Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Make a Reading Resolution

As 2013 comes to and end and we anticipate a shiny new year, resolves to read more--with your family.  Make time for reading aloud with your young children, and even for a regular story hour with your whole family. It is a wonderful way to feel closer and also spread the message that reading is a joyful experience.

Check out this wonderful article by Pam Allyn, Director of LitWorld and LitLife, two organizations committed to literacy.


Happy and healthy new year to you and your family!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Wind Down and Read

If you are lucky enough to have some time off from work, your children home from school, and a little free time, use it to read with your young child.

Find some quiet spot to curl up with your preschooler, and enjoy a favorite story book, or a brand new book that was a holiday gift. Seize those precious moments and forget about the shopping and cooking and pressures of the season. It will do you good! And it will help your young child feel the familiar comfort of reading together during what can be a hectic time.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Author! Author!

If your child really, really enjoys a book, do some research. Find out if the author of her favorite book 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 pursuit helps children understand that books are written by real people who have ideas and feelings and they lead their own lives . . . that might include their own family and perhaps even some pets. 

You are teaching your preschooler that books are the creations of real people who come up with ideas and then share them in the form of a book. You are teaching her to respect the creative process and to understand that books come from people—not just libraries and bookstores! This will help your child gain appreciation for the writing process as well as the idea of authorship. And it might just inspire your budding writer to think about sharing her own ideas

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Turn Black Friday into Book Friday

By substituting a few letters, you can turn Black Friday into Book Friday!

As you start your holiday shopping, consider buying books for everyone on your list. Personal, thoughtful, portable, and relatively inexpensive, books are a perfect and personal gift for young and old.

Is your three-year old obsessed with soccer? Feed that obsession! Is your mother-in-law an avid gardener or a marathon runner?  Is your father a creative cook? There will be books to provide inspiration. Browse the shelves or the pages of your favorite online retailer.

And maybe gift yourself while you are at it. Happy shopping! Happy reading!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Read as I Read

A new study confirms the importance of the role that modeling reading behavior plays in raising readers. ". . . Parents who read more for pleasure read more often to their kids, and that both of these parental behaviors were also related to their children’s literacy skills."

Read all about the study here. 


And most important, keep reading with your young child--and for yourself!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What Happens Tomorrow?

Here is a way to help your preschooler build on her comprehension skills  . . . and use her imagination.

After you and your child finish reading a story together, close the book, and ask, "What do you think happens next?" or "What happens the next day?"

This kind of thinking helps your child in a few ways. It encourages your child to use what she already knows about a character or a situation and run with it—to spin some educated guesses based on that information. That is also called making inferences, a skill she will use in school and in life. But for now, unburdened by finding right answers, she is simply stretching her imagination, and engaging in some storytelling of her own.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Get Festive: Read All About It

Before the holidays—whether it is Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa—pick up some books about the upcoming event. Read about the holiday with your preschooler. The experience will add to the excitement and anticipation for the celebration. Plus  your child will learn to appreciate the meaning of special days and maybe even understand the reasons behind the holiday. Reading about how different 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 don’t observe. Find out about holidays that are celebrated around the world and open your child’s eyes to other cultures and traditions. Many libraries and bookstores have special displays as the holidays draw closer so it is easy to find books to enjoy.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Research It!

Have you noticed a topic or theme that your child is passionate about? It might be princesses or earth movers or dinosaurs. Feed that passion. Help your child explore the topic. You can search for information together online. But don't forget about books!

Start a resource “collection.” Go to the library or purchase books that are on this “topic.” 

You are helping your child to discover that reading can help him learn more about what he is interested in. Becoming an expert will make him feel proud of learning and also provide a purpose for your reading together.

If you elect to buy books, keep the books about that topic together on a shelf. This research project sets the stage for your child to notice different ways to approach a topic. One book might show adorable puppies in photographs, while another is a story about a dog, illustrated in soft pastels. Comparing the two books can help your preschooler notice how they are alike and different. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Get Caught Reading

It sounds almost too simple to be true . . . but it is true for sure! Make sure that your young child sees you reading, and you will be sending an important message.

You can be reading a book, newspaper, magazine, electronic device, or files on a computer. You can be checking a train schedule, sports scores, or stock prices. You can be following a recipe or trying to decipher instructions for assembling a piece of furniture.

Whenever your preschooler sees you reading--anything--make it into a big deal. Point it out. Show her that you are reading for a purpose--to learn something, to get something done, or just because you love it.

You are your child's first teacher. Show her that reading is a skill you engage in, and find useful and pleasurable. Model being a reader. Don't be shy about it. Get caught reading!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer Reading

Are you planning to take a summer vacation? Be sure to pack some books for your preschooler. Not only will you most likely have time to kill in a car, train, bus, or airport . . . but you are bound to need some entertainment for rainy days or other slow times.

Think about packing some reliable favorites as well as some new surprises. A mix of familiar and novel books can be a winning combination.

If you are traveling to a new part of the country, plan  ahead and pick up some great reads that are set in that region--whether beach, farm, big city, mountains, or lakes.

Happy reading!

Monday, July 29, 2013


So . . . I am often asked: What about eBooks for preschoolers? Is that OK? 

I think they are great. My opinion is that if your child is engaged with words and pictures and a storyline, that is terrific.  Whether they are turning pages or swiping a finger the important thing is that they are reading or being read to.

However, that being said . . . the other very, very important ingredient to those early literacy experiences is the intimacy. It is the togetherness, the reading to each other, the shared laughter.  You want your young child to associate reading with closeness and warmth. So be sure to stick around. Don't just hand your child a device and assume she is self-sufficient. Share the book, maintain that closeness, read together.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Make Some Summer Memories

Summer is the ideal time for you and your preschooler to create a book about his summer activities, including  vacations, visits to parks and zoos, and other memorable family times. Plan now on the best way to create a lasting memory repository. Let him dictate to you and he can illustrate pages, or use photos and other souvenirs to recount special times. Do it the old-fashioned way or scan images and create a digital scrapbook.  

Most important ingredient? Read it together. In a few weeks it will be a sweet way to relive the memories of summer and will give your young child 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,your preschooler may be inclined to share his memories with his teacher and classmates.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Summer Reading!

Now that Memorial Day Weekend is here, summer has unofficially begun. For many of us, summer is synonymous with reading--as in beach reads. Keep that loving book feeling, and pass it on to your young child.

One way to encourage summer reading is to find out what preschool programs are available at your local library. Call, consult the website, or better yet, visit your library to check out the programs that are designed for preschoolers. Trained children's librarians will choose books that will engage and entertain very young children. These events are free, air-conditioned, and will be a fun activity for you, or another caretaker, and your preschooler.

Summer = Reading. Pass it on.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Word Love

Help build your preschooler's vocabulary by emphasizing the names for things. Labeling the objects around him will encourage him to be facile with words. For example, if you pass a dump truck, name it and then talk about the function of the truck and how it may have gotten its name. 

Get 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 his own riddle for you to guess.

Get silly. Throw in some rhymes. If you pass a cow, call out Now, cow! or Wow, cow! or even Bow-wow, cow! Words are fun to play with, so get in the game!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Talk About Titles

After you finish reading a book together, ask your preschooler why he thinks the author chose that particular name for the book. For example, 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 that 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. In addition to having fun, you are helping your preschooler think analytically--a thinking skill that will be ctitical to his academic success in the years to come.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Family Reading . . . Mix It Up

We've all heard about the advantages of families sitting down together for an evening meal. Reading together is also an excellent idea. And there are endless combinations possible for family reading. Parents read to children. 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.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Be Resourceful

It is beginning to feel like spring!
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!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Be Part of the Story

It is not too late to join in the excitement of World Read Aloud Day on March 6. Make plans to read aloud with your child's class or at a local bookstore or library. Or read to a group of children at home. Check out this page for ideas for how you can participate.


Please take moment to see this video, which shows scenes from last year's celebration of World Read Aloud Day.


Words change worlds. Be part of the story.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Meet LitWorld!

LitWorld is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting literacy worldwide. In future posts I will tell you about their annual event, called World Read Aloud Day, which is scheduled for March 6. But first, read about this amazing organization and its work  (http://litworld.org/).  

In LitWorld's own words . . . .

Our Mission: LitWorld is a non-profit literacy organization fostering resilience, hope, and joy through the power of story.
Our programs and campaigns build self confidence, promote leadership, and strengthen children and their communities. LitWorld's LitClub and LitCamp programming cultivate a new generation of leaders, storytellers and academic achievers, effecting change for themselves, their community, and their world. Our campaigns mobilize children and adults from around the world to advocate for literacy as a human right that belongs to all people.
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.
Worldwide at least 793 million people remain illiterate. Two-thirds of them are women. All over the world, children are hungry for learning and for the power it brings. Research shows that children learn to read and write best by writing and telling the stories of their own experiences. Yet it is rare to find safe spaces where children feel fully comfortable to do so.
LitWorld is changing that.
LitWorld stands on three core pillars: Advocacy, Education and Innovation. These pillars together create a complete approach to how we can impact outcomes for the world’s children and help them reach adulthood as readers and writers. 

What will LitWorld Accomplish?
By 2014: Help one million children learn to read.
By 2016: Equip ten thousand literacy leaders to effect change that will impact ten million children across the globe.

These are words changing worlds.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Spread Book Love on February 14

Have you heard about International Book Giving Day? It is a nonprofit initiative, described this way:

"A day dedicated to getting new, used, and borrowed books in the hands of as many kids as possible."

It is taking place on February 14, 2013 . . .Valentines Day! Check out the website for ideas on how you can participate.   http://bookgivingday.com/

Even if you don't get on board, at the very least, think about the valentines you are giving to your loved ones, especially your young children. This year, forget the chocolate. Offer books.

Send this message:  books = love

A book holds a house of gold.
— Chinese Proverb

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Make Reading Sense-sational!

Here are some ideas for enhancing your reading time with your preschooler. Add special effects!

  • If you are reading about a camping trip, set up a little tent and read by flashlight. 
  • Reading about picking apples? Chew on crisp  apples as you read.
  • Honk a horn when you read about cars and trucks. 
  • 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.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Be the Reading Role Model

Scholastic has just released its annual Kids and Family Reading Report. I was struck  by the following excerpt:
"Having reading role-model parents or a large book collection at home has more of an impact on kids’ reading frequency than does household income." - Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report
Be that role model! What matters is that you show your child that reading is important. Besides having books, newspapers, magazines, e-readers all around your home, be explicit. Point out to your young child what, when, why, and how you are reading. Tell your child that you are searching for the latest score of your favorite team, looking for the perfect roast chicken recipe . . .  Or admit that you simply need a book to read to wind down from your busy day. Make it clear that reading matters to you.

 Make your home one that is rich in words.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Name It!

One way to build your preschooler's vocabulary is to emphasize the names for things. For example, if you pass a fire engine, talk about its function 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 up his own riddle for you to guess.

Words = Fun!

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.