Herald Journal Columns
July 3, 2006, Herald Journal

Instill a love of reading


Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy some leisurely reading with your children. Sit on your porch, deck, lawn, or wherever your heart takes you, and take in a book from a library, bookstore, garage sale (great places to find very affordable books) library book sale, or from your own shelf, basket or wherever you keep books at home (even under your child’s bed).

We know that reading to our children helps develop and improve their reading skills, and most importantly, it communicates to them that reading is valuable, and enjoyable. That is what we want our children to feel about reading, and we can help instill those positive feelings, by enjoying books with them.

The National Education Association offers some reading tips on its website: www.new.org/parents/reading, and breaks the tips down into age/grade categories.

Tips for reading to preschoolers:

Read with expression and inflection, using different voices for different characters. Children love this. Using puppets to tell a story is also a fun way for “someone new” to tell a story, too. Children catch on to this and want to use the puppets themselves to “tell” stories.

Look for books that are about things that interest your child, such as cars, animals, and bugs, for example. This begins to instill the concept that reading is enjoyable, and that there are books on just about every subject.

Allow your child chances to choose her own books for reading. If she chooses a book that is too long to hold her attention, read some and skip some, discussing the pictures and how they relate to the story.

Emphasize rhythms and rhymes in stories, and give your child opportunities to repeat rhyming phrases. Rhyming is a skill that children will work on in kindergarten, as well as in preschool.

And, of course, read stories again and again. Young children enjoy repetition, and it helps them become familiar with the organization of stories, and gives confidence to the child that he, too, can “read” or tell a story.

Make books a joyous and important part of your child’s life and routine. Read to her daily. Let her talk about the pictures, and ask her to point out objects in the book that are alike and different in shape and in color. This helps children to observe small differences in the shapes of letters and words when learning to read, noted NEA (National Education Association).

Snuggle with your child, with his favorite toys or blanket, as you read to help create a comfortable, warm atmosphere, that promotes the feeling of “reading is fun!”

Next week, I will discuss some tips for reading to, and with, children in kindergarten and beyond.

Books, books, and more books

The following are a few of the Wild Rumpus bookstore’s best-sellers for the week of June 5 – June 11.

Wild Rumpus is a fun bookstore in Minneapolis, that I recommend you visit, if you are ever in the Linden Hills neighborhood. The staff allows you to actually pick up a book and start reading it, right in the store, with respect to the book, the other patrons and the chickens and cats and birds. . . of course.

A number one best-seller is “Olivia Forms a Band” by Falconer, Ian, published by Atheneum Books, 2006.

The Wild Rumpus staff noted on its web site, www.wildrumpusbooks.com, that Olivia is back with more noise, as she forms her own band – herself. Using pots, pans, toys and whatnot, Olivia makes music to the beat. A book, I am sure, children and parents can relate to.

“The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” by DiCamillo, Kate; Ibatoulline, illustrated by Ibatoulline, Bagram and published by Candlewick Press (MA), 2006, was the store’s recent number two best-seller.The Wild Rumpus staff describes it as “a timeless tale with stunning full-color plates that honors the enduring power of love.”

Edward Tulane is a china rabbit, who once lived in a house on Egypt Street. He was owned by a girl, Abilene, who adored and loved him dearly, but one day, Edward got lost. And so the story takes readers on a journey to find the rabbit.

Top teacher’s and kids’ book picks

Here are more teacher top book picks (these lists were tabulated from an online survey that ran at the web site: www.nea.org/readacross, from Nov. 1, 1999 through Feb. 1, 2000.

• “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” by Jon Scieszka (4-8 years)

• “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by John Archambault (4-8 years)

• “Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder (9-12 years)

• “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett (9-12 years)

• “The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh” by A. A. Milne (4-8 years)

Kids’ picks include:

• “Stuart Little” by E. B. White

• “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls

• “The Adventures of Captain Underpants” (series) by Dav Pilkey

• “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg

• “The Berenstain Bears” (series) by J. R. R. Tolkien

These book lists have been fun for me, at least, to review, because many of the books listed are ones I read as a child, and I am sure you enjoyed many of these books, as well. It goes to show that books and their “stories” are timeless, and span the generations.

Who wouldn’t, as an adult, like to sit down and delve back in time, and read a “Little House on the Prairie” book? I sure would. In fact, I think I will. We have the series, so the books are right at my fingertips, and now that my children are getting old enough to enjoy chapter books, my hope is that they, too, will travel back in time, and learn about what it was like growing up on the prairie, more than a century ago. That’s what a book can do for you.

As the summer progresses, I hope that you and your children can enjoy some good summer “reads” and traverse to different times, destinations, and experiences – vacation without even leaving the house. (Vacations when you leave the house are good, too,) Sounds exciting to me.

Jenni Sebora has a bachelor of science degree in special education, and a master of science degree in education, with a coaching certification. She has taught in the public school system for 14 years, and has coached a variety of sports at all levels.

Jenni was a children’s program leader for Family Support Network/Parents’ Anonymous, for a local chapter, for 10 years and was the children’s program resource coordinator for the Minnesota Family Support Network/Prevent Child Abuse organization, for southern Minnesota chapters. She has conducted many trainings on dealing with children, children’s activities, and behavioral management.

Jenni has worked in day care settings, served as a Sunday school teacher, summer recreation director, and on the board of education at her church. She and her husband, Marc, have three children.