Did you hear the news?
(1) Brontosaurus may be back! As I discussed in my favorite post on this blog, The Brontosaurus Between Us, it’s been the scientific consensus since 1903 that what had been called Brontosaurus was really an Apatosaurus. That didn’t stop 20th Century books about dinosaurs from including the Brontosaurus. Can you blame them, though? It’s an awesome name for an awesome dinosaur.
One of my favorite books from the late 1980s, Stan and Jan Berenstain’s The Day of the Dinosaur, said:
The giant Brontosaurus
was seventy feet tall.
Its name means ‘thunder lizard.’
It was the biggest one of all.
This reference to Brontosaurus was out-of-date then, but it might not be out-of-date now!
New research suggests that “the original thunder lizard is actually unique enough to resurrect the beloved moniker.” According to one study, there are subtle differences between the bones of the original Brontosaurus and two known species of Apatosaurus. It remains to be seen whether other paleontologists can replicate these results and, if so, whether the scientific community will agree that the subtle differences warrant different names. Still, it’s exciting news.
(2) Moving onto another topic, I’ve decided that I want to learn more about Vincent van Gogh.
So, I downloaded all 900+ pages of Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith’s Van Gogh: The Life. Right now, I’m reading about van Gogh’s childhood, when his evenings ended with a book:
“Far from being a solitary, solipsistic exercise, reading aloud bound the family together and set them apart from the sea of rural Catholic illiteracy that surrounded them. Anna and Dorus [van Gogh’s parents] read to each other and to their children; the older children read to the younger; and, later in life, the children read to their parents. Reading aloud was used to console the sick and distract the worried, as well as to educate and entertain.” [Chapter 2]
“Solipsistic” isn’t a word we see every day.
Sadly, reading aloud isn’t an activity that many of us engage in every day either. Reading is usually just one of many forms of solitary entertainment at home.
In my household, though, my children are still young enough to love listening to the books I read to them.
As I mentioned in Reading Aloud: Ephemeral Entertainment I Wish Would Last Longer, we read together at the bus stop in the morning, before bed at night, and whenever we have downtime on the weekends.
Right now, we’re reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, a book originally published in 1967 that has been an interesting read for my 21st Century children (a subject for a later post).
The books we’ve read together have encouraged age-appropriate discussions about major issues, like homelessness (thanks to Louis Sachar’s Holes) and the Holocaust (thanks to Patricia Polacco’s The Butterfly). They’ve also been the basis for conversations about writing-related topics, like grammar, plot structure, and character development.
(3) On the subject of writing: Earlier this month, I tweeted about an exchange between my twins:
I asked my daughter if she would consider writing down any of those books in her brain.
“I will,” she replied. “When they’re ready.”
I can’t wait! 🙂
(4) Finally, this is my 300th post on this blog! Thanks for reading.