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)
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
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!
Teachers and parents strive everyday to prompt conversations among children about books. Sometimes starting these conversations can be like pulling teeth. Aidan Chambers realized this and sought to create a framework for adults to engage children in reading thoughtfully and responding articulately to the books they’ve read. In his book, Tell Me: Children, Reading, and Talk, Chambers outlines steps for adults to take in sparking conversations that make children excited, not just about reading, but about talking about reading.
Chambers places equal value on reading books and talking about books. He states:
“Talking well about books is a high-value activity in itself. But talking well about books is also the best rehearsal there is for talking well about other things. So in helping children to talk about their reading, we help them to be articulate about the rest of their lives” (2).
I love that Chambers sees the act of reading in this constructive manner. Reading not only has intrinsic value in itself, but the activity can be used as a tool to enhance individualism and overall personal development. But, in order for books to have this transformative impact, the adults in a child’s life must place value on reading and engaging children in a dialogue about literature. Chambers is clear that children cannot become avid readers if they are not within an environment that supports and encourages this activity. Adults need to be available to help a child make sense of the marks on each page of a chosen book. There is a direct correlation between the richness of a child’s reading environment and the richness of the talk surrounding the books they have read.
But how do adults create such a positive environment? It starts with two words: TELL ME. Adults can prompt meaningful conversations simply by uttering these unassuming words. Chambers advocates that adults ask children to tell them about the following aspects of a book:
- Tell me what you liked
- Tell me what you didn’t like
- Tell me what puzzled you
- Tell me about patterns you noticed
These simple requests will do so much more than asking a child the most common question: Why? The Why? question can often be too big for a child to process. Chambers states that Why? can overwhelm a child because he assumes that the adult already knows the answer and is expecting something specific. Contrastingly, Tell me… frees a child from assumed expectations and allows him to generously articulate true responses.
Try using this approach while reading to your children, and see if more thoughtful and excited responses emerge in your book-talk. More posts on the specifics of the “Tell Me” approach will be coming soon!
Some dear friends gave my husband and I a copy of Honey for a Child’s Heart for our co-ed baby shower when we were expecting our Bucca. This book by Gladys Hunt offers helpful advice on how parents can encourage reading and, more importantly, cultivate rich experiences for children through books. As someone interested in experiential children’s literature, this book was a welcome addition to our library.
The title of the book implies the basics that parents offer to their children: milk represents a child’s physical needs and honey represents the richness of life. While many parents are primarily concerned with providing the milk, the honey is just as important. Hunt states:
To give honey, one must love honey and have it to give. Good books are rich in honey, and hence the title of this book. (25)
While the first part of the book is interested in providing guidance to parents on how to create growth through books, the second part contains reading lists based on a child’s age. While I’m not one to segment books to children based on only their age (I believe that books – and toys for that matter – should be chosen based on the uniqueness and individual nature of the child), I am thankful for Hunt’s suggestions. The first book list is for children ages 0-3, and I hope to expose Bucca to all of the books in her first three years through frequent visits to the library. I thought I had curated quite a beginning book collection for Stella, but to my surprise, we only have three books recommended on Hunt’s 0-3 list:
- Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
I’m excited to take Bucca through this list and record her reactions and responses to the books recommended in Honey for a Child’s Heart. Hey…I’ll take any opportunity to read more books to her! More to come!
Lindsay (and Bucca)