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Do as I say, not as I do

I heard that expression for the first time when my mom was teaching me to drive. She has a bit of a lead foot, and had gotten a spate of speeding tickets when I was a teenager. The new driver that I was, I stepped on the gas to reach the speed limit as quickly as possible. She turned to me and said, "Do as I say, not as I do, especially when it comes to driving!"

I find myself using that same expression these days as I talk to parents about reading to their kids: Do as I say, not as I do. Yes, it's true...I haven't been reading to my girls.

'Tis the season to read and write

Like everyone, we're in for a busy couple of weeks. Our homework and storytime routines sometimes get pushed aside, and at first I was feeling guilty about that. But when I think about how the girls are spending their time, there's plenty of reading, writing, and math going on...it just looks different! Here's how Anna spent her afternoon yesterday on the computer:

Dear Santa,

I don't care what they read, or do I?

I don't care what they read as long as they are reading.

There's some food for thought! Is that true? It doesn't matter what they read as long as they're reading?

Big trouble, written down

Something I never thought I'd hear...

"Joanne, this is Mrs. Z from school. Anna's bringing home a note today. I thought I'd give you a head's up."

Oh boy. It seems Anna had trouble including someone in a game on the playground yesterday. What a sad "backpack unpack" we had... Anna was distraught to have to show us the letter she wrote describing the incident. Here she was, fresh with new writing powers, needing to use them to write about her trouble at school. Darn it.

What we're reading aloud at home

I thought I'd share our summer family read alouds...maybe you're looking for a good chapter book to share with your kids?

I have two basic criteria for our read alouds: (1) I pick books that are just beyond Molly's reading level. That way, I'm reading books that expand her vocabulary and thinking while exposing her to books that would be too much for her to tackle on her own, and (2) I pick books I have recently read (or re-read) and am excited about. I know my enthusiasm is contagious — once we start a book we have a tough time putting it down!

Magazines for kids

Sitting strapped into a car seat seems pretty boring to me, and both Molly and Anna agree. We had the brainstorm last week to move all our kids magazines into the cubbies on the seat backs in the minivan. What a great idea! The girls grab one almost every time we get in the car these days, and the magazine articles and jokes are just the right length for our car trips around town. Even issues they've read before seem new again in the car.

Still Touching Touchpoints

As a new mom, I feverishly read just about every parenting book I could get my hands on. Why wasn't Molly sleeping through the night? Why did she crawl on her belly rather than on all fours? Were her utterances in line with language milestones? Really, I must have driven my husband, friends, sisters and colleagues nuts with my conversation!

Cats on Mats: Beginning readers

Anna started to read last week. She's been gathering lots of prerequisite skills along the way, and last week I saw the light bulb go on. "Mom," she asked, "can you make me a pile of books that I can read? I want them on my nightstand, like you have." What mom-former-teacher-university-professor could turn down that offer? So, we gathered. Mind you, Anna wasn't interested in gathering books she had already memorized. She wants the kind she has to work on. She treats sounding out words as a game. So here are some of the ones we gathered.

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase