Support for PBS Parents provided by:


  • Cat in the Hat
  • Curious George
  • Daniel Tiger
  • Dinosaur Train
  • Peg + Cat
  • Sid the Science Kid
  • Super Why!
  • Wild Kratts
  • Martha Speaks
  • The Electric Company
  • WordGirl
  • Thomas & Friends
  • Cyberchase
  • Arthur
  • Sesame Street
  • Between the Lions
  • Mama Mirabelle
  • Caillou
  • Chuck Vanderchuck
  • Oh Noah
  • Fetch!
  • Fizzy's Lunch Lab
  • Maya & Miguel
  • Mister Rogers
  • Postcards from Buster
  • Clifford
  • SciGirls
  • Wilson & Ditch
  • WordWorld
  • DragonFly TV
  • ZOOM
 

Books

Home »

Terry: May 2010 Archives

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Books for Your World Explorer (0 to 5)

Posted by Terry on May 26, 2010 at 10:00 AM in Board BooksBook Buying Early LiteracyPicture BooksRecommendationsSeries
Bookmark and Share

The great thing - and the frustrating thing - about infants, toddlers, and preschoolers is that they are into everything. They are discovering something new all the time, beginning to label the world around them, and even deciding what they like and don't like. [Dinosaurs - yes. Spinach - not so much!]

Last week we talked about bedtime stories for your home library. This week it's all about those waking hours! One suggestion: opt for the board book edition if there is one. This audience is notoriously tough on books!

Cars and Trucks and Things that Go by Richard Scarry. Susan Thomsen counts this and Freight Trains by Donald Crews among her son's favorites at this age. This is a timeless classic. With Car, kids can figure out what moves (and what doesn't), make the sounds of myriad transportation modes and animals, and feed that passion for things that move! Scarry did a great job of "hiding" other things in the illustrations that will keep young children glued to the page.

Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty. When Pam narrowed down her gift choices for 3-year-old niece, Jeremy was on the list. From Pam: "This title is one of my favorites of 2009, though it seems to have slipped under the radar in the book world. I didn't think the amazing message contained within was too subtle, but maybe it did escape many readers who looked at the surface and saw a simple, light story. It's a shame, because people missed one of the better combinations of art, story, and message that I've ever seen."

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems. I admit, that while I love Mo Willems, Knuffle Bunny isn't a personal fave. Still, as Gina points out in her Show and Tale last November, Mo and the Bunny have LOTS of adoring fans. Here's what Karen told Gina: "My daughter loves Knuffle Bunny in all its forms (including the sequel). She adores the combination of photography and cartoons and has been able to recite the story since before she could read." What more could you ask for?

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. When we knew we were going to adopt, this was one of my first book purchases. I loved this story as a child. Even through the pages you can engage your senses, from the chill of Peter's hands to the crunch, crunch, crunch of the snow.

Picture books are a natural choice when it comes to piquing and satisfying a young child's curiosity. There are so many wonderful choices - what books do you recommend for a play-time library?

To see the full list of favorites, and to keep the ideas in an easy-to-grab spot, I have created a list of these titles at Indie Bound and an aStore on Amazon.com.

Note: The bookcover images in this post link to Amazon.com and include an affiliate code that, through purchases, may earn income for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (aka Cybils). The Indie Bound List and aStore include an affiliate code for the Reading Tub that, through purchases, may earn income for this literacy nonprofit. You are not obligated to use those links or make purchases through them.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Building a Bedtime Library (0 to 5)

Posted by Terry on May 19, 2010 at 10:05 AM in Book Buying Picture BooksRecommendationsSeries
Bookmark and Share

Last week, Susan Kusel offered a wonderful guide on budget-friendly way to build your child's library with library book sales. She even has some suggestions on when to shop (early) and what kinds of books to look for (hardcovers and series). If you haven't read it yet, check out Have I Got a Deal for You! You might also check out Pam's Thrifty Three ways to keep reading in tough economic times back in March.

I love Susan's post, bookmarked it, and even referenced it in a couple of places; but it left me with one question: If I'm starting a library for a child what titles should I try to find? Voila! A Bookworm Basics mini-series is born. Over the next few weeks, I'll have some recommendations with books for different ages.

Today we're talking bedtime stories. When I hear "read with your child," the first image that comes to mind is cuddling up close and sharing a picture book. These are the first books you're likely to own, and here are some of our favorites.

Night Lights by Susan Gal. Pam featured this in Thursday Three last November. Here is what Pam offered in a comment: "at my first look, Night Lights didn't grab me. But I realized that I was taking it too fast, and it's a book that needs you to slow down. It's there that I found its quiet value. I didn't even mention this, but I also like that it's about just a girl and her mom (and dog). Maybe it's a single mom or a dad in the military, but I liked seeing that represented."

The Owl and the Pussy Cat by Edward Lear, illustrated by Jan Brett. With Jan Brett's beautiful illustrations of this story of an unlikely couple, what's not to love? The rhyme is a soothing counterpoint to the bright illustrations. As Susan Thomsen says this one is not about sleep, but it is a beloved book that she and her son have shared repeatedly at bedtime.

Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep by Joyce Dunbar, illustrated by Debi Gliori. In her February 2010 Show and Tale, Gina shares colleague Tracy Wynne's story about how she came to love this book after her 5-year-old daughter started having bad dreams. "In my frantic search to ease her fears, I came across the most delightful book ... This wonderful read-aloud is sweet and reassuring. I love how it addresses the power of positive thinking; a skill that will serve children well, even at night."

Time for Bed by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jane Dyer. It is hard to beat Mem Fox for wonderful stories. Mother animals beg their young one to go to sleep, and each mom has a different way of imploring their child to settle in for bed. For years this was our go-to book at nap time and bedtime. It is a particularly soothing story that offers a quiet "hush" with every turn and always got our busy toddler to stop what she was doing and hop into bed.

It's hard to beat the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with snuggling together to share a book. Including reading as part of your go-to-bed ritual is a wonderful tradition, an easy way to share a love of reading, and a great way to close out each day for you and your child. Do you have a family favorite? We'd love to hear about it!

To see the full list of favorites, and to keep the ideas in an easy-to-grab spot, I have created a list of these titles at Indie Bound and an aStore on Amazon.com.

Note: The bookcover images in this post link to Amazon.com and include an affiliate code that, through purchases, may earn income for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (aka Cybils). The Indie Bound List and aStore include an affiliate code for the Reading Tub that, through purchases, may earn income for this literacy nonprofit. You are not obligated to use those links or make purchases through them.


Terry

Bookworm Basics: Once Upon a Time - The Magic of Fairy Tales

Posted by Terry on May 12, 2010 at 11:00 AM in ClassicsPicture BooksRecommendations
Bookmark and Share

Most of the time you will find me reading a children's book, but this past week I took time out to read Ten Tips for Raising a Reader by Fran Hawk, a school librarian in the Charleston County (SC) school system. Fran talked about lots of genres and ways to use books, but her discussion about the power of fairy tales and folktales really stuck with me. By way of background, Fran was talking about her first job as a librarian. She worked in a rural school library where the students came from farmers and migrant workers.

Little Match Girl

I was unprepared for the realization that ingratitude and a sense of entitlement were major characteristics of these children ... A friend in a similar situation tackled this frustrating attitude with a direct hit. She read the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale,The Little Match Girl, to her first grade class. They were stunned, as well they might have been! ... For the first graders, it turned out to be a powerful magic bullet. That story unleashed a cascade of empathy and sympathy never seen before. Weeks later, the students were still mulling over the implications. Imagining themselves as 'little match girls' was helping them understand the importance of gratitude and kindness. This reaction could probably be expected regardless of the children's social and/or economic status.

Wow, never underestimate the power of a story! Especially one that has a lesson in it.

Folktales are both a category of literature and a type of story that includes fairy tales, legends, fables, and tall tales, to name a few. In general, the story has just a few characters, a plot build around specific events, an element of good v. evil, and a "moral to the story." Not all folktales have royalty and magic, but many do.

All cultures have their own folklore, but not all stories are suitable for all audiences. Some fairy tales, like The Elves and the Shoemaker, are universal and can be enjoyed by even the youngest audience. William Austin's Peter Rugg legends (described as tall tales and ghost stories) are for more mature audiences. Reading is Fundamental (RIF) has a terrific list of folktales and fairy tales that gives you a story summary and an audience recommendation.

Folktales, fairy tales, legends, fables - whatever you call them - are stories that allow us to explore history and cultures, social dynamics, and feelings. They stretch our imaginations and some even make us laugh! Because there are so many ways we can engage with these types of stories, today's Bookworm Basics explores folktales of all types.

Emergent Literacy - Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

It is easy to bring folktales to life with this group! Whether it's through puppets or on the playground, kids love to act out these stories. Who doesn't like to huff and puff and blow the house down? On the First-School Wisconsin site you'll find lots of coloring pages for fairy tales and fables.

The Mitten by Jan BrettWhen it comes to picture books, Jan Brett is probably the most prolific author/illustrator in the genre. Her stories include classics like Beauty and the Beast as well as tales from around the globe. On her website you'll find coloring pages, videos, and printable games that can bring the story into "real life."

Personal favorites:

Burro's TortillasBurro's Tortillas by Terri Fields, illustrated by Sherry Rogers (Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2007). If you've read The Little Red Hen, you know the sequence of events. Still, this retelling - with different animals and some Spanish mixed in - offers a nice change.

rabbit cooks up a cunning planRabbit Cooks Up a Cunning Plan by Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by Bruno Robert (Child's Play, 2008). The story has the feel of a classic fable. It has a clever twist on the outwit-the-bully theme. I also loved how it captured the idea that sometimes we are our "own worst enemy."

Early and Transitional Literacy - Kindergarten to Second Grade

chicken littleFairy tales and fables can be excellent "easy reader" books. Because they are simply told and have lots of repetition (think Chicken Little), they offer new readers a chance to practice sight words. With these readers you can also take folklore to the next level with fairy tales that tell a classic story but add a new twist, sometimes called fractured fairy tales. The Hennepin County Library has a nice list of recommendations to get you started.

Personal favorites:

bee-man.jpgThe Bee Man of Orn by Frank B. Stockton, illustrated by P.J. Lynch (Candlewick Press, 2003). This is a gorgeous book, with a not-well-known story. There is an audio reading of the story included, too. This is great for letting children follow along with text to build their sight vocabulary.
little-ruth.jpgLittle Ruth Reddingford and the Wolf by Hank Wesselman, illustrated by Raquel Abreau (Illumination Arts, 2004). This is another fractured fairy tale. Instead of wolves there are bullies; and Ruth isn't without fault, either.

paco_chile.jpgPaco and the Giant Chile Plant / Paco y Planta de Chile Gigante by Keith Polette, illustrated by Elizabeth Dulemba (Raven Tree Press, ©2008). Think Jack and the Beanstalk with a great new storyline and a totally unexpected twist.

Fluent Readers - Third Grade and Beyond

With older kids, some of the fun of reading folklore can be exploring the cultures that "created" them. The Wikipedia List of Fairy Tales has a nice chart that lists fairy tales and the culture that popularized it. Another idea is to contrast/compare a story across cultures. In the May 2000 edition of Book Links (an American Library Association journal), Mary Northrop has an annotated list of Cinderella stories from around the world. She offers some activity tips at the end that would work with any book.

Another way to engage kids is to let them rewrite the story. At KidWebsites.com, children ages 8 and older can write a fractured fairy tale. If you're looking for a place to start, Marilyn Kinsella has a ready-made bibliography of fractured fairy tales, as well as some suggested activities to engage kids in modifying existing stories or creating new ones.

Personal favorites:

grandmother.jpgGrandmothers' Stories: Wise Woman Tales from Many Cultures edited by Burleigh Muten, illustrated by Sian Bailey (Barefoot Books, 1999). Some of the stories in this collection will sound similar to stories kids already know. What I love is that it captures some timeless tales of magic, wisdom, and perseverance that children will remember their whole life. There is a CD that comes with the book, which makes it a nice selection for dormant readers, too.

monsters and water beastsMonsters and Water Beasts: Creatures of Fact or Fiction? by Karen Hokanson Miller; illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier (Henry Holt and Company, 2007). This nonfiction (!) book provides a brief description of nine mythical creatures and shares facts and fables about their existence.

scratchy-mountain.jpgUp and Down the Scratchy Mountains or the Search for a Suitable Princess by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Greg Call (Random House Children's Books, 2008). If I have to have one princess book, this is it. This is not a straight-forward once-upon-a-time fairy tale, and it does take about a chapter or two to get into the author's style. Once you do, though, you're rewarded with a great story.

Fairy tales and folkore are timeless stories we can all enjoy together. It is a chance to pull out a favorite from your own childhood and pay forward that love with the kids in your lives. Whether you grab a book or start telling the story from memory, you're kids will always remember that once upon a time, ...

Note: Book title links take you to Amazon.com, with which the Reading Tub has an affiliate relationship. Purchases made through those links may provide income for our nonprofit. You're not obligated to purchase through those links; they are provided for your convenience.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Reading with a Moving Audience

Posted by Terry on May 5, 2010 at 8:08 AM in creative literacy
Bookmark and Share

stop-drop-read.JPGThe idea of your children sitting quietly on your lap (or next to you) is one of the things we love about reading with our kids. The chance to cuddle makes it fun for us, and it is easier to do, too. But what about those of us with always-busy kids? How are we supposed to read with them when they won't sit still?

When your child is a toddler, you expect lots of wandering about. But what happens when they get to school? All of a sudden, that energy can become an issue. In the classroom, high levels of activity don't always work, but that doesn't mean your child's need for activity goes away.

Just like last week, I'll use three literacy categories to offer suggestions and tips. That post has definitions for the three levels, so I won't repeat them here.

Emergent Literacy - Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

The phrase "babies are like sponges" is apropos for this group. At this age, children are eager to learn and absorb every little thing, using all their senses in the process. From the minute they wake up to the moment they conk out, they are going. They are figuring out their world; putting names to objects and sounds; and finding their favorite things. Not all their learning comes from books. Regular conversations and singing along with the radio both offer ways to engage kids by expanding their vocabulary and introducing new concepts. Asking them questions about what they are doing/see/hear also helps their communication skills by encouraging them to talk about observation and process. When it comes to books, lots of board and picture books play to their love of exploring, and some will inspire your child to be part of the story by acting like the characters.

  • Take advantage of their love of pretend play to let them "be" something they love, whether it's a ballerina or a baseball player.
  • Toddlers, in particular, love to imitate. Books that let them imitate sounds and movement are always fund. When there's a lion in the story, ask what a lion "says."
  • Turn a story into a "guide book," by asking your child to find things that match what he sees or hears. If the book has recognizable shapes, encourage him to find something with that shape in his room. If there are birds, go outside and listen for birds.

They don't mind if you read while they play, so if you keep reading, they'll keep listening and doing their thing. This YouTube video of a toddler/preschool story time at the Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library (Ohio) may offer you some ideas on ways to engage young children with literacy concepts and books while still allowing them to be themselves.

Early and Transitional Literacy - Kindergarten to Second Grade

As kids reach Kindergarten and first grade, they still love exploring and hands-on learning. They have mastered basic object identification and colors, and many have mastered letter recognition and sounds. Now they are ready to begin more formal processes for learning to read. This is a layered approach that usually includes reading simple books and word study to build a set of vocabulary words they recognize by sight (sometimes called a "word bank"). There are many ways to help kids grow as readers, including active kids who don't do well sitting with flashcards. Here are a few ideas.

  • Grab the chalk and make a hopscotch board with sight words instead of numbers. upside-down-reader.jpg
  • Turn Twister(r) into a word game by taping word cards over the board and then drawing individual words from a matching set (instead of using the spinner). The stack can grow over time and allow for practicing words that kids have trouble with.
  • Make a "life size" concentration (or Memory) gameboard by writing the words on regular-sized paper and spreading them out so that kids have to walk to the words.

Susan Stephenson (the Book Chook) paired a baking sheet and magnetic letters so that her son could practice spelling and words. This is a reading activity that lets readers-to-be practice independently in the car, on the playground, anywhere.

Fluent Readers - Third Grade and Beyond

This may sound odd, but if you can let your child exercise hard for 30 to 40 minutes before she has to start any task that includes reading, it will get done faster. [http://www.edutopia.org/exercise-fitness-brain-benefits-learning] By the time kids reach third grade, the activity centers they used to know are gone, and they are sitting most of their school day. For kids who are active, it takes all their energy to "conform" during school, so a surge of physical exertion can help get them re-focused.

  • Finish off a healthy snack with a stick of gum. The action of repetitive chewing will help get your child centered and yet still satisfy the need to be "doing something" while reading.
  • Get out the kitchen timer. Your child may do better if she has regular intervals where she can get up and move a little bit. It might be one activity or a short circuit. Ideally it will include some aerobic activity (like jumping jacks, jumping rope, or jogging in place) with strength exercises (squats, pushups, or lunges).

My sister-in-law tells the story of my nephew (now a freshman in high school) who bounces his soccer ball while he does his homework. He walks a "track" athrough the kitchen, dining room, and living room because he needs to be in constant motion when they are reviewing material for quizzes and tests. It drives her crazy, but if she forces him sit still, he gets so pent up that he forgets what he had been studying.

Reading with an active child can be distracting and frustrating, but it can also be lots of fun. With younger kids, textured, lift-the-flap, and pop-up books can engage an active child with stories. These books give them a bit of independence, keep them busy, and help them focus, too.

With older kids, if you can find something quieter than a bouncing soccer ball and/or get past the motion, you may be able to sneak in some recreational reading that your kids might not otherwise have. This might allow you the bond that came with reading aloud alive with an otherwise resistant pre-teen. This Scholastic Parent video demonstrating how to read out loud with your pre-teen may have some ideas for you, too.

While it may not seem to you that you are "making progress" with your child's literacy development, you are. As long as they're within hearing range, just keep moving!

Image Credits
Mom reading with boys - Barbara's Mommy, Teach Me album on Picasa.
Upside Down Reader cover - Amazon.com (no link offered)
YouTube Videos: CRCPL Kids Channel and Scholastic Parent Channel

Support for PBS Parents provided by: