Finland, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden have the highest literacy rates in the world. It is no surprise that book culture is celebrated in these countries and there is less focus on compulsory education and more focus on play, reading and family time.
Creating a culture of readers starts at home. If mothers and fathers read and make it a priority, kids will read. If the US focused less on outcomes and more on creating storytellers and story hearers, our school success rate would improve. Making books a priority in schools, communities and as gifts, promote a culture of literacy and reading.
Don’t forget to enter the Building Future Readers Giveaway! Open until 12/23
We are hosting a holiday giveaway!
See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Bear Stays Up for Christmas (The Bear Books).https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/335fa96c601876e4 NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Dec 23, 2017 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.
What is one step you will do today to create a culture of reading in your family? What can we do to promote reading in our communities? Comment below!
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.
Functional illiteracy is a large problem in the United States
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.
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:
Wake Up! Poem by Helen Frost and photographs by Rick Lieder. Published by Candlewick Press: Somerville, MA, 2017.
A poem about new life in the world all around us. Illustrated with beautiful photographs that invite the reader, not only explore the pages of the book, but the world right outside the front door.
This book needs to be discussed. It is rare to find books that so naturally include conversation starters within the text. Conversations aren’t just a way to connect people together, they are also important building blocks of future reading success. Talking in a positive way, not only provides a safe space and fond memories, but it strengthens vocabulary and builds reading comprehension. The natural flow of conversation will connect what the child sees on the page to the text and even the world around her. It provides the perfect opportunity to enrich dialogue between you and your child.
This natural conversation will also strengthen vocabulary. The language the poet uses is unique and fresh and in addition there is a pictorial glossary at the end of the book to provide more information about the animals and insects explored in the pages of the book.
The photographs are simple, yet detailed at the same time. The close up shots provide a different vantage point for children to look at the natural world. Preschool children are very concrete thinkers, so this is a perfect book to help him gain a better understanding of how the world works and his place in it. And most important, the mystery and awe and wonder of the natural world.
This story begs to be read outside at a picnic in a park. It invites the reader and listener to explore the outside world find their own new beginnings. After reading the book, go on a scavenger hunt to see if you can find any of the animals photographed. Use your phone or camera and take your own close up shots and then when you get home, print them out with labels and create your own Wake Up! book.
Ask questions your child like where she thinks the different animals may be and why? Where does she think they go at night and what does she think they eat. Allow space for her to ask her own questions as you walk. It is okay if you don’t have all the answers! That is what makes nature so interesting and awe-inspiring. And tell her you can visit the library to find out more information on what she finds most interesting and perplexing.
The book encourages looking at nature from a different perspective, so tell your child it’s okay to get down on the ground and look at things up close! Stones and dirt, mulch and sticks. Plants and flowers. Take the time to lay on your backs and look at the sky. Watch the clouds roll by and discover hidden shapes and even label the different types of clouds you see.
The poet and author have collaborated on several similar picture books. (Note, I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a picture it will take you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a small percentage of the sale. The opinions in the review are mine and I have not been paid for this review)
What books would about the natural world would you add to the WHAT TO READ NEXT list?
When I worked as a children’s librarian, my favorite part of the week was planning storytimes for a local Head Start school. I would sit on the floor of the children’s area and sift through the shelves looking for a theme and fun books to complement it.
But I didn’t stop there, because the theme was only to get the kids interested in the books, the real learning was happening through the choices I made about the books I read.
It starts with a theme. Themes can be about a topic like moving or first day of school or beach days. It could be colors or shapes. I once had a teacher ask me to do a storytime on positional words like Over, Under, Above, Below. That was a challenging storytime to prepare.
Once I have chosen a theme, I start to assemble books. Story times and attention spans of preschool children usually last about 30 minutes. Three or four books, with songs and rhymes in-between will fill the time quickly. So with so few minutes, how did I make the most of the stories I read?
With all the choices of books out there and so little time, after I settled on a theme, I chose what of the six skills I would highlight that week.
This part is for the kids, but they will never know it. These six skills are the building blocks for future reading success. When I introduce the book, I will say a line about the skill highlighted in the book and a quick sentence about why it is important. That is for the teachers and the parents and the caregivers. The kids only need to know they are in for a great book.
After the theme and books are chosen, I then choose the order I read the books in.
With active bodies and imaginations, storytimes need to be kept short. I always start the storytime with the longest book. If you try to read the Little Engine Who Could at the end of a story session you will have chaos on your hands. So start with the longest book first and end with the shortest.
After the order is chosen, find songs and rhymes to go along with them.
Kids are made to move. Sitting and listening to story after story is hard. So make the most of your time and take short breaks to get those little bodies moving. Fingerplays are a great way to involve the kids in the story time and get their attention back. (Fingerplays are poems/songs like where is thumbkin) Playing music and having them follow your dance is also a great way to get them back in a listening mood. Sing a song, repeat nursery rhymes, whatever you can dream up for a quick break between books will be appreciated by the young listeners.
Those are the building blocks of a story time, so let’s see the theory in practice.
The theme as you can tell is messes! These books I chose because of the unique vocabulary, the strong narratives, rhyming words, and the fun pictures that build print motivation. The last book, I ain’t gonna paint no more is a show stopper because it can be sung to It Ain’t gonna rain no more. All of the books encourage interaction with the kids and fun conversations. Songs that could be used with this storytime are Laurie Bernker’s Victor Vito, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, and the nursery rhyme humpty dumpty. I always began and ended my storytimes with the same opening rhyme and the same ending rhyme. It gives the kids a sense of order and completion to their time at the library.
Now, I am not suggesting that parents create a show-stopping storytime for their loved ones each night, but it may help you break through a reading rut with your child or find a new way to explore stories together.
(I am an amazon affiliate member, if you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I get a small percentage of the proceeds. I am not paid to review any particular books and the opinions are all mine.)
Board Books are perfect for toddlers. With heavy pages, the children can flip through the book independently. The text is simple, rhyming and full of new vocabulary words. The pictures are engaging and the books are the perfect size to take with you anywhere you go.
Look for books that:
Below is a PDF of board books toddlers love. Print it out and take it with you to the library or bookstore!
Baby’s first books are often vocabulary books, nursery rhymes and songs. Babies are sponges for language at this age and it becomes a cornerstone of future reading success. Look for books that have simple pictures, contrasting colors, and real pictures of faces and animals. Touch and feel books or any book with texture is a perfect pick for babies.
One or two words per page and simple songs will keep your child engaged and interactive which not only builds language but develops a lifelong reading habit. Allow the child to hold the books and explore. Yes, the book will often end up in their mouth because that is how babies explore!
I have put together a PDF of suggested board books that will engage your baby. Print it out and take it along with you to the library or bookstore. In addition, many libraries have parent packs with puppets and age appropriate toys to help dive deeper into reading. Also look for baby storytimes and play and learn centers for parent/child focused time.
Below is a printable PDF that you can take to the library with you. These books are books that my own children devoured or were huge hits at the library storytimes. Also included are music cd’s and magazines that will build literacy while having fun together. Each book listed will have the pre-literacy skills that are strongest in the book. Take this list with you to discover new books together.
This week’s list is for preschoolers. Next week look for board books and picture books for toddlers and the last week of May will be board books for babies.
Enjoy the list and feel free to share with the other parents you know.
So if you answer yes to most of the questions you are ready to start choosing your first chapter book with your child.
Make sure the story fits your child’s interests. Like choosing a picture book, we want to make sure our child engages in the story. Look for books where the main character shares hobbies or is in a similar life situation.
Pictures still help. Choose a book that still has pictures throughout the story. It breaks up the text and provides an opportunity for you to talk about what you have read. With more listening than looking it might be harder for your child to hold the story thread in his head at first. Practice stopping every few pages and asking questions.
Start Small. There are a lot of great beginning chapter books like The Magic Treehouse series or The Clubhouse Mysteries or Matt Christopher or Mercy Watson among many others. The sentences and chapters are short and there are usually no more than 5 paragraphs per page.
Slowly start adding chapter books to your daily reading habit. Increase the number of pages you read and don’t worry about reading a full chapter! Since the stories aren’t necessarily driven by the pictures, let your child explore legos, coloring, blocks or another activity while you read. Just because their hands are busy doesn’t mean they aren’t listening. Always talk about what you read the previous day before you start reading. It will help them learn to hold the story in their heads for longer amounts of time in between readings.
Before long your child will ask to add a chapter book or two to the library basket but never stop reading those picture books because they are still a great source of unique and rich vocabulary and reading fun!
(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 percentage of the sale.)
What our family is currently reading together: