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Literacy 'Lights from the Kidlitosphere: March 22

Posted by Jen Robinson on March 22, 2010 at 6:00 AM in Literacy News
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Last week I shared some links from the Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour that I thought Booklights readers would be particularly interested in. This week, I have just a few quick links for you to other recent posts dedicated to helping parents grow young bookworms.

Amytshirt.jpegAt Literacy Launchpad, Amy shares Part 4 of her series on tips for fostering a love of reading, about the joys of reading aloud. Of course we've talked about the importance of reading aloud many times here at Booklights (it's #1 in my Tips for Growing Bookworms series, for example). What I like about this particular Literacy Launchpad post is that Amy adds specific tips for the parent who "discovers the power of reading to their child a little later", and feel a bit awkward about starting. Like "Read interesting articles you find to your child (articles you think would also interest them)." [Image credit: a pro-reading t-shirt that Amy designed. You can order it from Literacy Launchpad.]

Speaking of reading aloud to older kids, I posted yesterday on my own blog about a father and daughter who read together for 3218 nights in a row (from fourth grade until the daughter's first day of college). It's an inspiring story, well worth a look!

At Getting Kids Reading, Joyce Grant suggests that parents read the books that their children are reading. This was #2 in the Tips for Growing Bookworms series, and is something that I highly, highly recommend. I was thus happy to see Joyce promoting it, too. She says: "My son's copy of Percy Jackson has two bookmarks in it--his and mine. We're both reading it. Not only is it a great series and a lot of fun to read, but I'm realizing there are huge benefits to reading what he's reading."

frog.jpgMama Librarian has a thought-provoking rant about why parents shouldn't be reading early chapter books aloud to their kids. She says: "Books like Frog and Toad and Mr. Putter and Tabby are written especially for children who are learning to read on their own. They don't have any significant concept challenges, so readers can focus on decoding and fluency... As a media specialist, I suggest you save junior fiction for beginning readers to enjoy on their own." The basic idea is that kids will likely be interested enough to read those easy reader-type books on their own anyway. Parents can instead read aloud more advanced books, books that kids wouldn't have discovered on their own. All of which makes sense to me!

Just in case you missed it, Terry Doherty had a great post here at Booklights earlier this month about letting kids write wordless stories, using images. She says: "For children who struggle with reading or writing, sharing and creating stories with just pictures may be just the thing to get them excited about literacy. First, they let kids stretch their imaginations. It also gives them a chance to tell a story in their own words ... the way they see it, without feeling hemmed in, overwhelmed, or intimidated by the actual text. There is a list of wordless and near-wordless books at the end of this post that may help you find books of interest."

And, in a link suggested by Terry, Barbara Freedman-De Vito, at Activity Village, shares several ideas for sharing stories aloud with children. She says: "despite a panoply of print and electronic media, purely oral forms of storytelling do still exist and are in fact used every day by talented entertainers, by skillful teachers and librarians, and by loving moms and dads quietly sharing good books with their children at bedtime. The purpose of this article to suggest some variations on the concept of bedtime stories and to offer some additional ways that parents and others can both share precious moments and create some precious memories with their children."

BunchOfBoysReading.jpgIan Newbold at the Tidy Books Blog has an interesting post about his policy of limiting reading time to encourage reading (the idea being that he feels that kids, especially boys, are more likely to desire something that they get a "little bit too little of"). While my gut instinct is to reject the idea of limiting reading time out of hand, I can see the appeal of making more reading time a reward, something to aspire to... Food for thought. What do you all think about that? [Image credit: Microsoft ClipArt Gallery]

I hope that you've found some articles worth checking out today. For anyone who would like even more children's literacy and reading links, this week's children's literacy round-up from Terry Doherty and me is available at Jen Robinson's Book Page.


Terry D writes...

Amy and Joyce always have such great easy-to-implement suggestions. Their style is both friendly and encouraging.

Ian has an interesting point about limiting reading time, though I came away thinking he just sets nightly guidelines. Like Ian, we originally told Catherine how many books we'd read, starting with three. If she wasted time and played around, well, then there might be one less book. Too much wasted time (or talking back) and another would go. If all goes well, then maybe we'd pull out an extra book or read a chapter, or, now that she's reading, she can stay up and continue reading a little more.

For us, bedtime reading is "family time" and a privilege (especially when Mom or Dad are doing the reading). Catherine loves that time and is VERY upset when she loses it. For a while we worried that we were sending mixed signals, but because the option for "more" is always on the table, we concluded it wasn't coloring her view of reading.

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

That all sounds reasonable to me, Terry. Thanks for taking time to chime in on this issue (and tweet about it). I do like the idea of more reading time as a reward for getting ready quickly.

Melissa Wiley writes...

Great post & interesting links---thanks! Can't say I agree with Mama Librarian on the early readers, though. We are homeschoolers (unschoolers really) and the three of my six kids who are reading all learned in large part through my reading early readers to them over and over again, at their request.

I'm seeing it happen again right now with my almost-4yo daughter and my mentally retarded 6yo son. Their favorite read-alouds are Frog and Toad, Little Bear, the Bob Books, Cat in the Hat, Are You My Mother, and Red Fish Blue Fish, as well as the Rosemary Wells Mother Goose. With each of them---as with their older sisters before them---hearing these early readers over and over is exactly what is propelling them to literacy. They learn to recognize the repeated words (frog, toad, fish, etc) and begin picking out those words in other contexts, as when the 4yo recognized "frog" on a sign (with no picture) at the pet store today.

I've never used a reading curriculum with any of my kids. My oldest 3 (ages 14, 11, and 9) are all avid readers. I do think it's great (and important!) to read more advanced books aloud as well (even after the child is reading fluently; for example, the older girls and I are reading The Odyssey this year) but I wouldn't underestimate the importance of early readers as springboards to independent reading.

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thanks for the counterpoint on reading early readers aloud, Melissa. I don't have any experience with this of my own yet, and it's helpful to hear about your experience with your family (especially as you have obviously been quite successful in nurturing young readers). Thanks so much for taking the time to respond, and for suggesting specific titles. I'm taking note!

Ian Newbold writes...

Thanks for the link Jen, and I think your and Terry's comments are spot on. Night time reading is a privilege and I think both my son and I, see it that way.

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

You are very welcome, Ian. Thanks for a thought-provoking post. I think that your son is lucky to have a dad who thinks about these things. Happy reading!!

Maggi writes...

Thanks for your commentary, Melissa (and Jen)! I'm not so true to my rant as a parent... we actually have read some early readers to our children as well. I'm more addressing my rant at kids who prefer to have the next iteration of the identical early chapter book read aloud to them. We love Little Bear and all the Lobel early readers, too -- they are rich in content and thoughtfully written. My daughter learned to read very young and is now enjoying the readers on her own, but still loves to hear them read aloud and also on CD. And, of course, I don't prevent my first grade students from checking out the nth Fairy book or Magic Tree House, even though their parents roll their eyes and grit their teeth when they see them come home to be read aloud. The children love them, and of course, that's the most important thing.

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thanks for stopping by to comment, Maggi. This discussion (and the specific recommendations for series titles) is of extra interest for me, as I think about what I'll be reading to my baby in a few short years. And of course I agree with you that the most important thing about books for young kids is that they love them!

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