Peter and I Agree: Reading Harry Potter to Your Kids Is Magical!

A few days ago, my writer friend Allen Mogol forwarded me a terrific blog entry written by Peter Sagal, hilarious host of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” the NPR quiz show. In it, Peter gushes about the pleasures of reading ALL the Harry Potter books aloud to his daughters (all 4,224 pages!)

Then Peter goes onto say…wait, why am I summarizing Peter’s wonderful words?; you should read them yourself: THE DAD WHO READ.  Anyway, I found his comments so moving that I was inspired to respond, and share my own experiences reading HP to my children. (see Comment #23, which is copied below)

Super blog entry – it made my scar burn with pleasure. I, too, am a dad who loves to read the Potter books to my children. My son Finian is almost nine, and we’re in the middle of the interminable Book 5 (Order of the Phoenix). Reading the stories to him in the early morning and at bedtime is one of the highlights of my day. We have a strict rule that we can’t see the movie of a particular story until we’ve finished the book. It motivates us – and it avoids spoiling any of the surprises. One thing no one has mentioned so far is that the audiobook versions of the Potter series read by actor Jim Dale are friggin’ AMAZING. This is actually the way I experienced the first few books many years ago -before I had kids. Whenever I try to invent voices for the various characters, I am more often channeling my inner Jim Dale rather than lifting vocal quirks from the movie versions. And I totally agree — trying to do Hagrid’s voice is a blast. I’ll leave you with this amusing tidbit — my daughter Olivia (age 5) sometimes joins us when I read the Potter books to her brother. Hilarious the bits she picks up. We were listening to the HAIRSPRAY sound track in the car, and she thought the opening number was “Good Morning, Voldemort” (vs. the actual “Good Morning, Baltimore”).

paper airplane and crumbs

The Germ-Spangled Banner (it’s the microbes turn to sing!)

Last month, I was asked to be the “visiting author” at a local elementary school, to talk about a new kids science book I wrote — MICRO MANIA: A Really Close-Up Look At Bacteria, Bedbugs & The Zillions Of Other Gross Little Creatures That Live In, On & All Around You!

As part of my talk to the 3rd grade classes, I showed a short music video, featuring a lyric I wrote to the tune of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The song is sung from the point of view of all the invisible critters that surround us, many of which help us survive…May it inspire you to wash your hands regularly — but not turn you into a germaphobe!

So, with apologies to Francis Scott Key, whose remains are probably being devoured by billions of bacteria at this very moment, herewith is my ode to “the little guys.”

paper airplane and crumbs

Shaking Things Up in the New Year!

Happy New Year! Hope 2010 has been good to you so far. One of the first things I wrote this year was a parenting essay for Sesame Workshop’s web site. Enjoy! (Check out the new format – which features a photo of the writer and his/her child)
In this article, I share some of my resolutions as a parent for the coming year. One is to have a greater tolerance for my kids’ messes. Below is a picture of my daughter Olivia creating one of her fabulous concoctions, in which she raids our spice shelf. The one pictured here apparently features Old Bay mixed with…heaven knows what else. At least she realized it wasn’t wise to ask me to sample it…
paper airplane and crumbs