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Early literacy development

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.

Kindergarten "red-shirting:" What about summer birthdays?

It's that time of year when parents are facing a tough decision: another year of preschool for their child with a summer birthday? Or send them to kindergarten as one of the youngest in the class?

TV for tweens

It's hard for me to believe that Molly is really a tween, but sometimes she sure acts like one!

This is never more apparent than when it comes to her TV habits. Our girls have never been allowed to watch much TV — maybe 30 minutes a day during the week, and lots of days the one set we own never gets turned on.

The Rats of NIMH: THAT'S how people learn to read?

Our current family read aloud is the classic book, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. We've just gotten to the Toy Tinker chapter, so don't tell me what happens! The girls are dying to come home from school today and hear more; my husband pleaded that we wait until he gets home so he can listen too.

23 words per minute

I have the pleasure of working one-on-one with several beginning readers, my own and a handful of others. There's nothing more amazing than sitting beside a new reader and listening to them as they "get" reading. It's something that you hear — their reading goes from word to word, choppy, and staccato-sounding to more phrasal, intonated, and just plain faster. But, how fast?

Words Correct per Minute (WCPM) is one way to determine a student's reading fluency. Quick probes based on carefully selected passages can help teachers screen, diagnose, and monitor students' progress.

Space, AKA Concept of Word

6:17 A.M.

Anna: Mama, you know how it says "The Solar System" on the wall of my classroom? Well, it really says 'The space solar space system space.'

Me: (Yawn) Um, what sweetie?

Anna: On the wall. It really says, "The space solar space system space." You know, you have to put a space in-between words otherwise it just says gobbledy-gook.

Me: Oh, right! Of course.

Anna: O.K.

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.

Should she stay or should she go (to kindergarten): Part 2

Thanks to everyone who commented online and offline to me about our kindergarten decision. It's comforting to know that other parents struggle with a similar decision. And after reading your comments and talking with friends, I'm even more convinced that it really is an "it depends on the child" decision (those kind drive new-ish moms like me crazy!).

Anyways, Anna is going. This fall. To kindergarten. On the bus. Yikes.

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"The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." — Abraham Lincoln