Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Secret to Securing Your Child's Future Success

Raising children is a piece of cake...said no parent ever. Unlike adults, kids are in a perpetual state of growing into and growing out of something – whether it's clothing, foods they'll eat, wonder about Santa, sports or friendships. With more than a decade of parenting under my belt, I've noticed just when things seem to be running smoothly, we hit a bump...or should I say a growth spurt. Suddenly, my idea of “cute” doesn't jive with their sense of style or PDA is no longer tolerated when their friends are around. While I've gladly let go of diapers, The Wiggles and competing with St. Nick, there is one area I plan to hold onto longer than most – reading aloud to my children. According to Jim Trelease, author of the million copy best seller, The Read Aloud Handbook, it comes down to simple math: A child spends 900 hours a year in school and 7,800 hours outside school. Which teacher has the bigger influence? Where is there more time available for change?”

Reading is the center from which all education flows. Research shows reading aloud to your children improves their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. It's the most economical way to secure your child's future success. When my kids were toddlers, reading aloud to them was a way to “fill the time” when I was tired after a long day and needed a quiet activity to wind them down. Reading aloud became part of our bedtime routine. Once they entered school and began learning to read...reading aloud to me became the norm. At this stage reading and listening to my kids sound out each word was tedious and draining for both of us. Once they could successfully read alone, I found I missed reading to them. I missed smooshing together on the couch with them and sharing adventures that can only come from reading books together. I reinstated “story time” at our house, but finding reading material that was engaging for both my kids, ages 7 and 11 (at the time) proved to be a challenge. We took turns selecting material and agreed to stick with a book for at least three nights. If after that time, we really didn't enjoyed it, we were free to try something else. Weekly library visits turned into thrice-weekly visits. I also started something with them called “Read & Ramble” in which we selected a book and found an activity to pair with it. For example, we read E.B. White's The Trumpet of the Swan and then followed it up with a visit to the Audubon Center at Riverlands to watch some real trumpeter swans in action.

For those who may not see the value in reading aloud to a 5
th grader who can easily read to himself – Jim Trelease responds, “Your child may be reading on a 5th grade level, but what level is he listening at?” A child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to his listening level until eighth grade. A fifth grader can enjoy a more complicated plot than he can read himself.

And, if you have a child (like me) who only likes to read comic books and graphic novels– here's some exciting news (taken from The Read Aloud Handbook):
...Anyone questioning their (comic books) success in creating readers should consider this: in the IEA assessment of more than 200,000 children from 32 countries, Finnish children achieved the highest reading scores. And what is the most common choice for recreational reading among Finnish 9 year olds? 59% read a comic almost every day.
....List of authors who had extensive comic book collections -- Stephen Krashen, Cynthia Rylant, John Updike, and Ray Bradbury.
...According to Bishop Desmond Tutu: "My father was the headmaster of a Methodist primary school -- like most fathers in those days, he was very patriarchal, very concerned that we did well in school.  But, one of the things I am very grateful to him for is that, contrary to conventional educational principles, he allowed me to read comics.  I think that is how I developed my love for English and for reading."

I spoke with three librarians to create a list of books kids will enjoy reading along with ones that are good read aloud books. For those interested in a more in depth list of read aloud books, I suggest reading Jim Trelease's book, Hey! Listen to This: Stories to Read Aloud.

Keep Calm and Read On.

Picture Books
Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting
Click, Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin
Weird, Dare and Tough series by Erin Frankel
Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
It's a Tiger by David LaRochelle
Elmer by David McKee
Purple, Green and Yellow by Robert Munsch
Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Book that Eats People by John Perry
The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant
Skippyjon Jones series by Judith Schachner
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Midnight Farm by Carly Simon
Scaredy Squirrel series by Melanie Watt
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
The Mud Fairy by Amy Young

Elementary/Middle School
Ivy & Bean series by Annie Barrows
Franny K. Stein series by Jim Benton
Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
Bailey School Kids series by Debbie Dadey
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
The Familiars series by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke
My Weird School series by Dan Gutman
Seekers series by Erin Hunter
Ungifted by Gordon Korman
Katie Kazoo series by Nancy Krulik
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Bless this Mouse by Lois Lowry
Stink series by Megan McDonald
Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald
Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery
Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne
Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker
Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
The Creature from My Closet series by Obert Skye
The Quirks series by Erin Soderberg
Mary Poppins series by P.L. Travers
The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood

Holiday Read-alouds
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett
Dream Snow by Eric Carle
Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer
Cat Nights by Jane Manning
The Halloween Kid by Rhode Montijo
Jingle Bells Batman Smells (P.S. So does May) by Barbara Parks
Clementine series by Sarah Pennypacker
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Angel Pig and the Hidden Christmas by Jan L. Waldron
Olive the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh

Comics and Graphic Novels
Princess Pink and the Land of Fake Believe series by Noah Z. Jones
Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce
Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan and Robert Venditti
The Yeti Files by Kevin Sherry
Phoebe and her Unicorn by Dana Simpson
Bone series by Jeff Smith
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson retold by Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin
Desmond Pucket by Mark Tatulli
Star Wars Infinities by Chris Warner

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