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.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Questions to Ask

When reading with your child, ask the questions that will get her thinking. You will be helping her to think more deeply about what she is reading. 

 You are not looking to test your child, but to encourage her to reflect.

Pam Allyn, a literacy expert and the director of LitWorld, encourages parents to ask open-ended questions during each read-aloud. “They prompt a higher-level critical thinking,” Allyn explains. “Fact-based questions only go in one direction, but comments like, ‘What are you wondering about?’ lead kids to inquiry-based learning, and that’s very important because it’s better practice for critical-thinking brains.” Developing critical thinking will help in the classroom, too. “In schools now there’s more emphasis on teachers asking more abstract-thinking questions.” 
If creative questioning doesn’t come naturally, Allyn advises simply asking yourself—before you ask your kids a question about the book you’re reading together—“Is this going to lead to more conversation, or to a one- or two-word response?”
Keep it light. Keep it fun. And let her know that her thoughts are important—that you value her ideas and opinions.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Plan Ahead for That School Visit

When you do visit your child's class, make sure to bring your child's favorite book to share with her friends. Talk together before the visit to plan the selelction. (Remember that you are visiting her world.)

It can be a book that is brand-new and not yet familiar to the other students. Or it might be a classroom favorite that the children know by heart. Good books can never be read too many times!  Children benefit from being exposed to a range of readers, with different styles.  And if your child is willing, let her read some of the book aloud as well. It is a chance for her to shine.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Read Aloud in Class

If it is okay with your child’s preschool, plan to visit the classroom to read your child’s favorite books with the class. 

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 she may be talking about at home. 

First, be sure your child if he is OK with this plan. And ask her which book she wants to share with the class. Then, schedule the visit. If she is hesitant, wait a month or two and ask again. 

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.