The Road to Dendura Teen Fiction & and Single Parenting

Whether at a book signing event or in Wal-Mart I always get
asked the question – “So what is your teen fiction book about?” It’s not an
outrageous question. As a matter of fact it’s quite appropriate. However, most
short stories you will find have one central theme or goal that is easily
summarized. But when you move into the larger stories, you will discover that
often times they have more than one theme/more than one goal. The Road to
Dendura falls into the latter of the two. 
Creed Griffon, my main character, is
a young boy who comes from a single parent family. As a matter of fact, so does
his best friend, Burton Woods. Both are attending an upscale private school on sheer
merit and hard work. Many of their classmates know that neither boy can afford to attend without financial assistance and consequently, they are teased
because of it. 
Therefore, one central theme of The Road to Dendura touches on is the life
of single parent families as well as their struggles. From this approach the concept is introduced –  that although our start in life may not be great, it’s our finish
that truly counts. It’s our finish that often times, we have a say in. 

What is really
important to remember, is that Creed is a normal kid, just like the millions of kids around the world. He is set to do great things but many times falls back on
the fact that he, himself is not great. However, Creed learns that just because he may not feel special doesn’t mean that he isn’t!

Everyone has the opportunity to be great. The chance to do
so is wide and varied. For example, greatness does not come from our situation, but how we
react in the midst of it. Likewise, Creed struggles in the face of adversity but never
quits because he knows his friends are depending on him. 

Furthermore, he discovers he
has magical powers, but this is not truly what makes him special either. I like to
believe that everyone has a special talent whether it is drawing, singing, or
simply having a smile that brightens up a room! Similarly, another thing that makes a person ‘great’ is when they use their gift to help
someone. Correspondingly, one of the things that makes Creed so special is what he does with his magic,
what he will do with his magic…


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Homeschool is not like Little House on the Praire

Some of the most common questions I get asked/emailed revolve around homeschool. Particularly the social and educational aspects. I’ll attempt to briefly cover the educational aspect first – saving the social aspect for later…Homeschool has come a long way, especially in the last few years. 

I think most people’s perceptions of homeschool are that we emulate the Little House on the Prairie stigma… huddled together over meager supplies – doing the best we can with our pittance of crude and outdated information…(I love that show by the way) 

However, contrary to that idea, there are many, many, highly developed, carefully managed, accredited programs that not only keep in line with state run programs, but often surpass them such as: A becka , Connections Academy, or Bridgeway Academy – all of which vary within those guidelines. You simply need to choose the best program for you and your family. 

By no means am I condemning the modern school system or its teachers…Having been in that scenario myself, I understand that teachers are some of the most hardworking people on the planet, hence the site’s free book program.

With that being said, I believe one of the most innovative ideas taught in the homeschool setting are life-skills. We seek to not only educate our children but to provide them with real life circumstances in which to use that knowledge. Therefore, we take it a step further going from book learning to real world circumstances. This is particularly good when you hear your child/teen say, “When will I ever use this!” 

For example: I have a friend who after teaching her children the idea of capitalism, developed a product – made by the entire family – and sold this item out on the street and in the mall for profit. The children not only learned how to market/sell a product, which they’d made themselves…But they had  to learn the back end portion of the business by balancing the books, and buying new materials to keep the business running.

They did quite well and to this day continue to make not only a profit – but have forged a deep understanding within each child of  the learning concepts they wished to impress upon them. 


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Turning Your Kids / Teens Into “Power Readers” (Part 4)

“Here’s a simple but powerful truth that many parents and schools don’t act on: The more kids/teens read, the better readers they become. The best way to get kids and teens reading more is to give them books that they’ll gobble up – and that will make them ask for another. Yes, it’s that simple. 1 + 1 = 2. Kids say the number one reason they don’t read more is that they can’t find books they like. Freedom of choice is a key to getting them motivated and excited. Vampire sagas, comics, manga, books of sports statistics — terrific! — as long as kids are reading.

Should they read on e-tablets like Nook and Kindle? Sure, why not? (I’ll cover that more later) How about rereading a book? Definitely. Set a good reading example by letting your child see you do the very thing you are asking them to do. While you’re at the library letting your children pick out a few books, why don’t you choose a few for yourself? Let your child see you reading a good book now and again. This will prove once and for all that you’re not trying to punish them by asking them to do the same thing.

The Real World Example: Pending your child/teen’s age, have them assist you with reading a recipe, ordering food from a menu or putting together a toy using directions, reading a map on a trip or signing them up to read to younger groups at the library … Use your imagination – this can be a an excellent demonstration of the practicality of reading. Of course the task should be age appropriate but for smaller children, I recommend basic reading board games such as Uncle Wiggly, or the Reader Rabbit series. These methods are fun but once again they place your child in a real world scenario in which they need to utilize reading to play/win the game.

In turn, they realize that reading is not only necessary; it’s a valuable skill that can help them get ahead in the real world. Get involved – Some of you cringed when you read the words – get involved. But the depth of involvement is up to you and what you feel is necessary. Start off easy. The example I’m about to discuss was the same one we used in my home – with the same positive outcome.

However, I thought it best you hear about unbiased results: A fellow teacher’s children were five, seven, and eight. Every night before bedtime, she would read with them for ten to fifteen minutes. At first she did most of the reading. I have to admit it was a sacrifice for her, because for the most part (like the rest of us) she was just dead tired after work. At first they picked simple to read, easy to follow books with lots of pictures on subjects they were interested in – most of which we found at the local library or on eBay.

This same routine was followed all the way up until the day when each child was capable of reading on their own before bedtime. Pending on what type of day they’d had, they were allowed to stay up another fifteen to twenty minutes past bedtime in order to read. In their eyes it was a reward because they got to stay up longer and delve into a good book. In their mother’s eyes it was also rewarding because she finally had her children reading on their own.

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Turning Your Kids / Teens Into “Power Readers” (Part 3)

“Okay,” you might say. “Enough talk! What should I do?” Below are some suggestions I’ve used to help motivate my students, and also information that will help you – the parent. Please understand that this is not a panacea for every reluctant reader. Neither will it work if you only try a suggestion once or twice – repetition is the key – regardless of the age group you are dealing with.

Always remember that you are your own best judge when it comes to your child. Choose the information or suggestions you feel best for your situation. They are designed to inspire and provide fresh ideas to those parents willing to give them a try and if necessary, another, and another, and another…

I’ll start with the bad news first. (And please don’t stone the messenger) Sorry, moms and dads, but it’s your job — not the schools’ — to find books to get your kids reading and to make sure they read them. “How do you do this?” you might ask…Keep reading.

Some schools and school systems are on top of the reading problem. Is yours? Many schools around the country are successful at getting kids reading. That raises the obvious question: How come so many schools aren’t? There are terrific models for success with reluctant readers, but many school systems and state governments need to set aside their “not invented here” and “we have more important problems than education” attitudes. 


The Drop Everything and Read program is a brilliant learning tool used by more than a thousand schools. Drop Everything and Read schools devote one period a day to kids — and their teachers — doing nothing but reading, and mostly reading what they want to. The results can be dramatic.

The Knowledge Is Power schools in Washington require students to read at least 20 books a year and to carry a book with them at all times. Hooray! The Sun Prairie public schools in Wisconsin stopped buying textbooks and used the money to buy children’s trade books. Reading scores improved, because the kids wanted to read. P.S. 8 in the Bronx, New York, has a rotating library of student-published and student-illustrated books. Kids love books written by their peers.

The Battle of the Books Program: America’s Battle of the Books, ABB, is a reading incentive program for students in grades 3rd-12th. Students read books and come together to demonstrate their abilities and test their knowledge of the books they have read. 

The competitions are similar in style to the TV series Family Feud or Whiz Kids styles of competition, but the structure and format of the competitions may vary depending on the needs, resources and personal preferences at various school sites or at the regional/state competition levels. America’s Battle of the Books offers resources to students, parents, schools (public or private), librarians, home schools and international schools.

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