452 posts categorized "Literacy" Feed

Top 10 Tips for Getting Kids Reading this Summer: Scholastic Infographic

As I posted on Monday, Scholastic's Summer Reading Challenge launched this week. As a life-long fan of outdoor reading, I like this year's theme of "Reading Under the Stars". Scholastic prepared this companion infographic, which I thought parents might find useful. It's somewhat tied to the Summer Reading Challenge, with emphasis on tracking time spent reading, but there are also tips here (with references) that could benefit any parent.

I especially like tip #1: Let Kids Choose. I think that's so important. And of course I'm an expert at Tip #8: Be a Reading Role Model. Click to expand the image. 

Top10Infographic

This post (c) Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. The infographic copyright belongs to Scholastic. 


News Release: 2014 Scholastic #SummerReading Challenge Launches Today

Students Log Reading Minutes as They Seek to Break the World Record for Summer Reading; Teachers/Schools Can Register All Their Students

Prizes and Sweepstakes for Kids; Free Resources for Parents and Teachers

SummerReading-LOGONew York, NY – May 5, 2014 – Today, Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL) announces the launch of the 2014 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, a free, global reading program that motivates children to read throughout the out-of-school summer months by logging their reading minutes, and earning rewards, with the goal of setting a new world record for summer reading. Last year’s participants set the world record of 176,438,473 minutes read. Teachers, schools and families can register their children in grades K–8 starting today at scholastic.com/summer and children can log minutes from today through September 5th, 2014.

The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge was created to give schools and families a free and engaging way to encourage more children to read during the summer and prevent the ‘summer slide’– the learning losses that set children back academically when they do not read during the out-of-school summer months. Children sign up to read on behalf of their school and the schools compete to win top prizes. The top elementary school with the most minutes read will win a visit from bestselling author-illustrator David Shannon (Bugs in My Hair!) and the top middle school will win a visit from bestselling author Gordon Korman (The Hypnotists). The top 20 U.S. schools with the most reading minutes recorded by September 5th will be featured in the 2015 Scholastic Book of World Records.  

This year’s Summer Reading theme is Reading Under the Stars, and is powered by EVEREADY®, the maker of batteries and flashlights, to encourage families to discover new and fun ways to explore reading outside this summer. Reading Under the Stars comes to life for children online as they enter reading minutes and, throughout the summer, the site will unlock interactive star constellations containing special video messages from NASA astronaut Leland Melvin. Children will also have the opportunity to take an extra “Chapter Challenge” and learn more about space from Pascal Lee, a planetary scientist from the SETI and Mars Institute and author of Mission: Mars. Parents can support their child’s reading all summer with the free “Reading Under the Stars Guide,” which includes summer reading book lists, curated by Scholastic experts, Read Under the Stars videos, expert articles, tips and family activities.

“We know that the more children read, the more they succeed and time spent with books is especially important during the summer months so students return to school ready to tackle more challenging texts,” said Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer at Scholastic. “In the summer, we want our kids finding books that fit their personal interests because those are the books that will make them fall in love with reading.  Being part of the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge motivates kids to build up their reading minutes and earn rewards, while parents and teachers can monitor progress. Everybody wins!”

Here are ways parents, children and educators can get involved in the 2014 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.

FREE SUMMER READING TOOLS FOR PARENTS:

  • Facebook calendar app and live chats:  Parents can find something every day on the Scholastic Parents Facebook including a summer calendar app with expert tips and articles and activities. Every Friday, parents can enter for the chance to win an EVEREADY® “Reading Under the Stars” prize pack including a picnic blanket, EVEREADY® flashlights and headlamps and EVEREADY® Gold® batteries. Plus, parents can join “Book Swap” live chats all summer with top parenting and reading experts.
    • The first live chat will be hosted by Lori Ess, Associate Director of Title Presentation, Scholastic, and Betsy Bird, Youth Materials Collections Specialist New York Public Library, tonight, May 5th at 9 p.m. ET.
  • Reading minutes mobile app: Parents can monitor their children’s progress and help their children enter minutes on-the-go via mobile on the Scholastic Reading Timer app.
  • 2014 summer book list:  Curated by Scholastic experts, this list features more than 700 books for children in Pre-K–8, including this year’s “Reading Under the Stars” themed list, which showcases books about space, stars and astronomy, as well as spooky stories to read by a campfire.
  • EVEREADY® free book on pack program – Parents can receive a free Scholastic book by mail when they buy two specially marked packs of EVEREADY® Gold® batteries or EVEREADY® flashlights and redeem the package codes online. Visit eveready.com/reader to learn more. 

FREE SUMMER READING TOOLS FOR CHILDREN:

  • Events at museums and planetariums: Special “Reading Under the Stars”–inspired overnight events with free books, EVEREADY® flashlights and activity sheets for attendees.  Events will take place at planetariums and museums across the country including:
    • Carnegie Science Center “Science Sleepovers” (Pittsburgh, PA, May 9)
    • Milwaukee Public Museum “Overnights” (Milwaukee, WI, May 16)
    • The Smithsonian: National Museum of Natural History “Smithsonian Sleepovers” (Washington, D.C., May 17)
    • Adler Planetarium “Astro Overnights” (Chicago, IL June 6)
    • California Academy of Sciences “Penguins + Pajamas” (San Francisco, CA, June 13)
  • Reading rewards & prizes: Throughout the summer, children who join the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge read to earn digital badges and take the extra Chapter Challenge and win a chapter from a favorite book.  Elementary school readers will win weekly chapters that make up a full Geronimo Stilton:Mini-Mystery book. Middle School readers will win weekly chapters from a variety of bestselling titles including The 39 Clues®Spirit Animals™ and more.
  • Monthly sweepstakes: Once children log minutes, they will have the opportunity to enter for a chance to win Ricky Ricotta series books, a Harry Potter paperback box set, Jedi Academy series books, and a multiplatform prize pack (The 39 Clues Book 1: Maze of Bones, Infinity Ring Book 1: Mutiny in Time, Spirit Animals Book 1: Wild Born).
  • Virtual map: Children can track their school (and any other participating school) to see how many minutes have been read and keep tabs on which schools are in the lead.

FREE SUMMER READING TOOLS FOR EDUCATORS:

  • Educator dashboard: Teachers can register up to 100 students and track their reading throughout the summer. Teachers who register by June 30th can enter a sweepstakes for the chance to win a Scholastic classroom library.
  • Emails to parents: The educator dashboard provides automatic emails for teachers to send to all their students’ parents to ensure children are entering their reading minutes all summer, when they are out of school. Emails are available in English and Spanish.
  • Free resources in English and Spanish: Teachers can access bi-lingual information including: letters to parents, printable activity sheets, reading logs and reading certificates in addition to videos for parents.

To support the students in their states and encourage summer reading throughout America, many of the U.S. Governors and Governors’ Spouses are joining Scholastic as “Reading Ambassadors” for the 2014 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge. The 2014 Reading Ambassadors, whose names will be announced soon, will host summer reading events at schools in their respective states, and, in honor of each Reading Ambassador, Scholastic is donating 500 books to the school of his or her choice.

For more information about Scholastic and the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, please visit the Scholastic media room.


A Tip for Growing Bookworms: Avoid Bookshaming

A post at the Nerdy Book Club this week really made me think. Priscilla Thomas, an 11th grade teacher, wrote about the repercussions of what she called "bookshaming". Thomas says:

"To be clear, opinion and disagreement are important elements of literary discourse. Bookshaming, however, is the dismissive response to another’s opinion. Although it is sometimes justified as expressing an opinion that differs from the norm, or challenging a popular interpretation, bookshaming occurs when “opinions” take the form of demeaning comments meant to shut down discourse and declare opposing viewpoints invalid."

She goes on to enumerate five ways that bookshaming (particularly by teachers) can thwart the process of nurturing "lifelong readers." I wish that all teachers could read this post. 

But of course I personally read this as a parent. Thomas forced me to consider an incident that had taken place in my household a couple of weeks ago. We were rushing around to get out of the house to go somewhere, but my daughter asked me to read her a book first. The book she wanted was Barbie: My Fabulous Friends! (which she had picked out from the Scholastic Book Fair last fall). 

I did read this book about Barbie and her beautiful, multicultural friends. But at the end I made some remark about it being a terrible book. And even as I said it, I KNEW that it was the wrong thing to say. Certainly, it is not to my taste. It's just little profiles of Barbie's friends - no story to speak of. But my daughter had picked out this book from the Book Fair, and she had liked it enough to ask me to read it to her. She seemed to be enjoying it. And I squashed all of that by criticizing her taste.

Two weeks later, I am still annoyed with myself. Priscilla Thomas' article helped me to better understand why. She said: "When we make reading about satisfying others instead of our own enjoyment and education, we replace the joy of reading with anxiety." What I WANT is for my daughter to love books. And if I have to grit my teeth occasionally over a book that irritates me, so what? 

Rather than continue to beat myself up over this, I have resolved to be better. The other night I read without a murmur The Berenstain Bears Come Clean for School by Jan and Mike Berenstain, which is basically a lesson on how and why to avoid spreading germs at school. As I discussed here, that same book has helped my daughter to hone her skills in recommending books. It is not a book I would have ever selected on my own. But I'm going to hold on to the image of my daughter flipping to the last page of the book, face shining, to tell me how funny the ending was. 

Growing bookworms is about teaching our children to love reading (see a nice post by Carrie Gelson about this at Kirby Larson's blog). They're not going to love reading if we criticize their tastes, and make them feel anxious or defensive. I'm sorry that I did that to my daughter over the Barbie book, and I intend to do my best not to do that again. If this means reading 100 more Barbie books over the next couple of years, so be it. Of course I can and will introduce her to other authors that are more to my own taste, to see which ones she likes. But I will respect her taste, too. 

© 2014 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.


International Book Giving Day: February 14th

Ibgd-blog-badge200pxFebruary 14th is already known through children's and YA book blogging land as the day that the Cybils winners are announced. (There's some other holiday that day, too, I think, but we're book people here. Right?) February 14th is also International Book Giving Day. The official site (see details here - this is a grass roots effort) recommends three ways to celebrate:

  1. Give a Book to a Friend or Relative.
  2. Leave a Book in a Waiting Room or Lobby.
  3. Donate a Book.

There's a cool poster, designed by Hungarian designer and illustrator Mariann Marayjust released for 2014: 

Ibdgposter2014

I found this poster at the home of Amy at Delightful Children's Books. She is one of the organizers of this event. Other International Book Giving Day posts are up at Susan Stephenson's blog, and at Playing by the Book (also organizers). 

I haven't decided how we'll celebrate at my house. (I give books to my daughter so often that giving her a book will hardly stand out). But I'll be giving it some thought. Meanwhile, you can follow along using the hashtag #giveabook on Twitter.

Happy Book-Giving! 


Scholastic Declares January Book Fit Month

I don't normally share many news releases. But I couldn't help but notice that Scholastic launched a "Get Book Fit" initiative the day after I declared that my goals for 2014, for myself and my daughter, were:

  1. Get more/better sleep
  2. Read more
  3. Exercise more

So, 1 and 3 are about fitness, while 2 is about books. One might easily argue that we are trying to "Get Book Fit" in my household, too. Though really, Scholastic is focusing only on mental fitness in this particular initiative. Still, it seemed worth sharing.

SCHOLASTIC DECLARES JANUARY “GET BOOK FIT” MONTH, CALLS ALL KIDS TO READ BOOKS TO GET THEIR MINDS IN SHAPE

“Like” Scholastic on Facebook to Scratch Off Daily Tips, Get the Chance to Win Books and Get Kids #BookFit for 2014

Redlabl-logoNew York, NY – January 2, 2014 – With the countdown to the Winter Games in full swing, Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, is calling all teachers and families to pledge January 2014 as “Get Book Fit” Month, and encourage their kids to train their brains by reading more books. To help kids get Book Fit, Scholastic has launched a free Facebook calendar app, providing parents and teachers with daily “scratch off” tips from experts on ways to motivate their children to stay mind-healthy throughout the month. Parents and teachers can join the campaign by “liking” Scholastic’s interactive “Get Book Fit” calendar at Facebook.com/scholastic and by following the latest on #BookFit on Twitter (@Scholastic).

Throughout the month of January, families can visit Scholastic’s “Get Book Fit” interactive calendar to get free daily resources, including book recommendations and tips from experts at Scholastic, articles from Scholastic Parent and Child® magazine, and ebook picks from Storia®, Scholastic’s free ereading app. Plus, top athletes including gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi, Amar’e Stoudemire from the New York Knicks and Justin Tuck from the New York Giants share the books that inspired them the most. Every Sunday, families can find “Spotlit Sundays,” which will highlight must-reads for every age group from Scholastic Reading Club, and Fridays will be “Freebie Friday” day, where fans can enter for the chance to win free new releases from Scholastic. 

“Just as any athlete needs to practice a sport in order to get better, kids need to practice reading to keep their brains sharp and become proficient readers,” said Maggie McGuire, Vice President, Scholastic Kids and Parents Channels. “The new year reminds us to start new, healthy habits and getting ‘Book Fit’ is a perfect way to remind kids that reading is part of having a healthy lifestyle.” 

To kick off the campaign, Scholastic’s experts curated a list of Top 10 Ways to Get “Book Fit”:

1.      Prep your home to be “Book Fit”. Make reading material available in the rooms at home where your kids spend most of their time, easily accessible on tabletops, in bins or on bookshelves in each room. Include magazines, newspapers, comic books, how-to guides, and reading material that will tap into your child’s interests and passions.
 
2.      Reward a child’s reading efforts with a medal. Incentivize the reading experience. In celebration of the upcoming Winter Games, award your child with a gold, silver or bronze medal based on how much he or she read that week.
 
3.      Make the library your athletic stadium. Get library passes and dedicate a day and time each week to visit the library. Make the search for new books into a game such as “library bingo,” where kids can actively search the library for specific genres, characters, etc. during their visit.
 
4.      Create a family game night to exercise kid’s minds. Select games that encourage critical thinking, spelling and language-building. Introduce new games to them over the course of the year. Get your kids involved in choosing what the game will be – and what healthy snack should be served while playing!
 
5.      Bring a book to life. Get kids moving with an activity based on the book he or she is reading. Is he or she reading about sports? Try out that sport that weekend. Reading about cooking? Bake something new with your child. Challenge your kids to try different experiences, enhance skills and open their eyes to things they have never tried before. Read it. Live it.
 
6.      Host a “book marathon.” Challenge readers at home or in school to to read several books by his or her favorite author. Try different book series to encourage your child to read every day.
 
7.      Make reading a friendly competition among family and friends. Challenge kids to see who can read the most books. This friendly competition can teach a child valuable social skills and good sportsmanship. They can re-read their favorite book again and time the difference between the first and second reads. Use our handy Scholastic Reading Timer app to track your child’s reading minutes.
 
8.      Make family reading time a daily routine. Practice, practice, practice! Set aside time in the morning, after school or at bedtime, without distractions, and read as a family. Be sure to read aloud to your child as often as you can this year. The more you do, the more likely you are to show your child that reading is fun. Reading aloud helps children build their vocabularies, develop background knowledge they will need to understand the meaning of text when they read on their own, and inspire a lifetime love of reading! Mix it up with your favorite poetry, a news story, short stories, chapter books, and novels.
 
9.      Organize a family and friends reading club. Reading clubs encourage all members to think critically about what they read and to help bring ideas for the next month’s book. This will encourage children to work as a team and be open-minded about the opinions of others. Teachers can help out by sending “themed months” ideas paralleling students’ current class work.
 
10.  Host book-swap parties. Have your child collect books he or she has already read and have his or her friends do the same. With parents’ permission, host a book-swap party at your house, with fun themes like “Fantasy Swap” or “Laugh Out Loud Funny Reads”. Teachers can host a “book swap” party among students the beginning of each month. They’ll walk away with not only new books, but also their friends’ recommendations, fostering a team effort to getting “Book Fit.”

For more daily tips and to win free books, “like” Scholastic’s page on Facebook and visit the Book Fit calendar app. For more information about Scholastic, visit the media room.

Here at home, I'm doing two things to help my daughter and I "Get Book Fit" this month:

1. Instead of watching television while I ride my exercise bike, I'll be reading on my Kindle. I could never read regular books while biking without getting motion sick. But it turns out that I can prop my Kindle on a nearby couch arm and read just fine. 

2. Tracking all of the books that my husband and I read aloud to our daughter, rather than just the (very small number of) chapter books. I did this when she was a baby, but stopped as she got older, largely because a glitch in my blogging software made it difficult. That glitch is fixed, so I'm going to try again. My hope is that seeing that visual progress on my blog will motivate me to find more read-aloud time throughout the days. 

Wishing you all a book-fit, book-filled 2014!


National Family Literacy Day and Scholastic's SPOTLIT Collection

Did you know that November 1st is National Family Literacy Day? The idea is to focus on activities and events that showcase the importance of family literacy programs. Like these:

The folks at Scholastic are releasing infographics related to their new SPOTLIT initiative. SPLOTLIT is a "collection of children’s books (50 books per grade level - Pre-K through middle school) approved and hand-picked by a committee of 27 experts (professors, teachers, librarians, etc.)." I've seen the list of experts, and will share that link when Scholastic publishes it on their site. I certainly think that they did a great job. 

You can view the SPOTLIT collection books here. The Preschool list contains many of my family's favorites (like Blueberries for Sal, above). 

Scholastic says that SPLOTLIT is:

  • "The place to find guaranteed great reads hand-picked by some of the most knowledgeable experts in the fields of education and children's books
  • A collection of original, re-readable, memorable, diverse, appealing, and inspiring books for all sorts of kids in preschool through middle school
  • Expert-selected, kid-tested, stick-with-you-even-after-the-last-page books for today's readers"

Here is an infographic showing the connection between SPLOTLIT titles and the major literary awards:

Larger_SPOTLIT_INFOGRAPHIC_Awards_13_10_30
You can find several other related infographics, including one that highlights the range of animal protagonists in the books, on Scholastic's website

Redlabl-logoHow will you celebrate National Family Literacy Day? I'm celebrating right now, in a way, by listening to my daughter request read-aloud after read-aloud from her babysitter. I also plan to have a marathon read-aloud session with Baby Bookworm tonight. We were too tired to read at all last night, after trick-or-treating. Tomorrow we'll be going to the library. Because, really, every day is family literacy day, as far as I'm concerned. Or, as Scholastic says, Read Every Day, Live a Better Life. Sounds right to me. 

© 2013 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. 


Reading Aloud to Kids Builds Background Knowledge

I recently read the 7th edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook (more details here). The section (in Chapter 1) on Background Knowledge stood out for me. Trelease says: 

"Background knowledge is one reason children who read the most bring the largest amount of information to the learning table and thus understand more of what the teacher of the textbook is teaching... For the impoverished child lacking the travel portfolio of affluence, the best way to accumulate background knowledge is by either reading or being read to." (Page 13-14)

There is no question that my daughter has acquired background knowledge from books. Recently we were in the parking lot at the grocery store, and a taxi cab passed by. My daughter said: "Look! A taxi cab! I've never seen one in real life before." (Forgetting various airport trips, I guess.) She had, however, seen a taxi cab in Night Light by Nicholas Blechman. And despite the one in the book having been somewhat stylized, the rendition was accurate enough for my Baby Bookworm to know one when she saw it. 

Do you have examples of ways that your child has used books to build background knowledge? Or is this so pervasive that you don't even notice? 

See also my related post about making connections between books and day-to-day life, from this year's Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour. 

© 2013 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. 


Idea for Increasing Your Child's Literacy: A Rear-Facing Stroller

I'm sharing some ideas that I picked up from a recent read of the 7th edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook (more details here). In Chapter One, Trelease proposes "one inexpensive, commonsense move that parents could make that would impact their children's language skills". The simple idea is to purchase a rear-facing stroller. Turns out that:

"Researchers (of parents using rear-facing strollers) found it makes a huge difference in how much conversation takes place between parent and child--twice as much when the child faces the parent." (Page 17)

The larger idea is that talking with your child is one of the ways that you help to build your child's vocabulary (on which much of the success of their future education rests). So, if you are regularly taking your infant out for walks in a stroller, using a rear-facing stroller increases your opportunity to engage with the child. Such a simple idea, but one that could make a big difference. (Obviously, this is less practical with a curious 2 year old who wants to see the world, even if you could find a rear-facing stroller). 

We actually did have a rear-facing stroller when my daughter was an infant (it was like the one shown above, where the car seat snaps into a base). But I must admit that was luck (and generous friends). Have any of you deliberately tried using a rear-facing stroller, so that you'll talk more with your baby?

© 2013 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. 


WordGirl's Word of the Month for October: Supernatural

SupernaturalFittingly enough as Halloween approaches, WordGirl's Word of the Month for October is supernatural: "Outside of what would appear in the natural world."  

This is a good month to introduce your children to stories about the supernatural, whether you are reading picture books like Creepy Carrots, classics like The House with a Clock in its Walls, or newer titles like The Graveyard Book

Wishing you supernatural times!


Actions I'm Taking After Reading the New Read-Aloud Handbook

I've included some general responses to my recent reading of the 7th edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook in a separate post. Here, I'm sharing the bits that motivated me to want to take a specific action, and/or change something that I'm doing, in terms of my daughter's reading experience.

Mind you, I'm already reading to my daughter (now 3 1/2) regularly. She visits the library, and chooses her own books. We have books in the car, and we take books with us when we go on trips. We read mostly picture books, but are dabbling in early readers, and even dipping our toes into chapter books. I've read at least two earlier editions of The Read-Aloud Handbook, as well as various other titles on this subject, and I'm confident that we're doing a reasonable job already. 

Still, I found some useful take home messages, places where I think we can do a little bit better. Like these:

Perform Repeat Reads of the Same Book

"Research shows that even when children reach primary grades, repeated picture book reading of the same book (at least three times) increases vocabulary acquisition by 15 to 40 percent, and the learning is relatively permanent." (Page 10, Chapter 1)

The immediate take-home message for me on this is to make sure that we do read new picture books at least three times (unless we dislike them, of course). This isn't much of a problem with books that we own, but sometimes the big stack of library books goes back with books that were only read once or twice. I guess mostly this is a reminder of being patient about re-reads. 

Fill More Book Baskets

Another thing that Trelease advocates is the placement of book baskets in strategic locations throughout the house. I did this when my daughter was younger, but I haven't updated the baskets and locations recently. I need to stock a basket for the bathroom, and figure out a way to keep books closer to the kitchen table. This is going to tie in with another project that we're just starting - putting aside some of the board books (sob!), which currently fill the baskets. 

Get A Bedside Lamp

A related idea, Trelease also suggests buying your child a bed lamp, and letting them stay up 15 minutes later if they are reading in bed. We're not quite ready for this idea in my house yet (we tend to read to her until she falls asleep), but a bed lamp is clearly something that we're going to need soon.  

Read More Poetry

Trelease also talks about the need to read aloud stories that rhyme (Chapter Two). I haven't been as good about reading my daughter poetry as I would like. She's now starting to play with rhyming herself (and has just discovered tongue-twisters), and I think it's time for us to add more poetry to our repertoire. 

Always Say the Title and Name of the Author

In Chapter 4: The Dos and Don'ts of Read-Aloud, Trelease says:

"Before you begin to read, always say the name of the book, the author, and the illustrator--no matter how many times you have read the book." (Page 74)

I used to be very good about this, and had been letting it go a bit lately. This reminder has already gotten me back on track with attribution. I also like to say where the book came from, if it was a gift. 

Read More Slowly

Another reminder from Chapter 4, always good to hear again:

"The most common mistake in reading aloud--whether the reader is a seven-year-old or a forty-year-old--is reading too fast. Read slowly enough for the child to build mental pictures of what he just heard you read. Slow down enough for the children to see the pictures in the book without feeling hurried. Reading quickly allows no time for the reader to use vocal expression." (Page 75)

I think it's always tempting for adults to read quickly, and get through more books. There's a feeling of accomplishment if we read five books tonight before bed. But reading them better, more slowly, with more expression and discussion, is clearly better in the long run. I'm going to work on this.

Chart Reading Progress

My daughter loves to look at her growth chart, and see how much she's grown. Trelease advocates creating a home or school wall chart so that kids can see how much they've read. He says that:

"images of caterpillars, snakes, worms, and trains work well for this purpose, with each section representing a book. Similarly, post a world or U.S. wall map, on which small stickers can be attached to locations where your books have been set." (Page 76)

I especially like the map idea, because we LOVE maps in my house. I'll have to think about the best way to do this. US map? World map? Both? 

Initiate Home Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.) Time

Trelease suggests setting aside time each day for the child to read by herself (even if she is just flipping through books that she can't yet read). He adds: "All your read-aloud motivation goes for naught if time is not available to put that motivation into practice." (Page 77)

We've done this informally, especially in the car. But I like the idea of having a designated quiet self-reading time. I'm happy to also use the time to model reading, by reading my own book. I'll have to think about how this could be integrated into our schedule. 

Spend Less Time Pecking Away on My Phone

I don't have one quote for this, but a number of references in The Read-Aloud Handbook have affirmed something that I've been concerned about for a while. I spend too much time looking at things on my phone, in my daughter's presence. I'd rather either be present with her, or have her see me reading books (or newspapers or magazines). If I am going to read electronically, I prefer to do it on the Kindle Paperwhite, which is only for reading books. I always call this my "Kindle Book", to reinforce the idea that when she sees me with it, I am reading.  

Continue Limiting TV Time, and Turn On the Closed Captioning

Trelease has a whole chapter on the impact of television and audio on kids and reading. I've been determined since before she was born that my daughter will not have a television set in her bedroom (and I won't have one in mine, either). We currently only allow her to watch television on weekends (though she does sneak in a bit of extra time on the iPad during the week sometimes). But she's like an addict, constantly asking if it's the weekend, and then binging on movies when it is. 

I'm particularly struck by the results of a study that found looked at children's schooling level by age twenty-six vs. the amount of television watched in childhood. "Children who viewed less than one hour a day were the most likely to achieve a college degree." (Page 147) Another study suggested "no detrimental effects on learning (and some positive effects) from TV viewing up to ten hours per week; however, after that, the scores begin to decline. The average student today watches three times the recommended dosage." (Page 148)

I'm not going to make any changes right now, besides turning on the closed captioning (something that Trelease has recommended for years, so that kids SEE the words). But I'm going to keep an eye on how many hours of TV watching creep in over the weekends. Just as soon as the baseball playoffs are over, anyway. 

Limit iPad Time When Traveling

We don't have a portable DVD player, or a DVD player in the car, and I don't see much need for one. But we have downloaded a few select movies onto the iPad. We've found this useful for long car trips, or other times when we need a break. (Most recently, when we brought our daughter along on a wine tasting trip to Napa.) I'm not prepared to give this up - it's been awfully handy on long flights. But I do take this point by Trelease into account:

"The recent addition of the DVD player to family transportation does nothing but deprive the child of yet another classroom: conversation with parents or the shared intellectual experience of listening to an audiobook communally." (Page 154)

I don't think that  my daughter is quite ready to follow along with an audiobook, but I do plan to use them for car trips when I think that she's ready. In the meantime, I'm going to work on talking more, and resorting to the iPad less, especially in the car (though I won't give it up entirely). 

Conclusion

A pretty fine list of actions to take, considering that this is at least the third edition I've read of The Read-Aloud Handbook (out of 7 published editions). Trelease has said that this will be the last edition that he writes, which makes me sad. But I'm very happy to have this one. 

How about you all? Have you read The Read-Aloud Handbook? Has it affected your efforts to grow bookworms in your own household? I'd love it if you would share. 

© 2013 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. 


Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

GaimanNeil Gaiman has a truly excellent article in today's Guardian about the importance of reading and libraries. (I found it via a post by PragmaticMom on Facebook). The text is from a speech that Gaiman gave at The Reading Agency, a UK nonprofit "whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers. Because everything changes when we read."

It's a long piece, and so, so quotable. Like this:

Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it's a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it's hard, because someone's in trouble and you have to know how it's all going to end … that's a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you're on the road to reading everything. And reading is key." 

And this:

"The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them."

And of course the quote that I included as an image above, which is my very favorite part. And so much more (I haven't even touched upon the part about libraries). 

If you care about raising kids who love books, and/or writing books, and/or supporting libraries, go and read Neil Gaiman's lecture. Then share it with other people who either do care about these things, or who should. I would like to see this talk make into a little booklet, and distributed widely. Gaiman is an excellent ambassador for literacy and the love of reading. If only more people would hear his message. Go! Read!

© 2013 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. 


The Read-Aloud Handbook: Seventh Edition: Jim Trelease

Book: The Read-Aloud Handbook: Seventh Edition
Author: Jim Trelease
Pages: 384
Age Range: Adult nonfiction (for parents and teachers)

The 7th Edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook was published in June. I pre-ordered my copy, and it arrived that day, but various things kept me from reading it until this week. I reviewed the previous edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook in 2010, having also read an earlier version before starting my blog. I was fortunate enough to hear Jim speak to parents at the Santa Clara City Library in January of 2007. My notes from that session are here. I have referenced Jim's work on encouraging reading aloud to children many times over the course of my blogging. So you may consider this more a recommendation and discussion than a formal review. 

Let me first state for the record that I believe that all parents of young children should read The Read-Aloud Handbook, as should all elementary and middle school teachers. The Read-Aloud Handbook started out as a little booklet that the author self-published in 1979 to encourage other parents to read aloud, and talk about books, with their kids. It became a phenomenon, was picked up by Penguin, and was named by Penguin in 2010 as one of the seventy-five most important books published in the company's 75 year history. It certainly had an impact on me, though I first read it long before I had a child of my own.

GBMantraThe Read-Aloud Handbook posits that instead of focusing on test-prep, flashcards, and the like, what parents and schools need to do to improve life-long levels of literacy and critical thinking, is simply read aloud to kids. I obviously agree (and posted the Read-Aloud Mantra to the left several weeks ago on my blog). 

More than 30 years after initial publication, The 7th Edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook retains Trelease's passion for reading to kids, but has a lot more references and research. The 7th Edition is about 40% changed from the 6th Edition, with new research findings, book recommendations, and discussions of the impact of eBooks and tablets. Even as someone who had read earlier editions (and follows published research studied pretty closely), once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. I finished it in about a day (it helps that nearly half of the book consists of a treasury of recommended read-aloud titles, which I only skimmed). 

My reading of this edition was certainly colored by the fact that I have a three-year-old daughter who I very much hope grows up to be an avid reader. I flagged a mix of items throughout the book - interesting things that I might want to share on the blog, as well as action items for myself (like getting around to putting a basket of picture books in the bathroom). I'll share some of the former here, and put the latter into a separate post. 

Here are some of the many quotes that I flagged:

"Why are students failing and dropping out of school? Because they cannot read well enough to do the assigned work--which affects the entire report card. Change the reading scores and you change the graduation rate and then the prison population--which changes the social climate of America." (Page xxvi, Introduction) 

"If we're waiting for government to save our reading souls, we've got a long wait. Ultimately it will come down to the individual student, parent, teacher, and librarian." (Page xxix, Introduction)

"One factor hidden in the decline of students' recreational reading (as they get older) is that it coincides with a decline in the amount of time adults read to them. By middle school, almost no one is reading aloud to students. If each read-aloud is a commercial for the pleasures of reading, then a decline in advertising would naturally be reflected in a decline in students' recreational reading." (Page 6, Chapter 1)

"Students who read the most also read the best, achieve the most, and stay in school the longest. Conversely, those who don't read much cannot get better at it." (Page 7)

"What motivates children and adults to read more is that (1) they like the experience, (2) they like the subject matter, and (3) they like and follow the lead of people who read a lot." (Page 10)

"The message in this kind of research (especially the Hart and Risley study on Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children) is unambiguous: It's not the toys in the home that make the difference in children's lives; it's the words in their heads. The least expensive thing we can give a child outside of a hug turns out to be the most valuable: words. You don't need a job, a checking account, or even a high school diploma to talk with a child." (Page 16)

 "Here is a crucial fact to consider in the reading and writing connection. Visual receptors in the brain outnumber auditory receptors 30:1. In other words, the chances of a word (or sentence) being retained in our memory bank are thirty times greater if we see it instead of just hear it." (Page 43, Chapter Two). 

"So how do we educate the heart? There are really only two ways: life experience and stories about life experience, which is called literature. Great preachers and teachers--Aesop, Socrates, Confucius, Moses, and Jesus--have traditionally used stories to get their lesson plans across, educating both the mind and the heart." (Page 45)

 "(Expectation of Reward / Effort Required) = Frequency of Activity... When you maintain strong reward factors and lower the number of difficulties, you will see a higher frequency of reading... If you really want to get more reading done, then take control of the distractions: needless trips to the mall, phone calls, multiple televisions, DVD players, e-mails, computer games--each calling for immediate attention or multi-tasking." (Page 84-86, Chapter 5)

"Make sure you, the adult role model, are seen reading daily. It works even better if you read at the same time as the child." (Page 92, Chapter 5)

(On applying Oprah's example of generating enthusiasm for books) "What can we apply from this to our work with children? Well, let's eliminate not all but much of the writing they're required to do whenever they read. ("The more we read, the more we gotta write, so let's read less and we can work less.") We adults don't labor when we read, so why are we forcing children to? It hasn't created a nation of writers or readers." (Page 103, Chapter 5)

"It's difficult to get good at reading if you're short of print. Government programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top ensure that children who are behind in reading are entitled to after-school tutoring and extra help with phonics. Nice. But giving phonics lessons to kids who don't have any print in their lives is like giving oars to people who don't have a boat -- you don't get very far." (Page 107, Chapter 6)

"By the reckoning of its own Department of Education, California's ratio of school librarian to student ranks fifty-first in the nation, with 1 librarian for every 5,124 students, more than five times the national average of 1 to 916. Even the state's adult prison system does better, with 1 librarian to 4,283 inmates." (Page 109). Sigh!

(On reading blogs, tablets, social networks instead of books) "Reading, when it's done today, doesn't go very deep, and it's so private it's invisible. The trouble is, how do you pass invisible torches? How do you pose as an invisible role model?"

"...the e-book is here to stay, for very legitimate reasons. It's a win-win situation: a moneymaker for the publisher and a money saver for the buyer. It also saves time, space, student spines, and trees, to say nothing of what it does for the visually impaired." (Page 131, Chapter 7)

"The research clearly shows that we read more slowly (6 to 11 percent) from a screen than from paper. As with automobile driving, humans may get better and faster at e-reading over the years--but that could take generations." (Page 133) I did not know this, and found it fascinating.

"So what happens to the creative process when there is no disconnect time, when we and our children are constantly downloading, uploading, texting, YouTubing, Googling, or tweeting our 742 "friends"? Less "deep thinking" takes place, less creativity." (Page 139)

"It is not so much what children are doing while they watch multiple hours of TV; it is the experiences they are not having that make the viewing so dangerous." (Page 142, Chapter 8)

"A California professor, Jo Stanchfield, once told me that girls tend to be extrinsically motivated in their reading (favoring the choices of their peers, mom, and teacher), while boys are intrinsically motivated (favoring what they themselves are interested in). I agree. Call it selfish or pragmatic, but guys are drawn more to what interests them, not what interests the crowd." (Page 169, Chapter 10)

There's lots more to the book, obviously, but those quotes should be more than sufficient to give you a feel, and hopefully inspire you to want to read the rest. I feel that if you have kids, or you work with kids, you should read The Read-Aloud Handbook. If you feel like you don't have time, at least read the introduction, which sums up many of the findings discussed throughout the book. The Kindle edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook is $7.99, and you can read it on your phone. (I prefer the print edition for things like this, that I'm going to refer back to, but if cost or time is an object, e-books have advantages.) 

I'm pulling out a few other ideas from this edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook, and will be sharing them as separate posts in the coming days. I welcome your feedback. 

Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Source of Book: Purchased

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© 2013 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