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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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More Reasons to Read Aloud

We read to children for all the same reasons we talk with children: to reassure, to entertain, to bond, to inform or explain, to arouse curiosity, to inspire. But in reading aloud, we also

Condition the child’s brain to associate reading with pleasure
Create background knowledge
Build vocabulary
Provide a reading role model”

From the Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Condition the child’s brain to associate reading with pleasure. This line caught my attention. Isn’t it amazing how we are conditioned to enjoy certain things?? (Now if only I could condition myself to despise chocolate.) And isn’t it interesting how easy it is to fall into old habits – even when we think we’ve conditioned ourselves to enjoy new habits (regular exercise, for example, comes to my mind). So let’s all start our children on the right path and condition them to enjoy reading!

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Voice Magic – Tips from Mem Fox

I really enjoyed reading Mem Fox’s Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever. She has some great tips for using your voice to transform books from ho-hum words to magical music. All you drama majors can stop reading now, but for those of us who majored in more technical and less expressive subjects (yes, I know… BORING!), here are Fox’s voice tips that I have found so helpful:

  • Sensationalize the opening line of a book to grab attention.
  • Savor the closing line. Say it slowly to make it “more delicious” and create a transition from the book to next activity (hopefully bedtime!).
  • There are at least 7 ways to vary your voice. Think high/low, fast/slow, loud/soft and pause.
  • Pay close attention to the story line to know how to vary your voice using these “7 ways”.
  • Take cues from the written words. For example, consider how you might express “the wind whispered…” vs. “the wind howled…”
  • Aim for highly interesting.
  • Experiment and develop your own style.
  • Use a sing-song voice to make the story like music.
  • Read a book the same way each time to help children remember the tune. This will also make them more likely to practice “reading aloud” to themselves.

Some don’ts from Mem Fox…

  • Don’t be overly expressive.
  • Don’t be cutesy, sugary, patronizing.

I will share more tips from Mem Fox’s book soon – she has many more ideas for creating reading magic and I love her ideas for reading games to play. In the meantime, you can learn more about Fox and watch videos of her read alouds here.

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Interactive Read Aloud – Quick Tips

I admit as a first time and busy parent (with zero experience around young children in my adult life) that I thought reading aloud was about getting through the story. Check! One more book finished! (Maybe it’s the engineer in me?)

Since I’ve been learning more about the importance of reading aloud and how to foster reading comprehension, I’ve made some easy tweaks to my read aloud methods over the past few months that have reaped big rewards. I can already tell that my kiddo is more engaged while we’re reading and more eager to read when we’re not. (“I want to read a book!” has become a common request.) Here are some quick tips from the experts that have helped me:

  • Talk about the book before reading it – especially the first time. Look at the illustrations on the cover, title page and back cover and ask what the book might be about. Then maybe  say “Hmmm…. I think this book might be about sea turtles. What do you think?”
  • Ask the child to turn the pages. This may seem like a “duh” suggestion, but I was interested to learn that my daughter didn’t even know when to turn the page and I still have to prompt her in many books. It is my understanding that the timing will eventually come naturally to the child.
  • Allow the child to finish lines. This works best with rhyming books and books that are familiar to your child. Start using this technique with his favorite books so that it will be easier for him to “get it right”. For example, “Hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the…” [pause for child to say “clock”].
  • Ask questions throughout the story such as “What do you think will happen next?” and “Why do you think the fox did that?”
  • Define vocabulary words as you go. For example, “Canine is another word for dog.”
  • Discuss the story afterward and ask questions such as “What was your favorite part of the story?” and “Why did you like that story?” and “What would have happened if…?”

It’s OK if you don’t make it all the way through the story the first time or two. Pick the book up again tomorrow and you’ll breeze through the parts you already discussed. Another option is to just start incorporating one or two of the techniques until the timing feels right to add more. Sometimes I only use one or two and other times I use them all depending on which book were reading, how much time we have, and our moods.

Try these suggestions and I’ll bet your child will gain big dividends in vocabulary and reading comprehension. Have more tips?? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you…

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Top 5 Reasons to Read Aloud to Younger Children

There are oodles of reasons to read aloud, but these are the current top 5 reasons why I read aloud to my 2 year-old:

1. Bonding, quality time together – What better way to spend quality time with my kiddo than to snuggle up on the couch with a few great books and share my love of reading!

2. Calming effect when kids are climbing the walls – Anyone out there have an active child?? Oh yes, books are the great “calmer”. Reading aloud is especially useful before nap time and bed time or any other time when we need to reduce the energy level in the Miller household.

3. Expands basic knowledge of the world(s) – I have been amazed time and again at concepts that appear in children’s books that I either hadn’t thought to point out or discuss or that took the material to a new level of understanding. For example, I love On the Moon‘s real NASA photos (with cartoons added) that show Earth from the moon’s perspective. We’ve talked about the moon since Maddie was a baby, but how do you explain what it’s like on the moon without some visual aids?

On the Moon

4. Expands vocabulary, understanding of language – The beauty of books is that written language is more complex and varied than spoken language. Some self-reflection has made me realize that I tend to use the same sentences and phrases over and over again with my daughter – usually along the lines of “No! Stop that!”  I understand that a lot of repetition is necessary for kids to learn language, but it’s also a good idea to expand their horizons. And lucky day! Books can do that for us without us having to think too much.

5. Foster love of books, learning – I want my daughter to love books and learning as much as I do. ‘Nuff said.

If you read aloud to your children, what are your top reasons?? I’d like to know! Please leave a comment…

Stay tuned for more reasons to read aloud, how-tos, book reviews and whatever else I can think to write about… Read on!

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So… How do you start a blog??

D’oh! I have been a little slow at getting this blog going. And I know there are millions of you out there on the edge of your seats waiting to see what I’ll type next. Sorry about that. You can stop holding your breath now. Breathe. Fresh air is good for you.

Excuse #1: I am a busy mom who works full time and is starting a part-time children’s book business. Oh yeah, I also volunteer on a non-profit board and a city/county commission a little here and there (although not as much as I’d like).

Excuse #2: I have a ton of ideas, but it’s taking me a little longer to actually gather my thoughts and write about each of them. Yes, I’m a blogging newbie or is that a newbie blogger – see, I don’t even know what to call myself. Doubly sorry about that!

So… anyhoo… I am committing to blogging 1-2 times per week for the next 3 months and we’ll see how it goes from there. I am busy and hopefully you’re busy too. This blog is dedicated to busy parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, caregivers, friends of kids, and anyone else who cares about children. I intend for most posts to be quick and easy reads for busy people.

Stay tuned for reasons to read aloud to the children in your life, how-tos, ways to make reading aloud more fun for everyone involved, book reviews and more!

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Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my Kids Treasure Books blog!

I’ve never blogged in my life so hopefully I won’t make too much of a bumbling fool of myself!

So why blog now? Well…

My friend Martha and I recently became Independent Consultants with Usborne Books & More and over the past few months (through the training provided by Usborne) I’ve learned a ton about children’s books, reading aloud, and how to help foster a lifelong love of learning. I am the mother of a two year-old and I want my daughter to love reading and learning as much as her mom and dad, but I’ve realized that there are plenty of things we can be doing better as parents.

So… I feel the need to share what I’ve learned (so far) so that others might also benefit. And I hope to continue learning and sharing through this blog and I hope you will join me. Please share your tips too!

We should all care about the education and literacy of our children/grandchildren/nieces/nephews and our neighbors’ children – truly they are our future!

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