116 posts categorized "Literacy Milestones" Feed

Literacy Milestone: Recognizing Publishers

LiteracyMilestoneAThis weekend my daughter demonstrated another one of those milestones that's probably more about becoming a book reviewer than about becoming a reader. But I appreciated it. We were in the car, driving to Napa. Knowing that we would have a long car ride I had purchased some new graphic novels for her, a couple of them sequels. (I hid them away until right before the trip, because they would otherwise not have lasted.) 

BePreparedShe had those and some other favorites with her and was reading away peacefully enough. She suddenly remarked "I know why I like Zita the Spacegirl and Star Scouts and Be Prepared. They're the same." I asked, dubiously, if they were from the same author. She said, "No, they're all from First Second."

And there you have it. She can recognize the common publisher of a number of her favorites. She then suggested that I should be trying to receive review titles from First Second. I explained that I'm not actually much of a graphic novel reviewer. But perhaps what I should have told her is that she should start her own blog. Then she can focus on reviewing graphic novels to her heart's content.  

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Literacy Milestone: Reading the First Harry Potter Book

LiteracyMilestoneAThis is as much a cultural milestone than a literacy milestone, I think. But my daughter was so, so, so excited and proud the other day when she finished reading the first Harry Potter book on her own. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical when she told me that she was reading it at school for her D.E.A.R. book. I thought it would be a bit advanced for her - she has abandoned a number of middle grade titles this year (with my full support - she wasn't ready for them). 

HarryPotterBook1But I think that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone held some advantages that helped her to persevere:

  1. I had already read it to her.
  2. She had seen the movie at least once (and the movie is quite true to the book).
  3. I am currently reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix aloud to her.
  4. She is passionately interested in the world of Harry Potter. 
  5. The book was always handy. She had a copy in class (from her classroom library), a copy in her bed (my copy), and a third copy downstairs, from a Gryffindor-themed set that my husband bought us for Christmas. Interestingly, she didn't read from the illustrated edition, which we also have. 

All of these other experiences with the Harry Potter universe provided her with plenty of scaffolding. I think that helped her to get through what would otherwise have been a challenging read. And, of course, when a child is passionately interested in a book, she will often find a way to get through it, even if it is a above her so-called reading level. 

I don't think that she's going to be racing through the other six books any time soon, though I do expect that she'll be working on Book 2 this summer. My hope and expectation is that she is young enough (at just 8) that she will want me to read books six and seven to her before she reads them herself. Because I am really enjoying sharing the books with her. 

Incidentally my favorite response to this milestone came from a friend on Facebook, who wrote: "My 9 year old read this over my shoulder and started clapping for her." This nine year old doesn't actually know my daughter, but that doesn't matter. There's a bond between fans that transcends distance. 

Where were you when you finished reading the first Harry Potter book? Do YOU remember? 

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Literacy Milestone: Post-It Flags in Books

LiteracyMilestoneAThe other day my daughter demonstrated a milestone of the serious book reader: the need to flag a particular passage so that she can find it again. We are a little more than halfway through Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (we usually only read it for 20 minutes a day during breakfast). We came to the scene in which Cho wanted Harry to ask her on their first date, to Hogsmeade for Valentine's Day. Cho's goal was obvious to my daughter, at just eight. Harry, however, was totally clueless.

HarryPotterPhoenixMy daughter found this scene HILARIOUS. She immediately grabbed for a post-it flag, scribbled "down" on it, and placed it at the top of the passage. Then when a line near the end of the scene was especially funny, she added a second marker there. 

She has, of course, seen me sprinkle books liberally with post-it flags for years. She has started encountering my old markers as she reads books on her own (the first Harry Potter book, e.g.), and she'll sometimes ask me why I flagged something. But this is the first time I can remember her excitedly marking a scene on her own.

She probably has a future as a book reviewer, should she choose to accept it. [Shades of Charlotte's son, who has grown up with the Cybils in his household, and eventually became a judge, too.] Do other people's children use post-it flags to mark passages? 

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Literacy Milestone: Notebooks Everywhere

LiteracyMilestoneARecently I noticed something about  my daughter's behavior that reminded me of my own childhood. She has notebooks EVERYWHERE. Big ones and small ones, ones that I have purchased and ones the she has chosen herself from the Scholastic catalog or the supply for purchase at school. They are often labeled on the cover ("homework", "trips", "'stories", "my future"). She generally wants one with her for even the shortest of car rides. She can be found scribbling away at the kitchen table, in her bed, or hidden in a cabinet in the family room.

She writes and draws with regular pencils, mechanical pencils, colored pencils, and markers. Sometimes the notebooks are brought to me for inspection, and sometimes they are kept private. I try not to pry. Sometimes they are given to me with "homework" assignments that I'm meant to do. Some are full of made-up stories, others are more diary-like, and others are in service of some game or other (especially "school"). They are all valued. 

NotebooksWhen I was a kid my dad owned a hardware store. While that was useful, I always wished that he could have instead had a stationery store. I visited the stationery store in our town whenever I could possibly find an excuse. I coveted notebooks, pencils, and markers (though I'm sure I had quite a few). When I was a bit older than my daughter is now I filled endless spiral notebooks with journal entries. I'm not sure why it took me so long to notice that my daughter is the same way (even though I've been the one buying most of the notebooks). But there you have it - a milestone that's been gradually building up. 

Readers often write, too. Inveterate readers of graphic novels are, I suspect, likely to also draw. None of this is surprising. As long as the piles of books and notebooks don't fall over and crush anyone, it's all good. 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Literacy Milestone: Wishing You Still Had a Series Ahead of You

LiteracyMilestoneAMy daughter has recently been demonstrating a behavior common in people who really love books (though I think it could also apply to TV drama series). She has been lamenting having already read the books that she loves, because she is unable to experience them again for the first time. When she finished the last of the published Dork Diaries books, she said something like: "Oh, I wish I hadn't finished this series yet." She's now read them each four or five times, I would estimate, but she knows, as I do, that re-reads are not the same as that discovery-filled first time. 

DorkDiaries8There was another incident where we were walking past the notebook and graphic novel section at Target. We already owned pretty much every title on the display. She patted the covers of her particular favorites (another behavior of book-lovers in the wild) and said: "I wish I could get amnesia and forget all of these, so that I could read them again for the first time." Ah yes. I feel that way about the Harry Potter books. 

WimpyKidCabinFeverOf course she has many other books ahead of her to "read for the first time". She's a bit stuck right now because she's primarily only interested in graphic novels and notebooks novels, and she's read most of the ones that are remotely appropriate for her age level. One notable exception is the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, which she has been reluctant to start for some reason. Maybe she is saving it. She remarked recently: "Well, once I start them I'm going to need to read them all right away." So perhaps that will be a good plan for the summer. 

What books do you wish that you could read again for the first time? Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Literacy Milestone: Correcting My Grammar

LiteracyMilestoneARecently my daughter passed what I believe is a new milestone on her path to literacy. She corrected my grammar. She was washing her very dirty feet before bed. I said: "Wash 'em good!". She immediately piped back with "Well, Mommy. It should be 'Wash 'em well.'"

She's not wrong, of course. And I didn't have the energy to explain the concept of choosing to use less than perfect grammar in a particular situation. So I just agreed that she was right and let it go. But I thought that those of you who have been following her progress from first learning her letters would appreciate this milestone: recognizing and demanding proper grammar. 

Now if only I could get her to do her spelling homework without an enormous fuss... 

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


My Daughter's Experience Being Librarian for a Day

LibrarianForADayAs an annual fundraiser, my daughter's elementary school PTO holds auctions for kids to be "Teacher for a Day" or "Principal for a Day". This year for the first time there was an option to be "Librarian for a Day." As you might imagine, we snapped that one up. My daughter's main day as librarian was yesterday. She's also going to get to go back on the day that her class checks out books, so that she can experience that as librarian. Without hesitation, my daughter pronounced yesterday a "great" experience. 

CorneredBooksShe was particularly excited that she got to "corner books" with tape. The next day she stopped our breakfast reading early so that she could find a book and demonstrate this process for me. She was very proud of her ability to do it neatly. She also enjoyed (in the library) stamping books and using the Dewey Decimal system. I predict that some re-organization of our books is going to be in my future. 

4thGradePhotoWithout question, she had an excellent time. For me, this was a somewhat nostalgic experience. In sixth grade my best friend and I volunteered in our elementary school library in the mornings before school. My recollection is primarily of shelving books, but I loved that library, and still look back fondly on the experience. [To the left is my fourth grade school photo, taken in the library.]

My thanks to the school librarian for making this such a good experience for my daughter. Anything that keeps her excited about books is well worthwhile, I think. 

© 2018 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Literacy Milestone: Understanding Someone Else's Need to Read

LiteracyMilestoneAMy daughter had the day off from school a couple of weeks ago for Veteran's Day. She attended a birthday party, and I spent some of the time that she was there sitting outside reading my current book on my Kindle. I was reading The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen, and getting near to the suspenseful ending. When we got home, I was able to sneak in a few more minutes of reading, but then my daughter wanted me to play with her. 

I said: "Look, I have 15 minutes left of this book, and I NEED to finish. How about if I do that, and then we play?"

ThingsWeWishAnd because she is now a reader, someone who shushes me in the car when she's immersed in her book, and has to stay up late sometimes to finish a book herself, she understood and agreed. [Which is not to say that she didn't interrupt me several more times, thus stretching out the 15 minutes, but she did get where I was coming from.]

This, my reading friends, is a reason to encourage your kids to love books. Because they will understand when you just need a few minutes to finish. Of course you will have to grant them the same courtesy from time to time.

Don't you hate it when someone interrupts you when you have just a few pages left? I know I do! 

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Literacy Milestone: Real-World Interest Sparked from a Book

LiteracyMilestoneA

Recently my daughter asked for a book from which she could study sign language. Does she have a friend who is hard of hearing? No. Well, not a friend she's ever met, anyway. No, she wants to learn sign language out of loyalty to Cece Bell, because she adores El Deafo that much. She's been scheduling weekly sessions (my daughter, not Cece Bell) in which she works with my husband and I on our lip-reading and sign language. After trying to learn sign language from El Deafo itself, she realized that she needed a better resource. 

ElDeafoI bought her Signing for Kids, Expanded Edition. Because we all know that I'm a sucker for any request for a book. In truth, her interest had already faded by the time the book arrived. But I think it quite likely that she'll want it someday. [This is why I have such a ridiculously large number of books in my house. Because we might need them. Someday.]

You couldn't make this stuff up. We also made blackberry fool after reading A Fine Dessert awhile back, so I suppose this isn't our first experience with this dynamic. But it is the first one for which a reference book was required. 

Have your kids had real-world interests sparked by books?

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Further Evidence that It's All About Choice

My daughter regularly grumbles about her math homework. It's not that she usually finds it difficult, but that she resents having to do it at all. When it's easy for her she resents it more, because she sees her time as being wasted. Luckily for me, she usually does her math homework at her after school care (where all of the kids are expected to do homework at the same time), so I don't have to listen to the complaints.

MathWorkbookImagine my surprise the other morning when she asked to cut short our breakfast reading session so that we could work together on "math facts". She pulled out the workbook from a previous math module (they get to keep them after the module is completed) and started filling in unused pages. The next morning she asked to do the same thing.

So, when it's homework, she is annoyed and irritable about having to do it. But when it's her choice, she will happily pull out the same workbook and do the same activities.

It is possible that some of this difference stems from the fact that I'm sitting snuggled with her on the couch doing this "math facts" activity, vs. her sitting at Kids Club or at our kitchen table on her own. I could test this theory by doing her math homework with her on the couch (though this runs counter to my goal for her to learn to do her homework independently).

But I think it mainly boils down to free choice. When we're playing "math facts" she picks which pages look interesting. She stops to sketch on the unused backs of pages. She stops mid-activity if something is boring. When it comes to homework, it's not doing math that's the problem. It's doing a particular set of math problems that someone else expects her to do at a certain time, regardless of her own mood and inclination. The parallels to required reading are obvious here. 

This makes me wonder: if her teacher were to assign her to read graphic novels every day as homework, would she grumble and complain and stop enjoying them? This is an experiment that I do not wish to undertake. Because it is quite possible that the answer would be yes.

It's all about free choice. Which is not to say that teachers don't have to follow a logical curriculum, or that my daughter won't have to learn that sometimes you have to do things on other people's timeline. But it's also true that self-directed inquiry is more engaging for her than assigned work, particularly in that outside of school time that she considers her own. This is probably the case for most of us.

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


On the Emotional Benefits of A Family Reading Together

BigMeanMikeThis is a follow on post to one that I wrote last week about my daughter turning to favorite picture books for comfort. My friend Judy commented that I had under-emphasized an important aspect of the incident that I related. I had spoken of how my daughter was comforted by a particular book (Big Mean Mike), but Judy pointed out that my daughter hadn't selected that book to read by herself. She wanted ME to read it to her. Judy added: "during that reading and sharing of the book, the two of you were able to transform her sad and angry feelings." I realized that not only was Judy right, but that this topic called for another post. So this is with thanks to Judy. 

There are many benefits that accrue to my child from reading (empathy, vocabulary, imagination, self-soothing, etc.). One benefit that I particularly appreciate that affects both of us (and applies for my husband, too) is that reading together brings us closer. Part of this is physical - when we read together we are often snuggled up on the couch or in her bed, sharing a blanket. We even occasionally snuggle together when we are each reading our own book, though that's not quite the same. I love the feeling of being snuggled up together, reading a book. But even larger benefits are on the mental/emotional side. 

SwingItSunnyPart of the closeness that we achieve through shared reading is the building of a shared frame of reference. My husband and I still refer to our daughter as being like Mo Willems' Pigeon when she's tired but denying it. (She professes to hate this, but I think she will look back on it with affection). We frequently end up referring to what Harry or Hermione would or wouldn't do. We had to start watching old Brady Bunch episodes together because of Jenni Holm and Matt Holm's Swing It, Sunny. The examples of inside jokes and cultural references that have come to us from books are endless. 

Another part of the closeness stems from our mutual self-declaration of being people who enjoy reading. I'm very clear that this is a major part of my identity. Seeing my daughter start to declare this too is both validating and happy-making (because I know that reading will make her happier and more successful over time).

HarryPotterGobletofFireThen there is the building of shared values. Reading together is wonderful for that, and is going to increase, I think, as we read more chapter books. As one small example, my daughter was outraged when Ron accused Harry of putting his own name into the Goblet of Fire. We had a brief and mutually satisfying discussion to the effect that yes, you should trust your friends and offer them support instead of resentment. We've also discussed bullying, conformity, and reaching out to new kids, as a result of picture books. I look forward to shared reading of further portrayals of loyalty, bravery, kindness, and persistence.  

13ReasonsAnd while I wouldn't say that I look forward to this, exactly, I think that as my daughter and I continue to read together, we will be able to use books as stepping stones to discuss difficult topics. Several of my friends who have slightly older daughters are already reading books about puberty with them. These same friends have proposed reading Wonder with our kids, and then seeing the movie together. I fully intend to read books like Speak and 13 Reasons Why with my daughter when she is older and ready to understand them. 

So yes, she can read on her own now. But I plan for us to keep reading together, also, for as long as possible. Reading together brings us closer, physically and emotionally. It's not something that any parent should give up lightly. 

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Literacy Milestone: Turning to Favorite Picture Books for Comfort

LiteracyMilestoneAThe other night my overtired seven-year-old had a bit of a meltdown. It was bedtime, and she was in the awkward position of being angry with me, but also needing me for comfort, because I was the only one home. She was stiff, and responding to me only with nods instead of words. So I asked her if she wanted me to read. Nod. I gestured to the stack of graphic novels next to her bed, and asked: "One of these? Or a picture book?" She lifted her chin towards the shelves of picture books. Then she finally spoke.

"I want Big Mean Mike." 

BigMeanMikeAlrighty then. After a bit of hunting, I found Big Mean Mike (by Michelle Knudsen), and also ran across Donut Chef (by Bob Staake) along the way. We snuggled down to read. It only took a couple of pages for her to start pointing out details of Big Mean Mike, which we have read many, many times. She was soon cooing over the cuteness of the bunnies, and commenting on the talent of illustrator Scott Magoon. She took over some of the reading late in the book, and was pretty much back to her usual self by the time we moved on to Donut Chef (which we know more or less by heart).  By the time we finished Donut Chef, she was ready to go to sleep. 

DonutChefI suppose this isn't really a milestone, because it isn't the first time that my daughter has turned to books for comfort. But it stood out to me that she knew that when she was sad, certain favorite picture books would do the trick. And of course she was correct. May she continue to find reading her old favorites with me a comfort for a long time to come. 

Thanks for reading!

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook