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Early literacy development

You had a lot to say about...

Happy New Year! January is a great time to look ahead, but I also like to revisit the past to remember some highlights. Several blog topics seemed to resonate with readers (using comments as a barometer), and for me that provides guidance about other topics I should write about in the coming year.

Literacy Lava 3 is here!

The latest edition of Literacy Lava, a newsletter for parents and caregivers, is available in PDF form here.

Reading at home: "You either get angry or you can bribe them"

Last week's blog post about Accelerated Reader generated some great comments, both here on the blog and also on our Facebook page. I love that the audience for this blog appears to be a combination of parents, teachers, principals, reading specialists, grandparents, special education teachers, graduate students….

A comment from last week's post inspired this week's title. Alex's comment was a dead-on piece of reality:

Looking at writing: An emergent writer

This writing sample comes from a 5 year old boy in my neighborhood, who happily wrote a big long message one afternoon. "Wow, Nelson! What did you write?" Mom asked. Nelson looked at it, scrunched his nose, and said, "I dunno. Something about a butterfly, I think."

writing sample 2

What this sample tells me:

Do more than read...talk!

Teaching by Listening, a study from the July 2009 journal Pediatrics, is all about the contribution of adult-child conversations to a child's language development. This piece, along with other research, documents the effect of language in the home on a child's vocabulary. Without question, kids who hear more words spoken at home learn more words and enter school with better vocabularies.

Looking at writing: What can we learn?

Readers of this blog know that I love writing samples. I've collected them from my kids since they started scribbling, and I often ask friends and neighbors if I can make a copy of their kids notes, assignments, or scribbles.

Children learn about reading and writing from the time they're born. When young kids watch parents and siblings use writing to communicate, they are learning about the purpose and value of writing. Many children become interested in making marks and scribbling on paper beginning around 18 months.

Lovely words

I was reading a novel last night, a book called Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle (Holt). It's a tough subject even for the target reader (12 years and older) as the title suggests.

My poor dental hygienist

All she wanted to do was clean my teeth and share new pictures of her 6-month-old little girl.

"She's very cute!" I mumbled, with Christina's hands in my mouth. "Do you read to her?" I asked.

"We do! Probably a book almost every day. But it's not like she understands what we say. It's sort of funny to do it."

There's nothing like a comment like that to get this reading specialist to sit up in the chair and start talking. And talk we did!

A birthday of note

Forty is a milestone for anyone, but it's especially impressive for a something that started out small, grew with each morsel consumed, went away for a while, and emerged to fly.

As you've probably guessed, it's the small green, very hungry, and ever-popular caterpillar, of course.

Share a Story — Shape a Future blog tour

There are lots of blogs about teaching, children's literature, and raising readers. This week there's a new way to see some of what is out there: a blog tour of practical, usable, everyday ideas for working with readers.

The Share a Story — Shape a Future blog tour event begins March 9, 2009 and lasts one week. There's a specific theme each day, and each day a group of bloggers will sharing ideas around that theme.

Pages

"There is no frigate like a book, to take us lands away" — Emily Dickinson