I am delighted to have Fiona Ingram, author of The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, guest posting at my notebook today. My regular readers know how much I value reading with my daughter and Fiona has the same outlook. By the way, Amber and I read Fiona’s book together; look for a review on Feb 7.

How Reading Draws Families Together

By Fiona Ingram

Carol’s motto at the top of her blog ‘The end of reading is not more books but more life’ made me think about how reading can draw families together.

Reading with your child, or sharing activities that involve reading is a wonderful pastime with so many benefits. Not only does this special ‘together time’ strengthen the bond between you and your child, but it enables you to monitor your child’s progress. You’ll see the growth of your child’s vocabulary, awareness of the world, social behavior skills, listening skills, confidence, and many other developmental aspects. However, in a busy day filled with work, chores, ferrying to and from school, where does the frazzled parent find time to capture those few precious moments called ‘free time?’ Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate reading together for the family with not much time to spare.

  • Reading doesn’t always have to involve books. Our world is full of text. Use it! A busy parent can create a fun game in the car where the child reads road signs, billboards, helps with a road map, or spots registration number plates and creates words with the letters.
  • Shopping? The supermarket is a great place for looking for labels, reading labels, helping with the shopping list, and checking the listed ingredients on a tin or packet.
  • Meals are also a fun way to incorporate reading. If you’re busy, have your child read something to you while you’re preparing dinner. This time it can be a book they are currently enjoying, something from the newspaper or their choice of magazine.
  • Encourage your child to express an opinion about what they are reading to you. This will draw your child closer to you because your interest will cement the bond between you. Children love being the focus of their parents’ attention, and especially when they are doing something special with the parent.
  • Kids love baking! Make cookies and candy even more fun by getting your child to read the recipe to you first while you collect all the ingredients required. Then they can continue reading the instructions while you perform the task. Later (while the family is eating the cookies) you can say how much help they were. Praise is vital to your child’s performance. It boosts their confidence and makes them want to do this again.
  • Dining out? Your child can have fun reading the menu and deciding what they want to eat. Having friends over for dinner? Ask your child to create a beautiful illustrated menu to show your guests. Most kids love the opportunity to get out those crayons and coloring pencils.
  • Audio books are a wonderful way of helping your child concentrate and develop listening skills while you’re driving. After a few minutes, stop the tape and ask your child some questions about what they just heard. Make it interesting by asking what they think will happen next, or what they would do in a certain situation. This will help your child engage in the literary process in a fun way.
  • Find time in tiny bites. Don’t think that reading to or with your child involves 60-minute marathons. Just before bed is a special time between parent and child. Just 10-15 minutes every evening is possible, and will reap marvellous rewards.

Whatever you do and however much time you manage to squeeze out of your day for reading with your child will all be beneficial. It’s not the daily amount of time that is so important; it’s the quality of your word time together that counts. Don’t forget to have fun!

About Fiona Ingram

Although Fiona Ingram has been a journalist for the last fifteen years, writing a children’s bookThe Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for her 2 nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into an award-winning children’s book, the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone. The author has already completed the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans.

Although Fiona Ingram does not have children of her own, she has an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is just discovering the joys of reading for pleasure. Fiona’s experiences in teaching her daughter to read has resulted in her interest in child literacy and in creating ways to get kids more interested in reading, as well as helping parents to instil a love of reading in their children.

Naturally, Fiona is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films. She loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). She has travelled widely and fulfilled many of her travel goals.

Fiona’s latest book is the middle grade adventure novel, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab – Book 1 in the Chronicles of the Stone series.

Visit her website at www.fionaingram.com.

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About The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the cousins and their scarab, do the boys realise they are in terrible danger. Dr. Khalid wants the relic at all costs. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr. Khalid kidnaps them. They survive terrifying dangers in a hostile environment (such as a giant cobra, as well as sinking sand), pursued by enemies in their quest to solve the secret of the sacred scarab. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out. They must also learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another!

Young explorers will enjoy an interactive journey through Egypt, following Justin and Adam’s exciting adventure on www.secretofthesacredscarab.com. Readers can also browse the first chapter of the book. Those who survive the journey and manage to translate the Curse of Thoth will be able to read the first chapter in Adam and Justin’s next adventure—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—as they hunt for the Scroll of the Ancients.

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab has received the following awards:

Book Award Nominations & Wins:

  • Finalist Children’s Fiction  USA Next Generation 2009 Indie Book Awards
  • Finalist Juvenile Fiction USA National Best Books 2009 Awards
  • Winner Pre-Teen USA 2009 Readers’ Favorites Awards
  • Number 2 in the USA Children’s & Teens Book Connection Top Ten Favourite Books of 2009 for Kids, Tweens & Teens
  • Winner Silver Medal Teen Fiction 2010 Nautilus Book Awards
  • Finalist Children’s Fiction 2010 International Book Awards
  • Winner Bronze Medal Pre-Teen Fiction 2010 Moonbeam Book Awards
  • Finalist 2011 Rubery Book Awards
  • Winner Gold Award Mystery Pre-Teen 2011 Children’s Literary Classics Awards

Purchase ebook for $2.99 here!


  • Though we don’t have children of our own I have always loved reading with the children who have found their way into our lives. A wonderful sounding read, this sounds lke ideal reading material for my frends daughter who is doing a project on novels set in Egypt.

  • When I taught my foster child to read I found all these creative ways to make her reading fun. It also took me back to my own childhood reading expereinces. Words are wonderful! We need to teach all children how marvellous reading can be. I must have done something right because my daughter is now an avid reader and often chooses her books over a television programme.

  • A goodf book for my grand nephews! My two sons are readers, thank heavens, when they get the time to read though. I used to take them to the library every week when they were in grammar school.

  • These are really some great ideas with the kids, and younger kids at that. 🙂 I use to read to my son all the time when he was younger. And now the school has him reading for grades, he doesn’t enjoy it now. But the nice thing with doing reviews, I drag him into it with me and he seems to have fun. It gives us something to talk about together. 🙂 Great post.

    • Melissa, I have heard parents complain that the school readers can be boring or do not capture their child’s interest. Getting kids to enjoy reading is all about captivating the child and holding their attention. I can suggest you read the school book as well and find something in the book to build on. For example, does the main character enjoy a sport or activity? Is there any mention of interesting places you could research together? Another idea is to encourage your son to build his own library collection. A fabulous way of getting kids to expand their reading tastes is to rent the movie of a suitable book (there are many) or a movie about a topic (eg any pirate movie if you’d like to tackle Treasure Island) and then read the book together. On my web site I have load of articles full of fun ideas for parents and kids to do toether to increase reading skills and enjoyment.

  • Carol

    My daughter has been complaining about the AR program at school. But then I realized that the two AR books she has out right now are the first Harry Potter and The Hobbit. How can you complain about either of those?

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