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Motivation

Why getting out matters

I remember many years ago sharing a book with photographs by Bruce MacMillan with a group of inner-city preschool children. They were bright and vivacious and eager to share what they knew.

While I no longer remember the title of the book, I'll never forget a little boy's response when I asked what the full-color image of a black and white cow was. He exclaimed with authority, "A dog!"

My teacher gives more homework

Do you ever hear this complaint? Kids know which teacher gives the most homework AND which teacher gives almost no homework at all. I think there are two issues here: how much homework is good? And should teachers at the same grade level give the same amount of homework?

A book on every bed this holiday

We started a new tradition in our family last year. We'll do it again this year, and I hope you'll consider adding this tradition to your family holiday too! It's a simple one: put a book on every bed.

Giving boys a love of reading

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that one blog in my RSS feed is written by Lisa Belkin. Belkin's blog, Parentlode, can be found in the Huffington Post. Many of Belkin's posts speak to me on a personal level, and some circle into my professional life as well.

When is a box not a box?

Recently I watched a small group of young children playing in a childcare center. There were toys and books and lots of other things around but that's not what held their attention.

What did? A large (particularly when compared to the children) cardboard box.

Let's leave the fun in learning

A staff member at a child care center I visited this week looked at me very skeptically when I said that we were going to have a good time together. I was there to introduce the staff to children's books and how media and hands-on activities help lay a firm literacy foundation.

For the next hour, we read, watched a short clip from a children's television program, sang, made noise, read some more, discussed educational benefits and generally had a good time. I was heartened when the skeptic in the group actually smiled.

"Hand-selling" children's books = engaged readers

The world is addicted to media and technology. Information whether accurate or not speeds from one corner of the globe to the other in a matter of minutes. Got a question? Google it. Want a book or music? Download it. Want to create a reader? Slow down.

Impact of teachers

Like most of us, I enjoy parties. And outdoor parties on glorious sunny days are among the best.

It was on just such a gorgeous day that, with young friend and his mom, I attended a book party to celebrate the publication of Katy Kelly's newest Melonhead (Delacorte) adventure. (To fully appreciate Adam Melon, you'll just have to read these engaging books — ideal for reading aloud to 6-8 year olds, by the way.)

The space between pictures and words

My newly 7 year old niece, now in the 2nd grade, is visiting us this week during her school district's professional days. She's reading like a champ, gobbling down various (and more difficult) chapter books — fiction and nonfiction — with great gusto.

But she reminded me of the joy of picture books and the pleasure in reading them together or independently for readers of all ages. Michaela's imagination soars in the space left between the pictures and the words.

Careful watching and listening during those first few days of school

First day jitters? First week jitters? Assessing kids those first few days and weeks of school probably isn't a great idea. Kids need a chance to settle in to school, to learn the new routine, and generally become more comfortable in the new classroom. Hopefully, by waiting, a child's assessment results more accurately reflect her true skills.

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"I used to walk to school with my nose buried in a book." — Coolio