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Reading together

Slightly spooky books are fun now -- and later

I'm the kind of adult who does not (emphasize not) like scary movies. I stopped reading scary books after I read a Stephen King novel that gave me nightmares.

So if you like the type of books that give you major creeps, then don't bother reading any more. But if you're up for not-too-creepy books to share with the children in your lives, you may find an idea or so here.

Reading at home: "You either get angry or you can bribe them"

Last week's blog post about Accelerated Reader generated some great comments, both here on the blog and also on our Facebook page. I love that the audience for this blog appears to be a combination of parents, teachers, principals, reading specialists, grandparents, special education teachers, graduate students….

A comment from last week's post inspired this week's title. Alex's comment was a dead-on piece of reality:

Building comprehension, one corpse at a time

A runaway train. A ticking clock. Two young kids on an adventure they don't even know about. Sound exciting? That's the premise of the first episode of the Exquisite Corpse, a new project sponsored by The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

From the Exquisite Corpse site:

A time to remember

The anniversary of 9/11 is here. The impact continues to be felt in subtle and not so subtle ways. One day changed our society and frankly, our world — the world of our children.

Older children and adults can grasp — to some degree at least — what caused these changes. But young children don't have the reservoir of experience to make sense of it.

When 9/11 first happened, my son returned to books in which the weak were able to gain power over stronger forces. To him, books provided a sense of control.

First day jitters

Vacation is over. Many schools across the country opened this week. All will start within the next week or so.

Whatever kind of school children attend, no matter what grade they're in, the first day is the first day — always a source of nervousness and excitement.

I remember posing for photographs my mother insisted on taking every first day of school. My sister and I are in the same dorky pose — hand up in a wave, walking toward the sidewalk in fresh school clothes.

Do more than read...talk!

Teaching by Listening, a study from the July 2009 journal Pediatrics, is all about the contribution of adult-child conversations to a child's language development. This piece, along with other research, documents the effect of language in the home on a child's vocabulary. Without question, kids who hear more words spoken at home learn more words and enter school with better vocabularies.

Mission Impossible meets Viola Swamp

What happens when a perfectly dreadful adult is forced to deal with a talented albeit unusual group of children? A very funny, offbeat book by Newbery Medalist Paul Fleischman called The Dunderheads (Candlewick).

Books as play

Recently I was looking for a birthday gift for a soon-to-be five year old girl. As I wandered into the toy department of a well known chain store, I was struck by the number of toys that included some kind of electronic noise or light — a gimmick to grab attention.

I heard guitars without strings, came across talking dolls (fuzzy and not), and even digital cameras for the very young. There were animals that talked, clocks that asked questions, and more.

Forty years strong

Are awards for children's books useful? What can they do in a real sense?

Children's publishing is a crowded field and for many, awards can help identify not only critically valuable books but help identify new and interesting work.

When it first started some 40 years ago, the Coretta Scott King was intended to recognize the work of African American authors and illustrators. It continues to do so and since 1995, the John Steptoe New Talent Award encourages and recognizes new authors and illustrators.

Anniversaries of note

Summer of this year marks several things worth remembering. Some are happy anniversaries, others not so at all.

What do these events mean to children? Are they relevant to them in any way at all? What do stories — real or fictional — offer to children? Can they inspire as well as inform?

It was in July 1969 that Neil Armstrong left the relative safety of his spacecraft to walk on the moon. Many books are available about Apollo 11, about the moon itself and this special anniversary.

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"A book is a gift you can open again and again." — Garrison Keillor