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.

 

Let Your Children Lead in 2019!

Let Your Children Lead in 2019!

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I just wanted to quickly wish everyone a Happy New Year, and to remember to keep raising readers, no matter where that may take you and your reader(s)!

In 2018 I gave into Harry Potter (really the fantasy genre as a whole) and developed a true appreciation for graphic novels. As a result, my kiddos continue to grow as readers and as educated citizens in general, even though that’s probably not the path I would have taken to get them there. But that’s the power in giving them choice–as long as I keep an eye on the long term goal (to enjoy books), it has been less of a headache for me and them to let them take the lead as often as I can.

So if you haven’t tried letting them take the lead, take this new year as an opportunity to let them lead the way!

 

Book Review–Get to Know Your Universe series

Book Review–Get to Know Your Universe series

Occasionally, I get books in the mail (#bookexcursion) or bring books home that one of my kids will grab before I get a chance to read it. In this case, both of my children have grabbed these books and kept them from me for a while.

These Get to Know Your Universe Science Comics are right up both of my kids’ alley, so they may be good for your readers too.

*If you have a reader who likes graphic novels or comics, this series could be for them, OR

*If you have a reader who likes nonfiction, this series could be for them, OR

*If your reader asks a lot of “why?” questions, these books could work for them, OR

*If you have a reader that wants to learn more about any of the variety of topics they cover, including dogs, sharks, or volcanoes, this series could be for them.

As you are #RaisingReaders, you probably have a child that fits in at least one of these categories. My kids each fit in more than one, which explains why they disappeared from me so quickly. This series of books have the right combination of information and fun that kept both of my children reading these books over and over.

 

Words vs. Pictures

Words vs. Pictures

I’ve said for some time now that my son is a visual learner. Part of it is his way of taking a shortcut, and I think part of it is because pictures are just more appealing to him. Last night we were having a conversation about reading until we fall asleep, and using a flashlight to help us see. I’d like to share part of that conversation as a way to show how he thinks:

Son: Mom, since I’m going to read the Derek Jeter book tonight, I won’t need the flashlight.

Me: Why?

Son: Because, I only need the flashlight to look at the pictures, and this book doesn’t have any pictures.

Me (confused/amused): Honey, you need the flashlight to see the words too.

Son (adamant): No, you really need to flashlight to see the pictures. I can see the words without the flashlight.

Me: Ok child.

See what I mean? He doesn’t even see the words and pictures as equally important. Thank goodness for books/series like Captain Underpants and Big Nate, so my fight to #raisereaders isn’t as stressful. I can’t even be mad at him. He’s my one of a kind.

Patience is a virtue, even with graphic novels…

Patience is a virtue, even with graphic novels…

So, my daughter loves graphic novels, I myself have enjoyed quite a few graphic novels this summer, and I’ve already written about how I’m excited my son got into chapter books via graphic novels. However, graphic novels and I almost had to come to blows this summer.

My 6 year old son tends to be a visual learner. He loves looking at illustrations to analyze stories, checks out lots of National Geographic Kids books at the library and spends the majority of the time staring at the photos in them. All of this is fine, I recognize and love it.

However, my boy is also sort of a reluctant reader. When we go to the library, he loves picking out books, is all about them on the ride home, and occasionally even for another 30 mins or so after we get home. He also likes being read to at bedtime. However, when given choices, rarely is reading independently the one he chooses, which is starting to try my patience.

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After one of our library trips…

The initial joy about his attachment to graphic novels has turned into frustration because he won’t even try to read the words. When he first started reading graphic novels, he had just started kindergarten and hadn’t learned to read yet, so I wasn’t concerned. But now, 1st grade is coming quickly, and he left Kindergarten reading above grade level. So you would think that would inspire and motivate him to try to read the words? Nope. Nada.

“Mom, I can’t read the words!”

“Let me help you, we can read together”

“No, these words are too hard!”

Now the last thing I want to do is make him dislike reading or think its a chore, so I don’t push it, I just walk away dejected. I won’t keep him from reading graphic novels, but I also want him to read the words in the books he has. If he has books that are closer to his “level”, which would be shorter and have fewer words, then it raises the probability that he will actually read and understand them.

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On the way home, reading Dog Man. See that stray gray hair there? Yeah, he’s the root of that…

 

Recently, I have decided that there’s got to be an in-between, some sort of compromise that will make us both happy.  What I’ve decided is that I’m going to read the graphic novel to him. Why I haven’t done that sooner, I have no idea. Especially since he already enjoys rereading our bedtime story when its a picture book. Let’s cross our fingers that this plan actually works out.

Graphic novels are wonderful, and a great way to get kids, including mine, reading books. However, I’ve got to practice patience and adjust my bedtime reading with my child so that my reluctant reader doesn’t become a non-reader. Wish me luck!

#RaisingReaders