October is a magic month for learning. Here are some ideas to spark your child's learning skills as the fall season gets under way.
Read spooky Halloween stories:
Turn out the lights and kindle your child's imagination by reading aloud, holding a large flashlight focused on the page. Get in the mood by wearing a costume. This atmosphere will help create good listeners.
* One Halloween Night by Mark Teague
* Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet by Diane de Groat
* Dorrie and the Haunted House by Patricia Coombs
* In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz
* Arthur's Halloween by Marc Brown
Trick or treat for UNICEF:
The United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF) helps children around the world who are in need of food, medicine or clothing. Some children who go trick or treating accompanied by an adult often take the trademark orange UNICEF collection box with them to collect small change from their neighbors on this day. These boxes are available from Pier One stores or by calling 800-252-5437. For other great Halloween ideas, click on www. unicefusa.org / trickortreat / parents.html. Here you'll find tips for safely trick or treating, UNICEF and Halloween posters to print out and color, and party tips for the perfect monster bash.
With all those jack-o'-lanterns aglow, October also provides a good opportunity to review fire prevention with your child. Discuss your house plan, visit a firehouse and talk to a firefighter. Let your child draw a picture of your house or apartment and the best escape route. Review Stop, Drop, Roll, and teach important functional words like Exit. Some books about our heroes in uniform are:
* Fireman Small: Fire Down Below by Wong Herbert Yee
* I'm Going To Be a Fire Fighter by Edith Kunhardt
* Dot the Fire Dog by Lisa Desimini
Have a happy and safe Halloween!
-- Susan Rapp
Village Reading Center
A question for young philosophers
The second annual Kids Philosophy Slam poses a thought-provoking question, given the events of Sept. 11: Is the nature of humankind good or evil? Kids from grades K-12 have a chance to answer and give their reasons in 500 words or less, double-spaced, preferably typed. Teachers are encouraged to submit essays from their classes. The school that submits the most entries with the best overall scores wins the designation of "The most philosophical school in America." A panel will judge the entries and select finalists. Each grade from first through 12th will have a winner and runner-up. The top four students from grades 9-12 will then meet for the Philosophy Slam Championship and debate the question before a live audience in Lanesboro, Minn., on April 20, 2002.
Each student must include his or her name, age, grade, school, school address and phone number at the top of each essay. Send to: Kids Philosophy Slam, P.O Box 406, Lanesboro MN 55949. The deadline is Jan. 21. Entries may also be submitted online at: www.philosophyslam.org.
-- Athima Chansanchai
New York Times Best Sellers: Children's Paperback Books
Editor's Note: The children's best-seller list has three categories -- picture books, chapter books, and paperbacks -- which are published in rotation, one category per week.
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (weeks on list: 5)
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (101)
3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (58)
4. Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman by Dav Pilkey (8)
5. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (2)
6. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (16)
7. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz (4)
8. Corduroy's Best Halloween Ever! By Lisa McCue (6)
9. Surprise! Surprise! by Megan Stine (1)
10. The Case of the Screaming Scarecrow by Judy Katschke (5)
The Sun invites readers to send in tips about encouraging children to read, and we will print them on this page or on sunspot.net, our place on the Internet. Please include your name, town and daytime phone number. Send suggestions by fax to 410-783-2519; by e-mail to email@example.com; or by mail to Reading by 9 Parent Tips, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.