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Building literacy one children's book at a time…

“Rope ‘Em” by Stacy Nyikos

Rope ‘Em by Stacy Nyikos is a fast-moving underwater western starring Scout the yellow seahorse and Virgil the purple octopus. Scout is the best herder around and Virgil is the best roper, using eight lassos at a time. You’d think they’d make a great team, but you’d be wrong. But when trouble in the shape of a bull shark arrives at the O.K. Coral, the two have to learn to work together to save the ranch and the cowfish. This is a fun book to read aloud with a cowboy twang and has lots of action to keep kids engaged – highly recommended! You can watch the trailer below.

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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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