It's been a quiet time in the Kidlitosphere lately. But I do have a few links saved up to share with you.
The third issue of Literacy Lava is now available. Literacy Lava is a free downloadable magazine (in PDF format) dedicated to encouraging children's literacy. It's produced by Susan Stephenson from The Book Chook. Susan says: "It's another great issue, exploding with tips for parents about ways to encourage literacy in family life. Find out what your local library has to offer, read ideas on making books with kids, sneak some learning into shopping, discover games that build literacy skills, develop imagination while playing Grocery Store, make writing part of your family's life, read why picture books are so good for kids, and find out how literacy helped one child fight night terrors. Don't forget to check out the Online Extras page, and the Writing Prompt activity page for kids." I hope that you'll all check it out. [Image credit: Susan Stephenson, The Book Chook.]
The Book Chook also recently linked to an Australian study that found that most kids are largely sedentary, and that "Preschoolers are spending 85 per cent of their waking hours inactive". Susan went on to discuss ways to balance the need to encourage literacy AND encourage kids to be active. She suggests: "Making small changes might be the best way to start. We could swap half an hour of TV watching with half an hour of family walking or bike riding in the park. Once the whole family is involved, it becomes not only a healthy habit, but a way for everyone to wind down after work and school, and a great opportunity for casual conversation." She also suggests focusing TV time on shows that encourage kids to move around, rather than sitting passively.
Outgoing National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Jon Scieszka had a great article in the December 11th Huffington Post. Scieszka says: "I used my two-year term to work on reaching the reluctant reader: that's the kid who might be a reader, who could be one, but just isn't that interested in reading. The new Ambassador will have his or her own program, and ideas on connecting kids with reading." He then outlines his top advice for encouraging reluctant readers. Although the advice is technically focused on kids who aren't so into reading, I think that it's a great list of tips for anyone. For example: "If a kid doesn't like one book, don't worry about finishing it. Start another. The key is helping children find what they like." Click through to see the whole list. Thanks to Meghan Newton from Goodman Media for sending me the link.
The Washington Post's Answer Sheet recently ran a guest column from Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer about whether good readers are born or made. Miller says: "The widespread belief that some readers possess an innate gift, like artists or athletes, sells many children short. I often hear parents claim, "Well, my child is just not a reader," as if the reading fairy passed over their child while handing out the good stuff." She adds: "The strong readers always outstrip the weaker readers because they practice, finesse, and expand their reading skills through hours and hours of reading." She also outlines the conditions that have been found to increase "reading engagement" in kids. Things like time to read, access to books, and reading role models. Click through for more details.
Our own Terry Doherty has a timely post at The Reading Tub, chock-full of holiday gift ideas that keep an "I" towards literacy. She notes: "With the kids in my life, I look for gifts that look more fun than educational. For example, kids who love mysteries and riddles might enjoy word puzzles or games. Because it is a game, then don't notice that they're practicing spelling, expanding their vocabulary, or learning synonyms and antonyms." She then suggests pen and paper games ("that you can create yourself, find online, or purchase in a "formal" game") as well as board games.
Terry also found a fun article with tips for practicing family literacy at home and in your community. Cindy Taylor shares an alphabet themed list that has everything from "Ask your child questions about the story you're reading to ensure comprehension" to "Zap off the TV - pick up a book instead!". I also liked "Quiet, cozy reading spaces are good places for your child to read independently."
Also from Terry, an article at Literacy News on teaching about language through reading aloud. The article emphasizes in particular the benefits of dads reading aloud to kids, saying: "When dads read aloud to them, children are learning many different things. They are learning about the world, they are learning to love books and reading, and they are learning about language. This learning about language occurs mainly as children hear, see and understand the language as it is used". My Dad always read us The Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve, and I can testify first-hand that this kind of experience leaves a lasting impression.
And on that note, I'll leave you with my hope that for those of you who celebrate Christmas, it's a festive and happy experience for you this year. [And don't miss Pam's post on celebrating Christmas around the world.] For those who celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or some other holiday - I hope that is, or was, wonderful, too. Me, I'm wishing for, and giving, books for Christmas, and gifting myself time to read them. Happy Holidays!