February = “I Love to Read” month

“Reading every day, or close to it, takes discipline when children are little. It takes a real act of will as they get older and other claims begin to encroach on the time they have at home. Schoolwork, sports, friends, part-time jobs, and the hydra-headed temptations of technology will try to crowd out regular reading. Don’t let it. This is a battle worth winning,” Meghan Cox Gurdon writes in The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction.

                             THE ENCHANTED HOUR by Meghan Cox Gurdon

I totally agree. It is worthwhile, even when it feels like all forces seem to be conspiring against this goal of sharing stories. My sons are both strong readers, but there’s still much to gain from these read-aloud sessions. It exposes them to literature they might not pick up on their own. Reading aloud also builds shared experiences – it adds to our store of shared references and characters. For example, my younger son occasionally refers to eccentric Mrs. Dowdel, whom we first met in A Long Way from Chicago, speaking of her as if she were a real person. Sometimes, weeks after finishing a book, my boys bring up a point or ask about something we’ve read.

Reading together with older kids can still “create connection out of alienation and distance,” as Gurdon writes. “It can act as a catwalk over the turbulent waters of toddlerhood, and do the same years later in the storms of early adolescence.” These are some of the reasons I maintain our reading team and encourage others to do the same.

 

print motivation as a building block for reading success

Research suggests that children who think reading is a fun and valuable activity have an advantage when it comes to learning to read. During the preschool years, parents play an important role in communicating a value for books and reading. Here are some things  you can do – or may already be doing – to enhance your child’s print motivation.

Let your child see you reading. As in so many areas, our own actions speak volumes. And research suggests the best way to bring up a reader is to be a reader. When we read in our free time, our children are more likely to be interested in doing the same.  When we demonstrate how books and online resources can provide answers to their questions, we are showing them how reading can provide useful information.

Allow children to select books about their current interests. Reading about the topics they care about makes for more engaged kids during reading time. It doesn’t usually take much prompting for kids to show preferences for certain books. My older son often walks into the library with an idea of what he wants to read about. The younger one is pretty predictable too. Road construction stories and farm animals are always a good bet for him.

Read with enthusiasm and make reading interactive. Ask your child to make predictions about what might happen next in the story. Talk about the pictures.  Answer their questions. If you’re reading a book that has a repeated refrain, invite your child to repeat it with you. If you’re reading a book that has a rhythm, clap along. If you are reading a book that you’ve read many times before, allow them to finish some of the sentences or to supply the rhyming word at the end of a line. Use your creativity to make reading times fun.

What are some of the ways you share an enthusiasm for reading?

six ways to celebrate poetry month with your preschooler

Children love playing with language. Reading or chanting poetry together is a way to reinforce concepts such as rhyme and rhythm while spending quality time together. Take advantage of the remaining days of national poetry month by doing some or all of these activities

1. Visit the library and check out some children’s poetry books. Skim the titles in the poetry section of the children’s department for new titles, but also try to find a poem you enjoyed as a child. Ask your child to pick out a few books and you  do the same.

2. Play a rhyming game. Say a one-syllable word like “trail” and take turns listing words that rhyme with the stated word

3. Pop some popcorn and enjoy popcorn and poetry. Make it a family affair and encourage all the readers in the home to read at least one poem (from one of those books you checked out above). My sister, who teaches elementary school has made “Popcorn and Poetry” an annual tradition at her school and the kids enjoy it. (They’re fascinated by watching her hot air popper as well since most of them never knew you could make popcorn anywhere besides the microwave.)

4. Put a poem in your child’s pocket. Concrete poems (shape poems) are good for this because even though your preschooler may not be able to read, she’ll be able to extract some of the meaning from the shape.

5. Write a limerick about your child/children (one for each). Use the poem as a way to highlight one of the child’s special talents or a memorable event from the past. Your child will feel special being the subject of a poem. Review  limericks by Edward Lear if you’ve forgotten how the rhyme and meter of this form goes.

6. Teach your child a new nursery rhyme or finger play. Use something with words and actions, if possible, and turn it into a game. I’ve recently learned this finger play, which both of my boys think is a lot of fun:

Beehive

(Hold up a fist)

Here is a beehive

Where are the bees?

Hidden away where nobody sees

Watch as they come out of the hive

(Put up one finger at a time as you count)

One, two, three, four, five

(Buzz fingers all around)

Oh no, they’re alive!

How do you or would you like to enjoy poetry with your kids?

Related post: A Favorite

Literacy

Our ten-month-old likes books.

He smiles at many of the pictures as we’re reading, reviews a book by looking through it again once I’ve read it, and points at things that catch his interest. He is developing his page-turning skills, though sometimes he’s a bit over-eager with this task. He already shows a preference for certain books, and he sometimes “reads” on his own.

It’s fun to pass along this love of reading, and it’s more my responsibility that I may have realized. Today I came across a summary of some research out of Harvard that found the following four factors encourage childhood reading:

  • a home literacy environment (lots of print material, positive attitudes toward reading, etc.)
  • mother’s educational expectations of the child
  • mother’s own education
  • parent-child interaction

Would that every child had the proper balance of these four elements to give them a solid educational foundation.