Archive for the ‘National Family Literacy Month’ Category

In the Pages of a Book: Celebrating Your Family by Terry Doherty

November 18, 2010

I am so pleased to share with you this wonderful post Terry Doherty has written about two things very close to her heart: literacy and adoption.  Terry and I have yet to meet in real life, though we’ve come close several times, but I feel as if she and I are kindred spirits in many ways.  Her love for kid lit drew me to follow her on Twitter, her dedication and passion for getting books in the hands of all children has made her a friend.  Please check back next month as I spotlight Literacy Organizations including, The Reading Tub, Inc.

In our house, Halloween is the “eve” of a month of celebrating all things family. There’s my daughter’s birthday at the beginning of the month and Thanksgiving toward the end. Catherine’s birthday is doubly special because we are an adoptive family, and November is also National Adoption Month.

There is hardly a day in these past nine years where we haven’t shared a book with Catherine. Like many parents, we read with her as a baby as it connected us. Reading with our children is a natural bonding experience. Now, nine years later, I have seen it morph into its own kind of “comfort food.” On a bad day, Catherine asks us to cuddle up with her and share a story before bed.

Bedtime stories are a way to express our love and affection. It is also a way to show her that families come together in many ways. Each family’s adoption journey is an individual one. There are lots of paths to becoming an adoptive family, and as a parent, I have always wanted to share stories that match our story. Catherine is our daughter … and we became a family through adoption.

Finding that “just right” book isn’t easy. Two years ago, I wrote a blog post about the complex issues related to finding and selecting childrens books about adoption. I haven’t gone back and looked, but I would hazard a guess that families – and loving grandparents and friends who want to give books – are still challenged to find the book that fits their family.

The good news is that there are still plenty of great books to impart what family means. Reading with your child is an opportunity to celebrate the universal ideas of love, acceptance, and having a positive sense of self. Our kids can see themselves in Guess How Much I Love You, No, David! and Ladybug Girl alike.

Reading stories that mirror universal experiences helps them see that other kids have the same experiences, think the same things, have the same feelings … just like them. We don’t parse our love by how someone became our child, so do we need to parse their stories that way?

Don’t get me wrong, having children’s adoption books in our house is important. We want Catherine to see books as a way we celebrate our family … adoption is part of what makes her so special to us. Adoption stories have a very special place in our library, because my daughter does want books that help her understand how she came to be our girl. Books like Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born and Little Miss Spider are still popular, even though she has clearly “outgrown” them.

Now, as we enter the tween years, I hope to build her library with books that meet her where she is. I want to share stories with characters she can relate to, but also some that offer food-for-thought about how adoptive families come to be.

When I think about National Family Literacy Month, I envision sharing a book with a child to celebrate being a family. It is an opportunity to share special time together, create great memories, and communicate in ways that ordinary conversation can’t match. Here’s to those special times!

Terry Doherty is the Founder and Executive Director of The Reading Tub, Inc., a public charity for family literacy. She is the mom to a soon-to-be nine-year-old bookworm. Terry recently celebrated 20 years of marriage to her best friend. When she’s not writing about children’s books, you’ll usually find her reading one. She lives in Charlottesville, VA, in view of Monticello, home to the man who said “I cannot live without books.” [Thomas Jefferson]

©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.

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My Go-To Online Literacy Resources

November 16, 2010

November is National Family Literacy Month.  This month I will post online and real world resources related to family literacy.

In this technological age, it is so easy to find information in the matter of seconds.  But, how do you know what information is relevant or correct?  These are a few of my go-to online literacy resources:

PBS Parents – Tons of articles and ideas on how to create a literate environment for your children.  In addition, they also offer a “Bookfinder” which allows you to type in your child’s age and interests and they will locate books for you!

Read, Write, Think – This is a joint effort between the International Reading Association and The National Council for Teachers of English.  This site has a plethora of lesson ideas and activities to complete with your child.  Great stuff!

Reading Rockets – Authors, experts, videos, podcasts, helping struggling readers, and providing that motivation for a child who already loves reading. . . this site has it all!

Thinkfinity – This site provides thousands of free lesson plans you can try at home with your child.  Through Thinkfinity’s support, The National Center for Family Literacy just launched Wonderopolis™ which is “for parents and children to nurture a sense of wonder and build a brighter world for children through the power of discovery, creativity, learning and imagination.” Each day families can visit the site for a “wonder of the day” – an activity that parents and children can do together that encourages wondering, exploring, discussion, and reflection.

What online resources do you frequent regularly?  Why do you like 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.

Tips to Increase Family Literacy

November 2, 2010

November is National Family Literacy Month.  This month I will post online and real world resources related to family literacy.

What Can Families Do Together To Promote Literacy?

  1. The number one thing, in my opinion, that families can do together to promote literacy is to read aloud.   Consider hosting a family reading night once a week.  Each week rotate family members to choose a book to read aloud.  If you have children who aren’t of reading age, allow them to pick out the book and have a reading family member read it aloud.  Make it an event! Make snacks, create crafts, or make a game up related to the book.  Need some inspiration?  Check out: Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read by Diane Frankenstein.
  2. Make Reading Interactive!  Choose books based on your child’s interests.  Mix fiction and informational reading together.  Check your local library.  Libraries often have pre-created sets of books based on a specific topic ready for check-out.  After reading books based on the topic, find a family friendly field trip related to the topic.  Read how to motivate readers with real world activities, motivate readers with musicals, or make cultural arts connections.
  3. Make writing part of your family interactions.  Give your family the write start with tips for incorporating writing into your family, or learn about authentic family writing experiences.
  4. Play literacy games with your family.  Turn story time into game time, by reading about how to play with stories.
  5. Make regular family outings to the library, book store, or yard/garage sales to find new books.  Libraries and book stores often showcase new books each month based on seasons, holidays, special events, etc.  Both also often provide story times for young children and special events.  Often you can find special treasures at sales. . . if you really look.
  6. Pay it forward!   As a family, donate books you don’t read anymore to local hospitals, homeless shelters, etc.  Volunteer your time to read to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, etc.  Nothing beats sharing a love of literacy as a family than sharing it with those who can use a little extra attention.  So as the holiday season approaches, consider reading aloud holiday books at your local children’s hospital or nursing home.

Additional Resource:

The Idaho Library system just released a Reading Aloud to Your Children handout in conjunction with the upcoming celebration of Idaho Family Reading Week, November 14-20, 2010.

What ways do you promote literacy as a family? I’d love to hear how other families incorporate literacy into their lives.

©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.

Family Reading Night for Preschoolers: Turkeys and Texts

November 20, 2009

Last night, I hosted my second Family Reading Night for my daughter’s preschool.  If you ask me, we really can’t start young enough when it comes to introducing literacy to children.  As a parent volunteer in her school, I do all I can to incorporate literacy into any extracurricular programming.  So, last night’s program was all about “Turkeys and Texts.”

The kids had two arts and crafts activities they could complete:  a handprint for a Thankful Tree, and Marshmallow Indian Corn, an activity that I borrowed from No Time for Flash Cards.  I also had Thanksgiving themed coloring sheets available for the children to color.  I had two Thanksgiving themed read–alouds and informational folders were available for parents to take home.  Each folder contained a free book and a resource of hands-on literacy activities parents could complete at home with their preschoolers.  In between the formal events that were set up, Thanksgiving and fall related books were spread around the room for parents to read to their children.  At the end of the evening, I conducted a book raffle.   Ten lucky families went home with a brand new Thanksgiving themed book.  Of course, we had Thanksgiving themed snacks as well!

As the holidays are among us and in response to a suggestion from the parent committee that I am a part of, I also added a charity component this year.  I prepared a Book Swap.  I asked families to donate their gently used children and adult books.  In return for their donation, families received one ticket for each book they donated.  The books were displayed so that when families attended Family Reading Night, they could browse the books and use their tickets to “purchase” “new” books.  All remaining books will be donated to a local hospital for use by their patients.

All in all, it was a great evening.  The kids had fun and it provided families with a little quality time together to just enjoy books.  I kept it very low key and pretty unstructured so that families could enjoy their time together.

Would you consider hosting a Family Reading Night for your preschooler?  Have you hosted/attended something similar for a preschooler?

©2009 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox.

National Family Literacy Month

November 6, 2009
November is National Family Literacy Month.  So, this month, I’m going to take some time to post about ways that families can incorporate literacy into their everyday lives.
 
What Can Families Do Together To Promote Literacy?
1. The number one thing, in my opinion, that families can do together to promote literacy is to read aloud.  Consider hosting a family reading night once a week.  Each week rotate family members to choose a book to read aloud.  If you have children who aren’t of reading age, allow them to pick out the book and have a reading family member read it aloud.  Make it an event! Make snacks, create crafts, or make a game up related to the book.  Need some inspiration?  Check out: Fairy Tale Feasts:  A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters by Jane Yolen  

Susan at The Book Chook recently posted Ten Ways to Involve the Whole Family in Reading Aloud.  Check it out for additional ways to incorporate reading aloud into the fabric of your family.   

Jen, from Jen Robinson’s Book Page, posted Tips for Growing Bookworms: #1 Read Aloud this week at PBS Booklights.  She discusses the importance of reading aloud to our kids from birth or even before!

2. Have older siblings read to younger siblings.  I love hearing my son read to my daughter.  And she loves it, too!  I’ve also had my older child record himself reading two or three favorite books.  This helps him practice fluency and my daughter can listen to the recordings when he’s not around.    

Along the same lines, Terry from The Reading Tub wrote Bedtime from Afar: Sharing Books When You Can’t Cuddle Up Close at PBS Booklights last month.   In her post she talks about ways to continue a bedtime read aloud tradition, even if you can’t be there in person, by recording yourself reading aloud. 

Which made me think about this:  when I was a child, my father was in the military and often spent six months or more out to sea.  One of my fondest memories was my mom, brother, and I sitting around the kitchen table recounting our day into a cassette tape for Dad.  Mom would mail the tapes off and in a month or so we received several cassette tapes from my dad telling us about his travels.  Taking this idea a step further, wouldn’t it be fantastic if the children of deployed military men and women recorded themselves reading aloud books to send to their moms and dads overseas?  United Through Reading provides books and recording equipment for deployed parents to read aloud to their kids on DVD, but I’m sure parents would be delighted to hear (and even better, SEE) their children read books to them as well! 

3. Play literacy games, such as Boggle or Scrabble.  Boggle, Jr. is perfect for kids 3-6.  Break your family into teams and make it a game night!  Or make up your own literacy games.  My children enjoy playing Go Fish with a twist.  My three year old goes fishing for letters and my six year old goes fishing for sight words.  Simply create pairs of letters or pairs of sight words on index cards.  If your child already recognizes capital letters, make lower case letters or create a mixture of both and have your child match the capital letter to the lowercase letter.      

4. Make regular family outings to the library, book store, or yard/garage sales to find new books.  Libraries and book stores often showcase new books each month based on seasons, holidays, special events, etc.  Both also often provide story times for young children and special events.  Often you can find special treasures at sales. . . if you really look. 
  
5. Pay it forward!   As a family, donate books you don’t read anymore to local hospitals, homeless shelters, etc.  Volunteer your time to read to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, etc.  Nothing beats sharing a love of literacy as a family than sharing it with those who can use a little extra attention.  So as the holiday season approaches, consider reading aloud holiday books at your local children’s hospital or nursing home.       

Additional Resources
Since it’s National Family Literacy Month, several organizations are posting ways to incorporate literacy into family life.  Here are a few I found this week: 
The National Center for Family Literacy has free, interactive activities for families to complete together.  These activities are based on events that instill pride in our nation’s history.

At First Book, guest blogger, Tina Chovanec, wrote Adventures in Family Learning, a post about ways “parents can jumpstart reading and learning together.” 

What ways do you promote literacy as a family? I’d love to hear how other families incorporate literacy into their lives.