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'Charlotte Helgeson'

Sep 03

Do You Remember the Lyrics? by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on September 3, 2021 at 2:25 PM by Genesis Gaule

Are you singing the right lyrics to the songs you learned as a kid? I love to hear children sing. If the words aren’t quite the ones I remember, that doesn’t matter. They sing with their hearts and I can hum along, but do I remember the lyrics?

For the life of me, I cannot remember the lyrics to Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I obviously made up some words as a kid and that is how I remember it. Though sometimes, my curiosity (or the funny looks of my grandchildren) will cause me to find the original lyrics to some of my favorites.

home on the rangeThe Library can come to the rescue for lots of those songs especially in the Easy section. We can find Home On the Range edited by Barbie H. Schwaeber. It is based on a poem written by a Kansas homesteader, Dr. Brewster M. Higley. Others have tried to take credit for it and have tried to change the words. Ranchers, farmers and cowboys adopted the song as an unofficial anthem for the American West. Kansas adopted it as their state song. But how did it get to be so well known?

The story behind a song can be a lot of fun. Another book by the same title, Home On the Range: John A. Lomax and His Cowboy Songs by Deborah Hopkinson tells how as a young man, John went out with an old-fashioned recording device in the early 1900s to capture songs that were sung by cowboys. Then he wrote them down for us. He went out again later in life and captured more songs. Many of his recordings of singing cowboys are stored at the Library of Congress. I bet those cowboys would be surprised to know their voices live on in such a prestigious place!

take me out to ball gameTake Me Out to the Ball Game by Jack Norworth is another unofficial anthem. Baseball games would not be the same without this song even though we only sing one of the three verses. How many of us know the words to the other two?

To help us remember songs from our youth, the Library has a wonderful selection of DVDs called Sentimental Sing-Alongs. Their topics range from patriotic to romance and from locations all over the country.

We do grow up and discover new songs and with them singers who become favorites. Some write their own music and others have lyricists that create the words for them. There are those who redo an old classic with their own personality by changing up the music, but the lyrics live on.

Lyrics catch attention so they’re often used as titles like in these books owned by the library:

Jul 30

Titles and Covers by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on July 30, 2021 at 1:21 PM by Genesis Gaule

How important is the title and cover of a book? The title is first seen as part of the cover. How much does that cover influence the reader? Who makes the decision about how that will look. Is it the author or publisher?

Remember, the old adage of not judging a book by its cover? In the explanation of that English idiom, the word ‘alone’ is often added. So go ahead and take a good look at the cover and let that help decide if a deeper look will follow. It won’t be the only factor, but it does influence our choices.

That sounds so easy, but there is a huge amount of time, talent and thought that goes into a cover design. The author has lived inside the book for months, maybe years and knows the story inside and out and upside down. Publishers take a different approach by wanting a cover that will attract potential readers. An illustrator will add a creative talent that takes the words and puts flesh on them or creates an abstract concept of the story line. Publishers often win out though the more bestsellers an author creates, the more influence she’ll apply to the design.

Sometimes covers will change if books are reproduced. Publishers will want them to be more timely or if a movie has been produced then a still picture might be placed on the cover. Books considered classics may see many covers as different publishers take turns at reviving them, such as The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Cookbooks with colorful covers of food catch my attention every time such as The Elder Scrolls by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel. There are also books that I can’t take home because I find the covers too scary. 

Yes, I’m easily influenced by covers but what about titles?

Titles are influential also. Authors with their publishers will decide on a title. I have an author friend who agreed to change the title of her book when the publisher thought her choice wasn’t mysterious enough.

Too many titles are the same or so similar that readers get confused. I prefer titles that are more distinct like The Poppy War by R.F. Kuan (great cover) and Ancestor Approved edited by Cynthia Leitch Smith.

The individual words in a title can catch a reader’s attention. For me some favorites are tree, sand, herbs or seeds which is why I picked up The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson. The cover is a picture of beading which is beautiful. The book is about seeds and plants. After picking it up and looking at it, I found that it takes place close to home--a good find for me based on a cover and title!


May 07

What Does that Word Mean? by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on May 7, 2021 at 12:55 PM by Genesis Gaule

In the middle of a good read, no one wants to be disrupted by an unfamiliar word. I don’t mind a new word now and then, but too many will make me shut the book and go to the next. It’s good for my brain to add something that I can turn around and use, but again, too often and the whole read will be abandoned.

For the most part, words can be figured out by how the author uses them. If a main character wears a green jacket than any other word that refers to its color would mean some kind of green, like emerald, pastoral or verdant.

Our individual vocabulary is made up of the words each of us use. We each have four kinds of vocabulary:

  1. Reading--a word we can understand while into a book
  2. Listening--the words we understand when someone speaks
  3. Speaking--words we use when talking to someone
  4. Writing--the words we use when writing a letter, office work or homework

As I mentioned earlier, you may understand a word while reading because a good author has guided you to its meaning.

When listening to someone talking, words fly past quickly but we have the advantage of body language. If I heard ‘plummet’ for the first time and a friend demonstrated it with a hand coming down quickly, I’d understand. This may mean we understand more words than if we were reading them.

What words we choose when speaking to someone depends a great deal on who that someone is to us. If we’re looking at the weather with a 3-year-old, you might say, “It looks like it’s going to rain a lot today.” When speaking to Grandpa, you might say, “It looks like a thunderstorm.”

Our writing vocabulary can demonstrate a different range of words than when we’re speaking. Though there may be many words we use when talking that we’d never write down. Some we may never have seen in print. Kitty-corner is a word like that for me. I’d used it all my life and only recently saw it in print.

These vocabularies can be surprisingly different. Consider how you speak to your closest friends compared to how you speak to co-workers, Grandma or a flight attendant. There may be favorite words shared or some less favorable. All these vocabularies combine to make your personnel collection of words.

There are authors I read to challenge my vocabulary. I know I’ll have to take my time and focus. Other books, I fly through, knowing there will be no challenge.

doctors-blackwellIf you’d like to learn a few new words from good authors, how about trying The Doctors Black by Janice P. Nimura. The book is casual and yet a fascinating account of the first 2 female medical doctors. Nonfiction is good at teaching new words, but so is fiction. The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells is told from a robot’s point of view. I loved how its techy language was like a casual conversation about what’s for dinner. The author who always challenged me the most was Umberto Eco. If you like words, try his books.

pomegranateAn important part of learning how to read is learning new words, written and spoken. When I was young, I had no experience with pomegranates. I couldn’t have recognized one until I was an adult. A great book to share with kids is Grena and the Magic Pomegranate by Melvin Leavitt. Not only will the reader learn what a pomegranate is, but will also enjoy a great story and possibly learn a new word.