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Hi, Everyone. Sorry I’ve been inactive over the last few weeks. Sometimes, life simply gets in the way. I’m hoping you are enjoying your summer in spite of Covid. This virus is like watching a scary movie. Just when you think the worst is over, the bad guy pops up again with more vengeance than ever. Like most people, we’ve relaxed the reins just a bit over the last month or so. When I came home from my annual check-up, hubby and I discussed the doctor’s recommendations and realized that we must keep our guard up and not open ourselves (and others) to this virus. Sadly, we all must make sacrifices and it’s not easy. In my heart, I do believe it’s worth it. Like my husband says, if you roll the dice enough times, your luck will run out. Please be cautious and stay well. Okay. Enough for my PSA for the day.
Recently, I listened to two teacher/authors discussing the social aspect of reading. Reading is a social act. No doubt, kids are struggling as much as adults as they try interact with each other appropriately during this challenging time. These teachers brought up the idea of book clubs as a way to allow youngsters to enjoy the social aspects of reading. Obviously, kids could easily participate in book clubs virtually, which would be ideal right now. In addition to Covid, many people are away for periods of time during the summer, and a virtual book club could be the perfect way to motivate kids to read and enable them to stay connected at the same time.
If you and your youngsters want to organize a virtual book club, here are a few suggestions. Feel free to throw out any questions or ideas you may want to add:
- Limit the size of the group. Four to a maximum of eight would probably work best.
- Offer three possible book choices and let the youngsters vote on the one they want to read.
- Help the kids divide the book into appropriate sections to be read within the week or whenever they decide to meet again. 50 to 100 pages a week should be doable for most children in grades 4 to 8. The expectation is that each participate will read those pages prior to the next meeting so that they can discuss them.
- Choose a day and time that the club will meet.
- One adult should be the moderator and help set up the technology and get each meeting started.
- Start the process all over again for each book that the kids choose to read.
- Have fun with it!
This year, summer reading is more important than ever. When school opens, it will almost definitely be a combination of distance and in-person learning. Therefore, it’s imperative that students avoid the deadly “summer slide” and don’t start the school year behind. Regular reading is the best way to insure that reading skills remain sharp. Consider the benefits of starting a book club for your kids and their buddies.
Heartwarming and beautifully crafted tale of a young girls wrestling with changing friendships and questions of family. Perfect summer read for girls ages 9 to 14.
Recommended by my ten-year old grandson, this book explains the nuts and bolts of every aspect of football. It includes tips for both playing and understanding the game. A gem for any young (or old) football fan or even for grand mom’s like me who want to learn more about the game.
Let’s keep talking and learning about reading aloud and it’s importance. After writing Tuesday’s blog, I decided to search out some recent statistics. Some were encouraging and others thought provoking. Although I’m not a “numbers girl”, I find statistics fascinating. Sometimes I find statistics a powerful motivator and other times a powerful source of shame. Today, I’ll share some of the statistics I found, simply to give you something to gnaw on. What’s your reaction? How do these statistics impact you personally?
According to the “2019 Kids & Family Reading Report” from Scholastic:
“Reading aloud is important, and it’s on the rise since the study started looking for it in 2014.”
“But reading aloud peaks at age 5 and falls off precipitously after ages 6 to 8. Parents say they stop or decrease reading aloud because children can read on their own.”
In 2016, a survey conducted by YouGov for the non-profit Read Aloud 15 Minutes found that, “fewer than half of parents read aloud to their children every day, and only 34% do so for at least 15 minutes. Fewer than one in 10 parents reported reading aloud daily for 15 minutes from birth, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”
Additionally this survey determined that “fewer than half of parents read aloud to their children every day, and only 34% do so for at least 15 minutes. Fewer than one in 10 parents reported reading aloud daily for 15 minutes from birth, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”
An article in Science News, April 4, 2019, provided this summary of research conducted by Jessica Logan, lead author of the study and assistant professor of educational studies at Ohio State University:
“Young children whose parents read them five books a day enter kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than kids who were never read to, a new study found. This ‘million word gap’ could be one key in explaining differences in vocabulary and reading development.”
Your thoughts? Let’s have a conversation about reading aloud. I welcome your comments and will pick up this discussion in my next post. Stay well!
Sometimes, life hits you hard and it’s all you can do to get through the day (or week, as in this case). My beloved brother-in-law passed on June 6th. He fought through a multitude of health problems over the last ten years and due to his COPD, needed oxygen regularly for the last year. When he contracted Covid, again his fighting spirit allowed him to eventually test negative for the virus and leave the hospital to return the medical center of his care facility. That, in turn, allowed him to have several personal visits with his wife and six children. We were lucky enough to “see” him on Zoom for a few minutes. By the time of his death, we were in the “yellow phase” and able to have a limited viewing, Mass and burial for Larry. We are so grateful that he did not pass alone in the hospital.
My sister is ten years older than me and I knew Larry since I was five years old. The relationship both my husband and I had with him, was close, influential and loving. Although we prepared for his death, it still rocked our world. Needless to say, blogging was the last thing on my mind last week. Now it’s time to return to normal, bask in our wonderful memories and live out the life lessons Larry modeled for us.
I hope everyone enjoyed the previous post by Andrea Denish. It certainly got me thinking about fostering literacy in our youngest children. Of one thing I’m certain…if you want to raise a reader, reading aloud is essential. With that thought in mind, I reached for my worn copy of Reading Magic, by Mem Fox. When it comes to promoting reading in very young children, Fox’s text is the most powerful book I know on this topic. That’s why I include a copy with every baby gift I give.
As I once again picked through the early chapters of this book, one of the concepts that stood out for me was the importance of attitude and emotion when we are reading aloud to children. Fox writes, “the fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading”. The blending of these three elements lifts the read-aloud to a new level, reeling the child in and creating a meaningful, pleasurable experience. And what happens when we experience pleasure? We want more!
Reading these words brought me back to the bedtime stories I often read to my own kids. Let me tell you, they weren’t usually the “rollicking good time” Fox mentions, complete with discussion, laughter, appropriate pauses and noticings that Fox suggests. Although I enjoyed that time with my children, often I was tired, skipped pages if I could get away with it, and felt anxious to finish the book, kiss the little one, turn out the light and call it a day. Ever feel like that? Nevertheless, I am totally convinced (much more than I was as a young mother) of the life-changing benefits of reading aloud. Furthermore, I am convinced that kids are never too old for a read aloud. If I had it to do over again, here’s what I would do to improve the experience and eck the most out of the time I spent reading aloud:
- Learn more about reading aloud. Sometimes we only need to improve a little bit. A few ideas can spark confidence and transform our approach. If you have young children, Mem Fox’s book will hit the mark. If you have older children, find other blogs and books that encourage and support you.
- Make anytime reading time. It’s a joy to visit the home of my son and his wife. They have two boys, ages one and two. Books that the boys love are everywhere. A basket in the kitchen, more on shelves in the family room, more baskets in their bedrooms and even some in the closets upstairs. When the two- year-old shows curiosity about a subject, they find a book to quench his thirst for knowledge. Although they do read bedtime stories, reading is not relegated to bedtime. Books permeate their day. They talk about books, the boys hold up books they love when we Face Time, and even at this young age, their the kids delight in receiving a new book. My Reading teacher’s heart just knows that these boys are on the road to a lifelong love of reading. It’s summer, kids are home and “the livin is easy”. What books will you read today? How will you capitalize on the time you spend engaged in reading aloud? Psych yourself up, approach it with zest. The attitude and emotion with which you read a story will have a positive pay-off.
For several years, I’ve been a member of Ambler Station Singers. This beautiful group of people meet on Wednesday evenings from September through June to practice for their two major concerts at Christmas and at the end of the season. More importantly, this group also performs in nursing homes and other public venues throughout Montgomery County. Naturally, when the pandemic occurred, we had to cease public practices.
However, our director, Lisa VanHeldorf, is nothing if not relentless. Within weeks, she arranged for us to meet via zoom. Before long, she had the idea to create a virtual rendition of “Thankful”, by the prolific composer, John Rutter. Between the technology and my mediocre singing voice, I did not participate in this endeavor, but those who did have created an touching treat that I wanted to share with you.
It goes without saying that Covid-19 and the recent events surrounding the death of George Floyd, have affected all of us. When I listened to these amazing voices and the message of this song, I knew I had to put this out to as many people as possible. Whatever your political leanings, I’m sure we can all agree that a positive attitude and spirit of gratitude can go a long way towards coming together to work on the many issues that plague our country and our world.
Click on this link and scroll down a bit to find “Thankful”. Please take a moment to be still and to listen with your heart. Please share this with your children and extended family and friends. Like these dedicated singers, let’s all send our talents and our voices out into the world in an effort to inspire, to heal and to love. Enjoy! amblerstationsingers.com
Hi, Friends. Today, I’m excited to offer this guest post from a Andrea Denish, author of a newly published picture book. Andrea has put together some terrific ideas and resources, especially for younger readers. As a special treat, Andrea has included the a You Tube link, where you and your children can hear her read her book, Everyone Loves A Parade. Enjoy!
I am so onboard with the mission of this blog, Nurturing Literacy, and was delighted when Rita asked me to write a guest post. As a preschool teacher and library assistant, I have seen first hand how raising children with an interest in books changes and shapes a young mind. Among many other important benefits, reading to your child increases curiosity, promotes the ability to develop empathy and fosters language skills. This blog has offered so many great resources to parents to help young readers. I’d like to chime in with some additional suggestions to help your child reap the benefits of being a lifelong reader.
1,000 Books Before Kindergarten – If you have not heard about this program, check out this website: https://1000booksbeforekindergarten.org/ As the name suggests, this program challenges parents to read 1,000 books by kindergarten. When you break down the number to roughly 250 books per year – that’s less than one per day. It’s definitely a can-do. The website offers incentives and book logs, but if that seems too overwhelming, try a goal of reading with your child at least a few minutes each day. Simple board books at first and perhaps early readers by Kindergarten. When you make reading a habit like brushing your teeth, you have done a wonderful thing for your child.
Visit the library and bookstore regularly – Sign your child up for a library card and find out where upcoming programs are posted. Taking advantage of story times and other exciting program offerings will change your life! Not only will your child benefit from making connections to literature, the social connections for your child and you as a parent will be worthwhile. Meeting children in the same age group in your town will often lead to playdates and friendships. Best of all, most of these programs are FREE.
Find the book connection – Maybe your child can’t get enough of the onscreen characters – Disney princesses, Paw Patrol or the Avengers. Double down on their obsession by finding books featuring their favorites. Some children are more constructive with building toys or science toys. Check out the non-fiction section of the library or bookstore. Yes, there are books about Legos and Minecraft.
What if???? – Maybe you would like your child to be a reader, but you do not feel confident in your own reading ability or maybe your native language is not English. There are audio books available for you and your child to listen to together. If you have access to the internet, there are many, many videos you can access to experience virtual storytime. Here’s a link to my book, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7J5aI2IUI4&t=115s Everyone Loves a Parade!* Find a comfy spot and allow yourself to be transported to the crowded streets of a noisy, festive parade – all from your own couch.
I hope you found something to help you and your child continue on your reading adventures. It’s never too early or too late to start. There are books available for every reason, every season, no matter your age or income – reading is for everyone.
Andrea Denish works in the children’s section of the Abington Free Library and teaches preschool science. She is the author of the recently released children’s picture book,
Everyone Loves a Parade!* (Boyds Mills & Kane). Find her at www.andreadenish.com.
Andrea’s book is available at online retailers – Amazon, B&N, Indiebound.
In my last blog post, I promised to explain the details of a summer reading plan I’ve designed to keep kids reading. In my opinion, summer reading programs should be enjoyable and simple. Hopefully, this plan meets that criteria. Basically, youngsters will choose a book to read, fill in the reading log at the beginning and end of the week and participate in a short zoom meeting with others in his/her group. Parents will provide support by helping kids set weekly goals, choose books, offer gentle reminders to read, and log youngsters into the weekly zoom meeting. Easy peasy!
This program will kick off with a zoom meeting on Monday, June 1st and continue through Monday, July 6th. Covid 19 has taken a toll and disrupted normal education. This is my way of helping out, so I am offering this to my followers at no cost.
- Goal setting provides motivation
- Zoom meetings provide accountability and an opportunity to discuss books with kids their own age
- Minimum parental support is required because a plan is in place
- Help child set a realistic weekly goal
- Help child find an appropriate book
- Make sure child fills in the log each week
- Help child log into the weekly zoom meeting, which will probably be on Monday morning
- Choose an interesting, appropriate book
- Set a weekly goal for the number of pages you want to read
- Fill in the reading log at the beginning and end of the week
- Participate in a short weekly zoom meeting
- Reading Log
- Independent reading book
- Internet access
- Students must be entering fourth or fifth grade to be eligible for Group 1
- Students must be entering sixth or seventh grade to be eligible for Group 2
- Parents must follow this blog
- Each group will be capped at eight students
To Enroll Your Child
- If you are not already following this blog, please follow now to be eligible
- Go to the Contact page on this blog and send me an email. Please include your name and your child’s name and grade.
- If you are among the first eight responses I receive for each group, I will send you an email which will include the reading log and additional details.
- Please respond as soon as possible but no later then noon on Sunday, May 31st.
Please note: My apologies, but my contact info is not showing up when I view this blog on my phone. Please use your computer or tablet to find it. Sorry about that!
I’m excited to work with your and your child!
Teachers around the world are presenting their last round of lessons and packing up classrooms that haven’t seen students in months. One of the strangest school years in history is ending and Summer is almost here.
No doubt, most teachers will warn of the dreaded “summer slide”, which refers to the tendency for students to lose some of the gains they made academically over the school year. Educators often offer suggestions to help maintain learning in all areas, and almost always emphasis the need for kids to read regularly during the summer.
Over the last few months, educators have worked diligently to prepare and execute their lessons and serve students as well as possible in spite of distance learning. But, we all know, that for youngsters, nothing takes the place of the traditional classroom setting. I’m sure you agree that this summer it is more important than ever to ensure that your kids are reading on a regular basis so they don’t fall even further behind.
Bet you parents are shaking your heads yes, vowing that will happen for your kids this summer. It just makes sense and sounds so easy. How well I remember my own good intentions once summer rolled around. I had visions of our five kids, reading every morning before we went to the pool. When that didn’t happen, I would insist they read before dinner, before going out to play, before bedtime. Somehow, it never quite came off the way I expected. Sound familiar?
My teacher’s heart knows that summer reading is essential, but I still have the brain of a mom and must admit that too often, summer reading fell by the wayside. That was a long time ago. Since then, I became a Reading specialist and learned the facts about summer reading or lack thereof. Since then, I worked with children who had barely cracked a book all summer and saw first-hand the meaning of “summer slide”. Students that were reading on grade level in June, often returned several levels below. That gap took a long to regain and ate up valuable time meant for new learning. Most recently, Covid-19 reared its ugly head, stealing away the personal attention so many students desperately need.
Benefits of Regular Reading During Summer
In case you’re skeptical, here a just a few of the benefits of summer reading for students in every grade:
- Enables students to maintain progress they have made
- Increases vocabulary
- Increases reading stamina
- Enhances fluency
- Builds background knowledge
- Provides opportunity to practice decoding and comprehension skills & strategies
- Provides opportunity to read in various genres
- Introduces students to new authors
- Instills competence and confidence
This summer, more than ever before, parents and youngsters deserve support for this vital endeavor. For this reason, I am creating a free virtual plan to guide parents in the challenging quest to have youngsters read regularly. This plan also offers a level of support to kids, enabling them to take control of their reading and share (virtually) with other youngsters.
There will be two groups, one for students entering grades four and five, and one for students entering grades six and seven. It will be open to children of anyone following this blog, but groups will be capped at eight students each. My goal is to simplify the process and motivate kids to read, while at the same time, reducing some of the stress on parents.
Interested? Don’t miss my post on Thursday, May 28, where I’ll provide more details. Here’s hoping it’s a happy and literate summer.
Often parades are associated with the summer season. The approach of Memorial Day made me think about the small towns across the country that will be canceling their traditional parade. Recently, a talented author from my writing group published her first picture book. Guess what? It’s all about parades.
Andrea Denish is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Andrea was already a member of our SCBWI writing group when I joined in September of 2016. I’ve been privileged to witness the birth of her first published book, Everyone Loves A Parade. From it’s inception through the entire publication process, our group supported and celebrated this endeavor. I am delighted to share that Andrea has agreed to write a guest post for this blog in the near future.
In the meantime, in this summer of no parades, perhaps Andrea’s book will help fill the void and spark joyful memories. This book is available at online retailers – Amazon, B&N, Indiebound. You can check out Andrea Denish’s website at www.andreadenish.com
Happy Memorial Day to all!
Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body. – Joseph Addison
It seems discussions about supporting and motivating readers, especially youngsters that struggle or resist reading, often focus solely on books. Adults sometimes lose sight of the power and benefits of offering short, manageable texts. As a reading specialist, I only had thirty minutes to spend with each group of students. Although I did “book talks” and helped students select appropriate books, I relied on reading short texts in class to build confidence and teach strategies and skills. Allow me to share some of the benefits of this practice.
SHORT TEXTS BUILD CONFIDENCE Books can feel overwhelming to some youngsters. Even middle school kids shy away from long texts. Similar to offering a new food, a small portion of text can have kids asking for more. Short stories, articles, picture books, poetry and the like, build confidence by offering a taste of success.
SHORT TEXTS OFFER VARIETY Offering short texts is like offering a buffet. Delve into any subject, get a sense of different authors, savor something short and sweet. Check out short story anthologies, find some appropriate magazines, search out online sites that interest your child, buy a joke book. This kind of reading allows a youngster to figure out his reading preferences and may eventually lead him to tackle books more easily.
SHORT TEXTS SUPPORT COMPREHENSION Informational text usually features text supports which clarify the content. For example, you may find pictures and captions, vocabulary definitions, sidebars and of course, headings and sub-headings. These also break up the text, so it doesn’t appear as intimidating as a longer work. Additionally, short fiction offers a simpler setting and plot, as well as limited characters, which can enhance comprehension and enjoyment for the reader.
SHORT TEXTS ARE EVERYWHERE
Reading is reading. Just look around your house and I’m sure you’ll find tons of short texts. There’s the back of the cereal box, the random basket of magazines or the junk mail that arrives each day. No kidding, all of these things and many more offer opportunities to develop your child’s reading skills. For example, you could ask your child to “look over” the mail for you and sort it based on what’s important and what’s not. Are they reading? Yes! Don’t overlook digital text. Obviously, during this time of distance learning, children have plenty of screen time. However, combing through the internet to find websites and articles that pique your child’s interest, provides another level of support and opportunity to enhance reading.
Over the long haul, focusing on short texts can be a powerful way to grow reading skills, interest, and confidence. Search out short story anthologies, poetry, news clippings and internet resources your youngster will enjoy and watch what happens.
SUGGESTIONS FOR SHORT TEXTS
Google “Short Stories for Middle School” to find a variety of excellent texts that are accessible online. This is a treasure.
My elementary-age grand kids, love the joke books published by National Geographic. They are both fun and funny!
Another treasure from National Geographic, but don’t forget those classic poetry books by Shel Silverstein and Robert Frost, as well as the many terrific poetry anthologies, which belong in every home.
This collection will take middle/high school students back to an earlier time. It is one of my all-time favorite collections, featuring poignant tales with strong themes that will touch your heart. This is one to read along with your older children.