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Literacy 'Lights from the Kidlitosphere: Tips and Techniques for Encouraging Reading

Posted by Jen Robinson on November 30, 2009 at 6:00 AM in Literacy News
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I hope that you all had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend. I spent part of the long weekend poring over children's literacy and reading-related news. In the process, I found a variety of newspaper articles and blogs posts aimed at helping parents to encourage young readers. Coincidentally (or maybe there's something about this time of year), nearly all of the posts are written in the form of tips for raising readers. I hope that you will find some useful ideas.

pbskidsisland.jpgAt Great Kids Books, Mary Ann Scheuer reviews two websites specially designed for children just learning to read. She says: "Two websites that I particularly like for children learning to read are: PBS Kids Island and Starfall. Both sites help children develop early literacy skills while having fun. Both are solidly based on literacy research, and both have no advertising. Best yet, both are free and easy to use." Mary Ann describes PBS Kids Island in quite a bit of detail - her post is well worth a look.

At A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy, Liz Burns recently republished an article that she wrote for Foreword Magazine in 2007, about ways to encourage reading. Liz says: "Reading is fun. And I think that should be enough reason to encourage reading, and to praise reading, and to value it when we, and kids, read. Linking reading to increased employment opportunities and civic duty may be necessary to get press attention or involve employers and other organizations, but c'mon; does a ten year old care about that? Should they? No; they shouldn't read "because I will be a better person." They shouldn't read "because then I will make more money." They should read because it's fun." And then she discusses specific ideas for making reading fun (including "Read what your kids are reading", one of my favorite suggestions, too).

For more tips on encouraging reading, check out this article by Dr. Michele Borba with tips to get kids and teens to read. Borba says "Here are nine tips from The Big Book of Parenting Solutions I shared recently on the TODAY show to help parents get their kiddoes reading and hopefully even rekindle that great love of the printed page. (A little disclosure here: I was a former teacher and taught children's literature so you have to know I LOVE the printed page. I've also written 22 books so my bias should be evident)." There's definitely some overlap between Michele Borba's list and my own list of Tips for Growing Bookworms. But personally, I don't think we can talk enough about the importance of letting kids choose their own books, reading aloud to older kids, and so on. I found this link via Tweet from @KidCriticUSA.

Still more tips are available in a Times Press Recorder article from First 5 San Luis Obispo County, published in honor of Child Literacy Month. This article breaks the tips down for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. For instance: "Babies like brightly colored books with photos of other children and such familiar objects as toys and baby bottles. Also, choose books with pop-up characters and images that are soft to the touch so your baby can feel different textures." And, for preschoolers, "Make sure to always have books available for your children, even while running errands or traveling in the car. Read while waiting at the doctor's office or the bus stop -- anytime is a good time for reading."

BunchOfBoysReading.jpgBack in September, I linked to an article by Trevor Cairney about using nonfiction to engage boys in reading. This week, Trevor published a second post relative to fiction. He says: "While using non-fiction is a great way to get boys actually reading, it is also very important to raise their interest in reading fiction. It is out of the reading of literature that so much knowledge of language develops as well as a whole range of study and research skills that are important for life". He shares a host of specific techniques for younger boys vs. older boys, as well as specific books to try with boys of different ages. (Image credit: Microsoft ClipArt)

Based on sometimes frustrating personal experiences, Amy from Literacy Launchpad shares suggestions for making the most of a library visit with a toddler. My favorite of Amy's ideas was: "When you read a library book at home that you really like, talk about how it came from the library! Get them excited about finding MORE great books at the library." There are some other suggestions from Amy's readers in the comments.

That's all I have for this week. How about all of you? Has anyone come across any good articles or blog posts about encouraging young readers? If so, I'd love to hear about them. I also have some additional links in this week's Children's Literacy and Reading News Round-Up on my own blog.

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