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Literacy 'Lights from the Kidlitosphere: Reading with Kids of All Ages

Posted by Jen Robinson on October 26, 2009 at 6:00 AM in Literacy News
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Here are some recent articles about encouraging young readers that I thought would be of particular interest to Booklights readers.

Cathy Puett Miller has a great post at Parents and Kids Reading Together about finding time to read with your young child. Cathy recognizes the difficulties that families have sometimes, with today's busy lives, in finding time to read aloud everyday. She says: "carve out time in 10-20 minute increments. Your schedule may not allow more or your child may need small doses so that he leaves with a pleasant taste in his mouth about the experience instead of a negative one because he was asked to sit still for too long." Cathy also makes a strong argument for continuing to read aloud to your child even after the child can read on her own. I've always been a big proponent of this (see my Ten Tips for Growing Bookworms, for example), but Cathy does a nice job outlining multiple, concrete reasons.

Cindy Hudson at Mother Daughter Book Club shares reasons why your children are never too old for you to read aloud to them. Among many great reasons, she says: "Talking about what you read lets you broach topics that may not come up otherwise. If the characters in the book are having trouble with a friendship, your daughter may be encouraged to open up with you about a difficult relationship she's having as well." I agree with her completely. See also a post at 5 Minutes for Books by Ann Wright Rossouw about the joys of continuing to read aloud with older children.

Another must-read post this week comes from Donalyn Miller at The Book Whisperer, on the subject of boys and reading. Although written from a teacher's perspective, I think that Donalyn's defense of boys as readers has relevance for parents, too. She says: "Instead of blaming our boys for their gender, or lowering our expectations for their literacy development, we should scrutinize any system where boys are hailed for their achievement in science and math class and allowed to define themselves as nonreaders." She also offers some recommended titles that have been catching the attention of boys in her classroom this year, and has sparked a tip-filled discussion in the comments. Dawn Morris has also shares some helpful links for finding books for boys at Moms Inspire Learning.

Homeschooling mom Sarah has a lovely post at In Need of Chocolate in defense of picture books for older readers. She notes: "Some parents encourage a steady diet of chapter books, ridding their homes and library bags of picture books as they children age, dismissing them as the reading material of babes, but I believe that one is never too old for picture books." Just a couple of her reasons include: "Picture books create and sustain family memories" and "Picture books provide an opportunity to learn more about art and how feelings and stories can be conveyed through pictures".

Do your kids eat Cheerios? Are you familiar with the Spoonful of Stories program, by which children's books are available as prizes in specially marked Cheerios boxes? I love the idea of kids getting books instead of little plastic prizes, don't you? Brimful Curiosities reports that you can now vote for which titles are included in the 2010 program. You can vote once a day from now through Friday for any of 13 titles (including a couple by Kidlitosphere friends of mine, but I'm not a believer in telling other people how to vote, so I'll just send you over to the contest). This article was a tip from Terry Doherty.

Another suggestion from Terry was this Wake County SmartStart article with five tips for raising a reader. "Anna Troutman of Wake County SmartStart and Laura Walters of the Literacy Council of Wake County offer ... five simple ways to start your child on the road to reading even before your child can read to himself." None of the ideas are novel, but I think it's good to keep talking about the importance of reading aloud, modeling reading behavior, visiting the library, etc. I also find, via Book Dads, ten tips for helping your child learn to read from Michael Levy at Literacy News.

Last but not least, at Reading Rockets, Joanne Meier responds to a question from a parent looking for practical tips for those times when kids just don't want to read. Joanne says: "if I were to pick one piece of advice to help during those times, it would be this: make sure your child is reading at his or her independent level at home. A child's independent level is the level at which the material is relatively easy for the student to read, and can be read with at least 95% accuracy."

Have you run across any interesting articles about encouraging your readers? I'd love to hear about them.


Sarah N. writes...

Jen, thanks so much for mentioning my picture book post. I'm looking forward to checking out the other links from this post.

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

You're very welcome, Sarah. I really liked the post!

Steve writes...

I am a first grade teacher studying to be a Reading Specialist. This summer I started a web site that my first graders and I began using in September. 100 Days / 100 Books is my attempt to introduce quality children's literature to my young readers. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thanks for stopping by Booklights, Steve. I wish you all the best with your 100 Days / 100 Books project. My suggestion would be that you check out two particular blogs: A Year of Reading and Literate Lives. Both of these blogs are by teachers/reading specialists and feature lots of specific book recommendations for early elementary school kids. There's also a nice list of nominated titles for Cybils awards for early readers and chapter books, which might give you some ideas.

One other thought: if you made your site a blog, you could make it more interactive, and easier for people to follow. Anyway, enjoy the project!

Dawn writes...

Thank you so much for once again calling our attention to some great posts, and for including a link to one of mine!

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

You're always welcome, Dawn. Thanks for giving me things to write about.

Cathy writes...


Thanks for drawing attention to the importance of families drawing closer by reading together. We need to keep this message out front and to spread it wherever we can.

I just finished two presentations at the AL Reading Association conference on motivation and children reading. One of the most important topics for this entire conference was protecting the "joy of reading". Thanks for your part in doing just that!

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thanks for the positive feedback, Cathy. I agree completely on the need to keep this message out there in front of people, and I appreciate everything that you do to do that, too. The "joy of reading" is so important!

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