Friday Confession: Some Help, Please?

Let me introduce you to Preschooler.

She is my first-born.  And fits the first child descriptionperfectly.  She is extremely loving, empathetic, and protective.  She is also stubborn, headstrong, and fiercely independent.

She is a learner.  Her naturally inquisitive nature means that we are talking/learning/exploring all the time.  She will start preschool in the fall and has been talking about it for a year already.  The former teacher in me notices that she has a strong auditory learning style.  Especially if what she is learning is set to music.  So here’s where I’m hoping somebody out there will have some ideas.  I confess:

Early childhood education is NOT my forte.

Elementary?  I know how to teach those kids. Preschool?  Eh. I just can’t get in their little heads.

And yet, I have this 3 year old who shows a definite interest in learning her numbers and letters.  She can count almost to 20 (she has a few random number skips), can recite/sing the alphabet, and can correctly identify a handful of numbers and letters.  She would like to know more, and I’d like to be able to help her out, but she’s not a visual kid and so many of the tactics I’ve seen are not sticking.  Any thoughts on how to teach an auditory learner avisual skill?  More particularly, a 3 year old auditory learner?

I should add that I’m not in any huge hurry, and I realize that she’s still very young.  But recognizing numbers and letters aren’t beyond the realm of possibility, especially since she’s showing the interest, right?

And it would really help the dinner-making process if she was not systematically pulling each and every  letter magnet out if it’s orderly row (that she created) on the fridge and demanding, “Mommy, what this one?!”

Thoughts?  Ideas?  Links?  Blogs?  I’ll take ’em all!

Share-A-Story: Letters to My “Readers”

I’m back for another day of Share-A-Story.  Today’s topic involves breaking down the stereotype of what a “reader” looks like.  The prompt I chose for today is a little more personal, but relevant for this blog, which is a combination of literacy and family chat.

Is there a young reader (or reader to be) in your life? Write them a letter expressing what you hope for them as readers.

Dear Preschooler,

In just three short years, I’ve already seen the beginnings of your evolution as a reader.  When you were little, you loved to chew on books.  Well, really, you loved to chew on anything, but you particularly loved the way that cardboard felt on your gums.  As you got older, you were fascinated by the pictures, and would spend (short) times on my lap as we talked about what we saw on each page.  A little bit older, and you would tolerate actually listening to short board books.  In the last 6 months, you’re attention span has increased so that you will listen to much longer picture books.  We’ve even started reading fairy tale anthologies, one story at a time.  Recently, you thrilled me by reading tome.

You are most definitely a reader.  My hope for you, as you grow, is that you will enjoy a wide variety of texts, whether it be graphic novels, picture books, chapter books, or audio selections.  I hope that you enjoy some of the selections I send your way, but also develop relationships with characters of your own choosing, as I did with Laura Ingalls, Nancy Drew, the Wakefield twins, and that close-knit gang of babysitting friends.  I hope that in the next few years, we are able to continue our Special Time of reading at bedtime, expanding to chapter books that we are eager to return to in the evenings.

Sometimes hearing “Read this to me, Mommy!” for the 600th time in a day causes me to do an internal eye roll because, really, I need a Mommy Break.  But even so, I love that you want to be read to, and that our bookcase is overflowing with books that you actually use. I’m proud of that, and I’m proud of you.

Love,

Mommy/Mama/Mom

Dear Baby,

You are too tiny to have much of a reading history yet.  You do listen as stories are read to your sister, but you listen anytime you hear my voice, so that’s nothing new.  Maybe this is the start of your literacy journey.  Hearing a pleasant (why, thank you!) voice in connection to books will hopefully trigger a positive experience in your memory.  As you get older, I hope that we can share some of your sister’s favorite books a second time around.  I hope you will also smile over the antics of a silly puppy, and search for your favorite barn animals among the pages.

I’m looking forward to seeing you toddle over to the bookshelf (but not too soon, okay?) and developing your own interests.  Will you also be a Thomas fan?  Will you also want to read/watch Curious George ad nauseam?

You have a ways to go.  We’re not even at the book-chewing stage yet.  But when you get there, I’m sure we’ll find a whole new world of characters to explore.

Love,

The Lady Who Comes to Get You in the Middle of the Night (aka “Mommy”)

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

I’ve had a hard time keeping up with this blog in recent weeks.

Why?

For awhile, just making it through the day with an active 2yo was (almost) more than I could handle.  By the time she went down for a nap, or was in bed for the night, I was too tired/cranky/sick to do anything but lie down myself.

Thankfully, that stage is past and I’m back to feeling like myself again (just a little bigger).  Hoping to get back in the blogging saddle again, but if I disappear for a couple days, forgive me, okay?

And now that that’s out, I’m asking for help.

Anybody have any good book suggestions for helping to prepare a 2yo for a new sibling?

I’m pretty sure we’re going to have to tell her sooner, or later.

Raising a Reader

I have the educational background.  I have the textbook learning, and the classroom experience.  I’ve taught everything from phonics programs, to guided reading, to learning how to take standardized tests.

But it’s most gratifying when I can take that information, apply it to my daily life as a stay-at-home-parent, and see the results.

Yesterday, I was feeling a little under the weather.  So I was doing what sick parents do when they have no choice other than to continue parenting…I was lounging on the floor of my daughter’s room and monitoring her play from my horizontal position.  She walked over to her bed, picked up her new Thomas the Tank Engine book, and announced, “Mama, read.”  So I prepared myself to put on my cheery reading voice, but she had other plans.  She settled herself on the floor next to me, opened the book, and read to me.

Okay, so it was garbled and mostly nonsensical, and I couldn’t exactly repeat the plot to you.  But there were key elements of early literacy present:

  • turning pages from front to back
  • changes in vocal inflections as she “read” the words on the page
  • using the images on the page to tell the story (demonstrated by inserting words she knew for certain images into the garble)

It makes me smile that books are among The Toddler’s favorite toys.  She keeps several at the end of her bed, and they are the first thing she plays with upon waking up in the morning, and the last thing she plays with before falling asleep at night.

So I guess I can say that I’m raising a reader.  Which is good.  Because I have a long list of books that she absolutely must read.

No pressure or anything.

Happy Birthday to Me (and a gift for you!)

Today marks another birthday for me.  It also, quite appropriately, happens to be International Children’s Book Day. From the International Board on Books for Young People website:

Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, 2 April, International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.

So really, I was destined to be born on April 2nd, right?

I’ll be celebrating with family and friends this weekend, but you all are invited in on the fun, too.

In honor of my birthday and International Children’s Book Day, I have gift for you. I’m offering the chance to win your choice of one of the following two books.  Both these books are favorites of mine, and also happen to have been honored in a very important year:

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg (1982 Caldecott Honor Book)

or

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary (1982 Newbery Honor Book)

I’m going to keep this super simple.  Leave a comment sharing your own favorite children’s book (can be classic or modern!).  That’s it!  Because I’ll be away from the computer for much of the weekend, I’ll leave comments open till 10:00pm EST on Sunday, April 3rd.  The winner will be announced on Monday.

Enjoy the party!

Friday Confession: Raiding the $1 Bin

Hello, friends.  I have to admit, I’m a little taken aback that it’s Friday already.  This week has been a busy one, and I’m surprised to see that Friday is here already.

Nevertheless, Friday it is.  My confession this week is part confession, part secret shopping tip:

I get some of the Toddler’s books from the $1 bin.

Specifically, I get them from the $1 bin at Target (oh, how I love Target!)  Don’t get me wrong– we have numerous books on our shelves that are beautiful hardbound books.  But I supplement that collection with “in the moment” texts from the $1 bin.  These are books that are not necessarily ones that she’ll keep forever and ever, but capture her interest at this stage of her life.

In other words, Sesame Street books.

$1 each, folks.  Which means that I can snag several and put them in her backpack as a nice surprise during our upcoming travel.  Kids not Sesame Street fans?  There are often others on colors, modes of transportation, or even rhyming.  And for toddlers who can still be a little rough on their books, the board books are perfect.

My confession, and secret for inexpensive, colorful, purposeful toddler books.

Because really, who doesn’t need another excuse to visit Target?

Share A Story: Trading Lives and My First Love

As part of this week’s Share A Story: Shape a Future literacy tour, bloggers around the web are invited to participate in daily writing prompts (P.S-There are PRIZES).  While I’m not officially competing for one of the prizes, I thought it might be fun to participate in some of the writing prompts, just to share a little bit more about me and where I’m coming from.

So.  Today, I’m responding to this question:

Who was the first person from a book (real or imagined) that you wanted to be when you were a child? Why?

The first character I can remember truly wanting to trade lives with was L.M. Montgomery’s Anne Shirley.  I first read Anne of Green Gables in the fifth grade and took an immediate liking to Anne herself.  Something about this character struck a chord with me.  Her passion for reading, her dream of teaching, these were all familiar. There were parts of Anne that I envied, too. Her ability to speak up for what she believed in (something I, as a painfully shy 5th grader, could not fathom), for example.  Or her seemingly fairytale home on Prince Edward Island.

Then there was Diana.  Sweet, pretty, boring Diana who never quite understood Anne’s imagination, but followed her on every crazy whim, despite her misgivings.  Diana, who was everything a best friend should be– loyal, supportive, and even brave when it came to standing up for her “bosom buddy” Anne.

Upon finishing Anne of Green Gables, I quickly picked up the next book, Anne of Avonlea, and then Anne of the Island, so that over the next few months, I worked my way through the entire series.  And along the way, I met my first literary crush Gilbert. How could Anne NOT recognize what a handsome, compassionate, perfect catch she had in Gilbert Blythe?  While I thrilled in their eventual union, my 12-year-old self  fell in love with Gilbert long before she did.

Such was my love for Anne and her life that I’ve since read everything by L.M. Montgomery that I could get my hands on.  An author who can first pen her words in 1908, capture the heart of young reader in 1992, and remain a strong part of that reader’s memory in 2011 is truly timeless.

And Gilbert?  I might still have a crush on that man.  Just a little.

Now it’s your turn!  Please share!  Which character did you want to be?  Who was your first literary crush?  C’mon, we’ll keep your secret!