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Reading together

What books do

As in all families, ours occasionally has a disagreement. Though we may not be able to touch on hot-button topics, we can still talk about books and other things we are reading.

When I recently saw some young children I know, whose family is going through a tough time, we talked about Halloween — and books. In a school where I'm working with teenaged parents of young children, we connect over books we share.

Books. They open doors to experiences that can be shared between people of different backgrounds, of diverse ages, and even between readers and nonreaders.

Picture books on the decline?

A recent New York Times article reveals that picture books are no longer as popular as they once were; that sales are down, that parents are often looking to chapter books to propel their children forward educationally, perhaps for what is considered more sophisticated literary or educational experiences.

Stuff and nonsense.

Remembering books

I found a recent article in the The New York Times entitled "The Plot Escapes Me" was particularly intriguing. Its author, James Collins, laments the fact that he can't remember the specifics of the books he reads; however, he continues to associate with the books "an atmosphere and a stray image or two, like memories of trips I took as a child."

My guess is that he's not alone in this. I know I remember the ride of reading but sometimes no more than the book's title.

Got to or get to?

Do children feel that they've got to read or that they get to read? There is a difference.

Last week I wrote about what Peter Dickinson called "rubbish" and letting kids read a fair amount of it. Adults often feel strongly about what children read. They may love or loathe certain children's books — and adults are generally the ones who put books into children's hands. But their response can vastly differ from children's responses to the same material.

Love 'em or hate 'em, some books are here to stay

A recent article in the New York Times magazine was sent to me by my fellow blogger, Joanne Meier.

The title grabbed me immediately "Children's Books You (Might) Hate." Aren't there books we've come across that we just love to hate? I have a few.… well, maybe more than a few.

The value of mixed practice in teaching reading

Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits is a timely reminder about a few techniques that can reliably improve how much a student learns from studying. Techniques include alternating study environments, spacing study sessions, self testing, and mixing content.

The summer song of cicadas

There's a special sound to late summer. The air almost seems to vibrate with the songs of insects.

I was walking down the sidewalk earlier today and came across a shell of a really ugly (at least in my opinion) critter. But I recognized it as that of a totally harmless cicada, one of the likely music makers.

Library of the mind

Do you remember a book from your early childhood? Which one? Why do you remember it?

I remember The Poky Little Puppy (Golden Books) and others fondly; I also remember my mother's soft skin and gentle fragrance as I snuggled next to her while she read. Was it the book (older than I am but still available)? Could it have been how it was shared?

Reading Buddies

Kids love to read to someone. It's good for kids to read their writing out loud, to practice their Reader's Theater scripts with, or to rehearse a book they want to read to the class or to their reading group.

Summer book swap

What do you do when a child wants to read a book that's too sophisticated or you feel is plain inappropriate for them?

That's the dilemma a friend of mine confronted when her six-year-old son wanted to read a book that he could easily decode but that is probably most appropriate for upper elementary to middle school children. So she called me. (She knew her son — like most kids — would probably listen to a neutral but trusted third party more than he'd listen to his own mom.)

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"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them." — Lemony Snicket