Reader for Life

MA Blogger: Brenda Bernstorf

“If you’re a reader for life, then you’re a learner for life, you are the definition of what I consider to be a dangerous individual, which is somebody who doesn’t have to take anybody else’s word for it.”

-LeVar Burton from “A Legacy of Literacy”

If you are not quite sure who LeVar Burton is – think “Reading Rainbow” or “Kunta Kinte” from the miniseries “Roots.” Burton is a literacy advocate. Burton says that he’s a reader because it helps him expand himself.  This is far beyond learning to read and the ability to read this is reader for life that makes a learner for life mindset.

I can identify with Burton’s position on reading because I too am a reader for life and a learner for life. I read both fiction and nonfiction. And through the years I’ve learned an amazing plethora of things I find interesting. How do you know if what we read is true? In fiction, the story, even if it’s historical fiction, is usually fiction with some true facts thrown in. Some books I have recently found interesting are on topics like the history of food, the history of pots, pans, and cooking and eating utensils (Check out: Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson and A History of Food by Toussaint-Samat). There are several books on the history of salt and the history of language that I have found fascinating too.

How do you know that what you are reading is true? The concept of scholarly validation is one that I have encountered in my doctoral program. It’s not enough to read an article and use that in research. It must be an article that has been tested and validated by other respected researchers. It must be scholarly or peer reviewed.

This concept is often ignored. As a reader and a learner, I have to stop and truly think about some of the statistics I read and dig deeper to see if that poll or that statistic has been validated by other sources.  The same goes for headlines! Headlines are meant to grab your attention but may be totally opposite to the content of the article that follows…so, I have to remind myself that headlines are not news and are not necessarily trustworthy.

Reading is good. Learning is better. Verify facts for trustworthy information.

National Date Nut Bread Day

MA Blogger: Brenda Bernstorf

               Yeah, really, Date Nut Bread Day! You may have noticed that many “National” holidays relate to food but have no official sanction from Congress or state legislatures. It seems that food holidays are often called “national” for some reason.

So one website said to celebrate with pumpkin zucchini bread. Seriously? How about making date nut bread?

Do a google or Bing search and you will find many reliable recipes. Bake in a loaf or a coffee can – the round loaf is very traditional.

Happy eating.

Look on the Bright Side Day

MA Blogger: Brenda Bernstorf

               It is also Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Looking on the bright side, optimism, can be a little difficult when the daylight hours are so short. The good news is that now the days will become longer!

It is not hard to imagine how today became National Flashlight Day – we are surely looking for more light on this, the shortest day of the year.

Play with the flashlight today and look on the bright side: the days will lengthen. The sun will come out and stay a little longer.

Go Caroling Day

MA Blogger: Brenda Bernstorf

               I didn’t realize there was an “official day” for caroling but December 20 is it. I’ve done this with youth groups, with professional singers, and with adult choirs. One year, a group of went office to office in the building I worked in.  Always fun – especially if you have people who can sing the parts.

Here we go a-caroling!

Look for an Evergreen Day

MA Blogger: Brenda Bernstorf

               Over the weekend we missed two important days. December 17 was National Maple Syrup Day. We are talking about the real stuff – not ordinary pancake syrup – but real maple syrup.

December 18 was Bake Cookies Day. That’s an easy one to celebrate this time of year. I challenge you to make a homemade batch – that your mother or grandmother made. My all-time favorite recipe was my mother’s recipe but was usually made by my grandmother. It is a terrific recipe for soft molasses cookies. Not only are they fabulous, they bring back so many wonderful memories of “helping” my grandmother in the kitchen.

Today is Look for an Evergreen Day!  When only a real tree will do…today is the day to go looking for it. Many people have their tree up but if you don’t this might be the day to do it.

National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

MA Blogger: Brenda Bernstorf

               Although there is no official record of this special day, it is worthy of celebration! What’s your favorite chocolate? Light? Dark? Milk? Plain, peanut filled, or caramel filled? Truffles or turtles? The melt in your mouth kind or the melt in your hand kind? Thin mint cookies or mint-filled chocolates? Hershey? Lindt? Ghirardelli? Godiva? Toblerone? Mars? Oreos or chocolate spritz? Snickers or butterfingers? The list is long.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz

“The 12-step chocolate program: NEVER BE MORE THAN 12 STEPS AWAY FROM CHOCOLATE!”
― Terry Moore

Enjoy some chocolate!


Bill of Rights Day

MA Blogger: Brenda Bernstorf

The Bill of Rights are amendments to the U.S. Constitution that protect individual rights. When the Constitution was signed the signers had the understanding that a Bill of Rights would be added later. By December 15, 1791, 10 amendments were added to the Constitution.

Amendment 1 – Prohibits Congress from establishing a religion and people have freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition

Amendment 2 – Right to keep and bear arms

Amendment 3 – Restricts the quartering of soldiers during peacetime

Amendment 4 – Prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, required search warrants based on probable cause.

Amendment 5 – Set the rules for indictment by grand jury and eminent domain, protects the rights of due process, prohibits self-incrimination and double jeopardy.

Amendment 6 – protects the right to a fair and speedy public trial by jury.

Amendment 7 – Protects the right to trial by jury in certain civil cases.

Amendment 8 – Prohibits excessive fines and excessive bail, as well as cruel and unusual punishment.

Amendment 9 – Protects rights not written in the Constitution.

Amendment 10 – Protects rights of the individuals not given to the federal government or the state government.

There are seventeen more amendments to the Constitution but the first ten are considered the Bill of Rights. Among those seventeen additional amendments Congress with ratification from at least 38 states abolished slavery, defined citizenship, protects the right to vote for all citizens regardless of race or gender, permits an income tax, prohibited manufacturing and/or sale of alcohol – then later repealed this amendment, plus a few more.

International Monkey Day

MA Blogger: Brenda Bernstorf

               No, it’s not an official national or international holiday but it developed from an art student who drew a monkey on his friend’s calendar.  Enjoy and celebrate monkeys – the animal kind, not the human kind.  There are 260 species of monkeys from which to choose. It might be a great day to make banana nut bread and read Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow with your children.

It is also National Bouillabaisse Day. For those who are unfamiliar with this – it is a tasty Mediterranean fish stew or soup.  There are no official records that make this a national holiday but don’t let that stop you from making the soup!

Violin Day

MA Blogger: Brenda Bernstorf

               Not much is known about Violin Day. It may have originated out of a holiday music concert. May I recommend listening to the J.S. Bach Concerto for 2 Violins, Strings & Continuo in D minor – you can find it on Pandora Baroque Radio?

Learning to play the violin takes effort and diligence. I had a sixth grade teacher who made it so uncomfortable for me to leave for strings class that I gave up the violin. I played piano and convinced my mother that piano was enough. I regret that now. There is something powerful and marvelous about playing a string instrument well. Historically, the first violin was created in the 1530s but other bowed string instruments date back to the 9th century.

Anita Collins did a wonderful TED talk about music and the brain. Here’s the web address: