Book Review: Where Will I live? by Rosemary McCarney

Ages 4-7

Where Will I live? By Rosemary McCarney. Second Story Press: Toronto, 2017.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the pictures it will take you to Amazon where if you make a purchase, I receive a portion of the sales.)

 

What it is about

Children search for a place to call home because where they live isn’t safe anymore. Despite the hardships these children face, they still find joy and laughter and fun.

This book tackles a hard, sad, scary topic on a level kids can understand. You know your child best and not every child will be ready to hear this story. I still remember a fourth grade novel assignment, Bridge to Terabithia, I wasn’t ready for. I cried for an hour after finishing! I could comprehend the book but wasn’t ready for the content.

If your child is ready, I suggest this book. Many of our cities have resettled refugees. It is important to not only understand their difficult journeys to the US, but that even in the hard journeys, kids are kids. Every child longs for a home, family, friends and fun.

Letter Knowledge and Print Awareness

Trace the title with your finger while you read it to the child. Point out the author and say that the author wrote the words. Show on the last page all the photographers who shared their pictures for this book.

Ask the child what letters he sees in the title. Are any of the letters in his name?

As you read the book follow the text with your finger. It familiarizes the child, not only with the letters, but how a book is read.

Narrative Skills

This book talks about community, family, friendship and belonging. After reading the book, use the Cotton Balls Kind Words Sensory Lesson (retrieved from preschoolpowolpackets.) It teaches children the difference between kind words and hurtful words using sensory materials. This lesson not only will strengthen the impact of the book, but it also develops vocabulary and narrative skills through describing the cotton ball and sandpaper.

Talk about times your child felt scared. What helped her feel safe, calmer, loved?

There are different landscapes and climates shown in the book. Have your child find a photograph and describe what he sees. Prompt with the colors of clothes, the temperature they think it might be.

Print Motivation

This book is about a child’s home environment. With a camera or phone, have your child take pictures of your house, neighborhood, town or city, car, favorite toy, where she sleeps, and friends. Assemble the pictures into a book and have child narrate each picture while you write down her responses. This will reinforce narrative skills, vocabulary and letter knowledge.

Phonological Awareness

Find songs that celebrate differences/diversity and community. Find music from other cultures, especially research the countries listed in this book.

Vocabulary

This book is rich with vocabulary. You can introduce new words by discussing the different climates in the pictures and introduce Geography through all of the countries portrayed in the photos.

  • Croatia
  • Hungary
  • Rwanda
  • Lebanon
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Slovenia
  • Greece
  • South Sudan
  • Kenya
  • Cameroon
  • Myanmar
  • Niger

This book uses a lot of positional language. Write out cards using the word list below. Illustrate and have your child act out the action on the card. What else would you add to this list? You can also use a favorite toy and a clear glass to act out the cards.

  • Down
  • Beyond
  • Past
  • Across
  • Under
  • Beneath
  • In

Check out these other books about Refugee experiences to help build empathy and understanding.

What activities worked or didn’t work for your family? List in the post comments.

 

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus

Ages 2-5

Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus. Dial Books for Young Readers: New York, 2017.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)

What the Book is About

Beautiful prose and gorgeous illustrations weave together America’s story, its monuments and its flag. A land that is as diverse as the people who live here is highlighted in this book.

Print Awareness and Letter Knowledge

Start with the title page. Say the title and trace as you read it. Have the child count with you the number of words in the title?

Why do we trace the words on the page? It connects our youngest readers, not only with the letter shapes, but how we read a book. Left to right and down a page.

Look at the front cover. Ask if the people look the same. Point out glasses, hair color, clothes, skin color, etc.

Ask the child what she thinks all the people are watching. Then flip through the pages of the book and ask questions about the pictures. Have the child guess what the book is about.

Print Motivation

This can be used as a participation book. Read the first several pages or even one time through. Encourage the child to say with you the phrase, Blue Sky White Stars. Kids love to be a part of the story and participating helps them learn even more.

Phonological Awareness

Although homonyms and homophones might be too advanced to discover on their own, point out the letter differences and then say each word. The repetition will help your child hear each individual sound. Even if they don’t understand the concept of homonyms, these experiences with concepts as a young child will build a solid base for learning later in life.

Sing Yankee Doodle along with this video:

Or This little light of mine

or You’re a Grand Old Flag

Narrative Skills or Building Reading Comprehension

Ask questions about the book:

  1. What picture do you like best? Why? Is it the colors? Or the scene (what is happening on the page?)
  2. Have your child describe a picture and see if you can guess what it is. This encourages the child to look at the picture in details, deriving more context as well as trying out some new words.
  3. After a couple of read throughs, have the child “tell” the story from the pictures. You be the listener! Getting the right words isn’t important, but seeing whether the child comprehended what the essence of the story is.

Vocabulary

For so little text, there are so many big words to use! The rich illustrations demonstrate how critical pictures are in early reading. It helps expand vocabulary as well as tell the story. As children age, they need pictures less and less. But these first years of listening, the power is often in the pictures.

Using the pictures make a list of words your child hasn’t heard often.

  1. Conestoga Wagon
  2. Pioneers
  3. The West
  4. Settlement
  5. Wagon Train
  6. Windmill
  7. Canyon
  8. Diverse
  9. Graduation
  10. Astronaut
  11. Proud
  12. Immigrant
  13. CitizenAmericanFlagStars and StripesAbraham LincolnCountry

After the Book

Find symbols of America using this picture book as a guide. One of the best parts of the book is how it celebrates the diversity of the american experience. Using newspapers and magazines, create a collage of our country. Label the pictures to reinforce letter awareness.

 

What did you try?

Tell us in the comments sections, what you tried. What worked and didn’t work? Any other ideas you used?

Happy Reading!

Book Review: As Time Went By By Jose Sanabria

Ages 3-5

As Time Went By. Jose Sanabria. Translated by Audrey Hall. North South Books Inc. New York: 2016.

 

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase, I receive a portion of the sale. )

What the Book is About

The changing life of a steamboat and the changing faces of who inhabits and uses the boat.

How to Use this Book

Below are suggestions broken down by literacy skill to help you engage your young listener. You will not use each activity or skill in one sitting, but choose one or two to focus on each reading.

Print Awareness

It is always important to orient the child to the story and book before you begin a reading. This particular book’s cover illustration goes from front cover to back cover. Open up the book, so both front and back cover show. Start at the left of the picture and ask questions about what the child sees. Ask about the people, the colors, the different types of transportation shown before you even open the book.

Next, underline with your finger the title and author. Point out the author and illustrator and then mention that the author is from another country and this book was written in Spanish and translated into English.

Flip through the book and show how it is structured into part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Simply describe that books are put together or assembled in different ways. This one has two stories that become one story.

Vocabulary

Research shows that the more unique words a child hears in everyday conversation, the more prepared she is when it comes time to read. Face to face conversation is critical because not only are the children listening to the words, but they watch how the mouth moves when the words are formed. Tablets, TV and smartphones do not provide the same benefit. (see Talking with Young Children)

Try to find unique words that are in the story or words you might use while talking about the story. For example:

  1. Translate
  2. Rebuilt
  3. Assembled
  4. Abandoned
  5. Company
  6. Luxury
  7. Village
  8. Harbor
  9. Steamship
  10. Sea
  11. Sail

Pick a few words each day and find ways to incorporate them into conversation. With repetition these words will become a part of your child’s vocabulary. Some words are hard to find ways to use naturally! So find a game or activity that would allow you to use them. And don’t forget, that is why we read books! The more we read, the more kids hear, the bigger vocabularies they build.

The more we read, the more kids hear, the bigger vocabularies they build.

Activities to use:

Categorize words. For example: From the list above, categorize words into nouns: People, places or things; Adjectives or describing words; Verbs or moving words. Write lists or make drawings in each of the categories. This will help the child connect with the words on a deeper level.

Find the words in the book: Abandoned, luxury and homeless. The illustrator uses different colors on pages that these words appear. Talk about happy and sad emotions (and remind them that emotions are feelings) Then look at the pictures and have the child say whether the people on that page feel happy or sad or a different emotion. This not only builds vocabulary but helps the child reinforce reading comprehension and narrative skills. You could even make paper faces and draw the face and label happy or sad and have the child hold up how the picture makes him or her feel.

Phonological Awareness

Alliteration is a big word and concept that can be simplified for kids by pointing out the beginning sounds of words. For example:

Ship that sailed beside the sun.

Ship. Sailed. Sun.

See if you and your child can write your own alliterative phrases.

The sun shines severely.

The board barely broke.

Write out and underline the similar starting sounds. This also encourages letter awareness/knowledge along with phonological awareness which is hearing the smaller sounds that make up the whole word.

Sing Row Row Row your boat. Singing is a great way to build Phonological Awareness. Add in motions to make it a whole body experience.

Narrative Skills (Building Reading Comprehension)

Connect the book to other ideas the child might know. For example, discuss what a steamship is and then talk about other types of boats. If you search for images online you can print out the pictures of different types of boats and then create labels for each type. Play a matching game. This also builds letter awareness and vocabulary.

Boat Color Sheets

Britannica Kids: Motorboat

Kidzsearch: Steamship

Questioning:

Ask questions about the story as you read. Not every page, but every few pages. It is also a good way to see if the child is understanding the story or if it is still a little too hard comprehension wise. At the end of the book, go back through and pick out main points of the story and discuss them. It may take a few readings before the child can tell you the story on his or her own.

Print Motivation

Repeated phrases are a great way to engage listeners in the book. Reading should never be a passive event! A repeated phrase in the book is, as time went by. When you get to that line, make sure to follow with your finger and encourage your child to say it with you. After a few times he or she may say it with you with little prompting.

After the Story

Do your own As Time Went By story. Take a loved toy, or hand me down clothing or some other repurposed object and write its story. Use the story as a guide, but have your child dictate what you are to write. Have him illustrate and put it together like a book.

Take a field trip. Find a repurposed building in your city to visit. Talk about what it had been and how it is used now. Was it ever abandoned like in the story? It is a good way to not only practice vocabulary, but to connect the story with the real world, a stepping stone to critical thinking.

Write in the comments section what skills and activities you tried. How did they work? What did you try different?

Try these books:

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Trees by Lemniscates

I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you make a purchase by clicking the link, I receive a portion of the sales.

Ages 2-5

Written and Illustrated by Lemniscates. Candlewick Studio: Somerville, 2015

What the Book is About

Mixed media illustrations all about trees. How they change, where they grow, how they communicate and who benefits from having them around. A great way to encourage young children to explore the world.

About this post

Below I have highlighted different ways to incorporate pre-literacy skills to engage the listener and build reading skills. You won’t use each skill in every reading, but with each reading, pick a few different skills to highlight and use those suggestions.

Print Awareness and Print Motivation

When you read the book point out the title. Have the listener trace the letters with his finger. Ask what he thinks the book is about. What else does he see on the front cover? Point out the different tree shapes and sizes and have the child show you the tallest or most round tree.

Open the book and use your finger to underline the title and author. Remind the listener that the author writes the words and the illustrator draws the pictures. Sometimes, like this book the author and the illustrator are the same person.

This encourages Print Awareness and Print Motivation which orients the child to the parts of the book as well as leads the child to think about reading before it happens, deepening reading comprehension.

Narrative Skills

Build a dialog with the book. In the opening pages, ask the child what season it looks like outside your own windows. Are there leaves on the trees? Do you see the grass? What is the temperature, hot or cold?

As you read the story, stop and talk about the illustrations. For example, in the story text, the roots are referred to as feet. Talk about how this is a metaphor because roots are like the feet of the tree. Another page says the trees talk to each other and this is called communication. Ask how she believes trees communicate? What do you think trees talk about? If you were a tree, where would you live? By the river, in the wilderness or in the city?

Letter Knowledge

Using the title page, what letters do you see? Are any of them in your name?

Phonological Awareness

This isn’t a rhyming book, but there are ways to incorporate this important skill as a follow up to a reading. Come up with a rhyming tree. Ask the listener, what rhymes with tree? Draw a picture of a tree and for each rhyming word make a branch on the tree. The leaves can be silly words that rhyme but aren’t real words.

There are a lot of great finger plays, poems, songs and rhymes available online.

Apple Tree from letsplaykidsmusic.com

Apple tree, apple tree,

Will your apple fall on me?

I won’t cry, I won’t shout,

If your apple knocks me out!

You can also make up your own rhyme to a familiar song like this one sung to the tune The Wheels on the Bus:

The branches on the tree go up and down

up and down, up and down

The branches on the tree go up and down

In the breeze.

The leaves on the tree swing to and fro

To and fro, To and fro

The leaves on the tree swing to and fro

In the breeze.

The birds in the tree flap their wings

Flap their wings, Flap their wings

The birds in the tree flap their wings

In the breeze.

Take it Further

Go on a tree scavenger hunt. Look for different trees in your neighborhood or at a local park. Collect leaves, take notes on how the bark feels, how the branches grow, does the tree have fruit, etc. When home, make rubbings of the leaves with crayons and make a leaf book. Write the name of the tree and its characteristics.

The book’s illustrations are in mixed media, which means a variety of art techniques are used to make the pictures. Make your own mixed media pictures experimenting with texture, paint, paper, crayons, colored pencils and more to draw your own wilderness scene.

Don’t forget to post pictures in the comments below to share your child’s creativity!

Happy Reading!

Building Reading Comprehension

Functional illiteracy is a large problem in the United States

(Information retrieved from K12 Readers on July 29, 2017 from http://www.k12reader.com/the-importance-of-reading-comprehension/ )
  • Over 60% of inmates in the U.S prison system have reading skills at or below the fourth grade level.
  • 85% of U.S juveniles in prison are functionally illiterate.
  • 43% set of adults with extremely low reading skills live at or below the poverty line.

Someone who is functionally illiterate is unable to read at a level that they need to manage daily life. This could involve reading employment applications or banking forms or housing agreements.

One of the most critical pre-literacy skills is Narrative which helps strengthen reading comprehension to build strong readers.

 

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Reading Comprehension is an important part of early literacy. It involves not only understanding the story that is being read, but processing and understanding the meaning of the story, predicting what will happen and relating it to the child’s life or other stories he or she has read.

It is a skill that doesn’t come naturally and needs to be nurtured as readers grow. Our youngest readers start by connecting the pictures on the page with the words that they hear. In the beginning books have short simple sentences with clear illustrations. As a reader ages selecting stories with strong sequencing, (Like Gingerbread Man or If you give a Mouse a Cookie) help build the narrative skills essential for reading comprehension. Asking questions about the story help children begin to understand the flow of books and create a deeper connection with the story that goes beyond recalling the events on the page.

By the time a child is an independent reader we want them to go beyond decoding the words they read to a rich understanding of the story as a whole.

Check out these articles for further information on Reading Comprehension and why it matters:

Reading Rockets: What Research Tells us about Reading, Comprehension and Comprehension Instruction

K12 Reader: The Importance of Reading Comprehension

Improve Reading Comprehension