Archive | May, 2012

Summertime = Booktime

29 May

Victoria Day (in Canada) and Memorial Day (in the USA) often signal the beginning of summer. Although, there are still a few more weeks of school, here in Toronto it sure feels like summer.

The summer is a time to relax, to enjoy the outdoors, and to take a little extra time for yourself and be with the people you love. Reading is an awesome way to relax, visit a far off world you might not realistically be able to go and keep your mind sharp, and it can be a good way to interact with others.

I usually spend the school year reading my book group selections, academic books about education, and the daily newspaper. In the summer I find myself reading at a much more relaxed pace and reading a more diverse array of writing. And each summer I attempt to read one classic novel. Two summers ago, I attempted to read War and Peace, but I’m still working on that one.

As a reader and educator, I believe it is important that children continue reading during the summer. Research shows that children lose reading progress if they don’t read during the summer months. In addition to some of the tips I gave in my last blog post, I also want to share with you a few more of my summer reading tips, as well as some idea from children’s author Ellen Schwartz:

  • Link books to summer activities, such as seeing movies.  Read the book, watch the film, talk about similarities and difference, and/or talk about the plot and characters.  Even turn on the captioning during the movie to give reading practice.
  • Non-fiction is a great way to match your child’s interest.  Pick up a cook book and have your child read the recipe.  Grab a craft book and have your child read the directions.  There are books for every interest; this past week I helped a young student find a book about ants and she read aloud the directions to make a terrarium for her new ant friends!
  • Keeping kids busy in the summer with various activities is important, but so is giving them a break.  Try to make time for reading and give let kids choose their own books.  They are more likely to finish a book of their choosing.

Check out to find book suggestions and book reviews by kids for kids!

Check out for suggestions of books for kids, young adults and for adult readers.  You can search books by genre, find out what other people are reading, look up quotes from books and take a literature quiz.  I really like this website, especially the tag line, “Meet your next favorite book.”

Monkey See, Monkey Do

21 May

The mind of a child is like a sponge, constantly soaking up information about the world.  And it’s not just information like a ‘cat says meow’ or a ‘fire engine is red’.  Very young children can distinguish accents, they can infer when other people are upset, and they can remember patterns and locations.  Children are constantly mapping out the world around them, making deep and important foundational connections.

In graduate school we learned a lot about ‘modeling’, the idea that if we as teachers demonstrate or model a skill, the young ones will follow suit.  Modeling is especially important with reading, at home and in the classroom.

In my first few months as a teacher, I would check email, organize the classroom or mark papers while the children were doing quiet reading.  I realized, with the help of my advisor, that I was expecting the children would know how to read quietly, make good book choices and choose comfortable positions that would optimize their reading.  For me, I like to sit up on the floor or at a desk, and I get a headache if I lie on my stomach and try to read.  But, some kids loved the idea of lying on the reading rug and getting comfortable, others liked to be in a chair, and others needed the opportunity to figure out what worked for them.  I was able to reconnect with myself as a reader and found that the students were less restless and more engaged when I was reading along side of them.

These classroom lessons can be taken into consideration at home too.  Reading can be an amazing family activity.  Some great ideas, from one of my favorite web sites, (Reading Is Fundamental) of how to make your home more reading-positive include:

-Let kids see you reading
-Give books as gifts, or have a book swap
-Help your child start a home library
-Set aside time to read together, or time when everyone in the household is reading.

I also believe that using your local library is a great way to find new book at no cost.  Libraries help the community, as well as give children a sense of responsibility.  If you have any great ideas for young readers at home or at school, feel free to share them with me. Or if you would like to share a photo of you or a loved one reading together please send along.  I’ll post them with your permission.

My brother-in-law and nephew:

Reading Rug Role Model: Gac Filipaj

14 May

I read this article in The Toronto Star today about Gac Filipaj, a fifty-two year old janitor at Columbia University who earned his Ivy League bachelor’s degree in classics.  What amazes me (and brings tears to my eyes) about Mr. Filipaj is his thirst for knowledge and his will and drive to better himself, for himself.  His ambition is to continue his studies, maybe even get a PhD in Roman and Greek classics, “The richness is in me, in my heart and in my head, not in my pockets.”

Full article:–columbia-janitor-graduates-with-honours-degree

Daily Dose of Reading

10 May


Noun: The action or skill of reading written or printed matter silently or aloud.

Here in North America, and in much of the developed world, we live in a text-oriented society.  Being a ‘reader’ (in my opinion), doesn’t just mean that one is curling up with the latest New York Times best seller (currently the controversial Fifty Shades of Grey).  The ability to read and to make meaning from the text assists us in our daily lives.  This past Monday, I noted all the times I read in the course of a day.

Some of my Monday reading included:

Note from my parents left on the counter to have a safe trip

Directions to the airport

Menu at bagel shop

Customs declaration form

Novel- The Art of Fielding (for my book-group)


Junk Mail

Recipe for pumpkin muffins

Children’s books- Trucks, Baby Beluga, Curious George and the Dog Show

Directions on stain remover

Choir music

Take a moment to think of all the reading you do in the course of just one day.