This is a wonderful blog post about the power of reading aloud in school. My hope is that you either 1) are able to translate these feelings into what you are doing at home in your #RaisingReaders quest or 2) you remember those pleasant feelings you had in school when your teacher read aloud to you, and that motivates you to try to replicate those feelings when reading with your children.
I remember fist-pumping and high-fiving my friends in two different arenas during elementary school: on the playground–during kickball or football–and when my teachers gathered us on the carpet to return to a favorite book. Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Hang Tough Paul Mather. These were books that […]
Recently, my 5 year old son was in a high school play. His part was not huge by any means, he literally ran on stage near the very end of the play and had no lines. But it was a pretty big deal to him, and even made me teary-eyed when he did it. The cast and crew, which included his principal (he was a photographer) and his principal’s daughter, were all super nice to my cute little boy. So nice in fact that they gave him all kinds of gifts when the three days of performances were over. One particular gift that tugged at my heartstrings was (of course!) a book that his principal gave him, Dragons Love Tacos.
The book is wonderful and he was super excited to read it. However, when my husband sat down to read it to him that night, he noticed this:
After wiping my sweating eyeballs, I started thinking a couple of things:
This is awesome! Now we will always keep this book, because it has this personalized note inside. It will help bring back the memory of his play experience for years to come. I’m already imagining him opening the book up again when he’s 20. Love it!
Why don’t more people write notes in books? Why don’t I write notes in books? I give books as gifts often, but I never think to write in the book. I’ve been missing out on meaningful opportunities!
When I started writing this post, I Googled “notes in books as gifts” and there’s tons of websites on this topic, how to do it, should you do it, and tons of examples of good notes written in books. Now I really have no excuse. Next time you give a book as a gift, even if it’s to your own children, but it is a book you want them to keep, consider writing a memorable note along with it.
March is Read Aloud Month, so to support that I am sharing some of the read alouds that my kiddos and I love.
My first read aloud review was a Dr. Seuss classic, so I decided to stay on the funny book train with my next selection– The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. This book was first introduced to my daughter early last year by her 1st grade teacher, and not long afterwards we saw it in Barnes and Noble and she just had to have it. At the time, I had seen the book before, but I had never actually took the time to open it.
Once we got the book home, she pretended as if there was some big secret that I was about to be let in on and she actually could not wait until bedtime so we could read it. Me, being the unassuming adult who was convinced this could not be that big a deal, was not concerned at all (but secretly thrilled about my child being so excited about bedtime). I mean, this is the cover of the book– how bad could it be?
Well, my girl was giggling as soon as I opened the book and laughed through the ENTIRE thing. Without giving the whole book away, author B.J. Novak (yes, the same actor that was on The Office) has decided that if there are no pictures, the reader (that would be you), has to read whatever words are on the page. And trust me, there are some silly words, noises, phrases, everything but pictures, on the pages. Here’s a sneak preview of what will have to come out of your mouth while reading:
One of the other reasons I selected this read aloud to highlight, was not only was it funny then, but its still funny now. It has been over a year since we purchased that book and she still cracks up whenever I read it. Every once in a while, when its bedtime and we’re not in the middle of a chapter book, she’ll slip this book behind her back and bust it out with a cheesy smile on her face. Now I’ll be honest, its not my favorite book by any means, but I’ll play up my fear/distaste of reading the book, mostly because it makes her want to hear me read it even more. I’ll go to any lengths (almost) to make sure my children enjoy reading, even if that means making silly noises. A few weeks ago I even visited and read it to her 2nd grade class, and again, even though a good chunk of them had heard it before, they were nearly in hysterics. I mean really, I don’t get it, but maybe I would if I was 8?
If you don’t mind looking silly and want a funny book for your child, I recommend this one. Also, side note, getting book recommendations from your child’s teacher or asking your child what the teacher has been reading in class can help if you’re stumped trying to find a new book to read. As for me, next time I’ll read the back before I buy:
A few days ago we took a quick trip to our local library and checked out our usual hoard of books. Now for my daughter, finding books are usually pretty easy. She has a few authors and series that she’s really into, and for the most part after we’ve found them once, she can usually find her way back to that section on our next trip. My son however, does not yet have certain authors or series that he’s looking for, so he’s more dependent on me to help him. Luckily for us, the Children’s section at our library usually has some seasonal or holiday books set up on shelves, so that’s where we started.
“Hey, I’ve read this book, this is The Mitten!”
“It sure is, let’s check it out!” Even though his teacher had read it at school, I figured its a classic book from Jan Brett, and he was clearly excited about it, so we could get some extra mileage out of it.
My next move was to take him over to the Mo Willems section, because although there are times I don’t think its possible, we have yet to read every Elephant and Piggie book there is.
Luckily for me, while looking on that shelf, I noticed a new book, The Cookie Fiasco, which is part of the new Elephant and Piggie Like Reading series. (Author Mo Willems has ended the Elephant and Piggie series, but he knew it would be too much to leave us cold turkey.) That was an easy sell, so we grabbed it and went on to check out.
So as they settled in for our bedtime reading, I overhear the two of them arguing over which of the books he picked we were going to read. Of course by bedtime I have little to no patience for children arguing, so I told (possibly yelled to) them we would just read both to shut it down, and I’m glad I did.
Even though they had both read The Mitten before, they were still really into the story as well as the illustrations that both bring the book to life and do some foreshadowing.
Next, we read The Cookie Fiasco, and when compared to The Mitten, this book is louder, much more colorful, and funnier. They enjoyed watching these new characters try to figure out how to share their cookies, and loved when Elephant and Piggie made their guest appearances. My son even let my daughter “borrow” the book for the night, even though they were arguing mere moments earlier.
In hindsight, I probably should’ve read the louder book first and then ended the evening with calming Jan Brett, but hey, hindsight is 20/20. This evening’s reads also reminded me to mix in more classics with our newer bedtime books. When I go to the Children’s section of the library, the first section you’ll find me looking is in the new books, I’m always looking for the latest books to share with my children. But in reality, I need to broaden our scope, take the time to look through those shelves, and find more of those “old school” books to mix in with the “new school”. Much like I eventually learned to appreciate the “old school” music my parents made me listen to, I’m sure my children will appreciate the exposure to the “old school” books….just hopefully sooner than I did.
Initially, in the aftermath of the election, my plan was to write a post that would take readers’ minds off the election and would have nothing to do with that current event. However, in my failed efforts to NOT read things election-related, I had a realization. Regardless who you voted for, one thing I like to think all parents want is to raise children who are kind. And there are a couple of things that I read that caused me to refocus my energy in that direction.
One of the many advantages of raising readers is that there are times you can let books help you do the talking you cannot or don’t know how to do. There are conversations that I didn’t (and probably still don’t) think I was ready to have with my 7 year old; however, current situations will require them sooner rather than later. So I came across this blog post from the wonderful website readbrightly.com, where the author suggests using books to navigate difficult topics. Well duh, why hadn’t I thought of that before? Maybe I had, maybe when I happened to read Llama Llama and the Bully Goat, we happened to have those conversations about bullying. The difference here is that she was intentional, and that was something I hadn’t done. The author even gave some title suggestions, and even though most of them were not books appropriate for my 5 and 7 year old, it did spark my curiosity to find books that were.
So luckily, teacher and author Pernille Ripp writes a blog. And in that blog there’s a post about picture books that teach kids empathy–perfect! You can look at these great titles yourself here, but one of my favorites by one of my favorite authors (Jacqueline Woodson) is on there, so if you’re looking for a place to start, here’s a good one:
So, I’ve decided I’m going start this tedious journey with my daughter, and I’m sure it’ll be a bumpy one, but I’ll let you guys know how it goes. And by all means, if you have ideas or suggestions on how you’ve used books to teach difficult topics with your children, feel free to comment below and let me know. In the meantime–