Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Perfect Gift

Over the next few days, with some time off from work and school, make some time to read with your child. Enjoy some quiet time, laughing over favorite books. Snuggle together and enjoy some peaceful moments amid all the excitement. That is the best gift ever!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Celebrate "Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day!"

Saturday, December 6 is "Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day." It is the fifth anniversary of this special day. Five years ago 80 stores were part of the event. This year, more than 700 bookstores are observing the day.

Bookstores hold a special place in the lives of our communities and families. So many of us learned to love stories or discovered new authors in bookstores. Knowledgable vendors helped us to find just the right book for just the right time. And while the means for obtaining our reading material has been changing, bookstores are still an important venue for all of us. They are places to engage others in conversation about books and reading.

So expose your young child to the treasures that await in a bookstore. Large or small, bookstores need to be supported. So join in this celebration!

Read all about it:

Monday, November 24, 2014

If the Book (Doesn't) Fit . . .

Sometimes text is way too long to hold your child’s interest. Or a book just doesn't grab your child.

You are the best judge of your child’s waning attention. Use your judgment. If you sense your child is losing interest, and you think the book has enough to merit to continue reading, you have some choices. 

You can tell rather than read the tale. 
You can skip some description. 
You can summarize a bit.
You can let your child narrate.

See where the pages take you . . . or just put the book down and find a better book for your child!  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kansas Libraries Rock!

Here is why I love libraries.

The State Library of Kansas is holding its 10th annual Kansas Reads to Preschoolers event. Approximately 5,000 copies of the book, Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas will be read aloud to preschoolers throughout the state this week.

The Library is committed to literacy and learning. The goal is that every child from birth to age five is read to this week. In addition to the 5,000 print copies, the book is available in Braille and audio.

How is wonderful that?

Read all about it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Get Your Festive On

Before the holidays—whether it is Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa—pick up some books about the upcoming event. Read about the holiday with your preschooler. Many libraries and bookstores have special displays so it is easy to find books about the holidays.

Of course, it is fun to build anticipation about upcoming holidays. In addition, your child will learn to appreciate the meaning of special days and maybe even understand the reasons behind the celebration. 

 Reading about how families celebrate holidays also gives you a chance to compare your family traditions with those of others. It can also be fun to learn about totally different holidays —ones you usually don’t celebrate. 

Find out about holidays that are observed around the world and in your town, and open your child’s eyes to other cultures and traditions. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Create a Parallel Universe

Find books that relate to what is going on in your daily life. This can be on an immediate, here-and-now basis. For example, if you and your child are waiting at doctor’s office or going to the vet, bring along a book that is on the topic. As you are waiting, you can compare your real-time experience with what is going on in the book. This activity can make a long waiting time so much more pleasant!

You can also do this on a longer-term basis. Say a tall building is going up next door to you. Read together about how skyscrapers are built. Your preschooler may be especially interested in its progress if she can compare it to what she has read about.

Reading about experiences that are similar to those in real time provides a perfect opportunity for your preschooler to identify with what she reads. It can make an everyday experience more meaningful. The flip side is it also makes the book more interesting because it relates to her world.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

From Wherever, With Love

If you are taking a trip for business or pleasure and are in the habit of bringing back a souvenir for your child, here is a thought: 

Bypass the toy. 
Skip the t-shirt.

Choose a book instead. 

It can be a book that is representative of your destination. (You can even cheat and buy the book ahead of time and stash it at home.) Then, as you read the book with your child and point out places you visited, she can picture you there.

If you do a travel a lot, this is a terrific way to build a library. (And if your travel takes you to far-flung shores, the resulting collection might even be exotic.)  

However, the big takeaway here is that you are sending a message . . .  you were thinking about your child, missing and loving her, and you chose a book as a token of your affection. 

Making it a book sends the message that books are a valued gift and a sign of your love. You are strengthening that connection between loving and reading when you choose a book.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Visit School to Read Aloud

Visiting the classroom is a good way to keep an open connection between school and home. If it is okay with your child’s preschool, ask if you can visit the classroom to read your child’s favorite books with the class. 

A visit provides a good chance for your child’s teachers and classmates to get to know your child a little 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. And she will like to show you off to her school friends and maybe even show off some of her reading prowess.

First, be sure your child if she 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. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's Time to Get Your Kid Carded

Take your child to the library to get a library card. 

While this may see like a quaint idea in the digital age, libraries are way cooler than you might remember from when you were a child. Plus, libraries are free! 

Find out about story hours and special programs that your child may enjoy. Many libraries have websites that allow you to reserve books ahead of time. So if bad weather or crazy schedules prevent you from getting out to the library, plan ahead and reserve books for your next trip.

Your public library may have programs that are perfect for your child’s age and developmental stage. Children’s librarians are specially trained to suggest books your child will enjoy and plan programs for children of different ages. Programs will probably not cost anything and are often geared toward creativity and extending a theme from a book. 

And don't forget about the power of peers. In the children’s room at a library  your child will see other children reading—and that will reinforce the message that reading is something lots of people enjoy. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fan Time

If your child really, really enjoys a book, do some research. Find out if the author has written other books. If so, get your hands on them!

Do a search and find photos or biographical information about the author. Many authors have their own websites so it is easy-breezy to get the facts. Show your child the sites and talk about the author and his or her life.

This little research pursuit helps children get the idea that books are written by real people who have ideas and feelings and their own lives that include their own family . . . and maybe even pets. 

Your preschooler will be starting to learn to respect the creative process and to understand that books come from people—not just libraries and bookstores! This knowledge will help your child gain appreciation for the writing process as well as the idea of authorship.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thumbs Up? Thumbs Down?

Encourage your young child to express opinions about the books he reads. If he loves a particular book, probe a little to see what he liked. Was it the amazing pictures? The familiarity of the setting? A character just like him?  

And . . . just like you, he won't love every book he encounters. Let him know that it's fine to feel that way--that you are interested in why he didn't like a particular book. Were the pictures boring?  Was the book too scary? Was it too long?

You may need to help him find ways to express his opinions. Even if he does not have the vocabulary to describe what he is feeling, you can help him formulate his ideas. He will begin to develop that vocabulary over time.

Ask questions to get the ideas flowing. You are teaching your preschooler that his opinions matter. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Let's Potty! A Terrific Resource

I sometimes have the opportunity to review new books and products that are designed for children and parents. I recently had the pleasure to take a look at Let’s Potty, a potty training board game created by Aim High Games, Inc. 

Did you know that the term “potty training” is one of the most-searched terms of all parenting issues? No wonder. It can be fraught with tension between child and parent, competition among parents, and feelings of frustration and despair. This fresh and creative product, designed to facilitate the toilet training process, is a new resource to deal with those challenges.

I am a big fan of multifaceted approaches to issues. For example, I think a book can be a good starting point for talking to children about something new or upsetting —whether it is starting school, moving to a new home, a loved one’s death, and so on. Likewise a game can be an ideal vehicle for dealing with a developmental step. Game playing builds social skills as well as cognitive and physiological abilities. Young children love playing games. They enjoy the back-and-forth, the rules, the feeling that they are doing something grown up. And this lighthearted game reinforces all those needs, and does it uniquely and with spirit. It also provides parents and children with accessible vocabulary to use for potty training and experiences to refer to in the real world.

I loved this game—its colorful graphics, humorous style, and lighthearted touch offer parents a fun way to take some of the angst out of toilet training. If you are thinking about or in the process of toilet training your young child, check out this award winning game. It is a terrific resource. For more information, go to

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Reading Early May Increase Brain Power

As if I needed to have one more reason to encourage parents to read to their children!

A new study from the University of Edinburgh finds that developing early reading skills may lead to higher intelligence scores later on. This longitudinal study compared twins over the course of many years, and found that the twin whose early reading ability was stronger scored higher in intelligence testing over the course of years, even at age 16.

Of course, the best reason to read to your young children is to love the time together, and show your young one the joys of reading and learning. But in case you are motivated or intrigued by this interesting study, published in a reputable research journal, I thought I'd share it!

Here is a link to a description of the study. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Take a (Picture) Walk

It might be time to lose the words—for now anyway. 

Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the pictures of a book. Take your time. The idea behind a picture walk is that you go through a book’s illustrations before reading it in order to get an idea of what is included in the book.

The discussion may be engaging enough that you don’t get around to actually reading the book—in that sitting. Have your child tell you what she sees. Ask her what is happening and listen to what she see says. Once you actually read the book, you can compare what you both predicted the book to be about to what it actually turned out to be.

Enjoy the journey!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Just What the Doctor Ordered . . .

Read aloud to your very young children--from birth.

Today, the American Academy of Pediatric announced that its policy will be to have doctors, during regular check-ups, recommend to parents that they begin reading aloud to their infants. Research has shown that children who are read to, talked to, and sung to, develop larger vocabularies and enjoy more success in school than children who do not have the same kind of exposure. The pediatricians' group thinks that early reading may just help head off remediation down the road.

So curl up with a good book that has lively rhythms and rhymes. Read aloud to your infant, knowing that you are doing great things for your baby's development. And enjoy the time together! 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Beyond the Bedtime Story

I just saw an interesting post on Facebook. Reach Out and Read, a wonderful literacy organization posted a picture of a father and his young son poring over a book of maps. They were preparing for the upcoming World Cup soccer competition, talking about the many nations from around the world that will be represented for the games in Brazil.

I love the idea of changing up your reading routine. Besides books, feel free to read just about anything your child is interested in. Is your preschooler attracted to numbers? Read a train schedule. Look at a seed catalog to admire the varieties of flowers and vegetables that are pictured.  Look at some old family photos.

The idea is to make your routines pleasant and something to look forward to. There is no need to limit yourself to books. The sky is the limit! 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Run, Don't Walk!

So the official (or is it unofficial?) start of summer is here! That means summer reading lists . . . for you and for your preschooler.

Make your first stop the nearest public library. Find out what kinds of programs are available for your young child. Children's librarians are trained to engage children; they pick out appropriate books and have lots of ideas for how get to get your child enthusiastic about reading.

Pick up the schedule for story hours, craft hours, movies, and other programs geared to your child's developmental level and interests. They are likely to be free. It is a no-brainer. Run, don't walk, to your local library!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Love Letters?

I am not so focused on teaching reading skills per se. My main interest in early literacy is for parents to encourage their young children to love books and reading.

However, if while reading a story together, you notice that your preschooler shows curiosity about the actual letters on a page, encourage her interest. Say aloud the sounds that the letter makes. Name some words that begin with the letter. Then, point out more examples of the letter in print--in other books, magazines, on street signs, and so on.

Show her how the same letter appears in different sizes and fonts and in uppercase well as lowercase. Demonstrate how you print the letter on paper, where it lives on a keyboard, and let your preschooler try her hand at writing the letter.

Then, if your preschooler seems to lose interest in this discussion, drop it immediately, and get back to your story!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Use Your Words!

Vocabulary knowledge is key to being a reader. Help your preschooler learn to love words.

Label things as you go through your day. "Oh, look at that enormous skyscraper!" Talk about what things are called. Use great (and multi-syllabic) adjective to describes what you are seeing together.  Encourage your child to do the same. Don't feel stuck on using kid words--be extravagantly expressive!

Besides naming things, use words to describe feelings. "Oh man, I am feeling a little weary right now. Let's rest for a bit and then continue." Or "I am sad today. I am missing Jenny a lot." Demonstrating that words can communicate feelings is so important for your child so he can learn how to express what he is experiencing.

Words are so powerful--in reading and in communicating. Help your preschooler learn to use and enjoy them!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How Much Do Books Matter for Kids?

Take a look at this interesting piece, and wonderful infographic from First Book. It speaks to the positive effects of being a reader, and confirms the importance of surrounding our children with BOOKS!

Seek out books. Be creative. As warmer weather appears to be here to stay, there are new opportunities to pick up books for great prices. Check out yard sales where many people like to recycle books their own children have outgrown. Public libraries also have annual sales that provide books for sale at crazy  low prices. (And as a side benefit, the sale proceeds can help the library purchase new books. So it is a win-win situation for all.)

Your child can never have too many BOOKS!

Saturday, March 22, 2014


For some children, humor is the key to hooking them into reading. A silly book allows children to let go and laugh. 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 period, laughing at a character going through something similar can put it in perspective and give your child some release.

And keep in mind that humor for your preschooler may not even seem so funny to you. Clearly your sense of humor has evolved. But appreciate silliness for what it offers your child. And, if you get in a silly mood, you are guaranteed to have a good time yourself. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Take Your Child to the Library Day!

All Over the United States and Canada, a new holiday is emerging: Take Your Child to the Library Day. It is celebrated on February 1.

Well, as a huge fan of libraries and a proponent of introducing your young child to public libraries, this is a day I can celebrate in a big way.

Even if this "holiday" only serves to remind you that libraries are there--and a valuable resource--then it is worth the fanfare. 

Go tomorrow.  Go often. The library in your hometown holds amazing treasure for you and  your child.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Multi-Media is the Message

Here is somethng that is fun to do with your preschooler--and can also help her develop her critical thinking skills. Read a book together. Then watch the movie version--on DVD or online. Talk with your preschooler about what happened in the movie. How it was different from the book? How was it similar? Did it have the same ending? If not, how were the endings different? Talk about music and how it adds to the story. Which version did she like better and why? See how many similarities and differences your child can come up with . . . She’s on her way to becoming a critic! 

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.