Archive for the ‘family literacy’ Category

Parent Resources: Reaching the Reluctant Reader

May 25, 2010

Are you looking for ways to motivate your reluctant reader?  I want to provide parents with a list of resources they may turn to when they are looking to reach their reluctant readers.  Here are a few videos, online games, and websites to help you in your quest.

Videos

Awaken the Reader in Your Child

Donalyn Miller is a sixth grade teacher in Texas.  She is dubbed “The Book Whisperer” because she can get even the most reluctant reader to love reading.  Last summer she was interviewed by The View from the Bay.  She shares great tips on how parents can encourage their children to read.

Scholastic offers 65 book trailers (just like a movie trailer, but for a book).  Have your child watch the trailers to see what types of books interest him.

Websites

Reading Rockets – A fantastic resource for parents offering reading strategies, lessons, and activities designed to aid in helping children learn how to read and read better

ReadWriteThink – Looking for engaging ways to encourage your child to read?  The International Reading Association and the National Council for Teachers of English run this expansive website of resources for parents (and teachers).

ReadKiddoRead – A website created by the author James Patterson as a way to bring parents, teachers, and librarians together in a forum dedicated to make kids readers for life.

Games

Kidsreads – A comprehensive website that offers games, book reviews, and contests all related to children’s books.

RIF Reading Planet – In conjunction with Reading is Fundamental (RIF), this website offers games, activities, animated stories and songs, author and illustrator Q&A, books lists and more!

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Motivating Readers and Writers: Books About Reading and Writing

May 20, 2010

Sometimes all it takes is one book to engage a child who may be reluctant to read.  Though it’s the end of the school year (for most), it’s never too late to try to entice a new reader.  Here are a few books that explore reading and/or writing as a topic:

Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t) by Barbara Bottner is a great book to show a child that not everyone enjoys reading, but there is a book in the library for everyone.  If your child is overwhelmed by the amount of books in the library or book store, read aloud this book.  Encourage him to choose books to read based on his interests.


The Jellybeans and the Big Book Bonanza by Laura Numeroff is another great book that demonstrates the power of  reading.  Similar to Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don’t), Anna and her friends must find a book about a thing they love in order to write a book report.  All of her friends find one, will Anna?


The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli is a great book to show children where ideas may come from for writing.  The narrator of the story wants to write the “best story” to win a prize with her favorite author.  She enlists the help of her family members for ideas, but nothing seems quite right.  Her mother reminds her that the best stories come from the heart.


Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk is an adorable book to read aloud to children.  Sam, the Mouse, lives in the Children’s Section of the library.  He loves to read and one day decides to write a book.  He places his book on the shelf for the children to find.  Will they find it?  What will they think?


For lessons related to these books, check out Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books.

Do you have innovative ways to encourage kids (specifically reluctant readers) to read?  I would love to hear them!

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Book Buddies: Pairing Fiction and Informational Texts to Motivate Readers

May 19, 2010

One way to motivate readers is to provide children with informational texts that match a fiction book they may enjoy reading.  Or vice versa.  Mary Pope Osborne provides informational guides that correspond with her fiction books in her series of Magic Tree House Books (Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 1-4: Dinosaurs Before Dark, The Knight at Dawn, Mummies in the Morning, and Pirates Past Noon), perfect for early readers.  At the preschool age, especially, we tend to read more fiction to our children.  Yet, children tend to crave basic information about topics as well.  I like to pair fiction reading with informational reading.  By reading aloud a fiction book and following up with an informational read aloud, parents can meet both needs of their child.  Sometimes, you may want to read the informational text first to build background knowledge of the topic.  To extend the learning beyond reading, I often pair a craft or activity that complements the topic we are reading about.

“Book Buddies” with corresponding activities:

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino

Activity:  Put plastic doll feet in black paint and place on white paper to make footprints in the snow

Smash! Crash! (Jon Scieszka’s Trucktown) by Jon Scieszka and Big Book of Trucks by Caroline Bingham

Activity: Take small toy trucks and run the wheels through paint.  Place the wheels all over a sheet of paper for a “Things that Go” piece of artwork.  Try to find cars and trucks with different treads.

My Garden by Kevin Henkes and Let’s Go Gardening: A Young Person’s Guide to the Garden by Ursula Kruger

Activity:  Place soil inside a large plastic, see through bag.  Place seeds in the soil and spray water inside the bag.  Tape the bag to a window that receives sun.  Monitor the new plant that grows.   

Would you like to purchase pre-made Book Buddy Bags?  Each bag comes with a fiction and nonfiction text, a hands-on activity and a resource guide for parents.  Book Buddy Bags are perfect for gifts, homeschool activities, and travel!

Do you have innovative ways to encourage kids (specifically reluctant readers) to read?  I would love to hear them!

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Ways to Engage a Reluctant Reader

May 13, 2010

Parents are often at a loss as to how to entice and engage their reluctant readers.  Perhaps you are even wondering ifyour child may be reluctant to read.  Here are a few signs of a reluctant reader:

  • —May avoid reading
  • Negative attitude towards reading
  • Identifies him/herself as a poor reader
  • Fails to see value in reading
  • Difficulty with reading processes
  • Lacks encouragement
  • Lacks the ability to read strategically

But never fear!  There are a few ways I would recommend engaging your reader:

  • Provide many opportunities for your reader to attend the library and/or bookstores.  Allow time to browse and immerse himself in books.
  • Always, always, always provide your child with choice when choosing books.  Even if you think the book is not at his/her reading level.  Providing choice allows your child to feel in control of something and may provide a spark that ignites a love for reading!
  • Provide book talks for your child.  Find two books that you think he/she will like.  Read them and then talk them up to your child.  SELL them!  Then let him/her choose which one he/she would like to read.
  • Sneak strategy lessons into your read alouds.
  • Provide opportunities for your child to debrief after reading the book.  Discuss the book with your child.  Make sure you have read it first!  Provide opportunities for hands-on activities related to the book, nothing major, and certainly not book-report like, but a little project that can be completed after the book to extend understanding.
  • Ask your child to keep a journal of books he/she reads.  Your child should list the titles of the books and one or two things he liked or disliked about the book.  Encourage your child to understand that it’s ok if he/she abandons a book.  There are many times as adults that we abandon books without second thought.  There is a book out there for everyone, that particular one just might not be right for your child.
  • Most importantly, read to your child every day (even when they are in middle school!).  And make sure your child continues to see you and your family reading.

It is my hope that every child will grow up to be a reader and it hurts my heart when children struggle with reading.  I hope that one or two of these ideas may help your reluctant reader.

Do you have innovative ways to encourage kids (specifically reluctant readers) to read?  I would love to hear them!

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Two Literacy Events in Two Weeks: IRA and Mo Willems

May 11, 2010

I’ve been a bit out of touch for the last week or two, and for that, I apologize!  I have had a crazy couple of weeks and while I normally pre-schedule my posts, time slipped away from me and other responsibilities took over.  I hope to get back on track this week with regular postings on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  This month, I hope to provide you with resources to help engage the reluctant reader, but first, I would love to share two major literacy related events I attended in the last two weeks!

International Reading Association Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois (April 25-April 28)

I had the pleasure and honor of presenting at the 55th annual IRA conference.  Not only is this a fantastic professional development opportunity for literacy educators, but it is so much more!  Fantastic keynotes (this year:  Queen Rania of Jordan, Former Vice-President Al Gore, and Dr. Belle Whelan), the chance to meet and mingle with your favorite authors (of both professional books as well as children’s literature) and special luncheons and evening events.  My favorite activity was to wander the exhibit hall where goodies abound!  Exhibitors provided brief demonstrations of their products and often gave away freebies.  So.  Much.  Fun.

My presentation was entitled, “Motivating Reluctant Readers to Engage with Texts Through Strategy Based Nonfiction Read-Alouds” and it was a preview of my forthcoming book, Teaching Comprehension With Nonfiction Read Alouds: 12 Lessons for Using Newspapers, Magazines, and Other Nonfiction Texts to Build Key Comprehension Skills.  If you are interested in more information about nonfiction read-alouds, please don’t hesitate to contact me at dlittle [at] linkstoliteracy [dot] com!

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical at the Kennedy Center (May 8, 2010)

If you read one of my previous posts, you know I love Mo Willems.  Months ago, I learned  Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical was coming to the Kennedy Center.  So of course, I bought tickets for opening day.  When we arrived, we were ecstatic to find out that Mo Willems would be there after the show to sign books and other items.  Woo Hoo!  My kids were so excited to meet him (as was their mother – again!) and he was so sweet to them.  He asked their names and joked around with them.  He even suggested that I record my daughter’s voice because he said it was going to change and she sounded so cute right now.  

If you aren’t familiar with Mo, I suggest checking out his website and get to know him a little better.  My kids have enjoyed every one of his books that we have read and we have read just about all of them.  If you have a reluctant reader, I suggest introducing Mo. . . I have a feeling your reader won’t be so reluctant after that.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Making Cultural Art Connections: Art, Music, and Reading

April 29, 2010

I’ll admit it!  I’m not a huge culture buff.  Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy attending cultural events, visiting art museums, and attending the occasional orchestral concert.  But, these events have never been everyday occurrences for me.  However, since becoming a parent, I make an effort to incorporate cultural activities and events into our family’s schedule.  We are very lucky to live in the metro DC area, where cultural arts events are practically in our backyard.  We have the National Gallery of Art, Strathmore Hall, and the Kennedy Center to name a few.

An easy way I have found to introduce culture into my children’s lives and to build background knowledge of all things cultural is by reading to them (that seems to be an easy way to do anything, if you ask me!).  If you are looking for great books to introduce or reinforce art or music look no further:

Art Books for Children

Artful Reading (Bob Raczka’s Art Adventures)

Art Is…

Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters (Bright Ideas for Learning)

The series of Mini-Masters board books such as A Picnic with Monet (Mini Masters)

Monet (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists) (Be aware that some of the books in the series may have content that you may find inappropriate for small children)

Music Books for Children

Meet the Orchestra

Ludwig Van Beethoven (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers)

Musicals for Children

These are fantastic musicals for children.  If these programs are coming to your area, I highly recommend a day at the theater:

Magic Treehouse: The Musical

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical

Pigeon Party by Big Wooden Horse

It’s easy to incorporate just about anything into your family (and ours!) with the right book!

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Making Poetry Part of Your Read Aloud Repertoire

April 22, 2010

April is National Poetry Month, and even though the month is almost over I wanted to write a few posts that touched on poetry.  I think poetry is often an overlooked genre when parents look for a good text for reading aloud.  But, reading aloud poetry can be so much fun and it can help your child’s ability to read as well.  Poetry is a lively use of language and should be read aloud for pure enjoyment.  Here are a few tips on ways to incorporate poetry into your read aloud repertoire:

  • Choose poems that will engage your children.
  • Read the poem slowly and with meaning.  Emphasize words.  Allow the cadence of the poem to shine through.
  • Talk about how the words rhyme and how the poet used the words to convey meaning (depending on the age of your child).
  • If your child is able to read, have him or her read aloud a poem or two to you.  This will help build fluency within a reader.
  • Just have fun with it!  Be silly and enjoy the poems!

A few poetry suggestions:

Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook by Shel Silverstein

Something Big Has Been Here by Jack Prelutsky

The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury (Treasured Gifts for the Holidays)

If you are interested in a bit more complex poetry or complex ways to incorporate poetry, I’ve been reviewing poetry picture books at Picture This!  Teaching with Picture Books all month.  So far, I’ve reviewed Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes, R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet, and Poetry Speaks to Children.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Literacy Activities for Fathers and Sons

April 20, 2010

Did You Know?

  • Boys need male role models in reading.
  • Dads have a major influence over their child’s education and how well they perform.
  • If male role models value reading, boys will learn to value reading as well.

So What Can Fathers Do?

  • Read with your son as often as possible.  Consider reading Father and Son Read-Aloud Stories, a collection of fairy tales refashioned for a boy’s imagination.
  • Make literacy activities interactive:
  1. Play games – spell words when playing basketball – Horse style
  • Make up rhymes together
  • Act out stories you read together
  • Research a specific topic your child has an interest in, read books about that topic, read information online about the topic — together
  • Read online material together
  • Create friendly spelling competitions for your child
  • Encourage a subscription to a magazine:  Sports Illustrated for Kids, National Geographic for Kids, Your Big Backyard, or Ranger Rick.  Read it together.
  • Read the newspaper (or online news) with your son.  Discuss current events.
  • Read graphic novels or comic books.  Then create your own.
  • Choose a topic and create a pop-up book
  • Use music and lyrics to help your son remember important spelling words and/or vocabulary
  • Provide plenty of opportunities for your son to discuss his reading with you.  If it helps him, allow him to graphically display his thinking about a book.  This will guide him to a deeper understanding of the text.
  • Keep a father/son journal.  Write notes back and forth to each other – about your day, books you’ve read, favorite activities to do together, etc.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Sneaking Strategy Lessons into Your Read Alouds

April 15, 2010

Do you read aloud to your children every day, but wonder what you can do to sneak in a little extra learning?  Reading aloud is a wonderful opportunity to share a few quality minutes with our children snuggling and enjoying a book.  But, did you know you can easily transform a read aloud into an instructional moment with very little prep and without your child even knowing that he may be learning something, too?  All it takes is a few questions before, during, and after reading.

Before Reading

  • What do you already know about (topic of book)? (activating background knowledge)
  • Look at the picture on the cover and the title of the book.  What do you think is going to happen? (making predictions)

During Reading

  • As you read, confirm your child’s prediction.  Was it correct? If not, discuss what happened instead.
  • Ask your child questions to clear up points of confusion as you read.

After Reading

  • What does this book remind you of?  (making connections to the text)
  • Ask your child to retell you the story.  What happened at the beginning?  The middle?  The end?   (summarize the text)

These questions touch on common comprehension strategies that good readers use to understand text.  If we emphasize and model how to use some of these strategies at home, we begin to create a solid reading foundation for our children.  A few questions and you’ve “kicked it up a notch”!

If you would like more information on teaching common comprehension strategies to your child, I suggest reading 7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It! by Susan Zimmerman and Chryse Hutchins.

This post originally appeared as a guest post on Classroom Talk.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Preschool Family Reading Night, Part II: Discovery Baskets

April 8, 2010

A few weeks ago, I hosted our second Family Reading Night this year for my daughter’s preschool.  I’m always amazed and excited at the number of families that attend.  The Parent Association, which I’m a contributing member of, is hosting Spring Fling in a few weeks.  This is a day when families can come together, enjoy a picnic lunch, a petting zoo, and spring related arts and crafts.  Knowing this was coming up, I chose to make the theme of reading night related to spring.  So, families enjoyed “Discovering Baskets of Hands-On Fun” with a spring theme.  It was a night of building background knowledge to help prepare students for Spring Fling.

I created Discovery Baskets using six sub-themes of spring.  Baskets included the following themes:

  • Caterpillars/Butterflies
  • Baby Chicks
  • Animal Babies
  • Gardening
  • Kites
  • Birds

Each basket had several fiction and informational texts for parents to read aloud with their children and a hands-on craft or activity.  Students had fun creating butterflies out of coffee filters, making baby chicks out of pom-poms, sorting and matching animal babies and their mothers, sorting packets of seeds, creating flowers out of cupcake papers, making kites, and creating their very own bird nest out of playdoh and twigs.  It was a fun night!

Children and Parents Create Chicks

Children Sort and Match Animals and Their Mothers

A Cupcake Paper Flower

Would you like to create a Family Reading Night for your child’s preschool, but don’t know where to begin?  Check out Links to Literacy for more information!

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.