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Literacy 'Lights from the Kidlitosphere: Be A Commercial for Literacy, and Keep it Fun

Posted by Jen Robinson on November 9, 2009 at 6:00 AM in Literacy News
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For some reason, Terry and I have come across quite a few articles lately for parents on encouraging young readers. Since I had several articles stacked up, I decided to share them with you this week. I'll be back next week with Tip #2 in my new Tips for Growing Bookworms series (Tip #1 is here). But for now, here are ideas from a variety of smart people across the blogs and the press.

The Book Chook, Susan Stephenson, shared a fun post about the "sheer pleasure" of playing with language. She said: "Children are hard wired to enjoy nonsense, (as are Book Chooks!) and playing with language is something they take to immediately. From early peek-a-boo and finger rhymes, through nursery rhymes, poems and songs, we are exposing our kids to new vocabulary, and the rhythms of language, as well as reinforcing the sheer pleasure of messing about with words." She then suggested several fun wordplay activities for parents and their children.

The Eden Prairie (MN) News recently shared tips from Heather Peterson for motivating "reluctant readers". For example, "Family reading time. Families read together - either aloud or silently, either the same book or separate books. It is a time when adults model good reading habits for their children."

Hopscotch.jpgThe FirstBook blog published a guest post from Tina Chovanec, the director of Reading, chock full of suggestions for helping "parents jumpstart reading and learning together". I especially liked "Game night. Start a new weekend tradition centered around family games. Rediscover classics like Memory, Scattergories, or Scrabble, or explore something new."

FamilyCooking.jpgAt Moms Inspire Learning, Dawn Morris suggested that an important way for parents to raise literate children is by listening. She said: "Before children learn to read or write, they first need to listen to what people are saying and respond in an appropriate manner. The more they are spoken with and read to, the greater the chances that they will grow into active listeners, speakers, and storytellers. THEN they can become the strong independent readers and writers we so want them to be." She also included some concrete suggestions for more active listening and support of literacy development.

DadSonReading.jpgThe Bolingbrook Sun published an article with simple steps for parents to help students read better. The author (no name was listed) focused on helping kids improve their reading comprehension by asking them frequent questions, and thus teaching them to think critically about what they're reading. I think this makes sense, to a point, as long as you don't stop and ask so many comprehension questions that you make the whole thing feel like work. The author added: "Experts suggest that what they read is not as important as the fact that they read. Encourage her to read often from a variety of resources; books, magazines and newspapers, just get them reading! Let them see you read as well. Children learn to value what the caring adults in their lives value. If they see you reading, they may be more willing to read regularly, too." (All of which you know I agree with.)

In a related vein, at Parents and Kids Reading Together, Cathy Puett Miller shared resources to help parents find the right books for their children. The column placed particular emphasis on resources for gifted readers, but the author said that "many of the resources here will also be terrific for all families, with children of all ages so read on and see what you can find that works for your child." Here's a snippet, "Remember that you are the commercial for reading and that motivation is an important indirect component." Cathy also included lists of book recommendations, including "books under the 9-12 year area that are "safe" content for younger children."

Finally, The Hindu Newspaper's Magazine section published yesterday a detailed, thoughtful article for parents about the benefits of raising readers, and ways to do so even in today's digitally-saturated environment. Aruna Sankaranarayanan wrote "Reading can give children analytical skills in this age of information overload. As another Children's Day comes around what can we do to foster this habit". She concluded: "For India to achieve 100 per cent literacy in the fullest sense, it is not enough to simply teach the mechanics of reading and writing. Ultimately, literacy informs a way of life. Instead of children reading under pressure, we should strive to be a nation full of children reading for pleasure." Of course, her ideas apply to children everywhere, not just in India.

jpg_book008.jpgThat's all I have for you today. But Terry has a slew of other links this morning in this week's Children's Literacy and Reading Roundup at Scrub-A-Dub-Tub.


Terry Doherty writes...

Wow, Jen! That is a roundup unto itself. Susan's comment about kids being "hard wired" for nonsense makes me giggle every time I read it.

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

Yes, Susan has a real way with words, doesn't she, Terry? Not sure why there was such a bumper crop of articles this week, but I'm glad I was able to get it shared at Booklights before I head off on my next trip.

Book Chook writes...

My ears were burning, so I came to find out what you guys were saying about me! But it's true though, don't you think? Right from babies we seem to enjoy silliness and humour and surprise. Some of us lose that as we grow older; but the lucky ones never grow up.

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

Definitely, Susan. The lucky ones never grow up. I agree. We need to work sometimes to maintain that childlike spirit, but it's so worth it. You might like the Escape Adulthood website, too.

Dawn R. Morris writes...

Once again, these are great links, Jen! I really enjoyed reading them.

Thank you so much for including my post about putting the listening back into literacy.

Keep up the great work!

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

You are always welcome, Dawn. Thanks for continuing to write posts worth linking to.

Cathy writes...


Great posts as usual. I love this quote from Jim Trelease that goes right along with your sharings this week, "What we teach children to love and desire will always outweigh what we teach them to do." I certainly believe that applies to reading and writing!

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

I love that quote, Cathy. Thanks for sharing it. I certainly agree with you that it applies to reading and writing (plus lots more). If more people would just relax on the achievement stuff, and just focus on helping kids to LOVE books, the world would be a happier place.

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