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Ricky's Dream Trip Through The Solar System Paperback – July 26, 2010
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Top customer reviews
Ricky loves puzzles. His mom, grandmother, and I all work together to put rather complex puzzles together, which enhances eye, hand and brain coordination.
Ricky has gravitated to the guitar since he was seven years old. I think it may have begun with guitar hero. He has become an accomplished 9 1/2 year old guitar player. We've gone together to his local guitar store where I've purchased several instruments of his choosing. Also, I attended one of his guitar lessons with a very accomplished teacher.
Ricky and I went to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. He loved the dinosaurs in particular. We also attended the planetarium show.
Ricky is highly skilled in putting together Legos that are rated quite a few years above his age. It is really amazing to see him build these amazing figures and buildings. He pretty much does them on his own with a little help from time to time, but not very much. One day he was putting a Lego train set together that was rated for a 14-year-old. He said, "I see why they say it is for someone who is 14 years old." Nevertheless, he finished it in relatively short order.
These probably aren't all the type of learning experiences that people traditionally think of as educational. However, he is using his mind and working at or above his level. Hopefully, this stimulation will have carry over effect.
What are some ways you have observed your grandson or other children become more curious or engaged as a result of fun learning outside of the classroom?
It seems to me that organized sports activities is a perfect example of learning outside of the classroom setting. Children learn skills, sportsmanship and playing together.
As mentioned earlier, the trip to the museum of Natural History really opened his eyes and gave him some perspective.
Ricky's Dad loves cars and attends car shows. Ricky has also learned to love cars as well. He built his own car for a race. Once again, is there carry over? We'll have to wait and see, won't we?
What are some specific things parents can do to encourage their kids to be lifelong learners?
Parents can do things that they would like their children to emulate, respect, or appreciate. When I visit Ricky, I make sure he sees that at some point I am reading a book or using the computer . While he isn't necessarily interested in what I am reading, he at least sees me and hopefully as he get older he'll be hard wired for the reading motivation.
I don't believe in forcing educational experiences on my grandchild. Grandparenting is different than parenting. For example, it is a less judgmental environment. Hopefully, my grandson will capture my love for learning, my respect for people, and my love for him, his Mom, his Dad, and his grandmother.
What is the difference between the role of the teacher and the role of the parent in educating a child?
Teachers should initiate a broad strategy that stimulates their student's imagination and then captures their desire to learn. Teachers become experts in how children learn and then invoke the best method for each child. Some children aren't ready to learn, some learn in different ways.
The parent's role is to support the teacher's effort and help build a foundation that will allow the child to grow.
Why did you decide to write Ricky's Dream Trip Through the Solar System ?
I wrote this book just for my grandson. I wanted to stimulate his imagination and interest regarding science. So I put together a story in which I appeared in his dream and we took a dream trip visiting all the planets and some of the satellites and moons. Then I printed out photos and drawings from the NASA website and Google. Everything was put into a nice loose leaf book and presented to him. I wanted to show him my love in a special, creative way which was to give him a piece of myself through the writing of a story that was meant just for him. Many people reacted very positively to it and suggested that I have it published.
What did you find most difficult about writing a children's book?
The creative process is very painful. Once the light went on and I got the inspiration and concept, the book flowed rather easily.
What did you find most rewarding about writing a children's book?
The reaction from many of my educated and accomplished friends was very heartwarming and inspiring. I was so inspired that I wrote a second book . It will come out sometime this summer.
I'm not sure I have the ability to write a book. Can I still help my child learn?
To be quite honest, my grandson wasn't particularly impressed with the book. I think he was more impressed that his grandfather was an author. "Pop Pop," he said, "I don't like to read but I love the story." Go figure. Don't forget, he was only seven at the time. He'll be almost ten when the new book comes out. Check back with me later. I believe his reaction will be quite different.
Don't you think most families today are too busy or too broke to enjoy these kinds of educational activities together?
In life, we do what is important to us.
An anonymous writer once said; "To those who can dream there is no such place as faraway." William Stevenson took advantage of this idea to take his nine-year-old grandson Ricky on a dream trip through the Solar System.
The records of nearly every civilization contain evidence of a fascination with the skies. In spite of the documented interest in astronomy professed by elementary school students, astronomy has not been taught to a great degree in schools. Because of this the average inhabitant of this planet is still as earth-centered in his mental outlook as though Copernicus had never been born. Why would the interest in astronomy be high at a young age and a knowledge of astronomy be low at an older age? The answer might exist in the books available to the young. Young readers need books that in some way capture their attention instead of just supplying them with quickly forgotten facts. Ricky's Dream Trip Through the Solar System is such a book.
Ricky's grandfather appears in a dream and invites him to use his "dream imagination" to take a trip through our Solar System to visit all of the planets. Ricky accepts and off they go from Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, to Neptune, the farthest planet from the Sun. The book is up to date since Pluto is not listed as the farthest planet from the Sun. In 2006 Pluto was reclassified as a "dwarf planet" by the International Astronomical Union.
Ricky learns the names of the planets in order and interesting things about the planets and their "moon" satellites as the dream trip unfolds. Unfortunately, because Pluto is no longer a major planet he can't use the mnemonic "My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas."
My favorite part of Ricky's Dream Trip Through the Solar System was the ending. THE END was crossed out and replaced by THE BEGINNING!
"Happy dreams, Ricky! May your dreams come true!"
Dr. George Reed
Professor Emeritus (Astronomy)
West Chester University (PA)