree preserving it for the future. We saw distinctive Horse Chestnut trees with spring flowers and fall conkers (nuts), the toxic but valuable Black Walnut trees, the beautiful star-shaped leaves of the Sweet Gum tree and the really wretched smelling fruit of the prehistoric female Gingko tree. (The male version doesn’t stink!)

To this day, there are two specimens of those magnificent beech trees, properly placed mind you, on the front lawn of a beautiful estate home nearby. I never pass by them without thinking fondly of my dad and our somewhat-outdoor adventures. My own children were not as interested as my sisters and I – but right now I am looking for that little Trees of North America field guidebook so I can take it with me to Wisconsin to share with our grandchildren. Hey, is Wisconsin considered North America?

Guest Post: Bonding With Books

This is a guest post from daddy blogger Chris Singer, a stay-at-home dad in Lansing, MI. You can find him on twitter @tessasdad and at http://sahdinlansing.com/

12,000 Quotes, Yet One Too Few...

Since I do a fair amount of speaking on fatherhood in churches these days, I was delighted to come across a book called, “12,000 Religious Quotations.” To make things even better, it was on sale for $14.95, nearly ½ off the list price.



I was especially pleased when I read the back cover, which boasted:

  • An indispensable reference work that puts expressive statements on religion at your finger tips.
  • Nearly 12,000 quotes on 200 subjects from 2,500 different sources.
  • These quotations—some inspiring, a few controversial, many humorous, others penetrating—reflect a diversity of opinions, Christian and non-Christian.
  • Thought-provoking quotes that will enliven sermons, speeches, or reports.



Good stuff.



Well, I got the book home and quickly flipped to the section that was sure to be bursting with some inspiring quotes about fathers or fatherhood. I found the word “fate” and turn the page and found “fear…” Wait a minute. (I quickly said my ABCs…) Shouldn't father or a least fatherhood be listed? But it’s not. Maybe there is something listed under Dad, Daddy, or…Papa. Nope, nope and nope. Nothing. 12,000 quotes and not a single one on fathers.



So, then I looked up mothers. Yep, about 30 quotes with gems like:



The sweetest sound to mortal given

Are heard in Mother, Home and Heaven.

-William Goldsmith Brown



Now, I love mothers. I have one. I am married to one. And, some of my best friends are mothers. But, it seems that this author has forgotten biology 101. Without fathers, there are no mothers. (You can quote me on that one…)



I did find one quote in the “error” section that captured my sentiments.



Shall error in the round of time

Still father Truth?

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson



Let’s hope so…



Now, where did I put that darn receipt? To err is human, to return is divine.

That's Cosmic!

Frank Cottrell Boyce's latest book, Cosmic, is a must-read for dads and kids. One of NFI's board members, Chip Flaherty, sent it to me. He is with Walden Media, whose publishing house, Walden Pond Press, released the book here in the states on January 19 (it was first released in the UK about a year ago).

When I first scanned the book, I was not sure what the heck the connection was to NFI and fatherhood. I left it sitting on my desk for a month or so. But once I finally started it, I could not put it down. It was funny, touching, imaginative, and one of the best celebrations of fatherhood I have seen in a long time.

It is the story of an 11-year-old boy who is often mistaken for an adult. His unusual size and appearance lead him to many wild adventures, not the least of which is a trip to the moon as a chaperon to a group of tweens. During this flight in space, he learns a lot about what being a dad means, and how important his own dad is to him.

All I can say is JUST READ IT! You will not regret it, nor will your kids. A great book to read together.

You can purchase it on Amazon.com here.

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