We’ve talked a lot about reading in this blog and I was reminded at a work training this week that not only do we prepare our kids to become future readers, but we prepare them to become future writers as well.
I was under the misconception that writing was all about fine motor skills. I did a lot with my kids to strengthen their pincer grasp, but I didn’t know how important shoulder, back and forearm strength was for future handwriting success.
This workshop opened my eyes to a whole new level of early literacy success.
Some of the ideas I share below came from the workshop and others came from a great website called Your Therapy Source: Gross Motor Skills and Handwriting. I’ve put it in a graphic format so you can print it out and remind yourself to add play into your day to help your child develop the muscles he needs to become a strong handwriter.
This afternoon go find a park and try out some of the activities, not only will you and your child spend some quality time together, the play will actually build the arm and hand strength needed to be a successful student.
There are also great blog posts about how handwriting develops.
By Cynthia Leonor Garza. Illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez, 2017. New York: POW!
( I am an amazon affiliate, if you click on the pictures or links it takes you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)
What this book is about
One day on the playground Lucía is teased by the boys that she can’t be a superhero. It makes her mad and that night her Abuela tells her about the luchadora’s. A luchador is more than an acrobatic wrestler. A luchadora is brave and spunky and fights for what is right. Lucía wears the luchador costume the next day on the playground and soon all the kids show up in masks and costumes. She has fun until the boys tease again that girls cannot be superheros. She takes off her mask to reveal her true identity and show the boys that girls are superheros.
What I like about this book
It is hard to find picture books that feature diverse characters. This book not only features Mexican culture through the main character it is also a universal and empowering story for girls.
The pictures are vibrant and complement the text well and I love the influence from comic books and Mexican culture.
The vocabulary is rich in the book. Every page introduces unique words.
As you can see from the sample pages your child will learn the words masked, swift, slick, style, luchadora, agile.
Print Awareness/Letter Awareness
Print Awareness will be developed with each reading. As is typical in comic books, the onomatopoeias are set apart and larger than the rest of the text. This is a great way to use your finger to follow the sentences and also highlight the places where the words deviate from the typical sentence structure. Paragraphs are in different colors which also will help children differentiate the text.
This book provides many opportunities to stop and have the child trace the letters with her fingers and sound out words even if she aren’t reading on her own yet.
Onomatopoeias are also a great way to help kids learn different letter sounds. They are short words, often one syllable. As you read these words, follow along with your finger and then stop and have them repeat the sound.
The text, while doesn’t rhyme, has a strong cadence which gives it a beat like a rhyming book. The flow, not only makes it enjoyable to read out loud, strengthens your child’s expressive reading when they become independent readers.
Feeling different is a normal part of growing up and this book will provide a jumping off point to discuss this in your own family. Often times societal norms tell us girls act one way and boys act another. Talk about what you did as a child and some of your favorite memories that might help dispel the stereotypes.
There are many places in the book to stop and ask further questions about what is happening on the page that might not be told in the sentences. Ask your child about the pictures and what is also going on in the story.
Why you should pick this book up today
This book is a great read aloud that girls and boys will enjoy together. It features a strong Hispanic girl, provides rich vocabulary and strong text that makes this a book you will come back to again and again.
Other great picture books with strong female characters
When my kids were toddlers and preschoolers we literally spent hours a day reading. First thing in the morning, right after lunch, after naps, before dinner, and as a getting ready for bed routine. We were a read aloud family.
As the kids get older it is harder to keep up with the routine. First my oldest started reading independently and then soon after her brother followed and my youngest will still hand us books to read but as she becomes a more confident reader the read aloud routine is sporadic at best.
I know the research that shows reading aloud benefits all ages. Babies, toddlers, preschoolers, school age kids, tweens, teens and yes, even adults.
“The first reason to read aloud to older kids is to consider the fact that a child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to his listening level until about the eighth grade,” said Trelease, referring to a 1984 study performed by Dr. Thomas G. Sticht showing that kids can understand books that are too hard to decode themselves if they are read aloud. “You have to hear it before you can speak it, and you have to speak it before you can read it. Reading at this level happens through the ear.”
A level or two above their own reading level. This helps mature reading comprehension and vocabulary.
Give them something to do with their hands while you read. Coloring books, Legos, knitting, drawing, it doesn’t matter what, as long as their hands stay busy their minds and ears stay open.
Make it a family event. Turn off phones and the TV. Make it part of the bedtime routine or after dinner routine or even in the morning. Find a time that works for your family.
It does become challenging the older our kids get to find time to read together. Sports, homework and extracurricular activities overtake the evenings and weekends, but there isn’t a better gift you can give your children then reading together as a family.