Future Readers are Children Who Play

Recently, I was in an early head start site and I observed a toddler, dressed as a doctor, cooking at the play stove, while nursing a baby doll. The teacher asked if the child was a chef and the girl answered, she was a “cooker.” The teacher laughed and said, that’s right you are a doctor, mother, chef. While the girl played and acted out routines she saw when she was at home or with her family in the world, her teacher taught her new vocabulary to describe what was happening.

This is a sight you don’t often see in schools anymore. Why is that and how is it harming the future generations?

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The Challenge

Outcomes based learning has hurt play, particularly in early learning classrooms. Teachers are required to prove skills learned and objectives the children have met. Documentation has taken precedence over the process of learning, creating an environment where children regurgitate information without ever knowing how to process, internalize and comprehend what they have heard.

What happened?

Based from an article retrieved on EBSCOhost

Ready or Not, Play or Not: Next Steps for Sociodramatic Play and the Early Literacy Curriculum: A Theoretical perspective. Dr. Tarsha Bluiett. Reading Improvement, Fall 2018. Volume 55:3, 83-88.

No Child Left Behind, initiated by the Bush administration, while with good intentions, has created an atmosphere where children are continually left behind because teachers are forced to instruct and teach at levels the early learners aren’t ready for.

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Research Shows

Beginning with Maria Montessori in the early 1900’s research has repeatedly shown, that play is the work of learning. Meaningful work happens through an environment rich with opportunities for creative play,  that will not always inspire children to become lifelong learners, but also aids in the development of the oral, aural and visual skills a child needs in order to make the jump from pre-literacy to emergent reader and finally into independent reader.

Dramatic play encourages the development of language, emotional literacy, cooperation with peers, problem solving and moving from internal thought to externalization of thoughts and back to deeper thinking.

Play, not instruction, fosters this connection.

Social interactions through play provide meaningful ways for children to gain important life and self-care skills and emotional learning all while the imitate and reproduce the world they see around them in the safety of the classroom.

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What does this mean for parents of pre-literate children?

  • Don’t overschedule. Keep adult led, organized activities to a minimum if at all in the early years of life.
  • Make a play friendly space. Kids do not need high tech gadgets or expensive toys. Create a home that allows for exploration of the world indoors and outside.
  • Child led. Play shouldn’t be forced, but directed by the child.
  • Adults need to remember how to play. When was the last time you played? Or pretended to be someone else? Keep in mind that when our children play, they are working hard at learning. Play as we age becomes a practice in creativity that will atrophy if we don’t practice. While our kids play to learn, we also play to create.
  • Gives you time to talk with your child. No need to give commands or directions in play. Let your child be the parent, or the doctor. Find ways to introduce words they may not know naturally in the conversation of play.

Play isn’t only for recess

By creating literacy rich and meaningful play areas pre-literate children build the oral, vocabulary and systems they will use all throughout their life. So put away the flash cards and resist signing them up for another enrichment program. Allow your child the gift of time for play and watch them soar.

Play IS the foundation of school success

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For Further information

 

Check out these websites

The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds
Kenneth R. Ginsburg and the Committee on Communications, and the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health

Play is the Work of the Child Maria Montessori

Building Readers begins at home

I recently attended a workshop from a local literacy organization about tools and strategies to help struggling readers. The focus was on how to identify what reading problem the child, teen, or adult reader faced and strategies to build more confident readers.

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The workshop fascinated me, because as a librarian, not a teacher, I had never really thought about fluency and decoding and how phonics were taught to new and struggling readers. I gained a lot of knowledge in the workshop about the mechanics of learning to read that I will find ways to implement in future storytimes.

I was left, though, with a question

How do parents of “pre-literate” children participate in the literacy life of their child to mitigate future reading problems.

As any good librarian does, I turned to my local library’s research databases. In my search, I found an article that, although meant for kindergarten and first grade teachers and parents of this age group, I began to see how libraries, literacy organizations, and preschools can partner with parents to build a routine, love, and background in reading.

The Research

A 3-Year Study of a School-Based Parental Involvement Program in Early Literacy. Susan Ann Crosby, Timothy Rasinski, Nancy Padak, and Kasim Yildirim. The Journal of Educational Research, 108:165-172, 2015. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier.

The research looked at the impact of parental involvement in student literacy achievement and the sustainability of a program over the course of 3- years. The program was modified each year and what the researchers found at this one school where the program was implemented is the children and parent’s who had the highest participation in the weekly program had the highest increase of Word Accuracy per minute when tested at the beginning and end of the year. And in Kindergarteners the researchers noted the children knew more sight words.

All it took to improve reading fluency was 2, 10 minute sessions of parent and child reading per week.

The program was simple. Each week a short poem or rhyme was sent home. The parents were to, over the course of the week, practice the reading two days. In particular the parents read the passage several times to the child while pointing out the words. Then the parent and child read the passage together several times, while the parent pointed to the text. Lastly, the child would read the passage several times and point out the text while reading. Afterwards the parent and child played word games using unique words from the text in a variety of ways.

Parent reads poem several times while following the text with her finger

  • Parent and child read poem together several times while following text with finger
  • Child reads poem several times to parent while the child points to words
  • As the program developed there was more emphasis on the program with the poem of the week being displayed in the school and assessment logs submitted every 9 weeks. All it took was two days a week of 10-15 minute sessions between parent and child for the student to experience literacy improvement.

What does this mean for parents of children with young children?

  • Repetition is key. Using poetry and rhymes with our youngest listeners will not only help early literacy skills develop before the child becomes an emergent reader, the familiarity, routine and safe space the reading activity takes place encourages a child to bond with reading.
  • Mini-reading breaks have huge impact. The study only required 10-15 minutes twice a week. Most families can find time in between activities or bedtime to fit in reading rhymes or poems.
  • Reading and highlighting the words are key. We can’t just read to our children, we have to show them that what we say relates to the markings on the page. Think of it as prepping your child’s “reading surface.”
  • Parent involvement is critical. Teachers and librarians aren’t miracle makers. All they do is guide parents and children in a learning direction. The magic happens at home and the school day is practice.

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What are 3 steps you can take today to make a difference in your child’s future reading life?

  • Choose poetry and rhymes to mix up your reading life. Act out the poems or rhymes. Use silly voices. There are a lot of ways to do repeat readings without the experience boring you or your child.
  • Know what books your child is hearing at school and pick them up from your local library. Find ways to explore the themes and ideas in the book by taking “field trips” together to build your child’s context or background knowledge for the book.
  • Play word games. As the researchers saw, when the parents followed up readings by using the new words in the book in their everyday conversation, there was a larger impact on achievement. See how many times you can use a new word in conversation and link it back to the poem you read. Or play a rhyming game by creating a list of rhyming words.

Reading should never be a chore but a bonding experience between parent and child

Building future readers begins at home in ways that don’t have to feel like a chore for either parent or child. By incorporating short spurts of reading throughout the week, your child will be even more ready to emerge as a reader when they enter kindergarten.

Book Ideas to try at home

Building Lifelong Readers

“Excuse me, will you help me find a book?”

When I worked as a children’s librarian, there was no greater joy than having a child come up and ask for help selecting a book. That was when I got to exercise my readers advisory skills and dive deeper into understanding what makes a book click for a reader.

More often than not, what I would hear was, “My teacher wants me to choose a book at this level.” Then I would pull out the binder that listed the school’s reading lists with point values and the child would brush my questions away only wanting to know which book in her level she could read for the most points and the fewest pages.

Not a scenario library dreams are made of.

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In the article Thinking Outside the Bin: Why labeling books by reading level disempowers young readers by Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal, August 1, 2017, Parrott discusses what the purpose of leveling books was for in schools and how that was not the intention for libraries.

The key is more choice, not less, Carter believes. “Let them take out a lot of books so that somewhere in that pile they find something that satisfies them,” she says. “But we have to keep that process going….When they come into the library the next time, talk about their choices: what worked; what didn’t. They have to learn their own processes for selecting books, and if we keep narrowing the choices by artificial constraints, we aren’t giving them that chance.

Betty Carter, professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University, noted in a July 2000 SLJ article

A libraries goal is to build lifelong readers and help each developing reader discover their reading identity. (Parrott, 44) The leveled reading often discourages readers or makes them feel inadequate and reading becomes another school chore instead of a gateway to a larger world.

The acronym Bookmatch, guides young readers to choose their own appropriate reading material. And this is a great place for librarians to help out.

  • Book length
  • Ordinary language
  • Knowledge prior to book
  • Manageable text
  • Appeal to genre
  • Topic appropriateness
  • Connection
  • High interest

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There are debates about leveling books in the education field, but at home and in the library our focus should be on building a love of reading and in order to meet that goal we have to follow the lead of our children.

What can parents do?

  • Go browse library shelves with your child. Have them pick up books that appeal to them, either through the cover or description.
  • Ask them why they picked up that particular book. Did it remind them of another book they read? Did it look funny? Questions help us better understand what connected our child to the book in the first place.
  • Do not judge. Okay, we are all probably guilty of this. We want them to experience our favorite books from our childhood. Who wouldn’t love The BFG or Bridge to Terabithia or The Phantom Tollbooth? They might be classics, but they also were written for a time very different from the world our children are growing up in. Bite your tongue when they look at the Boxcar Children, and say it looks old-timey. They aren’t reading for us, they are reading for themselves.
  • Librarians are in the library for a reason. If your child really isn’t able to find a book to his liking, do not be afraid to ask for help. The librarian will offer some suggestions based on the books the child has enjoyed in the past.

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Too often these days, reading and literacy have been reduced to achievement statistics. That may be fine for improving test scores, but it has a negative impact on a child’s enjoyment of reading. Yes, we need to provide opportunities to challenge our kids, and at the same time, if we focus on their needs, the achievement often happens on its own.

If you have a reluctant reader

  • Try audiobooks. One of the funniest books my family has listened to is Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians. This book demands to be listened to. The narrator is fantastic and the whole family will sit and listen together.
  • Graphic Novels are a must. Graphic novels are not hurting your child’s reading life. In fact, many kids begin with graphic novels and advance to chapter books. And if they don’t, no worries because graphic novels are still reading!
  • Magazines, Guiness Book of World Records, and more. Reading is reading is reading. Is anyone judging you for reading the latest Stephanie Plum? Well, if they are, you don’t need to hang around them 🙂 Like graphic novels, magazines and list books are easier for kids to digest because the text is broken up, there is more white space and instead of looking at all those tiny letters scrunched together on the page, there is breathing room in the text.

We all want the best for our kids

Deep reading will come if we build a trusting relationship between kids and books. That relationship starts young, when they are still babies and continues on, hopefully through the rest of their lives. If we take the focus off of results and academic achievement, I believe we would have way more readers. Our job as parents, caregivers, and child reading advocates is to guide our children into the wonderful world of reading and then set them free.

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Book Review: Anna at the Museum by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert

Read

I have to admit, the last place I wanted to take my kids when they were small was the art museum. The rooms were big, they echoed loud and there was so many ways they could get themselves (and me!) in trouble.

Thankfully the Cleveland Art Museum, in our city, has a lot of opportunities for family to enjoy art together, with outdoor installations, rooms for kids to explore.

In Anna at the Art Museum, Anna can’t help but attract the attention of the attendant. The art begs to be touched! The rooms insist she run, and when Anna gets hungry she doesn’t understand why she isn’t allowed to have her snack. When she finds a door marked NO ENTRY, Anna tries very hard not to walk through the door and to find out what happens you will have to read the book.

 

(I am an Amazon Affiliate, which means if you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale. I was not paid for my review, I received a NetGalley copy for an honest review)

Talk

This book has a lot of great conversation starters with your child. Who hasn’t taken their child to a doctor’s office, or the grocery store or a special event and found yourself saying:

It’s no surprise our kids run when they say to get their shoes on! This book is a great way to introduce the expectations we have for our family when we are in different public places. Try to use positive language like: Ask before you touch something that isn’t yours. Use walking feet when we are indoors. Use an indoor voice when we are at the store. Not only will it help your child prepare for “field trips,” it will also help you think about what you want to see happen before you reprimand. I know for me, I often give consequence without ever having any clear discussion with my kids about the behavior I expect when we are out of the house. These types of positive conversations don’t only make for pleasant days out, but it also helps your child build vocabulary.

MDW Anna

Another great way to take this book out in the world is to talk about the different signs in buildings, while driving, and even at school. Point them out as you see them and talk about what the mean, why it is posted, and what you should do when you encounter them.

Sing

There are a lot of great ideas on Incredible @rt Department, but one I liked in particular was to put on different types of music and have your child, “follow the line”. You can use finger paint, colored pencils, whatever you have on hand. There are no rules for this, just have your child draw what the music feels like, and make sure you point out the lines in the book when Anna is moving around and when she is in the hidden room and the color’s she experiences. Listening to the music will also strengthen your child’s phonological awareness which will help them when they are learning to read and sounding out words.

Play

This book begs for a field trip to a local art museum or art gallery. Many art museums are free or ask for a donation. Plan out the trip beforehand and keep the time short. Modern art would be a great place to start and make sure you talk about and describe what you see and have your child do the same.

Another option is to find a child/parent paint session at the library or a local paint and sip store. Spending time together allows for many opportunities to talk without the pressure of home and schedule AND it is play which is what all kids need to grow.

What to read next

Funny stories about an outing with your child? Share in the comments below or share with us your favorite art museum.

Happy Reading

Helping Parents Build Literacy at Home

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  • Do you find the day over before you’ve had time to read with your child?

  • Can’t find high quality books that your children will enjoy?

  • Do you want to build a better relationship with your child?

  • Do you want to find efficient and effective ways to build literacy in your home?

Building Future Readers Helps Busy Parents

Make Building Future Readers your go to source for book reviews, literacy building activities, reading research and author interviews.

Life gets busy fast and research shows reading 20 minutes a day creates curious, elastic, and adventurous minds. Not only do our children learn while we read, but the parent-child relationship strengthens and grows through the enriching conversations created with engaging books and play.

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How can Building Future Readers help?

  1. Reviews of Upcoming Picture Books. Each review focuses on the 6 early literacy skills: Print Motivation, Print Awareness, Vocabulary, Letter Awareness, Phonological Awareness, and Narrative Skills. In each review there is a section about the book, the skills highlighted, songs and activities that will continue learning after the last page, and suggestions of what to read next.
  2. Author interviews. Book excitement builds when a child learns about the women and men behind the books they enjoy.
  3. Reading Research. Our understanding of how kids learn to read and what works and doesn’t work as well changes constantly. Keep on top of the latest trends and topics.
  4. Reading Best Practices. Reading aloud isn’t intuitive! We all struggle with pronunciations and long winded passages at times. Find tips and tricks to get through books you didn’t realize you needed an English degree to conquer.
  5. Kids Who Play are Kids Who Read. Life gets out of control fast. Practices, lessons, get-togethers, playdates and so much more interfere with the time our kids need to play and explore. Learn about how to incorporate play and exploration into all aspects of your child’s day.

MDW Anna

Building Future Readers Helps Strengthen Families

Building Future Readers helps concerned parents find ways to impact the reading life of their child. The world changes fast and we will help you navigate the complexities.

Story Questions

Building Future Readers helps parents find information about reading, reviews and research in one place.

For more reviews, tips, advice and more follow Building Future Readers Blog or like us on Facebook!4 daily Activities

Book Review: Am I Yours? by Alex Latimer

All children get lost at some point in early childhood. It is a frightening event and with all the talk of stranger danger, kids are even more afraid than ever. This is a rhythmical story about an unlucky egg that gets blown out of its nest and tries to find its way home. Reminiscent of PD Eastman’s Are You My Mother? It is a perfect story to read to help allay your child’s fears of getting lost and a good conversation starter about what to do when you can’t find a familiar face.

 

(I received a free advance reader copy of this book from the publisher. I was not paid for my review. The opinions expressed are mine. I am an Amazon Affiliate and if you click on a picture it will take you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)

 

Build Comprehension

Book Talk Cover Story

Build Vocabulary

I have to admit Dinosaur books always worried me a little. Kids love the books, but I can’t always pronounce their names on the first try! We know that fluidity matters, but this is a great opportunity for you to show your child how to approach new words. Sounding them out, will not only help them hear each of the individual sounds that make up the word, it will also demonstrate how to work through new words.

Am I yoursmillionwords

Build Conversation

It will happen. Even the most attentive parents and kids will get separated at some point. At the park, the store, the pool it is an inevitable part of life. Talking about what to do when your child is lost is important, and it needs to be done in a way that won’t scare them. There are a lot of resources out there and every family, parent and child is different, so find what works for you and your child and then talk about it. This isn’t only for their own safety, but talking about life skills is a good way to have a positive and meaningful discussion with even the youngest of children.

5 Things your kids need to know about getting lost

What should your child do if she gets lost

Help, I’m lost! How to teach your child what to do if he’s lost

In addition, it helps our kids to think about situations and how to respond before it happens. You can discuss the feelings he might have or the questions she might experience. All of this not only gives them information they need, but talking with our children helps build future readers!

Build Word Sounds

Songs are a great way to help your child learn word sounds. Singing builds phonological awareness which he will need as he learns to sound out words for reading.

My Address

Have Fun!

Reading shouldn’t stop when the book closes! Find ways to continue the story outside or around the house. Play isn’t only for fun, it is a time for learning as well!

Find different objects that are round. Apples, oranges, balls, eggs and see how each one rolls (or doesn’t roll so well) Have your child predict which when she thinks will roll the best. You can use a small hill or go to the park.

At craft stores like Jo-ann Fabrics or Michaels you are often able to find inexpensive plastic dinosaurs. Buy some for your child and as you are waiting at the doctors office or for school pick up for older siblings let your child’s imagination soar.

Feel like a kid again! Find a big hill and roll down with your child. Not only will the physical experience enrich your child’s play, play helps parents and children bond!

What to read next

Other books by Alex Latimer:

How do you talk about getting lost with your children?

Happy Reading

Book Review: Sir Simon, Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson

(I received a free copy from the publisher for review. I was not paid to write the review. All the opinions expressed in the post are mine and mine alone. In addition, I am an Amazon Affiliate, if you click on an image it will take you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a percentage of the sale.)

This book was published on September 4, 2018

In my fourteen years of parenting, I have checked a lot of closets, I have turned on a lot of nightlights, I have checked under beds and snuggled with my kids (and dogs!) during storms.

Fear of the unknown, make-believe or real, happens to all kids. A safe and reassuring way to help our kids work through normal fears is through reading. Children are able to visit the dark and look at the monsters and scary things all within the comfort and reassuring arms of their grown-ups.

Sir Simon, Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson is the perfect book to read with your child to help begin conversations about what scares them. Simon is a ghost, who wants to not work so hard and he is excited to learn the woman moving into the house he haunts is a “grandma.” Grandparents don’t take a lot of work and Simon can’t wait to get to work on all the hobbies he hasn’t had time form. It all goes awry when a little boy moves in as well and won’t leave Chester alone. Chester devises a plan that keeps the boy happy and Chester free until he realizes what he really needed was a friend.

Million Dollar Words Sir Simon

I was drawn to this book, not only for the unique language and the emotional intelligence it builds, but also the way it uses the illustrations to highlight the text. The text doesn’t only go from left to right, top to bottom. It will be on the stairs, or in the tree or in text bubbles. This allows for the reader to use their finger to point to the sentences which builds an awareness of the words that make up the story on the page.

The illustrations are simple but rich in color and do not overwhelm the reader. It would be a great book to tell by only using the pictures which helps the child learn to “read” through the story on their own.

Another reason this is a must read, is because your child has a lot of opportunities to participate in the storytelling. They can make the animal ghost sounds or find pots and pans or other household items to recreate the clomping, creaking and stomping sounds. Engaged listeners are engaged learners.

Sir Simon tackles a subject all kids deal with throughout their childhood: FEAR Simon is a relatable and unscary ghost who will provide an opportunity for our children to explore their feelings in a caring and controlled environment.

Find more about the Author/Illustrator Cale Atkinson here

 

Activities/Enrichment

Make your own silly ghost noises. Onomatopoeia is a great way to build the phonological awareness our kids need to build their reading skills. You can also build in some narrative skills by classifying sounds like Animal sounds, motor sounds, or letter sounds (like words that start with the k sound: creeping, clomping, crawling)

 

Ghost Sounds

 

What do you remember?Story Questions

Recall not only helps reading comprehension, but it also aids in a child’s understanding of how stories are built, what makes a good story and what they need to make their own story. After you have read the book a few times, ask your child what happens. Put it on different pieces of paper with enough space for them to draw/illustrate and then they can retell the story using the pieces of paper. They won’t remember ever single page, but by helping them remember how the story started, what the problem was and how the problem was solved, your child will be miles ahead when it comes time for them to do book reports and reviews in elementary school.

 

What to read next

Other Books about Monsters, Make-believe and Fear

Other Books by Cale Atkinson

Books for Grown-ups to Read

Understanding how to talk about feelings and emotions with our kids not only builds literacy it builds EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. Emotional Intelligence benefits our kids not only during childhood but throughout life. Below are a list of suggestions of books that will be helpful in learning how to help your child discuss feelings and describe emotions.

 

What scary books do you share with your children?

 

 

Book Review: Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman

A few summers ago, my family and I vacationed at Disney World. My youngest was six and everywhere she went, the cast members called her princess. She readily told them she was not a princess but a JEDI!

Socialization and gender labeling happens before birth. Gender reveal parties, pink or blue announcements, and nurseries decorated in either pinks and purples or blues and reds. Our children are not born believing only girls wear dresses and only boys play football, those are stereotypes that are taught.

I know talking about gender identity is a scary topic for parents. You don’t want to invalidate or confuse your child. This book can be enjoyed with or without the deeper discussions. You know your child best and what I have discovered is to follow their lead.

Picture Book Stereotyping

Picture books often get involved in the gender stereotyping. Books for girls on the covers are often pastel, soft and gentle. “Boy books” are often about dirt, construction, and transportation. There is not only a diversity issue in the children’s book world, there is also a problem with the gender roles established in the very books that are building children’s understanding of the world.

My favorite book when I was a child was Nurse Nancy. Although I am sure I liked it because it came with its own bandaids. In the story Nurse Nancy wasn’t allowed to play with the boys until one of them got hurt and she was needed to care for them. The companion book Doctor Dan was a book about a boy pretending to be a doctor. If I hadn’t had different parents, I would have believed that only girls became nurses and boys became doctors, because even though it is 2018, it is a storyline still often told in the books for our youngest readers and listeners. It wasn’t until my first daughter was born and I found the beloved Nurse Nancy book at the bookstore I realized how inappropriate the message of the book was!

I am happy to see more and more books are not gender specific, the authors and publishers could go a lot further in breaking down the dangerous gender roles that plague the advancement of girls (and boys) in our country.

All of that being said, Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman and Illustrated by Eda Kaban is a great book for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. It has simple text for listeners as young as 6 months, but preschoolers will also enjoy diving deeper into the conversations in the illustrations.

In this book your children will learn about colors and they will see diversity in the children on the page. All listeners will find a familiar face on the page. The vocabulary in the text is strong but also by using the pictures on the page, parents will have a lot of opportunities to describe the pictures and find new words!

Examples

  • On the first page spread is a dance party. In it point out the objects the child might not know, or use another word to describe a familiar object. Use baby grand piano instead of piano. Talk about the bunting in the window and mention when and why we use it. Name different shapes you see in the balloons, clouds, bunting, walls, piano keys and more. One page of illustrations will provide plenty of enriching conversation!
  • This will also be a great opportunity for preschoolers especially, to ask questions that go beyond what the words and illustrations show. For example the second page spread is about blue is for girls and boys. It shows a girl and boy in baseball uniforms. You can discuss what sports there are and name some that are unusual like polo, la crosse or running. To gauge your child’s understanding of the book, you can ask who plays basketball or baseball or soccer. This book provides an opportunity to show our children that boys can do whatever girls do and girls can do whatever boys do!
  • Sometimes the simplest books pack the most educational punch for our kids. This book will keep the child engage, help them learn about colors and new words as well as help break the stereotype that boys and girls can like the same colors, clothes and games.

TALK: Million Dollar Words

Below are words that appear in the text or illustrations. Find ways to use these words in conversation. Another way to familiarize the child with the words are to point them out after reading the book, or stop and point out while reading.

  • Valance
  • Bunting
  • Catcher
  • Column
  • Chandelier
  • Track
  • Dribbling
  • Fragile
  • Cuddle

TALK: Build Reading Comprehension. Ask Questions!

Don’t only read the book. Ask questions! It helps build reading comprehension and it also builds enjoyment. Don’t know where to start? Begin with these and add your own. Even have your child ask YOU questions.

picturebookquestions

PLAY: Low Cost Enrichment

Read the book and then try some of the activities in the youtube video. Lots of great ways to help kids learn sorting, ordering and more. All which help increase reading comprehension. Included in this video are ideas on strengthening the pincer grip which helps children learn to write.

Sing

Try this song from Teaching Mama. It will help your child identify colors and label clothing and follow directions.

Retrieved from Teaching mama on September 3, 2018 at https://teachingmama.org/10-preschool-songs-colors/

PLAY

Learning isn’t only about reading and information. Our children need to play more than any other activity at this stage in life. Some ideas for independent play:

  • Create a dress up box. Include items from mens closets as well as women’s. Thrift stores are a great place to find gently used items.
  • If you have a back or front yard, take off your child’s shoes and socks and let them run around in bare feet. There is a lot of research that shows the link between no shoe childhoods and brain development. Read an article in the Washington Post here
  • Find a park or a safe space and let your child pedal on a bike, tricycle, or any other object that moves. They can pretend they are on the race track like the children in the book. Get a book out for yourself and watch the play.

What to read next

Julian plays dress up after spotting three beautiful women on the subway ride home. He makes a mess and is worried how his Abuela will feel when she sees what he’s done.

The colors fight and a big mess ensues. See how they solve their problems.

A blue crayon is labeled red and must find a way to follow its heart no matter what obstacles the crayon faces.

Annie is forced to wear a dress to a wedding and Annie hates dresses. See how she overcomes this dilemma.

Share in the comments different ways you find to include the Million Dollar words in your conversations.

Happy Reading

Must Read Fall Books

Summer may technically be around for a few more weeks, but every year when the calendar hits August, I slip into fall mode. The days are shorter, the cicadas hum their loud tune and school buses fill the streets. Seasons, for me, have never been about the meteorological changes but the rhythm of life. Spring is new life, awakenings, possibilities. Summer is all about relaxation, warmth, resting and reading in the sun. Winter is blazing fires, cozy sweaters, hot chocolate and togetherness.

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Fall has always been about new beginnings. I haven’t been in a classroom myself for well over 20 years, but Fall always makes me yearn for new notebooks, fresh pencils, and fun lunchboxes. Enthusiasm for whatever work I do is at an all time high. I am excited and full of energy.

Since I started my job as a literacy specialist last year, fall brings with it new pre-k classrooms and new students to introduce to a love of reading.

My first unit this calendar year is all about autumn. These happen to be some of my favorite books because they are colorful and full of unique words and routines familiar to most children. As I was preparing for the upcoming story times I had a chance to look at some of the new books out there about fall.

What to read next

FOUR FALL MUST READS

I am an Amazon Affiliate. I am not paid for my reviews or to endorse any particular book. However, if you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.

 

This book caught my eye, not only for the illustrations, but the diversity of children and town portrayed. It is important for all kids to see themselves in the pages of the books they read and this book is a great way to explore the themes of fall while building story interest with familiar images.

 

 

Henkes will be a familiar name for most readers. He has written some of my own children’s favorite stories. His illustrations are always simple and attractive and his beautiful use of language will help learns discover new words to use.

 

 

 

 

 

This book came out a few years ago, but when I saw it while browsing the shelves of the library, I was immediately drawn to the illustrations. Again, the children who are on the pages of the book are diverse. The language is fresh and unique. Her use of yellow unifies the pictures of the book and make it art as well as literature.

 

 

 

 

 

Published last year, Full of Fall is a book I love to share with kids. Real photographs capture the children’s attention. At the preschool level kids are more about concrete ideas than abstract. When a picture book uses photographs instead of illustrations, we often spend more time talking about the pages. Photos have a depth, that no matter the illustration, inspires our young learners. The text also makes use of alliteration which not only makes the book a more interesting read a loud, but it helps kids hear the different sounds that make up the words they will learn to read.

 

I hope you are as excited about fall as I am. Take time out of your day to crunch through the leaves, take a hike through the colorful forests, go apple picking, and find a farm that provides hay rides and other fall activities. Research shows that along with reading, singing and playing are just more important in our children’s development than the scheduled activities we sign them up for.

While the rest of the country submerges itself in pumpkin spice lattes, Halloween decor and football start a new fall routine and include great autumn books.

If you are looking for more books about fall please contact me at jes@jeszsmith.com !

Happy Reading

Book Review: Edmond The Thing By Astrid Desbordes

Be Different….But do I have to?

I am not sure at what age the change happens, but it does. Kids, who never noticed differences before, start to see different skin tones, hair textures, heights, weights and more. Where there once wasn’t fear, now there is. The unknown is scary.

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Not just for children, but for adults as well.

I remember when my daughter received a new-to-her shirt. It said Be Different. I loved it. She hated it. She said, “Mom, I don’t want to be different.”

And although I didn’t want it to be true, I understood all to well the fear of not fitting in.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate, if you click on an image or hyperlink, it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)

 

Buy on Amazon!

Edmond the Thing. Astrid Desbordes. Illustrated by Marc Boutavant. Enchanted Lion Books: New York, 2017.

Edmond the Thing by Astrid Desbordes tackles the difficult subject of how we hide from people and things that are unfamiliar. Edmond and his friend George go out for a walk collecting items for a disguise when they come across…. some THING.

They don’t know what it is. It doesn’t speak their language, it doesn’t look like them and they are afraid. They assume because they don’t know what the THING is, it is dangerous. They want to exclude it from their safe, known forest. George, however, wants to learn more about this THING, so he disguises himself and discovers what it feels like when everyone, including his best friend are afraid of him.

Teach Our Children to Be the Bridge

“Carefully, he took down the sign and laid it across the river to make a bridge.”

This is my favorite line from the book. It is never to early to begin discussing with our kids that instead of keeping people out we work to find ways to “bridge” our differences and understand each other. Being different, doesn’t mean dangerous and when we are inclusive our world grows a lot bigger.

When we are inclusive our world grows a lot bigger.

This story is geared towards an older preschooler. It has a more sophisticated narrative and moral lessons are hard for young children to understand. Although, the illustrations share the context of the story well, so if you have a child who can listen to longer stories, the pictures will help them follow along with the story much more closely.

Including books from authors of different countries helps broaden our perspectives and will enrich the reading lives of our children, building not only future readers, but caring and compassionate leaders.

This is an important story to share with children, especially in a world that has grown noisy from adults fearful of change and the unknown or unfamiliar. Including books from authors of different countries helps broaden our perspectives and will enrich the reading lives of our children, building not only future readers, but caring and compassionate leaders.

Create a Better World

After reading the book, talk about a time your child was fearful of someone who was different. We all experience that horrifying parenting moment where our child points out someone who is overweight, or a different skin color or has some outward difference in appearance from us. Instead of allowing our embarrassment to overwhelm us, use the opportunity to discuss how new ideas are scary at first, but when it comes down to it we are all people living on the same planet with similar problems, hopes and dreams.

Yes, it is a heady concept for young ages, but the more we say it, the better world we create.

 

What to read next

Books to raise an activist for love

Find these titles at your local bookstore or Amazon.

 

What books have you used to explain how to embrace differences?

Happy Reading