Marshmallow Mondays

Early Literacy
09.02.13, 8:46 AM
Filed under: Reading | Tags: , ,

Today’s post features a guest writer named Sarah McAlanis, who discusses the importance of literacy at an early age.  Most of you know how much of a reader Lily has become at just three years old, so I couldn’t agree with Sarah more on how strong of an impact reading to infants can have on their development.

Meet Sarah.

1012528_444270115686499_467489274_n(1)My name is Sarah McAlanis.  I am a 2000 graduate of Tri-Valley High School.  I graduated from Bloomsburg University in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a bachelor’s degree in Special Education.  I also earned certification to teach English in grades seven through twelve in Pennsylvania schools.  Since 2004, I have been employed by Millersburg Area High School as a Special Education teacher.  In December of 2008, I graduated from Bloomsburg University with my master’s degree in Reading.  I graduated in December of 2012 from Walden University with my second master’s degree in Special Education. 

I have always been an avid reader and a life long learner.  My favorite genres are mysteries, thrillers, and twist novels.  My favorite authors are Gregory Maguire, Mary Higgins Clark, and Phillipa Gregory.  My favorite past times are spending time with my wonderful husband George, our six month old son, George III, and rescued Saint Bernard, Delilah.

The Importance of Literacy.

As Bridgit has stated in many of her previous blogs, reading is an essential skill for everyone.  Even though reading is promoted consistently, many people do not realize how early reading should be introduced to children.

The day my husband and I found out that I was expecting, I began reading and talking to my child. In my graduate studies, I learned that children who are exposed to reading on a regular basis are less likely to have learning disabilities.  My studies recommended that from day one of a baby being born, reading to him/her is essential to developing language and reading skills.  The reason to begin reading to a child so early is so that the child will hear the tone and expression in your voice and the sounds that words make.  This is also why rhyming books and repetitive books such as “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” assist a child in hearing repetitive sounds and in word recognition as he or she gets older. So, I read aloud many nursery rhymes and fairy tales.

From the moment I gave birth, I have held my son on my lap as I read to him and I point to each word I read so that he sees each word.  This will assist his language development later in life.  I also talk to him about each of the pictures that he sees.  For instance, if there is a dog in the picture, I talk to him about what a dog is and compare the dog in the book to our dog.  I also talk to him about sounds a dog makes and behaviors that a dog exhibits.

Also, singing to a child is a wonderful way to promote language.  As I sing to my son daily, I print the lyrics to the lullabies that I sing to him and point to each word.  He also loves our bedtime routine of a story, a prayer, and lullabies after his bath and before bed. As a result of all of this, my son responded to my voice immediately when he was born.


Summer Reading

Today’s post is dedicated to summer reading.  I know, I know, reading is probably the very last thing your kids want to do in the summer time, but it is so very important!  Aside from keeping their reading skills sharp and expanding their vocabulary, it’s also a great rainy day activity as well as a fantastic alternative to computer games and television.

TalesFourth7Rydan actually has summer reading homework for fourth grade.  He is reading Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, and has a question worksheet to fill out upon finishing the book, which he must then take to school on the first day of fourth grade.  Some may disagree with me, but I fully support summer reading homework.  Here’s why:

  • It encourages reading as a habit.
  • It’s an opportunity to continue practice reading, which in turn can result in improved reading skills.
  • It keeps reading skills fresh.
  • It can generate new interest in books and the library.
  • It’s an opportunity for family time (reading together, book discussion, activities related to the book, etc.)

Again, I realize that reading is not always a priority in the summer time.  If you’re struggling to get your child to read, consider checking out one of these websites, which offer FREE read aloud options.  Listening to a book helps children develop better concentration and listening skills, as well as engages their imagination.

Soar With Reading
07.16.12, 8:45 AM
Filed under: Reading | Tags: , , , , ,

Here’s a great opportunity to help a child need, and all you have to do is share the name of your favorite children’s book.

Soar With Reading, a collaborative effort by JetBlue and PBS Kids, is an award-winning program designed to  excite and inspire kids’ imaginations to take flight through reading. 

Unfortunately, too many children don’t have access to resources that enrich learning and encourage reading. A recent study shows that there is only one age-appropriate book available for every 300 children living in underserved communities in the United States. 

Because JetBlue and PBS Kids understand this problem, together they have launched a new grant program called Soar With Reading, which is designed to provide books directly to the children who need them most. 

Simply share the name of your favorite children’s book, and for every submission, JetBlue will donate an age-appropriate book to a child in need through their partner Barefoot Books.  Just click here to visit their website and make your submission.  In doing so, you’ll be helping Soar With Reading reach their goal of donating $200,000 worth of books to children in need.  It’s quick and so easy!

Teachers and parents, this webiste also offers some really great literacy based games and activities for young readers.  Check them out!

Summer Reading

It’s hard to believe that Rydan has just three days left of school.  With school starting here in mid-August, kids get an earlier start to their summer than what Rydan was used to in Pennsylvania.  Today is Field Day, Tuesday is a day off, and then he’ll officially begin summer vacation on Thursday when he steps off the bus at 2:45pm.  I know he is very excited to sleep in, watch Monday Night Raw, visit the community pool, and spend time with his neighborhood friends. 

In the mix of that, I hope to keep his reading skills sharp.  That’s why today I’m sharing a few lists of recommended children’s books, so that you can keep your own bookworms reading over the summer too.

Here’s a great list to start reviewing.  It’s the Top 100 Children’s Books of All Time. How many are in your child’s library?  We have 17 of them, but I’m pretty sure we’ve read almost half of the books on the list.  Rydan brought many of them home from his school library.  This is a really helpful list if you’re looking for some old favorites that you might have forgotten about.  Our personal favorites on this list are Goodnight Moon, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Going To Bed Book, Stellaluna, The Tale Of Peter Rabbit, The Runaway Bunny, Rainbow Fish, and Miss Nelson Is Missing.

Next, it’s 75 Books That Build Character. This list is sure to have some new titles to check out, and they’re also great conversation starters about important life lessons.

And though I’m not a very big advocate for entertaining kids with technology instead of playing outside, visiting local attractions, or reading together, I realize that certain forms of technology can be very beneficial to kids.  That’s why I’m sharing this last list, The 40 Best iPad Apps For Young Learners.  As noted in the introduction to this list, “For every Angry Birds there’s an educational game out there to improve your child’s mind.”  These appps do just that.

Summer Reading Challenges

Now that the school year is over, kids are looking forward to all sorts of fun summer activities and vacations.  Reading can easily fall off a child’s list of priorities once he or she steps outside of the classroom.  Here are two ways to challenge your little bookworms to continue reading throughout the summer months. 

Barnes & Noble – Kids earn a FREE book when they read any 8 books.  Simply download the reading journal from B&N’s website and record your child’s books.  Then turn in the completed journal at any B&N store to receive a free book.

Borders Books – Kids earn a FREE book when they read any 10 books.  Simply download the form from Borders’ website and record your child’s books.  Then turn in the completed form at any Borders store to receive a free book.

Don’t forget to check out your public library too!  They almost always offer summer reading programs.  R ydan and Lily are signed up for quite a few events at ours over the summer, including a Family Storytime, an Alpaca Storytime (with a real alpaca!), a special Baby Storytime for Miss Lily, and a storytime with Cylo from the Lancaster Barnstormers for Rydan.

If you are doing something fun and creative over the summer to challenge your little one to keep reading, tell us about it!

Special Delivery

There it was in the mailbox… a big, bright blue envelope with Rydan’s name on it.  Lily and I saw it when we took our afternoon walk down the lane and back.  I would have left it for Rydan to get out himself, except it was so big that the post lady had to leave the mailbox door hanging open. 

Rydan could barely contain his excitement when he got home from school and saw the envelope waiting for him on the kitchen counter.  He knew it was the package he’d been waiting for from The Lollipop Book Club.  Remembering that his gift certificate from Santa allowed him to purchase two books, he said “I wonder which book it is!  And I wonder what kind of lollipop I’ll get!”

Ready to tear it open.

Revealing… Where The Wild Things Are and of course, a big monkey lollipop.

Stay tuned for another special delivery arriving next month from The Lollipop Book Club!

Kids Reading Month
03.14.11, 7:55 AM
Filed under: Events, Reading | Tags: , , ,

Even though we’re just about halfway through the month of March, we thought it was important to mention that March is Kids Reading Month at Borders.  If you’re looking for something educational and fun to do with your children, be sure to check out the events going on now through April at Borders.  Teach kids about the impact of charitable donations, enjoy a Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie celebration and have some fun with LEGOS.  More information can be found at their website, or just click here

In conjunction with Kids Reading Month, Rydan has been doing quite a bit of reading as well.  He is currently working on reading four books so that he can get a free ticket to a Lancaster Barnstormers game in May.  This was something he took part in with his classmates last year, so he’s anxious to go see the Barnstormers again.  So far he’s read one of his favorites, Goodnight Goon, as well as Funny Farm, without much help from me.  I am always surprised and impressed by the new words that Rydan can pronounce on his own.  He’s also working on reading other books at school to earn his ticket to a Senators game in June, so he has quite a bit to look forward to in the next couple of months!

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