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Literacy 'Lights from the Kidlitosphere: Encouraging Readers, from Babies to Teens

Posted by Jen Robinson on October 5, 2009 at 6:00 AM in Literacy News
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With some help from Terry Doherty, I have been saving up recent children's literacy news with an emphasis on raising readers. I hope that you find these articles useful!

herson.JPGTerry found a nice little article at by Jennifer about how it's never to early to start focusing on children's literacy. She offers "a list of ways to help your small children become more effective readers." I liked: "Read everywhere - make reading a fundamental part of your children's lives. Have them help you read menus, point out road signs, read game directions, weather reports, movie and television time listings, and other practical everyday information. Also, make sure they always have something to read in their spare time when they could be waiting for appointments or riding in a car." [Image credit: photo by Taliesin, shared via MorgueFile.]

0470372273.jpgEducation World's Wireside Chat recently featured an interview with Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer, about cultivating young readers. While the article is aimed at teachers, I think that parents can benefit from reading Donalyn's thoughts on learning to read, boys and reading, and the importance of kids reading every day. This part especially resonated for me (on why Donalyn thinks that fewer children are reading for pleasure these days): "Children do not realize that the same story arcs they love in television programs, movies, and video games exist in books. Schools do a good job of teaching children how to read, but provide little motivation for students to read outside of school. Reading becomes a school task for many children, not an activity they enjoy."

Of course one of the major tips for parents to encourage young readers it to read aloud to them. Via a tweet from Mitali Perkins (first discovered by Terry), I found a wonderful "how to" resource by Mem Fox (author of Reading Magic), complete with audio examples. Here's a snippet: "Reading aloud is an art form in which the eyes and voice play important parts. Here are a few hints about how to make the most of both, as well as some general advice on how to read all stories aloud in a more entertaining manner."

At Literacy Launchpad, Amy wrote recently about the importance of reading role models, including but not limited to parents. She offers concrete and enthusiastic suggestions, like "Encourage others' children to read, not only your own. We need to be role models for many! Ask your children's friends what they're reading. Volunteer to read at your child's school. Host storytime playdates. Be seen reading!" I always like to think of myself as a reading role model, don't you?

41JWWB5SA6L._SL500_AA240_.jpgAt Great Kids Books, librarian Mary Ann Scheuer reviews a brand new book for parents by Diane Frankenstein: Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read. Mary Ann says: "Reading Together explains that it is through reading for pleasure that children will read more, enjoy reading and become better readers. The first step for parents is to help your child find books that they enjoy and can read successfully - a book that is at their reading level and one that engages them." I haven't seen this book yet myself, but it certainly sounds like a resource worth checking out. She recommends it for parents of four to 12 year olds.

I linked earlier to Susan Stephenson's two-part series about Literacy in the Playground. Recently, Susan published Part 3 at the Book Chook. After recapping several chanting and clapping games, Susan says: "Kids are hot-wired to enjoy play. The motivational factor involved in games with accompanying chants, means that children will repeat them many times. This allows language to become internalized. Judging by the looks on the faces of people I've asked about these games, and the tone of their emails, adults remember them very fondly. The words stay with us (in my case!) for an amazing number of years."

For parents interested in encouraging middle school and high school readers, Cathy Puett Miller has some suggestions at Parents and Kids Reading Together. Cathy specifically addresses the laments of parents whose children used to love reading, and don't anymore. She says: "Certainly you can't expect that 13 or 15 year old to want to sit with you and read like they did when they were small. But you can keep whetting his/her appetite for reading by exposing your young person to reading materials (books, magazines, Internet sites, how-to manuals, vacation brochures, etc.) that connect to his interests." She offers several concrete tips.

I also found an article by Pam Krueger in the Bismarck Tribune about the decline in reading skills among adolescents. Although the article talks primarily about schools, Kruger concludes with recommendations for parents. She says: "School is not the only place where literacy can be the focus. There also are things that parents can do to improve literacy in adolescent children. Continue doing the things that help younger children blossom into readers, such as modeling reading, providing an assortment of reading materials that adolescents enjoy, encouraging daily reading, make reading a part of the family's everyday life, and continuing to read out loud to older children."

I'll have more children's literacy news in this week's children's literacy and reading news roundup (prepared by Terry and me) at my personal blog. What about you all? Have you run across any recent posts or news stories aimed at helping parents to grow bookworms? I would love to hear about them.


Dawn writes...

These are great links, Jen. Thanks!

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