This week is National Storytelling Week in the UK, established "to promote the oldest art form in the world". Tipping my hat to the UK's storytelling week, I've collected a smorgasbord of articles from around the world dedicated to encouraging young readers, writers, and artists. I hope that you find some of these links useful.
At Literacy Launchpad, Amy has started a new series similar to my own Tips for Growing Bookworms series. But she has much cuter illustrations than I do, since she's focusing on her young son, Isaac. Her first installment is about finding books on topics that interest your child. She says: "There's this certain joy that comes with finding a book that you know your little one is going to go gaga over. So far for me, it's been one of the most rewarding experiences when it comes to parenting... Who am I kidding? It's been one of the most rewarding experiences PERIOD." Who could resist that? Her second installment is about something that I'll be writing about soon, too: Have Books Everywhere!
And in the spirit of having books everywhere, Booklights contributor Susan Thomsen from Chicken Spaghetti shares a short list of suggested reading topics for six year olds. The list was compiled with help from Susan's first-grade reading buddies.
Here's another fun idea for six year olds (and others). At Here in the Bonny Glen, Melissa Wiley talks about how her father "converted a bunch of family photos to coloring pages and emailed them to us for printing out." Lori, a commenter at Melissa's site, dug up a link to Crayola's website for creating coloring pages from pictures. Seems to me that a creative aunt, uncle or grandparent could make a truly awesome coloring book for kids, with this technology.
The Book Chook (Australian author Susan Stephenson) has a fun post about using toys as a springboard for writing. She says: "Kids love their toys. Do you remember wondering what your toys got up to when you were asleep? ... Why not tap into that fascination and encourage your child to take photos of his toys? Use those photos to spark some writing OR plan your story first, and work out what pictures you need to accompany the story." She offers several concrete, detailed suggestions for children's writing projects based on photos of toys.
Also from The Book Chook, a lovely post that answers the question: "what's so great about children's literature anyway?". Susan highlights many excellent attributes of children's literature, particularly when used for shared family reading (closeness, conversational bridges, exploration and escape, etc.). Here's a snippet: "By reading children's literature, or listening to it read aloud, we are putting ourselves in someone else's shoes. We experience their reality. This exposure to other lives increases our empathy and tolerance. One thing our world needs is more tolerance! By understanding another's perspective, we are less likely to be ego-centric, or bully others." Regular Booklights readers probably already think that children's literature is pretty great. Still, Susan's post may give you some ammunition, if needed, for convincing other people about the many upsides of books for kids.
Everybody Wins has a Q&A with Mrs. P (aka TV star Kathy Kinney) about the importance of reading. Mrs. P says: "when you read to a child, you compel her to use her imagination, which can be a very addictive pleasure. Once you've escaped into that world, you always want to go back, and the best way in is through a book. The most interesting and successful people I know are book addicts. Hmm, all this talk has given me an uncontrollable desire to go read a book. Are we done?"
The newest edition of the monthly Carnival of Children's Literature was posted this weekend at Jenny's Wonderland of Books. Among other kidlit-related topics, host Jenny Schwartzberg included a section of links dedicated to the importance of literacy and reading to children. One post in particular (in addition to The Book Chook's second post above) caught my eye:
Fiona Ingram from South Africa shares her thoughts on why many children don't enjoy reading. She says: "the problem of literacy in my home country affects me deeply as an author. Around one fifth of the population of 48-million people are still illiterate." She offers advice for parents to remedy the problem, focusing on ways to keep reading from feeling like a chore. For example: "Be innovative. For example, reading to each other or acting out the various characters' parts will make it fun (children love acting), and if another parent or enthusiastic family members are the audience the 'cast' have to work hard to entertain."
But do check out the other links from this week's Carnival of Children's Literature. It's an excellent resource for anyone interested in kids and reading. For additional literacy links, you can also check out this week's children's literacy and reading news roundup from Terry Doherty and me, now available on my personal blog. Thanks for caring about connecting kids with books!