Early literacy development

July 19, 2011

This might be the most gorgeous description of a reader, just on the cusp of reading on her own:

At her age, "reading to yourself" means "reading out loud." Silent reading is perhaps a year away. I get caught up in listening. Can't help it! Such a delight, those confident trotting sentences and then the stumble, the try and re-try and a tap on my arm, "Mommy, what's this word?"...

May 23, 2011

I don't remember learning to read, really, but I do remember the warmth and pleasure when my mother read aloud to us as children. I was reminded of the power of books shared early and often when I saw a Mother's Day video done by First Book.

...

March 14, 2011

Ideas worth spreading is the tagline for TED, a website that provides "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world." If you are not familiar with the TED site, you should go visit it! I've watched some truly amazing talks on there, ones that I think about for days afterward. Here are two new talks I watched recently that have really...

February 8, 2011

February marks the month where most preschools ask families to re-enroll for next year. For parents of 4 year olds with summer or early fall birthdays, the question looms: Should she stay or should she go, to kindergarten? Since writing this post about our family's decision four years ago, many readers have commented in sharing their own...

January 11, 2011

While teachers experience their "real" New Year every August when they meet their new class, the mid-point of January also marks a chance to revisit, reflect, and ramp up efforts in the calendar New Year.

As a teacher or parent to a developing reader, I encourage you to think about and develop some resolutions for the New Year that will further the reading skills of the readers you work...

October 27, 2010

Richard Gentry and Steve Graham reaffirm the research about the importance of spelling and handwriting instruction in a new white paper. I'll write about the spelling research in a separate post, this one will focus on handwriting.

Teaching kids to write upper and lower-...

October 13, 2010

We can all agree that classrooms are busy places, with little time to spare. As teachers, we have to get the most we can out of every instructional minute. Doing so enables us to structure the day with time for more exploration, discovery, invention, and dare we say play?

There are few things that sap more instructional time than teaching a Letter of the Week (LOTW). I'm sorry to my...

September 8, 2010

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....

July 12, 2010

Moms and Dads walked in, clutching the hand of a 5 or 6 year old who anxiously looked around the lobby. Nervous chatter, excited whispers, reassuring pats on the back, and a few tears. "Let's find your nametag!" Today was the first day of kindergarten camp at our school, a week designed to let our incoming kindergartners "kick the tires" on their new school.

Our kindergarten...

January 6, 2010

Happy New Year! January is a great time to look ahead, but I also like to revisit the past to remember some highlights. Several blog topics seemed to resonate with readers (using comments as a barometer), and for me that provides guidance about other topics I should write about in the coming year.

The topic of ...

December 1, 2009

The latest edition of Literacy Lava, a newsletter for parents and caregivers, is available in PDF form here.

From the editor:In this third edition of Literacy Lava, you'll find ideas for promoting literacy through inexpensive activities you can do...

October 20, 2009

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,...

August 26, 2009

This writing sample comes from a 5 year old boy in my neighborhood, who happily wrote a big long message one afternoon. "Wow, Nelson! What did you write?" Mom asked. Nelson looked at it, scrunched his nose, and said, "I dunno. Something about a butterfly, I think."

What this sample tells me:

This is a child who knows some letters! The sample contains just...

August 19, 2009

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...

July 8, 2009

Readers of this blog know that I love writing samples. I've collected them from my kids since they started scribbling, and I often ask friends and neighbors if I can make a copy of their kids notes, assignments, or scribbles.

Children learn about reading and writing from the time they're born. When young kids watch parents and siblings use writing to communicate, they are learning about...

July 8, 2009

I was reading a novel last night, a book called Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle (Holt). It's a tough subject even for the target reader (12 years and older) as the title suggests.

The telling, however, is filled with beautiful images that somehow...

June 2, 2009

All she wanted to do was clean my teeth and share new pictures of her 6-month-old little girl.

"She's very cute!" I mumbled, with Christina's hands in my mouth. "Do you read to her?" I asked.

"We do! Probably a book almost every day. But it's not like she understands what we say. It's sort of funny to do it."

There's nothing like a comment like that to get this...

March 20, 2009

Forty is a milestone for anyone, but it's especially impressive for a something that started out small, grew with each morsel consumed, went away for a while, and emerged to fly.

As you've probably guessed, it's the small green, very hungry, and ever-popular caterpillar, of course.

And the...

March 9, 2009

There are lots of blogs about teaching, children's literature, and raising readers. This week there's a new way to see some of what is out there: a blog tour of practical, usable, everyday ideas for working with readers.

The Share a Story — Shape a Future blog...

March 3, 2009

It's that time of year when parents are facing a tough decision: another year of preschool for their child with a summer birthday? Or send them to kindergarten as one of the youngest in the class?

We faced this very decision in our family. Twice. Molly's birthday is August 13; Anna's is July 2. Two summer babies, two very different children. I've blogged about this...

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"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb