discovery toys blog of billie elias
Tips for parents who play with their children or who want stay-at-home income.
Toys for special need, autism, gifted and typical kids.

January 03, 2010

Books Rule!

Despite the onslaught of electronic toys and gadgets that "read" to your child (instead of books and games helping your child learn to read while they're playing), learning to read will not be going out of fashion anytime soon. With most of America's school children heading back to school in the next month, it's time to dust off the books. Sadly, in our country 33% of all 4th graders cannot read at even a basic level, according to the 2007 National Center for Educational Statistics "Reading Report."

What's a parent to do? Plenty!

In a read-aloud entry in my parenting blog I report that the reading experts tell us that reading to your children is so important that even after they know how to read, we should still be reading to them! Not only is it a cozy way to snuggle up and share precious moments with your child, but you're sending the message that you value them: they are important enough for you to break away from whatever adult task you were involved with to devote some time to just them.

I also report that since babies start learning language from birth, reading aloud exposes them to the sounds of human speech. By the age of two, children know between 300-500 words. Children who are spoken to and read to frequently have larger vocabularies and develop into better readers.

I have the fondest memories of a storybook that was read to me as a child. My mother and father never seemed to tire of reading the same stories and poems over and over again. The book happened to be an anthology of different writers, but the two-color illustrations that accompanied each story were indelibly written in my brain, along with some of my favorite stories. I have yet to forget Mr. & Mrs. Apple naming their children after different types of apples (Jonathan, Winesap, Delicious, Baldwin) or of Mr. Apple going to the library to research the names as they added more and more children to their family. There were Nina and Ted who looked forward each year to their winter vacation at their aunt and uncle's home in Vermont where they tapped the trees for sap, turned it into maple syrup and ate it on their aunt's delicious pancakes. There was also Rosa-too-little, for that's what they kept calling her until she could finally sign her name to get her very own library card.

These weren't just stories; they were stories where I was learning something about my world.
Our local libraries have children's librarians just waiting to help match you and your child with the ideal book, from picture book to non-fiction to chapter book.

We also know that children can understand books read aloud to them at several grade levels above their own reading level. This serves to broaden their vocabulary at the same time as they are digesting more complex sentence structure. A perfect book to read (and work on) together is "Puzzle Island." It's a unique book that involves unscrambling letters to form the names of animals whose pictures are hidden deep within the book's illustrations. One important tip to having "quality time" together with your child is doing something that you also enjoy.

For a beginning reader, you might choose another sort of interactive book to encourage a love of reading. "Ahoy, Pirate Pete" and "Once Upon a Time" are almost magical, with picture pieces that are stored on each page that you change each time you read the story, creating a new tale with each re-reading. "Dear Tooth Fairy" is another interactive book with small envelopes containing letters written by the Tooth Fairy to the little girl who refuses to leave her tooth under the pillow.

Discovery Toys has some great board books for you to add to baby's first library: Baby Bear's Bedtime, Ladybug's Lesson and Rough and Tough Tractors and Diggers books. Visit your local library where you can find many more titles.

Banana-fana-fofana-fie-fi-fo-fana. Sound familiar? This childhood ditty can be stuck in your head for hours, but it may eventually serve a purpose. You might want to make up your own silly version. Absolutely, GO FOR IT! Be sure to include your kids in the fun!

Why? Playing with sounds, rhymes, and nonsense words is vital to the logical progression of pre-reading skills.

Spoken language is made up of sounds (phonemes)
Sounds make words
Words make phrases
Phrases make sentences
Sentences have meaning
Mastering written language (reading) follows the exact same progression with the phonemes (sounds) represented by symbols (such as letters) called graphemes.

Remember how your baby would delight in your smiles, coos, and sound mimics during his babbling stage? As your child develops, she will mimic the sounds you make. Take advantage of these opportunities by making rhymes and word repetitions.
"bat, rat, cat, ratatattat"
"bed, bat, b, b, b, b"
"car, cat, cut,, not, sot, rot, tot"
Sharon Duke Estroff writes in :

Double check the reading level. When kids take on books beyond their proficiency level, they can become rapidly disheartened. To determine whether a book is too hard for your child, have her read the first page aloud to you. If she stumbles over more than five words, put it back on the shelf and help her make another selection.

It’s in the bag. Stash some books in a totebag and pull them out whenever you and your kids get caught in a holding pattern. Whether waiting at the doctor’s office or a restaurant, your children will be thankful to have books to bust their boredom.

Start a parent/child book club. This hot new trend in book clubs offers benefits galore ranging from heightened reading skills to multigenerational bonding. Find out everything you need to know about organizing your own parent/child group.

Enlist Hollywood. Seeing a story on the big screen (or a small one) can provide just the spark kids need to pick up the book version. Flicks like Lemony Snicket, Harry Potter, Matilda are sure to have your little stars hitting the library in no time.

Gear them with glossy pages. Kids needn’t peruse classics to reap the benefits of reading. Magazines that zero in on children’s passions – from skateboarding to fashion – can inspire even the most reluctant readers to start flipping pages. Techno-savvy kids can pull up favorite magazines online at sites like Sports Illustrated Kids and Time for Kids.

Create a library on wheels. Propensity toward carsickness aside, keeping a supply of books in the car will turn all those idle hours in traffic into valuable reading time.

Turn them on to books on tape. Listening to a book on tape while following along in the real thing gives struggling readers (or those who simply want to tackle a book that’s beyond their reading level) an opportunity to enjoy the story without getting bogged down by difficult words.

Money talks.

Read to Them.

Read with Them.


max said...

It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys. In fact, I've recently completed a feature magazine article on this subject that came out in October, "Help for Struggling, Reluctant Readers."

I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

My blog, Books for Boys is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading. And I have a new book, Lost Island Smugglers, coming out in July, 2010.

Keep up your good work.

Max Elliot Anderson

Billie said...

Max, thanks for your comment.

Is Lost Island Smugglers your first book? Was it hard to get published? I have an idea for a children's book but don't have unlimited time to pursue the business aspect of getting it into print.

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