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Monday, September 28, 2009

Reading Role Models

Photo by The U.S. Army
We always hear how important it is for children to have reading role models. And when we think of our child's reading role models, we usually think of us, their parents. We should. We are their primary reading role models! But what about all those other reading role models in their life? Or the reading role models that have yet to enter their life?

How big of an impact do you suppose others have on your child's reading journey? I'm guessing a pretty big one. As I look back on my childhood, there are a handful of reading role models I can think of. Unfortunately, I can't say there are many that especially stick out. As you may recall from previous posts, I wasn't a big reader when I was younger. Perhaps this lack of significant reading role models in my childhood was a contributing factor to that.

My parents were readers, but didn't involve us much in their reading. I saw them reading from time to time, but never heard them talk much about what they read, or remember them suggesting books to me (their were a few exceptions to that as I got into my teen years).

I do have an aunt (she lived next door) that was/is a big reader. She did an awesome Grover voice while reading Sesame Street stories when we were little, always had books on tape on during road trips, and read books like A Wrinkle In Time aloud to us.

There were a few others along the way. Librarians, siblings, some friends...

Can reading role models make or break a reading future? As I'm writing this, I'm realizing just how much of a difference having strong reading models makes. So how do we ensure our children have strong reading role models?
- Read yourself! Read around your children. Encourage them to read. Share interesting things you read with them. Recommend good books to them.
- Talk about books with others, especially when your children are around. Ask your friends what they're reading. Ask them what their children are reading. How about creating a book club/play group? The kiddos play and the parents discuss a book!
- Take your child to the library and the bookstore. Buy them books on special occasions and for no reason at all. Show them how much you value reading.
- Meet your local librarian. Ask them for book suggestions. Become their friend! :)
- Encourage others' children to read, not only your own. We need to be role models for many! Ask your children's friends what they're reading. Volunteer to read at your child's school. Host storytime playdates. Be seen reading!

Being a reading role model is easy. Just be intentional (but not forceful) and share your passion!

Who was a reading role model for you?

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Little Reader Update

I haven't posted in a while on what my little guy, Isaac, is reading these days. To be honest, it's because I keep forgetting to take photos of him. But the other day he was being so adorable with his books, and the camera was handy so I was able to snap a few shots.

He's at kind of an awkward (or at least it feels awkward to me) stage when it comes to books and reading. He can't sit still!! I don't think he's sat and listened to an entire story in MONTHS! It's so frustrating, even though I know it's completely normal for his age (14 months).

I'm encouraged by the fact that he is still very much interested in books. He'll pick one up, carry it over to a chair (or couch) and then ask to be lifted up onto the chair (by patting on it) so he can flip through the pages of his book in comfort. :) That's what's going on in the photos above.

Sometimes he'll bring me the book and then back-up into my lap and sit with me while he flips through the pages. He's never still very long though, and so I usually end up reading the rest of the book to him while he walks around and plays.

I don't pressure him. I keep it all laid back and fun, and I think that has helped him continue enjoying books. He still has favorites that he asks for over and over again (Owl Babies has been a favorite for quite some time). It's interesting how his tastes subtly change and evolve though. He develops new favorites, and gets tired of some he used to want to read all the time. I love that! He's just like me!

I have a lot more I would love to tell you about my little reader, but I only have time for a brief post today. I'll try to take more photos of my guy, and tell you more about what he's been up to soon!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

And We're Off!

Another school year of Literacy Launchpad began this week! Yay!!

As most of you probably know, I create all my own lessons for Literacy Launchpad. And I'm finally getting to the point where I LOVE just about every one of the lessons in my arsenal. Of course, I still can't stop from reading new books, creating new lessons, and trying new ideas. But being able to go to my closet and have this week's super fun lesson all ready and waiting for me was awesome!

We read a book that always turns out to be a favorite - The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers. This is the perfect read to kick-off the year, but sometimes I regret starting the year off with this one, because it sets a high standard, and my students ask about it the entire rest of the year. A good problem to have, I suppose?

The Incredible Book Eating Boy is about Henry, a boy who begins eating books (by mistake) and then discovers that he likes them, and that the more books he eats, the smarter her gets! But all good things must come to an end. Henry begins eating too many books, and all the info he learns gets scrambled in his brain and he suddenly doesn't feel so smart anymore. Then he even gets sick from eating too many books! What's Henry to do? In the end, he decides to read books instead of eating them, and discovers that he can still learn things that way!

I'm not sure exactly what it is that makes my students fall so in love with this book. Perhaps it's the puking part? Whatever it is, it sticks with 'em. And I'm sure I'll be hearing requests for an encore of this one for many months to come!

Check out the photos of the fun we had!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Read For the Record! Be Part of the Event... and Win!

Jumpstart - a non-profit uniting college students and community volunteers with preschool children for year long, individualized tutoring and mentoring - is hosting their annual Read for the Record on October 8th! Their goal is to reach 1,000,000 children this year with the magic of reading! You can be a part of reaching that 1,000,000 by going to their website and pledging to read to the children in your life.

This year's story is Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar! And Jumpstart is giving a copy away to one lucky Literacy Launchpad reader so they'll be ready on Oct. 8th! To enter the giveaway all you have to do is pledge to Read for the Record on Jumpstart's website, and then leave a comment here and let me know you've pledged and are going to be part of the 1,000,000 on October 8th!

Just think how cool it will be to part of the hundreds of thousands (hopefully one million) people all reading the same story on the same day and all spreading awareness about the importance of early childhood education! Pledge to read to your children, to your students, to your neighbors, to your grandchildren, to the kids at the park... Just find some kids to read to! :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Literacy in Children Begins at Home/Guest Post

Photo by somegeekintn

The literal definition of literacy is being able to read and write and being educated, either in general or in a particular field of study. When it comes to children, most parents believe that the journey to literacy starts when they begin school. But that is not entirely true – in fact, a child begins to learn the minute he or she is born into this world. And if we are talking of the knowledge gathering process, that begins not at school, but at home. For a child to improve his or her literacy at home, here’s what a parent must do:
· Encourage them to read more: The more your child reads, the more literate he or she is. When you’re able to assimilate a book, it’s easy to learn your lessons and understand them. Read to your toddler not just at bedtime but during the day too. The colors and pictures in illustrated books help their memories develop faster. Once they’re able to read by themselves, encourage them to take up reading as a hobby and minimize the time they watch TV or spend in front of the computer with mindless games.
· Get them involved in mentally stimulating activities: Puzzles and acrostics help children develop their mental acuity and word power. They gain a better grasp of language and logic, two aspects that help us maintain an efficient learning process throughout our lives. When your kids pick up skills that are not generally associated with regular learning, they gain an edge over their counterparts and peers.
· Let them be children: And last, but not the least, you must let children be children and engage in activities that are suitable for their age. If you pressure them into other activities that you think are more meaningful and useful, you are interfering with the growing process and in fact stunting their growth, emotionally and socially.
· Spend time with them: When you’re a child, you need love and attention more than anything else. And when you don’t give your children the time and attention they need, you are interfering with their natural growth and literacy process. They become unruly and disruptive in subconscious ways to gain your attention, and this disrupts their learning process.
A child must be given every opportunity to become literate, starting with the environment at home.
This guest article was written by Adrienne Carlson.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Don't Take a Vacation From Books!

Photo by kerryvaughan

It seems like we have gone directly from one travel trip to another in our family this past month or so. (I'm actually writing this post from my brother and sister-in-law's house.) All our trips have just been visits to family, but even so, they can be quite stressful. From the packing and preparing, to the upset in routine while on the trip, to the re-adjustment everyone has to make to normal life upon returning home. (Not that we don't totally enjoy being with our family!)

In the midst of the chaos (the good and bad kind), what part do books and reading play? When your family goes on vacation, do they go on a vacation from reading too?

There's no right or wrong answer. No judgement here. I'm just curious... and looking for some inspiration, because I'm not real good with maintaining the reading routine while on vacation. Sometimes books are helpful in a stressful vacation situation. Other times, trying to read with tired and cranky kiddos while on vacation creates extra stress.

Tonight, I was putting my son, Isaac, to bed here at my in-laws' house. His pack 'n' play is set up in his uncle's office/music studio, which is full of musical instruments and fun knobs to look at and try to touch. So my attempts at having some quiet reading time with him in there before bed were pretty futile. He would not sit still. And since I couldn't read and chase him around and keep him from breaking something, he went to bed with no bedtime story. In fact, we didn't read together at all today. *Gasp!*

Now that I'm writing this post, I realize I should have done the bedtime story thing in a less distracting room. Something to remember for next time. (We're heading home tomorrow.)

In the future I would like to be much more intentional in making books a part of our vacations, just like they are a part of our normal, everyday life at home. How do I do that? Here are some ideas I've been brainstorming:

- Be intentional about creating a quiet space somewhere, somehow, no matter where you're staying, so it's easier to make reading happen.

- Buy or borrow a few books that are new and enticing to Isaac. Think about his interests and attention span.

- Use down time in the car/plane/airport to read. Take advantage of those opportunities where you have a captive audience.

- Read aloud while Isaac's playing during the day. Even if he's not giving me his full attention, he's likely to wander over to catch snippets of the story here and there. And a read-aloud is better background noise than nothing... or the TV.

Please add to my list! I need ideas!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pete's A Pizza Lesson!

It's been a while since I last mentioned anything about our August unit. So just to remind you, last month's theme was food. Mmmm. I'm really hungry right now. Hope I can make it through typing up this post without having to make a kitchen run.

We read Pete's A Pizza (William Steig) for our last lesson. Boy, was this story a hit! If you haven't read it yet (where have you been?), it's about a young boy (Pete) who's stuck inside on a rainy day. In an effort to cheer him up, his parents decide to play a game of pretend with Pete and make him into a pizza! They toss Pete around, cover him in pizza toppings, and bake him in the oven. Calm down. Remember I said it was all pretend.

My students were completely captivated. They especially seemed to enjoy the way I whispered, while reading, what the toppings really were (power, paper, poker chips).

Check out all the photos capturing our reading fun:

Tossing our pizzas.


Look at all those yummy toppings!

Pile 'em on!!

Time to put those "pizzas" in the oven.

Whew! This was a messy lesson!