Kim Creigh, M.Ed

  • Easter Egg Activities: Reading fun!

    Help your child with reading and have fun!

    Easter-egg-activities

    These Easter egg activities may just convince you to leave those eggs out all year! Please, don’t be so quick to put away those plastic Easter eggs! They are an amazing teaching tool, and best of all, your kids won’t even realize they are practicing reading skills. These are my top 10 ways to use those plastic Easter eggs. If you’re looking for games to put in those Easter baskets, make sure to check out my favorite educational board games!

    Skip down to the type of reader you have! Not sure which type of reader you have? Then take the quiz here to find out! No matter the age of your child, they will love these egg activities!

    Easter Egg Activities for Toddlers & Preschoolers

    1) Pom-pom Open & Shut

    It’s not very hard to impress a toddler! Stick pom-poms in a few eggs, watch them open the eggs, then tell them to “clean up!” and put the pom-poms back into the eggs. My toddler will do this independently for almost twenty minutes! Therefore, I highly suggest you try this activity!

    2) Pom-pom Matching

    You can make this more complicated by matching colors or even putting numbers on the outside of the eggs and having them count the number of pom-poms (for preschoolers!). (I understand this is a math activity, but one-to-one correspondence is an important skill!).

    Easter Egg Phonics Activities for Beginning Reader Ben

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    For more information on Beginning Reader Ben and recommended books for his level, take the quiz here!

    3) Letters in Name Matching

    If your child is just learning their letters, you can write a letter on the outside of the egg and have little scraps of paper with letters on them. Then, they pick the right letter and put the same letter inside of the egg.

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    Match the letters in your child’s name. To make it more challenging, match lowercase and uppercase letters!

    4) ABC Chart Find

    If you don’t want to write letters on your eggs, then stick the letter on a piece of paper inside the egg. After that, have them “crack it open” and match the letter to an ABC chart.

    5) Letter Matching

    Write uppercase and lowercase letters on the outside of the two halves of the eggs. (Please note, eggs would be in half at the start of this activity). Next, mix them up and have your child match them! In addition, to make this extra tricky, don’t always have the colors match!

    Easter-egg-letters

    6) All ABC Match

    Write all of the lowercase letters on scraps of paper. Then, write all of the uppercase letters on the outside of the eggs (or vice versa). After that, have your child put the paper in the egg that matches. Please note, I only recommend this activity if your child is familiar with most letters. Matching 26 letters is tricky and can be overwhelming!

    7) Sound Match

    Put different pictures of items in eggs (or stickers work well too!). For instance, you could use a bunny, carrot, cat, dog, frog, etc. (stick with first sounds your child will recognize and stay away from digraphs like /sh/ /th/ and /ch/). First, have your child crack open the egg, say the name of the picture, exaggerate the sound “bunny starts with /b/.” Then, stick the picture next to that letter (on an ABC chart or just write down the letters before you start). Another option, if your child can write, write the letter on a post-it or piece of paper!

    Sight Word & Comprehension Activities for Transitional Reader Taylors

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    Do you have a Transitional Reader Taylor? Grab her book list and strategies after you click here to take the quiz!

    8) Sight Word Practice

    Write different sight words your child is learning or knows on strips of paper and put them in the Easter egg. Have them crack it open and read the word to you. Another option is to practice writing the word in a fun pen. Keep the list and have them read it back to you, or find the egg that has that word in it again. Additionally, they could look for the word in a book they are reading. The possibilities are endless!

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    9) Comprehension Check

    Write different comprehension questions on strips of paper and put them into an Easter egg, like “What is your favorite part? Why?” Read a picture book or a chapter of the book, then have your child pick one of the eggs and answer the question. (This activity could be for all readers!)

    Easter Egg Writing Activity for Fluent Reader Freddies

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    Do you have a Fluent Reader Freddie? This next activity is perfect to help them write! Take the quiz to find out what type of reader you have!

    10) Writing Practice

    “Crack it open!” was one of my favorite activities to do in my fourth grade classroom! To set this up, first write boring sentences like:

    • He was mad.
    • She was sad.
    • They ate dinner.

    Then, place these in a plastic Easter egg. After that, have them “crack it open” with a more detailed sentence that SHOWS what your sentence said, not tells. So, for the first example, I may write:

    “He stomped away from the table and slammed the door to his room. The walls shook because his brother stole his baseball card.”

    In addition, you can even turn this into a game where you have to guess what the original sentence was!

    Learn to Love to Read Activity Pack

    If you loved these Easter egg activities, you may want to check out my Learn to Love to Read Activity Pack! First, take the quiz to find out what type of reader you have. Then, turn to that section of the book and practice those reading activities. Lastly, have FUN with reading!

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  • Book Club for Kids: 3 Benefits for Your Child

    Why do I think your child needs to join a book club for kids? It’s no secret that I love reading and it’s my mission to spread a love of reading in your home. Running a virtual book club for kids is the best thing that came out of this crazy past year for me! If you want to enroll your child in a book club, click here.

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    Virtual Book Club Benefits:

    • Connections with other kids
    • Improve reading skills
    • Motivation to finish books and have FUN with reading

    Not only have these second and third graders improved their reading skills over the past year, they have also built genuine connections with kids they may not normally interact with. The fact that I make it fun and interactive also helps motivate reading! Each month, I try to pick a book that lends itself to a great new series or recommend similar books that book club members can pick up on their own.

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    Wondering what books your child could, or should, be reading? Click here to identify what type of reader your child is and grab a great book list specific to your reader’s needs!

    1. Genuine Connections

    My book clubs for kids are capped at 6 kids for each section. This allows adequate talking time for everyone. It also helps us make genuine connections throughout the month! 

    The book clubs are based on reading level. Currently, there are second grade, third grade, and fourth grade book club options. However, I have first graders and third graders in the second grade group, second graders in the third grade group, and well, you get the idea!

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    Click the image above to enroll your child in my next virtual book club for kids!

    We never really discuss what grade they are in; we are simply discussing books. This leads to great conversations and connections with kids they may normally have never been in the same class with! 

    I always plan a connection activity for the start of our book club time. This is a quick 2-5 minute warm-up. It usually gets us moving or giving quick opinions so we are ready to chat about the book! 

    Honestly, I had to move the “How was your week?” question to the end of our time together because our quick 2-5 minute warm-up was turning into catching up for twenty minutes and we started to run out of time to talk about the book! Now, those that need to hop off for sports at the end of the 30 minutes can, and the rest of us chat and catch up a bit from the past week.

    To register your child for my next book club, click here!

    2. Improve Reading Skills in a Book Club

    As a certified reading specialist, I know exactly what kids need to move up to the next reading level. I pick each book intentionally with specific skills I want to focus on for the month. Most moms are impressed with how their child’s comprehension improves with book club.

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    For second graders, maybe we are focusing on dialogue for the week. In the third grade group, I spend time on character traits. In fourth grade, we picked challenging vocabulary words and talked about some of the underlying themes of the book. Each printable is used to guide our conversations for the week.

    The first week of every new book, I spend a lot of time previewing the book. I read aloud to them and we discuss and make predictions using text evidence about what we think the book may be about. To read more about the importance of reading aloud to your kids, click here.

    3. Motivate your Reader with a Book Club for Kids

    Have you ever participated in a book club for adults? I know through my adult book club picks, I have definitely gone outside of my normal book choices to read different books! The same is true for kids! Register your child here for next month’s book club!

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    “Knowing my boys read and finish one book a month is a HUGE blessing.” 

    ~Mom of a Book Clubber

    There are plenty of reasons why your child will finish a book for a book club over a book they may have picked out on their own. It’s most likely on their reading level. They will want to contribute to the conversation and know they have until book club time to finish that section of the book. They WANT to talk about it with their friends; it is the best kind of peer pressure!

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    There is current reading research that claims if a child is not reading on grade level by third grade, it is extremely difficult to catch them up. I chose to focus on second, third, and fourth grade readers to help motivate that love of reading and to ensure their reading skills are ready for more difficult books! Click here to register your child for my next Adventures with Books book club!

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    What books do you hope we read next in my virtual book club for kids? Leave a comment and let me know!

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  • Educational Board Games for Kids

    20+ of the Best Educational Board Games for Kids

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    Are you looking for the best educational board games for kids to use for your next family game night? Most board games teach many valuable life skills. This list of educational board games for kids will teach how to take turns, how to lose graciously (we are all working on that in this family!), how to win graciously, patience, and so much more. Most teachers look for fun ways to teach skills. Some of these games I’ve used in my own classroom as a center or even for indoor recess. Switch up your next family game night to include some of these best educational board games!

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    Are you tired of sitting in front of a screen? School, work, time with friends, are all now on a screen during this stay at home time. So, let’s take a break from those screens and play some games as a family! Classic games, math games, and of course, reading games are included to help make learning fun as a family.

    This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.

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    Reading Board Games for Kids

    Jabuka

    Jabuka combines two of my absolute favorite things: coffee beans and words! While it is similar to Bananagrams, there are significant differences. This is not for a Beginning Reader Ben. Not sure what type of reader you have? Take the quiz here!

    This is not a beginner’s word game since some of the letters can be multiple letters (an “m” can be an “e” or “w” as well). You can also “steal” words by adding prefixes and suffixes. It is very fun and engaging as you shout out all of the different words you can make!

    Quiddler

    While more of a card game than a board game, Quiddler is a very fun game to play! This is a great game for all readers! You start with 3 cards, which is perfect for those Beginning Reader Bens. After each round played, you add a card to make longer words according to the official directions.

    If you have a Beginning Reader Ben or a Transitional Reader Taylor, you could keep it simple and not go to the final round with all 10 cards. This is a great way to make some sight words and other CVC (Consonant-Vowel-Consonant) word practice!

    Scrabble

    This is one of my personal favorites! Scrabble gets a gold star in educational board games for kids! If Scrabble is too difficult for your kids, you can always grab Scrabble Jr. This has words already on the board and players lay the letters down two at a time. My first and second graders are borderline too old for this version, although sometimes they like to play it because it’s “easy.” They aren’t great at using the trickier letters for the adult Scrabble game, but it is good for sight word practice! Scrabble Jr. is great for older preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders who are learning their letters. It’s great to match the letters on the board!

    Silly Sentences

    This game is great and introduces kids to the different parts of speech. The color-coded pieces help them learn how to construct a sentence using the different parts of speech. There will be a lot of laughter over these silly sentences!

    Since you can choose the length of the sentences, this game is for any type of reader! Beginning Reader Bens can start with short sentences. Create longer and even sillier sentences with those Transitional Reader Taylors and Fluent Reader Freddies! Not sure what type of reader you have? Take the quiz here for book suggestions and tips for each type of reader!

    Blurt

    This game is perfect for building vocabulary! It’s won a lot of awards and even includes easier words for younger kids. Shout out the word that matches the definition on the card first and you’ll race around the gameboard! One perk to this game is it can be played in 10-20 minutes depending on the numbers you roll. If you need a quick educational board game for kids, try out Blurt!

    Boggle

    Shake up the letters, flip the timer, and spend 90 seconds searching for words. You score points by jotting down words that your opponent doesn’t find. To make it easier for beginning readers (and what we do in our house!), give points to every word that they find. This is another great game to help find sight words or those simple CVC words.

    Bananagrams

    Dump out your letter tiles, and start building words! The idea is to be fast and use all of your tiles. When a player uses every tile, they yell, “Peel!” and you pull another tile into your word grid.

    You can also use these letter tiles to build sight words or practice spelling! For all of your Beginning Reader Bens, they also make a Big Letter Version. The tiles are bigger for those little hands to manipulate! Not sure what type of reader you have? Take the quiz here!

    Sequence Letters

    There are a lot of different Sequence games that we enjoy playing as a family! This one uses letter cards and players have to match the letter card with the beginning sound of the picture on the game board. This is great for letter recognition, phonemic awareness, and then this game combines those two skills into phonics!

    Please note, if you have a very Beginning Reader Ben, this game may be too difficult. You can partner up or wait a bit longer to play. Once you play this game a few times, your child will most likely remember the picture that matches the letter. To up the challenge for those Transitional Reader Taylors, you can always ask for another word that starts with the same letter before they can put down a chip. Get five chips in a row to win this game!

    Not sure what type of reader you have? Click to take the quiz here for book lists and strategies perfect for YOUR reader!

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    Zingo

    This game is AMAZING sight word practice and my boys do not even realize they are practicing their sight words as we play! I learned it was a Toy of the Year Finalist as I wrote this post, and I can see why. It’s both educational and fun! This game is perfect for both Beginning Reader Bens and Transitional Reader Taylors.

    Zingo! Word Builder

    If you can’t tell, we LOVE Zingo! in this house! This game is perfect for Beginning Reader Bens to practice those CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant words) phonics skills. They have so much FUN they do not even realize they are practicing important phonics skills!

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    Classic Board Games for Kids (And Adults!)

    Yahtzee

    Roll your dice and decide if you’re trying for a Yahtzee or sticking with a full house! With your 3 rolls, you could almost consider this game a Math game with all of the adding your kids may need to do to figure out their score! When my middle was six, we started playing this game, so I’m not sure Ages 8+ are correct.

    Scattegories

    Another classic family game that you can even play with family and friends over Zoom! Pick a category, roll the dice, and see what words you can come up with starting with that letter. You will be amazed at how creative your kids can be in coming up with words that fit these categories! This is a great game for Transitional Reader Taylors or Fluent Reader Freddies. Not sure what type of reader you have? Take the quiz here!

    Monopoly

    There are so many different versions of Monopoly, so pick your child’s favorite! If your child is 5 or younger, I recommend Monopoly Jr. This could also have gone in the Math category since there is a LOT of math involved for the banker (so you may want to choose this position wisely or have a “helper”)! My boys are obsessed with this Lion King version.

    Rummikub

    This is a new game to our family, but it’s already well-loved! This is another game that could have gone in the Math category with the number matching, runs in one specific color, and all of the strategy involved! Don’t get stuck with a joker since you end up with -30 and the person who went out gets all of those points. Again, another great way to practice math in a classic board game for kids AND adults.

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    Logic Games for Kids

    Kanoodle

    This is another new-to-us game that has completely taken over our house. I may order another one since my two boys fight over who gets to do the next puzzle! There are 2-D and 3-D puzzles that vary from easy to extremely difficult! There are 200 different challenges and this is a great game to build those problem-solving and spatial reasoning skills. When we are allowed to travel again, this would make a great game for a car trip. The small carrying case and instructions make it a great travel game!

    Invasion of the Cow Snatchers

    This is a great logic and problem-solving educational game for kids! The puzzles start off easy as you try to control a UFO to maneuver through different farm obstacles to beam up the cows. The simple puzzles get kids use to the “rules” and how many chips can cross different colored fences. This game does get tricky quickly, but that’s what makes it great to practice those problem-solving skills!

    The Genius Square

    This is another great educational logic game for kids. Every game is different since you roll the dice to determine where all of the pegs go on the square board. Mathematically, your kids are practicing graphing skills simply by rolling the dice and setting up the game! Then, they are using visual-spatial skills and logic to figure out how the pieces fit on the board. You can play alone or race against each other to finish the puzzle. This has occupied my boys for hours at a time! They love it!

    Math Board Games for Kids

    Rack-o

    I still play this game as an adult, but it’s also a great way to practice number sense with your kids! If you play with two players, you need a run of three (so 16, 17, 18, or any three numbers in a row). You can make this game easier or harder by taking away some of the cards or keeping them all in. It’s a good teachable moment to show that if you have the number 58 in the second to last slot, there are only two possibilities to fill that last slot with either 59 or 60. This was a hard concept for my first grader, but with practice through playing this game together, he’s learned a lot about numbers!

    Mobi

    I actually sent a picture of us playing this game to my son’s teacher, and she purchased Mobi for her classroom! This is like the game Bananagrams but for math facts! You can only use addition and subtraction for younger kids and then work up to multiplication and division. The rules are simple and the idea is simply to practice those facts in a fun way!

    Mexican Train

    If you’re following me over on Instagram, you know this game has been a family favorite of ours for years from my Stories! My two-year-old requests we play “Meh-key-train” often so she can play with the colorful trains! There are a LOT of different ways to play this, so make your own house rules together!

    On your first turn, you want to use as many dominoes as possible to make a long train by matching the numbers. Someone can start a “Mexitrain” where everyone can play and add one domino on each turn. Doubles let you play two tiles at a time, and the whole point is to get rid of all of your tiles and end up with the lowest score. You can literally spend hours playing this game starting with double twelves and ending with double zeroes!

    Sum Swamp

    This is an addition and subtraction game but it also reviews even and odd numbers as well! This was one of my go-to educational board games for kids in my classroom, and now it’s a family favorite! Roll three dice to add or subtract your way around the swamp. You can try to take the Crocodile Shortcut but don’t get stuck on the Endless Loop for too long before you make it out of the swamp! This is a fun game to play instead of doing an online math game or fact worksheet.

    Set

    This game has won over 35 awards! I remember playing this game when I was younger. You can play this game by yourself or race with family members to get as many sets as possible! This reinforces properties of shapes, paying attention to details, and just encourages a different way of thinking while having FUN! You can also play one puzzle a day digitally by clicking here.

    Tri-Fact-A

    There is also a multiplication and division version of this game. This is a great way to practice those math facts and see the relationship between them on the triangular game board. Be the first to lay out all of your cards and yell out “Tri-Fact-A!” to win the game.

    Which of these educational board games for kids will you play next?

    Have you played any of these games with your family? What are your favorites? Would you add any games to this list?! Let us know in the comments! Don’t forget to take the quiz to find out what type of reader you have here!

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  • Books vs. Movies: 10 Best Children’s Books to Movies

    Books vs. Movies: What’s better?

    Obviously, in the books vs. movies debate, I’m always going to pick books! I used to have a strong opinion that a book should NEVER be a movie. Ever. Most of the time, I think the movie ruins the book!

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    Wondering what’s better- the book or the movie?! Click the image to read and compare both the children’s book vs. movie with this list of 10 best children’s books turned into movies!

    When I was getting my Masters of Education At the University of Virginia, I took a Children’s Literature class. I was very adamant in my views of children’s books turned into movies until my professor gave me a different perspective. She said something like this:

    “Any time they turn a children’s book into a movie, more people are aware of that book. It brings a wider audience to the story. Even if half of those people never read the book, you know some of them will read the book to compare!”

    I truly had never thought of it this way before! Because of her, I have a new appreciation for books turned into movies. Anything that encourages a child to read is a win in my book!

    I’m sure everyone is thinking about Harry Potter when I’m talking about books vs. movies. I’m actually not including this one on my list because I personally read Harry Potter in high school (mostly because J.K. Rowling hadn’t written them all yet!). I do think there is some type of badge of honor when your child can read the Harry Potter series. I honestly do not think anything after book 4 is appropriate for elementary students.

    Picture Books Turned Into Movies

    As you know from this post, we should never stop reading aloud to our kids!

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    While any type of reader can sit through a movie, I truly think children’s books turned into movies are perfect for those Reluctant Reader Rosies. They get an automatic reward of screen time when they complete the book!

    Not sure what type of reader you have? Click here to take the quiz!

    The main problem I have with picture books turned into movies is that the movies are loosely based on the book. Normally, a picture book does not have as much content as a chapter book, so the movie producers need to get a little more creative in the story line.

    Questions to Ask while Reading & Watching

    I will always recommend reading the story first and discussing it with your child before hopping right into the movie. Talk about:

    • the characters
    • the setting
    • give a brief retelling of the story

    All before you jump into family movie night!

    The biggest skill I work on in Adventures with Books, my virtual book club for second and third graders, is backing up your reasoning with text evidence. For picture books, the evidence can be from the pictures! Ask your child,

    “What is your favorite part?”

    Then, be sure they tell you WHY. The why is always more important to me than whatever part they pick. Talk about your favorite parts BEFORE you watch the movie so they can watch for that part and see if their favorite part changes in the movie!

    Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day


    I love Judith Viorst’s Alexander character and how horrible of a day he has! It is easy for kids to connect to Alexander. As a classroom teacher, we used to change Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day into a Wonderful, Amazing, Very Good, Super Awesome Day!

    Where the Wild Things Are

    This Caldecott Medal-winning picture book is a “must for every child’s bookshelf!” This is a very common birthday theme for little ones and everyone just loves Max!


    The Lorax

    The Lorax is a book I love to read around Earth Day in April every year. It’s a great reminder to be kind to our environment and the trees!

    Jumanji

    Chris Van Allsburg’s illustrations come alive from this book to multiple Jumanji movie interpretations! Another Caldecott Medal winner, Peter and Judy first found this game- Jumanji- over 30 years ago!

    Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

    I always read this book right before our weather unit in fourth grade! The movie interpretation is equally as cute.

    Polar Express

    The Polar Express is a magical story of a little boy’s train ride to the North Pole. Do you believe?

    Chapter Books Turned Into Movies

    Chapter books that are turned into movies are more likely to stick to the story line. There is more content in a chapter book so this makes sense. Some of these books a Beginner Reader Ben will not be able to sit through. You could always read sections of the book aloud if your Beginner Reader will sit through a longer book!

    reading-quiz

    Not sure if what type of reader you have? Take the quiz here!

    Because of Winn Dixie

    If you’re new around here, Kate DiCamillo is one of my FAVORITE authors! I absolutely adore anything she writes, and love comparing this book to the movie!

    Matilda

    Matilda is a gifted five-year-old who clashes with her terrible headmistress and has some crazy adventures! The book really comes to life in the movie.

    Ramona & Beezus

    Beverly Cleary is a classic children’s book author. Please note the book is titled Beezus and Ramona, but the movie switches the names for the title! Ramona is a beloved character with an entire series devoted to her antics!

    Charlotte’s Web

    This classic story is a perfect family read aloud. Watch Charlotte and Wilbur come to life on the big screen!

    The One and Only Ivan

    Katherine Applegate is another one of my favorite authors! The One and Only Ivan is also a movie now on Disney+.

    This is definitely a book for older readers. Be prepared to feel all the feels if you choose to read and watch this one with your kids!

    Flora and Ulysses

    A bonus book turned movie for you! Flora and Ulysses is coming out on Disney+ on February 19th. So, start reading it with your kids today and you’ll be ready for the release 😉

    If you’re looking to bring joy and FUN into your family read alouds, check out my Bonding with Books box. Flora and Ulysses is featured in February’s box!

    The Great Debate

    After you read one of these books, then watch the movie, let me know which you prefer! I will almost always pick a book in the books vs. movies debate!

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