Monday, October 26, 2015

The Questions to Ask

When reading with your child, ask the questions that will get her thinking. You will be helping her to think more deeply about what she is reading. 

 You are not looking to test your child, but to encourage her to reflect.

Pam Allyn, a literacy expert and the director of LitWorld, encourages parents to ask open-ended questions during each read-aloud. “They prompt a higher-level critical thinking,” Allyn explains. “Fact-based questions only go in one direction, but comments like, ‘What are you wondering about?’ lead kids to inquiry-based learning, and that’s very important because it’s better practice for critical-thinking brains.” Developing critical thinking will help in the classroom, too. “In schools now there’s more emphasis on teachers asking more abstract-thinking questions.” 
If creative questioning doesn’t come naturally, Allyn advises simply asking yourself—before you ask your kids a question about the book you’re reading together—“Is this going to lead to more conversation, or to a one- or two-word response?”
Keep it light. Keep it fun. And let her know that her thoughts are important—that you value her ideas and opinions.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Plan Ahead for That School Visit

When you do visit your child's class, make sure to bring your child's favorite book to share with her friends. Talk together before the visit to plan the selelction. (Remember that you are visiting her world.)

It can be a book that is brand-new and not yet familiar to the other students. Or it might be a classroom favorite that the children know by heart. Good books can never be read too many times!  Children benefit from being exposed to a range of readers, with different styles.  And if your child is willing, let her read some of the book aloud as well. It is a chance for her to shine.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Read Aloud in Class

If it is okay with your child’s preschool, plan to visit the classroom to read your child’s favorite books with the class. 

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 she may be talking about at home. 

First, be sure your child if he 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. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

50 Books to Share

In case you are looking for some inspiration, here is a wonderful list of read-aloud suggestions . . . plenty of books to take you and your young child through years and years of reading joy!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Signs of Love

A designer I have worked with told about her son’s favorite books that bore strips of tape to keep ripped pages in one piece. Some pages were taped to the binding as well. While she lamented the fact that perhaps the binding of the book wasn't strong enough, her real reaction was beautiful. She was thrilled that her son had read and reread and loved these books.  What she expressed was that he had turned the pages so many times—out of love—and that was the important thing. So when pages get torn or smudged, and bindings get broken, use your tape. And be grateful that your child has found such pleasure from turning the pages of his beloved books.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cover Check!

Hold on. Even before you open a book to read aloud, do a "cover check." 

Talk with your preschooler about her predictions.  Read aloud the title. Ask your child, "What do you think this book is going to be about?" Then probe little more. Ask, "How can you tell? Tell me what you see on the cover." Questions like these are the perfect lead-in to reading together to see how accurate her predictions were. And they are helping to build her ability to make predictions based on evidence, an important critical thinking skill.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Ready for a Road Trip?

Planning a family vacation? Traveling—by plane, train, bus, or car—can mean long delays. And while you can’t do anything about traffic and long wait times, a little forethought can improve the situation.

Don’t forget to pack a bag of books for your preschooler. It might be good to pack some of your child’s favorites, and toss in some new books for a surprise. If possible, ahead of time, seek out books about the place you are going or the mode of transportation you are taking. 

If you have a bag of books by your side, your child will be more patient and engaged. That will make any delay time will go faster. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Imagine That!

If a book sparks your child's interest—say something a character does in the course of the story—see if you can replicate the experience. When your child is intrigued by something she reads in a book, encouraging that interest will strengthen the connection between books and her life.

Plant magic beans, or dig a rabbit hole.
Set up a tent in the bedroom, or visit a firehouse. 

If the story she likes is realistic, together you can plan an event to replicate the events. If it is a fantasy, let your child’s imagination run the event. She can travel to the moon . . . right in your living room.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Knowledge Is Power

Have you noticed a topic or theme that your child is passionate about? It might be princesses or earth movers or dinosaurs. Your child is discovering that reading can help him learn more about what he is interested in. This is a very exciting idea. It is a powerful link to the idea of reading as a means to learning. 

Becoming an expert will make him feel proud of learning, and also provide a purpose for your reading together. 

Start a little “collection.” 

Go to the library or purchase books that are on this “topic.” If you elect to buy books, keep the books about that topic together on a shelf. 

Undoubtedly your child will move on to other interests. But you have shown him that there is power in knowledge. And reading is the key. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

It is "Take Your Child to the Library Day" Again!

If you needed another reason to take your child to a library, here is one. There is a designated "holiday" to encourage you to do it!

Here is the link to the website:

Every day is a great day to expose your child to the many books, experienced children's librarians, and special events at a public library. But, why not celebrate?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Learn Something New

Learn something new (yes, you). Show your child that you too, as an adult are learning. Send the message that learning is something you do for a lifetime. Say you see something interesting on TV—maybe a program about a time in history that intrigues you or an endangered animal species. Mention that you want to learn more about that topic. Then take your child to the library with you or to a bookstore, or even sit her beside you at the computer. Show her how you do the research and tell her what you are learning. 

This is a good way to help your child understand that reading is a way to learn about things—even for adults! That sounds simple and obvious, but your child might not really understand the power that reading provides. Model it. Help her gain an appreciation for the value of reading to learn.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Mad for Reading Is Five Years Old!

Five years ago, Mad for Reading was born.

It has been a wonderful five years. I have enjoyed sharing ideas with my readers, promoting literacy events and organizations, meeting other bloggers, and navigating the exciting world of social media.

I deeply appreciate all the friends and family who have shared their ideas about reading books, as well as their fabulous photographs of children reading alone or with others. Help me celebrate the next five years of Mad for Reading by following me on Twitter, and/or here. Send me your ideas, advice, and photographs to help spread the joys of sharing stories and loving books. Keep the world reading!

Happy birthday to all of us!

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.