Reading together

There’s power in words. There is even more power in words that are strung together to tell a story. Stories reveal truths, encourage exploration, generate curiosity, and more. They become a connective tissue between time, people, cultures, and experiences.

There’s special power in a story shared aloud.

A few weeks ago, I witnessed an author reading to an all-adult audience. The specifics don’t matter as much as what I witnessed. Not a sound could be heard in the auditorium of over 300. The only sound was the author’s voice weaving a tale that held listeners rapt.

Becky Koons is a Senior Resident Services Manager with AHC Inc. at the Woodbury Park Community Center in Arlington, Virginia. AHC’s Summer Camp program is designed to prevent learning loss — a particular challenge for low-income students — through both educational and enrichment experiences.

How can we teach children about one of our most important natural resources? Gaynelle Diaz combines lots of reading with art, hands-on activities, and field trips to jumpstart a summer full of learning about water and our local rivers.

James Ransome and Lesa Cline-Ransome have been writing and illustrating together and individually for many years. And their work continues to grow and evolve. Perhaps James said it best: “What makes illustrating books so exciting is that because each book has a special voice, my approach toward each is different. Whether it be through my choice of palette, design or perspective, there is always a desire to experiment and explore what makes each book unique.”

Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome

This may be the season for celebrations, family travel, and out-of-town guests, but it is also a great time of year to engage kids in all kinds of joyful and meaningful learning experiences. To help make the most of winter break, Reading Rockets’ sister project, Start with a Book provides parents and caring adults with ideas and activities for fun and meaningful interactions around books and things of kid interest.

Story can do a lot to inspire kids to engage with the natural world. What can you do to get kids outside? Kit Ballenger has some ideas that all start with a book!

What do you see when you look at an American flag? What do its colors, stars and stripes call to mind?

“Blue sky/White Stars …”, red and white rows evoke more than simply a flag. It can represent a country’s landscape, its history, and most important, the people who together create one nation, beautiful in their diversity.

Sometimes we need a reminder that big changes in our world often start with small actions. Books can be that perfect reminder, especially for kids who connect with a particular character or find inspiration in fiction and nonfiction about ordinary people who stand up for what's right.

The sense of wonder that nature provides is exactly the curiosity you want your child to bring to a book. Even if you are limited to exploring your backyard or the local park, there are many simple ways to spend enjoyable times reading and learning together in the great outdoors.

Gene and his good friend and creative collaborator, Thien Pham (Level Up), just started a book club, inspired by their newfound love of YA romance novels. In their first book club get-together, they talk about Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, a love story of two young people from different worlds. Are Eleanor and Park are too young for "true love"? Would their relationship  be different today (the book is set in the 80's)? What are the three words Eleanor writes on the postcard to Park at the very end of the book?

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"The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can't." — Mark Twain