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.  

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.