Words represent things. When I present you with the word apple, no matter whether the piece of fruit that appears in your head is red or green, you know what the letters a-p-p-l-e mean. This seemingly obvious concept is one all of us have to be taught. Print awareness, which includes simply noticing words everywhere and knowing how to handle a book, is an important early literacy skill to encourage in young children.
When you read a picture book like Nikki McClure’s “Apple,” chances are your young child is focusing on the beautiful illustrations, the fruit a splash of red that appears on each page. From time to time, point to the words as you read so that your child learns you are reading the text, not the pictures. If a book has a repeating word or phrase, point it out and encourage the child to say it each time it appears on the page. Let the child turn the pages, so your little one learns how a book actually works, which way the spine should face and which part of the book is its beginning.
Show your child that print is all around us. Point out signs in the grocery store or along the road. When your child starts yelling “S-T-O-P spells stop!” from the backseat, you’ll know you are successfully developing her print awareness! Continue reading
I’m convinced that children are made for poetry. They are geared toward finding delight in the everyday, infuse common objects with magic and are hard-wired for play. And so much of poetry is indeed playful.
Literacy experts tell us that teaching children the joys of playing with language will help set them on the path to becoming confident readers, and poetry is a great tool for encouraging children to enjoy the sounds of words. Poems emphasize the rhythm of language and the ways individual sounds make up words. In “Reading Magic,” author Mem Fox argues, “Rhymers will be readers. It’s that simple. Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know 8 nursery rhymes by heart by the time they are 4 years old, they are usually among the best readers by the time they are 8.”
Not all poetry rhymes, of course, but reading non-rhyming poems can also benefit children. Poems often introduce new vocabulary through unusual or interesting word choices, and rich visual imagery can stimulate a child’s imagination, spurring them to see the world around them in a new way.
April is National Poetry Month, and April 18 in particular is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Encourage the kids in your life to choose a favorite poem, copy it on a piece of paper, and then share it throughout the day. Celebrate further by exploring books of poetry together. Your library has a number of poems for children, both in picture books that illustrate a single poem and in anthologies. Check out our catalog list of recommended poetry for children, and if you have a favorite poem, please share it in the comments!
The calendar says it is spring, but the weather still feels a lot like winter. Anticipate warmer days (and one of my kids’ favorite outdoor activities – digging in the dirt) with this fun rhyme, paired with books about springtime if you like!
Plant A Little Seed
I plant a little seed in the cold, cold ground (Squat down and pretend to plant)
Out comes the yellow sun, big and round (Put arms above head like sun)
Down come the raindrops soft and slow (Wiggle fingers down to make rain)
Up comes the flower – grow, grow, grow (jump up like a flower emerging)
The library has many books that beautifully illustrate the anticipation of this season of growth, warmth and all things green. Continue reading
You sit down with your baby and a board book, and she listens for a bit but then tries to eat it or throw it. Or maybe she uses it as a drum. Don’t despair—at this early stage on the road to reading, it’s okay if babies listen and look at the pictures for a while and then lose interest. Stay positive and simply try again another time. If your baby enjoys these short interactions with you and the book, you are actually promoting early literacy!
To support your young child along the path to reading independently, help him or her develop a positive association with books. Researchers call this interest in reading and the enjoyment of books “print motivation.” When you are reading a book with your child, follow these tips for making the experience fun and engaging. Continue reading
Practically every kid has dreamed of running away from home, or at least embarking on an adventure of some sort. Personally, I’ve always fantasized about secretly lingering after-hours and spending the night someplace I shouldn’t, like a candy shop, a bookstore or a museum. Perhaps this is why I love, love, love “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” (1967) by E. L. Konigsburg.
Twelve-year-old Claudia and her brother Jamie (selected as her partner-in-crime for the sizable sum he has saved in his piggy bank) run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The sharp and responsible (well, except for the running away part) Claudia has meticulously planned their escape, and the kids cleverly use the resources of the museum to get by. They sleep in a royal bed and pilfer money from the fountain. After a few nights in the museum, Claudia sees a statue so beautiful, she feels compelled to identify its sculptor and perhaps become famous in the process. To find out the statue’s origin, she must visit its former owner, the elderly Mrs. Frankweiler.
Snappy, funny dialogue. Living in a gorgeous museum among exquisite art. Running away to one of the world’s most exciting cities. Solving a mystery. What’s not to love? Put this book in the hands of your favorite precocious kiddo (or adult). They will thank you for it.