Need a gift idea for your niece’s fifth birthday (that you RSVPed for last year)? Or maybe looking at picture books helps you relax? Either way, here are three children’s titles, all out in June, that caught my eye in the mail pile:
Life by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
Life offers advice to children from animals – the wild geese,
the rabbit in the field – who have weathered good times and bad.
Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Just in time for the Fourth of July, Blue Sky White Stars explores symbols of America, from a sunny baseball game to a spaceship
at Cape Canaveral.
Renato and The Lion by Barbara DiLorenzo
Set in World War II Florence, Italy, Renato and The Lion tells the story of a boy, his favorite piazza and the stone lion statue there that makes him feel safe. His family is forced to flee to America because of the war, but decades later, when he finally makes it back, the statue is still standing.
- Intern Sydnee
Life images courtesy of Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Blue Sky, White Stars images courtesy of Penguin Random House;
Renato and The Lion images courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.
One of my majors is english, so I do a lot of reading. Having to read an entire novel each week is rough, but it really helped me refine my annotating methods. Here is how I annotate fiction and nonfiction books!
1. MAKE USE OF THE BLANK PAGES IN THE FRONT OF THE BOOK
I’m someone who has a lot of trouble with keeping track of characters, especially if there are a lot of them. To remedy this, I use one of the blank pages in the front of the book to make a list of each of the characters, and sometimes I’ll write something about them so I can place a name to a character. Here’s a quick example:
2. USE HIGHLIGHTERS AND ASSIGN MEANING TO THE COLORS
If you aren’t someone who likes to actually write in the book, you can obviously use different colored post-its for this instead. I typically use three different colors when highlighting, and this is what the colors mean for me:
Pink - Character introductions: I use pink to highlight any time a character is introduced for the first time. You will often be asked to write about characters’ personalities, so this makes it easier to find descriptions of characters later.
Green - Important plot points: I use green to highlight any important things that happen that I think I’ll need to look back at.
Yellow - quotes: I use yellow for important quotes, or anything that is important but doesn’t fit any other category.
Extra - Purple: After you finish reading a book, your teacher will usually point out important passages too. When this happens, I use purple to highlight those sections to denote that my professor found them important, because this probably means they’re worth talking about in an essay.
3. WRITE A SUMMARY AT THE END OF EACH CHAPTER
To make sure you really understood what you just read, it is a good idea to write down a brief summary on the last page of the chapter. This helps with remembering what you read, and it also makes it much easier to go back and find events in the plot that you want to talk about.
4. POST-ITS FOR ESSAY IDEAS
I’ve pretty much had to write an essay on virtually every book I’ve had to read in both high school and college, so I’ve made a habit of using post it notes to bookmark pages with content that would be helpful in making arguments in an essay. Make a short note on the post it so you remember what point you were planning on making with that passage. *This is especially helpful for timed essays during which you’re allowed to use the book as a resource. That way, you can have essentially your entire argument planned out ahead of time.
I use similar methods when annotating nonfiction, but instead of paying attention to plot points, I try to focus on main arguments and ideas.
1. USE A BLANK PAGE FOR SUMMARIZING
Like with fiction, I like to use a blank page at the front of the book to summarize different sections of the book. This makes it easy to remember all the main ideas without having to flip back through the entire book.
2. HIGHLIGHTING AND WRITING
When I read nonfiction, I care much less about color-coding my annotations. I typically just use whatever I have around me at the time. What really matters about nonfiction is making sure you really understand the content, so I write down summaries in the margins on nearly every other page.
As you can see, there’s a lot of different colors going on. They mean nothing. Honestly, my yellow highlighter was just going dead so I was going back and forth between that and my purple one. The red pen was the one I was using during my initial read-through, and the second time I read these pages, I just happened to have a blue pen, so don’t worry about the colors.
Anyway, what is really important about this is my short summaries in the margins. Doing this not only helps you dismantle the arguments being made, but it also forces you to become an active reader.
3. ACTIVE READING
Like i just mentioned, engaging with the book by writing summaries frequently makes you an active reader. It is difficult to get anything out of a book if you aren’t actively engaging with the material, especially if it’s nonfiction. To fully understand the ideas being presented in the book, you need to find a way to actively engage with it. You can do this by using my ‘writing summaries in the margins’ method, or you can do whatever it is that makes you really focus on the content of the book. Anyone can zone out and look at words on a page, but if you want that A, you need to really dive into the book!