These Books Were Made for Walking

Any time is a good time for a “book walk,” but chilly temperatures make winter a great time for this indoor pre-reading activity. A book or picture walk takes place before you begin reading and is a chance for your child to look through the book and learn about its different parts: front cover, back cover, spine, title page, author and/or illustrator. Don’t forget to let kids hold and turn the pages of the book sometimes.

If the book is nonfiction, you can discuss items like indexes, tables of contents, glossaries and charts. This is also an opportunity to engage in a predictions conversation. What do you think the story is about? Can you tell what the main plot of the story will be? Who are the main characters of the story? Is there a certain emotion conveyed by the illustrations? The first time you try this, it might be helpful to model the activity by thinking aloud as you look through the pages, asking simple questions and answering some of them: Continue reading

Websites We Love: RIF Leading to Reading

From decoding signs to understanding menus, reading is an important everyday task. This is why it is essential to expose children to reading at a very early age. The mission of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is “to motivate young children to read by working with them, their parents and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life.”

Leading to Reading is a portion of the RIF website dedicated to children ages 0-5 and their parents. Your child can join cuddly characters Rita and Riffy to discover an online playground where there are matching games, lullabies and fingerplays for babies and toddlers. For preschoolers there is a doodle page where kiddos can draw and color online or print out coloring pages to decorate and hang on the fridge. In the website’s reading section, your child can follow along with Eric Carle while he reads “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”  Exposing your child to literacy in different formats will keep learning interesting and fun.

Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life.

It is amazing what twenty minutes of reading a day can do to jump-start a child’s ability to learn to read. In an effort to promote reading early with children, Scholastic has started a Reading Bill of Rights. Yes, that’s right, the Reading Bill of Rights. It’s a great concept: every child has the right to be able to read, write and understand the written word.

What can you do to ensure that children “Read Every Day–Lead a Better Life?” Take a look at Scholastic’s checklists for parents, caregivers and others. (We like that the parents’ list includes signing up your child for a library card!)

Make the pledge to read every day.  After all, it is your right.

Reading Nonfiction Books

Nonfiction books work in a different way than stories. You don’t need to read a cookbook or repair manual from front to back; you can use the index to find the information you want. Explore a title like “Big Babies, Little Babies: Discover the Enchanting World of Newborn Animals” by Lorrie Mack Share to introduce and practice using a table of contents or index.

When sharing nonfiction with your child, revisit the book several times, focusing on a different tool within the book each time. One day, use the index to find a topic. Another time, use the glossary to define new vocabulary.

Why I Love Mo Willems

When I heard some friends were going to be at the same convention as Mo Willems, I begged and pleaded á la the Pigeon for them to bring me back a picture of my favorite children’s author. (Now imagine a flock of librarians from across the state lying in wait with their cameras at the ready.) The funny thing was no one thought it was a bizarre request as they love him almost as much as I do.

And yes, much to my delight, Mo (left) did pose for a special picture just for me with his agent Sheldon Fogelman (right).

So why do I love Mo so much? Not since Dr. Seuss wrote “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham” has an author had such a positive influence in children’s literature for prereaders and beginning readers. Continue reading