Before the School Bell Rings

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pexels-photo-633497.jpeg

Hope everyone is enjoying swimming and sunshine, mountains and shore, vacations and lazy days this summer. It’s always a shock to turn the page on the calendar and realize there’s just about a month left before those school bells ring. Along with enjoying the pleasures of the season, I’ve begun research for a potential book about reading aloud and the positive effects it offers, especially to struggling readers.

For years, I’ve been convinced that reading aloud offers an amazing array of benefits to both readers and listeners. In fact, read-alouds were a regular part of every class and every grade I ever taught, including graduate students. Whether the goal was to model fluency, introduce an new author, demonstrate story structure, build background knowledge and vocabulary, or simply attempt to settle down a class of unruly teens, I reached for a book. Students loved it!

Naturally, I read to my own kids, but, as I now realize, not nearly enough. If I could turn back time, reading aloud would be part of our everyday routine. Frankly, allowing other inconsequential activities to get in the way of reading aloud more frequently, is one of my biggest regrets as a parent. As Maya Angelou says, “when you know better, you do better”.

All the research strongly supports the varied and powerful effects of parents regularly reading to their children. Not only are the academic effects well documented, but also the emotional ones. It turns out there’s nothing quite like sharing this experience, to build family bonds, create a common experience, and instill a love of reading. Furthermore, this one simple practice impacts not just reading, but the other literacy skills of writing, speaking and listening.

With August making its appearance, it’s the perfect time to ramp up the read-alouds in your home. If you have a struggling reader, this is probably the best thing you can do to prepare him for the upcoming school year. Kids of every age and reading ability love listening, if you are relaxed and make it an enjoyable, special time together. Trust me, I realize that no matter what the season, time is always an issue for parents, but that’s the beauty of reading aloud, especially if you use picture books. Short beautifully illustrated texts that can be found for every age and interest will make this practice a practical one. Are you in?

In my blog posts this month, I’ll offer encouraging research, lay out the benefits of reading aloud and offer practical, helpful tips to establish this routine in your home. I know you won’t regret it, especially when school begins and you realize you’ve done your part to keep reading alive in your home and set your child up for success in the year ahead.

Call to Action: Look around your home or visit the library to find five picture books you thing your child (or children) would enjoy. Find a few quiet minutes to read them to yourself. Pick three favorites and find an opportunity to read them aloud (either to the whole family, a few of your children or just one child). Have fun!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Post-Covid: Supporting Our Youngest Readers – Part 4

The Three Cueing Systems

By Grade 1, students begin to read both fictional and informational short texts, supported by pictures. For years, using one (or all) of the three cueing systems, helped a child in his attempts to read continuous text. Here’s a parent-friendly explanation of the three cueing systems. When you are listening to your child read, you can employ the use of them to offer support when your child encounters tricky text.

The three cueing systems are:

  • Semantic: Does it make sense? The use of semantics relies on meaning. Prompting a child to consider whether the a word makes sense encourages him to think about the meaning of the text and often facilitates decoding.
  • Syntactic: Does it sound right? Syntactic prompts consider the structure of the text, prompting a child to consider if what he is reading follows acceptable language structure.
  • Grapho-Phonetic: Does it look right? These prompts require a reader to consider the visual appearance of a word. Looking more carefully often enables a reader to decipher a troublesome word correctly.

Recent research has discredited the use of the semantic and syntactic cueing systems, insisting that readers rely on the grapho-phonemic approach to identify tricky words. Many schools are now emphasizing phonics instruction and requiring students to process every letter of the printed word when stuck. This is not an attempt to condemn new scientific studies of reading. However, years of experience with struggling first grade readers clearly showed benefits to applying all three cueing systems. I simply offer this as a way for parents to support children when they are reading continuous text at home. Perhaps directing a child to use the grapho-phonemic approach first (Does it look right?), and supplementing with the other cueing systems would allow for smooth and successful reading to occur. Remember, the goal for young readers is confidence and comprehension. This is how I see various cueing systems being used at home by parents:

  • When a child is stuck on a word or miscues, first use the grapho-phonemic prompt. Does that look right?
  • If this does not prove successful, then ask the child to look at the picture or consider what would make sense (syntactic) or sound right (semantic).
  • If the child cannot decode the word successfully within three seconds, simply tell him the word and move on. Remember, you don’t want meaning to break down because a child is spending too much time decoding. It’s far better to give a three-second told and move forward with the text. You can always return to that section, and look more carefully at the tricky word or part.

Most early readers are encouraged to read at home. It is not easy for a parent to listen to a struggling reader move through text, so be gentle with yourself. I believe that whatever you can do to make this process enjoyable for your child, build confidence, and allow them to savor the story, will foster both skills and a love of reading.

Sorry for the delay in posting the last part of this series. Sometimes life gets in the way. In the wake of the pandemic, many early readers are struggling. Hopefully, the ideas in this series will allow you to better nurture your child’s budding literacy skills. Feel free to pose any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Post-Covid: Supporting Our Youngest Readers – Part 3

Years ago, I was trained as a Reading Recovery teacher. Reading Recovery is a program created by Marie Clay (a researcher from New Zealand known for her work in educational literacy) to provide support for first graders who required intense intervention. There were three Reading specialists at our school who completed the six-credit training course which enabled us to work with these children. After extensive testing, we choose the lowest students and each of us met with three students, every day, for thirty minutes. During the school year, we were able to work with two rounds of students. The first round lasted twenty weeks and the second round went from the end of January (after we again completed testing) to the end of the school year.

Working as a Reading Recovery teacher was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. I crafted each lesson to meet the specific needs of the individual student, followed the recommended parts of the lesson plan which included reading familiar texts, taking a running record on the previous day’s text, engaging the child in appropriate word work, reading a new book that was just a tad more challenging than the previous one, and guiding the student through the writing component. By the end of a round, most students met the benchmark and were on par with their peers. It was an amazing program that worked!

This brief explanation of how Reading Recovery works is meant to point out the benefits of reading with a child in a purposeful way that moves them forward. Obviously, for a teacher to spend thirty minutes per day with just one student must reap significant benefits or a district would never adopt this program.

The take away for you, as a parent of a young, struggling reader, is that devoting time, most days, to reading with your child, can make a huge difference. There is just one caveat…it is crucial that you learn and implement a few techniques and refrain from habits that can deter progress. Please know, I’m not suggesting that you need to spend thirty minutes a day, follow a lesson plan or include word work and writing. All I’m suggesting is that regular time to read together several times a week, coupled with some tried and true strategies, can greatly impact your child’s reading progress and confidence. Here are a few important techniques that I highly recommend…

  • Choose Appropriate Books – This can be tricky. Ask your child’s teacher to recommend books that your child can easily read or books that are slightly harder, so he is challenged enough, but not frustrated. Also, consider your child’s interests and offer a mixture of fiction and nonfictional books.
  • Seat for Success – This type of reading is different than reading to your child, where you can cuddle together in a comfortable place. Since you are guiding his reading, you want to be sure he is sitting upright at a table to your left side. We read with our bodies as well as our minds. Remind him to put one hand on the book to steady it, and use the other to point to the words (if that is still appropriate) or simply point when he is stuck on a word. Youngsters of this age often have difficulty controlling movement and tend to jiggle around. If his body is not still, it will impede the ability to both read words and comprehend text. A fun way to remind your child of the importance of staying still, is to ask him to stand up, jump up and down, and try to read the text in front of him. Naturally, it’s almost impossible, but this humorous experiment will drive home the point.
  • Preview the Book – Check out the cover and make predictions. You may also want to “take a picture walk” through the book. These previewing strategies get your child thinking about the text and anticipating what will occur within the pages. It’s like tilling the soil, enabling his mind to become fertile ground for thinking and comprehending.
  • Pictures Prompt Thinking – Occasionally, a child would tell me that their parent covers the picture when they trying to help them read. No doubt, these folks had good intentions, but the picture on each page of a lower level text serves a vital purpose. Help your child to habitually glance at the picture prior to reading the text on the page. This supports thinking and provides clues that will lead to success. If a child is stuck on a word, and the picture offers a clue, redirect him to the picture, than back to the unknown word. Most of the time, he will get it.
  • Say a little more…” – If your child is stuck on a word, prompt him to make the first sound and if that doesn’t work, ask him to say a little more. This will help him to look through the word, blend the letters and hopefully use meaning.
  • Give a “three second told”. – If your child is stuck on a word, and the process described above isn’t working, count to three and then tell him the word and move on. This is very important. Stopping too long will cause a breakdown in meaning. The goal is always comprehension. You can return to the word when you finish the text, to help your child take another look and reread that sentence.
  • Create an enjoyable experience – Consider the time you spend reading together as providing a supportive experience for your child. These techniques will encourage good reading habits and enable you to make the most of your time together, but are not meant to put you in the role of teacher. Enjoy the book, stop to talk or clear up confusion, ask about his favorite part at the end, and simply use the opportunity not only to enhance his reading, but to enhance your relationship.

It’s naturally to have lots of questions about how to support an early reader, especially if he struggles. Your questions and comments are welcome. In Part 4 of this series, I’ll discuss the three important cueing systems that enable children to make optimal progress. Check in next Thursday to learn about them.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stacking the Deck in Your Child’s Favor

On Saturday, March 19, Columbia Teacher’s College held one of their amazing Reunion Days. From 9:00am to 1:00pm, teachers from all over were able to Zoom in to presentations from outstanding literacy educators and authors. Riveted to my computer for four hours, I filled my head and notebook with nuggets of wisdom to share with parents and students. One presentation was on “book stacks”. I often used this approach successfully in my classroom, but I also believe it would be a great way for parents to boost literacy in the home. I’ll explain the process to you, and perhaps you’ll want to try it out with your kids.

What is a Book Stack?

A book stack refers to a variety of texts related to a specific topic. It’s important to note, that these stacks can and should contain texts other than books. Short news or magazine articles, pictures, poems, picture books and quotes are just a few examples.

How can I use book stacks with my child or family?

-First, talk to your child (or children) about a topic of interest.

-Secondly, search out books(or portions of books) or other texts related to the topic.

-Finally, set aside times within the course of a week or more to read aloud and discuss.

Why is this practice advantageous?

The primary advantage of exploring a topic using various texts and reading together, is that it promotes conversation, allows for questioning and provides opportunity to examine different perspectives. Research shows that talking enhances comprehension and will support critical thinking skills. Pondering multiple texts together also builds background knowledge and vocabulary. When students have a chance to “go deeper” in their reading life, confidence soars. Consider how enjoyable it might be to engage in a shared study of a topic and the ways that it could also foster close relationships and model a love of learning. It’s a win/win for all!

When will I find the time to fit this into our busy lives?

Lack of time can be the eternal roadblock, but only if you let it. Yes, it will take a little effort to pull together a few pertinent text and even more time to read and discuss. However, if you follow the three steps above, the first two shouldn’t take more than an hour. You can search out library books online, reserve them and simply stop by to pick them up once you decide on a topic, or you may even be able to find materials around the house or online. Then, over the course of a week or two, try to fit in ten to fifteen minutes sessions (maybe prior to bed) to read a little and converse. The idea is to go a little deeper into a subject of interest and expand learning through multiple texts. This idea is offered as a new, innovative technique to support your child’s literacy life, especially if they are struggling or simply dislike reading.

Keep it casual, make it fun and above all, take the lead from your child by listening carefully to what topic might resonate for him. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

– A place of interest or one that you will visit in the future

– Top news stories

– Sports, or various hobbies

– Famous person that your child admires

-Tough topics like bullying, alcoholism, dementia, various diseases

-Nature, nutrition, exercise, or how various parts of the body work


In a future post, I’ll offer a sample of a book stack to provide further support. If you have a child in Kindergarten through second grade whose literacy skills are lagging due to effects of the pandemic, remember to check out Parts 1 and 2 of my series, “Supporting Our Youngest Readers”. Part 3 will be posted on Thursday, March 31st.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

Post-Covid: Supporting Our Youngest Readers, Part 2

Research abounds as to the cause of reading deficiencies. But, as a parent, your primary concern is identifying what is impeding your child’s progress, monitoring how your child’s school is supporting him, providing additional support if needed, and fostering routines at home that will enhance his progress. 

Check Physical and Emotional Issues

Last week, I suggested you set up a conference with your child’s teacher if you have concerns about reading progress, and provided questions to guide that meeting. Today, I’d like to offer two other significant steps to help get your child on track.

In addition to conferencing with the teacher, check your child’s physical abilities to read. Sometimes it’s easy to ignore the obvious. We read with our bodies, as well as our mind. If a child has vision or hearing deficits, they can greatly affect their reading progress. Don’t neglect to have vision and hearing checked. 

Many children have other problems that can impede reading progress. Hyperactivity, attention deficit, central auditory processing issues and emotional stress are a few common ones. If you think a disorder of some kind might be the culprit, rely on professionals and seek testing. Your pediatrician, school counselor, speech therapist and the Intermediate Units will help you identify your child’s strengths, weaknesses and needs. Don’t hesitate to raise your hand and get the help you need.

Create A Read-Aloud Routine

No doubt, the pandemic has impacted everyone’s lives. Perhaps there were some positives that evolved in your family. On the other hand, many parents with young children struggled to work from home and at the same time manage children and support their virtual education. Whew! It was a lot. Now that life appears to be returning to normal, it’s time to consider practical, comfortable ways to foster confidence and literacy skills in the home. This is essential if you have a youngster who is falling behind. 

I’m the mom of five adult children, all in or near their forties. Both parents work, their children are in activities, and life is crazy busy for them. I have a bird’s eye view and totally get that they are “in the trenches” right now, juggling many balls. Therefore, my suggestions are just that. My goal is to offer ideas that I know work. It’s more important to spend a little time doing something that is effective with a struggling reader, than lots of time on an activity that means little or could decrease rather than increase a child’s confidence.

In my opinion, and the opinion of a multitude of educators and researchers, reading to and with your child is the best thing you can do to support reading. In an effort to keep this short, I’ll only discuss reading aloud to your child in this post.

Reading aloud to your child, no matter what his age or what his reading ability, offers excellent  benefits. Without going into detail, I’ll list several important ones:

  1. Provides natural opportunities to listen and learn how language works, enhancing understanding of semantics, syntax and phonemic awareness.
  2. Builds vocabulary.
  3. Builds background knowledge.
  4. Provides examples of how text works: words, directionality, punctuation, etc.
  5. Provides opportunities to model good strategies. For example, you can help your child to notice match between pictures and print, stop and think, make predictions, make connections and ask questions to clear up confusion..
  6. Provides opportunity for an emotional connection between parent and child and a chance to discuss important themes that reveal themselves in literature. 
  7. Provides a model of fluent reading.
  8. Builds confidence.

Whether you are reading for five minutes or forty-five minutes, this practice will give you the most bang for your buck. If it’s possible to regularly build reading aloud into your routine, you and your child will reap the reward. That’s a promise!

Next Thursday, I’ll discuss reading together and some pointers that will help you build your child’s skills and strategies. Please share your comments and questions. Your input can help foster a community of learning and support that will ultimately benefit our youngsters. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Post-Covid: Supporting Our Youngest Readers – Part 1

This month marks two years since Covid descended on our world, changing life and learning as we knew it. Students in every grade have suffered as parents and teachers tried their best to support their educational progress. Clearly, some of our most disadvantaged children are those who were in Kindergarten, first and second grade when the pandemic surged. Distance learning and irregular routines are not the ideal way to begin your education.

Over the year, several parents have reached out to me for help. Worried sick that their child isn’t making adequate progress, they confided in seeing not only frustration about reading, but a lack of confidence that sometimes led to behavior issues both at home and in school. What to do?

First, let me say that I admire the ability of these parents to face a problem head on and attempt to discover how they can best support their children. In the last fifteen years of my career as a reading specialist, I worked primarily with fourth, fifth and sixth graders. I also was trained in Reading Recovery, which allowed me to work one-on-one with struggling first graders. Once support began, first grade students soared, usually gaining the skills, strategies and confidence that brought them up to benchmark level within several months. Older students, on the other hand, moved at a much slower pace. Many of those children should have had support during the primary grades, so it was more difficult to remediate them and bring them up to grade level reading. My point is that determining early if your child needs reading intervention, is in everyone’s best interest.

No doubt your next question is, “What should I do to determine if my child needs reading support?” The first step is to set up a personal meeting with your child’s teacher that will allow you the time and space for an honest discussion. Here are some questions to guide that meeting:

What do you see as my child’s strengths as a student and as a reader?

What do you see as his weaknesses?

How does my child’s reading progress compare to same grade level students?

What is the benchmark for reading at this point in time?

Is my child on, above or below the benchmark?

What is my child’s independent reading level? (Ability to read text at 95% to 100% accuracy).

What is my child’s instructional level? (Ability to read text at 90% to 94% accuracy).

How would you rate my child’s performance in these areas of reading development: Letter recognition, phonemic awareness, comprehension, fluency, writing?

How well is my child able to decode difficult words in context? Does he use visual and meaning and sound cues?

Do you think my child needs additional support, either through school or through a private tutor?

Could the reading specialist test my child?

Come to the meeting prepared, not only with your list of questions, but with a list of things that you are seeing at home that cause you to be concerned. Trust the teacher, but be proactive. If you child is falling behind, finding the appropriate support as early as possible is key to his progress and well-being.

Seeing how the pandemic derailed the education of our youngest students, I’m convinced that parents need and deserve as much support as possible. I will be devoting every Thursday blog post for the next several weeks to this topic. If your child is in Kindergarten, first or second grade, these posts will provide valuable information and practical tips to get and keep your child on the road to reading success.

Feel free to ask any pertinent questions in your comments and I will do my best to answer them.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Don’t Banish the Bedtime Story

It’s been a busy day, your toddler is overtired and won’t settle down. You lure him into his bed with the promise of a bedtime story. Tonight, you’ll reread one of his favorites. You soften the lights, just bright enough so you can see the words and begin. “Once upon a time…” The rhythm of the words combine with the comfort of his bed and your presence. Before long, his little eyes are closed for the night and your sure his dreams will be happy ones. 

Parents instinctively understand the power of the bedtime story for children. But perhaps, bedtime stories aren’t just for kids. Right after Christmas, my husband had Covid. Our bedroom is on the first floor of our townhouse, so I was relegated to the front bedroom upstairs for a week. It felt strange to sleep alone night after night, but I discovered that listening to Audible lulled me to sleep. Ironically, on January 1, 2022, the New York Times published an article about the popularity of bedtime stories for adults explaining that “in our never-ending quest to get a good night’s sleep, bedtime stories are the latest weapon in the arsenal.” 

Sleeping solo for a week convinced me that listening to a bedtime story does soothe your soul, settle your mind and entice you to relax and fall asleep. Now, using the devices at our disposal today, perhaps we should resurrect the bedtime story in our own lives  and even suggest that our teens give it a try. What do you think? 

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Where Does Literacy Hide?

Today, I want to continue to discuss family literacy. No doubt, family life has become even more stressful in the face of this pandemic that continues to rear its ugly head. The last thing parents and kids need are more “shoulds” in their life. In this post, I share a few simple ways you can engage in literate activities with your children simply by drawing them into ordinary routines and interests. Literacy can hide in so many enjoyable, engaging ways that are probably already happening in your family. Sometimes we don’t even realize how literacy plays out in our daily lives. Here are two examples:

Cooking with Kids: From toddlers to teens, most kids love to connect in the kitchen with other family members. Believe me, I’m not known for my culinary skills and with a large family, it was often easier to do it myself. In retrospect, I wish I initiated more opportunities to cook and bake with my children when they were young. Now I see that talking, listening, laughing, reading, and socializing are some of the magic ingredients that blend together and create a stew of positive memories that last long after the meal is consumed.

Obviously, reading and following directions is an important literacy skill. Let your child take the lead, reading each step aloud then either doing it on their own or with your help. Beyond this basic task, however, the speaking and listening components are key. Sometimes, a diversionary activity helps a child to open up, share a concern or ask a troubling question. The warmth of the kitchen entices us into sharing not only recipes, but family stories, personal experiences, core beliefs. Here are few book suggestions to help you cook up some great times in the kitchen with your kids…

Amelia Griggs has penned a terrific trio of books based on her personal experiences of cooking with her mom. Most children from ages three to eight would enjoy these rhyming picture books and be excited to follow the recipes. What’s more, Amelia has created two coloring and activity books that feature the same characters and provide fun and learning for kids from three to eight. Cooking along with Bella and Mia is sure to jumpstart fun in your kitchen.

First Book in the Mia and Bella series

For older kids, I’d recommend one of the many cookbooks on the market specifically designed for young chefs and teens. How-To Cookbook for Teens: 100 Easy recipes to learn the basic by Julee Morrison might provide a good start.

Playing Games: In the midst of our busy lives it’s easy to resort to television or computers when we’re stuck in the house with our children. Games, however, can provide a powerful alternative. Games not only provide an enjoyable way for family members to connect, but also offer a generous dose of strategic thinking, word or number skills, collaboration or competition.

Shortly after the pandemic began in 2020, my husband and I started playing Bananagrams. While we were quarantined for months on end, this became our “go to” activity. We kept the cute banana pouch on our kitchen counter and regularly reached for it after lunch or dinner. The nice thing about this game is that it doesn’t take long and no one has to wait their turn. You basically choose your letters and create your own crossword puzzle. The first one finished wins. Trust me, it’s addictive. There were days when we played six games in a row. This broke the boredom, kept our brains sharp and provided an enjoyable respite during those long days when we could not see our family or friends.

Dust off those old classic games that are living on a shelf and explore the many engaging new ones on the market. With a little effort, you can find games that offer fun for your entire family or those to play with just a few people. I’d recommend Zingo for kids ages four to eight and Upwords for elementary school children if your interested in word games that encourage reading skills. Have fun with your family and sneak in a little literacy while your at it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Open the Door to Family Literacy

Happy New Year, one and all. May 2022 hold lots of love and literacy for you and yours. Through December, frustrating computers issues along with the Christmas hustle and bustle, squelched my plans to blog regularly. Hopefully, I’ll remedy that as the 2022 begins and I offer several posts on the topic of family literacy.

As you can probably infer, family literacy refers to the ways parents and children embed literacy activities into the home, and more broadly, refers to the way adults and children in the community share literacy. For our purposes, over the next few weeks, I’ll share a variety of simple, but powerful ways to encourage family literacy in your home and share the long-lasting benefits it offers.

As I teacher, I have created thousands of lesson plans and realize that in-school learning is created and contrived to attain certain skills, strategies, and goals. Not so with family literacy. When adults in the family learn to use authentic situations to teach or enhance literacy, the experience enriches everyone in meaningful ways. Here are just a few of the perks that research conducted by Nancy Padak and Tim Rasinski from Kent State University have found:

• Families learn to value education (1, 5, 18, 26, 36, 38, 57, 59, 65, 67). This finding
has emerged from studies of children, parents, and families.
• Families become more involved in schools (1, 19, 23, 33, 60, 65, 67). Family
involvement in schools leads to better achievement for children (33).
• Families become emotionally closer (1, 5, 25, 30, 36, 44, 49, 50, 53, 63), which
creates a more supportive home environment (9).
• Families read more and engage in more literate behaviors at home (8, 25, 26, 27, 36,
40, 41, 52, 63, 64, 65, 88).
• Families build foundations for lifelong learning (12, 70).

Click on this link to read the entire article:

Two timely authentic activities that you can do right now with your children, involve writing together. As we all know, the start of a New Year is the perfect time to create New Year resolutions or aspirations. Those two words are a great start. What is a resolution? What is an aspiration? Talk about what those words mean. How are they alike? How are they different? This might sound corny, but what if you and your children took a piece of paper and few minutes to jot down your individual resolutions and share them with each other? Perhaps you could even gather as a family and create a list of family resolutions you will work together to achieve in 2022. You don’t need me to tell you what a potentially powerful experience this could be for everyone. Not only are you offering your kids an authentic way to engage in writing, you are also sharing yourselves in a unique way and shaping the future in a positive manner.

As a child, the week after Christmas involved writing thank you notes. My mom was adamant about this practice and there was no way any of her children would get away without crafting a heartfelt note to the folks who had come bearing gifts. Now, Mom was a smart woman and used a bit of psychology to entice us and make this an enjoyable experience. She would offer special stationary or cute little note paper, along with a variety of pens and pencils. She would encourage us to decorate our work and would remain close at hand should we need help spelling a word. Unfortunately, thank you notes are becoming a thing of the past (Don’t get me started), but I will share that my mom’s determination to teach us to “do the right thing” had far-reaching effects on my life. For one thing, I experienced the good feeling that comes with finishing a piece of writing and also expressing gratitude. Also, I carried on that practice with my own children. Even when they were young adults and interviewing for their first jobs, I pushed them to write a thank you note as soon as the interview was over and drop it directly into the mail. I like to think this allowed them to stand out from the crowd of other applicants.

With that said, expect to get some backlash when you want your kids to sit down and write. Although I always write thank you notes myself, I’ll admit that it’s easy to procrastinate on this task. Togetherness could be the answer. Picture yourself sitting at the kitchen table, writing your thank you notes along with your children. What a great model and dare I say, what a great opportunity to spend time together immersed in an authentic literacy experience.

Friends, I’d love to hear about ways that you and your family engage in literate activities. Please chime in and let’s encourage each other to open the door to family literacy this year.

Photo by Jill Wellington on
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Start A New Tradition

Thanksgiving, 2021 is officially “in the books” and it’s time to move on and prepare for whatever winter holiday you celebrate. As the mother of five, I remember how hectic life could be during this time of year, but incorporating a family story time weekly or even daily, offers a wonderful way to slow down and reflect. Most traditional holiday tales offer beautiful language and opportunity for discussion. The longer stories can be shared a bite at a time and shorter ones read and digested in one sitting. Classic stories offer an opportunity to sooth frayed nerves and provide the closeness that is the true gift of the holiday season. A simple tradition this season, like family story time, offers rich dividends for everyone. Here are a few ideas to get you started…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment