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Literacy 'Lights from the Kidlitosphere: February 22

Posted by Jen Robinson on February 22, 2010 at 6:00 AM in Literacy News
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I've run across a host of articles dedicated to encouraging young readers recently. I hope that you find some of them useful.

readingtogether.jpgCommonsense Media shares a Q&A with Diane Frankenstein (author of Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read) on how to get kids excited about books. Here's a brief excerpt: "Parents mistakenly think that once their children can read on their own, they no longer need to be involved. Reading and discussing a story creates and nurtures the habit of taking about what matters to children. And in our fast-moving, media-saturated world, thoughtful conversations are more important than ever before." I so agree! Diane also includes some specific guidelines for talking to your kids about books. Thanks to my friend Liz for the link.

T. Wright at Room to Grow: Making Early Childhood Count has a nice nuts and bolts piece, with examples, on questions to ask when choosing a book for your preschooler. For example: "Is the text appropriate for my child's developmental level? Text with rhymes and repetition are often favorites for young children. Children are able to remember the text patterns and "read" the books independently."

pancakes.jpgOnce you're done choosing a book for your preschooler, you might want to check out Dawn Little's piece at Literacy Toolbox on ten tips for reading aloud with your preschooler. Dawn suggests: "Read wordless picture books with your children. Create a story for your child based on what is happening on each page. If your child is old enough, ask your child to "read" the story to you." She also includes some suggested wordless picture book titles, such as Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola. What do you all think? Do your preschoolers like wordless picture books?

SkeletonCreek.pngAuthor Patrick Carman has an interesting piece in Publisher's Weekly about how to reach young readers in the distraction-filled modern era. Carman says: "Today's teens and preteens have an overwhelming need to stay connected, and while adults may not appreciate it, we do have to live with it. My wife and I face this reality on a daily basis with our 14- and 12-year-old daughters. We've surrounded them with books, read to them endlessly over the years, and encouraged quiet time away from their friends and the consuming force of the computer. Yet it's a challenge to keep them engaged by the written page." He goes on to discuss the need to have (in addition to traditional books) stories like his Skeleton Creek books that "seamlessly blend words, videos, and the Web." Have any of you parents seen your teens and pre-teens engaged by more interactive, media-connected books? Thanks to Benjamin J Apel of PC Studio for the link.

And for another piece with an author's views on encouraging young readers, don't miss our new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature at Public School Insights. The interview is available in text and audio formats (it's 12 minutes long). Among other insights, Katherine Paterson says "Reading asks things of you that nothing else does. You cannot be a passive reader. It takes the gift of your intellect--you have to be able to decode the words and understand them. It takes, in a way, life experience, because a story doesn't make any sense to you if you can't understand what's happening in it. It also takes your creative imagination, because you have to make all the pictures. The whole child is involved in the process. I think we've seen what happens to a country and to a society when people stop reading and listen to a few sound bites, making really important decisions on the basis of very little--and many times very biased--information."

ReadAloudHandbook.jpgDawn Morris from Moms Inspire Learning recently read Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook for the first time. She considers it essential (the one book we all should read), and I do agree with her. I'm in fact re-reading it right now. Dawn is writing a series of posts in response to the book. One that stood out for me is The Tortoise, the Hare, and Literacy, about how many parents seem to live like the hare, instead of the tortoise, racing around to teach children phonics and worksheets, instead of slowing down to gift them with the love of reading. Dawn says: "It's up to parents to raise the readers and leaders of tomorrow. If we want to create a better world, we have to stop relying on other people to help our children to learn and grow. It's a big responsibility; but we have the tools we need to change the world, one child at a time..."

TheLightningThief.jpgJoyce Grant from Getting Kids Reading is always thinking about ways to connect her son with books. Recently she shared two posts that stood out for me. In the first, she describes leaving her eight-year-old son a surprise, no occasion gift: a copy of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. "You're eight, you don't feel like going to bed, you're dragging your feet, prolonging the inevitable... and then you find a new book in your bed. The whole situation suddenly changed. His face lit up, and he thanked me like crazy." The second post is about getting kids reading by telling them about the movie or TV show. She was thrilled to see a rack of movie tie-in books at Blockbuster, saying "I think reading extensions can get kids reading. For instance, while they're waiting for the new Alice in Wonderland movie to come out, I bet a lot of kids are picking up the book for the first time." What do you all think? Do popular movies and TV shows get kids excited to go back and read the books?

I've mentioned Amy's series at Literacy Launchpad on tips for fostering a love of reading. In her latest post, Amy talks about limiting television (something that I also wrote about recently here at Booklights). Amy extensively references The Read-Aloud Handbook (are you parents out there getting the idea that this might be a good book to read? It is!). But she also shares her own family's personal experience in limiting television watching for the sake of encouraging reading. For example, she suggests having audiobooks or NPR on in the background, especially in the car, instead of TV.

And speaking of posts that tackle topics that I've also discussed in my Tips for Growing Bookworms series, Dawn Little writes at Literacy Toolbox about incorporating "environmental print" into your preschooler's vocabulary. (My tip was about pointing out when you're learning something useful by reading - environmental print is a more concise way to express some of the things that I as saying.) Dawn says "Recognizing the signs, symbols, and words that children see every day is a precursor to beginning reading... It's important that children use the world around them to help make connections."

One more tips post, one that also references The Read-Aloud Handbook, comes to us from Jim at Teacherninja. Jim offers tips for teachers and parents for growing readers (especially formerly reluctant readers). Here's an excerpt: "The back of the driver's side car seats in both of our vehicles are stuffed with magazines and slim books that my daughter likes. There's no DVD player (except on long trips). Guess what she does when she's not bopping to the music? There's also a basket of magazines and books in both bathrooms. There's one with her name on it next to her bed she can dig into when she can't get to sleep. If you build it, they will come...". Jim also talks about reading aloud and limiting television, clearly recurring themes this week.

On the remote chance that the above didn't provide enough links for you, I have other literacy and reading-related news (including literacy-related events, programs and research, 21st century literacies, and grants and donations) at my own blog today (in a post co-authored by Terry Doherty). I'd also welcome any feedback that you might have on how I could make these Literacy 'Lights posts more useful. Thanks for stopping by Booklights!


Gina writes...

Great round up, Jen! I'm going to have to pick up Pancakes for Breakfast again.

Marge Loch-Wouters writes...

In terms of movies/TV bringing kids to books they are based on, we see it all the time. We have learned to time programs and book displays to take advantage of book-based show's premieres or movies in theater or DVD. It helps us catch that wave of enthusiasm and most kids love to see "what the book says."

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thanks for the real-world library validation that this works, Marge! Seems logical to me. I mean, bookstores do this, too, right? It only makes sense to take advantage of media-generated enthusiasm, and at least give people the chance to check out the book.

Jim writes...

Great post and I agree: Trelease's book IS essential. Should come home from the hospital w/every baby. thanks for the linkage.


Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

You're very welcome, Jim. And yes, The Read-Aloud Handbook should go home from the hospital with every new baby (or at least every first baby). Maybe with some sticky notes highlighting the most important parts. In a perfect world...

Wow. I'm so glad to hear Jim Trelease's words echoing all over the blogosphere! Thank you for finding and sharing these great links Jen, and for including mine.

Literacy is a cause which continues to lie in the shadows of so many other causes, yet it's the one that makes them all possible. It's truly the mother of all causes, and should be taken more seriously.

Thank you so much for being such an active voice for literacy. The world needs more people like you!

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thanks for the encouragement, Dawn. I do agree with you that literacy is hugely important. I'm glad to be able to do my small part. Thanks for your posts!

We as parents are too quick to abandon reading aloud with our children. I am so happy to see others who continue the practice and promote the discussion of literature well beyond the elementary years.

Thank you.

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thanks for commenting, Caroline Starr Rose. I think it's great when parents can continue reading aloud with older kids - I like to mention it, because I think a lot of parents have no idea that's it's something to be encouraged.

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