Thursday, September 15, 2016

Get to School!

Now that the school year has begun, consider a visit to your child's classroom to read aloud with your child’s class. Once the teacher has given the OK, also be sure your child agrees with this plan. And ask him which book he wants to share with the class. Then, schedule the visit. (If he is hesitant, wait a month or two and ask again. He may well change his mind as he becomes more comfortable in the classroom.)

Visiting the classroom is a good way to keep an open connection between school and home. It provides a good chance for your child’s teachers and classmates to get to know your child better. You will also get a sense of your child’s day and what the school environment is like. It is a terrific way to get to know some of the classmates he may be talking about at home. And he will like to show you off to his school friends and maybe even show off some of his reading prowess. And, of course, reading aloud is a wonderful way to engage children in the joys of reading.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

When Books Inspire . . .

If a book sparks an interest in your child—say something a character does or perhaps an intriguing and unique setting—see if you can replicate the experience. 

If your child is fascinated by something she reads in a book, encouraging that interest will strengthen the connection between books and her life. Plus, you are showing your child that reading about something opens a door to new ideas to try.

Plant magic beans. Dig a rabbit hole. Set up a tent in the bedroom. Visit a firehouse. If the story she likes is realistic, you can try to plan an event. If it is a fantasy, let your child’s imagination run the event. She can travel to the moon in your living room.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Book Action!

Some children are tactile learners—they learn and explore by touching and feeling. You may recognize that this term describes your child if you are constantly wiping tiny finger prints from every surface in your home. 

When it comes to reading, go with it. 

Let your child absorb the feel of a book. The action of pulling, pointing, turning, zipping, tracing, engages your child's interest. Try not to be upset if your child’s eager fingers take their toll on the book. Tape the pages and move on. (Invest in lots of extra invisible tape so you have it on hand!) 

A book is not a museum piece, but a favorite object that is meant to be used and actively enjoyed. Of course, you don't want to encourage your child to pull or tear pages. But if a book is a little worse for wear, consider it a good thing. Books are replaceable; your child’s enthusiasm for a book is priceless.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Summer Reading . . .

This one takes a little advance planning. Before the summer break, ask your child’s preschool for a list of books that will be read in class in the next year. Over the summer, read some of them with your child.

That summertime experience makes the books familiar and gives your child a little head start. Many preschoolers are caught between taking steps into the unknown and holding onto what is comfortable. Making the adjustment to school—especially if it is a new school or unfamiliar teacher—can be a challenge. So if your child “knows” a book she will feel comfortable in the reading setting. She may even share with her teacher or classmates some of the routines you and she have enjoyed, or your discussion about the book, or even tell the story of how she got the book. (Was it it a surprise?) The book experience can create a new and positive connection to the school and help put her at ease. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Beyond the Bookshelf

Although many parents love having their children's books nicely organized on bookshelves, try to think outside the shelf. It sounds simple, but just having books in a convenient place can facilitate reading. For example, in a nursery, keep a stack of favorite books in a basket or on a table, near your favorite rocker or glider to make reading time a natural activity before bedtime. And piles of books in living rooms, on counters, or even in the bathroom, may be just the right inspiration for a read-aloud session, or your child's spontaneous perusal of a book.

Now . . . think about going mobile! If books are transported easily from room to room--in baskets, in boxes on wheels--they will be at your child's fingertips wherever he is. Sometimes convenience is key.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Siblings Reading Together

Encourage siblings to read together. Each one of the children will be rewarded. Older siblings get to practice their skills and feel a sense of importance and mastery. Younger siblings will get exposure to an additional reader (with a unique style of reading aloud). And they will be happy to get the attention of their older brother or sister who just may seem to live in a more interesting world much of the time. So it is a win-win. Plus, a sibling read aloud is a wonderful opportunity for a little bonding. Especially if there are a fair number of years between them, it is a happy way to connect.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Transformation: Libraries and Young Readers

Mark Condon of Unite for Literacy has written a wonderful piece about the role of libraries in helping to create young readers. It celebrates the Week of the Young Child and National Library Week, and  captures the essence of both initiatives in a thoughtful way.


What I think . . .

There are all kinds of readers. Some—like my daughter and me—are never without a book to read for pleasure. Others—like my son—are careful, analytical, and curious readers who read primarily to seek information from the page.

No matter what kind of reader your child becomes, you can help him or her get started. After all, you are your child’s first teacher. And, best of all, you can have some fun in the process.

Please feel free to share your own ideas. Tell me about ways you've enjoyed reading with your child.

Madeline Boskey, Ph.D.