Featured

Celebrate Great Children’s Literature during Children’s Book Week

CBW-champion-FINALA librarian for the Boy Scouts for America toured the US in order to raise awareness and support for better quality children’s books. He wanted to create a “Good Book Week” to celebrate children’s literature and he enlisted the help of Publisher’s Weekly, the American Library Association and the American Booksellers Association to join the Boy Scouts in promoting this event.

In 1944, the Children’s Book Council took over the event and it is still held today, 98 years after the first event. (see Every Child a Reader for more on the history of the event)

High quality children’s books are critical in building the success of future readers. What can you do as parents or caregivers to build a love of reading for the children you care for.

  1. Make reading a regular routine. Just like brushing teeth, reading should be a part of your child’s every day. It only takes twenty minutes to build a love of reading and the necessary pre-literacy skills that will aid your child during his school years.
  2. Find books your children love. Read blogs, check out the new shelf of your library, go to the bookstore and ask friends. There are a lot of places to find new and enriching books.
  3. Put books within your child’s reach. No high bookshelves! Have baskets in multiple rooms of the house with easy access to books. Keep a bag handy in the car with books and always keep a book or two with you while you wait for appointments. Make finding a book as easy as finding her favorite toy.
  4. Go to a bookstore or library storytime as a family. Show your child the importance of reading by attending a community storytime. Here you will learn about new books and learn new songs to sing together.
  5. To raise a reader be  a reader. Let your child catch you reading throughout the day. Our kids tend to copy our habits. Look how early they imitate our smartphone habits! So, pick up a book and get reading, and know that your love of reading will grow your child’s love of it too!

Don’t forget to look at the events page at your local library, bookstore and school to see the exciting events taking place in your community for Children’s Book Week.

For further information about this week and ways to celebrate

  • Get started on your summer reading with this Summer 2017 list by Publisher’s Weekly.
  • Find out more about Children’s Book Week here.
  • Search for your local events here.
  • Find downloadable books and activities from a CBW sponsor here.

You can also vote in the Children and Teen’s Book Choice awards by clicking here.

Tell us in the comments how you are celebrating with your child this week!

HAPPY READING!

Book Review: This house, once by Deborah Freedman

  • This House, Once
  • Written by Deborah Freedman
  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers: New York, 2017
  • A story about how a house came to be and the materials used to build it before they were used.

A poetic picture book about where the pieces and parts of a house come from and what they might have been before they became a house.

What I Like About This Book

Books that build a strong sequence are perfect for preschoolers. Building a story little by little helps strengthen narrative skills in future readers. Not only is the child learning the materials used in building houses, he also sees the world around him in a different way. See what is in nature and imagine what it could and can be.

The language is unique and fresh in this story. It isn’t too often in a day that a child will hear the words colossal, oozed, cleft, shingled, melted. Each repeated reading the child will learn the words and build a strong dictionary in her mind for when she begins to read later in her school years.

The pictures are simple and complement the text well. Just as the text builds the words around a house, the pictures build the image of a house page by page. It is amazing how this thoughtful act of placement helps children develop their own ability to retell stories.

Lastly, the lilting flow of the text makes this a perfect curl- up- under- the- blanket read.

This door was once a colossal oak tree

about three hugs around

and as high as the blue.

A more perfect sentence was never written! This type of writing not only draw the child into the book but the parent as well making it a shoo-in for reading over and over and over again. With each repetition the child’s vocabulary and narrative skills will build.

How to Use This Book

This is a great book to try and recreate the story on the page. Go outside and gather sticks, dirt, stone and other natural materials and build a house. Name each of the materials you gather. For example if you find branches from a maple tree, look at the leaves and the bark and the roots.

Ask questions about the book after reading like, What is the door made of? How are windows made? Don’t forget to look at the pictures and talk about what is happening on the page that might not be mentioned in the text. This helps build reading comprehension.

Talk about your house or apartment. What is it made of? Start with the door, just like the book and work your way up. Another great way to converse with your child in a positive way, while building vocabulary and relating back to the story.

What to Read Next?

Try these other books that build strong narrative skills.

bag i'm taking to grandmas

Book Review: Round by Joyce Sidman

  • Written By Joyce Sidman
  • Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
  • Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Boston, New York
  • 2017

Round follows a girl explorer as she discovers the many round shapes she sees and feels in the world.  the world and discovers the many round shapes she sees and feels. Big or small, old or new, moving or stationary it is a perfect read to share with children to grow curiosity about the world around them.

What I like about this Book

Sidman is a children’s poet who writes about nature. She has won a Newberry Honor, a Caldecott Honors and many other awards. She understands well a child’s curiosity of nature and how children naturally gravitate to books about the tangible and real. Preschoolers are very concrete learners and thinkers and this book leads a child to explore the round shapes she sees in her everyday life. She not only talks about the form of round, but also how it moves depending on its mass. She talks about how rain splats and ripples in the water. Dung beetles and the ball it rolls, spins and bounces. Cliffs that start out with sharp edges and are worn away by water and wind and rain. Round isn’t just a shape!

Sidman’s use of words builds strong vocabulary in its readers. She uses fresh language to describe what the child sees in the book. Just a few of her words are  hatch, swell, and budding. The more unique words a child hears in her everyday life the better vocabulary she has to pull from when she begins to read.

Her use of language is also beautiful. Children this young, won’t be able to grasp the metaphors she uses, but the cadence of the story will attract them to the book over and over and over again. This is called Print Motivate and it is an important stepping stone to building future readers.

Or show themselves,

night after night,

rounder and rounder,

until the whole sky holds its breath.

I especially like the last pages of the book that explains why there are so many round things in nature and why it matters that those things are round. Even I learned something from this addition!

How to Use This Book

This is a book that begs to be read outside in a park, a field, near a pond or stream. Spread out a blanket and curl up together. Read the book a few times. Talk about the pictures on the page. A lot of the unique vocabulary is also in the pictures! Afterwards, take a nature walk and see what round shapes your child can spot. Point out what you see and don’t just talk about the shape, but explore the texture as well. If possible, see how it moves and compare how one round object moves in comparison to another.

Go to the store and find round foods. Make a lunch or snack with what you discover together in the store. Talk about the taste, touch, smell and feel of these foods. And if you are feeling adventurous and don’t mind a mess. Try dropping, rolling, spinning or another creative movement.

Find paper and have your child cut out different sizes of circles. Make new shapes with them, order them from biggest to smallest and smallest to biggest. Find different ways to use the paper circles.

What to Read Next

Discover Joyce Sidman’s poetry and nature exploration in these other great books.

 

What are your favorite children’s books about nature? Share in the comments.

 

Happy Reading!!

Featured

What Makes a Reader?

On my Facebook feed yesterday, there was a link to an article on a new study published by the journal Developmental Psychology. The study found that children who find reading success use something called “inventive spelling” as she writes. Find a link to the full article here.

WHAT IS INVENTIVE SPELLING?

Inventive spelling is how a child writes the words he hears. Children use the sounds they here to create the words on the page. I often see this in my own children’s writing work when they create stories. School will often be written as skul or skl. As the child matures, according to the study, the consonant and vowel sounds develop.

In the Children’s House in the Montessori classroom, this type of invented spelling is encouraged through the work, the moveable alphabet. The children use wooden letters and place them on a large mat, lined like a piece of paper. Children start by placing the letters on the mat, writing single words. Then stories. After the letters are placed on the mat, they will copy what they see onto a piece of paper and illustrate the story. Reinforcing hand strength, reading comprehension and phonological awareness.

The large takeaway from this study is memorizing sight words does not lead to reading success. The exploration of reading and words by the child and child directed, however does.

How to encourage “invented spelling”

  1. Have a lot of writing material available. No matter where you are, it is easy to carry a small notebook and pencil with you. In the car, waiting in line at the grocery store, or waiting for your child’s turn at the doctor’s office, have a notebook and pencil at the ready. Have her write down what she sees or a story about what will happen.
  2. Chalkboards work too. Chalkboards are great for many reasons. But I like the versatility of them. Children can use chalk, or even their fingers to form letters and words in the dust.
  3. Foam letters. Even if your child hasn’t mastered writing, he can use foam letters to form words and stories.
  4. Don’t worry about correcting or editing the words. At this stage your child is learning how words are put together and they sounds he hears. All of this leads to developing the skills he needs to become a future reader. Spelling comes later!

Take a look at the article. There are a lot of great tips on how to further encourage and build your child’s love for reading!

 

 

Book Review: Princess Cupcake Jones and the Dance Recital by Ylleya Fields

  • Princess Cupcake Jones and the Dance Recital. Ylleya Fields. Illustrated by Michael La Duca. Belle Publishing: Cleveland. 2016
  • Preschool

Cupcake Jones and the rest of the students at Madame’s School of Ballet are preparing for a dance recital. Cupcake Jones is finding it hard to master a difficult move and worries about what will happen at the recital. The students learn that hard work and doing your best is all they need for a successful event.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK

This is the third book in the Cupcake Jones picture book series. The author is a fellow Clevelander and started writing the Cupcake Jones books because she struggled to find books with African American characters in them. As a children’s librarian in the inner city, I found the same problems finding books the kids I served could relate to.

We all want to see ourselves represented in the books we read. It helps build a love for reading. Print Motivation happens when children can relate to the story on the page.

I love that the theme of the book is one that all kids relate to and it is the universal nature of the story that makes this a great book for all children. The more diverse our book characters are and the more universal the themes are I believe it helps all of our children relate to each other better.

The text is rhythmic and full of alliteration which builds phonological awareness. It has strong vocabulary that introduces dance names but also has a strong word choice outside of new dance vocabulary. The author was careful in her text and a few read-throughs of this book and your child’s vocabulary will grow.

The illustrations are fun and realistic and diverse, quite representative of the world we live in. Kids thrive in stories based in reality and familiar routines and emotions. The story is also one with a strong lesson, don’t give up when something is hard. Princess Cupcake Jones will be a good example of how to act when your child is faced with a new or difficult situation.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

If your child doesn’t dance, see if you can observe a nearby dance studio. Watch the activities of the lessons and talk about what he learned afterwards. Field trips are great ways to expand the world your child lives in. It not only helps them have new experiences it broadens her world. Find books at the library on dance or find classics such as the Nutcracker and watch together.

Write a story together about a time your child tried something new or struggled with learning something. Have your child tell the story and write the words. It will teach them how to create a story and seeing the words will reinforce all those great skills they learn hearing a story: How the words are written on the page, left to right; how stories have beginnings, middles and ends; how to connect what they see in their heads to the words on the page through illustrations.

Learn the different ballet moves in the story and write vocabulary cards for them. Hold up the word and practice the move. Your child may not be able to read, but you will see them start to recognize the patterns in the letters. The action will reinforce the new word. It’s a fun way to learn new vocabulary.

WHAT TO READ NEXT

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

 

Connect with the Author: Ylleya Fields

Happy Reading!

Book Review: A is for Africa By Michael Samulak

  • A is for Africa. Michael I Samulak and Illustrated by Sswaga Sendiba. Trafford Publishing: Victoria, 2008.
  • Preschool

A is for Africa is an alphabet book with the peoples and animals and traditions that center around Uganda. The pictures are bright and beautiful artwork that will take you on a journey through the country of Uganda and help explore the continent of Africa.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK

The most striking aspect of this book is the rich vocabulary. The author is familiar with Uganda, the animals and plants and people. This knowledge helps him introduce another land to our earliest readers. Some of my favorite words in the book are fowl, Ibis, Kob, Pygmy chimpanzee and tilapia. These are animals that are kids don’t often see, even in the zoo. It expands their world, imagination and, of course, vocabulary.

The author also uses rhythmic language and alliteration to reinforce phonological awareness, the important building block for sounding out words.

It may seem a stretch in an alphabet book, but the author’s use of a land and a people helps tell not just a story of the alphabet journey, but the life of a people who live far away. He brings in ritual life and traditions that help kids explore a world they do not hear about. These types of books and book experiences open up creativity to our youngest readers and enrich the stories they tell.

The pictures are bold, boisterous and beautiful. The illustrator is an artist in Uganda, who uses a particular style of painting called batik. There is more information about this process in the back of the book, but his illustrations invite the reader onto the page and the reading becomes an interactive experience instead of a passive one. Interesting and unique pictures that support the text on the page produce a love of reading called, Print Motivation. The more our kids love a book, the more they develop a love for reading.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

This book is a great start to study different forms of art. Create your own “batik” style paintings or drawings while talking about what your child sees in her every day life. The book is an exploration of Africa, so explore the city or state you live in with the animals you see around you, the traditions or food you eat in your region. This is a great way to build hand strength, through picture drawing, and a great way to introduce new vocabulary. It also helps her learn about the place she lives in which will help with cultural awareness.

Since this is an alphabet book, I would be remiss if I ignored the different alphabet activities out there. Pinterest is a great place to find cute and interactive ways to learn the alphabet. You don’t have to be super creative though, some of my favorite alphabet building fun is taking rice or oatmeal or sand and filling a cookie sheet. Trace the alphabet and have your child mimic. Imprinting the shapes and movement of the alphabet will bring the letters to life.

What to Read Next

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. I do not get paid to review books. The opinions are mine. However, if you click on the pictures it will take you to Amazon, where if you make purchases I will receive a percentage of the sale.)

See our other book reviews of author Michael Samulak’s work:

a-wonderful-day

Author Interview

A Wonderful Day Book Review

 

Connect with Michael Samulak

 

 

What is your favorite way to practice the alphabet with your child? Share in the comments at the end of the post.

 

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Shapes, Reshape! Silvia Borando

  • Toddler, Preschool
  • Shapes, Reshape! Silvia Borando. Candlewick Press: Somerville, 2014.

Shapes, Reshape! Is a counting and guessing book that keeps your child’s imagination on the move.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

When we talk about literacy we often only think about reading, but math literacy is just as critical at the earliest stages of life. It is hard to find books that do more than counting to improve spatial reasoning and visualization that children will need later in their math careers. This book not only provides sequencing through counting, but spatial reasoning through the shapes that make up the pictures. Seeing how the shapes fit together and how they are reorganized to create a different shape is a great skill to have not only in school but in life.

This book will introduce your child to shapes or reinforce the shapes they already know, all while building vocabulary. There is also great words like buzzy and dragonflies. Flittering and fluttering. Which not only will teach her new words, but also encourage phonological awareness through the use of alliteration.

The sequencing in the book is phenomenal. The numbers provide one way to tell the story. The child will practice counting backwards through the numbers in the story. Next, your son will love guessing how to reorganize the shapes into the next animal. It will have them giggling and guessing all the way through the pages. With each retelling they will strengthen narrative skills by ordering the animals through the book.

Print Motivation is high with this book. My 6, 8 and 12 year old all stopped what they were doing and came over to sit with me when I picked up this book off the shelf.

Print Awareness is also highlighted by how the text is read and the story progresses. This is a great book to use your finger and follow along to point out the words on the page. The text isn’t so long that your child will lose interest and he will see how a story is told.

How To Use This Book

This book begs to be recreated with your own shapes and numbers. You can draw pictures with crayons or if you are more ambitious, trace shapes and have your child cut them out. Then spend a fun afternoon organizing and reorganizing to see what different objects you can create together. Label or make a list every time you make a new shape to help reinforce vocabulary and writing!

Organize the animals into a list. This is a great way to take sequencing to the next level and build vocabulary. It can be however you want, where the animal lives, if it has a tail, stripes, or whatever else you can think of. Write the names with corresponding numbers and you will do a double whammy with math and reading literacy.

I always love connecting what our children read to the real world, so take a trip to the zoo and see what animals you can find. And for dragons, well, what better place than your local library to find different stories and myths of these large-fire-breathing-creatures.

What to Read Next

Other books by the author

Or Similar books:

2017: Building Lifelong Reading Habits

 

This week we have written about three habits you can start now with yourself and your family in order to build reading habits for the lifetime of your children.

Read Every Day

The most important is to read every day. Twenty minutes is the recommendation but don’t let the number keep you from building the habit. Any amount of time spent in reading is helpful in future literacy success.

Know what good quality books to read

6prereadingskillsKnowing what books to read also helps build successful reading habits. Balance what your child loves to learn about with good quality picture books that highlight the six pre-literacy skills. The content will motivate her to hear the story and while she listens important literacy building blocks happen.

 

 

Be a reader to raise a reader

Lastly, be a reader. Our kids watch everything we do and love mimicking our actions. Make one of those parroting activities be reading. Read while you wait for appointments, read while your child plays independently or make a space for independent reading every night for your family. Make sure your child catches you reading everyday.

Start with these three habits and see how your child’s reading explodes over the course of the year.

 

Reading aloud

 

To build a future reader, be a reader

resolution-three

Do you ever notice how often your child parrots what you do? Sometimes you will see your son putting on your shoes and parading around the room. Or you will see your daughter typing away on a toy pretending it is a computer or you will see your son pick up a washcloth and a dish and pretend to wash dishes.

Our kids are sponges and love to mimic. We notice when they repeat a word we don’t want them to know or do something we wish they hadn’t seen us do. But the positive side of their spongy and mimicking natures is the will also do the positive things we do.

So pick up a book and start reading because they are watching

So this is where I encourage you to pick up a book and read. When your child is awake and engaged in a toy or other activity. Don’t wait until they are napping or sleeping or at an activity.

The biggest mistake we can make as parents is to never read in front of our kids.

I know kids keep us busy. We play with them and drive them to activities and playdates and school. We are busy doing housework and other necessary family tasks. Life is busy, but never let it get so busy that you do not pick up a book for yourself during the day. It not only gives you a quick break, but your child is watching everything you do. And if they see you picking up a book, it will become a natural rhythm in his day.

Creating Time to Read

Read while your child plays. It is okay to say Daddy or Mommy is going to read now. Sit in the room with your child and start reading. It may take a while for him or her to get used to the routine, so start out with five minutes and build up to longer periods of time. This teaches independent play and gives you a break!

Read while you wait. Bring books for you and your child while you wait for appointments. It shows your child how to wait patiently and will give you both something to do for those long doctor office waits!

Make your bedtime routine reading. In the evenings create a reading space for your family. Instead of watching the T.V. before bed, have everyone grab a book and read together. Snuggle up in front of a fire or on your favorite couch. This again, may take some time to build into the routine but keep a consistent habit and it will be a favorite time of day for everyone.

What do I read when my last book was What to Expect When You’re Expecting?

It may have been a long time since you picked up a book for fun. There are a lot of great places to find new or classic books.

My favorite right now is Litsy. It is an app that is sort of like Instagram for books. People post pictures and reviews and quotes of what is in their reading pile. There is even points for interactions and reviews and likes of your posts.

Goodreads is a book review site. You can track what you read, write reviews and create lists of books you want to read. It is also now an Amazon company which sends out book deals. You can set a yearly reading challenge, follow other people and find reviews of books.

Facebook also is a great place to connect with authors and reading groups. A favorite of mine is Reader’s Coffeehouse. It is a place to talk about books and also connect with authors. No better place to discover what to read than from a place where authors and readers meet!

This year, make it a goal to read more. It not only is good for you, it will help build your child into a future reader!

 

What are you reading? Share in comments at the end of post to share ideas.

Happy Reading!

 

 

What Will I Read Today

resolution-two

Planning is an important part of completing any task. The more prepared you are, the easier it is to get something done. It’s why we meal plan, or make to do lists, create outlines for papers or set goals. Knowing what we will do, makes it easier to do it. It is no different when we read to our kids.

Yesterday we talked about setting the habit of reading every day. You have decided on a consistent time, a time you know you will be free, now plan what you will read during that time. Having books on hand will help to make sure you are able to use your reading time fully.

read across america

Find Good Books

There are a lot of ways to find good books. This blog, amazon, bookstores, libraries, friends, Facebook groups and more. Plan out a trip to the library or bookstore each week so you have books on hand to read with your child. I always want reading to be child directed but you are your child’s best teacher. Take them with you to choose books. I always make a pile and go through it with my kids. It helps them select books they might not normally have picked up and I also know what catches their eye for next time.

Know what your child is interested in. I know one of my kids prefers books with tons of pictures. Another child prefers fantasy and another loves to learn facts. Use conversations and screen time habits and creative play to help guide book choice. The more a child enjoys the material she reads, the more enthusiastic a reader she will become.

Use technology and people power to discover new books

I love Amazon and Goodreads and other websites to help discover books I didn’t know about. In Amazon you can search a book you know your child likes and it will show suggestions for similar type books. Goodreads offers book reviews. And don’t forget your local librarian. He or she will love to help you discover new books or favorite authors.

Being intentional with reading is one of the best habits you can build this year. It will make the time you spend reading more impactful and enjoyable.

Do you have a favorite author and want to find new or similar books? Ask in the comments and I will help you discover new books!

HAPPY READING!