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Terry

Reading Aloud: Picking Books to Read with a Mixed-Age Audience

Posted by Terry on August 30, 2010 at 10:30 AM in Nonfiction BooksPoetryRecommendationsSeriescreative literacy
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As you may have seen, Gina announced last week that we're winding down here at Booklights. Susan has brought some cake, and I'll bring something to the bon voyage soon, but today I'm going to finish up talking about reading as a family.

541417081_7960714e0a.jpgAs I mentioned last week, reading with your kids - even when there are many years between them - can be enjoyable for everyone to share together. Sometimes it may be about the book, but every time it is an opportunity to connect with your kids and connect them with each other!

In The Read Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease emphasizes that as readers, we have a listening level and a reading level. In Hey! Listen to This! (an article on his website), he re-emphasizes this point.

ReadAloudHandbook.jpg"A consistent mistake made by parents and teachers is the assumption that a child's listening level is the same as his or her reading level. Until about eighth grade, that is far from true; early primary grade students listen many grades above their reading level. This means that early primary grade students are capable of hearing and understanding stories that are far more complicated than those they can read themselves."

What does that mean? Well, you don't have to read just simple picture books. Young audiences can be enticed to enjoy text-heavy picture books and chapter books alike. There are a number of genres that naturally lend themselves to reading to mixed-age audiences, including ...

UMaryland.jpgNonfiction. More specifically, nonfiction picture books. One of the best ways to hook kids of any age on reading is to give them some nonfiction books. The great thing about nonfiction picture books is that they have something for everyone. These are books that invite exploring, so whether you read all of the text or just talk about the illustrations, you're in for an enjoyable, shared read.

poetrybooks.jpgPoetry. Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein write poetry that is meant to be read aloud. Their poems are very "graphic," allowing readers to "see" what they describe, and they often have a nonsensical quality that strike kids' funny bones.

Humor. Despite the dictionary description, defining "funny" is a matter of personal taste. Still, a good laugh is something we all enjoy. As a parent, you understand the types of humor your kids enjoy ... and you can decide what types of things you want to share together.

roscoe-riley.jpgBooks with lots of dialogue. "Dialog books" aren't a specific genre, but a lot of short chapter books use conversation among the characters to tell the story. There are usually only a few characters (often school-aged kids and an adult or two) so it is an opportunity for everyone to take a role and read together.

These are by no means the only genres. On her website, storyteller Mary Hamilton offers a handy checklist that describes reading interests for various ages, from preschool through high school.

Before we go, we'd love to hear what books you like sharing with your kids. What books would you bring to our party?

image credits

Mom reading with kids: Family Story Minute by Sean Dreilinger on Flicker. Copyright. Some rights reserved.

Collage of nonfiction picture books: University of Maryland News photostream on Flickr. Copyright. Some rights reserved University of Maryland Press Releases.

Bookshelf with poetry books. Thingamababy Awesome Wall photostream on Flickr. Copyright. All rights reserved.

Roscoe Riley by Katherine Applegate. Book cover image by Mr. Biggs photostream on Flickr. Copyright. All rights reserved.

Terry

Reading Aloud: Sharing Books with Audiences of Mixed Ages

Posted by Terry on August 23, 2010 at 10:32 AM in Chapter BooksPicture Books
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family reading togetherWhen it comes to sharing a book with young kids, reading aloud seems the natural thing to do. They can't read the words on the page, so you do it for them. Once young readers become independent, though, we sometimes forget that they still enjoy - and can also benefit from - listening to you read.

That said, picking the right book can get tricky. The 9-year-old doesn't want to hear "baby" books, and the preschooler isn't ready for some of the subjects nor can they sit still that long! Finding books that interest your 4-year-old AND your preteen may be easier than it sounds.

bozeman public libraryDon't give up on picture books. As Pam points out in her post Reading Aloud: Picture Books Rule! (MotherReader, March 2009) sometimes those pre-teen protests are a surface reaction. After the requisite "that's for babies" teens will still sit and listen to a picture book. They may even surprise themselves with how much they enjoy their little brother's reactions. The secret bonus: you are modeling reading for them so they can read to their brother later!

Chapter books need pictures, too. Illustrated chapter books are helpful because young audiences often need the images which engage their interest while you read pages with a lot more text. In general, the chapters in these books are short, making it easy to read in small spurts and over consecutive nights.

Mix up the formats. Sometimes you have enough time - and the kids' temperaments are in sync - to read something that each child likes, and you can share a picture book and a chapter or two from a longer story. On those days when your energy is low, just pick one. That quiet time reading will probably help you feel better!

Regularly sharing a book as a family will not only let you reconnect and renew a love of stories and books. Who knows, as everyone becomes readers, maybe everyone will want a turn!

Next week: Genres that are good choices for family read-alouds.

Image credit
Toes and a book: Public photo on Flicker.com. Copyright All rights reserved by Tina Cockburn Photography, tcockburn2002.

Picture Books in the library: Bozeman Public Library by JSemenza on Flicker. Copyright All rights reserved.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: The Early Reader Bookshelf (ages 5 to 7)

Posted by Terry on August 16, 2010 at 11:00 AM in Book Buying Early LiteracyEasy ReadersPicture BooksRecommendations
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Oh, how I have procrastinated filling the early reader shelf! This is a very fluid period, not unlike your child's transition from crawling to pulling up to walking independently. Looking back, one probably came pretty quickly on the heels of the other. Finding easy readers that have longevity on your bookshelf can be a challenge.

In this phase of learning to read, children are moving beyond recognizing individual letters to combining them and learning words. Students move fairly quickly from books with one word per page to two or three sentences on a page. From there it transitions to short paragraphs and then short chapters.

Because kids will move through these books at a steady pace,quickly, variety is definitely an ally!Your local library and your child's school library have lots of excellent choices that will engage young readers.

goodnight_moon.gifSo do you need an early reader bookshelf at home? Definitely! It is important for kids to own their own books and to have fun reading at their fingertips. If you still have them, pull out some of those toddler books that have pictures and simple words. They are established favorites, but now your daughter can read them and use them to build a word bank of sight words. Let her create picture/word cards that she can hang up or make her own book with.

You might pull out some favorite picture books, too. If you think your son has memorized the story, then ask him to point to each of the words as he reads. That will force him to look at the page and the content. You might also try reading the book from the last page to the first.

EPNewToy.jpgDr. Seuss is the master of the easy reader classic, but there are other authors who ascribe to his philosophy of great books for new readers. Some of those books, like Mo Willems' Cat the Cat and Elephant and Piggy series have the "I Can Read" imprimatur on them. But some - like Duck! Rabbit! and Little Oink! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal - don't scream "easy reader" but are delightful choices for new readers, too.

When searching for books that can double as read-along stories and developmental readers, look for simple illustrations and lots of white space on a page; short sentences; and/or rhyming text.

cat_in_the_hat.jpgAlthough easy readers are not generally literary classics, Dr. Seuss has shown us that there are are always exceptions! Just like Hop on Pop and The Cat in the Hat, there are easy readers that we keep and enthusiastically wait to share with our grandchildren.

Check your bookshelf - you may already have some favorites!

Terry

Don't let Summer Fun Slip-Slide Away (Part 2)

Posted by Terry on August 9, 2010 at 11:30 AM in Early LiteracyFun and GamesRecommendationscreative literacy
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Summer_2010_ClipArt9_SunWearingGlasses.pngIf your house is like ours, you're quickly approaching "the wall." That place that says summer has gone by too quickly, but man, am I ready for the kids to go back to school. It is also the time when we look around and say we've had a blast, but I should have been preparing the kids for learning. Don't worry, games are here to save the day!

In selecting literacy games for preschoolers and Kindergartners, there are three things to look for - the level of fun, the amount of time it takes to play (think: attention span), and how well it disguises learning. For some kids, Scrabble Junior is a blast; for others (like my daughter) it took too long and looked too much like her spelling list.

It is also good to find entertainment that not only introduces concepts (rather than memorization), but also isn't about winning or losing or "racing" to the finish. Picture puzzles are great for that, because they help kids create a complete image from just pieces of it, they don't require any letter or spelling knowledge, and they can be done independently or with help. Here are a few other ideas.

hiss-cards.jpgGamewright Hisss Card Game With this card game, kids learn sequencing, logic, and colors. There is no spelling or letter recognition required, but it does make kids think: Does a blue head go with a red tail? Do snakes really have two heads? Where is my snake's tummy? Like Wig Out! (below) this game lasts about 15 minutes.

see-and-spell.jpgMelissa & Doug See & Spell It is hard to beat Melissa and Doug products for durability and educational value. What I love about these puzzles is that kids can create words by placing the letter on the word board, but they can also use the letters independently to create new words, too. For example, slide "bug" off the board, swap out the "b" for an "r" and they have rug ... or any other silly words they'd like to create.

wig-out.jpgWig Out! Here's a matching game that will have everyone rolling with laughter, making it perfect for mixed age players. You get a series of bald heads and your job is to play all your hairstyle cards faster than anyone else. Of all the games in the list, this is probably the most marginal for this audience. Not because of content, but because of its speed. Each game takes 10 to 15 minutes, which is good for kid with short attention spans, but it also is played quickly.

zingo-preschool.jpgThinkFun Zingo We had a blast with this game when my daughter was in Kindergarten. It is a combination of picture and word Bingo, and you can make it as easy or as complex as you want. We would also use the little plastic cards to play matching games (think Jeopardy).

Not to sound trite, but the name of the game for kids this age is developing their thinking skills. Whether it is learning to put things in order (i.e., sequencing), separating and/or categorizing things by similarities or differences, or beginning to see things spatially from just little pieces, it all contributes to their future success as readers.

So have fun ... Remember. Don't worry, be happy!

Image credit
Summer Sunglasses by PianoBrad on OpenClipArt.com

Links and photographs of products link to amazon.com, with which the Reading Tub has an affiliate relationship. The Reading Tub (a 501c3) may earn income through purchase made via these links.

Terry

Don't let Summer Fun Slip-Slide Away

Posted by Terry on August 2, 2010 at 4:32 PM in Fun and GamesRecommendationscreative literacy
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With the sale pages shouting about 1c pencils and snappy new backpacks, it is hard to keep that summer frame of mind going. I'm not ready to give up the fun and games just yet, so today we're just going to play!

On Friday nights, our community pool stays open until 9pm. We parents love it because it is a nice time to let the kids run off and play while we chat and enjoy the beverage of our choice. We have also discovered it is the perfect time and place for games.

I am usually behind the times, so I know Bananagrams has been around the world and back a couple times already. I had seen it, but never played it. Now I'm addicted. Playing Bananagrams is great fun and, as it turns out, is a great modeling tool, too. I can't tell you how many times our dripping-wet kids came over to watch us play and "help" us with words.

Between rounds, we talk about other stuff, like the games we play with our kids. Not surprisingly, our favorites are the ones that have some type of educational value and can have lots of players. We talked about our own childhood favorites like Scrabble, Boggle, Pictionary, and Yahtzee, as well as the fun of these new games for our kids.

Scrabble SLAM, a card game, is a natural for kids of mixed ages. Essentially, you rebuild a four-letter word like sand by playing a cards in your hand ... changing it to hand or sane or band, etc. Speed is part of the game, so it may take young players a bit to get comfortable.

Such & Such is for up to four people or can be played in teams. The game's tag line is "the answers to the game come in twos," so players build pairs of things that go together: peanut butter and jelly, guilt and innocence, moon and stars, etc. It's about "clever pairings and witty competition."

Ticket to Ride is a good, old-fashioned board game. Each player is trying to build a cross-country railway route by making city-to-city connections from one coast to the other. There are lots of facets to the game, including geography and strategy. There are individualized versions for several continents.

These games combine fun and literacy concepts on many levels, not just letters. They require creativity, memory, problem solving, and even strategy. With the exception of Ticket to Ride, they are all also very economical investments.

Most of these games are good for kids who are in second through fourth grade. Next week I'll offer some game suggestions for preschoolers and kindergartners. Summer's not over yet ... let the games go on!

It's your move. What are your favorite games to play as a family?

The hyperlinks and images take you to Amazon.com. The Reading Tub may earn income from purchases made through those links.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: The Reference Shelf (5 to 9)

Posted by Terry on July 26, 2010 at 1:25 PM in Nonfiction BooksRecommendations
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worldbook.jpgWhen I was growing up, my brothers and I shared a set of World Book encyclopedias. Remember them?

When I got my first desktop computer it came with Microsoft Encarta ... 20+ volumes condensed to a compact disc. Now, you don't even need that! Data reliability not withstanding, anything you want to know about can be found with just a few clicks of the keyboard.

I love to surf the Net as much as the next person, but there is something fun about turning pages to find things. Holding a picture of a big hairy spider is completely different than staring at one on the screen.

Hands-on exploring is also more likely to lead to new discoveries - and more concrete recognition - than following a search path on the Worldwide Web. One or both of these references are important to your child's bookshelf.

Thumbnail image for merriam-webster.jpgAn illustrated dictionary. Pictures and large fonts make the dictionary an accessible tool for elementary-aged students. Because of their versatility, dictionaries are natural first research books for emerging and newly independent readers alike. Not long after readers start putting words together, they learn how to sort them alphabetically. As readers become more experienced and their content learning expands, the dictionary will also help them find the meaning of words, as well as learn parts of speech, word origins, and pronunciation, too.

Thumbnail image for everything-you-need-to-know.jpgA Big Book of Answers. Although we may not need (or have room for) that 20-volume set of books anymore, kids still have lots of questions, and it is nice to have a go-to reference that covers the basics of the history, science, geography, and social studies concepts they will be learning about in those early elementary years. Even when school's not in session, that one-volume illustrated encyclopedia can answer basic questions or whet their appetite to learn more and lead them to other subject-specific nonfiction books.

Illustrated reference books are designed for exploring. Because there is no worry about reading everything cover to cover, your kids may be more likely to pick up the book "just because." They can start with an idea and begin research or just pick a page and go.

Having a reference book handy is also a great way to encourage kids to find the answer themselves, rather than ask you to define a word, tell them if there really is a Transylvania, etc. Just watch out for spiders!

Image Credit
World Book photo by TreeWhisperer on Flickr. Copyright - all rights reserved.

The cover images for the encyclopedia and dictionary link to the Cybils affiliate via Amazon.com. Purchases made through these links may benefit the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Awards program. From the website: "All Cybils proceeds go to a non-cheesy award for our winners."

Terry

The Bookworm Goes on Vacation

Posted by Terry on July 19, 2010 at 10:36 AM in RecommendationsSeriesYoung Adult Bookscreative literacy
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It is hard to believe that we are getting ready to slide head-first into August. For many of us, August is synonymous with a week (maybe two) away from home. It might be the beach, the mountains, Grandma's ... a place where the daily routine is different and your days are more relaxed.

Another symbol of vacation is "beach reading," those books you enjoy while you soak up the sun, lay in the hammock, rock on the porch ... you get the picture. If you're looking for alternatives to lugging books - and don't want the eReader to plop in the pond - then you might like these ideas.

Audiobooks ~ Listening to books is great for those of us who are easily bored in the backseat and/or get sick when we read in a moving vehicle.

Most libraries have robust audiobook collections, and some have tools in place for you to download them. You might start with Pam's recommendations from Thursday Thirteen Summer Chapter Books. More than half of them (see slideshow) are available on CD or as downloads.

Sync is an online community that is offering two FREE young adult books each week. They pair a classic from a summer reading list with a modern YA title. Next week, it's Suzanne Collins' wildly popular Hunger Games and Shirley Jackson's classic, The Lottery. Here is the complete Sync: YA Listening schedule.

Music ~ I tend to look at music as poetry set to a rhythm. With music, kids can learn about history, culture, instruments, social skills, vocabulary, just about anything. Albums with music for kids range from CDs with songs written just for them to traditional songs that introduce them to specific genres, and don't forget the music you like!

Periodicals ~ Magazines and comic books are plentiful, quickly read, and easily disposed of when you're finished. Whether you pick some up before you leave home, or you stop in the local drugstore along the way, it is easy to put together some fun reading. These may not be some of your usual choices, but they can feed your kids' passions and keep them reading on vacation.

Technology makes it possible to pack a lot of literacy in tiny little packages, like CDs and digital devices. Whether you are traveling by car, bus, train, plane, or even boat, we hope you find room in the suitcase to take some reading on vacation, too.

Got a recommended vacation read or music? We'd love to add them to the collection.

Note: The bookcovers in the slideshow link to Amazon.com. A Reading Tub affiliate code is embedded in the link. We may earn money for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (Cybils) from purchases made through those links.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Casting a Magic Spell for Reading

Posted by Terry on July 13, 2010 at 11:30 AM in Early LiteracyLibrariesRecommendationscreative literacy
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magic_hat_1.pngIn the coming weeks we'll get back to our lists of book ideas for your home library, but summer is the perfect time to be a reading magician. I believe there is a book for every child, and today we're going to reveal the secret to finding the book that sparks a love of reading for your kids Ready? Think like a children's librarian!

When you ask a librarian to help you find a book, he or she will ask you a couple of questions to narrow down their recommendations to books that might work. These are questions you may know the answer to, but if not, they will give you something to think about the next time you and your child share a book.

bookwormWhat does your child like? The best place to start is with a topic or subject that interests them. It can be trucks and trains, sports or sports heroes, or things they like to do: be a ballerina, climb trees, etc.

What will your child do with the book? In selecting your books, think about how you plan to use the book: will you read with her; is this a book that you'll both read or will your son read it independently; or do you want her to explore the book, regardless of whether there is any reading.

abstract_reading.pngDoes your child like books of a certain size? Some kids like thin books; some don't mind longer books, but the chapters have to be short; and some want the fattest book they can find. Even if a book looks "too easy," don't discount it. If something grabs him in this book, he will reach for another one to learn more.

And finally, pictures. What kind (if any) illustrations do they like? Art in a book is a matter of taste, just as it is in a museum. Children's books are filled with abstract imagery, collages, photography, bright colors, dark hues, and more. What kinds of imagery seems to keep your daughter's attention? What makes your son ask you to close the book?

You've probably noticed that I didn't ask "fiction or nonfiction?" Knowing your child's interests, your reading goal, and what they like to see in a book will help guide that decision. It is the logical next question, and I know there are others.

So, what would your next question be? Librarians, we'd love to hear your suggestions on ways that parents can prepare for finding the "it" book before they get to the library.

BenBois_Magic_ball.pngThe answer for finding that "perfect" book comes from the non-book things your child loves. By tapping into that passion, the odds are pretty good you can find that wow-I-want-to-read-some-more book. And they will think you are the world's greatest magician because you read their minds!

If you find that there is a glitch trying to post the comments, send me an email and I will update this post. [terry {at] thereadingtub [dot} com].

Image Credits
Magic Hat 1 by slanteigne on OpenClipArt.org
Bookworm by ajeynes on OpenClipArt.org
Reading2 by Machovka on OpenClipArt.org
MagicBall by BenBois on OpenClipArt.org

Terry

Summer Reading Ideas: Double Your Fun with a Reading Partner

Posted by Terry on July 12, 2010 at 10:30 AM in Chapter BooksEasy ReadersLibrariescreative literacy
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reading in the hammockMea culpa! The heat swallowed this one last week. It "published" but no one could see it, so it's a double bonus this week ...

Picking up on Pam's themes of enjoying the summer by trying new things, I thought I would share some of those magical, unplanned moments we've had this year.

Like many of you, we get our book fix at the library, and LOVE the summer reading program. This has always been "our" time, but this year, we've been taking my daughter's BFF with us. Her friend (a rising second grader) is an avid reader, but had not visited our local library. [She has 5 older siblings ... need I say more?]

The two girls have had a wonderful time, and all three of us really look forward to our weekly "date." During our three visits to date, the girls have (without fail)

    ... picked up picture books left lying around and read them aloud to each other.
    ... recommended books to each other;
    ... searched the online catalog for books with their names; and
    ... looked for books with two copies so they can read it at the same time.
.

gardenvale.JPGIt is the last point I find most fascinating. Like many short chapter books for the early elementary audience, the stories rely heavily on dialogue. The girls are instantly drawn to these books and use them as scripts. They decide who is going to be which character, and then read their "parts" aloud.

This isn't a new idea, but it may be a new way to keep the kids connected with books this summer. Partner reading - with you, a friend, or siblings - is a great way to keep them engaged with books. The key is to keep the reading fun, so don't fret about the "right" reading levels or vocabulary. Keep them excited about reading and the rest of it will fall into place naturally.

Sharing our library time beyond "just us," has has added some wonderful magic to our summer. My daughter and her BFF are exploring everything the library has to offer and stretching each other's interests. They will have great memories of things they did together, and so will I. Summer can't get much more magical than that!

Image Credits
Clara reading in the hammock again by NMACAVOY on Picasa.com
Gardenvale Two Girls Reading (Close Up) by Jen on Picasa.com

Terry

Bookworm Basics: The Craft of Writing

Posted by Terry on June 30, 2010 at 10:30 AM in creative literacy
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Here in the mid-Atlantic, summer has definitely made its presence known, and many of us are spending much of our day around the pool. While the kids are splashing, we moms are sweltering and exchanging ideas on other ways to fill their time.

One of the most common things I hear is "I wish I were a crafty mom," meaning I don't do arts and crafts. Well Mom, with a few easy steps, you can be crafty ... in all senses of the word!

spiral-notebooks.jpgBuy a bound book. Spiral-bound books work great, because the pages "fold back" out of the way. The key is that it looks nothing like a school notebook. Get one for you, one for each child. Look for books with pre-printed lines or blank pages. Pick your books based on your child's preferences, as well as your own. Some kids like drawing, some like writing, some can draw on pages with lines, others can't see past them.

DSCN4000.JPGPull out the boxes of crayons, markers, pencils, pens, watercolors ... whatever drawing or writing tools you've got lying around. We just "refreshed" our stash with all of the stuff that came back from school.

Put everything into a basket or plastic tub. Grab one big enough to hold the notebooks and the tools so that it is always accessible. Keeping the stash where kids pass it regularly and see it may be just enough to get them to pick it up regularly.

parent-child-drawingSit down together and go to it. There are no rules for the books, except that the contents can't in any way resemble schoolwork (e.g., no practicing letters or math). Kids can jot down their stories and poems, doodle, scribble, and/or create incredible art. You can do the same ... or just generate the grocery list.

That's where the true craftiness comes in ... kids are using their imagination and you are showing them the way just by writing or drawing. Modeling literacy is an easy way to encourage reading and writing. And the bonus? You earn your crafty mom badge and you have a personalized book to remember this summer, all without glue, scissors, or sticky fingers!

So, how would you fill your book?

Image Credits

Shelf of Notebooks from P.W.'s "stationary" photostream on Flickr.com
Drawer of crayons by Taylor Schlades on Morguefile.com
Father and child drawing together by Lori L. Dunbar, Copyright Marzipan, Inc. Used with Permission.

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