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Reading together

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.)

Why folk and fairy tales?

I'm frequently reminded that we want to sanitize the world for children, protect them from ugly truths. And, I suppose it's possible to some extent. But how do we help young children cope with the world that they live in without totally isolating them?

Maybe by introducing children to traditional tales while allowing them to take charge of the stories — like two remarkable teachers I know did recently.

Mother-daughter book clubs

I like the concept of mother–daughter book clubs, and I think my girls would like it, but I'm barely holding on to my own book club right now! The thought of another one scares me off. But as my older daughter inches toward puberty, I'm starting to believe that this might be the perfect time to form one. We've got some things to talk about! Maybe doing it with friends nearby would make it easier.

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"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables