Whew, July is Rough!

Whew, July is Rough!

For the last couple of years, probably since my son has been in school, July has been a rough month when it comes to #RaisingReaders.  Is it just me?

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June is good. We are still in our routines from the school year, they usually come home with a couple of books from school they are excited about reading because they get to keep them. The public library starts its summer reading program with a bang (this year they had a awesome performer who swallowed a sword) and we go there pretty regularly and get new books, both written and audio. Although some of it may be extrinsic, they are motivated readers at the beginning of summer.
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August is also good. School starts midway through the month, so we start getting back into school routines before then. They are excited to go back and they want to be prepared (and sometimes I guilt them into being prepared), so they pick up books more often. That book that they brought home from school in June, they grab that off the shelf again and decide to finish it.

But man, July, not so good. Part of it is the routine piece, with camps/vacations and just staying up late in general, there are nights we don’t have a #bedtimeread.  Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, they’ve found other activities to do, games, tables/game consoles, so the suggestion of a book instead can produce a tantrum. Also, they don’t want to be reminded of anything related to school, so if there’s no tantrum, suggesting a book gets a side-eye from either child. I don’t want to make reading a chore or an unpleasant experience, so I don’t push it.  Usually they fall asleep reading a book and/or listening to an audio book, but the other night my son did neither!

Now because I know August is coming and I know there is not a complete aversion to books, I’m not horribly concerned, but it is still a struggle. So, if anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears! Keep #RaisingReaders!

Keeping Up With the Kiddos

Keeping Up With the Kiddos

In more recent years, children’s books have begun to discuss and reflect the issues of our times, including bullying, racism, and other issues. I think this is all great, it exposes young people to people and situations they haven’t yet encountered and/or provides them characters that they can actually connect to. However, it can also cause you to step up your parenting game to ensure that they are not learning any misunderstandings or that you’re available to answer any questions they may have.  This is especially true if your children are advanced readers.  Recently, I have had instances with both of my children that gave me reason to write this post.

My son loves graphic novels, and although it used to bug me at first, I have come around to the idea that as long as he’s in a book, we’re good. (Read about my trials here.) A while ago during a trip to the bookstore, he picked out Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Shell. I had heard of it, and heard good things about it, but hadn’t read it for myself. My son was enthralled with this book for a good 2 days, telling me about cool things he saw throughout the book. When I was finally able to get my own hands on it, I realized that it was about more than kids creating communities with cardboard boxes. In reality, although all the stories are connected, there are multiple story lines that include some heavy topics, including gender identity and divorce. My issue became that I didn’t know if my son, who generally pays more attention to the illustrations than the words, grasped those things.  So, knowing my child, I knew that we couldn’t rehash or reread the entire story again, however, we did have some conversation about a couple of the characters just to see if he had any questions about the story, which he did not. I don’t regret him reading the book at all, but I wish I would’ve been able to preview the book with him before he started reading it.

My daughter recently turned 10, and her reading preferences are starting to advance faster than her actual age. Recently, she checked out the audio version of The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore. This novel is about a 12 year old boy dealing with the aftermath of the death of his brother in a gang-related shooting. It’s been on my TBR list for a while, and although I would’ve preferred to read it first, I’m not in the habit of denying my kids books they want to read. I could tell that she really got it into the audiobook, because she would play it in the evenings, not just before bedtime. Honestly, I didn’t think she would stick with it, but she wanted to make sure she heard all of the story.  I kept the option open for her to talk about the book if she wanted, but she didn’t seem to need that.

I say all this to say that as you are #RaisingReaders, be sure to at least try to know what your child is reading, just in case their books are covering topics that may lead to other discussions.

 

In Case Reading Out Loud Isn’t Your Thing…

In Case Reading Out Loud Isn’t Your Thing…

On a recent Sunday morning, my 7 year old son came into my bedroom to ask me for a piece of paper. What for, you ask? This child was excited because he had found the solar system in his kid dictionary and wanted to write about it. Specifically, he wanted to write down the age old mnemonic device that many of us learned about the planets, “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” (Or whatever food starting with P you may have learned.)

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Here he is, invading my space on a Sunday morning with his dictionary…

He was inspired to write this down because for the last few days he has been listening to Stink: Solar System Superhero and apparently this was part of the story. His plan was to create his own new sentence about the planets, which I thought was admirable, but quite a lofty goal for a relaxing Sunday morning. But his motivation got me to thinking about the power of listening to books. I love the fact that he is getting just as much out of listening to Stink’s adventures on CD as he would if I was reading it to him.

My daughter is also loving the books she’s listening to, which are part of the Wayside School series. When I recently went into her room to turn off her lamp, instead of laying down and falling asleep, she was sitting straight up because she was just that into the story. imgres-7As an added bonus, we almost always get audio books from the library, which cost my favorite amount: FREE.

So, although I’ve written about this before, I just wanted to remind you that audiobooks can be a perfect alternative to reading aloud with your children, especially if you’re not feeling particularly entertaining with your reading style.

Don’t get me wrong, I still advocate for reading aloud to your children, even if you don’t feel like its your wheelhouse. They appreciate the effort, the cuddles, and the time spent together, even if you feel like you’re stumbling over words or not doing cool voices.

Whatever you decide, keep #RaisingReaders!

Five Reasons my Kids Listen to Books

Five Reasons my Kids Listen to Books

“Mom, a stegosaurus weighs 4 hundred, 4 thousand 8 million pounds,” says my son.

Me: “Okayyyy…now go back to bed.”

My daughter (sorta mumbling): “I knew about the crocodile, but that’s it.”

Now although it may sound like my children are talking in their sleep or doing every thing possible to avoid sleep (which may be), actually, their seemingly random sentences make sense.

I don’t remember why or how it started, my guess it was from a trip to the library, but many nights both of my children fall asleep listening to a book. No, I don’t mean that my voice is so soothing that it sends them both off into Dreamland. (I really wish it was, that’s a fantasy of mine, but it has yet to happen.) I mean that when we go to the library, one of the things that they check out is a book and CD of their choice.

Now you would think this would take me off the hook right? One less book for me to read each night? Nope, nada. This what they listen to after they listen to me and/or their father read to them.  

Although it may seem like an outdated practice with the CDs and all, there are actually a lot of advantages to them listening to books, and here are five that work for us. 

1– Its an easy way to do repeated readings. They listen to the story on repeat for a set amount of time, like 30 mins, so they get to hear a story multiple times (without me having to read it myself over and over. #momwin), which also helps expose them to what good expression sounds like. So when they do read, they hopefully adopt those same expression skills.

2– It is a way to expose them to higher vocabulary and more difficult text. My 5 year old son is able to follow along with the books, even though he can’t necessarily read them himself. It has improved his listening comprehension skills.

3– As my daughter started reading chapter books, she started listening to them as well. So she was no longer following along with text, but just listening to the story. She started listening to longer chapter books long before she was actually reading them.

4– Works on those listening skills. If your kids are anything like mine, that’s always a skill they need to work on. They have to follow along in the text, as well as listen for the often faint “ding” that tells them to turn the page.  Additionally, if they get distracted, they miss part of the story, so they tend to be more focused.

5– Its a wonderful way to allow them to hear books that they are interested in, that you may not want to read yourself. The quotes from the beginning of this post were from when my kids were listening to the following books:

Both interesting titles, but neither were really screaming bedtime read aloud to me, so I am grateful that they got them to listen to. And obviously, they were learning something from the books as well.

So, in your quest to raise readers, if you haven’t already, I would strongly suggest exposing your kids to some audiobooks. Whether its on CD, through something like Audible, or even through some other form of technology, its yet another way to help your child develop a love of books. If your children already listen to books, let me know if you have any title suggestions in the comments below, we’re always looking for new books!

#RaisingReaders