Saturday, December 31, 2011

Resolve to Read!

As each year draws to a close, many of us think about how we want to improve our lives in the coming year. Here are two related ideas for you to consider. Make one of your resolutions the promise to read more—whether books, e-readers, newspapers, magazines—for pleasure . . . for yourself. 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!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Shopping Inspiration

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. Can you think of a more perfect gift?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Read Routinely

One of the keys to encouraging your child's love of reading, is to make sure it becomes a regular and enjoyable part of each day . . . or night. People who interact with preschoolers know (or find out) that having a time and place and structure is an important feature for helping young children stay organized and calm. So much is happening in their lives--learning new skills, making friends, starting school--that the presence of regular activities and structure is a comfort.

One mother told me that at night she and her husband each read to one of their two children. It is a special time for each child to be with that parent. But there are many ways to structure a routine. A single parent might decide to have a "family read" or spend time individually with each child. The important thing is to make it a regular routine that you and your child will anticipate and enjoy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Help Spread Family Literacy!

Please join me in supporting one of my favorite literacy organizations, LitWorld.

LitWorld is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization led by Executive Director Pam Allyn, a renowned literacy educator and advocate. LitWorld works to cultivate literacy leaders worldwide through transformational literacy experiences that build connection, understanding, resilience, and strength. LitWorld joins together with teachers, parents, community members, and children to support the development of sustainable literacy practices across the world.
What am I doing for LitWorld?

I am running a book drive on Amazon to help support LitWorld's next event.

The event is a book fair, called LitFest, scheduled for December 10. It will take place at the Polo Grounds Community Center in Harlem. The center serves 4,100 residents of the Polo Grounds Towers, and is a hub site for LitWorld. The Polo Grounds Towers are part of a public housing project, located on the former home of the New York Giants.

The purpose of the event is to encourage parents to read with their children over the holidays while students are out of school, and to provide them with books to give as gifts to their children. It is going to be a drop-in fair where community members can come to get books for their family, There will be booths with literacy themed activities to inspire children and families to have fun with reading as well.

Help me provide books for LitFest to distribute on December 10.

Donating is simple. Just go to

There you will find a list of the books that have been requested by LitWorld. Please choose new books either from Amazon or its vendors. Amazon will ship the books directly to the LitWorld headquarters in Manhattan. If you have an Amazon account, just be sure to check the LitWorld address instead of your regular addresses.

So it is easy to donate. And afterward you can feel good about supporting family literacy.

Please order by December 1 to make sure books will arrive in time for the December 10 event.

Thank you in advance for helping to spread literacy in our local communities!



To learn more about LitWorld, go to

Literacy is the foundation for emotional and physical well-being, intellectual growth, and economic security. The right to read and write is a fundamental human right and belongs to all people.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Season's Readings

The holiday season is nearly upon us. Thanksgiving is around the corner. Chanukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa are not far behind. As you makes your to-do lists, plan a visit to your local library to pick up some books about the holidays to read with your preschooler. Many libraries and bookstores have special displays in anticipation of the season. Reading about holidays helps your child appreciate the meaning of special days and maybe even understand the reasons for the celebration. Learning about how families celebrate holidays also gives you a chance to compare your family traditions with those of others.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Creative Costumes

This year, make Halloween truly special . . . and perhaps even literary! Avoid commercial (and overpriced) costumes and create one with your preschooler to represent her favorite book character. Angelina Ballerina? Mike Mulligan? Corduroy? Olivia? The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Or the Cat in the Hat? Collaborate with your preschooler to come up with the right clothes and props. You will be encouraging real creativity as well as reinforcing your child's love for books.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Take Me Out to the Book Store

Is your family glued to the television, watching the baseball post-season? Make sure your preschooler gets in on the action. She will enjoy following along with you if she understands the game. So check out some books on baseball or even draw some pictures to show her how the game works. Your library may have some great books about baseball. And here are some you can order. Be sure to point out the scores in your newspaper. Make her a fan!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Listen to Books

Some children actually learn better by listening than by looking at something. It is just the way they learn. While a parent’s familiar voice is irreplaceable, hearing the words read by an actor or actress can bring a story to life in a different way. Your public library may have books on CDs that that you can borrow. Try out new books this way or enjoy listening to familiar books on audio. Listening to a book on tape in the car can also make the ride a more pleasant experience for all.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

International Reading Day

September 8 is the United Nations' International Literacy Day. It is a global observance that focuses attention on literacy needs worldwide.  Did you know that more than 780 million of the world’s adults (nearly two-thirds of whom are women) do not know how to read or write? Or that between 94 and 115 million children lack access to education?

If you cannot participate in a literacy event in your community to observe the day, spend some time talking with your preschooler about the importance of reading. Better yet, spend some extra time reading together.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Preschool Jitters?

Many young children need time to get used to new experiences. If your child is about to start in preschool for the first time, 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.

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.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Before the First Day

If your young child is about to start attending a new school, you might want to plan a short visit before opening day. Consider calling ahead to see if a visit is possible. Or walk or drive by the grounds. Perhaps his teacher or a director or principal will be there and can talk to your child, show him around his new classroom. It might be a good time for him to get a preview, before the place is bursting with energy. That way, he will have a picture in his mind as he anticipates the first day . . . and it may help eliminate some possible jitters.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It is Early Literacy Awareness Week!

This is Reach Out and Read of Greater New York's third annual Early Literacy Awareness Week. Lots of activities promoting reading are taking place right now. And in case you need more reasons to read to your young chdlren this week . . . and every week, here are some right from their website:

What do parents with young children need to know about reading aloud?
  • Children who live in print-rich environments and who are read to during the first years of life are much more likely to learn to read on schedule.
  • Books contain many more words than children encounter in spoken language, helping to build and expand a child's vocabulary.
  • The nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents while reading aloud encourages children to form a positive association with books and reading later in life.
The Reach Out and Read model partners medical professionals with reading experts to provide books to young children and encourage parents to read with their children. To find out more about this wonderful organization, check out the website.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Calling All Chefs

Living out the pages of a book helps to bring a story to life. Plan a real or pretend meal, snack, or tea party that involves your child helping you cook. For example, you might choose to make stone soup, green eggs and ham, or milk and cookies. Take a picture of your child enjoying the meal and keep it on your refrigerator. It will be a feast to remember.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Stick to It

Many children have favorite books and some even have a particular section of the book that they especially love. Perhaps it is a funny picture or maybe the rhyming pattern is appealing. Show your preschooler an easy way to mark that favorite spot so he can easily return to it again and again. Introduce him to sticky notes. They are easy to apply, even for young children with developing fine motor skills. And sticky notes won't harm the pages of a book. Don't be surprised if he gets addicted to this marking system and every page gets a colorful sticky note!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Trains, Planes, and Buses

If your summer travel plans involve trains, planes, and buses, they also involve schedules. Use the opportunity to point out to your preschooler departure and arrival boards or printed schedules. Explain that flights might be named with a code number. Show him that a destination might be abbreviated. Make a point of reading the schedule aloud. This is a perfect way to show your child the importance of reading for making his way through the world.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Road Trip!

Are you planning to take family trip by car? Before you leave, stop at your public library and check out some audio books. The children's librarian may have suggestions for you. You might choose books that you know your young child enjoys and give her the opportunity to hear the story read by another person. Or try to find other books by her favorite authors. Or discover some completely new books. Audio books can make a long car trip into a pleasant journey for all!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Capture the Energy

Have you noticed how your preschooler is curious and eager to learn, open to new experiences? Capture that good energy. Provide opportunities to read with your child and expose him to lots of books and fun around reading. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your young child has already decided that books are not fun. Maybe you grew up that way or perhaps even today you are not an avid reader.  Now is your chance to send your preschooler on his way to being a reader. Seek out books that you enjoy reading to your child. Your positive attitude and enthusiasm just may rub off on him.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Narrate As You Go

As you go about your regular errands with your child in tow, be sure to point out to her when you are using your reading and writing skills. It is almost like thinking aloud. Instead of silently reading a list of ingredients in a supermarket food product, read them aloud. Point out that you are writing your signature on a credit card receipt. You do these thing automatically but all of this is new to your young child, and exposes her to instances of everyday literacy. Don't be afraid to use your regular vocabulary in her presence, either. When you talk about errands, ingredients, comparison shopping, or exorbitant gas prices, you are exposing your child to these concepts, and stretching her vocabulary. Don't forget that your ho-hum, routine activities are novel for your child, and offer an ideal opportunity to increase her knowledge of the ways of the world.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

Shake up your reading routine. If the weather permits, pack up some favorite books and enjoy a spring afternoon with your preschooler, reading together on a park bench or under a tree. In many areas, the landscape is bursting with color.  Consider packing paper and crayons or markers and have your child draw some of the spring blossoms that have emerged. Let him describe to you what he sees, hears, and smells. Take notes.When you get home he can create his own book about an enjoyable spring afternoon.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Travel Souvenirs

If you travel for business or even if you are taking a vacation that does not include your preschooler, it is likely that you think about bringing home a gift for your child. Make it a book. If you can find a book about the place you visited, so much the better. (In fact, you can even purchase it ahead of time . . . ) And while you are away, pick up a postcard of your travel destination to use as a bookmark at home. Bringing home a book sends your child the message that you thought about him while you were away. It also communicates to him that you consider the giving of a book to be a loving gesture.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Drop It?

Say you've sat down to read with your preschooler. She is squirming and clearly not interested in the book you're reading aloud. Maybe you realize that the style is a bit dull or too wordy. Use your judgment. If you sense your child is losing interest and you believe the book is still worth continuing to read, you have some choices. You can tell rather than read the tale. You can skip over some of the description. You can ask her some questions about the book. You can have her make up a new story based on the pictures. But also consider that this book may just not be for her. Find another one! Or better yet, let her pick one she wants to read instead. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Beyond Words

Say you have a beautiful coffee table book—maybe it has photos of butterflies, trees, beautiful artifacts, or paintings. Sit with your child and page through the book together. Talk about the photos. Talk about what you see. Let her tell you what she sees.Together, feel the nice paper the book was printed on. Open your child’s eyes to the enjoyment that a beautiful book can offer.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Wonderful Resource for Parents

If you have not discovered the wisdom of Michelle Breum, you are missing out. I "met" Michelle through my blogging about reading and parenting. We both have a passion for reading and know that reaching parents is key for ensuring a new generation of readers.

Michelle is a former teacher and Reading Recovery specialist. She has three children of elementary-school age and tutors on a volunteer basis in their school. She has her own tutoring practice in her home. In her blog (Beginning Reading Help), Michelle writes clearly and knowledgeably about the techniques she uses and generously shares suggestions. To get an idea of Michelle's clear and helpful advice, and to read more about her, check out her lens from Squidoo (

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What Happens Next?

After you and your child have finished reading a story together and closed the book, ask him, "What do you think happens next?" or " What happens the next day?" This kind of thinking helps your child in a few ways. First and foremost, it is fun to imagine a continuation or to create an alternative ending to a story. It also encourages your child to use what he already knows about a character or a situation and run with it—to spin some educated guesses based on that information. That is making inferences, a skill he will use in school and in life. But for now, unburdened by finding right answers, he is simply stretching his creativity and engaging in some storytelling of his own.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Resource You Should Know About

I wanted to let you know about a resource that I have recently learned about. It is called

It was started by Bola Ajumobi who is the mother of two boys under the age of five. Bola has a background in health care, and grew up surrounded by books. She has remained passionate about books and literacy. This site is the prefect blend of her passions for literacy and entrepreneurship.

Slimy is loaded with wonderful books, including many classics, for children of all ages. It also includes many resources for parents who might be dealing with a particular issue or problem that is related to child rearing.

Currently 20% of the profits go into funding literacy programs for the underserved. has an upcoming collaboration with the Center of Civic Engagement at Washington State University to provide books for children in the rural communities of Whitman County, Washington State. So you can feel good about shopping through this site.

Please visit this colorful site ( and peruse the wide range of titles. See the icon on the right side of my blog, under the About Me section. If you order books, be sure to type in the code MADFORREADING in the voucher box when you check out. By using that code, you will enjoy a 15% discount on your purchases.

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Share the Love

You probably knew about and maybe even observed Valentine's Day, that romantic February holiday. But did you know that February is also Library Lovers' Month? If you haven't visited your local public library lately, this is a wonderful time to do so. It is a perfect destination when the weather has kept you housebound. I know sometimes we forget what valuable resources our libraries offer–books, CDs, audio books, DVDs, readings, movie screenings, classes, and more. And if your library has a children's librarian, you are even more fortunate. He or she can help pick out appropriate books for your preschooler and tell you about programs that your child might enjoy. Rediscover the library in February!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Are you snowbound or perhaps just getting weary of too much indoor time with your preschooler? This could be a good time to do some housekeeping. Do some rearranging and organization to set up a comfortable reading corner with big comfy pillows. Straighten out the contents of bookshelves. Let your preschooler help you organize his books, whether by topic, size, or even color. Going through odd piles of books may even reveal some old and forgotten favorites.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Sense-Sational Read

Enhance your reading time with your preschooler. Add special effects! For example, if you are reading about a camping trip, set up a little tent and read by flashlight. Light a vanilla scented candle when you read about baking cookies. Honk a horn when you read about cars and trucks. Save a book about a ship or a day at the beach to read during bath time. Play classical music when you read a ballet story. Adding the senses to your reading time makes the book more memorable and allows you to create a unique shared experience with your child.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

With Gratitude

I began this blog approximately one year ago, with the hope that I would encourage my followers to be inspired to read to their young children. Based on comments from my followers, I think that I have seen some evidence of having achieved that goal. However, what has taken me by complete surprise is how rewarding the blogging experience has been. Over the course of the year, I have been in contact with so many supportive and creative people. We are all learning from each other as we navigate the ins and outs of social networking. I have gained confidence in my fledgling technical abilities by trying to expand and experiment with content. My enjoyment has far exceeded my wildest expectations. I hope that I have given parents and caretakers some fresh ideas about reading with young children. And I look forward to much, much more fun in 2011. I thank you sincerely, readers.

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.