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!

 

 

A Literacy Org You Should Know: RIF (Reading is Fundamental)

reading-seuss
Picture retrieved from InspireMyKids.com

 

On Wednesday, RIF (Reading is Fundamental) celebrated its 50th year. That is 50 years of getting books into the hands of kids. It was started by teacher Margaret McNamara in D.C. She tutored kids and let them keep the books. In 1966 the program was launched with teachers and volunteers in the DC schools. The program has helped not only get books into homes but helped increase reading proficiency and confidence in our youngest readers.

Their mission is an important one. To ensure every child has access to books and every child experiences school success.

I saw the power of RIF when I was a librarian working in inner city Cleveland. A local Kiwanis group had an event each fall at a school within the boundaries of our neighborhood. By the end of the event, the kids went home with at least four books. The volunteers would read the stories with the children, sing songs and participate in crafts and games to go a long with the story. It not only helped build future readers, I saw relationships in the community being built.

2/3 of low income children do not have a book in the home. The recommendation is for kids to be read to for 15 minutes everyday and without books in the home, many of the children from these homes go to school already behind. See this New York Times article from January 2014 about why books matter.

You can help by donating to RIF or finding a local program to support. We want all kids to have their best start in life and in school. Start by supporting the organizations with a mission to help students thrive.

To learn more about this critical program visit the RIF website.

Reading is Fundamental Combats Summer Slide

The Gift of Reading

Celebrate RIF’s 50th year by donating books to a local shelter, a little free library, schools or daycares in your area.

 

 

Book Review: I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

Ages Toddler-3

A girl explores the sounds of her neighborhood while she walks with her mother. She discovers beautiful rhythms in everything and everyone she meets. With fun illustrations, a diverse cast of characters and engaging text this is a book that all children will relate to and love.

This is a perfect book to build VOCABULARY. Body parts are named, sounds are described and unique words layer the text. Children will experience the parts of sounds, called PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS through the onomatopoeia used in the book as well as the gentle rhymes in the story. The diverse cast of characters participating in the every day routine of taking a walk in the neighborhood will draw all readers into the story encouraging PRINT MOTIVATION.

Literacy Skills Highlighted:

skills chart 2

Questions to ask:

  1. Look at the cover of the book. Ask your child what she thinks the story is about.
  2. Flip to the back page. Ask her how she thinks the story will end.
  3. Before reading the story flip through the pictures and ask what is happening on the page.
  4. Where do you think the mother and daughter are going?

Take it a step further:

  1. Have your child find their own rhythm. Break out the pots and pans, oatmeal container, plastic tubs or whatever you have that makes noise! Use utensils, your hands and help your child discover the rhythms of your house. Have them mimic your beat or create their own sounds.
  2. The book focuses on parts of the body and what they do. Explore the senses.
    1. Taste. Mix together sweet(honey), sour (lemon), bitter (tonic) and salty water. Have the child taste the different waters.
    2. Smell. Find different smells around the house. You can use dishsoap, lotion, shampoos, spices etc. Make sure they are distinguishable smells. Guide your child through each smell and help her identify whether the smell is strong, light, flowery, sharp etc.
    3. Texture. Use fabrics, blocks, sandpaper, towels, etc. Help the child explore the feeling of each different material and name how it feels. Is it rough or smooth? Soft or hard? Fluffy or thin?
    4. Sound. We used pots and pans above but explore other sounds. Music, dry beans or rice in a tube. Make maracas out or old medicine bottles or spice jars. Go on a walk like the girl in the book and name the sounds you hear together.
    5. Sight. Patterns are all around us. Find wrapping paper or scrapbook paper and notice the different patterns. Highlight the colors and shapes he finds.
  3. Try these Montessori based materials.


Montessori sensorial – Nuts and Bolts

 


NEW Montessori Sensorial Material – Color Tablets Box 3 by PinkMontessori

NEW Montessori Sensorial Material – Rough and Smooth Boards by PinkMontessori

Why Diversity in Picture Books Matters

 

 

Books for all kids#WeNeedDiverseBooksHead to the library or bookstore and take a detour to the picture book section. Pick out ten books at random and examine the illustrations on the page. How many of the pictures are animals personified as people? What is the percentage of illustrations where the main character is someone of color? Are the characters predominately girls or boys?

Have you ever noticed how un-diverse picture books really are?

One of the biggest factors in children being motivated to read is how they relate to the words and pictures on the page. Whether the book describes an every day routine, a tradition they celebrate or a face they look like, it matters to how a child connects with a book. In the short term we all enjoy books that take us outside of ourselves but imagine reading book after book where the main character doesn’t look like you? Don’t you think it would impact how you enjoy reading?

Diverse books need to have messages about every day kids participating in every day activities. When I worked in an inner city library I struggled to find diverse books that weren’t about heavy themes meant for older children. I wanted a simple book about a child visiting a store with a parent or going on vacation or heading to school or playing.

They were hard to find.

I want every child to open a book and see themselves on the page. I want the book to relate to the world they see around them.  I don’t want any child to feel isolated or different. I never want a child to put reading aside because they don’t see themselves in the story.

It is time the pictures in our books start looking like the world around us.

Below are my favorite books with diverse characters participating in normal everyday routines. (The links will take you to Amazon. I was not paid to promote these particular books but if you make a purchase I do receive a small commission.)

 



Buy on Amazon

Buy on Amazon

 


  Buy on Amazon

Twenty Minutes a Day

ReadingpicIt is hard to fit in reading among the activities, work schedules and life as a family. Medical and education professionals recommend reading twenty minutes a day to help build future readers. So how do you fit one more to do into an already busy schedule?

The twenty minutes a day can be split up.  The recommendation is twenty minutes a day but it doesn’t mean all the reading happens at once. Find spots throughout the day when you can stop and share a story with your child. First thing in the morning as everyone wakes up, right before bed or anytime in between. Read as often as you are able!

Take books with you. No matter where you are, a restaurant, the doctor’s office or waiting in the pick up line at school for an older sibling, have books with you to share. It will help those minutes spent waiting go by faster!

Make reading an essential routine. Just like brushing teeth, reading is essential to your child’s development. Show them how important it is by making reading time a priority.

Some days there isn’t the time. You’ve made reading together a priority but some days life has other plans. Even if you can’t fit in the whole twenty minutes of reading together find some space within the day to share a few stories. Life will slow down and you can get back into the normal routine.

Invite other people to read. It doesn’t only have to be a parent who reads! Although sharing a book together with your child is critical there are a lot of people who are just as important in his or her life who can share books. An older sibling, a grandparent even a loved babysitter can contribute to the twenty minutes a day. Think of all the fun shared when people read together.

There are a lot of ways to squeeze in that reading time. Where is the strangest place you’ve found yourself sharing a book with your child?

Celebrate Dr. Seuss

read across america

Today is Read Across America Day! If you have children in school you may have sent them in with a Dr. Seuss costume or their favorite book. You might have even signed up to read in a school read-a-thon. If your children aren’t yet at school that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun.

Celebrate the day at home!

Dr. Seuss is instrumental in everyone’s beginning reading life. What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book? Can you pick just one?
I remember learning to read with this book. The colors and the imaginative creatures along with the approachable text helped send me on my way to becoming a reader.

Or is this more your style?

Perhaps this?

Whatever your favorite Dr. Seuss book is pick up a copy today and share the love of reading with your child. Celebrate reading and the man who introduced so many children to fun, approachable books.

How to go further:

  1. Make up your own silly rhyme. One of my favorite aspects of Dr. Seuss books is how he plays with sound. No need for real words. Pick a sound and make up rhymes. Write them down on paper, write with window markers or if it’s a nice day take it outside and decorate the sidewalk with your lyrical rhymes.
  2. Create a creature and tell a story about him or her! Dr. Seuss always had fun characters to compliment the text. While the child reading learned to sound out and hear the sounds they also had fun. Create a creature with your child out of old magazines, markers, or whatever you have around the house.
  3. Make Dr. Seuss hats. No Read Across America day is complete without the Red and White striped hat. Make it out of paper, put it on your head and throw a birthday party to celebrate.
  4. Look at the Read Across America website. There are lots of great printables you can share with your child. Most our geared towards older school age children, but find some that can be adapted to fit your child’s development.
  5. Invite friends over and have a reading party. Break out the bean bag chairs and pillows. Have a snack and a pile of books and read!
  6. Visit your local library or bookstore. Most places will celebrate the day. Check your local reading center and see what fun they have planned.

How will you celebrate today? Share in the comments below!

 

The above Seuss graphics will take you to Amazon. I am an affiliate and if you purchase from Amazon I make a small profit that goes to paying for our family’s reading habit.

Best book practices for Toddlers

When I was in library school we learned Ranganathan’s 5 laws of library science.

Ranganathan Law

When it comes to toddlers it is very important to remember the number one rule of libraries.

Books are for use.

Your toddler will be hard on books. They will eat them, throw them, try to flush them down the toilet and try to wash them in the dishwasher. They will leave them outside in the rain and step on them in the car.

Books will be loved by toddlers very hard and it’s okay.

Especially if you check out books from the libraries the librarians will understand.

One of the biggest problems I see when I work with parents and children is that parents want their children to respect books. Which is completely appropriate when the child is older. What can sometimes happen though, is books get put out of a child’s reach. Or a family doesn’t visit the library as often. Books are taken away too much because parents don’t know the number one rule of books.

They are for use.

I often hear parents say they will start reading when their toddler is more mature but by then it is too late to develop it into a loved routine.

Do not stop reading to your rambunctious toddler.

Start reading from birth and continue through the toddler years. Now is your chance to develop a deep love of reading with them. The time you spend now enjoying books together and making books fun builds a life long relationship between your child and books. Which leads me to my second point.

Toddlers are terrible audience members.

They are like the guy at the orchestra concert who brought popcorn and talks on his cellphone all night. Toddlers can be horrible listeners when it comes to books. They will sit on your lap then roam around the room. They will come back and drop on your lap and demand you keep reading and then go off and play. This doesn’t mean your child isn’t curious about books or listening to you read.

It means they are curious about the world around them.

So you have two choices:

  1.  Pause while they explore.
  2. Keep on reading.

How often do you turn on the TV or radio and do another task? A lot, right? So be the background noise for your toddlers. Hearing your voice is an important piece of language development. Keep on reading. Sooner or later they will tire out and come back over for a cuddle.

Here are a few tips to keep story time enjoyable with toddlers:

  1. Pick short books. Board books are still appropriate at this age or you can start to introduce books with one or two short sentences per page. This is not the time to break out Shakespeare. Keep it simple.
  2. Rhyming books are perfect for our burgeoning speakers. Find books that play with word sounds.
  3. You don’t even have to read the words on the page. It is okay to tell the story without reading the words. Point out the pictures and tell your own story. The best part, you get to pick when it ends.
  4. Stories in songs! Toddlers love music. There are a lot of great picture books that illustrate well known songs. As your child explores you can keep singing.
  5. Find a good routine for reading. Use reading as a calming down activity before nap time or bedtime. It’s a time when they are naturally sleepy and more willing to sit.
  6. Keep reading fun. If your child isn’t interested in a story right then, no worries! You will have plenty of opportunities to share a story. Never make a child sit still to listen to a story. Make reading fun and flexible.
  7.  Concept books are perfect for this age. There are tons of great books introducing color, numbers, shapes, sounds, etc. The skies the limit.

Toddlers are in an explosion of learning and physical growth. Reading is a critical skill during this time of rapid development. However, keeping it fun and interesting will ensure your child is a happy reader in years to come.

 

Great books to read with toddlers:
This is a great book to read with toddlers. It is interactive and helps them build vocabulary surrounding the body. If you buy the book it helps to reinforce the flaps with tape so you can enjoy it for a long time.

 

 

This series is great for building word sounds. All the books rhyme and follow the adventures of mischievous sheep. You can add to the experience by finding rhyming words of your own with your toddler. They won’t be able to make rhyming words on their own yet but your example will help them in the future.

 

 

Karma Wilson is my absolute favorite children’s author. She pairs with great illustrators and really understands what kids like and need to hear to become future readers. She has fun with language and creates books kids love. This book is a concept book focused on colors and will fit the attention span of your toddlers.

 

What books does your toddler love to read with you?