Tag Archives: reading

How Playtime Connects Young Readers to Books

8 Nov


Do you ever finish a book yet still feel as though it is still alive inside of you? I know I do, and it’s one of the reasons I participate in a book group. As an adult, being part of a book group allows me to delve deeper into the book by asking questions of my fellow readers, listening to the opinions of others, and continuing to let the story simmer in my mind.

Children also need opportunities to make connections to books, especially after the book has been finished. Experiences allow children to add another layer of understanding to their word, and this is even true with reading. Follow-up experiences help young readers make personal connections to books and stories. Lastly, being able to be playful with books fosters a love of reading.

One of my favorite sites, The Imagination Tree (imaginationtree.com), has a recent post called ’12 Playful Storytelling Activities. Using everyday materials like play dough, garden plants and cardboard children bring the stories to life through play. I highly recommend starting these playful reading activites with children from an early age as children benefit from such interactive experiences, in addition to being active listeners.

The Reading Tent

4 Jul

If you have a tent in your garage or basement, consider taking it out this summer and pitching it in your own backyard (or get creative and make something out of sheets and blankets). It’s a great escape for kids as it encourages exploration, independence and can serve as a learning sanctuary. I took our tent over to my five year old friend Gabriel’s house and set up a ‘reading tent’ for the him, and it was a huge hit!  There is something about a new atmosphere, the cozy seclusion of a tent and being outside that is really conducive to summer reading.

In the morning Gabriel and I set up the tent together, then we went to the library and choose some new books.   Gabriel and I brought out four books to the tent. Two of the books he could read almost independently and two books I would read aloud.  We put down a blanket and spent about an hour in the tent.  In the year that I have known Gabriel, this was the longest he has attended to reading.

Some of the reasons for this success:

  • There wasn’t a TV, toys, or any of the usual distractions to take him away from the books.
  • He chose the books, used his library card and made an independent decision about his reading…kids are totally capable of doing this (with a little guidance)!
  • Gabriel had the opportunity to read and listen.  Kids need to practice both skills and it’s a good way for parents or caregivers to model reading.

Helping kids love reading may take a little more effort, but it’s truly worth it.

To Finish or Not to Finish, That is the Question:

27 Jun

What to do when you don’t like a book you are reading?  I’m pretty sure we have all been there: maybe a book for a school assignment, or one that has been chosen for a book club, or even one you thought (or you were told) you would really like?! Personally, I always try to finish a book…but, there are a few I have put down, never to be read again.

I asked some friends what they do in the same situation.  Here are some of the highlights:

“If I can’t get into a book by the end of the second chapter or so, I just abandon ship.  There are so many great books out there that I would rather find one that suits my interests.”

“If I’m bored, I remember how I hated ‘Grapes of Wrath’ when I first started reading it and how my boyfriend encouraged me to keep going. It ended up being my favorite novel of all time, so I try to remember that.”

“If I do not like a book, I am stubborn enough to finish it, because I do not want to be bested by a novel I don’t like.”

“I ALWAYS finish it. Even if I hate it.  I can’t adequately hate something if I haven’t given it a fair chance.

“Sometimes when I really dislike a novel I will put it down and read other things, and then come back to that book.  I’ll still want to make it through to the end. ”

Please feel free to leave comments about what YOU do when you a reading a book you don’t like or even the title of a book that you didn’t finish …

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 wiredforwords.com to find book suggestions and book reviews by kids for kids!

Check out goodreads.com 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.”