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    children's literacy, reading tips

    My Orton-Gillingham Comprehensive Training Experience

    If you follow me on Instagram, you may have recently seen me participating in a 30-hour Orton-Gillingham comprehensive training course. The comprehensive training is just ONE training option available if you want to learn the Orton-Gillingham methodology. Trainings and style can vary. You can view the different training descriptions that the Institute for Multi-sensory Education (IMSE) has here.

    I chose the comprehsive course that also has a practicum in order to learn the approach and methods inside and out. My ultimate goal is to become a Certified Orton-Gillingham Tutor if possible. I took my training course through IMSE (The Institute for Multi-Sensory Education). There are other companies that train in the Orton-Gillingham methodology.

    What is Orton-Gillingham?
    Orton-Gillingham is a highly structured approach that breaks reading and spelling down into smaller skills involving letters and sounds, and then building on these skills over time. It was the first approach to use explicit, direct, sequential, systematic, multi-sensory instruction to teach reading, which is not only effective for all students but essential for teaching students with dyslexia.” (Definition taken from the IMSE website.)

    The History of Orton-Gillingham
    Orton-Gillingham was among the first teaching approaches designed to help struggling readers by explicitly teaching the connections between letters and sounds. In the 1930s, neuropsychiatrist and pathologist Dr. Samuel T. Orton and educator, psychologist Anna Gillingham developed the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading instruction for students with “word-blindness,” which would later become known as dyslexia.” (Definition taken from the IMSE website.)

    What is the Orton-Gillingham Methodology?
    The Orton-Gillingham Methodology is a direct, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy. When reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals, such as those with dyslexia (or any new or struggling readers). It is most properly understood and practiced as an approach, not a method, program, or system. In the hands of a well-trained and experienced instructor, it is a powerful tool of exceptional breadth, depth, and flexibility.

    It has been proven by research that when using a diagnostic, systematic, structured, multisensory approach faithfully, you take the guesswork out of reading.

    My Training Course Experience
    I’ll be honest and say I had no idea what to expect prior to taking this training course. While I was familiar with Orton-Gillingham, I had never used it and really didn’t know that much about it besides it being an effective approach to teach reading.

    Since I don’t have an education background, (I have an IT background) I was unsure how quickly I’d be able to catch on and grasp the concepts. However, the instructor for our class at IMSE was AMAZING! She was a delight to learn from and very knowledge about all things Orton-Gillingham, literacy and phonological awareness. She made me feel at ease from day one right up until the last day.

    Due to COVID, my training course was virtual and I had about 15 – 17 other people in my class. I was glad that the course was interactive giving you the opportunity to work in smaller groups during breakout sessions. The small group time allowed you time to really practice and hone the skills being taught by the instructor. In addition, it gives you the opportunity to communicate with others in the class and provide each other with constructive feedback.

    The class started at 8am each day and finished up around 3:30pm for a total of 30 hours of Orton-Gillingham training. At the end of the course you receive a certificate of completion for the course. Please note: That certificate doesn’t mean you are a Certifified OG tutor, there is additonal training required for that which includes the practicum.

    IMSE provided me with the following materials:

    • IMSE Comprehensive Training and Assessment Manual
    • Recipe for Reading by Bloom and Traub
    • IMSE Comprehensive Syllable Division Word Book
    • Phonological Awareness: Assessment Tools & Strategies by Zgonc
    • IMSE Phoneme Grapheme Card Pack
    • IMSE Syllable Division Cards
    • Set 1 IMSE Decodable Readers
    • Blending Board
    • Sand (for kinesthetic learning)
    • IMSE Interactive OG (online lesson planning tool) One-year subscription (additional years will require a renewal fee)

    Some of the concepts I learned in the course include:

    • Encoding and decoding words
    • Syllable division patterns (multi-syllable words)
    • Vowel Intensive
    • Fluency
    • Red Words
    • Three-Part Drill
    • Phonological awareness
    • Vocabulary Development
    • Comprehension
    • Assessments
    • Guidelines for Weekly Lesson Planning for Students

    Here are a few things I learned that I thought were interesting:

    • Dyslexia affects 1 in 5 people and it runs in families. Children DO NOT outgrow dyslexia. Children with dyslexia grow up to be adults with dyslexia.
    • Our brains are wired for speech, not reading.
    • The four phases of reading: pre-alphabetic phase, partial-alphabetic phase, full alphabetic phase, and consolidated phase.
    • The six stages of reading development
    • The Cat/Kite Rule (The Rules for letters C & K)

    My training experience was absolutely amazing and so eye-opening! Who knew learning to read and teaching others to read could be so seamless and easy to comprehend? Throughout the course I kept thinking, all children should have the access to be able to learn to read this way. I definitely believe Orton-Gillingham should indeed be taught in every classroom. I truly believe Orton-Gillingham can make all children better readers. Here are a few reasons why I think this based on the things I learned during my training:

    • The Orton-Gillingham methodology uses systematic instruction techniques and resources to teach new concepts in the exact same way every time. By doing this, the brain is not expending energy trying to figure out a new method. Instead, the brain expects the routine of learning and can focus on the new concept being taught. Brilliant and way less confusing!
    • When teaching new concepts, the steps are clear and teach the rules one at a time. Each step builds from the previous step, building from simple to complex.
    • Learning is individualized to each student. Students should be able to move through the program at an individualized pace which allows for developing fluency and automaticity for each step. Students only move from one step to the next as they build fluency for each level of language skills.
    • Each student’s skill development is monitored along the way with assessments. The instructional practices are built upon what was observed in the previous lesson and what is judged to be necessary to move the student forward in the next lesson.

    It’s also important to note that students with dyslexia need to master the same basic knowledge about language as any other learner. However, because of their dyslexia, they sometimes need more help when it comes to sorting, recognizing, and organizing language.

    How I’m Planning to Use My Orton-Gillingham Training

    As I mentioned earlier, my utlimate goal is to become a Certified Orton-Gillingham Tutor to help beginning and struggling readers learn how to read better. Since taking the course I’ve been continuing to use the skills I learned in class with my two children at home. I am also working with a Certified OG Instructor who is giving me a few hours of coaching in preparation for me embarking on the practicum. The practicum is a lot of work and it requires you to pass the KPEERI exam.

    In addition, I have now acquired my first Kindergarten student who I will be tutoring starting next month. I need to complete 50 hours of tutoring which will be great pracice for me and allow me to keep my skills sharp. I’m excited for this new journey and look forward to seeing the progress my student makes in the coming months.

    I’ll keep you posted on my journey along the way!

    If you’d like more information about Orton-Gillingham or the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education please visit the IMSE website. There you can also find out the training requirements and pricing for each of the courses they offer. You can also purchase some of their products.

    Your turn: What questions do you have about Orton-Gillingham? Feel free to ask your questions in the comments.

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    adult books, giveaways, product reviews, reading tips

    Bookworm Essentials: Tools & Resources to Enhance Your Family’s Reading Life + A Giveaway!

    With the growing accessibility of books and reading materials, bookish accessories are in high demand now more than ever before. But let’s face it, being a bookworm is a lot of work. It takes dedication, concentration and plenty of time. Below I’ve compiled a list of essentials I have found to be essential to ensure a pleasant, stress free reading experience.

    Read Everyday. Essential #1: Something to read
    If you’re going to be a bookworm (or a writer), you’re going to need a lot of books to read. So start by compiling a wish list of books you’d like to read and start reading.

    No Dog Eared Pages, Please! Essential #2: Book Darts
    These magical little bookmarks are invaluable for not only marking your place, but prepping for book club (or blog post writing). Mark not only your page, but the exact line you want to remember. Once you try them you might not want go back to your old bookmarking ways.

    Say Goodbye to Flapping Pages. Essential #3 Page Anchor
    If you’ve ever struggled with pages flapping in your face while reading a physical book, this little accessory may just be your reading BFF. You can read my previous review of the Page Anchor here. BONUS: Use my coupon code HEREWEEREAD15 to get 15% off your Page Anchor! Head over to www.page-anchor.com now!

    Let there be light! Essential #4: An LED Book light
    If you read in bed like I do, you may want to have an LED book light like this one handy. I find portable book lights really useful for reading in bed at night. I also use my book light in the car or while traveling by plane.

    Protect your bookish investments. Essential #5: A book sleeve
    Whether you’re book is in your home, at the bottom of your beach bag or the top of your carry-on, it will be protected from the bumps and bruises of travel inside a cute protective sleeve.

    Read while you eat. Essential #6: A wooden book holder
    Do you love to read books while eating,cooking, drinking tea, having coffee, or while knitting? Do you need a gadget to hold books open while you are reading? Then you might want to invest in a wooden book holder like this one. Bonus: It also doubles as a cookbook recipe holder or a tablet holder.

    Set a daily reading timed goal. Essential #7: A reading timer
    I aim to read for at least 20 – 30 minutes daily in the morning and at night right before bed. I find using a reading timer helps me stay on track with my daily reading goals. Simply set the timer for the allotted period, read until it goes off, then lights out. Both of my kids use this children’s reading timer since they don’t have mobile devices of their own yet.

    Bookmark It. Essential #8: Literary Tattoos
    Ok, so these are not essentials, but they are fun… Literary Tattoos!
    Just add water: Simple stick, wet, and peel instructions mean easy application for all of these temporary tattoos.

    Bookmark It. Essential #9: Bookmarks
    I’m really picky when it comes to bookmarks. In the past, I have used paper bookmarks, bobby pins, paper clips and index cards to save my place in a book. However, over the years I’ve learned bookmarks have to be functional, easy to use and long-lasting. Today, there are so many types of bookmarks to choose from – even magnetic ones!

    Lately, I’ve been loving the durable leather bookmarks from our friends at Ox and Pine. Oh, and did I mention their bookmarks can be personalized? They also sell beautiful journals and a few other bookish items.

    And hey, fellow bookworm, have you heard of our diverse summer reading challenge? Although summer is almost over, you can still use this resource all year round. Happy Reading!

    The Giveaway!
    Our friends at Ox and Pine are offering two FREE personalized bookmarks to one (1) lucky US based resident! Enter for your chance to win below. Good Luck!Ox and Pine: Two Personalized Leather Bookmarks

    Your turn: What are some of your favorite bookworm essentials? Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's literacy, eeboo, parenting, read aloud, reading tips, storytelling

    4 Ways To Enhance Story Time With Kids

    Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  All of the products mentioned here were purchased with our own money.

    It’s no secret that reading aloud to kids has been recognized as the single most important activity that leads to literacy acquisition.  Now, reading aloud may seem simple, especially if the children you’re reading to are infants and aren’t as mobile or easily distracted as some older kids.  I’ve learned from reading with my own children and reading in front of various groups of kids that it’s not always so easy to keep them engaged.

    Having a memorable story time experience sometimes requires you to be able to catch – and hold –a child’s attention from start to finish.  This includes everything from ensuring you choose meaningful books with intention (before story time even begins) to any possible extension/craft activities you may do after the story is over.

    Below I’ve shared four different ways I like to enhance story time at home with my own children.  But before we jump right into those, let me also share a few other things I like to keep in mind prior to reading books with my kids.  Note: I DO NOT always have time to do all of these things because sometimes life gets in the way.  Am I right?  However, if I have time to prepare ahead then I will follow these steps.

    1. Select a small pile of books to read for story time.  If it’s a book we’ve never read with them before I’ll write a brief and catchy 1-2 sentence introduction to let the kids know (briefly) what the book is about.  Of course, doing this requires you to read or skim it beforehand.

    2. Write a brief list of open-ended questions I may want to ask the kids as follow-up questions once the story is over.  See my first enhancement tip (reading comprehension cubes) below for a simple way to do this if you can’t think of any questions on your own.

    3. Have an extension/craft activity ready for the kids to do together after the story is over.  I usually choose simple activities that relate to the book(s) in some way.

    Here are the four ways I enhance story time when reading aloud with my kids:

    1. Reading Comprehension Cubes by Learning Resources
    We’ve had these story time cubes for a while now and they are always a hit with my kids!  They really help us have a deeper discussion about the story afterwards.  These cubes offer a total of 3 dozen different questions to test, challenge, and enhance your kids’ comprehension of the books they read.

    Simple roll the red cubes for questions before reading. Toss the blue cubes for questions about the story in progress. Roll the green cubes for questions after reading.

    2. Mindfulness Activities Before and After Story Time

    These mindfulness cards are so fun for doing things like “shaking out the sillies” before story time or taking a few deep breaths afterwards.

    This boxed card deck includes 50 creative mindfulness games, visualizations and exercises divided into 5 categories to help children feel grounded, find calm, improve focus, practice loving-kindness and relax.

    3. Tell Me a Story Cards from eeBoo

    I’ve mentioned these cards before on the blog, (click here to read) but they are worth mentioned again.

    Tell Me a Story Creative Story Cards.  These cards are my “secret weapon” I use when I want an alternative to reading books and they are perfect for honing my storytelling skills.  Recommended for ages 3 and up, the deck of 36 beautifully illustrated cards assist children in creating their own stories.

    An endless number of stories are possible by placing any number of the cards in any order. Short stories, long stories, kids create a new story every time they shuffle the deck. The whole family can make a game out of the cards, by taking turns picking cards and telling a story together. Parents, grandparents and teachers will find the cards useful as an aid in their own storytelling.

    To use the cards, you simply lay as many as you want out in front of you in an order that tells your story.

    4. Use educational flashcards like ABC Me Flashcards (or another set of flashcards you enjoy).

    Designed to be used in a myriad of ways, ABC Me Flashcards are illustrated in vibrant colors with easy to understand wording on the back. They begin with the alphabet but A isn’t for apple. This time, A is for Africa. And so from A to Z or from Africa to Zora Neal Hurston, younger children can learn their ABC’s and older children can use the same cards to learn about their history.

    I like to pair these with non-fiction picture or early chapter books when reading aloud with the kids.  They help make a connection with the person or event we’re reading about in a fun way.


    These are just a few examples of how you can keep your young audience engaged during story time.  I hope you find these tips helpful to help get you started and to put your best foot forward if you want to enhance story time.

    Your turn: What other tips would you add to this list?  How do you enhance story time with kids?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    read aloud, reading tips

    HELP…My Kids Won’t Sit Still During Story Time

    Today I’ll be addressing a question sent in by a reader.  She wanted to know how she could get her children to sit and listen attentively during story time.  I’m sure some of you may be wondering the same thing too.  Or perhaps you’ve thought about it before in the past or read about it on other blogs or in books.

    Rest assured that many parents and caregivers have experienced this before – myself included.  During the first few months of my daughter’s life before she learned to crawl and move around on her own, I was in story time heaven so to speak.  Meaning, I could read as many books to her as I wanted and she wouldn’t move.

    Then, once she became more mobile, all hell broke loose!  I often found myself getting frustrated because she wouldn’t sit still and listen during story time anymore.  I nearly threw in the read aloud towel until I finally understood it’s perfectly normal for kids not to sit still…they should be moving.  In fact, they need to move.  It’s good for their developing bodies and brains.  Once I realized that I took a different approach to story time and it made all the difference.  Below are a few things to consider that have helped me.

    1. Just keep on reading.
    Even if you don’t think your kids are listening, just continue reading because chances are they are in fact listening.  Last night during story time the kids started out listening attentively as we all sat on the bed, but then daddy came into the room.  They started jumping on the bed and wanted to play with him.  I just kept on reading until I finished all of the remaining books.  Every now and then one of the kids would come over and listen for a minute or two and then go right back to playing and jumping.

    One of the things I like to do to test if the kids are really listening is to make dramatic pauses every now and then between words or sentences.  This works especially well if it’s a book the kids are really familiar with and know word-for-word.  When I take a brief pause and stop reading 9 times out of 10 the kids will jump in right on cue with the next word or phrase.  That’s how I know they’re listening and paying attention.  Try it and see if it works for you.

    2. Paraphrase when needed.
    Let’s face it, sometimes you have those days when you just want to get through a book so you can go to bed or get on with something else you need to do (like finish a last-minute blog post).  On days like those paraphrasing is your best friend.  That means don’t be afraid to skip some words or sentences every now and then.  Or, if there is an interesting illustration on the page just talk about the picture.  For example, if you see a horse on the page say, “Look at the horse!  What sound does a horse make?  What is the horse doing?”  Then move on to the next page.  Don’t worry, you’re still building language and literacy skills.

    3. Give them ownership over choosing which books to read.
    Although my kids don’t currently select their own books from the store or the library, I do allow them to pick which books we’ll read at story time.  That automatically gives them a sense of ownership like they’re in control.  It also increases their chances of actually wanting to sit and listen to the book as it’s being read.

    4. Don’t force your kids to sit still.
    In our adult minds, we expect kids to sit down like perfect little angels and pay attention during circle time and story time.  Especially if we’re out in public at a play group or library story time event.  Remember when I said kids need to move?  Yes, it’s true.  So don’t be that mom constantly chasing after your kids if they don’t want to sit down and conform to your agenda or the agenda at hand.  If they want to explore the environment or play quietly then I say let them.  They’re still benefiting from hearing the words being read aloud.  Now if they’re acting out, having a tantrum or being disruptive to others then stop reading until they’ve calmed down (if you’re reading at home).  If you’re out in public, it may be best to go out into the hall or restroom until they’re settled.

    Bottom line is don’t expect your toddlers or preschoolers to sit still for an entire 30-minute read aloud session.  Yes, even if you’re out in public and all the other kids are sitting down quietly in a cross-legged position with their hands on their laps.  Don’t beat yourself over it.

    5. Read during mealtimes or bath time.
    Sometimes I read to the kids during dinnertime (now that they can both feed themselves) or at bath time.  Since they are either strapped into their high chairs or sitting in the tub there is no where else for them to go.  They have no choice but to sit (or stand in the tub) and listen.

    6. Keep their hands occupied.
    This is one of the best tips I learned from reading books and listening to podcasts.  Keeping their hands busy during story time works wonders.  You can give kids things like paper and crayons, Playdoh, yarn, blocks, Legos, pom poms, or anything that will keep their little hands occupied while you read.

    7. Ask your children questions as you read.
    Whether they are jumping around you or fidgeting on your lap, point to pages of the book and ask questions. For older children ask questions about the plot or characters.  For smaller ones you can ask what they think will happen next, what color something is, what sound an animal makes or whats their favorite part of the page.

    8. Listen to books online or try audio books.
    This is one area we haven’t had too much experience in, but I’ve heard listening to books online and audio books are rather effective.  These could be great alternatives on days when you just don’t feel like reading or have too much on your plate, but don’t want to skip your read aloud session with the kids.

    Don’t let your read aloud sessions become cumbersome and frustrating.  Even if your little ones act disinterested that doesn’t mean they won’t eventually become interested.  Just keep pushing through even when you feel like quitting.  And don’t worry if you get off to a rocky start with your reading time.  Keep going and work together with your children to introduce them to the joys of reading.  Most of all remember to have fun! Be silly and enjoy this time of exploring the world with your children through books.

    P.S. If you have a question related to reading or literacy feel free to contact me.  I love hearing from people who read this blog!  I’m no self-proclaimed literacy or reading expert, but I will do my best to answer any questions asked.

    Your turn:  Help our reader friend who submitted this question out.  Do your kids sit still during story time?  What additional tips would you let her know?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's literacy, giveaways, read aloud, reading tips, storytelling

    Seven Ways to Encourage Your Child to Love Reading & A Giveaway!

    Hello, October!

    Since the fall season is upon us, I thought it would be a good time to discuss a few simple ways to help your children fall in love with reading and books if they haven’t already.  Even if your little ones are already avid readers or seem to love books there are still some things you may want to consider doing to enhance your children’s reading and read aloud experiences.

    With so much technology and social media available today, how do you get your children to choose reading books over watching television, sitting in front of the computer, playing on the iPad, or texting their friends?

    Below are a few ideas that may help.  Read on.

    1. Make your children a part of the story
    Children love looking at pictures of other babies and children in books, especially when it’s their own pictures.    One way to make your child a part of the story is to create personalized books through online websites like storieChild.

    storieChild

    I found out about storieChild a few weeks ago while surfing the web.  storieChild offers one-of-a-kind story books and baby books for children ages 0-8+.   They pair technology with creative arts while guiding you through the process of creating an amazing story for your child.  Their products are designed by artists and storytellers and are available exclusively through pre-sale on their website.

    Creating your own story book with storieChild is super simple.  Say goodbye to those complicated websites that are way too time consuming and nearly impossible to figure out.  With storieChild not only do you get a beautiful, personalized book with your child/children as the star, but you also get an actual story to go along with it.  Oh, and did I mention the entire process only takes about 10 – 25 minutes?

    If you’re as excited about storieChild as I am, YOU can get in on the fun too!  That’s right, you can win your very own softcover customized storieChild book for FREE (pick any story of your choice)!  All of the details are listed at the end of this post, but read on for more tips.

    2. Bring them new books every day
    No, I’m not talking about going out and purchasing a new book each day for your child.  I mean show them at least 1 book every day either from your home library collection or your local library.  For example, every Monday (or sometimes on Saturday) I do a library haul.  I pick out through a stack of children’s books, read them, and bring my favorites back to the kids.  Then each day during the week I read the kids different books or sometimes we’ll read old favorites that we already have.

    The idea is that if you are trying to sell kids on books you should bring them books day after day.  These books should be ones that you think are: exciting, funny, poignant, adventurous, beautiful, interesting, or mysterious.  Bring your children books that support their current interests, make them wonder, stretch their imaginations, light them up with amazement, laugh, feel empathy, and connect with their own lives.  Sometimes you can bring them new books that are hot off the press, and old favorites from your childhood.  You get the idea.

    3. Let them choose what they want to read, even “twaddle” (occasionally)
    If you don’t know what “twaddle” is, it’s basically literature that has been dumbed-down and doesn’t add any value.  I don’t currently let my children choose their own books unless it’s an alphabet book.  However, I know as they get older they’ll want to start choosing what they read and I’m ok with that as long as it’s not all the time.

    As the kids age, I’ll have to learn to back off and let them read what catches their eye and ignites their imagination as they build their relationship with reading. If it is twaddle books, I’ll have to assure myself it is okay if they start with worthless ones.

    While I still have control over choosing their books, I’ll continue to guide them into the amazing ones until they start telling me to “back off”.  So if all your child wants to read is comic books then let them and be grateful they are reading something.

    4. Practice storytelling with story cards
    A few months ago, I wrote a post about a simple way to improve your storytelling skills by using eBoo story cards.  You can read more about the story cards here.  The kids and I still use our story cards every once in a while and I can honestly say I’ve seen progression since we first started using them, especially with my 3 year-old.  And for the price I paid (under $10.00 per pack) it was worth it.

    5. Explore different libraries in different cities, states or countries
    I’ve taken the kids to several libraries throughout Connecticut where we live and even to a couple in a different state.  We attend story time events as well as other programs and activities all for FREE.  I believe just by exposing kids to libraries helps them develop a love of reading and books in general.  Also, when we go to story time events they have the benefit of hearing someone else read to them and learn to sit attentively and listen with a group of children in a different environment.  A win-win.

    6. Entice children and make them curious about books
    I’ve noticed whenever I start clutching a children’s book I just read myself and start saying things like, “I love this new book…it’s so good!” the kids are instantly intrigued and want to know what the book is.  Try it next time and see if you are nearly stampeded by your kids dying to read it next.

    7. Read your own books/magazines in front of your children
    I’m sure you’ve read this tip before numerous times, but in order to build a culture of literacy in your home it’s important for your children to see you reading often.  Telling them, “Reading is important!” is pointless, if you never sit down in front of them and eagerly dive into your own reading material. If all they see is you collapsing in front of the TV or constantly sneaking off to your computer or checking your phone when you are tired or bored, they will learn that this is how one spends the invaluable minutes of one’s life.  Remember, YOUR attitude toward books and reading will likely be your child’s attitude as well.  Be a good role model to your kids.

    I believe the only true gateway into the world of reading, is by motivating kids to want to read something – anything.  When they start to realize the wonder of books, the places they can go, the people they can meet, and the things they can learn through books, I think only then can you start to stand a real chance at helping them become successful and lifelong readers.

    Don’t worry if your child isn’t “there” yet, meaning they don’t have a real interest in books or reading…it’s ok…I understand!  As the parent it’s important to keep trying and remain excited.  Make reading a priority in your own life and your kids will likely follow suit.  Every child is different, but I believe you can encourage every child to like books once you find what appeals to them.

    Your turn: How do you encourage your children to love reading and books?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    storieChild Giveaway!
    I am thrilled our friends over at storieChild were gracious enough to sponsor this awesome giveaway!  This would make a great holiday or birthday gift – wouldn’t you agree?

    What you’ll receive: 1 softcover customized storieChild book of your choice (Sorry, this giveaway is only open to US residents who are 18 and over.)

    Deadline: Enter by October 17, 2015 for your chance to win.  Good luck!

    P.S. Now through October 31, 2015 get 10% off all books and boxes by using code OCTPRESALE at checkout on the storieChild website.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    read aloud, reading tips

    How My Read Aloud Journey Began

    When I was pregnant with our first child (“Sparkles”) friends and family gave me great advice and guidance.  I also read lots of parenting books on various topics such as: discipline, child development, breastfeeding, potty training, and communicating with children.  I found all of those topics to be useful, but the topic of reading aloud to your children resonated with me the most.

    How My Read Aloud Journey Began

    While browsing books in the parenting section of the library I came across a book called The Read Aloud Handbook, by Jim Trelease.  This book was first published in 1979 and is now in its seventh edition.  In this book, Trelease explains in plain English why reading aloud to your children matters. He tells you how to do it.  And he even gives you suggestions for books to read.  This book was my introduction to the importance of reading to children starting at a very early age.  Hence, the beginning of my wonderful read aloud journey began even before I gave birth to our daughter.

    With the birth of our second child (“Mr. Tickles”) I began to read to him immediately when he was born.  He also had the added benefit of hearing all the books I read to his sister while he was still in the womb.  Lucky kid!

    Trelease basically explains that the main thing you need to do if you want to raise a reader is simply spend time reading to them, early and often.  He also argues that the most important thing is to read books that both you and your child enjoy.  Kids are wise and they will able to tell if you’re truly enjoying reading a book or not so don’t read something to your kids if you’re not feeling it.

    I think the best part of the book is the very end.  Trelease has created an amazing “Treasury of Read-Alouds.” In the copy of the book that I own, this treasury of books starts on page 173 and ends on page 294…that’s a lot of good, quality books!

    Not only does the author give you suggestions for books by age and subject, but he even tells you what the books are about so you can better select which ones you might enjoy reading with your child. I often refer back to this list time and time again.  This list is my go-to when I’m looking for something new to read to the kids.  It has been tremendously helpful to me because before I stumbled upon this book, I thought it was a little overwhelming to know where to start in picking out books for a young child!

    I am so grateful that I was introduced to the importance of reading before my children were born.  Now I try to pass this along to the people in my life who are new parents.  I truly believe in reading aloud and hope to see our children and others continue to reap the rewards of reading.

    So, that’s it.  The story of how my read aloud journey with my children began. I hope you’ll consider checking this amazing book  out. Maybe it will start you on the path to reading aloud, too (if you’re not doing it already).

    Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post and I was not compensated to promote this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    Your turn:  Have you read this book yet?  I’d be interested to know how you got started on your read aloud journey with your children.  What book(s) helped to inspire you?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's literacy

    Literacy Expert Spotlight: Colette Marie Bennett

    Our literacy expert in the spotlight for the month of September is Colette Marie Bennett.  Colette is the Coordinator for Language Arts, Social Studies, Library Media, and Testing for the West Haven School District in Connecticut.  She is also a certified Literacy Specialist (K-12).  Colette has over 23 years of experience in the classroom grades 6-12.

    colettemariebennett

    Colette, please tell us a little about yourself.
    Oldest of nine; mother of two Marine Corps Officers (both Annapolis grads); blogger; talker; teacher in rural/urban/suburban classrooms teaching AP, Drama, Journalism, and seven grade levels of English Language Arts for over 23 years; and now an curriculum coordinator who has retired the red pen.

    I am now the English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Library Media Curriculum Coordinator in the West Haven Public School System in Connecticut.

    What are some activities that you’ve done with your children to promote literacy?
    I made sure that our house was filled with all kinds of books.  I read to my two boys when they were young, and I read with them when they were older. We shopped together in bookstores.  I did not censor their choices. I recommended books when they were young, and they now recommend books for me. I read for pleasure and helped them to understand that reading is an engaging activity….which meant reading should not be casually interrupted to ask if there is milk in the refrigerator.

    What were some of the favorite children’s board, picture, or chapter books you’ve read or come across this year?
    I just bought Meet the Dullards (written by Sara Pennypacker; illustrated by Daniel Salmieri) for my nephew Max. I laughed so hard in the bookstore that people moved away from me. The illustrations and text are very witty …and kids will understand what a dullard is! Max loved the book.

    I also just bought A House Held Up By Trees by Jon Klaussen  and Ted Kooser. I attended the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival at Hill-Stead Farm in Farmington, CT in June this year where Kooser (United States Poet Laureate from 2004 to 2006), read several of his poems. Afterward, I stopped to get one of his poetry collections, and I noticed this collaboration between this remarkable poet and one of my favorite illustrators. I read it as I stood in line waiting to have my new copy signed, my eyes filled with tears. This house, personified as we all personify our houses, gains the reader’s sympathy –once loved, then abandoned, then rescued.  I asked Kooser to inscribe it for my friend Catherine, who is a literacy specialist in Sherman, CT. That night, she tweeted:

    “Moved beyond words by Ted Kooser’s House Held Up By Trees. Thank you for this beautiful book.”

    What are some of your must-have children’s books for a home library?
    I have a special spot for Tomi Ungerer’s illustrations picture books (The Three Robbers, Flat Stanley), The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne (but only if the text is illustrated with Ernest Shepard drawings); P.D.Eastman’s Sam and the Firefly and Put Me in the Zoo;  any book by David Weisner (but Tuesday is my favorite); D’AulairesBook of Greek Myths; Eric Carle books (choose…any one will do): Fredrick by Leo Lionni ; Don and Audrey Woods’s The Mouse, The Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear and King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub (hilarious!); Nancy Drew (but only if the child wants them); Maurice Sendak’s  Where the Wild Things Are;  Robert McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal; E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web; Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time; and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I became a reader because of Little Women.

    Do you have any literacy rituals that you practice in your family?
    Read. Often.

    Besides reading, what are some other things parents can do to set their children up for literacy success?
    Watch movies together, listen to audio-books, go see theater….and talk about these experiences. These are all story-centered activities and stories improve vocabulary. Stories develop empathy. The world needs to have people who view others with kindness and compassion…stories do that.

    If you could give parents one piece of advice about reading with children, what would it be?
    Read. Often. (see advice above!)

    That is because any reading practice helps everyone read better, parents included. Many of my teachers at the middle school level have told me they notice they are becoming better readers because they read with their students during silent sustained reading.

    Here is another interesting fact: We ran a “How Do I Feel About Reading” survey for grades 7 & 8 in West Haven, and well over 50% of students said they share what they read with members of their family…that’s amazing! That means 11-14 year olds admit they share what they are reading with their parents!  That percentage was almost as high a percentage as sharing what they read with friends.

    We could conclude that parents are the under-appreciated part of the reading equation!

    Hardcover, Paperback or e-book (when reading a book on your own)?
    I am omnivorous. Whatever way the material is available at the time. I like the efficiency of an e-reader, but I do have some problems finding my way back through a text for a quote or fact …I just do not have the hang of the digital marker yet.

    Fiction, non-fiction or some other genre (when reading a book on your own)?
    Again, I am an omnivore. I have been reading more non-fiction lately, but I think that is because the quality of non-fiction is so much better. There is a narrative style like in Erik Larson’s Dead Wake or or Helen MacDonald’s H is for Hawk that makes for good storytelling. Like Nora Ephron said, “Why write fiction when what actually happens is so amazing?”

    Name an adult book that:

    a) Inspired you: Kelly Gallagher’s Readicide. The premise is that English teachers have killed reading by limiting choice and over-teaching. I agree. I am working hard to correct that practice.

    b) Made you laugh out loud:  Roz Chast’s  Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Roz Chast’s mother had dementia. My mother has dementia. She shares the same funny observations and heartbreaking moments that I am now experiencing.

    c) You recommend to others often: I have recommended The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt-2,000 years on the history of writing and Epicurian philosophy makes you feel smarter. I just read Joseph Ellis’s The Quartet. Right now, I have a mad crush on George Washington…he was dignified, poised, well-spoken, and self-effacing. Dreading the upcoming political election season …. I long for George Washington.

    What books are on your nightstand or e-reader right now?
    James McBride The Good Lord Bird; just added Ursula Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea  to the Kindle to re-read (I wrote about her commencement address in ’83 to Mills College…amazing!) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein…it came highly recommended.

    Are you working on any special projects that you want to share with others?
    I am creating a book flood in the West Haven schools, grades 5-12.

    The book flood idea came from Readicide where students are flooded with titles they might like to read. I began the practice in July of 2010 for Regional School District #6 (Litchfield, CT) Wamogo and continued through June 2014. I added gently used books that I purchased (.50-$2.00) to Middle/High School classrooms. That first year (June 2010-2011) I added well over 2,500 books for less than $2,000.00 by shopping at thrift stores or at seasonal public library book sales!

    Expanding classroom libraries allows students at each grade the opportunity to choose the books they want to read. So, examples of titles I look for at book sales are Dork Diaries; Captain Underpants; Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging; Hatchet; or The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The titles students want to read can still build vocabulary and fluency for the classic literature they are assigned in school.

    Independent reading builds vocabulary.

    Here is an interesting set of statistics: a student who reads  67 minutes a day is exposed to 4,733,000 words per year; a student who reads  17 minutes a day reads 1,168,000 words; a student who reads  1 minute a day reads 51,000 words.  Independent reading is also a predictor of student success.

    How can people get in touch with you on social media or on your website?

    Twitter:  @Teachcmb56
    Blog: usedbooksinclass.com

    Your turn:  Did you enjoy this post?  Are you interested in being featured?  Do you know someone who might want to be featured?  Feel free to let me know in the comments or send me an e-mail.

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