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Building literacy one children's book at a time…

Wow! That’s A LOT of Reading!

I have been meaning to write about children needing 1,000 hours of “lap time” before they’re ready to read so it was sort of serendipitous to see Read Aloud Dad‘s recent blog about kids (and adults) needing 10,000 hours of practice to become the best of the best at anything – including reading.

Long before our kids can start logging those 10,000 hours of practice reading, they need to learn how to read and that’s where the 1,000 hours of lap time comes in.

The National Institute for Children’s Health and Development has said that young children need 1,000 hours of lap time before they will be ready to learn to read. So what counts as lap time? Reading books aloud counts, but so does talking, singing, rhyming and chanting.

Wow.

1,000 hours is difficult for me to get my head around.

So how about we break this down into manageable chunks…

  • If you are smart enough to start while your baby is just weeks or months old, your child will be ready to read (by kindergarten) with only about 1/2 hour of lap time every day.
  • If you wait until your child is 2 years old (about 3 years before kindergarten), you will have to play catch up and invest 1 hour every day.
  • If you wait until the year before kindergarten, you’ll need about 3 (yes, that’s THREE) hours of lap time every day for that entire year! Yikes!

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that parents who haven’t invested any lap time in their child for the first four years are probably not going to invest 3 hours per day in that magical year before kindergarten. Starts to shed some light on why some kids are so unprepared to learn when they enter school.

So back to Read Aloud Dad… If a child needs 10,000 hours to become a best of the best reader, that could mean

1 hour of reading per day for 27 years

2 hours per day for 14 years

3 hours per day for 9 years

Double WOW!

I think the message here is START TODAY! Read aloud to your children no matter how old they are. And be a fabulous role model – let them see you reading books, newspapers, magazines, and online content.

You say you’re already doing this? Good for you!

Could you be doing more?

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Kids Want to Go to Space Camp? Try Smarty Pants!

Do your kids want to go to space camp, but you can’t fit it into your schedule or budget??

Are you worried about summer brain drain??

Smarty Pants Space Camps to the rescue!

Studies show that kids can lose up to 30% of their school skills over summer vacation, but Usborne’s new Space Explorer Camps will keep kids actively reading, writing and exploring up until the new school year begins and they will have FUN doing it!

These standards based programs are scaled for different age groups (pre-K through 6th grade) and include a series of challenges, missions and hands-on experiments for children to explore and solve collaboratively with friends and family.

Each camp kit includes a student lab notebook (see an excerpt) and a set of fiction and non-fiction books for reference, reading and exploration. Get the neighborhood kids together – the kits work with groups of all sizes.

It is hands-on-literacy fun that is perfect for the summer or for enrichment anytime. It is all the FUN of camp at your house!

Junior Astronaut Kit Junior Astronaut Kit (Pre K – 1st Grade) How High is the Sky?, On the Moon, Pelly and Mr. Harrison Visit the Moon, First Encyclopedia of Space, Living in Space, 100 Science Experiments, Junior Astronaut Official Camp Notebook  order now »
Discovery Astronaut Camp Kit Discovery Astronaut Camp Kit (2nd – 3rd Grade) How High is the Sky?, Pelly and Mr. Harrison Visit the Moon, Space, Living in Space, What’s Physics All About?, 100 Science Experiments, Discovery Astronaut Official Camp Notebook  order now »
Apollo Astronaut Camp Kit Apollo Astronaut Camp Kit (4th – 6th Grade) Science Encyclopedia, Story of Astronomy and Space, 100 Things to Spot in the Night Sky, What’s Physics All About?, 100 Science Experiments, Apollo Astronaut Official Camp Notebook  order now »
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Promoting Literacy: My Own Book

Here’s an uplifting article in the WSJ about a retired lawyer who started the My Own Book program. My Own Book volunteers take disadvantaged 3rd graders to a bookstore to purchase $50 in books each. For many of the children, this is their first visit to a bookstore. After the books are purchased, the children perform skits, read aloud, and build dioramas. Program evaluations show that 92% of the children read more at home after getting their own books. Such a great program – we need this in all cities!

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Books are Good for You!

Quote for the day:

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”

— Maya Angelou

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Owning Books vs. Library Card

This is such a great guest blog post by Read Aloud Dad… I really like how he points out that owning books and owning a library card are so different and don’t really overlap that much – BOTH are important!

Thanks Read Aloud Dad!

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Raising Readers

Quote for the day:

“If you want to raise readers, you must provide them with books as soon as humanly possible. This is a parental obligation on par with vaccinations.”

– Deirdre Donahue, children’s book reviewer, USA Today 

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5 Ways to Get Books on the Cheap

The research says that books in the home can be just as important as having college-educated parents when predicting the future education level of a child. I believe that every family should have a library card (and use it often!) – and that children should have their own library cards when they reach an appropriate age. However, there is something special about owning books that you can enjoy over and over and writing your name in them. So how do we get more books in our homes to ensure that our children will develop a life-long love of learning?? Here are five inexpensive ways to build a home library for your children:

  1. Gifts and “hand-me-downs” from friends and family. Hint: Suggest books the next time someone asks what your child wants/needs for his birthday.
  2. Thrift stores and consignment shops often have inexpensive books for purchase.
  3. Used bookstores. Trade your unwanted books for children’s books.
  4. Library sales, rummage sales, and garage sales.
  5. If you want NEW books, consider hosting an Usborne Books & More show (online or in person) and get FREE books as host/hostess incentives! Better yet, join Usborne and get all your books at wholesale prices or less!

If you have other ideas for building a home library, I’d love to hear them!

Disclaimer: Yes, I am an Independent Educational Consultant for Usborne Books & More. And it is so much fun! Imagine what it might be like to earn additional income and vacations for your family plus have access to fabulous books at great prices, while also helping others, promoting literacy and meeting new friends. With Usborne, you can do fundraisers, grant-matching, bookfairs, reading incentive programs, home shows, direct sales, and so much more! Have you ever considered doing something like this? Email me or click here if you’d like more information.

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Games Make Reading Fun!

As promised in an earlier post, here are some great games mentioned in Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox. Games can make reading aloud more fun for both you and your child and add spontaneity to learning!

  • Turn the book upside down and start reading (or start reading on the last page of the book) and see if your child notices and corrects you. I don’t do this very often, but it’s funny to see my daughter turn into a little teacher/parent when I do. “No – this way!”
  • Read the wrong words. For example, if reading Little Red Riding Hood, begin with “Once upon a time there were three little pigs…” This game teaches that the illustrations should match the words. This one elicits giggles and “That’s not what it says!” responses.
  • Sometimes skip reading altogether and just discuss the pictures with your child. I think my daughter really likes this because she has more time to really absorb what’s in each illustration and find all the hidden gems.
  • Point out words that are repeated and see if your child can spot more. I admit that we have only done this a couple of times and not very successfully.
  • Seek out letters on the page. For example, if your child’s name begins with “M”, see how many “M”s you can find on the page. One of my favorite letter recognition memories is when we were driving by the Golden Arches of McDonald’s and Maddie pointed and shouted excitedly “Big M! Big M!”
  • Stop mid-sentence and let your child finish (works best with favorite and familiar books). This also can let you know if your child is bored and not paying attention (and you haven’t noticed) – then you can find ways to re-engage.
  • Allow your child to turn the pages. Along with teaching the child left-to-right reading and page-turning, this game also helps keep an easily distracted child focused on the book and invites participation.

More games from Fox to help pre-readers learn include the following:

  • Use alphabet fridge magnets to write your child’s name. Also, these can be used to spell a simple word such as “can” and change one letter at a time to make different words like cat, rat, rut, rub, etc.
  • Encourage “writing” (scribbles).

Above all, keep reading aloud light, fun and spontaneous. Don’t bog your child down with too many rules and it’s best to leave out fun-killers like “Don’t be silly! Sit Still! Pay Attention! No! That’s Wrong!”  You get the idea…

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Value Education? Give Your Child Books!

Here is yet another article mentioning the link between books in the home and  increased education levels and improved socio-economic mobility. This has been a hot topic since May 2010 when an international study was published that showed that books in the home are as important as parents’ education level in determining the education level a child will attain. The research results indicated that as few as 20 books can make a difference, but the magic number is 500 books to be about equivalent to university-educated parents. So let’s see here… Say each book is about $7 on average x 500 books = $3,500. That is much less expensive than the university education I received! Not meaning to be flip here, but seriously… How can we get books in more homes and to the kids that really need them? Please share your ideas… I have some of my own that I’ll share in future posts. 🙂

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“Seasons” by Anne Crausaz

Hooray for Spring!! And Seasons by Anne Crausaz is a great way to experience the changing seasons.  Crausaz will have you and your children smelling, listening, tickling and tasting all through the spring, summer, autumn and fall. I love the simple, bold and colorful illustrations in this unique Kane Miller book from France.

Seasons

by Anne Crausaz
Recommended for ages 4 years and up (my 3 year old likes it!)

40 pp

Hardback $15.99

“With simple, poetic words and accessible, energetic images, this small, square, joyful picture book celebrates the five senses through the four seasons…The shelves of picture books about the seasons are crowded, but this one stands out for its direct invitation to children to notice and wonder about the changing natural world around them.” – Booklist Online (February 24, 2011)

“The simple, understated illustrations along with the descriptive prose give a rich, evocative earthy sense: smell the blossoms of spring and lay back in the tender young grass listening to the birds singing; in summer breathe in deeply and enjoy the aroma of fresh tomatoes on the vine and basil, pad barefoot in the rich garden soil…and so on through the seasons.” – Biblio Reads (February 24, 2011)

“ The graphically designed, flat-dimension illustrations are both attractive and subtly effective in pairing the senses with the seasons as the girl enjoys the special moments of nature year-round.” – Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2011)

“The illustrations are a style unlike I have seen before – they are simple and yet the striking contrasts in color are beautiful. What a wonderful and unique look at the seasons!” – In the Pages… (February 15, 2011)

“Seasons is my Frederick at the moment, giving me wonderful memories of each of the four seasons.” – NC Teacher Stuff (February 2, 2011)

“Exuding an overall serenity, the book should have children seeking out the sights, smells, and sounds of the passing seasons.” – Publishers Weekly (January 17, 2011)

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