Category Archives: Others

Animal companion

Animal sidekicks, which is your favourite?

Hello Wottareaders! This is an article about animal sidekicks. We all love to imagine the lives of the protagonists of the stories we read every day, don’t we? It lets our imagination fly to unsuspected limits. In many of the stories we read, these protagonists are accompanied by animal creatures. Companions whom we take a special affection because they accompany the main character throughout their story helping them in their journey.

It is funny how these characters do not even need to talk in order to earn our affection, isn’t it? We love them because of their loyalty, because of how they take care of their master. These animal sidekicks sometimes are adorable or also funny, this is why companies like Disney use them so often.

Which animal sidekicks am I talking about?

Hedwig- Harry Potter series

I’m referring to such endearing characters as Hedwig, the snowy owl who accompanies Harry Potter throughout his adventure in Hogwarts and, lately, trying to defeat the Dark Lord. Before continuing, if you like Harry Potter you might want to check these books similar to Harry Potter.

Hedwig’s character plays an important role in Harry’s life throughout all the books in the saga. It is a white female owl and is Harry’s 11th birthday present from Hagrid.Throughout his adventure, Hedwig gives Harry messages and packages as well as his company and affection. She shows her devotion for Harry biting his ear or fingers affectionately.

Along the books and films, Hedwig can be seen most of the time on Harry’s arm or shoulder when she’s not resting on her cage or in the Hogwarts owlery. Since the beginning, there is a strong connection between the owl and Harry that is conveyed to us throughout the plot.

Although sometimes she may be angry with Harry, for example, when he left her locked up while Harry is at the Dursleys’ home, thus preventing Harry from exchanging messages with his friends.

Unfortunately,

Spoiler alert
Hedwig’s fate is painful for the reader as she is finally murdered during the Battle over Little Whinging. Here the owl is a camouflaged hero as it saves Hagrid’s life and makes the reader suffer from losing a character so dear to Harry and for us.

Speaking of Harry Potter, did you hear about the prequel story written on a postcard that got stolen?

Guenhwyvar –  The Legend of Drizzt

Another example of an animal sidekick is Guenhwyvar, a black panther who belongs to the universe of Forgotten Realms. This panther belongs to Drizzt Do’Urden, this being lives in an astral plane and accesses the material plane when called by his master using an onyx statuette. If you are willing to read the Legend of Drizzt click here for the proper reading order!

Guenhwyvar was created by the magician elf Anders Beltgarden and was a gift for an elf swordsman. In the story, it is not known how it finally reaches the Dark Antipode where it ends up in the hands of Drizzt Do’Urden finally getting after defeating the evil Masoj Hun’ett.

In the battle, Guenhwyvar is a very important element for his team, formed by Drizzt Do’Urden, Catti-brie, Bruenor, Wulfgar, and Regis.  As he saves the lives of his companions many times. Thanks to his adventures and perfect rapport, Guenhwyvar comes to consider Drizzt as a friend and takes care of and protects him as such.

Ghost – A song of Ice and Fire

It is worth mentioning the appearance of  the six direwolves in A Song of Ice and Fire (known as Game of Thrones if you watch the TV show). These large, strong looking wolves appear when Lord Eddard Stark encounters a dead direwolf wolf with the direwolf cubs around it. Initially, the lives of these wolves are in danger as they consider killing them, but finally, thanks to the intervention of Jon Snow, the little direwolves survive and the five legitimate children of the Stark family adopt them. If you are willing to read Game of Thrones, you better check this article first.

When all of them are distributed, a sixth white pup appears, which is finally adopted by Jon SNow. We talk as many of you know about Ghost which takes on a leading role throughout history. This last direwolf is very different from the others because it is an albino direwolf with red eyes, the smallest of the litter. Ghost accompanies John to the Wall and throughout his adventures in the North helping him to survive while protecting others as Sam Tarly, companion of the Guard of the Night.

Even though Jon is

Spoiler alert
killed by the mutineers of the Nightwatch, Ghost always stood with Jon’s lifeless body which expresses Ghost’s fidelity and love for his master.

 

Gwaihir- The Lord of The Rings

Speaking of wolves (or wargs in Lord of The Rings), we cannot forget to speak about Gwaihir. This is the eagle that appears in the saga of the British writer J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, which appears for the first time to help and rescue the Company of Thorin, Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf from the attack of the wargs.

This noble eagle descends from Thorondor and is known as the king of eagles in the Third Age of the Sun.

After the attack of the wargs, Gwaihir also participated in the Battle of the Five Armies at the foot of the Lone Mountain.  In this battle he led all the Eagles of the Cloudy Mountains, and fought in favor of Dwarves, Men, and Elves, having a relevant role in that battle.

Gwaihir acquires an important role in helping Gandalf the Grey, who does not hesitate to ask for help his eagle friend.  Gwaihir saves Gandalf from being held captive by Saruman in the Orthanc tower in Isengard as well as helping him to get out of the peak of Zirak-Zigil after the Battle with the Balrog. If you weren’t aware of some of these things you might like to take a look at this article LOTR book vs movie.

 

Surely you know many animal sidekicks like the previous ones! Do not hesitate to comment and tell us your favorite  animal companions!

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Girl reading on computer

Reading websites for children (make them love reading)

  
The Internet has become an important part of our lives, we usually use it for our entertainment, but it also can make our life easier if we know how to take advantage of it. For those who have kids and want to encourage them reading, there are a lot of online platforms that will help your children in order to improve their skills. So for all those parents who want their children to love books and reading this article is for you!A nice example of this are i-Ready and Reading Plus, online interactive programs that lots of schools use as a supplement for their classes.

i-Ready  Will help your children to improve not only their reading but also their math skills. First of all, your kids will have to do a test (the i-Ready Diagnostic) which will determine their academic skills in math and Reading. This will allow this online learning program to identify your children strengths and weaknesses. With such information, this website will design individualized programs to ensure their progress and learning. But of course, in order to use this program, the school were your children study must purchase it.

The same happens with Reading Plus, a similar website to i-Ready which focuses on reading comprehension and improving reading efficiency. This one is also available only for school subscriptions.

But what if your children’s school do not purchase these interactive learning programs?

Are there any options to help our children improve their reading?

Yes, there are quite a lot of options. Let’s see some of them:

Raz kids

Raz kids has an appealing web design for children, with a nice robot kid as a mascot. This reading site is used in schools, but it also can be used by families. The website has a marker which indicates how many books have been read on their website, and it gets continuously refreshed as kids keep reading new books. While writing this article the marker was already in more than 8 billion books read!

You can sign up for free and get 15 days of free trial, as you will see the first question they ask is “Are you signing up for a classroom or home?” so you only have to click that option and let your kid start reading for free. This is a way to see if your children like this way of learning thus if your school doesn’t have a Raz Kids subscription you can purchase it.

This website has a lot of useful features. Children can listen to the book recordings in order to gain fluency. Their books are leveled in 29 levels of difficulty and also have a test reading comprehension. If that was not enough Raz kids has its own free mobile app which provides access to these books and their quizzes. It also has a record function which allows you to check their fluency as they progress through all the 29 levels of difficulty.

Reading Eggs

This website has the slogan “Where children learn to read”, and it has a point since this website also provides reading online lessons. This website helps kids who struggle with their reading and also focuses a lot on making them learn while having fun which is essential. This interactive website is suitable for children aged two to thirteen years.

As it happens with Raz kids, you will have to purchase this subscription, but you can have a free two-week trial. Reading Eggs has already ten million users worldwide, so if you wanna join you them you have different subscription choices. You can get an All-access twelve-month subscription for 47.95 pounds (which is 62.77 dollars in case you were wondering). This full access provides not reading learning full also math classes. Lots of their books are illustrated so it makes the young get more entertained.

Reading Eggs also provides free apps for their subscribers, available for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. These also include interactive touch activities which are ideal for the youngest.

Read theory

Unlike the two websites previously suggested, Read Theory is free and available for all. You only have to sign up and create an account which your child will be able to use in order to learn.

This website is really easy to use, kids will make a pretest after which depending on the results the following material will adjust to his level. This way kids can improve starting from an achievable level of difficulty. In the same way, the reading has a lot of levels and adjusts the difficulty. Depending on the child’s progression, if he or she received a low score the next materials will be easier.

The kids can do online quizzes after their readings, depending on how they did they will earn points which Will help them to motivate. These points are reflected in their progress level, so they can see how they are gradually improving.

Readworks

Readworks is another free website on which parents can also register for an account. While signing up you only have to complete your profile and choose the role of “Parent/Guardian” in the drop-down menu.

This website was created in order to solve America’s reading comprehension. As a result, more than one million teachers use Readworks to improve their teaching and learning.

By logging, you can access their free library, their content and lots of useful tools. This site has a lot of interesting features such as ebooks, audio versions or even Step reads (Less complex versions of an original article).

In addition to the digital experience, Readworks allows you to print the articles vocabulary and questions. This way, kids can keep improving even if the computer is shut off.

Hope this article was useful for both parents and your kids. If your kids already fancy reading what about these Books for kids suggestions?

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Reading on the street

Alternatives to printed books: Apps and other ways of reading!

Electronic books (E-books) have changed the way we read, downloading any App and start reading. More and more people choose to read on their screens using lots of different apps rather than using paper books. Online bookstores have seen their demand for ebooks grow and few authors would decide to publish their book only as a paper book. Why would they? Traditional printed book sales are dropping, we have a lot of alternatives to reading on paper and some of them are really handy.

Why this change in our habits?

The rise of eBooks is due to several factors. Firstly, they are cheaper: you don’t have to pay for paper or covers (they are also more environmentally friendly). Just think about it, you can even download free books from a lot of websites, there are free novels even on Amazon or you can read lots of stories online available for free on the Internet! (like this one written by the same Stephen King)

E-books also don’t take up space beyond a few kilobytes on a small device, which is very important for people who travel or can’t afford to have tons of bookshelves They’re also easier to transport: you can download and carry hundreds of books in a small device, such as a Kindle or an iPad, and read them anywhere. Finally, many eReaders and applications provide some useful tools: instant dictionary search, quick annotations, underlining, you can translate words into multiple languages and even add multimedia links or search on Wikipedia.

Of course, paper books will always have their place. Lots of us love the aesthetical pleasure books bring, we love to collect them on our shelves and we enjoy the feeling of the paper. Or even, we love their smell! I guess there is some weird romance here too…
It’s true that you lose all of this when you read using an alternative to paper books. But, for the vast majority of readers, the benefits far outweigh this. Downloading books is part of our future, so it’s good to know all the possible alternatives to printed books.

 What are the main alternatives to paper books?

Perhaps the best known are electronic readers (or Ereaders), which can hold hundreds of ebooks. They can be used anywhere, as they do not need to be wifi or be connected to electricity. In addition, they are specifically designed to read on them, so the screen does not damage your sight no matter how much it is used. Their main drawback is that they are somewhat expensive for “only reading” and although they are light, they occupy a space that must be taken into account.

Another alternative is the mobile phone, no matter if Android or iOs. We take it with us everywhere and they have a great capacity to accumulate books. We can read anywhere without worrying about taking extra items with us. There is also no extra cost while you can do other things like playing video games, listen to music or watch videos. The main drawback is that it is not optimized as a reading device, so it is not always comfortable to read on it. In addition, the direct light of the screen may cause eye damage and also, due to the size of most of the cellphones, they can cause many eye-related symptoms like dry eyes, fatigue or blurred vision.

Finally, there are those who choose to read on a tablet or iPad. They are more comfortable to use because they are larger, and, like a mobile phone, they can be used for more things than reading at no extra cost. The main disadvantage is, apart from the screen light, that they are not comfortable to take everywhere. They are not the best choice, for example, on a trip or on public transport. This may depend on the size of your tablet though, but if too small, they may damage your eyes as cellphones.

The best apps for reading

There are tons of free apps you can download for reading, here are some suggestions:

If you use Amazon as your primary bookstore, the Kindle app is a must. It synchronizes all your Amazon books and has a direct link to the store, which is appreciated. It’s also very convenient to use and has a user-friendly interface.

Google Play Books is also an interesting app: you can buy many titles directly from their story and upload those books that are already on your phone.

If you buy books in several online bookstores, you will need an eReader that supports several formats. An example is FBReader, which supports .epub, .pdf and azw3, among other formats. If you don’t like the interface, you can try Moon+ Reader, with similar features.

Also, have you heard about Spritz? This is actually not an alternative app, but an alternative to the traditional reading itself. When you read, your eyes move from word to word, Spritz removes that. Instead, Spritz shows one word at a time, weird? At first maybe, but you get used in a few minutes, and then you discover it’s really cool.

You also have Wattpad as an alternative, a platform with an audience of more than 65 million users. This website has more than 10 million free books at your disposal, a fantastic way to read online. You can also download the app for free, available for Android cell phones and tablets, which allows you to read books with no internet connection.

What about you? have you gone digital yet? no matter what you choose, as long as you read, I’m happy 😍 If you need some book suggestions what about taking a look at the Freedays book category?  free downloading books every Friday.

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Girl reading Harry Potter

Reading for kids

One of the most sought habits to inculcate in our youngest is the habit of reading. How could it be another way? You came looking for some reading for kids, and that is a great job, since reading has a lot of benefits, such as:

  • Stress reduction and mental stimulation.
  • Vocabulary building.
  • Better analytical thinking skills and concentration.

But of course, we usually don’t read because of these benefits but because it is fun! Reading evokes so many feelings, you can feel sad, happy, angry…

As a result of the benefits previously mentioned, reading helps to improve study, as well as speeding it up and reading comprehension. This is why reading has great importance in the future of the youngest. In this sense, there are many schools and institutes that, as part of their subjects, oblige the reading of different books to the youngest as a form of homework.

These books they must read as schoolwork are sometimes those of the most classic literature. And, in some cases, boring.  This is why a lot of kids are reluctant to read, they had a bad experience, they didn’t have fun reading! for those parents who want their children to love reading since they are kids, you might like to check this article where I mention reading websites for children that will teach and motivate them while they have fun.

Best books for kids

Luckily, this is a problem that can be fixed: offering some more interesting novels. They only need good books to read, that’s all. What about science fiction and medieval genres?  A nice genre that unleashes the imagination of the little ones.  Showing some fantasy world full of magic, for which there is no age to enjoy, let’s see some affordable examples for children. Reading now is easier than ever, you can find a lot of alternative ways to the traditional printed books, just check this post to learn  more.

It’s time to read some cool books for kids, isn’t it? 😊 here some amazing stories to read:

Mortal Engines

Mortal engines book cover

 

You probably heard about Mortal engines since its cinematographic adaptation was recently on the big screen. Mortal Engines is set in a post-apocalyptic universe and it’s part of the fantastic and adventure genre. In 2002 this saga won The Gold award in Nestlé Children’s Book Prize (set of annual awards for British children’s books that ran from 1985 to 2007 according to Wikipedia)  in nine to eleven years old category. So yes, this book is a great way to start loving books again. This series consists of four novels, the series taking the name from its first novel. If you want to start reading this series, just check this reading order post.

Also if you are curious about the film, check this post.

The Hobbit

The Hobbit book cover

The Lord of the Rings is a reference within fantastic literature. Set in the same world and with a much simpler understanding, we have its prequel, The Hobbit.  A shorter story ideal for reinforcing the idea of friendship and companionship. In this, a fellowship of Dwarves and a Hobbit will demonstrate that together they can perform the greatest of feats, such as stealing a treasure from a terrible dragon that had terrified people for years. This story is quite simple to read and can serve as a perfect introduction to somewhat more complicated novels, such as the aforementioned The Lord of the Rings (which, if you loved it, check these book suggestions).

The Chronicles of Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia book cover

Once again in a magical world, which in this case the protagonists’ access through the inside of a wardrobe. We find ourselves before a series of short novels in which the adventures that this group of young people carries out in Narnia are told. Narnia is a magical region that has its own problems, beyond those of the everyday world, in which an evil witch tries to put an end to the prosperity of the region and achieve a reign of tyranny and terror. Magic, adventures and a lot of action, in a fascinating world where the young reader will be able to learn and know a lot of concepts about the behavior of other species since the animals also have an important role in this story.

The Legend of Drizzt

The legend of Drizzt book cover

This is a really long series (you can see the read order here) which narrate the adventures of Drizzt Do’Urden, a drow (or dark elf) and his many friends. It is a series of novels with a quite interesting background that makes us reason from a very young age. The dark elves are born in evil and live by and for it, yet the protagonist of the story denies his race and decides to discover the outside world since he was not born to be evil. However, due to the color of his skin and the terrible stories that accompany those of his race, he lives continuously prejudiced by the rest of the inhabitants due to his origins and for racial prejudices.

By the way, I wrote about racism in literature before, check this post if you are interested in this topic. The novels that narrate the life of the elf teach us that we don’t have to prejudge anyone and that in order to get to know people, the best thing to do is to treat them and discover the good things that each one of them can give us.

Harry Potter

Harry potter sorcerers stone book cover

This series is more than known.  If you haven’t read them these books are a fantastic and magic way to introduce you into reading again. Harry Potter, the boy who defeated You-Know-Who being only a baby and his adventures in Hogwarts school of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This amazing story is set in our world, making magical creatures and people coexisting in the mundane world with most of the people unaware of it.

If you already read Harry Potter, you might like these other book suggestions by the way.

 

I really hope you liked these childrens book suggestions! Also,  if you are looking for free reading websites for kids, make sure you visit this post!

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Night and moon with ET

Historical fiction fantasy stories

Historical fiction fantasy is a perfect genre for understanding fantasy from another point of view. These books of fantasy or science fiction have no fictional worlds, but they are set in in the real world. They, of course, incorporate fantastic elements into a realistic world.

This crossover is quite common but interesting in the same way.  Allowing authors to create fantasy deriving or inspiring from real events or periods from history. There are different approaches to this, such as creating an alternate history (as happens for example in The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud). Maybe making magical or mythical creatures coexisting in the mundane world with the majority of people being unaware of it (like the Harry Potter series).

Here are some book suggestions where you can see different approaches of historical fiction fantasy:

H.P Lovecraft novels

From the American writer H.P Lovecraft. We can find a good number of books set in the ’30s and where some imaginary cities alternate with real ones. These imaginary cities are an inspiration of other real cities such as Orleans or New York but even so stories happen in the American continent.  Making his characters travel around the country while trying to stop the attempts of the sectarians to try to awaken creatures from another world. These books are a series of horror stories with a slight touch of mystery.  In these, the presence of grotesque monsters completely alters the atmosphere of our planet.

Fantastic Animals and where to find them

The same goes for J.K. Rowling’s series of books, Fantastic Animals and where to Find Them. This has been brought to the big screen after its success in literature. These books are about magic, in a world that serves as background to Harry Potter’s (which if you liked you will like these book suggestions). These explain how important the magic has been on the earth.  From the foundation of the different schools of magicians to all the trouble caused by the evil use of magic.

In this case, we find ourselves in a parallel world. In this, ordinary people live unaware of all these wanderings of the magicians. So it could be said that there is a world completely different from the one we understand despite the fact that both will share the same destiny.

Northern Lights

This saga, written by Philip Pullman. Northern lights became more famous due to its adaptation to the world of cinema under the name of the Golden Compass. This is a story of a steampunk atmosphere. We find a mixture of magical worlds where animals have a great relevance throughout history.

In this case, once again the problems between various worlds end up joining ours.  The protagonist, Lyra, a girl living in Oxford, ends up wrapped in an adventure of epic magnitudes. The story will make her face all sorts of conflicts among fantastic races and evil witches.

The Ender’s game

Book set in an alternative future. The most intelligent children of the planet are trained to be virtual space pilots to wage a war against other worlds, which will eventually try to invade ours. A work of science fiction that combines passages from our earth with intrepid adventures in a space station. Some of you might know this book was adapted into a movie, I´ll write about this soon.

 

Hope you liked these suggestions,  and keep reading!

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