Wednesday, June 29, 2016

WOI Speical - Global Diplomacy Through Student Exchange

Join Virginia S Grenier and World of Ink Network for a special show on Global Diplomacy on June 30, 2016 at 1pm EST - 12 noon CST - 11am MST - 10am PST.

Listen live or on demand at

Today's Show:
FLAG is a Not-for-Profit Tax Exempt Organization, established in 1989. FLAG is Granted as an Official Sponsor Designated by the United States Department of State since 1990. Accepted for Listing in C.S.I.E.T.'s Advisory List.

FLAG's vision is to promote global understanding and world peace by providing families and youngsters from across the globe with the best intercultural experience friendship can buy.

Our Guests Will Be:
Mazi Cunha, FLAG's founder and a former Brazilian exchange student, he founded FlAG along with his American host mother (since retired). Mazi, along with current Executive Director Marc Moralez, has a dedication and passion for student exchange that is evident in FLAG's ongoing evolution of programs, services and charitable missions.

Molly Wieber, National Director of Outreach & Placement, FLAGship and Sponsored Programs will also be joining the show.

You can learn more about FLAG at their website

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As always you can listen to any of our shows live or on demand, at any time you'd like here on Blog Talk Radio, Facebook or iTunes. If you would like to chat with the host or our guests today, you can call in, the phone number is (714) 242-5259 or post your questions and comments in our live chatroom or on Facebook or Twitter using #WorldofInk.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Tips for Parents to get Kids into Regular Summer Reading Routine

More than 50 million children in the U.S. have started their summer vacations and their annual break from homework, tests and assignments. Unfortunately, many of them will stop reading while having fun in the sun and experts say parents need to make sharing books a part of summer vacation and establish regular reading routines for their children.

Raising A Reader, a national nonprofit organization that provides resources and guidance for families to implement home-based literacy routines, has several tips for parents to make reading a part of the summer break.

“Summer reading should be all about the parent-child experience,” said Gabrielle Miller, Ed.D., president and CEO of Raising A Reader. “Rather than having it be a chore, or a list of must-read books, summer is a terrific opportunity to build family reading experiences. Whether it’s as simple as reading with children so they can see how much adults love reading, or visiting places and doing activities tied to a book, there are a host of ways reading can help children enjoy the summer and be ready to start school in the fall.”

Here are some of the Raising A Reader tips for parents:
  • Reading often gets lost in the shuffle of summer activities such as camp, sports and vacation travel. Schedule a regular time to share books with your child and establish a regular routine to ensure reading doesn’t become a low priority and has the same importance as other activities.
  • It’s OK to let your child read e-books if he or she is comfortable using a tablet, but remember, whether it’s an e-book or a print book -- especially for young children -- the most important thing is to spend time together sharing the book. It’s about the experience, not the technology.
  • Make it fun. Have your child come up with a different ending to a story, play ‘what if’ with the characters or the setting, or read the book from end to beginning. Come up with fun ways to engage your child beyond the actual reading of the book.
  • Let your child choose. Books are great, but so are comic books, magazines and even educational websites such as National Geographic Kids or The Discovery Channel. Let them chase their interests and they’ll be reading more than they realize.
  • Create an outdoor reading area so the whole family can enjoy the summer weather and not feel stuck inside. Children generally read indoors, so being outdoors will create a new environment for enjoying a book and boost a child’s enthusiasm for reading.
  • Connect with other families to share books and arrange reading playdates. You can even set up a Facebook group to stay in touch and share ideas, swap books and make plans.
  • Write a book with your child about them, your family, their favorite foods or toy, their friends or whatever interests them most. Your child can draw pictures or use actual photos. If you’re worried that your child spends too much time watching TV or playing video games, have him or her tell you or write a story about their favorite TV show or video game. You can also use one of many templates available to create and print the book on your computer.
  • Invite the family pet to join the book sharing experience. Even if your child can’t read yet, have her ‘read’ the story to you and the pet. Children who can read will be able to practice their skills and children who have not yet learned to read will begin to think of themselves as ‘readers’ which is very important to lifelong learning.
  • Find books that are centered on summer activities he or she enjoys. If your child likes to go horseback riding, for example, find books about horses or stories with horses as an integral part of the plot. This will give a child a welcome change from the types of books read during the school year and better complement their summer.
  • If you are taking a trip, read books about your destination with your child before you leave. Do some research with them on the location and find things in the area they want to do while visiting. And don’t forget to play “I Spy” with road signs or license plates along the way.
  • If you are taking your kids somewhere for the day, such as a pool, the beach, a picnic or the zoo, pack a book to share and have a reading break or two during day. After an hour or so in the water, your child may enjoy 30 minutes of reading on a comfortable chair or even floating on a raft.
  • Create a summer reading challenge with family members or connect to your public library’s summer reading challenge activities. When your child meets the challenge make sure there is time to talk about the book, share the story with others and read the next book.
Raising A Reader is a 501c3 charitable organization dedicated to helping families develop, practice and maintain literacy habits for children ages 0-8 that are critical for a child’s success in school and in life. The program is evidence-based, with more than 32 independent evaluations showing that Raising A Reader significantly improves language and literacy skills, cognitive development, communication and comprehension skills, school readiness and social competence. Raising A Reader is implemented through a network of community partners that comprise more than 2,500 locations across the country including public school systems, libraries, afterschool programs, community agencies and other organizations both public and private. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, Raising A Reader was founded in 1999 and has served more than 1.25 million families nationwide. 

More information is available at, @RARnational (Twitter) and RaisingAReaderNational (Facebook).

Friday, April 22, 2016

Award-Winning Nature Photographer Offers Ten Wonderful Ways to Connect Children and Nature

Environmental writer and photographer David FitzSimmons is on a mission to connect children with nature. With his naturalist wife and three children of their own—not to mention a job that gets him into the wild frequently—he’s an expert on immersing kids in the natural world.

1 Child with Grasshopper

“Starting local is the key,” says FitzSimmons. “Learn about what’s in your own backyard.” While many kids get excited about lions and tigers and giraffes and zebras, learning about what is right around your house is the best way to get kids to feel connected with their surroundings.

FitzSimmons offers his “top ten” list, great things to do with kids in nature.

1.   Take a walk. Getting out into nature can be as simple was walking in your own back yard, down the street, or in a local park. Nature is everywhere. Don’t think that you have to travel to a national park to see ‘nature’ all around you. Look around you. Even if you live in the city, focus on nature components: weeds along the side of your garage, ants on the sidewalk, and cloud formations in the sky. If you do head out to a state or national park, ask for a kid-friendly trail, one that is safe, not too long, and interesting. Look for exciting habitats, geology, and wildlife, such as ponds, creeks, caves, herds of deer, or flocks of wild turkeys.

07-09-23 Sarah and Dave Browns Lake Bog Boardwalk 1b

2.   Birdwatching. Birds are everywhere. If you have a pair or two of binoculars, great! Spot some feathered friends and enjoy their behavior. No binoculars, no problem! Put up a birdfeeder right outside your window and watch songbirds come to you. Local nature centers and gardening stores typically carry birdfeeders and birdseed, and they can offer advice on types of feeders, where to put them, and when to fill them. Knowing all the birds by name is not necessary for kids to have fun, but consider getting a bird book, such as The Young Birder's Guide to Birds of North America, to help them (and you) learn names and more natural history.

3 Child with Anole at Environmetal Learning Center

3.   Visit a nature center. There are over well over 1,500 nature centers in the United States. Find one close to you and explore its various trails, wetlands, prairies, beaches, and more. Most nature centers have planned activities for children and families, and many give young ones opportunities to hold local animals. In addition to nature centers, visit zoos, aquariums, aviaries, botanical gardens, and arboretums.

3 Child with Salamander at Night

4.   Explore a wetland. Kids love water, so take them exploring in a variety of wetlands, from ponds and creeks to marshes and swamps. In the springtime, explore vernal pools—temporary wetlands used by amphibians for egg-laying. And, if you live near the ocean, head for the beach. Wear waders in cooler weather or shorts and sandals when it’s warmer. Try catching little critters with dip nets, and study them closely with a magnifying glass.

5.   Plant something. Kids love to watch things grow. Buy a few seeds or seedlings, and you’re your kids get dirty planting. A window box is a great place to watch flowers unfurl up-close. Or find a spot in your backyard for a tree. Observe it throughout the seasons, measuring it yearly. If you have space for a garden, plant some vegetables. Let your kids choose some of the plants and plan where to plant them. Nothing beats a youngster pulling a carrot right out of the ground, washing it off, and chowing down!

Father and Son

6.   Visit a park. Parks are among kids favorite locations. From playground parks to county, state, and national parks, these places are synonymous with fun. Children and Nature guru Richard Louv, who coined the term “nature deficit disorder,” encourages free play, children experiencing nature without the structure of activities such as sports and schoolwork. When you visit a park, give your kids plenty of chances to explore and experience without lots of rules.

6 Girl Covered in Mud 

7.   Go creek stompin’. No kid can resist the chance to stomp in a puddle. Rather than bridle such enthusiasm, find a shallow creek in the summer and go creek stompin’. Wear bathing suits and old tennis shoes or sandals. Then get ‘em wet! Turn over rocks, looking for crayfish and salamanders. And have a contest to see who can skip stones the best.

07-05-11 Sarah Dave Olsen SNP 16x9

8.   Go geocaching. What isn’t to like about geocaching? Finding the cache—often a small container hidden under a rock, around a tree, or in other cool locations—requires a GPS device and a bit of skill, but, when you find the cache, typically there are mini-treasures that kids can swap. If you read about caches ahead of time, you can find many in spectacular locations, such as promontories or hilltops, and near natural treasures, such as giant trees or monoliths.

8 Dad with Girls and Book

9.   Read a book about nature. Eventually the kids have to go to bed. Why not settle them down by reading a few pages about nature. Plenty of picture books tell tales of animals and their adventures in nature. In the past, such works of fiction dominated the shelves of bookstores and libraries. Today, excellent nonfiction books focused on nature are proliferating. Not sure which books are best? Ask a children’s librarian or a naturalist for suggestions.

Praying Mantis Photography

10. Take pictures of nature and share them! While out in nature, take lots of pictures. Use whatever you have, from cell phones to point-and-shoots to D-SLRs. Take pictures of the scenery and wildlife, sunrises and sunsets, habitats and geology, and try to include your children in many of the shots. But don’t stop there: when you get home, share your images. The more you post, the more you will encourage other families to get out and explore nature, too.

So, what are you waiting for? Take your kids outside to explore. And don’t forget to grab a few photos along the way—You’ll treasure how you captured their giant smiles as they got good and dirty and get well-connected with nature.

For more information, visit

About the Author -- DAVID FITZSIMMONS

David FitzSimmons is an award-winning free-lance photographer and writer. David photographs and writes for various magazines, including Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography, Professional Photographer, and Shutterbug. His 100+ calendar credits include numerous titles by BrownTrout and Barnes & Noble. David’s publications include Animals of Ohio’s Ponds and Vernal Pools, Curious Critters, Curious Critter Volume Two, Curious Critters Marine, Curious Critters Ohio, Curious Critters Michigan, Curious Critters Florida (April 2016), Curious Critters Illinois (April 2016), Curious Critters Indiana (April 2016), Curious Critters Missouri (April 2016), Curious Critters Texas (April 2016), and Salamander Dance (Spring 2016).

Before becoming a freelance author, David taught for over twenty years, first as high school English teacher and then as a university professor, having instructed at Ashland University, Ohio State University, and Cornell University. He holds a Ph.D. in English from Ohio State, with a specialty in narrative theory—investigating the components of storytelling—something that influences his photography and writing.

One of seven Sigma Pro photographers in North America, David presents seminars and workshops to a wide variety of audiences, from public school, college, and university classes to photography groups and civic organizations. His works have been exhibited at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, the National Center for Nature Photography, and the Telluride Photo Festival.

Learn more about David at  

David FitzSimmons books include:

Salamander Dance
David FitzSimmons
Illustrations by Michael DiGiorgio

List $17.99 Hardcover, Color illustrations throughout, 11 in. x 9.5 in., 32 pp. ISBN 978-1-936607-00-6
Wild Iris Publishing, April 2016, Children’s Nonfiction, Ages 2-8 offers more information about the book, sample pages, additional resources, media coverage, and more.


Curious Critters Marine
David FitzSimmons

List $17.99 Hardcover, Color illustrations throughout, 11 in. x 9.5 in., 32 pp. ISBN 978-1-936607-72-3
Wild Iris Publishing, April 2015, Children’s Nonfiction, Ages 2-8  displays more Curious Critters photos and provides information about how FitzSimmons photographed the animals, as well as insight about how he writes his books.


Curious Critters Volume Two
David FitzSimmons

List $17.99 Hardcover, Color illustrations throughout, 11 in. x 9.5 in., 32 pp. ISBN 978-1-936607-70-9
Wild Iris Publishing, February 2014, Children’s Nonfiction, Ages 2-8


Curious Critters
by David FitzSimmons

List $17.99 Hardcover, Color illustrations throughout, 11 in. x 9.5 in., 32 pp. ISBN 978-1-936607-69-3
Wild Iris Publishing, November 2011, Children’s Nonfiction, Ages 2-8

Curious Critters Volume One has sold over 100,000 copies and won six national book awards, including the coveted Independent Book Publishers Association’s Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016