Stella-Bucca is now 18 months old and has developed some definite favorites in terms of books, even desiring to “read” some to me as she flips through the pages and recites the lines she remembers from our reading experiences. Here’s a quick rundown of some of Bucca’s recent favorites. I’ve found that all of these have really captured her attention and delighted her to the point of desired multiple readings in one sitting. All except Carle’s book feature a set rhythm that provides a sense of order in the text, which may be a contributing factor in my Bucca’s interest…she LOVES music and dancing, and many of these books can be sung as they’re read.
Our list includes:
Be sure to check them out!
Lindsay (and Bucca)
I haven’t posted in quite some time because I’ve been focusing on completing my M.Ed. and its major component: the master’s paper. Play through Literary Transcendence (my title, which basically means, how children play with books) looks at three unconventional titles for young children to discern how these books invite playful opportunities through the reading experience. I will speak more on my research in a future post, but something really cool happened at home that directly correlated with my non-stop train of thought on this topic.
One of the books I explore in my paper is Eric Carle’s famous The Very Hungry Caterpillar. In my paper, I assert that the cut-outs in the book not only facilitate engagement with the story of the caterpillar’s journey, but also contribute to opportunities for play for the young reader.
My Bucca has been thumbing through this book lately, and her 18-month-old brain has been soaking in the concept of caterpillar-into-butterfly. While she was looking through the book, without my direct oversight, I noticed her carefully touching each cut-out hole on the famous spread of the caterpillar eating through an entire picnic spread. As I saw her point to each hole, I started counting each time she moved her finger: 1…2…3…4…
As I counted and she touched, we created a new game within the book (making her repeat “AGAIN!” after she reached the end of the spread). She was able to touch and count and play for several minutes before she brought me the book to re-read to her. But her play really helped to solidify the ideas that I have been researching for months. There are so many ways to play with books!
I’m so glad that Stella loves books. I mean, she LOVES books. Even if she’s surrounded by her train set, blocks, singing tea pot (yes…she has a singing tea pot) and puzzles, she will still reach for the stack on her bookshelf.
I don’t only contribute this to my academic and professional interest in children’s books, but more so to those around me that have fostered a book-friendly environment since before Stella was born.
One of my best friends threw me a book-themed baby shower a month before my Bucca was born. Each guest was tasked with bringing their favorite children’s book to build the baby’s library in lieu of a card. The guests also attached bookplates to their choices with a little message to the baby. I still love reading the bookplates as Stella chooses a book each day.
I know that book showers are no longer a new or original concept…just look at Pinterest. But I can’t overstate the significance that this shower had on Stella’s love of books. She was gifted books that I probably never would have exposed her to otherwise and some of those are her all-time favorites.
Stella has also been the recipient of some unique book-related gifts. For her first birthday, some great friends got my Bucca a subscription to Babybug Magazine for a year. These little magazines are more like board books. Each issue contains songs, stories, poems and colorful illustrations. Stella loves getting a new issue in the mail and goes back to previous issues again and again. This was certainly one of the most meaningful and lasting first birthday gifts she received. Click here for subscription information.
The Imagination Library program has also proven to be invaluable to Stella’s growing library. This program, initiated by Dolly Parton, provides children birth-age 5 with age-appropriate and free books each month in the mail. I’m thankful that my mom has connected Stella with these books, which she is always excited to receive. This program is not available in all areas, but those interested are able to replicate the program in their own community. Check out the website to see if your community has an Imagination Library program in place AND, if not, get information to start one.
All of these things have been used in Stella’s life to establish a strong foundation with books and have allowed us to focus on literature as a significant component of our daily and collective family life. I’m so thankful that those around me have contributed to building this structure. As Gladys Hunt states in Honey for a Child’s Heart, “Don’t let your children live in spiritual poverty when abundance is available! Fill your children up with words, with imaginative worlds, with adventures beyond your ken” (27).
Lindsay (and Bucca)
Hello, again! I’m finally on break, with only one semester of classes left before I graduate with my M.Ed. in Children’s Literature. School got real last semester and became even more demanding, explaining my blogging absence. I know you were waiting breathlessly for my return (she said with complete and total sarcasm). Well, I’m hoping that this break will allow for more reading and writing to share!
I’ve posted before about how children benefit greatly from books that reflect their current experiences. Well, since this is my Bucca’s first REAL Christmas season (she was only six weeks old last Christmas), I want to expose her to books that showcase the images of the season, including the recent snow that fell in our area.
One of the first books I grabbed was Eric Carle’s Dream Snow. I love unconventional and uniquely formatted picture books (in fact, my Master’s thesis will focus on these types of books), so the transparent overlays add interest and dimension to the story and the illustrations. I also love how the farmer is a representation of Santa and not Santa himself. In my mind, this allows the reader to adopt the notion that the spirit of St. Nicholas resides in all that love enough to give.
This book always makes me want to curl up with a blanket, a cup of peppermint tea and a good book. In fact, this is my plan after Stella goes to sleep tonight.
As we read more Christmas and seasonal books, I’ll post our thoughts and favorites. In the meantime, what are your go-to holiday books?
Lindsay and Bucca
So I have finally reached a conclusion about my research project for my program: I’m going to investigate unconventional picture books to discover how their characteristics (form, shape, illustrations, text) promote playful experiences for readers. I have a few ideas on what data (actual books) to use within my investigation, including Herve Tullet’s books in the game series. Have you heard of Herve Tullet? He has masterfully captured the possibilities of what can be experienced while interacting with a picture book: his work could be considered a book OR a toy OR a game…which is why I find his books so fascinating (and so does Stella…especially “The Game of Light”). Take a look at some spreads from a few of his books below, but also be sure to access:
- Herve Tullet’s website: http://www.herve-tullet.com/en/accueil.html
- Herve Tullet’s Author Page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hervé-Tullet/e/B001JPBVMG
- Herve Tullet’s Phaidon Page: http://www.phaidon.com/store/childrens-books/herve-tullet/
My lovely friend, Teresa, recently shared with me her personal experiences with growing up as a reluctant reader, but desiring for her sons to have rich and meaningful experiences with books. Here, she discusses how she overcame her own resistance to books and developed daily practices with her family to promote sign language, literacy and a love of learning through books!
When I think back to reading while growing up, I am plagued by the agonizing memory of headaches–I hated it. I always said that I hate reading, that I’m not a reader. Through high school I never read the textbooks and it showed on my report card. Even in college, I never read my Occupational Therapy books–how I got straight A’s in the program was only my validation that I was on the right career path because it came so naturally. I later learned that I am a kinesthetic learner: because of the way I took notes in college, when it came to test day I could “see” right where I had written the answer in my notebook.
When my husband and I were expecting our first child, Eli, I consistently read the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book, the holy grail of pregnancy! Soon after having him, I knew I needed to read more books to figure this parenting thing out. I found myself reading everything that came my way about breastfeeding, sign language, child development, raising a child by God’s grace…the list goes on and on! But within that process, something clicked. I realized I do love to read!
When I thought back to my childhood, and even talked to my mom, we never had shelves of books in our house. I never remember sitting around reading a book, or seeing her read. I knew at that time that I wanted my boy to enjoy reading and do well in school and THIS was the key component I had missed when growing up.
At 3 months of age, I started taking Eli to a reading program at our then local library in Colorado Springs. It was a 30 minute class with other new moms. It started with a little song/finger play, then they’d read a book and had the same one to pass out to each child for them to explore. We would learn a “sign” that related to the story like “more”, “milk” ,”bear” and so forth. At the end, the babies would get to play with some toys, we’d sing one last song at that was it. We did this program for about 9 months and by this time I was pregnant with #2 and was just too tired, so we took a few months off! On top of the reading program, I would check out a few books and read them with him each day and did quite a bit of sign language using the book, “Baby Signing 1 2 3: The Easy-to-Use Illustrated Guide for Every Stage and Every Age” by Nancy Cadjan. I made flash cards of all the signs, laminated them and put them on key chains in various places around the house so we could keep introducing new signs to him.
Around 12 months we started spelling out his name with foam letters in the bathtub. Somewhere around 18 months we realized he was saying the letters E and H…he would laugh hysterically when we say them, and we realized that he really “knew” them consistently. So, I started really working on all the letters with him. By 2 years he knew all of his letters and their letter sound. By 3 he knew simple site words and now at around 3.5 he can read simple books. As far as Ian goes, our second son, he’s a sharp little guy too! He is 2.5 and also knows all his letters and about 20 letter sounds, can spell his name, can count to 14, knows about 8 shapes and 8 of the basic colors. We also read a book to them every night and go to the library about every week. Our community has an awesome library…the boys start by going in and coloring, then they sing songs, read a book, learn a new “sign” and finish up with 3-4 stations of sensory play/fine motor activities.
I feel like all of these literacy experiences (signing, letter recognition, family reading and library time) has made reading more enjoyable for the boys. Daily, Ian can be found laying on the floor surrounded by books or curled up on the couch with one. And during “nap” time in the afternoon, Eli has books sprawled across his bedroom floor and I can hear him reading them aloud. He often acts out the stories he’s read with toys around the house…it’s really neat to see! I’m glad they get so much enjoyment out of reading (especially since I didn’t while growing up) and I do believe it will help them to be a lifelong learners!
In Honey for a Child’s Heart, Hunt states, “The teachers I remember best are those who read to us each day from some wonderful book” (23). I think most of us can relate. Hearing a story read aloud can create powerful memories. But are there other, larger-scale benefits to reading aloud to a child or group of children?
This semester in my graduate school program I am exploring topics for my graduate thesis paper: a task that (only two weeks into class) is already making my head spin. This week we learned about various epistemological dimensions of learning, including the social dimension. Within this dimension, teachers are particularly concerned with a student’s self-awareness and how self-actualization can be utilized within a community context. As one article put it, it’s learning to think as “we” as well as “I” (Prakash & Waks, 88).
I know that reading aloud to children is a powerful experience. As Hunt states in HFACH, reading aloud within the presence of great writing creates a closeness: “…we felt bound together by the experience” (23). Is it the sense of embarking on an unknown adventure with others that creates this binding of individuals? In terms of the impacts of reading aloud, couldn’t one be that reading aloud has the power to create a sense of community among listeners?
But this also made me think about reading aloud in a broader community context. I see advertisements for special reading times at bookstores, libraries and even some churches. Could there be a correlation between children who are read to within a community setting and the children’s sense of belonging within that particular community? If so, that takes the powerful experience Hunt describes to a completely new level.
As I consider these questions, I’m not sure if I will take them on in my paper, but I am curious to get some opinions. How has reading aloud impacted you/your child(ren)/your student(s)? Have you felt connected to others through a group reading experience?
Perhaps reading aloud can not just bind together students in classrooms, but individuals in entire communities.
Corduroy by Don Freeman
This book makes me tear up every single time. If you can get through the final page without tears streaming down your face, then…in the words of Monica Geller on Friends, “You’re dead inside.”
Mama Cat Has Three Kittens by Denise Fleming
The repetition in this story is wonderful to engage young readers, but the reprieve from established expectations is what makes this story so fun and playful.
A Good Day by Kevin Henkes
I love how this simple story presents an attitude of optimism that illustrates how a bad day can easily become a good day. This story is a great reminder that individuals have the power to see positive aspects of a given situation and discover the goodness around them.
I’ve recently been asked by a few people about my thoughts on sign language for babies. Before I became a mom, I’ll admit that I completely dismissed the entire concept. I was concerned that teaching a child to sign would ultimately create a delay in language skills. However, as I’ve learned from many parents, educators, books and through personal experience, sign language for babies actually assists in developing a child’s overall communication and acts as a gateway to verbal skills and literacy. Although this is a blog dedicated to children’s literature, I’m also interested in learning strategies that allow children to communicate and express themselves. Words are powerful, not just on a page, but in all aspects of a child’s life!
As a new mom, I’m just navigating the waters of baby sign language. My Bucca is a pro at signing “please” but currently has no interest in learning to sign “thank you.” She pretty much just stares at me and my husband like we’re crazy, but we are still consistent in showing her the new sign and taking her hand to help her do it as well. She’ll get there sooner or later!
Because my experience is limited, I’ve enlisted the help of some great ladies who have successfully implemented signing with their own children. This post features the experience of Kristi, a mom of three great boys and a busy sales VP for a nutritional supplement company. Here are her thoughts on how signing helped her boys communicate and find contentment:
My husband and I used sign language in our home with all three of our sons beginning at 6 months of age. I can’t say enough about the benefits of sign language with babies. We found that signing eliminated frustration, tantrums and negative emotion because our children could communicate their needs and wants with us. All three of our boys were early communicators with large vocabularies. Signing only enhanced their verbal communication skills. In terms of implementation…I say, keep it simple. Find a resource that you can quickly read and implement. We liked, “ Sign With Your Baby” by Joseph Garcia. It is a quick read that will help you understand the concept and benefits with a nice reference guide in the back of the book. We kept the book handy so that we could reference it if we couldn’t remember a particular sign. We also showed the pictures to our children. We would try to sign as much as we could when communicating with our kids. Even if it takes them awhile to start signing themselves, keep signing to them. Before you know it, when they are hungry they will sign “eat”. Don’t be afraid to modify the signs, just make sure you keep it consistent. We found that the signing became a bridge to verbal communication…from signing alone, to signing and speaking simultaneously, to verbal communication alone. In our experience, signing with our babies helped them develop excellent communication skills and increased their feelings of happiness, contentment and belonging.
Happy Reading (and Signing)!