If you saw my post last week about combatting the summer slide, you may have noticed that we’re encouraging the girls to send letters and postcards to friends and family, and that we’ve started a Conversation Journal (a notebook of letters back and forth) with our oldest. As a way to inspire writing these letters, we’ve also been reading lots of picture books told mostly (or completely, in many cases) through epistolary form. Friendly letters, persuasive writing, thank you notes, even a few business letters– these books have it all! At the bottom of this post, I’ve also included a few wonderful novels written in letter format, for those of you with older readers who may be looking for more! Continue reading “Picture Books to Inspire Letter Writing”
Parents, have you heard about summer learning loss, the summer slump, or the summer slide? Does what you’re hearing make you worry about what you need to do with your children over the summer to ensure they start a new school year fresh and ready to go? Are you trying to do ALL THE THINGS to make this happen? Read on for a little info about summer learning loss, as well as what we’re doing in our house to keep skills up in fun and natural ways! Continue reading “What We’re Doing to Combat the Summer Slide”
Do you ever start a read-aloud and realize that, while it seemed to be a perfect set-up/story/time/etc for you, it just wasn’t really right for your audience? I’m guessing the answer is yes… If it’s not, then can you share all of your secrets with us? For the rest of us, rest assured that you’re not alone! I’d been wanting to write about rethinking your read-aloud expectations for a while, and then when I came across Too Many Frogs! by Sandy Asher, illustrated by Keith Graves, I thought this might be the perfect picture book to illustrate this point. Continue reading “A Read-Aloud Tip AND a Book Recommendation!”
Last week, I wrote about a simple way to help your children get so much more out of picture book read-alouds than they might be getting. (You can read more about that here). Today, I’ve got 5 really easy conversations starters that you can use with your children before, during, and after read-alouds, whether picture books or chapter books, to both deepen their comprehension of the book and build your connection over that book. Continue reading “Read-Aloud Conversation Starters”
A few months ago, my husband came out from reading with the girls before bed and announced that storytime had gotten significantly more meaningful because he decided to simply sit and wait at the end of a page. He wouldn’t turn the page himself, he’d just wait until either the girls turned it themselves or asked him to turn it…
As a teacher, I read many many studies about the benefits of increased “wait time” (the time between when a teacher asks a question and a child answers it) to the quality of students’ thinking and responses. Studies show, in fact, that “the length of student responses tends to increase at least threefold” when the wait time is at least 3 seconds. “Student responses tended to be more substantive, including more thorough argumentation and less mimicry of what the instructor had already stated. On top of all that, increased wait time appears to be directly related to increased student motivation!” (from https://ucat.osu.edu/blog/value-awkward-silence-increasing-wait-time-classroom/).
And we’ve seen the same thing in our house when we let the girls lead in terms of how quickly we move through a picture book! The girls notice more about the illustrations (which are often integral to the story in a picture book), they ask insightful questions about the characters or plot, and they make more connections to the stories. We learned from this that, as adults, we tend to move through picture books at our reading speed, which is WAY too fast for children to process the story, and WAY too fast for them to take in all the details given through the illustrations.
With children’s picture books, it can be tempting for adults to flip through the pages at the pace of the prose… Looking with intensity, or “close looking…” calls for a change of gears, or a downshift. “If we want to be able to make the most of a picture— to be open to it and wonder why we feel as we do in front of it— we need to look not just as what’s being represented but rather at everything that presents itself, and grasp at the how as well as the what… The more you know, the more you’ll be able to discover and the more meanings you’ll be able to make.” (page 165).
How do you pace your picture book read-alouds? Are you willing to have your “page-turn wait time” feel a little awkward for the benefit of your children?
A follower recently asked me for recommendations for books similar to Elephant and Piggie— yes, she wanted that early reading level, but she was NOT looking for silly, funny, friendship books. Instead, she wanted books written in the same dialogue format, as their kindergartener likes to do “theater” of the Elephant and Piggie books at night… (side note— this kind of reader’s theater is wonderful for developing fluency!).
So, up today, books written in the same dialogue style, for the same early reading level, as the beloved Elephant and Piggie books! Continue reading “Early Readers Written in Dialogue (aka Elephant and Piggie Style!)”
So, it’s no real secret that I love Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook (and by the way, a new edition is being released in September— you better believe I’ve already preordered mine!). So, when a dear friend told me she had seen a book I’d probably love sitting front-and-center on the counter of our local bookstore, I turned around immediately to buy it.
And y’all, The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction is inspiring, too! Meghan Cox Gurdon has written this with a great combination of both personal anecdotes about reading aloud with her own children and data, statistics, and insights from current research around brain development, technology, and reading aloud. I marked an incredible number of passages for my own future reference or to share with my husband. Gurdon also includes 11 pages of recommended titles for read-aloud! Continue reading “The Enchanted Hour by Meghan Cox Gurdon”