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Listening to the Silence

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The Owl Killers
Karen Maitland
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Daniel James Brown
Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell

Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids

Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids - Rebecca P. Cohen I picked this book up on a whim during one of our weekly trips to Barnes & Noble for story time. I needed some inspiration. The winter has been long and cold. For weeks at a stretch the only time we would be outside was to walk from our home to our car, from the car to our destination. I'm a library person who doesn't re-read, so I buy very few of my books in physical format, but I knew this was a reference book, it wouldn't do any good to check-it out from the library and read it, only to return it in three weeks.

All I can say is that I'm really glad this little book caught my eye. The author is herself the mother of two boys and like me felt like they just weren't getting enough time out of doors. So she made a resolution to spend 15 minutes outside, every day, no matter what the temperature and whether. And then she wrote this book for me. I mean for other families who felt like they were stuck in the same rut. She has divided the book first by season, and then further by month. For each month she has one activity listed for each day. Many of them revolve around her passion for gardening and ideas on how to involve the children. Hopefully someday I'll have somewhere to put a garden, but as an apartment dweller who has a balcony that gets no sun, those ideas will have to wait. Many of the rest of the ideas involved such things as taking walks, exploring the natural world, studying the night sky, learning about animals and plants, picnicking, and playing games together. Some of the ideas were simple - sit under a small tree and think small thoughts then sit under a big tree and think big thoughts and then discuss with everyone else (good for a humid summer day when you don't want to be moving around a lot). Others were inventive, solar s'mores without the use of a campfire comes to mind. Not to mention the ones I just plain wouldn't have thought of, like letting the big kids take their homework outside.

However, It is the games I'm most grateful for, though I enjoyed many of her other offerings as well. Growing up on the edge of town in a large family on a large piece of property, we rarely had friends over and rarely spent time in the company of others. I never learned many of these game such as jump the river, ghost in the graveyard, faucet tag (or toilet tag if you ask her kids), crocodile, sharks and minnows. I know that with three boys all of these games will get lots of play.

This book was every thing I expected it to be and more. I know that I will be reaching for it time after time when I need a little push or inspiration. It has also inspired me to resolve to get my own family out doors every day, even if just for 15 minutes.