Archive for the ‘Parent Resources’ Category

Literacy Toolbox Review: Pam Allyn’s Best Books for Boys

May 5, 2011

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Pam Allyn here on Literacy Toolbox.  In that Q&A session, she shared her professional insight into what has influenced her work with boys, any misconceptions society has about boy readers and her advice to parents of boys.  I’m delighted to have been able to read her new resource for educators, Pam Allyn’s Best Books for Boys: How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives (Scholastic 2011) and review it here.

About the Book: In this resource, Allyn thoughtfully begins with the why.  Why the focus on boys?  It’s an age old question at this point.  How do we get boys to read as much as girls?  Why is there a disparity between boys and girls in reading?  In the second section, she provides the reader with 24 questions and answers related to reading and boys, such as: How can we make boys comfortable with reading?  Does online reading count? How can I celebrate and affirm boys’ achievements in reading?  Allyn ends with an extensive annotated list of books that boys may enjoy.  She explains a coding system – labeling books with E-for Emergent Readers, D – for Developing Readers, and M – for Maturing Readers – that has more to do with a boy’s emotional development rather than his chronological age.  Books are listed by genre – genres that boys typically like.

My Thoughts: This is a fantastic resource for any educator who is interested in motivating boys to read.  It’s an easy read and provides thoughtful, ready to implement ideas to motivate boys to read in the classroom.  And, while it’s technically a resource for educators, I think parents can certainly glean useful information from this resource as well, in terms of ways to encourage reading in boys.  The language is not written in “educator vocabulary,” but instead, is rather parent friendly.  If you have sons or are a teacher of boys, I highly recommend you read Pam Allyn’s Best Books for Boys: How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives!

About the Author: Pam Allyn is the Executive Director of LitWorld. She is also the Executive Director of LitLife, a nationwide education professional development consultancy.  Pam has written several books for teachers including the curriculum development guide entitled “The Complete 4 for Literacy” (Scholastic 2007) and one for parents, caregivers and educators entitled “What to Read When” (Penguin 2009).  

Disclosure:  I received a copy of the book from the publisher. 

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. 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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Creating Bookworms: Connecting to Your Childhood

September 21, 2010

As a new school year begins for most students, I believe it’s a good time to renew our commitment to our children.  This includes ways to include daily literacy activities for our youngest children.  This month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share ways parents and educators can work to create their own little bookworms.

Let’s face it!  We aren’t getting any younger.  Sad, but true!  However, we can remain young at heart and one way I try to do that is by sharing my childhood favorites with my children.  I was thinking about this yesterday and realized that by sharing a bit of my childhood with my children, in the form of books I loved, I just might be creating bookworms out of them!

My children love to hear about my childhood.  It’s so interesting to see how they try to assimilate in their minds that Mommy was a kid once, too.  I remember doing the same thing with my own mom as a child.  Last year, I decided to share Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary with my then 6 year old.  I remember reading all of the Henry Huggins books (Henry Huggins Complete Set: Henry Huggins, Henry and Beezus, Henry and Ribsy, Henry and the Paper Route, Henry and the Clubhouse, and Ribsy (6-Book Set)) and then moving on to the Ramona books (The Ramona Collection, Vol. 1: Beezus and Ramona / Ramona the Pest / Ramona the Brave / Ramona and Her Father and The Ramona Collection, Vol. 2: Ramona Quimby, Age 8 / Ramona and Her Mother / Ramona Forever / Ramona’s World) (or it may have been the other way around) as a child.  And I vividly remember sharing my love for these books with my friend, Brenda.  In fact, she may have been the one to recommend the Henry Huggins books to begin with!  In any event, I read Henry Huggins to my son last year and we talked about how it was one of my favorite books as a child.  He loved the book as much as I did.  And, I had a blast reading it as an adult!

This year, we have moved on to The Littles series by John Peterson.  I remember reading these books as a child and watching the cartoon.  I loved them and never dreamed I would grow up to become a “Little” myself!  So, when I found the set at our school’s Scholastic Book Fair last year, I had to get them to pass them on to my son.  He loves that we read books that contain our last name and I love passing on the books I loved as a child.  We even have our own Granny Little in our family!

I loved books as a kid (still do, of course!) and I’m so excited to pass on to my children all the books I loved from my childhood!  These are the books that are timeless.  They are as relevant today as they were when I was a child and even when my mother was a child.  Next year, we will move on to my all time favorites, Tales of a Fourth Grade NothingSuperfudge, and Fudge-a-Mania by Judy Blume.  I have a feeling my son is just going to laugh out loud at those!

Do you share your childhood favorites with your children?  What are they?

©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.

Creating Bookworms: The Read Aloud

September 16, 2010

As a new school year begins for most students, I believe it’s a good time to renew our commitment to our children.  This includes ways to include daily literacy activities for our youngest children.  This month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share ways parents and educators can work to create their own little bookworms.

Two decades ago in Becoming a Nation of Readers (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985) reading aloud was called “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading” (p. 23).  I’ve written about read alouds before and I’ll continue to write about them because I believe that they are so important in our children’s daily literacy life.  Children absorb everything we say and do.  How many times have you heard something come out of your child’s mouth that sounds just like you?  Reading can have the same effect.  If our children see us read or hear us read, they will want to be just like us!  Reading aloud to our children goes a long way to creating little bookworms!

Chances are, if you are reading this, you already know the importance of reading aloud and probably do so every day.  I will simply provide you with a few resources to help you along the way:

The Read-Aloud Handbook: Sixth Edition by Jim Trelease

Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox

What Should I Read Aloud? A Guide to 200 Best-selling Picture Books by Nancy Anderson

What to Read When: The Books and Stories to Read with Your Child–and All the Best Times to Read Them by Pam Allyn

Do you have any “go-to” resources to create bookworms out of your 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 Lava 6 is Here!

September 1, 2010

The sixth issue of Literacy Lava, a digital magazine (in pdf format) is available for you to read, download and use, share with others, or print and keep.

As usual, Literacy Lava is erupting with great tips for parents, and suggestions for literacy activities to share with kids.

If you enjoy discovering new ways to incorporate reading, writing and creating into everyday life…

If you think you’d like a little lava to read with your java…

If the price tag FREE appeals to you…

Click on the link below and download the latest edition!

7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It! by Susan Zimmerman and Chryse Hutchins

July 13, 2010

This month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share resources to help parents explicitly teach their child comprehension strategies when reading.  Good readers use these strategies without even thinking about it.  It is our job as parents and educators to teach our children how to use these strategies so that they become second nature to them as they read independently.

While Strategies that Work was written to assist teachers in the classroom, 7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It! is written in a fashion that guides parents as they teach their children comprehension strategies.

If children don’t understand what they read, they will never embrace reading. And that limits what they can learn while in school. 7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It! is the result of cutting-edge research. It gives parents practical, thoughtful advice about the seven simple thinking strategies that proficient readers use:

• Connecting reading to their background knowledge
• Creating sensory images
• Asking questions
• Drawing inferences
• Determining what’s important
• Synthesizing ideas
• Solving problems

Easily understood, easily applied, and proven successful, this essential educational tool helps parents to turn reading into a fun and rewarding experience.

©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.

Reading Strategies for Beginning Readers

July 6, 2010

Today’s guest post is by Maggie Cary of www.classroomtalk.com On her blog, Maggie often answers parent questions pertaining to their child’s education.  Here is one such question and answer related to reading strategies for beginning readers:

Question: My daughter is in grade 1.  She is bringing home little books to practice reading with us.  We also have lots of books around our house and I notice that she is starting to pick them up and read them.  She loves to read and seems quite confident.  I know it all sounds great but here is the problem. When she is reading, she often skips words and reads some words incorrectly.  When this behavior occurs, I am not sure what to do.  Should I point out to her that she skipped over a word and when reading a word incorrectly or should  I just tell her the word or is there a better way to help her?  I want her to remain confident and not be afraid to try new books.  Can you help?

Answer: It is very normal for emergent readers to do exactly what your daughter is doing.  You know your daughter better than anyone, so if she is tired, reading just before sleeping, reading to your friends or relatives, or in other situations where you think she will just be frustrated or embarrassed, you probably won’t want to correct her.  However, most of the time it will probably be just you and her, and/or other immediate family members, and that is when you find teachable moments.  When she makes an error, begin by explaining to her that stories have to make sense.  If the words that she is reading don’t make sense, then as a good reader she should stop and go back and try to figure out what is wrong.  After the first few times, you may develop little natural short cut cues to relay this message.  You may say something like; “makes sense?”, “huh?” or “mmmm”.  You might incorporate a quizzical look or furl your brow, and then just utilize such gestures without saying a word.  Soon, you won’t have to remind her at all, she’ll know when to go back on her own for most errors.

If you aren’t sure about or comfortable with your own cues, here are more specific cues you may want to utilize to help her monitor her own reading:

“Try that again and see what would make sense”;

“Try that again and get your mouth ready to say the first few sounds of that tricky word as you think about the story”;

“Look at the picture and try that again,” and/or;

“What’s wrong?”

As advised, be sure to keep reading a positive experience, don’t turn it into a chore for your child.  Praise her when she reads correctly with such phrases as, “That makes sense” or I like the way that your words matched the story.”

It is also important to remember that you have a professional resource available to you, your child’s teacher.  Consult with the teacher to see what he or she may be doing to improve your daughter’s reading.  If your daughter is bringing home books to practice reading, chances are that she has read the book in school and the rereads are being utilized to practice one or more skills that she is working on at school.  If you do not receive a note or explanation from the teacher as to what methods are being utilized to improve reading skills, ask.  You should be practicing and reinforcing the skills that the teacher is working on in class.

Listed below are some techniques that 1st Grade teachers typically utilize to improve reading:

  • Have your daughter read the title of a book aloud while pointing to the word being read;
  • Take a picture walk.  Before reading a book, look at the pictures or illustrations contained therein and talk about each page before going back to the beginning and reading the words;
  • As you take the picture walk, ask her to find a few “sight” words that you know she knows.  For example, ask her to find the word “the” and make a little frame around the word with her fingers as she comes across it in the text, and;
  • Ask her to point to each word as she reads (Pointing is very important for beginning readers but as children progress, they should refrain from pointing as it slows them down).

Using the advice provided above should help your daughter become a better reader.  While this advice should be helpful, it will not be nearly as effective unless reading is fun for your daughter.  Always remember to back away from “teaching” and to focus more on her enjoyment and pride if you sense your lessons are creating undue stress and making reading a chore instead of a joy.  Most importantly, keep on doing what you are doing, reading with your daughter and encouraging and praising her.

Maggie Cary, a National Board Certified Teacher has been an educator for over 18 years.  She is certified in Secondary Education and holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education.  Over the years she has mentored countless teachers and advised hundreds of parents.  Mrs. Cary has taught children from preschool through high school.

Strategies That Work by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis

July 1, 2010

This month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share resources to help parents explicitly teach their child comprehension strategies when reading.  Good readers use these strategies without even thinking about it.  It is our job as parents and educators to teach our children how to use these strategies so that they become second nature to them as they read independently.

Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement is a book that was suggested to me early in my teaching career.  I used it extensively in the classroom, and continue to use the resources and strategies within the book when I read to my own children.  The goal is to create engaged, thoughtful, independent readers and this book helps!  

Though Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement is meant as a resource for teachers, I feel that any parent who has an interest in explicitly teaching their children strategies when reading (especially parents who home school!), will find this book useful.

In this revised and expanded edition, Harvey and Goudvis have added twenty completely new comprehension lessons.

In this book, you will find:

  • what comprehension is and how to teach it
  • lessons and practices for teaching comprehension
  • information on social studies and science reading, topic study research, textbook reading and the genre of test reading
  • updated appendix section recommends a rich diet of fiction and nonfiction, short text, kid’s magazines, websites and journals

When kids are engaged in their reading they enhance their understanding, acquire knowledge, and learn from and remember what they read. And most importantly, they will want to read 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.

Parent Reading Resources: How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell

June 29, 2010

This month I plan to post resources to help parents as they try to raise a reader.  Perhaps through the resources I share, you’ll find something to help you engage your child in reading over the summer (and beyond!).

Written by an educator and librarian, How to Get Your Child to Love Reading: For Ravenous and Reluctant Readers Alike is a 500+ page guide for parents!  Codell provides activities, ideas, and inspiration for exploring everything in the world through books.  Codell, resists grouping books by age level.  Instead, she offers a simple method for determining whether a book is too difficult while pointing out that kids may listen on a much higher level than they read. She offers scores of thematic book lists parents can use to inspire young readers, ranging from topics as diverse as medieval England to dinosaurs or hiccups.

Inside this fantastic resource, you will find:

  • Over 3,000 hand-picked titles on every subject under the sun
  • Hundreds of child-tested, teacher-approved craft ideas, storytimes, book-based parties, mad-scientist experiments, cooking forays, web-site recommendations, and reading-club activities
  • Reassuring and simple approaches to reading aloud with children from birthday through eighth grade
  • Support for parents of reluctant readers and enriching ideas for eager readers
  • Extensive indexes for locating books by subject, author, and title
  • Suggestions for volunteer activities and for getting involved in your child’s school
  • Easy access to award-winning books
  • Exciting ways to reward reading progress

This book is an indispensable resource for all parents who want to engage their children in reading.  And like Jim Trelease before her, Codell also has her own website where she continues to share information on reading aloud for parents, educators, and librarians.

©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.

Parent Reading Resources: A Parent’s Guide to Reading with Your Young Child by Dr. Susan B. Neuman and Tanya S. Wright

June 24, 2010

Parent Reading Resources: A Parent’s Guide to Reading with Your Young Child by Dr. Susan B. Neuman and Tanya S. Wright

This month I plan to post resources to help parents as they try to raise a reader.  Perhaps through the resources I share, you’ll find something to help you engage your child in reading over the summer (and beyond!).  

A Parent’s Guide to Reading With Your Young Child is an easy read resource for parents of children from birth to age five.  Bright and colorful, it provides parents with a quick, “go-to” resource for research based early language learning benefits.  Each chapter is broken down by age and provides developmental information as well as a reading list for that age group.

©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.

Parent Reading Resources: Summer Reading Programs

June 22, 2010

Parents often ask what they can do to help minimize the “summer slide,” the effect of a lack of formal schooling in the summer, when students and parents tend to be more lax and children begin to lose what they learned the previous school year, that inevitably sets in every year.

The best answer to this is to encourage your children to read every day.  Set aside fifteen or twenty minutes each day for reading time.  If your children are not reading on their own yet, read to them.  If your children are of reading age, provide choices for them and encourage them to read on their own.

There are several reading programs offered this summer that may help entice children to read:

Borders and Barnes and Noble both offer a reading incentive that provides a free book at the end. Borders program is called “Double Dog Dare” and they are asking kids 12 and under to read 10 books by August 26th.  Bring in the completed book list form to any Borders and receive a free book!  Download a copy of the form from the link above.

Barnes and Noble’s program is based on The 39 Clues series of books.  Children in grades 1-6 are encouraged to read 8 books this summer and list them on their Passport to Summer Reading (download it from the link above).    Children have until September 7 to complete their passport and return it to any Barnes and Noble to receive their free book.  Parents can also download fun activities for children at the Barnes and Noble link above.

Scholastic is also offering a summer reading challenge.  Children are asked to read books and log the number of minutes they read.  When kids log their reading minutes, they help their schools as they participate in the Read for the World Record Challenge! The Top 20 schools with the most reading minutes will appear in the “Scholastic Book of World Records” 2011 edition.  Children ages 7 and up are encouraged to participate.

The KidsPost is offering it’s Tenth Annual Summer Book Club for young readers.  This year’s choices include books by “blockbuster authors” such as Rick Riordan, Ann M. Martin, and John Grisham.  Most of the books are available at the library and each Wednesday, the KidsPost will review that week’s book and offer similar books that a reader may enjoy.

In addition to summer reading, consider enriching your child’s summer with cultural arts and science activities. Keeping children busy over the summer should help negate that pesky “summer slide.”

©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