Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Resolution to Read

As the year draws to a close, many of us begin to think about how we want to improve our lives in the coming year. I have two, related ideas for you. This year, make one of your resolutions to read more—whether books, e-readers, newspapers, magazines—for pleasure. Fiction or nonfiction? It doesn’t matter. Rediscover for yourself how rewarding it is to spend time with the written word. Second, make a commitment to read to your young child every day, even for a few minutes. Your renewed enthusiasm for reading will be contagious. It is a win-win situation. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Shopping?

If you still have gifts to buy for young children in your life, don’t forget to buy them books! And if people ask you what your own children need, tell them: books. No child can have too many books. As gifts, books are easy to wrap, inexpensive to ship, and can provide hours and hours of joy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Guest Post: Making a "Me" Book

I am thrilled to present my very first guest post. This post was written by Jamie Hurst DeLuna, PhD. She is the author of Avant Garde Parenting, a wonderful website, full of interesting, varied, and helpful information for parents of children of all ages.

I think you will enjoy this creative idea from Jamie, and find ways to make a meaningful "me" book with your child.

Please be sure to visit Jamie's site for more ideas about parenting!

Making a "Me" Book

Book sharing can be a joyous experience for parents and children. Choosing a favorite story and snuggling in after a bath can be the perfect ending to any day. But what if your child just isn’t into books? Here’s an idea that to help get even the most book-averse kiddo involved in the process–make a ‘Me’ book. Grab some paper and markers and help your child make a book all about himself! The key is to let your child be an active participant in making the book–let him choose the colors, what to draw, and even what to include. Here are some ideas for pages:

• Favorites: Include your child’s favorite colors, foods, and games.
• Facts about Me: Record your child’s height, eye color, hair color, etc.
• My Family: Include the members of your child’s family and extended family. (A family tree format could be fun!)
• Where I live: Record address, phone number, number of rooms in my house, number of trees in my yard, and so on.
• What I like to do: Include your child’s favorite activities, whether art, soccer, karate, or dance.

Update your ‘Me’ book annually, semiannually, or even monthly as your child grows and changes. I have an idea that this book will be one that your child wants to read with you day after day!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Read Early, Read Often

When is it too soon to read to your little one? Never! Of course, your new baby cannot really understand the content of books you read to her. But you are teaching her something else. You are introducing her to the unique experience of being read to. She can pick up the cadence of your voice. Like a lullaby, she might just find it calming. You are creating a reassuring feeling of connection as you hold her. And it is never too soon to offer her that gift.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Need Your Help!

Now I need your help–in the form of ideas. I am working on a book for parents with tips for reading to their preschoolers. So I am collecting ideas for the book. If you have any suggestions for ways you have enjoyed reading with your children, please share them wth me. Also, if you have any favorite books for young children, please let me know the names and authors. I will acknowledge you in my book!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Traveling for Thanksgiving?

If you have plans to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday, be sure pack some of your preschooler's favorite books. If you encounter delays on trains or planes or find yourself stalled in traffic, whipping out a beloved book can keep your child entertained. You might even consider packing a new book as a surprise. The combination of familiarity and novelty might be just right to keep your preschooler engaged . . . and reduce stress for everyone.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Word by Word

You may have heard that it is a good idea to run your finger along a line of text as you read to your child. Why should you do this? It is a way of helping your preschooler learn that those mysterious marks on the page actually have meaning. You are teaching your child that there is a relationship between the sounds you utter and the letters that make up words. Your child may imitate you and run his finger along as he "reads" to you. Don't worry about accuracy. He will get there eventually. Learning to read is a process. Letter by letter, word by word, in time he will become a reader.

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's a Date

Instead of a play date, try making a reading date for your child and one of his friends. Better yet, if his mother, father, or caretaker can join you, it can be fun to share favorite books and take turns reading. It is also a way for your child to get to know another child better or for you to spend some time with another adult you'd like to get to know. Keep it light and friendly. And when the reading is over, your children may want to play together. The read date can work well for homeschoolers. Plan an afternoon story time to get together with other families who may look forward to a little gathering. What a great way to socialize and maybe even discover a new favorite book.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Power of Pictures

Pictures can tell a story. When your preschooler draws pictures, ask her what is happening. Let her narrate. You can write the description on the picture. Perhaps she will want to draw multiple pictures to illustrate an event she enjoyed or weave a made-up tale. In school, as she begins to learn to write, her very first stories will be told in drawings. You are showing her the power of her words through pictures.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Not-So-Scary Monster Books

This is in just in time for Halloween. If you are concerned about Halloween books being too scary for your preschooler, here is a list of picture books that may be just right. The reviewer is a mom. Here is the link:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Get Caught!

I know I have said it before. And I will say it again. Get caught reading! Make sure your young child catches you in the act. That means be seen reading the newspaper, a recipe, an election ballot, a paper or study for work. But it also means to provide evidence of reading for pleasure. Point out the stack of books by your bed. Next time you visit the library, take your child on a detour from the children's corner to see the adult stacks. Talk about the book you are reading for enjoyment or the book group you joined. Your impressions of the book you are reading may not be entirely clear to your young child, but the message is: Reading is a source of pleasure for life.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More Book Character Costume Ideas

Are you still looking for book character ideas for your preschooler's Halloween costume? Check out one of my favorite new blogs for some inspiration. You will find suggestions, with practical tips for how to whip together the costume with little effort. You'll also find some ideas that can work well for an older sibling. I think you'll enjoy this new blog. The Cath in the Hat makes interesting reading. The blogger, who writes and edits children's books, has unique and thoughtful ideas about books for children. Hop over to this new blog!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some Halloween Reading

I just wanted to let you know that on one of the blogs I follow there is a list of fun books for Halloween. This blog is written by a former reading teacher and she provides a little synopsis of each book. Take a look! Happy reading!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Storybook Costumes Rock

Is your preschooler still searching for the right idea for a Halloween costume? Visit your book shelf or your public library for inspiration. I am a big fan of making or putting together elements to create a unique costume. And I don't think it needs to take hours of work, which most of us don't have time to put in. Let imagination reign. Who is her favorite book character? For example, if she has a tutu or can borrow one, being Angelina Ballerina is a snap. Let me know what other ideas you come up with and we can share them here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Digital Library at Your Fingertips

I recently learned about an exciting new site that lets you choose from a wide variety of of books for your child. It is an online digital library. The way it works is you buy a library card. You can buy one for only $1.99 per month if you just want to try it out. (And in fact there is a coupon right now for a free month -long trial.) Then you and your child can enjoy reading from a wide selection of titles or read the same book over and over. Full disclosure: I love books and the feel of them, as well as the experience of turning pages. I believe that there will always be "real" books. However, that being said, there is no reason to miss out on the excitement, advantages, and fun of electronic books. Also your child will, if she has not already, be reading books and having content delivered electronically at school. It looks as if you can choose from lots wonderful books to enjoy with your child. And there are descriptions and previews to help you select appropriate books, as well as reviews. The site is exceptionally parent-friendly.

Check out this new site. I am planning to . . . often!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Be a Guest Reader

If your child's preschool teacher is amenable, and your child gives you the OK, arrange to visit your child's classroom to read a book at story time. Teachers may appreciate letting someone else take a turn. Plus they know it is good for children to experience all different kinds of readers. Consult with your child about book choices. For a shy child, sharing something about himself by having you read one of his favorite books, can be a way to make him feel more comfortable as he makes his adjustments to school. His classmates will get to learn a little bit more about him. Meanwhile you'll have a chance to meet the children and see the environment where your child spends his days.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fall Is Here

At last, fall is here and summer is officially over--at least according to the calendar. As fall arrives it can be fun to read about seasonal changes. Check out your local library and bookstores for books about the effects of the changing season, such as cooler temperatures, leaves turning colors, patterns in the sky. Seek out books about foods that are associated with the cooler weather, such as apples, pears, pumpkins (more on those later for sure!), and cider. If your region is less affected by these changes your child might still enjoy reading about the wonders of changing seasons that other areas experience.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Questions, Anyone?

After finishing a book, ask your child some questions to help her recall the story and better understand it. Be sure to ask questions that require her to expand on her answer. If you ask questions that just have a yes or no answer, your child may stop right there. Yes/no questions are fine, as long as you keep things going. For example after asking whether she enjoyed the story, ask her why she liked it. Asking who, what, why, when, and how questions is a good way to encourage her to think more deeply about her response.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

International Literacy Day

Today I had the privilege to attend the International Literacy Day Symposium at the United Nations. It was a day of inspiration for me. I was struck by how many people are illiterate. UNESCO estimates that worldwide there are nearly 800 million adults who cannot read. The implications for raising children; for health of infants, children, and families; and for economic and general well-being are staggering. I was also amazed at the partnerships--UNESCO, industry, philanthropists, governments, and non-governmental organizations--that are devoted to efforts to eradicate illiteracy around the globe. And then I thought about the people like you--parents, caretakers, home schoolers, preschool teachers, tutors--who one child at a time are helping create readers. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Be Cool in Preschool

Here is a way to help your child make a smooth transition if she is new to preschool, or even if it is a school your child knows. Offer to come in and visit the classroom to read with the class. Most teachers will welcome your presence. Of course you will want to wait until school is well underway and the class routines are set to actually visit. But now might be a good time to make your interest and willingness known.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Last Call for Summer Memories

If you and your preschooler worked on a book about his summer activities, such as vacations, family visits, and other events, this is a a good time to either finish the book or create one. Let him dictate to you and he can illustrate it or use photos and other souvenirs. Read it together. It will be a nice way to relive the memories of summer and will give him a refresher on what he might have forgotten. If he is starting at preschool, it is likely that when school opens one of the conversations will be about what children did over the summer. Having just recalled his own happy experiences, he may be inclined to share his memories with his teacher and classmates.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It’s My Potty!

Place a stack of appealing children’s books in the bathroom. Your preschooler may enjoy reading on her own, in the privacy of the bathroom. And if she is working on potty training, you are also giving her the message that it is OK to relax as she takes care of business. It is definitely a win-win situation.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Starting Preschool? Books to the Rescue, part 2

Here are a couple more books that can help you prepare you child for starting preschool. Of course no one book will address all of your individual child’s unique concerns. But reading about how other children or animal characters respond can open the door to a great discussion about what is on your child’s mind. To open the conversation, you can mention a character's concern and talk about how it was resolved and then ask your child what she might be thinking about.

What to Expect at Preschool by Heidi Murkoff

This book predicts some question that children might have before they begin school--and gives good answers.

Tinyflock Nursery School by Suzy-Jane Tanner

This book might be an ideal choice if your child has already expressed some specific fears about starting school.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Starting Preschool? Books to the Rescue, part 1

Many young children need time to get used to new experiences. If your child is about to start in preschool for the first time in September you may want to start talking about the event soon. Here are a few books that might help you prepare your child and start the conversation about the exciting new experience in his future.

Francine's Day by Anna Alter

This book is a nice starting point for addressing any of your child's mixed feelings about starting preschool.

Little Bunny’s Preschool Countdown by Maribeth Boeltz

Reading this story is a good opening for talking about growing up and changes, including starting school.

My First Day at Nursery School by Becky Edwards
Reading this book will give your child an opportunity to talk about the many kinds of feelings that he might have about starting school.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Unexpected Choices

You have probably read about what to look for in books for your preschooler. And there is no shortage of ideas--including ones I have suggested in this blog. However, you might be surprised to find that your child's attention is captured by a book that is not at all what you expected. She might be captivated by a book of technical drawings or diagrams, a catalog of clothing or camping equipment, or a gardening how-to book. You may dream that she is headed for a career as an engineer or fashion designer or master gardener. In fact, she might not be able to tell you what intrigues her. If she is feeling talkative, ask her to describe what she sees and what she likes to look at. Talk with her about the contents of the pages. Or just let her peruse the pages and enjoy herself. She is learning about something and her world is expanding.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sharing the Spotlight

If your vacation plans include an extended stay with relatives or friends or having company for awhile, you may be apprehensive about how your preschooler will adjust to giving up the spotlight. There is a perfect book to share for some laughs and lots of insight. Read The Taming of Lola: A Shrew Story by Ellen Weiss (published by Abrams Books for Young Readers). This book works on several levels and your young child will enjoy the message about getting along. (Full disclosure: This book is written by a dear friend of mine, who is the author of many books for children. If you haven’t discovered her books yet, here is your chance.) Read about how a stubborn little shrew who is used to having her own way meets her match--and has to live with him. The book has beautiful illustrations by Jerry Smath, and is a perfect vehicle for opening a discussion about getting along with your company or hosts.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Souvenirs of Summer

If you take a family trip, be sure to collect some souvenirs that your preschooler can use to make a memory book. Photos and postcards are easy to slip into a scrapbook or glue to card stock. Shells, leaves, and pebbles can be glued as well. Have your preschooler dictate to you her memories of days at the lake or the beach. You may want to pack your supplies. If you have a rainy day on vacation, making a book can be an enjoyable activity. Or, after you are home and unpacked, creating a memory book is a perfect way for you and your child to relive a special time. It may become her new favorite book!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Choices, Choices, Choices

With so many choices available, sometimes it is hard to know what to look for in a book for your preschooler. I just came across a list of criteria that can help guide your selections.

Check out this article:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Packed My Preschooler's Suitcase . . .

If your preschooler tends to be wary or reticent in new places or situations, or if he gets overstimulated easily, be sure to pack some of his favorite books to take on vacation. Whether you will be the one reading him a bedtime story, or it will be a relative or babysitter, a familiar storybook and a beloved toy may be just what he needs to feel at home.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Before You Hit the Road

Like many families, you many be planning to get away from home this summer. Maybe you will a visit a place that is new or a familiar place that you return to each year. Whether you are venturing to a faraway city or just packing up for a weekend to visit relatives you see each summer, do some research with your child about your destination. Your preschooler can become an expert before she leaves home. It helps to build her excitement and imagination. Check the library for some appropriate books. Read together about specific locations or types of environments. Look for books about lakes, beaches, big trees, urban centers, or mountains. Then on your trip, talk about what you see. (“Do those sailboats boats look the ones in our book? How are they alike? How are they different?”, How does that skyscraper seem like the one we saw in our book about the city?”) It will be interesting for your preschooler to compare and contrast the sights she imagined with the ones she experiences.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Getting Silly With It

Have some fun with words and sounds. Point to a picture of a mouse and say, “Look at that house!” or “That dog is wagging her sail.” As your child corrects you and starts giggling in the process, you can share some silliness. See how many other words--real or made-up--your preschooler can come with (nail, pail, zail . . .). Besides having fun, she will be hearing and playing with individual sounds, which will play an important role when she learns to read.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Virtual Storyteller

Some preschoolers get so deeply involved in routines that any disruption can be problematic. For example, say your child insists on falling asleep listening to the same books every night--read by you. This little routine can put a crimp in your lifestyle if you have any thoughts of going out before his bedtime! If you think your preschooler would be comforted by the familiar sound of your voice reading his favorite book, consider making a recording of you reading it (and perhaps your preschooler chiming in). Then his babysitter can play the recording and he can ease himself peacefully into his sweet dreams.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Little TLC

Teach your preschooler to care for her books and treat them with respect. Model how to take care of books by closing them properly--not open and face-down. Show your child how easy it is to mark your place with a bookmark, and how to carefully turn a page. That being said . . . many well-loved books will show signs of wear. If your child has tugged too enthusiastically at a pop-up tab or ripped a page in the act of turning it to find out what happens on the next page, don't worry. Mend the book and move on. That’s why clear tape was invented. In years to come, when you and your child revisit her favorite childhood books, the mended pages will be a sweet reminder of time spent reading together.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Spring Cleaning

As you drive or walk by yard, garage, or sidewalk sales, be on the lookout for tables of children’s books. Many people empty their shelves of toys and books as their children outgrow them. Buying secondhand books can be an inexpensive way to build your child’s library. On the flip side, if you have books that your children have outgrown or you want to pass along, give them to friends, libraries, hospitals, schools, day care centers, and so on. Share those books!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It’s Children’s Book Week

The Children’s Book Council (CBC) is celebrating Children's Book Week May 10 to 16. The CBC is a nonprofit organization. It is the only trade association devoted exclusively to the publishers of books for children. The CBC partners with other literacy organizations and sponsors many events to encourage children and teens to read. Check out the CBC site for some lists of books and other resources to help you find wonderful books for your children. ( And while you are at it, why not make every week the best week to read to your children?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Talking Titles

Right after finishing a book, ask your preschooler why he thinks the author chose that particular name for the book. You might ask, “Do you think Corduroy is a good name for this book? Why or why not?” Have your child try to explain his opinion. You can ask questions to help him think about the reasons. For example, you could say, “Lisa is the girl in the book. Why do you think the author didn’t name this book Lisa?” Then ask your preschooler, “Can you think of another title that would be good for this book?” Have some fun together, coming up with some alternative titles.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Try Some Nonfiction

Don’t forget that there are so many choices in books for your preschooler. Many parents tend to pick story books with appealing characters and illustration. Mix it up a little. Choose some nonfiction books. They offer wonderful ways for you and your child to learn about and talk about changing seasons; real events, customs, and people; familiar or exotic animals; and simply to learn more about a favorite topic, from dinosaurs to ballet to earth movers. Plus, as your child continues her education, many of the books she will read are nonfiction. Check out this recent blog post (April 26) for some some very thoughtful ideas about choosing nonfiction books to share with your preschooler.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Family Reading Time

There are endless combinations possible for family reading. Parents read to children. Children read to parents. Grandparents read to children. Even an older sibling can read with your preschooler. But think out of the box. Have your preschooler read to his baby sister or brother. He will feel very grown up. No baby around? How about your family’s pet? Many dogs will welcome the petting and attention that accompanies your child’s rendition of his favorite story book. Try eavesdropping. You may be amused at your child’s interpretation of a book when he is the reader-in-charge.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring for It

Sometimes change is welcome. As the weather gets nicer, consider moving your reading venue to the great outdoors. Set up a blanket under a tree or sit on a park bench. Maybe plan a little picnic. Pack a snack. Bring a short book or one of your child's favorites. You may find your preschooler is distracted and eager to move about. But for as long as you have his attention, enjoy the nice weather and some "reading together" time in the fresh air.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Shelve It

Smooth the way to a happy reading routine by making sure you can easily find the books you and your preschooler love to read. Preschoolers are notorious for lacking patience and, if you can’t get your hands on that one book your child is craving at that very moment, you might lose her attention. Check out this blog post for some simple, clever, and inexpensive ways to organize and store books:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Be an April Fool

Take your preschooler by surprise. When reading one of his favorite stories, substitute his name for the main character’s. Or use your pet’s name, or your child's best friend's. The idea is to send the message that it is OK to play around a bit, and have some fun making the reading experience uniquely his.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Word!

Help build your preschooler's vocabulary by emphasizing the names for things. For example, if you pass a dump truck, talk about the function of the truck and how it may have gotten its name. Be playful. Make up a riddle to encourage interest in and enthusiasm for words. For example, “What do we call that round yummy circle that tastes good with milk? Right! A cookie.” Then have your child make her own riddle for you to guess.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

And Also Left to Write

Point out to your preschooler that when you write--just like when you read--you move from left to right. You form words from letters and you write the letters and the words in left-to-right order. Each word is made up of letters, and begins and ends in a particular way. (“That’s how we spell the word boat.”) And between your words are spaces. You may take the idea of letters and words for granted, but this may be news to your young child.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Left to Right

As you read aloud to your preschooler, run your finger along, under the words. This is a subtle way of emphasizing the English speakers’ convention of reading words from left to right across the page. It is also a way to emphasize the relationship between the symbols on the page--the letters--and the sounds you are saying. Without making a big deal of it, when you get to the end of a page, ask your child to “turn the page.” Again, this is a subtle way to demonstrate the way readers progress through a book.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Words of Wisdom

I want to share something I read recently, written by Mary Kuehner, who is a children's outreach librarian in Colorado. I think she really gets to the heart of the matter.

"I am a children's librarian and helping preschoolers get ready to read is not only my job, it's my passion. We have lots of fun with books! I work primarily with children living in poverty and I talk to their parents regularly about how very important it is to read to their children. The learning to read process begins long before a child enters school. By hearing stories read aloud, and using books, young children learn vocabulary, phonological skills, how print works, letters, and many other skills that prepare them to learn to read on their own. Most importantly, though, if a child is read aloud to by their parent, they learn to love books. And children who love books are motivated to become readers. It's as simple as that!"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In Your Own Words

Here’s something to try after reading a new story book. Ask your child to tell the story in her own words. She may want to page though the book again, using the illustrations as clues, retelling the story in her own words. She may recall some of the story in the exact words you read aloud--especially if the language is especially memorable or compelling. Or she may put her unique spin on the story!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Flex Time

Is reading at bedtime just not working for your schedule? Maybe you work nights or go to school and it's just not possible to make bedtime your regular story time with your preschooler. There is not just one “right” time to read. Perhaps you are home in the morning with your preschooler before he goes to school. Or maybe you bond at bath time, or lunch time. Don’t worry about what the clock says. The important thing is finding some time to enjoy reading together every day.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Get Caught Reading

Make sure your young child catches you in the act of reading--whether it is a book, magazine, newspaper, or yesterday’s basketball scores. Then go beyond just getting caught. Point out the ways you use reading every day. If you are studying a train schedule, or looking at a map before hitting the road, point it out.  Explain that you are about to read the ingredients of a recipe or instructions for putting together a toy or setting up a piece of equipment. Read them out loud. It may seem obvious to you, but it will help your young child catch on to the many ways reading is the key to . . . everything!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mixed Media

Look for books that have also been made into movies or retold on audio CDs. Read the book together and then watch the movie or listen to the audio version. Talk with your preschooler about how the versions are similar and how they are different. Does the movie add new characters to the story? Does the story turn out to have the same ending or is something changed? Do the characters in the movie look the way he had pictured in his mind? If not, how are they different? How does music make a difference in listening to the story? Help your preschooler become a critic as he explores the characteristics of different media.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pack Your Bag

If you are going to an appointment with your preschooler in tow and you anticipate some waiting time, pack wisely. Along with a drink and snack, be sure to pack a favorite book or two--or more. She may “read” on her own if you are reading or she may want you to read to her. Either way, reading can be a welcome distraction from a long and otherwise boring wait.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Close Encounters

Use reading time as time to be physically close to your preschooler. If he wants to sit on your lap or have you sprawl next to him on his bed, that is great. The sweet feeling of reading together and feeling cozy and content is exactly the association you want him to have to reading and books. And admit it: you love that closeness, too!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Be Flexible

Say you are reading a book with your child and she interrupts to ask a question about the story . . . and then another . . . and another. Take a deep breath. Remember this is not about getting through the book. This is not a race. Your child is engaged and curious. Take the time to discuss her questions and answer them the best you can. If you only read a couple of pages, that is fine. The idea is to enjoy reading the book together, and her engagement is a sign that she is doing just that.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Worth a Thousand Words?

When you introduce a book that tells a story, try going through the book page by page with your preschooler, just looking at the pictures. Early childhood educators call this a picture walk, and it is something your preschooler will probably do in school. Let her tell you what she thinks is happening on each page. Then go back and read the book. See how her ideas match up with the story that is actually told in words.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Label It

Invest in some index cards and neatly print out the names for things around your home--clock, table, door, stove, and so on. Tape the cards to the objects, and read them aloud to your preschooler. Soon he will be reading them to you and to anyone who will listen. Start with just a few and gradually add more. You preschooler will be proud of all the words he can read.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Read Any Good Books Lately?

Sometimes you might feel as if you just need something new to read to your preschooler. One source of recommendations is your own network of friends. You have shared ideas for foods that are toddler-friendly, names of babysitters, a great new tumbling class, or sales on maternity clothes. It might pay to ask what your friends are reading to their children. Just the way you share ideas for books or movies you think your friends would enjoy, try sharing your favorite kid titles.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ham It Up

When you read to your preschooler, don’t be afraid to make a little noise. Growl. Bark. Add sound effects--a knock on the door or a siren. Sing a line or two. He still likes your singing voice so take advantage of that and have some fun with it. By injecting some variation into your reading-aloud voice you are showing your preschooler that reading is active and fun. He may join in, adding his own effects that become part of your routine whenever you read a particular book. Together you can make this set of sounds your signature version of the book.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Difference in Taste

You’ve just sat down with your favorite book from your own childhood. You cannot wait to read it to your preschooler. But he hates it. He won’t sit still. He tells you it’s stupid. So what do you do? Drop it. Read one of his favorites instead. Your child is expressing his opinion, and that is just fine. He is developing his own tastes in what he reads. You’ve probably already noticed that the two of you don’t see eye-to-eye on everything. Your treasured book that evokes such warm feelings in you is just the latest example. So be it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Book?

Say you are introducing a new book to your child. Read the title. Point out the names of the author and illustrator. Look at the art on the cover. Ask your child to describe what she sees. Ask whether the title and the picture on the cover tell her what the book may be about. See if she can explain what she is predicting. You are used to your preschooler’s why? questions. Turn the tables. Probe gently to see if she can tell you how she arrived at her predictions. Then dive right in and read to find out what this book is all about.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Defining Moments 2

Help your preschooler know the terms for different parts of a book. For example, explain that the covers of a book protect the pages inside. And there is a front cover as well as a back cover. Some covers are hard and some are soft. Let her feel the difference. Point out the spine of a book and tell her how it is like her spine, or backbone. It keeps the pages in line--the way her spine keeps her bones in line and helps her stand up straight. Show her that a book’s spine also has words on it. The author’s and illustrator’s name may be printed on the spine. When a book is standing on a shelf, the words on the spine can help a reader recognize and find it. All of this seemingly simple information can help your young child know her way around a book.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Defining Moments 1

Take a moment to introduce your preschooler to some of the features of books. He may not know simple things that you take for granted. Point out the author’s name. Use the word “author,” as well as “writer.” Explain that this is the name of the person who wrote the book. Do the same for the illustrator, or artist. If possible, locate photographs of the author and illustrator inside the book or on the back cover. Having a photo to look at gives your child a way to make a connection between the book in his hands and the idea that real people had something to do with creating it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Check It Out

Have you introduced your preschooler to your local library? If not, this might be the ideal time to do that--especially if wintry weather is keeping you indoors. Look around the children’s area and you will probably see other parents and caretakers with young children. Your child will see other children reading and being read to. (Peer pressure exists even during these tender preschool years!) Many libraries have comfortable spaces made for reading and enjoying books in a relaxed fashion. And libraries are free. What an easy and inexpensive way to get out of the house and spend a pleasant morning or afternoon.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Make It a Habit

Young children do best when they know what to expect. They learn from having regular routines. So make Reading Time a habit. Pick a regular time and place to read together with your young child. It might be in a favorite rocking chair, or on a bed. It might be right before bedtime--or not. Try to figure out the place and time that works best for your schedule and your child's. And then--like brushing teeth or bath time--make it a regular time of the day. Every day.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hold on to the Holidays

As you begin to get back into life after the winter holidays, consider creating a holiday memory book with your preschooler. You can create it collage-style. Pull together some photos taken of times spent with family and friends. Maybe add a few greeting cards--especially those with photographs of people she knows. And let your preschooler dictate her memories of the season. She may want to draw her own pictures to illustrate her memories. After you have read the book together and reminisced about the recent happy times, put the book away--maybe along with any seasonal decorations you like to use each year. Next year, when you are celebrating again, it will be fun for your preschooler to remember way, way back, a long year ago in the past. And it will be so interesting to notice the difference in your preschooler’s abilities to tell a story. What a difference a year makes!

Sunday, January 3, 2010


It is a brand new year--and a new decade as well. Resolve to make this the year you and your child have the most fun ever, reading books, spending time together, and learning about each other.

My resolution? I plan to share my ideas for ways to make the most of the time you spend reading with your young child. I hope that you will share your ideas, your questions, and maybe even your photos, too.

Make some great memories and lots of fun.

Happy 2010!

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.