Websites for Parents to help build literacy

Best Literacy

These are five websites I turn to for up-to-date literacy news and book lists. Follow many of these on social media or visit the links by clicking below.

Growing Book by Book Started by an early childhood teacher and literary specialist, Growing Book by Book is a great website that has reading tips and read aloud ideas for infants to early readers. Here you will find activities to use with your child and book ideas to keep your reading routine fun and interesting. Growing Book by Book also has an active Facebook page that shares relevant reading articles and blog posts from other sites and great reading lists.

 

The Literacy Nest An educator and mom who is also trained to help kids with dyslexia.  Although the website is geared towards older children, I find she shares great resources on literacy and how to engage struggling or reluctant readers. All children learn to read at their own rate and in their own way and this site is a great resource for all parents.

 

Reading Rockets An organization for parents, teachers, and other dedicated literacy staff. Book lists, activities, articles and more on helping families and teachers build a culture of readers.

 

Raising Readers Is a website about a program for Maine families but the resources on the site about reading and the importance of early literacy can be used by anyone. While you won’t be able to receive any of the books, there are great book lists and articles to peruse to help build your future reader.

 

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Dolly Parton is committed to providing access to books for children and families across the country. From birth to age five a child will receive a book a month in participating communities. If there isn’t a program in your community you can start one! Imagine receiving a free book every month for your child. They will have 60 books by the time they reach age 5.

 

What websites do you turn to for your reading and literacy questions?

Happy Reading!!

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

 

Book Review: Bear’s Winter Party by Deborah Hodge

Bear’s Winter Party by Deborah Hodge. Illustrated by Lisa Cinar. Groundwork Books, 2016.

Preschool Readers

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

Bear wants to be friends with the other animals in the forest but everytime he comes near they hide. Bear discovers a way to make new friends and show the forest animals he isn’t as scary as he looks.

Bear’s Winter Party is rich in vocabulary. The opening page brings text filled with unique words to enrich your child’s exploding vocabulary.

Bear lived in a forest on the side of a mountain. He felt at home among the trees. He nibbled on sweet wild berries. He sipped cool water from the stream. He breathed in the fresh mountain air.

The author also does a great job of creating word pictures instead of telling the reader how the animals feel.

Wherever he went, Bear heard the other animals talking about him.

“He’s so big!” said Squirrel.

“His claws are long,” said Hare.

“His teeth are sharp,” said Deer.

“His voice makes a rumbling sound,” Said Chickadee.

The author builds through dialog how the animals feel when they encounter the bear. Instead of telling the reader the animals are afraid of bear, she shows through how the talk to each other and how they act around bear. It provides the perfect opportunity to ask questions as you read and create conversation around the story.

The author also includes literary devices such as alliteration (the same starting consonant sound) and assonance (the same ending sounds) to provide a cadence driven text. This type of writing helps young ones hear the sounds that make up words, which helps them learn to decode before they even begin to read.

Before long, the whole group was dancing. Round and round the den they went, swinging and swaying, whirling and twirling, bobbing and bouncing.

And my favorite part is the recipe at the end of the book. Recipes are a great way to build math skills like fractions, number recognition and unique vocabulary. It is a hands on way of learning how to divide and count. It not only helps the story become concrete for your child but it continues learning beyond the page.

Along with all the pre-literacy skills your child will develop with repeated readings of this story, research shows that fiction helps readers gain empathy through others. Most children can relate to being scared of meeting new people, being in new situations, or being scared to make friends. Listening and talking about how Bear solves his problems will help your child be a more compassionate and empathetic friend.

bears-winter-party-text

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

One of the strengths of this book is the conversation created around feelings. After reading the book a few times go back and tell the story by how Bear feels. How he starts out feeling, what he does with those feelings and how he feels at the end of the book. You can also do the same with the forest animals. To continue dialoguing about feelings, draw faces with your child and label underneath each picture how the person feels.

Talk about the pictures on each page. The watercolors are vibrant and full of detail. Point to an object on the page and have your child tell you what she sees. This builds vocabulary.

Because this story takes place in a forest, the end pages are filled with pictures of different types of leaves. Go on a nature walk and see if you can find similar items in your yard or neighborhood. Take leaves home with you and take crayons or pencils and do rubbings of the leaves or trace the shapes.

Make the recipe at the end of the book! Cooking with your children is a great way to build confidence, but also provides an opportunity to point to text on the page and read it to them. They will see how you move across the page and highlight print awareness.

WHAT TO READ NEXT

(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 sale.)

 

What are your favorite books about bears? Help others discover new books in the comments below.

HAPPY READING!

 

 

Closing the Gap

You may have heard the statistics that by age three children of professional parents hear 30 million more words than children of parents on welfare. The statistics come from a 1995 study by Hart and Risley at the University of Kansas.

What they discovered is children who are read to and speak with their parents have higher IQ’s at age 3 and have better school performance later in life.

Massaro, Professor Emeritus in Psychology at the University of California Santa Cruz found, “Word mastery in adulthood is correlated with early acquisition of words.” What we know early in life, impact how we learn later in life.

What is clear from the research is conversations between parents and children are critical in language development and emerging literacy. Conversations alone don’t do the trick because, as Massaro says, our language is pretty basic. We use a lot of gestures and pull from the 5,000 common English words in our heads. Picture books, though, elevate our conversation and improve the vocabulary our kids hear because the words are unique and not used in our everyday.

Although parents can build their children’s vocabularies by talking to them, reading to them is more important.

-Dominic Massaro

What can we as parents do to help our kids get the best start in life?

PBS suggests modeling conversations starting at infancy.

  • Take turns in conversation
  • Vary pitch, speak slow, and repeat often
  • Talk about real-life experiences that are happening. When you are at the store, the playground or completing tasks around the house.
  • Make a space for your children to speak with their friends and siblings
  • Practice open ended questions at the dinner table or in the car
  • Write down stories that your kids create.
  • Read, Read, Read

These skills not only build our children’s capacity for literacy, it also builds trust, self-esteem, builds bonds, and improves listening.

Reading is still the best way to introduce new words and build vocabulary. It opens dialog between caregiver and child and creates new ways to interact with the world around them.

It may feel weird at first speaking with your baby. But as you talk you will notice that he responds in babbles, sounds, gestures and head movements. As your child ages the sounds will go from sounds to short words. Short words to short sentences. And between the ages of 2-3 years  conversations will become more organic. There are also other ways to engage your children, singing, naming what you are picking up at the store, pointing at signs and objects on walks and generally talking about normal, everyday routines.

What all these studies show is when parents and caregivers Speak, Play and Read with their child, literacy skills strengthen and have the best start possible in school.

Happy Reading!

More information on how to encourage conversations:

Reading Rockets: Talking and Listening: Practical Ideas for Parents

Growing Book By Book

Top Books to Read with Toddlers this Summer

Reading 20 minutes a day is critical. Especially during the toddler years. It may be hard to get a toddler to sit still for a full 20 minutes, so break up reading throughout the day. Remember even if they are doing something else they are still listening. So grab a book and read while they play or while you wait at an appointment or for a break at the park.

Books should only have a few lines per page. Even basic board books are a great read for this age. Choose short rhyming stories about familiar routines. Books about shapes, counting and feelings will help build basic vocabulary and help your child identify the world around him. Find books with bright simple pictures. Talk about the books you read to help draw the connections in the book.

Toddlers love to learn and you are the perfect teacher!

TOP 8 BOOKS TO READ WITH TODDLERS TODAY:

  1. I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont, Harcourt, Inc., 2005. Rhyming, colors, singing this book has it all. The text can be read or sung to the tune of (It ain’t gonna rain no more, no more.) A mother warns her son to stop painting and he wants to listen but he just can’t help painting. EVERYTHING! The book builds vocabulary, increases phonological awareness and  a book kids will return to time and time again.
  2. Move Over, Rover. Karen Beaumont, Harcourt, Inc., 2006. Another picture book win for author Karen Beaumont. Great pictures, unique words, fun rhymes, and a strong narrative make this a great book for toddlers. Find out what happens when a dog has to share his doghouse with animals escaping the rain. Until a very unwelcome guest arrives.
  3. One Hot Summer Day. Nina Crews. Greenwillow Books, 1995. (DIVERSE BOOK) Crews is a master of photography and text. In this book a young girl finds a fun time despite the summer heat. The familiar routine of summer play and the basic text will attract the youngest readers. It builds vocabulary, narrative skills, and will motivate readers to come back to the book again and again.
  4. Hickory Dickory Dock. Keith Baker. Harcourt, Inc. 2007. Familiar nursery rhymes help build phonological awareness. The repetition of sounds and the ability to sing along with the book make this a great choice for young listeners. They will learn counting and time, hear unique words, and be able to participate fully in the story.
  5. Counting Kisses. Karen Katz. Margaret K McElderry Books. 2001. Katz is known for her gentle illustrations, showing love between parents and children all while introducing vocabulary, counting, shapes, and everyday routines. Counting Kisses is a simple story of a child waking and a family sharing kisses throughout the day. Letter awareness and vocabulary are built with each reading.
  6. The Very Busy Spider. Eric Carle. Philomel Books, 1984. Carle’s books are classics. This story is about a spider who works hard all day while ignoring the pleas of the other animals on the farm to come and play. Children will learn animal names and sounds through this book. The illustrations, which Carle is known for, are simple, bright and inviting.
  7. Ten, Nine Eight. Molly Bang. Greenwillow Books, 1983. (DIVERSE BOOK) This Caldecott Honor book helps all children get ready for bed by counting its way through evening routines. Letter Awareness, Vocabulary and Print Motivation are strong in this goodnight story.
  8. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear? Bill Martin Jr. Eric Carle. Henry Holt and Company, 1991. Martin and Carle team up again in this book describing the sounds of different animals they will find at the zoo. Using Carle’s signature bright simple illustrations and Martin’s simple lyrical text. This is a book you will read again and again. It builds vocabulary, phonological awareness, and narrative skills.

Find the books at Amazon:

(I am an amazon affiliate. I don’t get paid to review books. The opinions are mine and mine alone. If you click on a picture and make a purchase from amazon I do receive a portion of the sale.)

Read. Talk. Play. It’s what builds future readers

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FRaisingReadersMaine%2Fposts%2F10154228137446704%3A0&width=500

 

I absolutely love this picture. Reading isn’t just about reading the words on the page. Talk about the book. Talk about the pictures. Talk about how you feel or your child feels about the book. Our kids need to hear the conversations whether all they do is babble back an answer or think and answer themselves.

Read.

Talk.

Play.

It’s what builds future readers.

 

Raising readers is a fabulous site with the same goals I strive for on this site. Take a look today and see what tips and tricks you can add to your reading life today.

Book Review: Bear and Duck by Katy Hudson

Ages 3-5

Bear doesn’t want to be a bear anymore. He is tired of missing winter, being uncomfortable in the summer and being chased by bees when he finds food. He discovers a flock of ducks and tries to fit in. No matter what he does he can’t become a duck. One of the group decides to help bear out and show him how much he is appreciated exactly as he is. Bear may not be able to become a duck but he can be a great friend.

Children will relate to wanting to be something they are not or feeling like they don’t fit in. The topics tackled in this gentle read are feelings all children understand. This book encourages PRINT MOTIVATION because of the universal theme of wanting to be something we are not. The VOCABULARY is strong in the book. Words like chimed, growled, circumstances to name just a few. There will be lots of words your child won’t have heard in everyday conversation.

The flow of the book will help introduce PRINT AWARENESS. There is the traditional text and a list of rules which will help a child learn to follow along. It is done in a way that doesn’t take the reader out of the story but compliments it instead. NARRATIVE SKILLS will also be built reading this book together. There is a strong story line of how the bear feels at the beginning of the story, his challenge, how he attempts to overcome the challenge and what he learns about himself in the process. It is a complicated storytelling thread that is made approachable to the youngest of readers.

What skills your child will learn:

SKILLchart

Questions to ask while reading:

  1. Have your child name the animals on the front cover. What sounds do each of the animals make? What do they eat? Where do they live?
  2. Flip the book over and look at the back of the book. How do you think the Bear and Duck feel about each other?
  3. Open the book and look through the pictures. Ask the child to tell the story or if unable to you tell the story just through the pictures. Then start at the beginning and read the book. Do the pictures and words tell the same story?
  4. Why do you think the bear doesn’t want to be a bear anymore? Do you ever feel like you the bear does?
  5. After reading the story look again at the pictures. Focus on the bear’s faces and ask the child how you think the bear feels. Have your child mimic the expressions.

Take the story further:

  1. Have your child name their favorite animal. On paper, write down the “rules” for being that animal. What do they eat? Where do they sleep? How do they move?
  2. Talk about feelings. Part of developing reading comprehension is being able to draw concepts from the words on the page. Have your child draw pictures of different faces and have them explain how the face feels. See if your child can match the expressions to some of those that the bear feels.
  3. Act like a duck! Take the list of rules and see how well you and your child can act like a duck. Talk about what was easy and hard about each of the rules. What other animals can you act like?

What else have you done to enhance your reading experience today? Comment below and share ideas.

 

By clicking on the image at the top of the post you will be directed to Amazon. I am an affiliate and make a small profit if you purchase items using the link. The profits go to support our family’s reading habit.

 

March is Read aloud Month

Reading aloud

 

Read to your child every day is the mantra parents hear from the time they take their baby home from the hospital. Life is busy with kids and reading can get pushed down on the to do list with all the other things parents need to do.

Why is it so important to read to children starting at birth?

  1. Reading aloud changes the brain. The more kids are read to the brain center associated with learning to read is stimulated.
  2. Reading aloud builds language. Children learn to speak by example. Books are a great way to introduce unique language and sounds into every day speech patterns.
  3. Reading aloud makes books fun. But it also connects the parent and child deeper and can aid children in times of stress.
  4. Reading aloud creates strong students. Infant and toddler brains explode with growth in the first 2000 days of life. The more exposure to language, sound, materials, and learning they have the more prepared they are when it comes time to enter school. Children practices all sorts of skills when they are read to.

Importance of reading aloud. Reach out and Read article retrieved March 1, 2016 from http://www.reachoutandread.org/why-we-work/importance-of-reading-aloud/

Reading with your children starting at birth is more than just hearing the story. It changes the brain, helps children bond with parents and sets them up for future school success. Just 15 minutes a day is a great start to ensure your children have the tools they need when they enter the school world. March is read aloud month. Pledge to make reading a priority in your family and help spread the word by sharing a picture of you and your child reading with the hashtag #readaloud.

For more information on the importance of reading and brain development check out these websites.

First 2000 Days

Literacy Milestones

Reading With Your Child

 

Book Review: I Know a Bear by Mariana Ruiz Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

Ages 2-5

With simple text and beautiful illustrations, I Know a Bear, tells the story of a little girl going to the zoo and imagining what life might have been like for the animals if they were free to live as intended. At the end of the story she thinks about her own pets and how they are meant to live.

This book has unique and strong vocabulary that is repeated throughout the book. It can take kids about thirty times of hearing a new word before it becomes a part of his vocabulary so books that introduce new words and repeat them help build a large repertoire for the future. The concepts might be too abstract for the young age. Children are very concrete so extrapolating what he sees in a zoo and putting it in the world might be hard for them to grasp.

What skills your child builds reading this book:

iknowabearskills

Questions to ask while reading:

  1. For children 3-5, point to the front cover of the book and ask your child what she thinks the book will be about. For younger children point to the picture on the cover and in the pages and help her name the objects.
  2. Flip through the pages without reading the text and have her make a guess about what will happen. For younger children, flip through the pages and make a guess about what the story will be about. This helps children draw context and meaning from the pictures while building narrative skills, being able to tell the story on his own.
  3. Talk about feelings. Look at the expressions on the girl’s face. Ask your child what he thinks the girl is feeling. For older children you can ask them how they might feel.
  4. Discuss what animals your child has seen at the zoo.

Take it further:

  1. Go to the zoo with a world map. Go to the different exhibits and place a dot for each of the animals and where they live in the natural world. Label it with the animal name. This will help build vocabulary through the naming of animals and the countries and continents of the world.
  2. Research bears! Go to your local library or bookstore and find a book on bears. Add the different types to the map.
  3. Find ways to use the unique words from the book in your conversation because repetition equals learning. Lush and vast are not words we use everyday but make an effort to find ways to include them in your conversations.

What activities have you used to enrich the reading experience with your child? Post suggestions in the comments to share ideas.

Best Book Practices for Babies

No substitute for books

Reading success starts at birth. It is hard to believe when you bring your bundle of joy home that he is able to get much from a daily reading session but a lot happens when you sit down with your infant on your lap and read. Continue reading “Best Book Practices for Babies”