As many of you know, today, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, has been designated a National Day of Service to honor the life and work of Dr. King. The First Book blog has a guest article from Tina Chovanec of Reading Rockets with links to ways to help out in your community, as well as some "reading-writing-and-book-inspired ideas for the Day of Service or for a year-round community project." And here are a few other ideas from around the Kidlitosphere for encouraging young readers every day.
Big Universe shares Five Ways to Raise a Reader from parent and former classroom teacher Dawn Little of Links to Literacy. Dawn's suggestions aren't unusual (read to kids, talk to them, expose them to plenty of print material, etc.), but her genuine enthusiasm shines through in every tip. For example: "Reading and writing go hand in hand. The more you read the better writer you become and the more you write the better reader you become. Encourage your child to write."
Terry Doherty found a nice little article about why reading aloud to your child is important at The Hobbit Movie Guide. Kent W. Johnson says "By reading aloud to your kids, you're showing them how to enjoy children's books, the English language, the wonders of a good story, and hopefully, you're instilling a love of reading and learning. Many kids associate books with the drudgeries of school and homework, but you want to show them how a well written children's book can be an exciting adventure, a real pleasure, as their imagination takes them to places they've never been to visit with people and characters they've never met." Obviously, we've been talking about the importance of read-aloud here at Booklights since day one. But we liked how this article specifically mentions poetry as a way to engage kids with reading.
Another pro-read-aloud post, with book suggestions, can be found at Grow Up With Books, where Lara Ivey includes quotes from both Patricia Polacco and Jim Trelease. Lara concludes: "So, here is our challenge for you this week. Take a look at your calendars. What do you value? What do you make time for? Is there time for reading? Go ahead...write it in pen and commit to it! Do it for yourself as much as for your child."
The Book Dads blog recently linked to a handy 2-page flier prepared by the Eaton County School Readiness and Kindergarten Transitions team. The first page features tips for reading to young children, while the second page is chock-full of book recommendations by age range.
At Literacy, families and learning, Trevor Cairney shares 30 simple ways to stimulate children's learning over the holidays (he's based in Australia, and wrote this while facing the warm-weather end of year holidays last month). His suggestions cover a wide range of activities, including things like: "Dramatisation - Dramatisation is an excellent way to respond to a book. If you have a dress-up box all the better. Let your children either re-tell the story through dramatisation or improvise. Get involved to help set the pattern for turn taking etc. I play a mean wolf, and an even better Grandma!" See also Trevor's post about making books come alive during the holidays by visiting the real-world setting for a treasured book.
At Getting Kids Reading, Joyce Grant suggests encouraging kids to write thank you cards as a way to promote literacy. I thought this was a nice companion piece to Terry's recent Booklights post about Letters to Santa. Joyce is firm about requiring her son to write thank you notes for all gifts, and she includes suggestions for keeping the activity fun, rather than letting it turn into a chore. And it's probably not a coincidence that Joyce's son's favorite holiday gift this year was a book.
Pam snuck in an important post here at Booklights on New Year's Eve, with three recommended reading resolutions for parents. My favorite, of course, is Pam's third resolution: model pleasure reading. She says: "If you're like most of the moms I know, you save your own reading time for the very end of the day after the chores, the carpooling, the ballet/karate/music class when you're so exhausted that you fall asleep with latest Grisham book on your lap. Well, no more. I'm telling you to read during the day, perhaps in the actual presence of your child."
At Kidliterate, Melissa urges parents not to rush into reading the Harry Potter books to their young children. She says: "If you are reading HP to your kids before you have read them the RAMONA books, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, the FUDGE books, most of Cynthia Rylant, A CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE, STUART LITTLE, and most of Roald Dahl, just to name a fraction of the available books, then your kids are not ready for HP. Shorter books do not equal bad. It is okay to finish a read-aloud quickly. It is okay to tell your child that they are not old enough for HP yet." She also offers a great list of read-alouds that are appropriate for six to eight year olds. I agree with Melissa completely, and I know that Pam does, too.
The Learning & Reading Disabilities blog recently ran a guest post by Francesca Lopez about how her family helped a child who started out at-risk for reading problems to learn to love reading. Lopez's suggestions are in line with several already discussed (including parents modeling reading behavior), but I liked the personal nature of the article. I found this link via Everybody Wins! USA.
I hope that you all find some food for thought in this article. If you would like more literacy-related links, check out this week's Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup at The Reading Tub. Enjoy MLK Day / the National Day of Service.