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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: reading aloud, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 178
1. 10 Best Strategies for Reading to Kids in Spanish

Jennifer Brunk

Jennifer Brunk has been teaching Spanish and English learners from preschool to university level for over 20 years. She reGuest Blogger Iconsides in Wisconsin where she raised her three children speaking Spanish and English. Jennifer blogs about resources for teaching Spanish to children on Spanish Playground. The following post is reprinted with permission from her original post at Spanish Playground. 

Research has shown that reading to children helps them learn vocabulary and improves listening comprehension skills. As a parent or teacher, you are probably convinced of the value of reading to your child in Spanish, but how should you do it to promote language development?

First, it is important to keep in mind that above all reading should be enjoyable. We want to create positive associations with reading in any language. So, use these strategies and add plenty of silliness, snuggling, or whatever makes your child smile.Nana's Big Surprise/ Nana, ¡Qué Sorpresa!

1. Identify core vocabulary in the story. If there are words that are central to the story that your child does not know, teach them first or make them clear as you read by pointing to the illustrations or using objects.

2. Use illustrations, objects, gestures and facial expressions to help kids understand new words. Choose stories with a limited number of new vocabulary words and a close text-to-picture correspondence.

3. Simplify the story if necessary. It is fine to reword or skip words or sentences. As your child becomes familiar with the story and acquires more vocabulary, you can include new language.

4. Read slowly. Children need time to process the sounds, connect them with the illustrations and form their own mental images.

5. Pronounce words as correctly as possible. To develop listening comprehension skills and learn new vocabulary, children need to hear correct pronunciation and natural rhythm. If your Spanish pronunciation is a work in progress, take advantage of technology. Look for books with audio CDs and ask a native speaker to record stories. At first, listen to the story with your child and take over reading when you are confident of the pronunciation.Dónde está mi perrito?

6. Engage your child with the story by providing different ways for her to participate.Ask questions that can be answered by pointing or say a repeated phrase together.  You can also give your child a toy or object that she can hold up each time she hears a key word.

7. Read the same story over and over. Repetition is essential to language learning.

8. Relate the story to your child’s life by drawing parallels as you read: Tiene un perro. Nosotros también tenemos un perro. As you go about your daily routines, refer to stories you have read.

9. Use puppets or figures to act out stories when you are playing with your child. Dramatizing the story adds movement to enhance learning and provides essential repetition of the language in context.

10. Do activities that expand on the language in the book. Look for songs, crafts or games with related vocabulary and structures.

Día de los niños/ Día de los librosVisit Spanish Playground for more great resources for teaching Spanish to children, and don’t forget that Dia de los niños/ Día de los libros is in just a few weeks! What are you doing to celebrate? What are your favorite books in Spanish to read aloud?


Filed under: Curriculum Corner, guest blogger Tagged: bilingual, bilingual books, bilingual education, Día de los niños/Día de los libros, ell, English-Spanish, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, libros en Español, parents, Read Aloud, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, teaching resources

2 Comments on 10 Best Strategies for Reading to Kids in Spanish, last added: 4/14/2014
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2. A Few Recent Baby Bookworm Literacy Moments

My Baby Bookworm is not such a baby anymore. She turned four this weekend (with much celebration, and many cupcakes). So far, our efforts to ensure that she loves books seem to be paying off. Here are a few recent tidbits. 

We were very nearly late for her birthday party (which we held out at her gymnastics place), because she wanted me to read her "just one more" Little Critter book. We incidentally let each child select a book as a party favor. The Fancy Nancy books were the most popular.

She had to stop in the middle of opening presents to ask Daddy to read her the newly unwrapped Mo Willems book (The Pigeon Needs a Bath). Yes, I did get that on video. When things do not go her way, she says: "Hmmpf." She does not seem to realize that she picked this up from the Pigeon. But we do. 

She has started using words like "mischievous" when describing the behavior of her dolls . She doesn't always use big words correctly, but she is clearly trying. 

As for me, I find it rewarding (if occasionally inconvenient) that she requests to have books read aloud at all hours of the day. We've also learned that when she becomes particularly insistent about us reading to her around dinnertime, it means that she is extra-tired. She wants to get her books in before she falls asleep. Because that's what bookworms, whether babies or not, do. 

© 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.

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3. Beyond “Did you know…”: Teaching Geo-Literacy Using the Vanishing Cultures Book Series

JillJill_Eisenberg Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Vanishing Cultures: Mongolia

Vanishing Cultures: Mongolia

Last week on the blog we spotlighted the work of Jan Reynolds, an author and explorer who has written nonfiction for young readers about cultures across the globe. If we had read the Vanishing Cultures series when I was a classroom teacher, my students would have been competing with each other over who knew the most outrageous fact. Did you know the Tiwi, an aboriginal tribe from an island off the coast of Australia, eat mangrove worms fresh? Did you know the Inuit from the Hudson Bay build rock piles that are stacked to look like men in order to scare caribou toward the real Inuit hunters?

My students loved to play the “did you know…” game. That became a popular sentence starter in our classroom. Students would scramble for the latest book or periodical on animals, prehistoric times, and exotic locales. The peregrine falcon, megalodon, and the giant panda were unshakable favorites.

Yet, we don’t want students to know “just facts” as if they are mini-encyclopedias. We aspire for our students to wonder and to investigate how our world works, how we are all connected to our environment and other humans halfway around the globe, and how our actions here affect others way over there.

The Common Core brings a refreshed spotlight to the nonfiction genre in children’s books, challenging publishers, educators, librarians, and parents to present children with high interest, high quality texts. What a time to engage students’ senses, sustain their wonder, and teach them geo-literacy!

National Geographic affirms, “with the rapid pace of change in the 21st century, it is more important than ever that young people understand the world around them.” It has adopted the concept of “geo-literacy,” and even gone so far as to create a community to support and cultivate “geo-educators.”

Vanishing Cultures: Himalaya

Vanishing Cultures: Himalaya

Enjoyed in classrooms around the nation, Jan Reynolds’ collection on at-risk traditional cultures is even more significant and striking today than when the series was first published. The persistent popularity of the Vanishing Cultures series speaks to its captivating power to make geo-literacy learning personal and tangible. This collection supports geo-literacy learning because each book challenges students to examine:

  • the characteristics of each culture
  • what makes this featured culture unique
  • how this group of people has adapted to survive in its environment
  • what challenges this group of people faces
  • the modern human impact (positive and negative) on this traditional culture and the environment
  • why the author would want to share this story with children and create a whole series on this topic

When we educate children about other cultures and geo-literacy more broadly, we are implanting the idea that we learn in order to make better, more informed decisions. Before our students become adults in positions of power, we want them to have practice in pausing and thinking how their choices to construct their community could disturb the environment of another community or animal species.

The Vanishing Cultures books encourage students to reason and reflect critically and deeply about how humans affect other humans and why we all benefit from diversity. As classrooms around the country can attest, Jan Reynolds’ books will not only spark enthusiasm that we hope ignites into lifelong careers and hobbies, but also conversation on what information we need to make decisions that will shape our and others’ health, environment, and well-being.

Vanishing Cultures: Down Under

Vanishing Cultures: Down Under

Classroom Ideas for Comparing and Contrasting Between Vanishing Cultures Books and Teaching Geo-Literacy

(Reading Standards, Integration of Knowledge & Ideas, Strand 9)

(Writing Standards, Research to Build & Present Knowledge, Strand 7 and 9)

  1. How are these cultures similar and different from each other? What actions do these families take in both books to protect their ways of life?
  2. Compare how the challenges of each culture are similar or different.
  3. Compare how the children in each book demonstrate their pride in their culture. Why is it important for the children to feel proud of who they are and their way of life?
  4. What is the author’s purpose in starting each book with the parents telling their child a story from long ago? How does this affect the tone of and set the mood in the series? How does this opening support the central idea?
  5. After reading two or more of the Vanishing Cultures books, what common features or characteristics does a Vanishing Culture book have? If you were to write a book about your family’s culture, what kinds of things happen in a Vanishing Cultures book? What are some things that will not happen in a Vanishing Cultures book? What central ideas and lessons will be in the book?
  6. Have students create a chart to compare different aspects of life across two or more cultures. Write the name of each cultural group being compared on the top of the chart, and list the topics for points of comparison down the left side. Here are some possible topics: Food, Clothing, Climate, Geography, Important Animals, Homes, How Children Help (Chores), Roles of Men & Women, Family Life, How People Have Fun, Beliefs, Means of Transportation, Challenges Faced Today, Celebrations, Honoring Loved Ones. Have students record appropriate information as they read and re-read the texts.
  7. One elementary class created the “Around the World with Jan Reynolds” project on Google Earth. Explore where each of the books takes place. Compare the political map with the satellite map. Reflect on how geography has helped or hurt the survival of these ancient cultures. Students can create their own maps of the different cultures at National Geographic’s MapMaker’s 1-Page Maps.

Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: CCSS, children's books, close reading, common core standards, diversity, Educators, ELA common core standards, environmentalism, geography, geoliteracy, guided reading, Multiracial, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, vanishing cultures

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4. Resources For Teaching About Wangari Maathai and Seeds Of Change

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Seeds of Change cover

Seeds Of Change

In honor of Wangari Maathai’s birthday on Tuesday, April 1 and upcoming Earth Day later this month, we at Lee & Low Books want to share all the fantastic resources and ideas that are available to educators who are teaching about Wangari Maathai’s legacy and using Seeds Of Change: Planting a Path to Peace.

Wangari Maathai

Seeds Of Change

Elementary School:

Seeds of ChangeMiddle School and High School:

  • Seeds Of Change won the American Library Association’s Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in Illustration in 2011. The Committee Chair and Book Jury have prepared activities and discussion questions for Seeds Of Change in the 2011 Discussion Guide for Coretta Scott King Book Awards, P. 20-21.
  • Have students read and discuss author Jen Cullerton Johnson and illustrator Sonia Lynn Sadler’s joint interview with Lee & Low, which covers the environment, their travels, and Wangari Maathai’s achievements.
  • After introducing Wangari Maathai with Seeds Of Change, delve deeper with the Speak Truth To Power human rights education curriculum, a project of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. They present an in-depth exploration on Wangari Maathai, the Green Belt Movement, and sustainability issues.
  • In teaching standard 7 of the ELA Common Core, have students evaluate how Wangari Maathai is presented in a documentary compared to the Seeds Of Change biography. PBS’s documentary on Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement, Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, contains a classroom section full of video modules, handouts, and lesson plans.

What did we miss? Let us know how you are using Seeds Of Change in your classroom!

 

 


Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: African/African American Interest, biographies, CCSS, children's books, common core standards, diversity, Educators, ELA common core standards, environmentalism, History, holidays, lesson plans, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, ReadyGEN, Wangari Maathai

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5. La Palabra at Ave50. Twenty. On-line Floricanto: Blackjack

La Palabra Hosts Bloguera Xánath Caraza, Shy But Flyy, and Debuts Eric "Praxis" Contreras


It was Karineh Mahdessian's second time at the helm of the monthly reading series, La Palabra, at Northeast Los Angeles' Avenue 50 Studio.

 She hit her stride. Unfazed by a featured reader's late arrival and Xánath Caraza's time-certain departure an hour after the 2:00 opening, Karineh improvised with aplomb.

Mahdessian altered the series' pattern of Open Mic and Featured Reader. In this instance, Open Mic launched the afternoon, the Featured readers came next, another Open Mic, and an engaging Q&A followed.


Bloguera Xánath Caraza's reading included work from Conjuro, including the heart-thumping Yanga that had the audience dancing in their seats to the intoxicating rhythm of the Afro-Latino influenced text.



A special moment in the reading. Caraza's latest collection, Noche de Colibríes: Ekphrastic Poems, features cover art by Heriberto Luna. Caraza had not met the artist, whose studio is in the Avenue 50 complex. Luna joined the audience for Caraza's reading of Luna's poem.




Madhessian holds Luna's Tree of Life painting featuring the cosmic hummingbirds of the cover as Xánath reads the piece inspired by the painting. After, Luna tells me he enjoyed the heck out of the experience.

Southeast Los Angeles' Eric "Praxis" Contreras made his featured poet debut at La Palabra, his name had never been on a poster. Mahdessian disclosed that Contreras will soon be a household name when a feature LATimes article appears.


Contreras writes feminist poetry, sharing a powerfully constructed piece in the voice of a woman. He tells the audience his grandmother and mother are the dominant influences in his life, and he rejects the attitudes of some pendejos who don't understand nor value women.

Eric's motivations for poetry extend from the personal to the community. His home city of Bell is notorious for government corruption, but also for its dramatic absence of a cultural life.

Contreras works to fill the void by holding Alivo Open Mics in his garage. Alivio brings in a crowd of young adults and neighborhood viejitos to share their own, or hear others' poetry.


It's those crowds of gente coming to some vato's garage to do a floricanto that brings the LA Times' Ruben Vives (who broke the Bell corruption scandal story) to shadow the high school substitute teacher for the feature.

In addition to Alivio, Contreras hosts a biweekly reading at Corazón y Miel Restaurant in Bell.


Find information on the Alivo series and Corazón y Miel, via Eric's Facebook page, don't wait for the LA Times article.


If she's shy she holds it back and lets loose with a frenetic array of musical poetry that led an already exhausted audience to higher levels of energy and joyousness.

Shy But Flyy's harmonious blend of spoken word, song, and drumming provided La Palabra's house with a stirring example of poetry out loud y con ganas.


Shy But Flyy organizes poetry readings from her Long Beach area residence. La Bloga looks forward to learning and sharing more about these events at the far southeast of LA County.


Open Mic at La Palabra

A sense of community and carnalismo develops among the gente attending a La Palabra meeting. Much of this grows from the Open Mic. Open means anyone, from a trembling novice reading their stuff to an audience for the first time, or experience veterans like Jessica Ceballos and Luivette Resto, or Joe Kennedy. I'd not heard Charlie Zero, lower right, read before.


For the most part, today's readers omitted the most valued element of a reader's nonverbal communication--eye contact. It's a problem of handling the manuscript, but also of lack of confidence.

Here are Flor de Té, Angel Garcia, Karla Sanchez, and William A. Gonzalez. Two got stuck to their manuscripts while Angel and Karla had a bit of eye contact.


Rebekkah Bax read her selection from Mahdessian's Heartbreak Anthology. When a piece is quite short, the reader should allow herself a slow pace to avoid the look down look up and she's gone effect. It stymies photographers.


Karineh handled the Q&A effectively. The loquacious audience had lots of questions and the two featured readers elaborated effectively on their answers. Shy But Flyy hedged her story about her earliest writing performance. Her mother spills the beans in the lower right foto, telling how the precocious three-year old demanded an audience for her compositions. That patience worked, Ma, the kid is a wonderful performer.

Reading Your Own Stuff challenges every writer from the laureates to the rookies. See the "Reading Your Stuff Aloud" pages at Read! Raza for tips on eye contact, handling manuscripts, delivery, and memorization. Here's a link to individual portraits.



Twenty Little Helpless Souls

La Bloga friend Edward Vidaurre is one of four editors of a sadly needful collection of poems. Twenty honors the twenty treasures who were shot by a man armed with a rifle and a broken mind. The babies were six, and seven, years old.

Nothing like this should happen, ever. Yet, the December 2012 shootings in Newton CT stand in a long line of United States cultural markers outsiders can point to and say, “that is ‘American’ culture” and they mean you.

It’s a rhetorical situation that calls for poetry. That perception of who we are demands a counterstatement as loudly heard as bullets. Twenty: In Memoriam is counterstatement, fifty-five poets stepping forward in communal expression of who we are. Photography and art embellish the collection. Many of the poets, like Vidaurre, are from the Rio Grande Valley. Poets Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and Carmen Tafolla contribute, as well as several La Bloga friends and On-line Floricanto poets, including Nancy Aidé Gonzalez, Iris de Anda, and Claudia D. Hernandez. Hernandez’ fotos are a notable bonus to the book.

In his “Introduction Writing Kindness,” Juan Felipe Herrera tells us, “These poems speak wisdom. It is hard to find it – perhaps you must fall into each other, bathe in the palms of intertwined hands ripped by shrapnel and sense the sublime there, flowering, in those wounds.”

Editor José Chapa V recalls, “When I was approached with the offer to help curate TWENTY, I had mixed feelings. We knew that on one hand, the poems would seek to commemorate and honor the victims of the tragic shooting, and that on the other they would be probing darker areas than the usual poetry anthology. I wasn’t sure how to go about it, if the work that arrived (regardless of quality) would fit such delicate criteria, and what kind of response our gesture would gather. But I decided to join the editorial team on the knowledge that such events have an impact not just on the victims and their families, not just on our nation, but on the entire human species.”

Editor Vidaurre explains a powerful feature of the collection.

Twenty-eight lives were lost. This book is dedicated to the educators that lost their lives as well. Page 20 in this anthology is left blank, purposefully: we ask that when you come across it, you say a special prayer, close it for a bit and reflect, write your thoughts, a poem, a song, or bring the book to your chest and hold it.

The book comes from McAllen, Texas and El Zarape Press. The collection presently has distribution only from Amazon, though the press promises alternative distribution in future. Use ISBN-13: 978-1494326753 or ISBN-10: 1494326752 with your local bookseller to order. Some money from sales will go to charities serving children.


Más Tequila Review Hits the Streets

That’s old newspaper talk for a new edition. Unlike the newspapers or yore, a new edition of an independent poetry journal like The Más Tequila Review doesn’t have streetcorner urchins shouting “TMTR, get yer TMTR” on every block.

Headquartered in Alburquerque, New Mexico, The Más Tequila Review is the love child of Richard Vargas and the muses of poetry. The current issue, Vargas confesses, has a new look because he accepted too many poets to fit the normal press run. Euterpe and Erato were whispering in Vargas' ears as he's featuring Jazz Poetry in the issue.

For information on ordering the $7.00 collection—I proofed this copy, the price is seven U.S. dollars--click here for the Facebook TMTR page, and here for the TMTR website.


Free La Tolteca ‘Zine


In its fifth year, La Tolteca ‘Zine sets itself up as a sassy, thoughtful resource for razacentric writing with an actitude, or make that a twist.

In 2012, La Tolteca promised its December issue would be “more exciting, original thought, images & literature to boggle your mind, put a jiggle in your wiggle & bring you closer to the gods. Strap on your seat belt or something & subscribe. It’s the only thing you’ll get this season for free + our love.” A year later, staff was telling readers, “Subscribe now! It’s free! Pass on to your high falutin’ thinker friends, poet acquaintances and barely literate family members who like the arts. There’s something for (almost) everyone, who thinks, supports the arts and occasionally still reads. Happy holidays with love from la tolteca staff.”

It’s free.

Getting there is half the fun. Click on this Facebook link to learn more about the process.

The ‘Zine marks one of those labors of love that busy people take on because they have to. As if she didn’t have her hands full writing and workshopping writers and living her life, Ana Castillo is la éminence grise of La Tolteca.

La Tolteca arrives on your desktop as a deluxe interactive graphic with the look and feel of a print magazine. There's a special bonus for gente who've joined one of Ana Castillo's workshops. Some get to work on the 'Zine, plus the 'Zine runs contests open to workshopistas.


Latinopia Scrolls

Six-column layout is easy-to-read. Magnifying or shrinking your browser window gives fewer or more columns.

One of my favorite Chicana Chicano media sites is Latinopia. It’s a visionary place that keeps growing.

Film maker Jesus Treviño shares his enormous video library in multiple small portions. He updates the site weekly. One week he might have José Montoya reading “El Louie,” another week he will share a few minutes from a documentary spotlight on ASCO. And each week there will be six other highlights just like those.

Latinopia shows contemporary as well as historic video. Treviño regularly captures community events—see RudyG’s reading--plus conducts interviews with a variety of people from artists like Sonia Romero or Linda Vallejo to performances by Ruben Guevara or Conjunto Aztlán. Book reviews, Serge Hernandez’ resurrected Arnie and Porfi cartoon that originated in Con Safos Magazine, and the Zombie Mex Diaries, make regular appearances.

Treviño’s staff make regular improvements and adaptations to the site. The site encourages visitors to scroll through newspaper-like columns dotted with descriptive and promotional links to features in art, literature, history, food, music, theatre, film, art, and blogs. Fotos mark divisions between stories so individual items are easily discerned. Ample white space further defines links to stories and videos.

Visit Latinopia with ample time. Once a visitor begins scrolling those columns and discovering the richness of cultura and history here, they’ll become lost in the delights of this space.


On-line Floricanto: Blackjack Poems
Pamela Murray Winters, David Taylor Nielsen

La Bloga friend Maritza Rivera invented a 21st century poetic form, the Blackjack Poem. Comprised of three lines, 7 syllables each, for a jackpot of 21 syllables, the form produces delightfully playful, often pithy, pieces.

Learn more about Blackjack poetry, submit your own, via the Blackjack Poets Facebook page.


3 Blackjacks 
By David Taylor Nielsen

When Batman kissed Superman,
A kryptonite explosion
Left Kal-El weak in the knees.

ADHD poetry:
I would explain it to you,
But I've moved on already.

Who needs a thousand foreskins?
Samson, I don't understand.
Wasn't killing them enough?


David Taylor Nielsen is a Literacy Coach and reading teacher with Montgomery County Public Schools. He is currently the host of Poetry Night Open Mic in Greenbelt, MD. He can also be found haunting other open mic poetry readings in the DC Metro Region. He has been published in Gargoyle Magazine and Three Line Poetry.















Three Blackjacks from the Pantry 
By Pamela Murray Winters

Jicama

Born to be architecture:
firm mild wallboard disguised as
an expensive vegetable.

Garlic Scapes

Braid and swing from their fresh stink,
stir-fry your fantasies with
these perfumed limbs of Chthulu.

Turmeric

Last night I rolled in you and
inhaled your distinct attar.
Morning: the gold won’t wash off.


A native of Takoma Park, Maryland, Pamela Murray Winters now lives on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake Bay with her husband and animals, most of them poets.


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6. 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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This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 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

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7. 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. 

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8. 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. 

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9. My First Group Read-Aloud

SophiesSquashI have read many picture books aloud to my daughter over the past 3 1/2 years. Prior to that I read books to my nieces and friends' children here and there. But until last weekend, I'd never done a read-aloud for a larger group. But when the organizers for my church's Mommy and Me group asked me if I would do a little storytime for the kids as part of one of our regular monthly playdates, I said "Of course!" How could a determined bookworm-grower refuse such an invitation? 

I sought out input from my Facebook friends (many of whom are librarians and teachers). With their help, I settled on Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller and Ann Wilsdorf and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. (It seemed especially fitting that our copy of the Pigeon book was a baby gift from Donalyn Miller, Book Whisperer and co-founder of The Nerdy Book Club.)

The reading took place at a local park, with the kids and their moms gathered around a picnic table. And I thought that it was quite successful. The kids ranged from 18 months up to about 8. One of the older girls recited Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus along with me, line by line, which was fun. And the 18 month old hung on to every word, however much he actually understood. With Sophie's Squash, we talked about what happens when one keeps a vegetable around for too long, and I think that at least the older kids and their moms appreciated the clever and heart-warming ending. I had some good talks about children's books and reading with a couple of the moms afterward, too. 

Bottom line: I do believe we'll try this again! Fun was had by all, especially me. My thanks to the Social Club of the St. Andrew Armenian Church for inviting me to read, and to Ani Yeni-Komshian for the above photo. 

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10. ‘Mummy, don’t do the voices’ – the perils of reading aloud

Peppa Pig’s school roof needs repairing. Again. And poor Daddy Pig ends up having to buy his chair back at a fundraising fete. That was the gist of our daughter’s latest bedtime story. I’ve read “Peppa Pig’s Daddy Is Made … Continue reading

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11. Literacy Milestone: Reading Aloud Together

This weekend my daughter and I experienced a new literacy milestone. We read our first book aloud together. She had requested Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills. (We are not hung up on seasonally appropriate literature in our house.) On each page spread of this fun book, reviewed here, Duck or Goose will ask his friend a question ("Is our pumpkin in the log, Goose?", etc.). Then the other will say: "No". It's the illustrations and the deadpan delivery together that make this book funny.

LiteracyMilestoneAMy daughter pointed to the word "No" the first time it appeared, and said: "That says no." It's unclear if she already knew how to spell "no" or was getting it from context, but she was correct either way. So I told her she could read the "No" parts the rest of the way through. And she did. She took pride later in telling Daddy that we had read the book together. As I take pride in telling all of you.

This makes four words that she can spell aloud and recognize by sight: her name, her friend's name, Mom, and No. It's a good start, I think!

© 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.

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12. The Best Cheerleaders May Come In the Smallest Packages: How Siblings Affect Literacy Education

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Home to Medicine Mountain

Home to Medicine Mountain

My students and their siblings were often alone or spent a lot of time with each other. For some, siblings were the only constant in their lives. Fittingly, siblings and close-in-age relatives held powerful sway and influence over each other.

I found that brothers, sisters, cousins, and neighbors saw each other’s success as their OWN success. One of my third-graders danced in the middle of the carpet for twelve minutes after he heard the intercom announcement that his fifth-grade sister would be the new school president of the student council. What if I could channel that excitement towards literacy?

Brothers and sisters WANTED to see their siblings succeed. Sure, when one of my third-graders struggled to translate from English to Spanish that she hadn’t turned her homework in for a week at the parent-teacher conference, her older sister was delighted to impart the correct information to their mother.

In addition to using siblings for accountability and parent-teacher bridges, siblings became an incredible reward and relationship in my classroom. When my students, especially the struggling readers, made it to a new level, aced an assessment, or turned in excellent high-quality work, I wrote laudatory notes and let those students deliver them to their siblings in another classroom.

Mama Elizabeti

Mama Elizabeti

This system turned out to be just as powerful as a celebratory phone call home to adults, but I was recognizing the child in real time and recognizing the strength of the family presence at school. And it went further: the younger or older sibling was able to celebrate my student in their classroom and admire them publicly amidst their peers for academic achievement. There are not enough Dollar Tree prizes to compete with that kind of reward.

Beyond my school, psychologists have noticed the effect older brothers and sisters can have. In fact, NPR explored the positive and negative consequences of older sibling influence in a segment called, “Big Sibling’s Big Influence: Some Behaviors Run In The Family.”

At Arlington Elementary in Arlington, Tennessee, The Jackson Sun reported how teachers are recruiting older students to read to younger students in their Big Brothers, Big Sisters Reading Club every morning before school. More advanced students can relate to struggling readers and explain strategies in a friendly, non-high-stakes atmosphere.

In Carmel Valley, California, the Read To Me Project is an early literacy program that builds school readiness by engaging elementary brothers and sisters to read to their siblings. So far, 350 participating older siblings are reading to 443 young children across four school districts.

For Dr. Seuss’ Birthday last year at my school in the Bay Area, our kindergarten teachers invited the third-graders to read to them. Everyone was ecstatic to read to their brother, sister, cousin, or neighbor. My scholars had the opportunity to show off the chapter books they were tackling and feel like experts as they helped the kinders decode and recognize sight words. The kinders, in turn, received extra reading time, exposure to high-quality texts, and an opportunity to show off how remarkable their older sibling was.

One of my students who was an advanced learner, but had a very unstable home life, was very, very protective of his three younger brothers. His active kinder brother had refused to read with any third-grader, hiding each time another class of third-graders came throughout the day. Not until the last period arrived and his third-grade brother, my student, finally appeared did this kinder cuddle up to read. Even though my student brought a dense, picture-less chapter book on sharks and their presence in Fiji cultural traditions, his kinder brother sat in rapt attention for nearly an hour soaking in every word from his big brother.

We know the results on a child’s motivation and confidence when parents relish in their child’s success, so why don’t we harness that effect from siblings as well? Equipping our children with the love for reading and the skills needed to confront real world problems involves every stakeholder in our children’s lives—and that may include their smallest (but loudest!) cheerleaders.

If you need more inspiration, check out these books with strong sibling relationships:

Summer of the Mariposas

Summer of the Mariposas


Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: CCSS, children's books, close reading, diversity, Educators, ELA common core standards, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

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13. Where Do Boys Belong In Women’s History Month?

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Irena's Jars Of Secrets

Irena’s Jars Of Secrets

I entered the education field to broaden the minds of a new generation and teach the truths that I felt I had missed or was denied in my own education. Indeed, I was not alone in those motivations. According to the Primary Sources project by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, of the more than 20,000 public school classroom teachers polled, 85% of teachers say they chose the profession in order to make a difference in children’s lives.

Despite my righteous ambitions, once in the classroom, I was hesitant to broach the conversation about gender with a mixed class of boys and girls. So many of my own college classes that focused on social justice and equality issues were almost entirely women.

Acutely aware of my students’ fragile perception of themselves, I was intimated by the prospect of guiding the discussion. When I was leading a classroom of my own, it was often easier to concentrate on the benign world of synonyms, dictionary skills, main idea, and genre features than push my students to think about what role gender plays in achievement, history, and identity.

I wondered: How do we teach about women’s history and contributions without alienating boys? Will boys disengage if a girl or woman is on the cover or is the main character? In this day and age, do girls still need explicit attention drawn to high-achievers that share their gender?

Leading up to my first month of March as a teacher, I thought I would “just” read more books with women as the central figures during Women’s History Month, but not explicitly point out that these were all women so as not to freak out boys and hope the girls would pick up on my subliminal messages of empowerment….

Face palm

Insert face palm here.

This thinking was a huge disservice to ALL of my students’ educations. As I introduced books with prominent women historic figures or girl characters, I realized if the books were about gender, we would discuss identity and tolerance. Other times if the story just happened to have a girl character, but gender wasn’t a central feature of the story, my scholars just wanted to focus on the great story and how the universal lessons applied to their lives.

Four lessons to think about when teaching women’s history so both boys AND girls grow and learn:

  1. Two words: cool stories. Above all, if it’s a great story, it doesn’t matter who is on the cover. Everyone will want to sit up and participate.
  2. Pick contemporary and diverse stories. To continue to show the relevancy of the women’s movements and contributions of women to society, we owe it to all of our students to find more contemporary examples of women figures and showcase more diverse participants in equality. Let’s keep exposing our kids to women of today and of different backgrounds.
  3. Show explicit examples of men championing women. Boys need to see great role models of men advocating for women alongside or behind the scenes. There are plenty of men who have been in the trenches with women fighting for social If we want to instill resiliency and develop children’s imaginations, we need to present children with stories about long odds, big dreams, and fantastic leadership that come in all shapes, sizes, and bodies.justice and as invested in their wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers achieving great success in a field of study as the women themselves. If we want future generations of men to respect and support women, we need to offer boys examples of how to recognize and champion women’s contributions. Boys and girls need to see that the struggles for equality impacted everyone and were not about one group’s success at the other’s detriment.
  4. Talk about the universal lesson and character traits. Everyone can learn from a story about overcoming obstacles, persistence, and courage. Women like Wangari Maathai and Pura Belpré fought for what they loved and believed was right first, and then fought for who they were and who they represented. If we want to instill resiliency and develop children’s imaginations, we need to present children with stories about long odds, big dreams, and fantastic leadership that come in all shapes, sizes, and bodies.

Throughout the year and especially during Women’s History Month, we need to teach that gender shouldn’t be an excuse to bar someone from exploring or contributing to a field of study. Concurrently, we want to show all students that gender can offer a unique perspective or approach that should be recognized and celebrated.

Alongside our girls, boys need the language of equality and a broader view of history. Women’s contributions advanced our society and continue to impact all of us. We need to teach that gender totally does matter and, at the same time, totally doesn’t matter.

Shining Star: The Story Of Anna May Wong

Shining Star: The Story Of Anna May Wong

Susan B. Anthony Is Great, But Who Else Do We Have? Here are books about high-achieving women from diverse backgrounds with diverse pursuits.

Baby Flo: Florence Mills Lights Up The Stage

Baby Flo: Florence Mills Lights Up The Stage

Women and The Men That Championed Them. Explore these books with awesome men celebrating awesome women:

Killer Of Enemies

Killer Of Enemies

Stories That Will Hook ’Em All. Here are stories so fun that it won’t matter who is on the cover…but the cover just happens to feature a girl:


Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: children's books, diversity, Educators, Girls/women, History, holidays, Reading Aloud, reluctant readers, Wangari Maathai, women in history, women's history month

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14. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: March 12

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currently send out the newsletter once every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (picture book through young adult), as well as post about my daughter's latest literacy milestone, and one about why I think she loves Mo Willems' books so much. I have two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently. 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read one middle grade book, three young adult books, and one adult title:

I'm currently reading Insignia by S. J. Kincaid on my Kindle and The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer in print. I am very much enjoying my current audiobook, A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy. It is the perfect antidote to stress, and I wish it would never end. 

We're also still reading to Baby Bookworm these days, of course. You can check out the complete list of books we've read to her this year if you are interested. We also read the first two chapters of Winnie-the-Pooh last night. 

She turns four in a few weeks, and I can tell you that we're really seeing the impact of all the books that we've read. She can spell a few words now (her name, Mom, Dad, no, moo, Mo, so), and she'll notice those words if she sees them ("Why does that sign say 'No'?). She's asking how to spell things like "I love you" when she makes us cards. She enjoys the Reading Raven app. I can't remember who recommended that one, but thank you! We are careful not to push her, but she's like a little sponge these days, soaking up new words all around her. My goal is just to keep it fun!

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 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

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15. Eight Ways to Help Students Remember that Books are Fabulous

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Dissecting excerpts, highlighting evidence, defending one’s answer choice, bubbling in exit slips. As necessary as all that preparation for upcoming state assessments may be, March and April for teachers and students can be arduous. In some cases, students are learning how to take a test for the first time. For many, the third quarter risks turning enthusiastic momentum for reading, developing interests, and taking academic risks into a trudge of review and re-teaching.

Now more than ever, students need the bigger picture of how literacy helps us as citizens, the experiences of deriving joy from print, and practice using books for stress management.With all this reading in overdrive, it is understandable that few students (and teachers) want to keep reading at home for pleasure. Yet we need to sustain student excitement for reading and prevent testing anxiety. Now more than ever, students need the bigger picture of how literacy helps us as citizens, the experiences of deriving joy from print, and practice using books for stress management.

Where On Earth Is My Bagel?

Where On Earth Is My Bagel?

If you have observed your students retreating from the idea that books are an escape and hobby to an unpleasant, stressful task, here are some techniques to increase the joy factor in reading and keep kids hooked:

  1. After lunch, recess, or the morning message, bring the class together to listen to you read a poem or a chapter from a longer book that is not connected to a skills or strategies lesson. This daily activity exposes students to books beyond their reading levels, bolsters classroom community in an otherwise competitive time, and communicates that books have calming, revitalizing effects.
  2. Continue to highlight books with relevant holidays, core value themes, or S.T.E.M. content using designated bins or book cover displays at child height. Even during crunch time when it is hard to infuse lessons with interdisciplinary connections and core value applications, these exhibitions or quick booktalks allow students to explore and develop their interests. Consider creating collections for Women’s History Month, Cesar Chavez Day, baseball season, National Poetry Month in April, and Earth Day.
  3. Lead students with books in arms to another classroom or outside for a “field trip.” This physical change of scenery reinforces that books are a mental change of scenery and a respite.
  4. Set aside 20 minutes every day just for independent reading instead of squeezing in one more skills mini-lesson. Preserving time for students to interact with books of their choice in independent reading allows students to take a break, manage tension, and re-focus their energy. During this time, students self-select books they enjoy, exercise literacy strategies, and feel in control of their learning. This commitment and preservation of independent reading time conveys to students how seriously you value and respect this sacred time to enjoy a book.

    Ten Oni Drummers

    Ten Oni Drummers

  5. A lot of test preparation and review involves independent work and sitting quietly. For an end of the week reward, let students choose a classroom peer to read to instead of independent reading that day, invite a younger grade to your classroom for your students to read to, utilize siblings and family relationships at the school, or invite other stakeholders in your students’ educations (like the cafeteria or main office staff) to enjoy a book with students. Reading to someone (buddy reading) allows scholars a chance to talk, enjoy a book in a low-stakes environment, and escape to a new world in a wonderful story.
  6. Encourage parents to lead a whole-class read aloud in the classroom. This time gives you a chance to conference with struggling readers, celebrate parents as teachers, and encourage the intergenerational fellowship of books.
  7. Invite an author to school or hold an online interview . There is nothing quite like reinvigorating young readers and writers than with a real author. This bright treat gives students a badly needed broader perspective of books beyond assessments. For more information on how to bring authors into your unit of study no matter what your budget is, check out this post.
  8. Change up the routine! Have an “opposites day” in which two teachers switch for a read aloud/poem one day. Or engage other school community members (like the principal, school nurse, and other non-teaching staff) to read to the whole class so that your students can see that they have a whole team cheering for them and invested in their growth, health, and success.

Do your students need a distraction? These joyful books offer just enough silliness, escape, or suspense to remind students that books are also for entertainment!


Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: CCSS, children's books, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

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16. UPDATE: A More Multicultural Appendix B

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of meeting with a literacy expert who was SUPER involved with the creation of the Common Core Standards (!!!!!), and she gave me some important feedback about the Appendix B supplement  I posted last week. To refresh your memory, what we’ve done is compiled a supplement to Appendix B that includes both contemporary literature and authors/characters of color, and that also meets the criteria (complexity, quality, range) used by the authors of the Common Core. We were lucky enough to have this literacy expert take a look at our supplement, and she gave some great suggestions:

  1. The texts selected for Read Aloud can be outside the text complexity bands for each grade cluster.
  2. Texts that are Read Aloud in lower grades can be read as Independent Reading in upper grades.

We’ve incorporated these ideas into our Appendix B supplement. So, without further ado, click here for a PDF of our new and improved multicultural supplement to the Common Core’s Appendix B.

Know who else is excited about the updated Appendix B list? This guy:

Smiling Dog" by Benjamin Liew

“Smiling Dog” by Benjamin Liew

Further Reading:

What’s in your classroom? Rethinking Common Core recommended texts

Why Window and Mirror Books are Important for All Readers


Filed under: Curriculum Corner, Resources Tagged: appendix b, Book Lists, common core standards, common core standards appendix b, common core standards ela appendix b, common core standards language arts appendix b, diversity, Educators, exemplar texts appendix B, guided reading, independent reading, multicultural books, Read Alouds, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, smiling dogs

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17. Week-end Book Review ~ Juba This, Juba That, by Helaine Becker and Ron Lightburn

Cover: Juba This, Juba ThatHelaine Becker, illustrated by Ron Lightburn,
Juba This, Juba That
Tundra Books, 2012.

Adapting a traditional “juba” rhyme, and certainly maintaining the toe-tapping snappiness for which juba is renowned, poet Helaine Becker and illustrator Ron Lightburn have created a dynamic, joyous picture book that will have young readers up on their feet dancing along in time to the words. While the poem creates a narrative of Juba having a fun time at a fairground, the illustrations contextualise the sequence within the suggestion of a dream; so despite its lively energy, the book would also work well as a bed time story…

Read the full review

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18. Compiling Rigorous Thematic Text Sets

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.

One aspect of the Common Core that I get asked questions about all the time is thematic text sets.  What are they?  How do you know which books to use?  What types of texts should you be pairing together?

Fear not!  I’ve compiled some examples of text sets that cover one topic and span multiple genres and reading levels and over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing these sets with you.  Some of the titles you may already have in your classroom library, and others I think you’ll enjoy discovering.

A-Full-Moon-Is-Rising

Theme/topic:  The Moon

Grade: 2nd

Informational Text:  The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons (Shared Reading)

  • provides scientific information about the moon
  • can be used to address informational text standards

Nonfiction Poetry:  A Full Moon is Rising by Marilyn Singer  (Read Aloud)

  • provides scientific information about the moon
  • provides information regarding moon-related festivals, traditions, holidays, and celebrations
  • can be used to address informational text and literature standards

Realistic Fiction: Owl Moon by Jane Yolen  (Guided Reading)

  • the moon plays a central role in the setting of the story
  • can be used to address literature standards

Realistic Fiction:  Surprise Moon by Caroline Hatton (Independent Reading)

  • discusses celebrations and festivals related to the moon 
  • can be used to address literature standards
from A Full Moon is Rising

from A Full Moon is Rising

What books would you put on this list?  Add your favorites in the comments!


Filed under: Curriculum Corner, Resources Tagged: A Full Moon is Rising, Book Lists, Caroline Hatton, common core standards, common core text sets, fiction, Gail Gibbons, guided reading, independent reading, informational text, Jane Yolen, literacy tips, Marilyn Singer, Nonfiction poetry, Owl Moon, Read Aloud, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, realistic fiction, shared reading, Surprise Moon, text sets, The Moon Book

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19. How to Plan a Successful Book Launch: Storytelling and Activity Ideas

Christy HaleIn her first guest post, author/illustrator Christy Hale shared ideas for how to plan a successful book launch. In her follow-up post, Hale shares tips for planning storytelling and activities for bookstore appearances. Hale is the author and illustrator of, most recently, Dreaming Up, which was named a 2012 ALA Notable Book by the American Library Association and one of the Horn Book Magazine‘s Best Books of 2012.

1.     Consider the audience when planning your program. Bookstores host different types of author events. If possible attend other programs at bookstores where you will appear so you can scope out the typical crowd. The time of the event may be a good indicator of the age level likely to attend. At Kepler’s Story Time Sundays, I have read to toddlers and preschoolers with a few older school age children scattered in the mix. A mid-week morning time program at BookSmart in a shopping mall in San Jose drew in moms and caregivers with toddlers and preschoolers. An afternoon program at Linden Tree in Los Altos brought school age children. An early evening program at Reach and Teach in San Mateo was geared toward whole families. My evening launch party at Books Inc. in Palo Alto was mostly attended by adults.

Christy_Hale_Booklaunch-4

2.    Plan age-appropriate readings and activities. Attention span and developmental abilities vary from one age group to another.

  • 2-3 year olds have an attention span of 3-4 minutes. They like repetition and imitation. They understand actions and objects.
  • 4-5 years olds have an attention span of 5-10 minutes. They love fantasy and have great imagination.
  • 6-8 year olds have an attention span of 15-20 minutes. They are concrete and literal minded. They can understand chronological sequence.
  • 9-12 year olds have an attention span of 30-45 minutes. They like to be challenged and can learn abstract concepts.Try these ideas when reading aloud:
  • Practice reading ahead of time and look for themes in your story. Make a list of questions to ask your audience (Who has seen a _____? Who likes_______?) Find areas of the story that allow for active participation.
  • Be expressive! Ham it up and act it out. Enthusiasm is contagious.
  • If you have a long story, feel free to skip some parts to adapt to the attention span of your group.
  • Invite children to add sounds effects at select points in the story (animal noises, wind blowing, car motor, and so forth). In Elizabeti’s School, Lee & Low author Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen asks children to count to five in Swahili along with her, “Moja, mbili, tatu, nne, tano.”
  • Model actions for kids to follow (Look right. Look left. Look up. Look down. Look all around.).
  • Ask kids to join in repeating phrases.
  • Employ props; bring show and tell. I bring a kanga from Tanzania when I read Elizabeti’s Doll.
  • Use visual aids that allow for kid participation, like felt boards, large sketchpads.

Christy Hale Launch supplies

3.     Consider the physical space allotted for your reading and activity. Will attendees sit in chairs? On a rug? Are there tables for activities? Can attendees spread out on the floor?

Christy_Hale_Booklaunch-5

4.    KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

  • Plan activities that involve supplies the bookstore might have on hand (like glue sticks, colored crayons, pencils, and markers) OR provide your own supplies.
  • Avoid activities that require water for clean up.
  • Design your own activity handouts that can also serve as further promotion.
  • Consider open-ended activities that allow children and adults to participate at their own developmental levels.

Here are some examples of bookstore activities I’ve designed that have been a big hit:

Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building

  • BUILD YOUR DREAMS SLOTTED BUILDING CARDS. (downloadable PDF) Materials: scissors, colored pencils, and some big dreams.
  • MINI DOMES. Materials: toothpicks and gumdrops.

Book activity, Dreaming Up

The East-West House: Noguchi’s Childhood in Japan

  • DESIGN YOUR OWN DREAM HOUSE (downloadable PDF) Materials: printouts of PDF, pencils, and imagination. Great lesson for older kids.
  • EAST-WEST KIDS COLLAGE (downloadable PDF) Materials: printouts of PDF, recycled patterned business envelopes, scissors, glue sticks, and colored markers.

Christy Launch Party

Further Reading:

How to Plan A Successful Book Launch, Part I


Filed under: Activities, guest blogger, Publishing 101 Tagged: author advice, Bookstores, event planning, events, illustrator advice, marketing, Reading Aloud

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20. Compiling Rigorous Thematic Text Sets: Books About Kenya

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.  This is the second in a series of posts on thematic text sets.

One aspect of the Common Core that I get asked questions about all the time is thematic text sets. What are they? How do you know which books to use? What types of texts should you be pairing together?

Fear not! I’ve compiled some examples of text sets that cover one topic and span multiple genres and reading levels. Some of the titles you may already have in your classroom library, and others I think you’ll enjoy discovering. In my first post, I compiled books about the moon. Today we look at books about Kenya:

only-the-mountains-do-not-move

Theme/topic: Kenya

Grade: 3rd-4th

Informational Text: Only the Mountains Do Not Move by Jan Reynolds (Guided or Shared Reading)

  • provides information about the Maasai people of Kenya
  • can be used to address informational text standards

(a free Teacher’s Guide is available for this title)

Realistic Fiction: First Come the Zebra by Lynne Barasch (Independent Reading)

  • the main characters in the story are from the Kikuyu and Maasai tribes
  • can be used to address literature standards

(a free Teacher’s Guide is available for this title)

Narrative Nonfiction: Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan by Mary Williams (Read Aloud)

  • the story chronicles the Lost Boys’ journey from southern Sudan to Kenya
  • can be used to address informational text and literature standards

(a free Teacher’s Guide is available for this title)

Biography: Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace by Jen Cullerton Johnson (Read Aloud)

  • discusses the life and contributions of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai
  • can be used to address informational text and literature standards

(a free Teacher’s Guide is available for this title)

seeds-of-change

What books would you put on this list?  Add your favorites in the comments!

Further Reading: Thematic Text Set: The Moon (2nd grade)


Filed under: Curriculum Corner, Resources Tagged: Book Lists, close reading, common core standards, common core text sets, compiling rigorous text sets, Reading Aloud, text sets, thematic text sets

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21. Coming Soon from Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, and Matthew Myers: Battle Bunny

51QZHudG7CL._SY300_

I am a big fan of subversive books, say the ”recommended inappropriate books for kids” featured in Lane Smith’s Curious Pages.  That said, I also have observed that kids respond better to some of these more than others, an issue I explored years ago in a Horn Book article “Pets and Other Fishy Books.” And so, when I ran into Jon Scieszka a few months ago and he excitedly told me about the forthcoming Battle Bunny, I was intrigued but also wary — was this a book kids would get or would it be something more amusing for adults?  So when an advanced copy of the book showed up in the mail recently I took it to school to see what my students thought.

First of all, let me try to explain just what it is (and how tricky it was to read aloud). If you look at the cover above you can perhaps see that it appears to be a sweet book of the Golden Book sort, originally titled Birthday Bunny, that has been erased, scribbled on, and reworked by…someone. I began by showing the cover to the kids and we discussed what that original book was; some of them knew Golden Books, but all of them appreciated that it was meant to be one of those sweet little journey books they’d all read when very small.  Next we explored the scribbles — evidently someone named Alex had received the book from his grandmother for his birthday (there is an inscription on the inside front cover), wasn’t too happy, and decided to make it into a completely new story.  And so he thoroughly erased the original title and put his own in instead. As for the interior, he crossed-out text, added new words and art, and turns the story into something completely different.  

The first day I tried reading the book aloud on my own— alternating between the original text and Alex’s. The next day I invited one child to join me, reading Alex’s story and then had the kids take over completely — one reading Birthday Bunny and the other reading Battle Bunny.  They had a great time!  It may well be that the best way to take in the book is solo or with one other child, but I still think it was a blast to read this way. The group reacted, pointed out small things to one another, and just had a lot of fun.  Jon tells me they are planning on providing a copy of The Birthday Bunny online for kids to print out and rework just as Alex did.  Great idea!

So for those like me who go for this sort of thing (and not everyone does, I know),  The Battle Bunny is an excellent addition to the world of subversive books for children.


1 Comments on Coming Soon from Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, and Matthew Myers: Battle Bunny, last added: 5/15/2013
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22. Press Release: New RIF Survey Finds Only 1 in 3 Parents Read Bedtime Stories to Kids Every Night

Macy’s and Reading Is Fundamental Launch Annual Be Book Smart Campaign June 21 to Support Children’s Literacy

RIF_Primary_VerticalWASHINGTON – (June 20, 2013) – Despite research on the importance of reading with children from a young age, few parents with kids age eight and younger are engaged in nightly reading, according to a new survey from Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy’s. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, finds that only one in three parents (33 percent) read bedtime stories with their children every night, and 50 percent of parents say their children spend more time with TV or video games than with books. More than 1,000 parents across the U.S. completed the survey online in April.

Bebooksmart-logo-redResults of the survey are revealed as Macy’s and RIF enter the 10th year of a partnership that will deliver its 10 millionth book to children in need nationwide. Be Book Smart launches tomorrow, June 21, and invites customers coast-to-coast to give $3 at any Macy’s register in-store to help provide a book for a child in their local community. Macy’s will donate the full amount to RIF, and customers will receive a coupon for $10 off an in-store purchase of $50 or more. The month-long fundraising effort ends July 21. Last year, Macy’s helped to raise $4.8 million to provide 1.6 million books to children who would not get a new book otherwise.

“Bedtime stories build the foundation for future achievement. For a decade, Macy’s and RIF have worked together to get books and literacy resources to children in need, giving children and parents tools they need to dream big,” said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of ReadingIs Fundamental. “While much news in this survey is encouraging, there is more work to be done – work that Be Book Smart and our partnership with Macy’s will help make possible.”

Full survey results are highlighted in an executive summary by Harris Interactive, and key findings include:

Findings on the amount of time spent reading

  • Eighty-seven percent of parents say they currently read bedtime stories with their children.
  • But only one in three parents (33 percent) read bedtime stories daily with their children.
  • Children of families with an annual household income below $35,000 are more likely to watch TV (40 percent) than read books (35 percent).
Findings on printed book use
  • Printed books (76 percent) are the format of choice for most parents of children age eight and younger.
  • Twice as many children prefer a printed book (20 percent) over an e-book (9 percent), say parents who read both types of books to their children.
  • Less than one in five parents (17 percent) use a combination of printed and e-books.
Existing research on literacy shows the importance of starting early:
  • Children who don’t read well by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers, according to a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
  • Two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders – and more than four-fifths of those from low-income families – are not reading proficiently, according to the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Many literacy studies also show a direct correlation between income level and the number of books in the household, creating even more obstacles to developing children’s literacy. RIF works to help overcome these challenges by delivering free books and literacy resources to children and families who need them most.

“We are proud to join our customers in supporting RIF’s work to help children have better access to books and develop a lifelong love of reading,” said Martine Reardon, chief marketing officer, Macy's. “In talking about our partnership with RIF, I hear so often about the memories created between a parent and a child through reading bedtime stories. This summer, we are especially excited to be hitting a milestone that will enable our 10 millionth book to be distributed as a result of Macy’s partnership with RIF.”

Since 2004, Macy's has helped raise more than $25.8 million for RIF. Through customer-supported fundraising campaigns, in-store events and volunteer activities, Macy's has donated funds and resources to further the important message of literacy for future success. Macy’s longstanding support has enabled RIF to promote literacy at all levels, from buying books for children and training educators to providing resources to parents.

Macy’s customers can take part in supporting children’s reading and bedtime stories by donating to the Be Book Smart campaign from June 21 to July 21, taking part in efforts to contribute the campaign’s 10 millionth book to a child in need.

Facebook Sweepstakes
As part of the Be Book Smart campaign, Macy’s and RIF will host a sweepstakes on Facebook to encourage supporters to share information about the campaign and post images of quotes from favorite authors to their personal timelines via a Facebook app. Each week, one winner will be awarded a $500 Macy’s gift card. For official rules and to enter the sweepstakes, visit facebook.com/macys or rif.org/sweeps. No purchase necessary to enter or win a prize.

Methodology
This Bedtime Story survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Reading Is Fundamental between April 8-15, 2013 among 1,003 parents of kids age 8 or younger. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Olivia Doherty at Olivia@thehatchergroup.com or 301-656-0348.

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23. Does It Matter If You Read to Your Kids at Bedtime (Specifically)?

The Guardian recently reported, in an article by Liz Bury, on a study that found that "only 13% of parents read to their kids at night every day of the week." The title of the article is:

"Children's bedtime stories on the wane, according to survey"

It's a brief article, but says:

"A poll of 2,000 mothers with children aged 0-7 years, carried out by the clothing and homeware retailer Littlewoods, highlighted the extent of the change. Only 64% of respondents said they read their children bedtime stories, even though 91% were themselves read bedtime stories when young."

Participants said things like that they were too stressed, or didn't have time to read to their kids before bed, even though they think it's important. This part is sad: "Only 13% of respondents read a story to their children every night, but 75% recall being read to every night when they were kids."

I shared this link on my Facebook page with a sigh, and my friend Jennifer remarked that she would have to answer no to the question, because she tends to read to her kids at other times, rather than at bedtime. Which got me thinking that perhaps this survey wasn't really asking the right question. (To be fair, the survey was focused on whether bedtime reading was on the decline, more so than bigger picture questions. So it was the right question for them, but not for me.)

RAM1_shadowI've been helping the organization Read Aloud to spread their message, which is: Read Aloud for 15 Minutes. Every Child. Every Parent. Every Day. This is delightfully concrete, and I've been happy to share it. But I still see people saying: "But I want to read for more than 15 minutes." Or, "I can't read every day." 

ReadAloudMantraTo me, the right message is something like:

Read aloud to your child whenever you can, as often as you can, for as long as you can.

For many families, bedtime is the easiest time for reading aloud, because you have a routine in place, and it's relatively straightforward to make reading aloud part of that. This is great when it works. But if you can’t read at night without falling asleep after 5 minutes, or you have different kids of different ages, and you're working on the older kids' homework, and you just can’t fit the reading in then, ok. Find another time.

It doesn’t matter if you read in the morning before breakfast, or after lunch during quiet time, or before bed. It matters that you:

  • Always have books around that you can read to your child, whether they are your family’s own books or library books.
  • Try to say yes when your child asks you to read aloud.
  • Make reading part of your daily routine, no matter how busy that routine is, by fitting it in somewhere.
  • Keep reading together fun!
  • Keep reading aloud to your child even after your child can read to herself, for as long as she will let you.

These are the important things. These are things that you can do as a parent that will make a difference in your child’s happiness now, and future success later.

In my house, I tend to let read aloud time be dictated by what my daughter requests. Sometimes she wants to read a couple of books before even heading down for breakfast. Often she asks her babysitter to read to her after lunch, in the time period that she used to nap. If a new picture book arrives in the mail, she’ll usually want to read it right then. Same for times when she arrives home from the library with new books. I can't always say yes to reading at any particular minute, but I try to say yes as frequently as possible. 

We do usually read to her at bedtime. Mostly my husband does the nighttime reading these days, because my daughter in a major “daddy phase.” I’ll often sit nearby and read my own books, so we’re still together. But sometimes she falls asleep on her own before we get to the bedtime reading, and, well, there isn’t any. Especially if we’re out somewhere, and she falls asleep on the way home (sound familiar, anyone?). But most of the time, she’s been read to at some other point during the day. Some days she’s probably been read to at 5 or 6 points during the day. So I figure that what we’re doing is working for us, and I don’t get too hung up about the occasional missed night.

I know that I'm lucky because I work from home, and can sneak in extra reading time during the day. I'm lucky because I have other people who read to my daughter, too, and because I only have to worry about one child's schedule. I realize that it's going to get harder as my daughter gets older, and has homework and activities. But I'm going to try to keep this mantra in my head:

Read aloud to your child whenever you can, as often as you can, for as long as you can.

I'm going to try to seize, and appreciate, those moments, regardless of what time of day they occur. 

How about you? Does your family read before bed, or at other times, or both? 

 © 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

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24. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: September 18

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out the new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. There are 1745 subscribers. I send out the newsletter once every three weeks. 

ReadAloudMantraNewsletter Update: In this issue I have a post about one of my daughter's milestones on the path to literacy, a post in celebration of Roald Dahl day, a post about the 2013 Cybils panels, a discussion of the five series I am most looking forward to reading with my daughter, and post about whether or not it matters if you read at bedtime.

I also have a post about getting my blogging groove back, after my illness this summer slowed me down. I appreciate you all staying with me through that. I don't have any book reviews in this issue, but I do expect to have more book recommendations (in one form or another) coming up soon. 

Other recent posts not included in the newsletter this time around are:

Reading Update: In the last 3-4 weeks I read 2 middle grade novels, one young adult novel, and 8 adult novels. I'm just starting to dip my toe back into the world of children's and young adult literature, after what turned out to be a refreshing break. I'm including mini-reviews here:

Jessica Day George: Wednesdays in the Tower. Bloomsbury. Middle Grade. Completed September 14, 2013. I had trouble getting into this sequel to Tuesdays at the Castle (reviewed here). The actions of the kids felt tame compared with the first book, and the device of the semi-sentient castle felt less original (perhaps inevitable in a sequel). The book did get more exciting towards the end, but then concluded with an unexpected cliffhanger. 

Holly Black: Doll Bones. Margaret K. McElderry Books. Middle Grade. Completed September 16, 2013. I haven't written a formal review of this book, because it's already been reviewed everywhere (and is on Betsy Bird's Newbery candidates list). But it really is fabulous and I highly recommend it. Doll Bones is the perfect mix of creepy possible ghost story with kid-directed adventure, with a spot on portrayal of evolving boy-girl friendships at age 12. 

Malinda Lo: Adaptation. Little Brown. Young Adult. Completed August 28, 2013. The premise of Adaptation, in which two teens awaken from a car accident and find themselves in a secret government hospital, intrigued me. I picked it up as a Kindle daily deal one day, and enjoyed it. I do plan to read the sequel at some point.

Robert Crais: Suspect. Putnam. Adult Mystery. Completed August 23, 2013, on MP3. This is a standalone (or first in a new series?) novel is about an LA cop and a military service dog who help each other recover from their respective traumas while solving the mystery of why the cop was shot (and his partner killed). Some of the book is told from the dog's perspective. This worked surprisingly well (though I was a bit resistant to the premise at first). 

Marcus Sakey: Brilliance. Thomas & Mercer. Adult Science Fiction. Completed August 23, 2013, on Kindle. I found this an intriguing science fiction novel about an alternate US reality in which, starting in the 80s, some 1% of the population are "brillliants" - the kind of geniuses that previously only cropped up once in a generation. There are, naturally enough, tensions between the brilliants and others. It's the first of a series, and I can't wait to see what happens next. 

Carol O'Connell: It Happens in the Dark (A Mallory Novel). Putnam. Adult Mystery. Completed August 25, 2013. The Mallory novels are among my favorite mystery series. I find the character herself (a deeply flawed, highly capable NY cop) endlessly fascinating (even if she does break her friends' hearts). The plots are so convoluted that I can actually re-read these books, and thus buy them in hardcover. This one did not disappoint. 

Stephen White: The Last Lie (Alan Gregory #18). Signet. Adult Mystery. Completed August 30, 2013. See below. 

Stephen White: Line of Fire (Alan Gregory, #19). Signet. Adult Mystery. Completed September 4, 2013. See below. 

P.J. Tracy: Shoot to Thrill (Monkeewrench , #5). Signet. Adult Mystery. Completed September 5, 2013, on MP3. The Monkeewrench series is another that celebrates quirky characters (a crew of wealthy, odd hackers), set against a more conventional (in this case) police procedural. The premise of this one, in which people are murdering others on camera, and posting the videos on YouTube, was a bit disturbing. But the characters made it fun.

Stephen White: Compound Fractures (Alan Gregory #20). Signet. Adult Mystery. Completed September 6, 2013. I read the last few books in the Alan Gregory series pretty much all at once, after dipping in and out of the series over the years. The books are about a Boulder psychologist who, with his Assistant District Attorney wife and cop best friend, finds himself in the middle of some ugly situations. The final books of the series are all tightly connected, and it was definitely the right thing to read them as a unit. 

Louise Penny: How the Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Gamache). Minotaur Books. Adult Mystery. Completed September 8, 2013. This series is absolutely brilliant, another one of my all-time favorites. In this installment, things start out a bit bleak for Chief Inspector Gamache, and he to some extent retreats to the small town of Three Pines (which was absent from the prior book). But fans should not worry, because everything is not what it seems. The actual mystery involves a story loosely based on the Dionne Quintuplets, but there is much more to be figured out. I found this one quite satisfying. 

I'm currently listening to Never Go Back (A Jack Reacher novel) by Lee Child. I'm reading The Shade of the Moon (Life As We Knew It, Book 4) by Susan Beth Pfeffer. There are many other books on my TBR shelf, and several upcoming books that I am excited about. 

Baby Bookworm has been enjoying Splat the Cat: What Was That by Rob Scotton and Pinkalicious: Pink or Treat by Victoria Kann, as we start to think about Halloween. We're also reading lots of Curious George, Fancy Nancy, Arthur, and Little Critter books. 

How about you? What have you and your kids been reading and enjoying? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 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

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25. Read Aloud 15 Minutes Kicks Off "Let's Talk" National Campaign

KickOffMessages_31I've been supporting the Read Aloud 15 Minutes nonprofit by helping to spread the word about their periodic national "campaign pulses". Their theme for October is: "Let's Talk". The idea is to encourage parents and other caregivers to read and talk to their babies as frequently as possible, to foster brain development. 

PulseMessagesOct_ 17When we talk with our young children, particularly during the first five years, we help their brains to grow and develop. This talking can take the form of pointing out sights as you push along a stroller, or telling your child what you're doing, step-by-step, as you cook dinner. But it's extra-super helpful if you read aloud to your kids. Why is reading aloud particularly helpful (vs. just talking away)? Well:

  • Picture books often feature a more complex vocabulary, with a higher variety of words, than we might come up with on our own (particularly when talking to a baby). 
  • Picture books often have a rhythm or cadence that the baby (and you) will find pleasing. And when a child finds something pleasing, he or she will pay more attention, and get ever-more benefit. 
  • In addition to a wider vocabulary, picture books help children to broaden their experience of the world, helping their brains to make connections. Most of us don't have giraffes and elephants in the backyard, but books let us show them to kids. And then when you eventually take your child to the zoo (or on a safari), they have a base of knowledge already. (See a post that I wrote about making connections between books and day to day life.)
  • Picture books and board books have pictures (obviously), and pictures help to catch and hold the attention of young viewers. Even tiny babies will look at things that are interesting. And again, by looking and listening at the same time, they make connections, and make their brains stronger. 

PulseMessagesOct_ 15The talking is good, too, of course. I've seen research that suggests that with talking, it's important to also respond when the child tries to talk to you (even if it just sounds like babble). This helps kids to develop language skills, because they see the payoff from trying to talk. We're all born with an innate desire to communicate, I think.

But reading aloud to childen is special. The more you do, the better off the children will be. Life-long benefits from something that's enjoyable to do in the first place. You can't go wrong with that. 

© 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. 

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