If this is your first time visiting, you might want to subscribe so you'll be notified when there's something new to read! See the sidebar below to subscribe. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Meet The Newest Members of My Family!

Most of you know that my husband and I are in the process of adopting two children from Ethiopia. Today we passed court in Ethiopia, which means the children we're adopting are now legally part of our family (according to Ethiopia). We are thrilled!! We've been dealing with court postponements for the past two months, so it feels great to finally be approved!

Visit here to read more about our children, and about our adoption journey.

Now that our children are legally part of our family, we can share photos of them!! I put together a little slide show. Enjoy!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Living the Lessons

Being a first-time Mom has been an eye-opening experience for me. For the past five years I've been teaching other people's children to love reading, and encouraging other parents to foster a love of reading in their children. Now, I'm seeking to do the same thing within my own family. With my own child.

I feel the pressure to raise a strong and enthusiastic reader. There's that expectation from others... and it's not a silent expectation (from some). But these first couple of years with my son, I've felt pretty laid back in my reading encouragement as a momma. Laid back in that I haven't stressed too much about it; I haven't has any reason to. Perhaps that will change now that my son is getting older (he's not a baby anymore. Wah!) and inching closer and closer to reading independently. We'll see.

My son is talking more and more and has been melting my heart with his expressions of love for books lately. (Go check out the Literacy Launchpad facebook page to read some of his latest quotes.) Just today we were at a bounce house play place and he came and sat next to me on a bench and suggested I read him a book. Melt.

So now that I see that he really does love books, I've asked myself how we got from tiny newborn to book-loving toddler. To tell you the truth, it was pretty effortless. I've done things that come naturally, things that are enjoyable, things that are inexpensive (or free), and things that make my life easier as a mommy... Those things that I've been telling other parents to do for years. They really work. Go figure.
  1. We have books everywhere. In every room. If they're there, your child will want to read them.
  2. We read at bedtime and nap time. At least. If we read at no other point during the day (which is hard to do if you have books in every room in your house), we have these guaranteed built-in reading times every day. And Isaac looks forward to them.
  3. We limit TV time. I always said I wasn't going to let my kids watch any TV before they were two. That didn't happen. But we only let Isaac watch a small amount of TV a day. And honestly, some of his TV watching has lead to extra reading excitement.
There are other little things we do to foster Isaac's love of reading, but these things listed above are the basics. Start here and magic will happen. It's true (gasp!). Everything else we do with our son is a natural progression that stems from these basics.

For more ideas (beyond the basics) just browse my blog, or email me. I would be glad to give you more ideas or help you however I can.

I would love to hear from you mommas of older kiddos about what I might be in store for in the not-so-distant future. How have your children's reading interests and enthusiasm progressed or regressed as they've gotten older? What do you do to keep the fire burning?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why We Go to the Library

Yes, I have posted about My Littler Reader's and my trips to the library several times in the past here and here and here. I guess I am just always fascinated (sometimes baffled) by the library and what goes on there.

I must admit, My Little Reader and I are just now getting into a regular library visiting habit. The fact that he's now getting to be old enough to have more of an understanding of, and appreciation for what happens there has served as a motivating factor for me.

This week I was a bit shocked on our visit to one of our local library branches. Isaac and I walked into the children's room (one of only two rooms in this small branch) to find three (or four?) moms sitting around a table chatting while their half a dozen kids (or so) ran around the small carpeted area in the middle of the room yelling and screaming and chasing one another around. There was no correction from their moms, no hushes or attempts to calm them down at all; the moms didn't even seem fazed by it.

I was so frustrated by this. Rightly so or not? There were so many things about this scene that frustrated me. A few:
  • These mothers seemed to be using the library as a playroom for their kids to romp around in with no direction (or supervision it seemed), so they could socialize.
  • I don't know what was more rude, the loud obnoxious kids, or the loud obnoxious parents.
  • How sad to see these moms at the library with their kids, but not actually sharing the experience with their kids, or helping to guide and enhance the experience for their children.
  • My son is 2 yrs. old and of course wanted to join in on the chaos that he was witnessing. Ugh! Now I have to deprogram him. (He did calm down once these families cleared out and headed home.)
  • The chaos in the children's room made it nearly impossible to browse for books. We had to kind of hang back till they left.
No I didn't complain to the library staff. Perhaps I should have. Or perhaps I had my panties in too big of a bunch over it all? I don't know. But it got me thinking about what I want for Isaac and me when we visit the library. Why do we go to the library?

  • To borrow books, of course. A variety of reading materials!
  • To hear stories. (Sometimes we make it to story time.)
  • To show Isaac the joy of discovering new books. (Look at all these books!)
  • To help develop new interests in Isaac. (What fun new things can we read about?)
  • To foster his interests that are already present. (Right now he's loving Dolphins!)
  • To have a good time. (Getting out of the house is always fun!)
  • To learn how the library works. (What's the library for, how to find what you're looking for at the library, etc.)

From what I saw this week at the library, I guess this is not why every family visits the library.

So please use the comments section to tell me why YOU visit the library with your child(ren). Please!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Catering to Their Interests

... It works! I know, I have talked about this before, but it bears repeating. And it has been proving itself an effective strategy for encouraging reading time and time again in our house.

Isaac truly enjoys reading. But sometimes he gets stuck in a "Watch a show, Mommy!" rut. Even though he doesn't get to watch much TV when we're at home normally, it doesn't stop him from asking about it. All. The. Time. At least it feels like he's asking for it all the time some weeks.

Isaac is also a two year old. An active two year old. There are days when he's simply not interested in sitting long enough to listen to a story. He'll always go for a story before nap time or bedtime (he also likes reading at mealtimes too), but I like to read with him more often than that. He's not always game if it means walking away from the dinosaur toys for a few minutes.

Isaac has become fond of several shows recently that are new to him, Dora and The Backyardigans. He also LOVES Toy Story. Right now, if I can find him a book on any of these topics, he'll drop whatever he's doing to hear me read it to him. And he'll usually then let me read him other books of my own choosing after we read the one he was originally interested in. It's like magic. And honestly, I don't mind the Dora and Backyardigans stories.

If I leave these favorite books lying around I will usually hear him say some of my favorite words, "Sit and read a book, Mommy!" as he pats a spot on the couch.

And an added bonus, when Isaac is distracted at the library by all the toys and games and puzzles, I can get him to help me choose some books if I suggest that we look for a Backyardigans book (or whatever his current interest may be). He followed me all around the stacks this week when we visited the library, because he was really interested in the books I was trying to find. Then when we found it, he cracked it open right then and there and started flipping through the pages as we headed for the circulation desk. I love seeing my boy walking around with his nose in a book!