Friday, August 4, 2017

Laughing Out Loud

For some children, humor is the key to hooking them into reading. A silly book allows them to let go and laugh.  

Keep in mind that humor for preschooler may not even seem so funny to you. But appreciate it for what it offers your child. (If you get in a silly mood, you might even have a good time . . .) Some writers for this age group can really zero in on what gets to a preschooler, and their writing strikes the right chord.

Humor is also a good way to engage you child in a discussion about a topic or issue. If your child is dealing with a sibling or school issue, or even a falling-down or food-aversion period, laughing at a character going through something similar can put it in perspective and give your child some release.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Author, Author!

Have your preschooler pen the next great American memoir. A favorite book for preschoolers to write is a record of an outing or excursion. It is a way to make a lasting memento and and be able to relive an event that is meaningful. Think family vacation this summer . . . 

Get fancy or keep it simple. You can staple together some pieces of paper or index cards, or buy a blank book, or use a commercial service. Encourage your child to write and illustrate her own books. You provide the raw materials, but let your preschooler dictate the contents—literally and figuratively.

The book can be wordless—let her tell her tale with pictures. She is getting a taste of what goes into planning what goes on the page of a book, recalling a sequence, and communicating something that is important and memorable for her.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Become an Expert!

Have you noticed a topic or theme that your child is passionate about? It might be princesses or earth movers or dinosaurs. Start a little “collection.” Go to the library or purchase books on this “topic.” (If you elect to buy books, keep the books about that topic together on a shelf. It is a way to encourage the idea of organizing things that go together.)

Your child is discovering that reading can open doors to learning more and more about his or her interests. Becoming an expert will make him or her feel excited about learning and also provide a purpose for your reading together. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

What's Next?

Here is a way to help your child build comprehension skills  . . . and use imagination.

After you and your child finish reading a story together, close the book, and ask, "What do you think happens next?" or "What happens the next day?"

This kind of thinking helps your child in a few ways. It encourages your child to use what he or she already knows about a character or a situation and run with it—to spin some educated guesses based on that information. That is also called making inferences, which a skill your child will use in school and in life.

For now, unburdened by finding right answers, your child is simply stretching his or her imagination, and engaging in some original storytelling. Enjoy it together!

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.

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.