Thursday, September 29, 2011

Gender aside; what ever works is trendy for hip-hop artists

Following my interview with a style expert about fall fashion trends for women I went on the hunt for fashionable examples.

As it turns out, what’s hot for women, has also been trendy for hip-hop males.

AP Photo by Spencer Weiner
In this April 17, 2011, file photo, singer Kanye West gestures during his performance at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, in Indio, Calif. Rap acts like Kanye West and Lil Wayne have taken to wearing women's clothing. West, who will debut his own fashion collection in Paris next week, wore a flow-y, long-sleeved women’s shirt designed by French-based fashion house Celine earlier this year at Coachella.

AP Photo by Matt Sayles
In this Feb. 13, 2011, file photo, singers Jaden Smith, left, and Justin Bieber perform at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. The animal print pants worn by Smith are at the top of the hot list for women's fashions this fall.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Movie review: '50/50' delivers a double dose

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, left, and Seth Rogen in a scene from Summit Entertainment's "50/50" opening in theaters Sept. 30.

When it comes to movies about cancer there's a 50/50 chance, it will be depressing or not funny. Don't bet on that being the case with "50/50."

It is neither depressing nor tasteless in its attempt to make fun of an impossible situation. Instead, it’s a comical, heartwarming and original movie about friendship, love and survival.

Opening in theaters Friday, the Jonathan Levine-directed film was written by Will Reiser, who draws on his personal battle with a rare form of cancer to present a film that takes audiences on a journey that is both enlightening and entertaining. 

Adam Lernera (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young man living a pretty cool life as a radio broadcaster and the live-in boyfriend of a talented and sexy artist, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard). That is until a dispassionate doctor delivers the “by the way, the sore back you have is due to a rare and possibly fatal form of cancer” speech. Medical schools looking to teach students the importance of empathy and bedside manner may want to use this film for instructional purposes. 

Anna Kendrick and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 50/50
As Adam's world starts to unravel, he finds himself dealing with the well-meaning but totally outrageous attempts by friends and family to make it all better. These people include his overbearing but loving mother (Anjelica Huston), what turns out to be his shallow and selfish girlfriend, Katherine (Anna Kendrick), a rookie therapist whose first assignment is Adam, and his best friend, Kyle (Seth Rogen), who uses Adam's condition to lure girls into sympathy dates.

Rogen plays the humor card as skillfully, as he's done in previous comedies ("Knocked Up" and "Pineapple Express"). Only in this comedy audiences see the other side of the card, in scenes that not only tug at your heart, but leave you feeling a little more love for the wiseguy friend.

Call it good writing or good acting.

Both are at play here.

Friends Rogen and Reiser were working together with screenwriter and producer Evan Goldberg on a British comedy series, when the unthinkable happened to Reiser.

Seth Rogen as the wiseguy best friend.

"We were obviously shocked and saddened," said Rogen, who along with Goldberg and Ben Karlin produced "50/50." "But in a way, it was a huge relief to find out that there was a reason he looked so bad. We thought he was just living hard. Will told us he would probably live, which was good news, and we began a long process that we were all pretty ill-equipped to deal with." 

Rogen and Goldberg also encouraged Reiser to write about his experience.

"When anything remotely interesting happens, my first instinct is to try and think of a movie based on it," Rogen said. "And it seemed to me that I'd never seen a movie about a young dude who has to deal with a potentially fatal disease. I thought it would be really interesting and it could be really funny. Will is so funny and weird and neurotic. He might be the worst guy that could ever get cancer."

Gordon-Levitt does a marvelous job at portraying that quirkiness. However, Reiser said, "It's important to point out that '50/50' is not an autobiography. It is inspired by my experience and the experiences of the people around me."

And when the journey is over, you'll have laughed and cried. But instead of feeling whipped, you'll feel energized and even a little braver having watched Adam beat the odds.

“50/50” is rated R for Rogen’s language but it’s a story for friends, siblings, parents, grandparents and anyone else who could find themselves facing the unthinkable. 4 stars!

So many tangles in life are ultimately hopeless that we have no appropriate sword other than laughter.~ Gordon W. Allport

Monday, September 26, 2011

Do you have an original idea for a product or business?

Getty Images.
How many times have you come up with a great idea for a new product only to pooh-pooh it for lack of funds or time?

I can think of one.

When my son was still playing with action figures he used carry Spiderman and the rest of his crime fighters in a chocolate bar box. It was one of those used for a fundraiser at school. It was nice because it was sturdy and it had a plastic handle and dividers, which were originally used to separate Kit Kats from M & Ms and Baby Ruth chocolate bars. In this case they served to keep the heroes away from the villains or the meat-eating dinosaurs from the herbivores.

My idea was to create something similar but instead of cardboard, make it out of plastic.

The following Christmas the action figure case I had in mind was sitting on a shelf in a department store. It was exactly how I imagined it to be but with one exception. It wasn't my idea and instead of $9.99 it was selling for $20.

Do you have a great idea?

The Bright Ideas Program from Mirassou Winery has launched a national program that will reward five people with innovative ideas a $3,000 grant. 

“I am proud of my family’s optimistic and entrepreneurial spirit that has served as the foundation for Mirassou Winery,” said David Mirassou, wine expert and sixth generation member of the Mirassou family, whose pioneering spirit for the past 155 years, has led to many winemaking innovations that continue to shape the wine industry today. “We’re celebrating that spirit and paying it forward by supporting the best and brightest ideas through our first-ever national grant program.”

The top winners will also be voted on at the Mirassou Winery’s Facebook page, with the highest vote earner being awarded an additional grant of $5,000.

For consideration, submit your ideas (big or small) now through Oct. 31 at Mirassou Bright Ideas Grant Program  Participants are asked to describe the idea and how the grant would help to make it happen. Descriptions must be kept to 1,000 words or less and will be judged on criteria that includes relevance of the bright idea to the Mirassou spirit, entrepreneurism, innovation and empowerment.

Procrastination is, hands down, our favorite form of self-sabotage -- Alice Cornyn-Selby.

Friday, September 23, 2011

DAYTRIPPING: Festivals and other family-friendly events

The Festival of the Senses has become family favorite

Macomb Daily staff photo by Craig Gaffield.
Kicking up their heels in the garden pergola on the grounds of the Clinton Township Civic Center shown in the photograph are, from left, Jeri and Jim Hungerford, Maxwell Heiderer and Sharon Butala.

Dedication ceremony
The Clinton Township Historical Commission will dedicate the recently completed Historic Garden Pergola at 10:15 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 24. The pergola was built by volunteer members of the Historical Commission with the help of members of the Township’s Department of Public Works. It was paid for through private donations and numerous contributions made by businesses supporting the Festival of the Senses.
What’s unusual about the pergola is that its structure features a roof truss system that was originally part of the former Mount Clemens Rose Gardens’ greenhouses. The dedication ceremony will celebrate the work and dedication by everyone involved, and what it will come to mean to the community in the future as a place for picnics, wedding photos and attractive addition to the grounds.
The Festival of the Senses runs Sept. 24-25. In addition to the dedication ceremony are numerous attractions (fine arts by more than 100 artisans) and activities for the family. For more information visit: Festival of the Senses

Looking for more to do? Listed here are just a few of the other family-friendly events happening in the Detroit-area:

Lioness fashion show
New Haven Lioness hosts 14th Annual Fashion Show and Dinner, Sept. 30, at Concorde Banquet & Conference Center, 44315 Gratiot, Clinton Township. Doors open 5:30 p.m., dinner served 6:30 p.m., followed by fashion show. Evening includes Chinese auction and vendors. Tickets $30. Call (586) 749-3685.

‘Michigan’s Harvest’
“Michigan’s Harvest: Food, Family and Community” program series runs Sept. 24-Nov. 19, at the Lorenzo Cultural Center at Macomb Community College, at Garfield and Hall roads, Clinton Township. The program includes more than 30 free presentations, a series of five free exhibits and three special events (admission fee). For series and registration information, www.MacombCenter.com or (586) 286-2222 or (586) 445-7348.

Richmond history
Village at the Richmond Area Historical and Genealogical Society, Beebe and Parke streets, open 1-4 p.m. Sept. 25, with members available to answer questions in the log cabin, depot, schoolhouse and museum. Free, donations accepted. Call (586) 727-7773.

Sewing Expo
American Sewing Expo continues through Sept. 25, at the Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River between Novi and Beck roads, in Novi. Show features more than 125 exhibitors with fabrics, sewing machines, yarn, thread, patterns, etc. Admission $14, free ages 15 and younger. 
For hours, visit American Sewing Expo 
or call (248) 889-3111.

Mom-to-Mom sales
Shawnee Elementary School Mom-to-Mom sale, Sept. 24, 8 a.m. early bird admission $2, 8:30 a.m.-noon $1, at 21555 Vesper Drive, Macomb Township.
The Growing Tree nonprofit organization for low-income residents, hosts Mom-to-Mom sale 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 24, at Warren-Sterling Heights Elks Lodge, 25950 Schoenherr, Warren. Also, same time Oct. 1, at Royal oak Elks Lodge, 2401 E. Fourth St. at Stephenson Highway, Royal Oak. Early admission for both shows $2 9:30-10 a.m., $1 after.

Sock Hop
Roseville Heritage Foundation hosts a Sock Hop fundraiser for the Roseville Classic Car Cruise, 7-11 p.m. Sept. 24, at the VFW Hall, 25671 Gratiot in Roseville. The $20 advance tickets, $25 at the door, include food, beer and soft drinks. Call (586) 634-5844.

JET Youth
Jewish Ensemble Theatre Youth Education Services presents touring shows “Mean Girls” and “Word” at 8:30 and 9:45 a.m., respectively, at Warren Woods Middle School, 13400 12 Mile Road. The productions address the issue of bullying.

Bat Encounters
Organization for Bat Conservation presents “Bats of the World - Live Bat Encounters” program, 2 p.m. Oct. 1, at Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center, 4101 River Bends Drive in River Bends Park, Shelby Township. Admission: $3 ages 4 and older. Call to register: (586) 731-0300. 

Computer Club
Sterling Heights Computer Club meets 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4, at Macomb Community College John Lewis Community Center Building K, 14500 12 Mile Road, Warren. Meeting includes updates on personal computing, and question-and-answer segment. Annual membership: $25. Visit www.SterlingHeightsComputerClub.org or call (586) 268-6586.

Collectors show
Military Collectors’ Show, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 4, sponsored by Men’s Auxiliary to VFW Bruce Post No. 1146, 28404 Jefferson, St. Clair Shores. General admission $5. Refreshments available; patrons may bring military items to sell, trade or display.

Renaissance Festival
Michigan Renaissance Festival continues 10 a.m.-7 p.m. weekends through Oct. 2, at Hollygrove in Holly. For more information, visit www.michrenfest.com or call (248) 634-5552.

Art exhibit
“Made in Michigan” annual exhibit at City Gallery, 292 Cass Ave., Mount Clemens, through Oct. 30, features work by Mount Clemens Art Association member Louise Parrish, retired Mount Clemens High School art teacher. Call (586) 469-8781.

Century Theatre
“Freud’s Last Session” on stage 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, through Nov. 20, at Century Theatre, 333 Madison Ave., Detroit. For tickets, $34.50-$44.50, call (313) 963-9800 or Ticketmaster.com.

Line Dancing
Line dancing and couples classes, Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. beginners, 7:15 p.m. beginner plus, 8:15-9 p.m. couples, at Roseville Recreation Center, 18185 Sycamore, east of Gratiot, north of Interstate 696, $5 per session. Call (586) 777-7242 or countrycuzzins@wowway.com.

Blind bowlers
Macomb Blind Bowlers for visually impaired and/or blind individuals 18 and older, league bowling 11:45 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Wednesdays at Fraser Star Lanes, northeast corner of 14 Mile and Garfield roads. Fee $10 per week. Call (586) 360-9543.

Community theater productions
*“Love, Sex and the IRS” presented by Ridgedale Players Theatre, through Sept. 25, at the theater, 205 W. Long Lake Road, Troy. Tickets, $15 adults, $13 seniors and students; call (248) 988-7049.
*“Never Too Late,” presented by Rodgerland Productions and Sterling Heights Lions Club, Saturdays, through Oct. 22, at Lions Club, 12828 Canal Road, west of Schoenherr. Buffet at 6:30 p.m., show follows; tickets $25 including tax and tip. For reservations: (586) 776-9844.
*Village Players present the musical “Follies,” 8 p.m. Sept. 24, 30, Oct. 1, and 2 p.m. Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, at the Playhouse, 34660 Woodward, south of Maple, Birmingham. Tickets: $19. For information, (248) 644-2075 or www.birminghamvillageplayers.com.
*Broadway Onstage continues season with the comedy “Love Song,” 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. select Sundays, through Oct. 8, at the theater, 21517 Kelly Road at Toepfer, Eastpointe. Tickets $16. Call (586) 771-6333.
*Musical “Meet Me in St. Louis” opens season for Stagecrafters, select dates through Oct. 9, at the Baldwin Theatre, 415 S. Lafayette, Royal Oak. Advance tickets $18 and $20, online at www.stagecrafters.org or by phone (248) 541-6430.
*Grosse Pointe Theatre presents “The Music Man,” 2 p.m. Sept. 25, Oct. 2, and 8 p.m. Sept. 24, 29-30, Oct. 1, in Fries Auditorium at Grosse Pointe War Memorial, 32 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Farms. Tickets $24. Call (313) 881-4004 or visit www.gpt.org.

Palette Club
Lakeside Palette Club has studio space 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesdays in Room 111 of Adult Education Center on Masonic near Jefferson. Call (586) 350-4518 or visit www.lakesidepaletteclub.org.

A scene from "Rio."
Free films
MJR 201 Free Children’s Fall Film Festival, free for children 12 and younger, adults $1, at Chesterfield Crossing Digital Cinema 16, (586) 598-2500; Marketplace Digital Cinema 20, (586) 264-1514; and Partridge Creek Digital Cinema 14, (586) 263-0084. Schedule includes: “Kung Fu Panda,” Oct. 1-2; “Judy Moody,” Oct. 8-9; “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” Oct. 15-16; “Rio,” Oct. 22-23; “Spy Kids,” Oct. 29-30. No advance ticket sales; showtimes posted three days in advance of each showing.
Chrysler Museum
Unique Vehicle Pairs Spotlight Series and Collector’s Club specialty exhibits throughout the year at Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills. For a complete schedule, visit wpchryslermuseum.org. Admission $8 adults, $7 ages 62 and older, $4 ages 6-12.

Fishing clubs
Vanguard Trout Unlimited for fishing enthusiasts meets 7:30 p.m. second Thursday monthly at Rochester’s Dinosaur Hill. Also, Fishing Buddies Fishing Club gathers 6:30 p.m. third Tuesdays at Rochester Hills OPC, 650 Leticia Drive. Call (248) 375-1931.

Volunteer opportunities
* Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Macomb needs educational support volunteers in county elementary schools and Head Start programs during 2011-12 school year. For details, contact RSVP of Macomb, (586) 756-1430 or rsvp@csmacomb.org.
* Macomb Literary Partners needs volunteers to help adults become better readers; applicants trained to tutor an adult 2 hours per week, with training sessions held on weekends or evenings. Call (586) 286-2750.
* Detroit Historical Guild seeking volunteers interested in participating in historical activities, including flea markets at Historic Fort Wayne, tea parties, excursions to historic sites, etc. Call (586) 777-5898.

Few are the giants of the soul who actually feel that the human race is their family circle -- Freya Stark

Monday, September 19, 2011

Educating college students on fire safety tips

The Michigan Bureau of Fires Services is urging college students living on- and off-campus to be aware of fire risks and know the preventative measures that could save their lives.
"Unfortunately, many college students don't see fire as an actual risk or threat, nor do they realize how quickly a fire can spread; and many don't know what to do when a fire does happen," said State Fire Marshall Ronald Farr. "Fire safety education is so important, but it's probably the last thing on students' minds, especially those living away from home for the first time."
September and October are the worst months for fire-related emergencies and fatal campus fires; an estimated 3,800 university housing fires occur each year in the United States; and 83 percent of university housing fires are cooking fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
"Common factors in deadly campus fires include lack of fire sprinkler systems; missing or disabled smoke alarms; careless smoking; unattended candles; overloaded electrical circuits and extension cords; and misuse of alcohol, which impairs judgment and hampers evacuation efforts," said the report by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Having working smoke and carbon monoxide detector can save (lives), provided they are working properly and have fresh batteries. Never remove the batteries or disable the alarm, and test them regularly. That's one tip students should consider.
Fire safety officials also recommend the following fire safety tips:

* Candles. Consider using battery-operated flameless candles that can look, smell and feel like the real thing (really, they do exist). This is one website where I found a large selection at www.batteryoperatedcandles.net/?gclid=CK__g4LxnKsCFQIEQAodhi27iQ.
Never leave a candle unattended. Extinguish it before you leave the room.
Keep the candle away from your homework, draperies and linens and make sure it's sitting on a solid surface with no chance of being tipped.
Invest in a reliable flashlight and battery-operated lantern to have on hand for nights when the power goes out.

* Cooking. Follow the school's rules when it comes to in-house cooking and, when you do cook, stick with it. Never leave a pot or pan unattended.
Toss the pizza box when it's empty and keep the cooking area free of clutter that might catch fire.
If you're lucky enough to have a microwave or toaster oven, plug it directly into an outlet. Using an extension cord for appliances can overload the circuit and cause a fire. If a fire starts in the microwave, unplug the unit and keep the door closed.
Make sure the cooking area is equipped with a working fire extinguisher. Check with the housing management to see if it supplies one.

* Smoking. Make it the house rules: No smoking anywhere in the dorm or apartment. If you've got a smoker among you, create a designated area outside.
Never toss cigarette butts in the trash and, just in case someone isn't following the rules, after a party, check for smoldering cigarette butts. Check under cushions.

Expresso makers and neon lights. Check with your school's rules before purchasing electrical appliances for the dorm or apartment.
If your dorm room or apartment gets cold, instead of using a stove to heat the room, pile on the blankets and throws.
Purchase items that have automatic shut-off switches and never overload electrical outlets.
Make sure the light bulbs you use match the recommended wattage for the lamp or fixture.
If you've got a computer in the dorm, use a surge protector plugged directly into the outlet.

Fire drills. Just as you did at home with the family, create a plan of escape with your fellow students. Know all of the emergency exits and do a couple practice runs.
If there's a fire, use the stairs rather than the elevator.
Smoke is toxic and dangerous, so avoid it. If you must escape through a smoke-filled area, get low and try to go under it.
If you're trapped, call 9-1-1 and tell the operator exactly where you are, seal your doors with rugs, rags, clothing, etc., and signal from your room.
Once you're out of the building, do not return until the fire officials give the OK.

For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/lara. Send your comments or home and garden tips to Gina Joseph, The Macomb Daily, 100 Macomb Daily Drive, Mount Clemens, MI 48043, or email them to gina.joseph@macombdaily.com.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

'This Is Not A Film' is a stirring movie

When the final curtain falls at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) audiences will have seen hundreds of premieres. 

Among the films expected to become box office hits is “Moneyball,” starring Brad Pitt as Billy Jean, The Oakland A’s general manager whose unorthodox approach to fielding a baseball team had a major impact on the game. 

I had every intention of seeing it, but on my way to the theater I ran into a line of people talking about the Iranian filmmakers, Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, who smuggled their movie into North America on a USB baked in a cake.

It first premiered at Cannes. Now it’s showing at TIFF.

Panahi and Igu the pet iguana.
I had no idea what it was about, but it was the shortest line in town. I also felt a kind of urgency in seeing it, considering what the filmmakers had to do to get it to Toronto.
So, I followed the line to see “This Is Not A Film” and saw a heart-warming film that was not only entertaining but inspiring.

The film depicts a day in Panahi's life as he appeals his conviction for "assembly and colluding with the intention to commit crimes against the country's national security and propaganda against the Islamic Republic." He was sentenced to six years in prison and banned from writing and making films for 20 years. He is under house arrest in Tehran, where he and Mirtahmasb made this film.

It starts off with Panahi working alone with the camera mounted on a tripod. Audiences see him going through the motions of a normal day beginning with call from his wife saying she would be home later. Then there's a call from Panahi's lawyer leading us to believe that there is little hope for his appeal and that he is certain to go to jail. The news is upsetting, but Panahi forges ahead with his documentary.

How does a filmmaker banned from filmmaking do such a thing?

It sounds absurd and there are times when even Panahi questions the project. But audiences see a calm and dignified man choosing to create something positive out of what appears to be an impossible situation. His quest becomes slightly easier when Mirtahmasb (documentary filmmaker) offers to help him complete the task even though he is putting himself at risk by doing so. 

Filmmaker Panahi masking out a set on the floor in his living room.

Panahi’s attempt to show audiences the film he had planned to do (even using masking tape to sketch out a set on the living room floor) is a stretch of the imagination but interesting. 

 The situation is grave, but a pet iguana and the comical banter between he and Mirtahmasb -- created by the irony of their situation -- makes us laugh and in doing so deepens our concern over the director’s fate.  

"They say when hairdressers are bored they cut each other's hair," Panahi said. So, he picks up his camera phone and starts shooting Mirtahmasb shooting him. This introduces a whole other dimension to the story including a young college student who came to the building to take out the trash. The student graciously allows Panahi to film him carrying out the mundane task of collecting garbage on each floor. “All of a sudden, I’ve jumped into your film,” the student said. 

The garbage scene plays out until the two reach the gates to the building and the entrance to the streets where people are shooting off fireworks despite the president’s declaration that they are illegal. Just before the film ends, we hear the student voice his fears for Panahi. “Please don’t come outside,” the young man said to Panahi. “They’ll see the camera.” But the filmmaker continues to shoot until finally the screen goes black leaving us all wondering what will happen to Panahi.

What we do know is that he was unable to attend the screening of his film and remains under house arrest in Tehran. But his wife and daughter traveled to Toronto on his behalf. Mirtahmasb was on his way, too, but a spokesperson for TIFF said he was detained by customs in Tehran.

Most of the films at the festival fetched $20 per regular screening while gala presentations cost about $40. The screening of “This Is Not A Film” was free. Not because it wasn't as good as the others, but because organizers felt that this “This Is Not A Film” is, in fact, a great movie everyone should see.   

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow" -- Mary Anne Radmacher

Monday, September 12, 2011

If you read to a child, chances are they'll learn to love reading themselves

Getty Images
Reading to children in the home sets kids up for success in school and in life. That's a fact supported by teachers and groups such as the National Center for Education Statistics -- not to mention a lot of moms.

"Is Your Mama a Llama?" or "Little Miss Spider" and "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" and "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom." These are among the favorites I enjoyed reading aloud to my children. 

But reading came natural to me.

My parents were both avid readers, so books were a part of our life. Whether we were snowed in during the winter or packing the car for a summer trip, some type of reading material was tossed into the mix.

Knowing the importance of such traditions, many groups have created special funds or partnerships so that no family is without reading material. VTech, a company that specializes in electronic learning products, joined with First Book, a global social enterprise that provides books to parents who can't afford them, by donating more than 4,000 new books to Head Start programs across the country. "Reading at home makes a real difference, in a lot of ways," said Kyle Zimmer, First Book's founder and corporate executive officer. "It' provides the bonding little ones will need to feel confident in school, as well as an affinity for reading on their own throughout their lives."

 For parents who are just getting started, here are some ways to get your child to love reading:
Make it a cozy experience. What many children love the most about reading a good book is the attention they're getting from mom or dad and the snuggle factor. "The feeling of connection helps them calm down before nap or bedtime, and creates a sense of security that will help them build healthy relationships with others later in life," Zimmer said.

Be particular. Toddlers and children beginning to comprehend letters and numbers are drawn to bright colors and big pictures, so look for books with plenty of illustrations. Consider a child's interest such as music, dance, sports and cooking.

Do voiceovers. Instead of a straight read, disguise your voice as one of the characters in the story and encourage your child to repeat some of the funnier or scarier lines. This will make it more fun and help to further engage your child.

Consider it play. If you've got a child who squirms and cannot sit still, try incorporating storylines into playtime. "This will likely result in the child's excitement to learn more of the plot during the next story time and will lead to a fondness for classic story characters," Zimmer said.

Create your own story. Instead of using a book, make up a story. Let your child be the protagonist. Not sure where to start? Consider an everyday activity such as brushing your teeth or feeding the dog, and then go from there. Make it even more fun by encouraging your child to create illustrations to go along with the story.

Hunting books such as "Where's Waldo" are great for engaging the reader, but you can do that with any story. Pick out items and ask your child to point them out. Practice numbers by counting items or choosing things in the story that are a particular color.

Turn it up a notch. Consider using tech-savvy tools that feature interactive stories that help kids love learning to read.

What's your favorite book to read aloud?

The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination -- Elizabeth Hardwick.