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Eeny, meeny, miney, mo? Is that the best one can do when selecting a book for a child? Certainly not! The book you hand to a child, especially if it is a gift, can make or break a burgeoning reader. Think about it–if you were not quite sure if all this work involved with reading was worth it, what would it do to you to be handed a dull, dumb, or dry book? If you had the choice between doing other things you already loved to do or reading a book, what would you do if an adult urged you to read a dreadful story?
You’d not read, of course (humans are really quite logical and that’s the logical choice at that point).
So how do we avoid ruining reading for a child? Here are some of my pointers:
- Look for a story. Good stories have a beginning, middle, and end and movement of some sort happens between the beginning and the end. Good stories have a problem. Good stories show as well as tell. Good stories create a world.
- Look for books where the story and the pictures match up, tie together, and support each other.
- Ask yourself, “What is this book teaching when it’s not teaching?” Now listen closely: Books do not have to teach. We do not have to teach all the time. But to paraphrase John Westerhoff, we do teach all the time, even when we are not teaching. What do we teach, then, when we are not teaching? What will that book say to a child about himself or herself, about the world, and about their place in it. Is what it teaches what you want taught?
- When all else fails, look for books that make you laugh–or cry (or at least bring a lump to your throat). I’m not endorsing sappy, melodramatic palaver, but books that touch the heart or the funny bone. We remember and treasure stories that grab us emotionally.
- Finally, for children under 2, forget stories. ;-) Find board books that have pictures of babies and young children, board books that show a little one going through his or her day, board books with pictures and words of what’s familiar in a baby’s life. And for the very youngest, books with black and white, very simple pictures are most interesting to young eyes and brains.
Here are a few don’ts:
- Don’t give books that require a kid to buy something in order to enjoy the book.
- Don’t buy books with TV or franchise characters; it feeds celebrity culture at a very young age. And they are consistently, dreadfully written. Don’t believe me? Try reading one aloud.
- Don’t buy books where the story doesn’t make sense. Laura and Jenna Bush’s picture book is a fine example of this, but it also happens in board books as well as picture books.
- Don’t buy books with gimmicks. I’ve got one here to discard that’s got glitter throughout, and there are words on the pages as if it had a story–but there is no real story to it. Mere words a story do not make.
Look, expect, and demand quality in writing and illustrating in children’s books. Purchasing quality books forces writers and publishers to produce quality books.
Final thought? Please do not give to charity any book that you would not give to your own child or grandchild. That gift changes a life; make it the change you want to see.
Happy Gift Giving!
by Lisa Moore
ALAMOSA – The train east of the library may not be going anywhere—it is permanently displayed in the park after all—but the train coming out of the library is officially on its way around Alamosa as of Feb. 27.
Deemed the Storybox Special, this train is bound for success, according to its conductor, Southern Peaks children’s librarian Babette Reeves. Its five cars are actually boxes filled with about 20 books each that home child care providers can check-out monthly.
Reeves initiated the program because she was looking to fill a gap she saw in early literacy programs in rural communities like Alamosa. “Family day cares really do not have the transportation or the financial means to get their kids to the library like a lot of the preschools and traditional day cares can,” she said. “These kids need books that can be part of their day, either to look at and play with on their own or to read with adults.”
The books cover early literacy skills and developmental tasks for preschoolers, like having a new baby in the family or potty training. Boxes include bilingual books as well as a couple of resource books for the teachers.
To participate, providers must attend a workshop where they are taught the six essential early literacy skills: print motivation, vocabulary, print awareness, narrative skills, phonological awareness and letter knowledge. The first workshop was held in January and Reeves said that as word gets out about the program, more workshops will be scheduled.
Reeves hand delivered the first set of books to three home child cares on Friday. “A month later I will go back and pick up the boxes, check them in, rotate them, and take them back out again,” she explained. “Each home child care will get a new box of books for kids to spend time with each month.”
Home child care provider Cindy Goldsworthy is glad the Storybox Special has a scheduled stop at her house because it is difficult to bring five or more infants and preschoolers to the library herself. “We always love reading, and getting new material each month is going to be so exciting,” she said.
Reeves emphasized that studies continue to prove reading to and with preschoolers increases their chances of graduating from high school. With a 66-percent graduation rate at Alamosa High School as reported by the Colorado Department of Education in 2007, Reeves said the Storybox Special is especially important.
“I told those who showed up for the workshop that ten or twelve years from now when the graduation rate goes up, you’re going to tell yourself, and I’m going to remind you, that it is because of what you did in your day cares and your preschools and your homes with those kids when they were babies and until they went to kindergarten that made a difference,” she said.
To learn more about the Storybox Special, call Babette Reeves at 719-589-6592.
Here’s the link to follow me: My Twitter. (It’s also up in the header section below Sunglass Gal). You can type in Babette, BabetteR, or Babette Reeves to find me. Then click on the Follow button.
Get updates on programs, what we read in storytime, arrival of new books, the inside scoop on the life of a librarian, and more!
I’m not a big believer in memorizing the Presidents. We all have so much to learn nowadays that learning how to learn and how to think are far more important than learning bits of information.
But there is something to be said also for learning to memorize. And songs are one way to do it.
This has a fun catchy tune and the pics that go along with it add a visual component. So how long does it take you and your kids to learn the 44 Presidents?
Singing songs helps children hear that words are broken down into smaller parts (from Every Child Ready to Read website).
Phonological awareness is all about being able to hear small units of sounds in words. It’s about being able to tell the difference between those smaller units. And English has at least 44 of these small units!
In later school years when children have trouble with reading, most often the trouble is rooted in a lack of phonological awareness.
You don’t want to try to teach these sounds; you simply want to provide opportunities for your children to learn these sounds. Talking with them works; letting them talk works; and playing with rhymes, nonsense words and songs works best!
Check out the Rhymes & Fingerplay podcasts; click here and then scroll down the page for a complete listing. Remember, you can listen to them from a computer but you can also download them for free onto your MP3 player and take them with you!
(Thanks to The Graphics Fairy website for the great clip art.)
I’ve had a request to include the words in print for the rhymes & fingerplays that are on podcasts.
So click the header at the top under Sunglass Gal or scroll down the left hand column about halfway. Feel free to print and use as needed (although a plug for the blog where you found them wouldn’t hurt as you hand them out). ;-)
Southern Peaks Public Library now has a new banner on its website. Check it out.
That’s picture of Mt. Blanca, one of Colorado’s 14-footers, and it really is gorgeous! That’s not a photoshopped pic. Mt. Blanca is visible from town and it changes every day. I think it’s a very appropriate pic for our website.
(BTW, while the website is being tweaked some more, you’ll find the link to the blog here under “Resources” then “Children.”)
As I twittered earlier, I don’t get it.
I’ve heard about and heard about Tribes but it didn’t sound like much so I didn’t read it. But after a while, if a book title keeps cropping up, I’ll go ahead and finally read it.
I’m certainly not finished with it yet, and I wouldn’t say it’s bad, but I’m not at all sure what the fuss is about. I keep waiting for him to say something.
And with no chapters and no structure, I feel like I’m going around and around and around….
What’s your take on it? Why do you love or hate it?
It’s rhymes and fingerplay time–and hopefully it will be every Thursday.
Check out these with animals; and remember, the instructions are at the end of the podcast.
I know it seems inconceivable but I’m going to put chickens before Abraham Lincoln. (But it is really tough, honest.)
Best Book I got in on the new book order:
Tillie Lays an Egg by Terry Golson.
It’s got pictures of real chickens, 50’s memorabilia, eggs to count and even multiply, a Where’s Waldo factor, and a funny, funny ending.
Children and all other chicken lovers will have a delightful time with Tilly!
Abe’s Honest Words by Doreen Rappaport is a combination bio and quotations including one of my favorites about trying to please people (I’ll put it on the quote page soon).
How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham quotes Bob as saying, “In troubled time, when many of us are losing contact with the natural world, I wanted to show that there is still hope in a coming generation of children who have curiosity and empathy with the world around them, and that care and attention can sometimes fix broken wings.” He does a fine job.