Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Stories

The Christmas, Hanukkah and other holiday seasons offer a challenge to writers. It's important to get stories written, but how can they get written when shopping, baking and other tasks need to get done?

Now is the time to formulate your 2011 holiday stories. Many publications accept Christmas stories a year before. The ideas will be fresh in your mind. If anything unusual happens, any surprises, any humorous experience, now is the time to write those down.

Here's a check list:

* Write about the hustle/bustle of getting ready for the holiday
* Write about visiting family during the holiday
* Write about what the holiday is like away from home
* Write about who is absent
* Write about your ideal Christmas, Hanukkah or whatever your favorite holiday is

You can come up with many more ideas. Then write the story and send it to the publication you know will publish it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

www.ed2go.com

One of the best ways to supplement your education is by taking online courses, and one of the best sites that offers a myriad of diverse, continuing education courses is http://www.ed2go.com/. I have taken five courses from the site and enjoyed them, learned what I set out to learn and had a wonderful time completing them--and it's on a time schedule I set for myself.

I started with Introduction to Photoshop, moved to Power Point, then Quicken, Intermediate Word and finally Romance Writing Secrets. The format for each course is the same: 12 lessons over six weeks with lessons available on Wednesdays and Fridays. Each lesson includes a quiz, which can be taken as many times as you like. You are given two weeks to complete the final exam at the end of the course; however, it can only be taken once. A certificate of completion used to be mailed to your home, but after I submitted the final exam for Romance Writing Secrets, which ended Nov. 26, I was able to print out the Certificate of Completion immediately. You do not earn college credits for the courses, but some employers may accept the Certificate of Completion as proof of continuing your education.

Ed2go.com divides its courses into four categories: Career and Professional; Computers and Technology; Writing and Publishing; and Personal Development. Within each category are dozens of courses. Want Accounting? Criminal Law? GED Preparation? French, Italian or Spanish? A host of Microsoft Suite courses are offered. Take a look at the selections, and you'll want to sign up right away. Cost of courses varies, but I don't think they are deal breakers.

Ed2go.com is associated with 1,800 colleges and universities across the country. When you sign up, you find the college closest to you that is a participating school. Brunswick Community College in Supply, N.C., the only higher education school in Brunswick County, participates.
Southeastern Community College in Whiteville, N.C., Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, N.C. and University of North Carolina at Wilmington are also participating schools. I'm from Joliet, IL, and Joliet Junior College participates. It won't be hard to find a school near you.

Ed2go.com is a way to enrich your life and learning. Just writing this blog inspired me to sign up for at least three more courses: Introduction to Excel, Photography Secrets and Get Funny, which would have me in writing humor.

Ed2go truly makes learning fun.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Baked Salmon on Thanksgiving Day

I remember years ago when a friend of mine asked if I thought people would accept salmon as their Thanksgiving dinner instead of the traditional turkey. My first thought was that she was crazy. What citizen of the United States would want salmon instead of turkey? At the least, serve beef!

I hesitated and my blank stare prompted her to say that many people don't like turkey, and she had this huge salmon in her freezer that her husband had caught on a fishing trip that summer.

I told her I'd call the guests and find out from them if they would accept the nontraditional on the most traditional dinner day in America. She mentioned to a few guests before Turkey Day that she was serving salmon. Some gagged, but she went ahead and baked the "king of fish" anyway. She really wanted to get rid of the thing that took up too much room in her freezer.

After Thanksgiving, she said the people liked the change of menu, so if anyone is looking for a nontraditional entree such as salmon, go to Patricia Gambarelli's blog at www.patriciagambarelli.blogspot.com and get one of Pat's favorite recipes: "Baked Salmon with a Cranberry Crust."

What's great about the recipe is that it has the traditional Thanksgiving Day twist with the cranberry addition. It sounds easy and fast, so for the nontraditional celebrating a tradition, it might be the perfect entree.

To get more of what Pat's about, go to www.patriciagambarelli.com.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sunset Beach Bridge Walk

What a great time it was Nov. 1 when hundreds of people showed up for the Sunset Beach Bridge Walk. With the sun shining and the temperature in the mid-sixties, Sunset Cyclists and Cape Fear Cyclists led the gathering across the bridge. Young mothers pushed strollers, residents had their dogs on leashes, people talked on their cell phones and dozens of people came to the railing to take pictures.

What I especially like about the bridge is that it's wide! It has two bicycle lanes (which, I'm sure, will also attract walkers) and two vehicular traffic lanes. It rises high enough for people to see the marsh, Ocean Isle Beach and its high-rise building, boats on the Intracoastal Waterway and vistas that delight the imagination.

I got to the top of the bridge, which rises from 62-65 feet in the air and extends for a half mile, as the pontoon bridge was opening for water traffic on the Intracoastal. It was providential that we saw the sight in its waning days. Feelings are still divided about the new $32 million bridge vs. the 52-year-old pontoon bridge.

"We're tried of waiting in the traffic," said Nancy Sneska of Carolina Shores, N.C. At the same time, "We're anxious to see what they do about the parking."

"It'll be nice to get over here, but I would prefer the old bridge because it's historic. That's the charm and beauty of that bridge," added Pencie Crews of Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.

Jackie Headman and Pat Sheridan of Sunset Beach said they were happy with having a new bridge. "I'm thrilled," Pat said.

"As much as we know you have to progress, it's a sad time, too," Jackie said.

Chris Wilson of Sunset Beach is promoting the preservation of the pontoon bridge. Those who want to learn more or are in favor of the preservation can go to www.theoldbridge.org for more information.

No day or time is set as yet for the official opening of the high-rise bridge, but I am sure some people will be cheering and others will be crying.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Scrapbooking

What a phenomenal gathering I went to today. It was called "Scraptacular," a weekend retreat for people who scrapbook as a hobby. This bi-annual "crop" was in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and was hosted by Rayann Culp, owner of Scrapbooks by the Sea in Pawleys Island, and Linn Phillips, owner of Scrapbook Concepts in Florence, S.C. Eunice Alexander of MeMe's Scraps & Invitations in Hartsville. S.C. and Laurie Capps of Charleston Scrapbook Company in Summerville, S.C. were also there.

My daughter-in-law, Meghan, has scrapbooking as a hobby. She's given us several books, and we love them. It's a perfect way to be creative and to preserve heart-felt memories. I was covering the event for my story on scrapbooking. It's a huge topic. There's traditional, digital and hybrid scrapbooking. Then there's card making and other paper items to make, such as "pillow boxes," which are used for gift cards, cash or jewelry.

I label all my pictures and put them in photo albums, but what I do is primitive compared to scrapbookers. They use patterned, themed and colored paper. They add yarn, letters in all sizes and fonts and any other appropriate item. Most of the scrapbookers give the books as gifts. It's worth looking into as a hobby.

To read my story go to http://www.thesunnews.com/ and type in my name: Jo Ann Mathews. That's the fastest way to get the story--but you have to wait. It won't appear until Nov. 4.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Brunswick County, N.C. in October

Although the vacationers have gone home, lots of activity continues in Brunswick County, N.C. On Oct. 1 the new Sunset Beach Bridge, named Mannon C. Gore Bridge after the founder of Sunset Beach, was dedicated. The town held its Sunset at Sunset festival Oct. 2, and on Oct. 4 the town council voted to preserve the bridge tender's house that sat atop the old bridge.

Oct. 15 is the grand opening of Ocean Isle Beach Park off Old Georgetown Road adjacent to Ocean Ridge Plantation. Then on Oct. 16 and 17 the 30th annual North Carolina Oyster Festival is held at Ocean Isle Beach. It begins Oct. 16 with a walk/race at 7 a.m. The festivities continue all day with arts and crafts vendors, entertainment and activities for children. It culminates with the Oyster Shucking contest from 4-6 p.m. The highlight Oct. 17 is the Oyster Stew Cook-off at noon.

The 9th annual Communities in Schools gala takes place Oct. 21. This black tie optional event was the first ever annual ultra-formal celebration in Brunswick County. It raises more than $125,000 each year. All proceeds go to programs for children in Brunswick County Schools.

The 3rd annual Wag Shag gets going Oct. 24 in the tent at Sea Trail. What a treat it is to see the dogs dressed in costumes and performing for the audience. This year features Halloween costumes. No dogs are unruly, and owners make sure thier pets are friendly to all those at the big party.

Brunswick County is an exciting place to live.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My new Facebook page

I am in the process of developing a new Facebook page for business contacts. My page is Writer Jo Ann Mathews in Brunswick County, N.C. It's rather long, but it says what I do. It covers a lot of bases. I write for three area publications: The Sun News daily newspaper and Coastal Business Life magazine, both out of Myrtle Beach, S.C., and South Brunswick Magazine out of Leland, N.C.

I know the area, and I know Brunswick County, so anyone with questions about the politics, beaches, restaurants, events, attractions, stores, and any other facet of the County can contact me. If I can't readily provide the information, I can find someone who can.

I've interviewed politicians, the movers and shakers, the average residents, transplanted residents and those in-between. I love writing about Brunswick and Horry counties, and I love what I'm doing. Come and visit me at Facebook.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sunset River Marketplace, Calabash, N.C.

When rains come to Brunswick County, North Carolina, people don’t go to the beach or swim in the ocean. They seek other diversions. One alternative is Sunset River Marketplace, a 10,000 square-foot art gallery filled with art works in every medium. Jewelry, pottery, oils, watercolors. Name the medium and the gallery has it. Not only does it display works by local and regional artists, it offers workshops, presentations on a multitude of topics and discussions by local authors. It’s a place that locals frequent. I seldom walk out of there without buying something. I love the place!!

►Coffee with the Local Authors
Unless a holiday interferes with the schedule or some other circumstance prevents it, the first Thursday of the month from September through April, three or four writers form a panel and discuss their books and answer audience questions. Sometimes it’s a single author who explains writing style, talks about getting started in writing or discusses a pertinent topic on writing. The event is free to all who attend.

►Creative Exchange
The second Wednesday of each month throughout the year when schedules permit, the gallery hosts a presentation on a fascinating topic such as efficient packing for travel, scrapbooking and fashion jewelry. December always has a holiday theme. Cost of the event is $5, which includes lunch.

► Workshops
Artist Sterling Edwards presents “Acrylic Abstracts” from September 20-24. Edwards is a watercolorist with a unique style that art lovers respect.

►Exhibitions
The gallery highlights artists and their works inside the front door. Past displays include “Watercolors with a Transparent Touch” by Richard Staat and “Barns of the American Landscape,” a group exhibit.

►Classes
Want to learn to paint in watercolor? Oils? What about learning pottery? A variety of classes are offered, including those for children.

►Custom Framing
No matter the size or style, the gallery has thousands of choices for framing and matting. I’ve had several paintings framed there. The results are great.

Owner Ginny Lassiter is friendly and knowledgeable. Check out the gallery at 10283 Beach Drive, Calabash, N.C. 28467, at http://www.sunsetrivermarketplace.com/ or call 910-575-5999.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Inlet View Bar & Grill, Shallotte Point, Shallotte, N.C. in Brunswick County

One of the first questions newcomers to Brunswick County, N.C. ask is where the best restaurants are, specifically seafood restaurants. In 2009 Inlet View Bar & Grill at the end of Village Point Road in Shallotte, N.C. reopened after a five-year hiatus. The results are astounding!
The d├ęcor is simple with lots of wood and huge windows that overlook the Intracoastal Waterway with all the splendor a seascape offers. Patrons can visit the upstairs bar and go out on the massive deck to enjoy the outdoors and the view. They can eat on the bar level if they wish, but the main dining room is one floor down. An elevator assists those who don’t want to tackle the steps.
The owners buy local seafood as often and as much as possible. Shrimp, soft shell crab, clams, oysters and flounder are the popular catches. The light breading on the generous portions of fried seafood is sweet and tender. The hush puppies have a special taste that makes them irresistible. One basket is never enough.
Start with bacon-wrapped scallops for $8.95. Other than the market priced items, the most expensive selection on the menu is crab legs at $18.95. A house salad is only $4.25 while a Caesar salad is $4.50, but top them with shrimp, tuna or mahi mahi and it jumps to $11.99.
Grilled chicken ($13.95), hamburger steak ($9.95) and ribeye steak ($15.95) are the only non-seafood dinners, but BLT, cheeseburger, ham & cheese, hamburger and grilled chicken breast are on the menu. The “kiddie” menu has the always popular grilled cheese, chicken fingers and hot dog. For the young seafood eaters there is fried shrimp.
I choose flounder, and it was yummy. My dinner companions chose shellfish in all its forms and said it was the best they had ever eaten. It could have been the view, the conversation or just the ambiance. We enjoyed every second of our time there.
Look for information at http://www.inletview.com/ or give the restaurant a call at 910-754-6233.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ingram Planetarium, Sunset Beach, N.C.

Another unique attraction often overlooked when visiting Brunswick County, N.C. is Ingram Planetarium, a few miles south of Museum of Coastal Carolina just off Sunset Boulevard, aka Route 179, in Sunset Beach. Both facilities lie under the umbrella of Ocean Isle Museum Foundation, Inc., which supports them.

Ingram Planetarium enjoys the luxury of being one of the few planetariums around the world to have SciDome HD, a system that projects around three million pixels on the sky dome. With ImmersaVision from Spitz, Inc. visitors see 360 degrees of viewing. No matter where they sit, nothing is blocking their view. In addition, it contains 500 million objects and is updated on a regular basis. Technicians can show 88 constellations in various ways.

Mark Jankowski, senior technician at Ingram, said he can outline the stars six different ways, show the Big Dipper, connect the dots and display the overlay of a bear. He takes viewers into space and makes them feel as if they are really there. Want to go to Jupiter, Saturn or Mars? Just make the request.

Shows at the planetarium begin on the hour starting at 1 with “Astronaut.” At 2 the program is “Oasis in Space,” 3 is “Zula Patrol: Under the Weather” and 4 is “Seven Wonders.” Free family programs are also available through Aug. 19 in the Paul Dennis Science Hall. Tuesdays feature “Navigating the Seas.” Wednesdays have “Turtle Talk” and Thursdays offer “Sun Fun” in which families look through a solar telescope and discover sun and participate in sun-related activities.

The planetarium also offers musical laser shows at 5 and 6 p.m. through Aug. 19. On Tuesdays at 5, catch “Laser Beatles.” At 7 watch “Laser Arena Rock.” On Wednesdays at 5 see “Laser Metallica” and at 6 is “Pink Floyd: The Wall.” It is recommended that young children not see this one. On Thursdays at 5 “Laser Beatles” returns, and at 6 is “Laser Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon.”

The planetarium is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12:30- 7; on Fridays and Saturdays from 12:30 to 4. Cost per show is $8 for those 17-59 and $6 for those from 3-16 and those 60+. People can find more information at www.ingramplanetarium.org, e-mail personnel at infor@ingramplanetarium.org or call 910-575-0033.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

sightseeing in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.

I’m familiar with a vacation spot that thousands of people visit each year: Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. Visitors to this seaside paradise come primarily to lay on the beach for the perfect suntan, but this town offers much more. Right on the island is the Museum of Coastal Carolina. The museum has special programs throughout the week during the summer.

Each summer it varies, so now in 2010 on Mondays children and their families learn how to tie five different knots. They receive a knot-tying guide and rope to take home. On Tuesdays visitors learn to identify fish in the museum’s Ocean Reef Gallery. On Wednesdays children learn oceanfront safety. In addition, an Ocean Isle Beach fireman drives a fire truck to the museum, talks of fire safety, tells what firemen wear and what they do and gives visitors a tour of the truck. Wednesday evenings people walk to two haunted locations and learn about ghosts in the area. Thursdays children learn about sharks and dig for sharks’ teeth. On Thursday nights Matthew Bookout brings his reptiles and snakes and tells all about them. Fridays are Touch Tank feeding days. Visitors learn which fish swim in the tank and watch a docent feed the fish. They learn to identify shells and can bring their own shells to be identified.

These afternoon programs start at 3:30 while the evening programs are at 7. The museum opens at 10. The programs are free but require admission to the museum. Costs range from $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students and $4 for those 3-5. The phone of the museum is 910-579-1016; e-mail is info@museumofcc.org and its Web site is www.museumofcc.org.

Friday nights are concert nights in the Museum parking lot beginning at 6:30. A different band plays each week. A full schedule is at www.brunswickcountync.gov. Under departments, choose Parks and Recreation. At that page choose Community Events. The entire Brunswick County schedule of concerts and movies is listed there. I will be highlighting a different attraction in the Ocean Isle Beach area throughout the summer.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Devil in the White City, Part III

Besides the fascinating story of the development of the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and the corollary story of serial killer H.H. Holmes, aka Herman Mudgett, what impressed me the most about this book is the detail Eric Larson includes. His research extends beyond what most readers expect. An example of this is when he explains that the Exposition’s hospital treated 11,602 patients. He follows that declaration with the number of people treated for specific conditions, such as diarrhea, constipation, etc. He names a total of eight conditions. All dental problems are grouped together in one category separate from those mentioned above.

Another example of being specific is the details of the August 16, 1893, Midway Ball. He tells about the various people who attended and what they wore, about the dances and who led them. He lists the entire menu. Larson ties the story together at the end by explaining how the Exposition concludes and how Holmes meets his demise.

The unity of the story is complete when Larson finishes as he started—April 14, 1912—the sailing across the Atlantic of the Titanic coming to America and the Olympic going to England. Most of the architects and directors involved with the Exposition had passed on by then; however, Daniel Burnham was a passenger on the Olympic and Frank Millet, a painter from New York who was responsible for the “White City” and “Whitewash Gang” terms being applied to the Exposition’s buildings, was a passenger on the Titanic.

The reader can skip parts that include too many details yet get the core of the story. Those interested in writing nonfiction can learn how to mesh story and detail by reading this book.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Devil in the White City, Part II

I'm almost halfway through the book, and I'm horrified by Dr. H.H. Holmes sadistic, cold-blooded killings. I still haven't learned what his motives are for killing women. Eric Larson's description of him is similar to the descriptions of Ted Bundy--a charmer who is irresistible to women but a serial killer nonetheless. So far Holmes has killed at least two women and a child. Another woman left Chicago abruptly, unwilling to say why except she didn't want to talk about Holmes. She went home to Iowa and died there. I suspect Holmes poisoned her. He was a trained physician and knew how to kill without using weapons.
The Columbian Exposition--actually, its proper title is World's Columbian Exposition--is progressing faster than I thought it could. The number of buildings and their detailed construction defies credibility, but Burnham pushed ahead, determined to show the world that America, specifically Chicago, could accomplish the established goals.
I am impressed with some of the names associated with the Exposition--Thomas Edison, Elias Disney and Frederick Law Olmstead, landscape designer of New York's Central Park and Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.
This book contains biography, history, suspense, murder and intrigue. I've talked to some people who didn't want to read all the details of the developing Exposition, but as the story unfolds, I don't want to skip one word!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Devil in the White City, Part I

I grew up in the Chicago area--Joliet, Ill. to be exact--and I learned that many innovations were introduced at the Columbian Exposition, which commemorated Christopher Columbus' discovery of America 400 years earlier. Erik Larson's "The Devil in the White City" casts a perspective on the Exposition that I never realized existed.
Larson starts with the Exposition Universelle of 1889 in Paris, which set the wheels in motion for the United States to top that World's Fair. Architect Daniel Burnham, who is credited with not only the design of Chicago but for preserving land throughout the Chicago area to be used for recreation--hiking, picnicking and other family activities, is at the core of this book as is his partner, John Wellborn Root. Another figure, Herman Mudgett aka Dr. H.H. Holmes, is a person whose name I never heard before. He's the antagonist in juxtaposition to Burnham, Root, et.al., the heroes in the story.
The book reads like a novel, but it's all true, and what truth Larson provides!
Be assured that Holmes, who copied his name presumably from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective, Sherlock Holmes, is not in search of justice for the downtrodden or misunderstood.
He may be classified as a psychopath, but he is likable. He charms women and they fall under his spell. As I continue my journey through this book, I hope to uncover the reason for his behavior and how he managed to ignore the value of life.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Genes, environment and success

“The Help,” a novel by Kathryn Stockett, and “Outliers,” a nonfiction book by Malcolm Gladwell that he subtitled “the Story of Success,” strikes me as being based on the same premise. That is, genes and environment determine success.
“The Help” chronicles the plight of blacks in the South, specifically Jackson, Mississippi, during the 1960s. The only obstacle to a black’s success was skin color, which, of course, includes genetics and environment. Slavery had been abolished, but the majority of southern whites treated blacks as slaves. Blacks in the North didn’t have such severe restrictions as their southern counterparts although they experienced discrimination as well. Blacks were never given credit for their intelligence and never rated on the same scale. The courage of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., James Meredith, the first black student to enter University of Mississippi, Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama, and the four men who sat at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C. helped change blacks’ status in America. However, many whites believed blacks couldn’t achieve the success of whites—simply because their skin color was dark.
In “Outliers” Gladwell tells how children born into an environment with multiple opportunities have a better chance at success. If a child is associated with an accomplished musician, for example, that child has a greater chance of developing an interest in music and becoming a musician. If someone is surrounded by diplomats, that person learns the skills diplomats possess.
Gladwell also gives examples of how those born “at the right time” have a greater chance of success. Consider the cut-off dates for children’s sports’ teams and entrance into school. A child born Sept. 1 when the cut-off date is Aug. 30 has a full year ahead of anyone born Aug. 30. He or she will be bigger, stronger and probably more mature.
What bothers me about Gladwell’s theory is that he doesn’t give credit to people who achieve high goals when they are faced with several disadvantages. Anyone born in the projects, surrounded by poverty, gangs and illiteracy, must work harder to achieve commendable goals, but with dreams and goals in his or her heart, that person can achieve success. Those without supportive parents, teachers or friends, can ignore the negative and set their sights on high goals.
What is unfortunate about Stockett’s story is that it happened and discrimination still exists in America. What is unfortunate about Gladwell’s book is that people may believe him.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Writing Contests

Writing contests are a great way to hone your skills and read what are considered award-winning works. I entered a short fiction contest and enjoyed the challenge of following the rules. The topic had to be on love--love of any kind, e.g., a friend, the environment, knitting, whatever the writer decided, and could not exceed 275 words. I chose love of a pet. The reward I received was being named a finalist.

I have the piece here. Let me know what you think.

Love Bite

Connie reached to pet the tiny Boston terrier but withdrew when Tilda snapped at her outstretched fingers.
“She’s frightened,” the breeder said, clutching Tilda closer to her chest. “She’s the runt of the litter. She’s been overlooked for six months.”
“My two preschoolers are boys. They want an active boy dog,” Connie countered.
“Tilda can be an active dog for boys. She just needs some encouragement.”
Connie reached again but Tilda stuck her nose in the air and turned her head away, brushing Connie’s fingers in the process. Connie smacked her lips and frowned then pointed to a lounging pup in the far corner of the room. “How about that one?”
“You don’t want Henry. He doesn’t move, not even to eat. He’s the laziest dog I’ve ever owned.” Henry rested his head in his paws and closed his eyes.
“I see a Boston running in the backyard.”
“Hazel doesn’t like people. That’s why she’s back there. She’s left alone. I leave her food on the porch so she doesn’t have to get close to people.”
“That one by the front door looks friendly, healthy and happy,” Connie answered.
“You don’t want Pete. He eats everything—photographs, computer keyboards, toilet paper. Not a good match. Tilda eats very little, loves people and is active enough for boys.” She petted Tilda, who turned to face Connie.
“I’m—” Connie fanned her hands.
At that moment, Tilda jumped from the breeder’s arms into Connie’s extended hands and licked the clutching fingers as if to heal them.
Startled, Connie hugged the dog close. “How much?” she asked, dipping her chin to caress Tilda’s furry spine.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Literacy and "Precious"

The importance of literacy attracted my attention once again after I read "Push," the book by Sapphire that was made into the movie, "Precious." It's hard to believe that people in America today are illiterate or functionally illiterate, but according to statistics at education-portal.com, 50 million Americans are unable to read above the fourth or fifth grade level, and 42 million can't read at all. What's worse, at least two million Americans are added to that number each year.


The importance of reading in today's society doesn't need any explanation. Rather than criticizing parents and teachers for this debacle, let's see how relatives and friends can help those they know who can't read.


I came across Literacy Center Education Network at literacycenter.net. It's a good place to start because it's comprehensive and gives visitors choices. Want to learn colors? What about uppercase and lowercase letters? Shapes? Those are all there. Besides, it gives a choice of languages--English, Spanish, German and French--thus, it serves a dual purpose for those who want to learn a new language.

Claireece Precious Jones, the character in the book, is a special case that will astound readers, but she's one of the millions who can't read. I'll do some more searching and see what other Web sites people can visit that might help someone they know learn to read.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Web reconstruction

While my Web site is under reconstruction, I will suspend writing on my blog. Thanks for your patience.