121 posts categorized "Literacy Milestones" Feed

Literacy Milestone: Feeling Nostalgia for Past Favorites

LiteracyMilestoneAMy daughter is only 8, but she is already nostalgic about books that she loved when she was younger. When the Goodnight Train sequel arrived (review to come, it is lovely), she had to read it immediately. She adored it, but I know that love was partly a response to how much she had bonded with the first Goodnight Train book.

CuriousGardenA day or so later I got out a bunch of picture books that had been favorites and stacked them on the table for the next day's breakfast reading. (We were taking a break between Harry Potter read-alouds.) She looked through the stack said "Oh, The Curious Garden" in that tone we all use for nostalgia. Like "Oh, something that I have loved and haven't seen or thought of recently. How lovely." I couldn't even get her to eat dinner until she sat down and read it herself. 

She's also been quoting from Little Blue Truck recently, for some reason, even though we haven't looked at that one in years. It's not so much the quoting that catches my eye, but her affectionate tone when she does it. Like someone sharing a fond memory.  

ChangelingI think we can build on this nostalgia, actually. I know I have some books that are favorites now in part because I read them and re-read them over the years, constantly reminding myself about my previous love for the book each time. Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright and The Changeling by Zilpha Keatley Snyder come to mind from middle grade, Listening Valley by D. E. Stevenson from adult reads. So my task with my daughter is going to be to weed through the picture books so that I can keep the ones we LOVED in one place. Then we can reread them regularly, and keep that nostalgia building. 

What about you? Are you nostalgic about favorite books? How about your kids?

© 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: Building a Reading Nest

We have always had a window seat in our playroom. However, for years it was a repository for "Little People" stuff. We could never even open the shutters. We had been doing some cleaning in the playroom and I mentioned in passing that if we cleared that out, it could be a place to sit and read.

Well, my daughter ran with that idea. The next morning she wouldn't let me do anything until we had cleared out the window seat. Then she ran off and found some little used couch pillows and set them out for cushioning. She cleared out one of the drawers underneath the seat and filled it with some of her favorite books. And she's been spending time there, reading, ever since. [To me, putting books in a drawer didn't seem practical, since you can't see them very easily, but it was what she wanted and I did not object. I believe that part of the project is working for her.]

I ended up buying a better cushion for the seat, but kept the pillows around for comfort. Here is the result:

ReadingNest

LiteracyMilestoneAThe reading nook was technically my idea, but she is the one who acted upon it and made it her own. I love that she's taking ownership of creating a cozy place to read. And of course I love that she's reading. The space would be a bit small for an adult, but it's perfect for her, with excellent light when the shutters are cracked open. We are indeed a fortunate family.

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms! Do your kids have dedicated reading spaces?  

© 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


A Bittersweet Literacy Milestone: Crying over a Book

HarryPotterPhoenixThe other day my daughter experienced a bittersweet milestone on the path to literacy: crying over a book. We were reading the fifth Harry Potter book (Order of the Phoenix), and I had wondered how the death of a major adult character would affect her. I ended up warning her a few pages out that a sad event was coming. She actually guessed that it was a death, and almost immediately guessed who it would be. This did not protect her from sobbing in my arms when the death did occur.

"Why does she (Rowling) have to make such sad things happen in her books?" she wanted to know. I tried to explain about high stakes and the satisfaction of triumphing over true evil. We also discussed the tendency in children's books and movies to remove the parent figures, at least temporarily, so that the kids can take action. This she's noticed for years, so it helped her to understand the reasons for this particular death. But she was still sad. We had to put the book aside for later.

CharlottesWebAs for me, I feel her pain, and I feel sadness that I brought that to her by reading her the book. But I feel proud, too, that she can care so much about characters from the printed page. Crying over a book is unquestionably a milestone on the path to being a book lover. Do you remember the first book that you cried over? I do not, though I remember being quite disturbed about Mary's blindness in the Little House books, and over the tribulations of Sara Crewe in A Little Princess. I also recall sobbing over Matthew's death when listening to Anne of Green Gables as an adult, but that can't possibly have been the first.

LiteracyMilestoneA

I haven't read Charlotte's Web to my daughter (she's seen the movie, and isn't that interested in the book), but I've personally choked up while reading picture books to her. (The end of Corduroy, the end of Knuffle Bunny Free). And I believe that we both cried over the end of the movie Toy Story 3. But this was the first time that she has cried in my arms over something that happened in a book. I doubt it will be the last. 

Stories that touch your heart are the most powerful. Even, or perhaps especially, when they hurt.

© 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: Distinguishing between Reading and Skimming

SwingItSunnyThe other day my daughter demonstrated a milestone in her understanding of reading. She's been a bit better over summer vacation about telling me which books she's read, so that I can add them to her reading list. (I don't push her about this, because I don't ever want her summer reading to feel like a chore, but I document what she tells me.) She put a stack of three books on the kitchen table the other morning. Then she sorted them into two stacks.

She waved Swing It, Sunny by Jenni Holm and Matt Holm at me and said: "I read this one." Then she set aside El Deafo by Cece Bell and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney and said: "I just skimmed these."

LiteracyMilestoneAAnd so I added Sunny to the list. This was a re-read, but it's not a book that she's read over and over and over again the way she has with El Deafo

I'm not sure where she picked up the wording for skimming, but she's actually been doing it with certain books for a while. She will skim her way through the entire set of 10 Lunch Lady books by Jarrett Krosoczka while we are eating dinner and talking at the table afterward, for instance. She'll also sometimes tell me that she didn't really read a particular graphic or notebook novel because she "only looked at the pictures." 

Once a child is reading on her own, the concept of keeping track of which books she has read becomes a bit murky. And that is totally fine. The important thing is that she's enjoying her time with the books, whether she is reading, re-reading, skimming, or just looking at the pictures. 

I will also add that as adult readers, we skim ALL the time. I read two newspapers every day. This would be virtually impossible without skimming. So skimming actually a useful reading skill to develop. Practicing by skimming books that one has already read makes a lot of sense. 

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: Making Inferences between #ReadAloud Sessions

HarryPotterPhoenixAlthough she has of course been making inferences based on what she's been reading for a while, my daughter took a leap forward in this behavior last week. This post is a spoiler if you haven't read Harry Potter 5, and you should stop reading here.

I read my daughter the part of  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in which Harry and his friends have been captured in a mis-deed by Umbridge. Hermione tricks Umbridge into going somewhere with just Harry and Hermione, to check their progress on a "weapon" that they have allegedly been developing for Dumbledore. My daughter was eager to know where they were going, but we had to stop reading to eat dinner.

After dinner she was working on something else. She suddenly looked up and said: "Mommy, is Hermione taking Umbridge to Grawp?". While this wasn't technically correct it was pretty close, and I was proud of her for thinking of it. 

LiteracyMilestoneAWhat this means is that she continued silently working away at where Hermione might be taking Umbridge even after our reading session was over. This is one of my favorite things to do, too, and one of the reasons that I like to read mysteries before I go to sleep. When I turn off the light I speculate on what I think will happen next. I'm happy to see my daughter sharing in this delightful occupation.

I do sometimes actively encourage this behavior on a smaller scale when we are reading aloud. I'll stop and ask her what she thinks is going to happen next. I try not to do it too much because I don't want our read-aloud sessions to feel like work. But I'm glad to see her developing this skill naturally as we read more.

This is also an argument for reading longer and more complex books together, and taking frequent pauses to allow for reflection.  And it's a validation for stopping at suspenseful points in a book when you do pause.

Oh, participating in my daughter's journey to literacy / love of books is just a joy. Thanks for reading! It is also a joy to be able to share these little milestones with people who appreciate them. 

© 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: 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