The more you read …

… the more creative (and interesting) you become. I believe that. Hayao Miyazaki seems to, too.

And if you can read in two languages, that’s double the amount of books you have access to!

Hayao Miyazaki Picks His 50 Favorite Children’s Books(From Open Culture)

“Loners and orphans figure prominently, as do talking animals.”

Of course they do!

Have you read any of these books? What are some books you read as a child? What books would you recommend to children (of all ages)?



Do you have a pet … as interesting as this one?

“Do you have a pet?” is one of those getting-to-know-each-other questions I often see in language textbooks. Similar questions like “What kind of movies do you like?” and “What’s your hobby?” can lead to interesting discussions if you make an effort. Or they can fizzle into silence.

If your answer to “Do you have a pet?” is as interesting as this one, though, it might even lead to a great research project.

“When Squirrels Were One of America’s Most Popular Pets” 

(from Atlas Obscura)

I just finished reading a book in which an unusual pet (a carrier pigeon) plays a key role. Well, they’re not just pets — they’re communication tools —  but for several of the characters in the story, a particular pigeon named Love is so much more. (The book is called A General Theory of Oblivion, by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portuguese by Danny Hahn, and I really enjoyed it.)

A few research/discussion questions and writing prompts:

  • Do you know any other unusual pet trends from the past? What kinds of pets did, say, people of Prince Shōtoku’s time, or Murasaki Shikibu’s time have?
  • What about another culture you’re studying? Do people now have unusual pets? Did they in the past?
  • Do you think the future will bring other unusual pet trends?
  • Have you read any good books lately in which animals play a key role?

And then the murders began

Playing with literature … take the first line (or maybe two) of a story and add “And then the murders began” to make any book (or textbook!) better, or at least more entertaining. Well, if you have a bit of a dark sense of humor.

See some examples from The Hook.

I tried with a few books I have around and some famous works:

From Harry Potter, Book 1;

“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much…”

… And then the murders began.

From Don Quixote:

“Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing…”

… And then the murders began.

Something’s amiss with Anne! (from Anne of Green Gables)

” Mrs Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladie’s eardrops, and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place…”

… And then the murders began.

From Alice in Wonderland:

“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the riverbank, and of having nothing to do…”

… And then the murders began.

The best by far is from Genesis (the Bible):

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

… And then the murders began.