Posts Tagged ‘Born to Read’

Born to Read: Print Awareness

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

What the heck is “print awareness”?

Print awareness is a skill that children who are not yet reading can develop in which they start to notice printed text and understands how a book works.

Your child will learn that books have a cover, an author, that they are read from top to bottom and left to right, that pages are read in order, that they use words and pictures to tell the story & more.

There are several easy ways to help your child develop their print awareness skills.

  • Point out signs while you are driving, walking or at the grocery store.
  • Explain that signs help us know where things are and how to get to places.
  • While sharing books, point to words as you read them so that your child learns that you are reading the words and not the pictures.
  • Let your child turn the pages as you read.
  • If a book has a word or phrase that repeats, point to it and let the child say it. Check out this list of books with repetition.
  • Hold a book upside down and see if your child knows it needs to be turned around.
  • Read books that include words or print as part of the pictures.

Check out this list of suggested books for developing print awareness skills.

Or learn about the other 5 early literacy skills that will help your child learn to read, including Print Motivation, Letter Knowledge, Phonological Awareness, Narrative Skills and Vocabulary.

Born to Read: Focus on Print Motivation

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Learning to read is not just about working and learning, learning to read is also about having fun!

There are 6 early literacy skills that will help your child learn to read, including:

Print motivation is your child’s interest in and enjoyment of books. Children who enjoy books and reading will want to learn to read themselves and will likely read more.

This is the easiest skill to work on – just make reading time fun! Anytime you have fun reading with your baby, toddler, or preschooler, you are reinforcing positive feelings about reading and developing print motivation.

  • Read often and keep the experience positive.
  • Let your child see you enjoying a book.
  • Never force your child to read.
  • Come and enjoy a fun story time at the library, such as Saturday Tales!
  • Read in small chunks if your child can’t sit still for a whole book.
  • Read to your child while he or she is playing – you may think they’re not listening, but they probably are.

Check out this list of suggested books for developing print motivation skills.

Gather ‘Round the Fire!

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Some of my favorite childhood memories include my family and a big bonfire.  Sometimes we’d make s’mores, sometimes we’d sing or tell stories, and sometimes we’d just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. 

Imagine my surprise when, as an adult, I learned that those fun times had a hand in building literacy skills.  As you probably know from many previous posts, singing is a great tool for building phonological awareness because the different notes break words down into smaller parts.  And telling stories is a great way to work on narrative skills, which are an essential first step towards reading comprehension.

So there’s your excuse for some good ol’ quality time around the fire with the kids.  It’s not only fun, it’s a learning experience in disguise.  So break out your guitar (or just check out some CDs with great songs for kids), check out some great books for reading aloud or storytelling, and wait for sun down.

And don’t forget about Family Campfire at the library — we’ve got the stories, songs, and (fake) fire, with none of the bugs!

How to Operate Your New Book

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

I wasn’t going to do another picture book review for a while, but my Move with Music kids’ reaction this morning to My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall made me rethink my position.

I confess, I didn’t pick this book for storytime.  In fact, the first time I read it I thought, “Eh.”  It was cute, but I didn’t see anything special about it.  It’s just about a bunch of animals.  “My heart is like a zoo — eager as a beaver, steady as a yak,” etc., etc., etc., as the King of Siam would say.  That’s been done before.

But for reasons I cannot explain, the kids loved it.  Sometimes that just happens.  Even better, this also happens to be a great book for several of the early literacy skills.  The fact that the kids loved it, well there’s your print motivation (interest in and enjoyment of books) right there.

And all the animals are composed almost entirely of hearts.  As you may recall from this post, shape recognition is the first step of letter knowledge.  Kids need to be able to pick out the differences in shapes in order to recognize letters and subsequently assign meaning to them.  And of course the kids had so much fun pointing out all the different hearts in the pictures:  “The feet are hearts!  And the nose is a heart!  And look, the bee’s wings are hearts!”  That alone is super cute, once you get past the grown up tendency to shout, “Yes, they’re ALL hearts!”

The text is in rhyme, which is great for phonological awareness (hearing and playing with the smaller sounds in words).  That is, if you can hear the text over all the shouts of locating hearts all over the place.  All that talking, by the way, does great things for your kid’s narrative skills (ability to tell a story).

And finally, this is a great vocabulary book for several reasons.  You’ve got all the different animals, some of which are a bit unusual such as heron, yak and hornet.  And the text itself is a bit adventurous.  The fox is crafty.  There’s a gloomy lone coyote walking in the fog.  The peaceful portly walrus is lounging on a towel.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t use these words very frequently, and I don’t often see them in kids’ books.

So here’s this great, multi-faceted book that I would have completely overlooked had it not been for the programming prowess of Mr. Michael.  Which leads to the title of this post.  Although I often wish they did, books don’t come with owner’s manuals.  But with a little creativity, even seemingly simple books can offer big learning opportunities!

And by the way, Move with Music is just about over for the season.  If you just can’t wait until fall to get your groove on again, check out Get Musical this summer!

Early Literacy Tip: Best Books for Narrative Skills

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Last week’s book review mentioned narrative skills, so I thought I’d take a moment to give you a little more information.  A child who can describe things and events and tell a story has well developed narrative skills.  Being able to talk about and explain what happens in a story helps a child understand what he is reading.  In other words, good narrative skills lead to good reading comprehension.

This is the most difficult of the early literacy skills to work on, largely because it requires the most parental involvement!  The easiest way to work on your child’s narrative skills is to talk to her — or more appropriately, have her talk to you — as much as possible.  Ask her about her about her day, then ask questions to get her to explain even more.  Have her “read” you a wordless picture book.  Read a book with a repeating theme and ask your child to predict what will happen next.  Read a book a couple of times, then ask your child to tell it back to you in their own words.  Check out our narrative skills page for even more suggestions!

More great books for building narrative skills!

Early Literacy Tip: Best Books for Print Awareness

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Print Awareness simply means that your child notices print, understands that it means something, and knows how to handle a book.  Children with well developed print awareness know how to hold a books the right way up, that books have a cover, a front and back, and eventually understand that we read from from top to bottom and left to right.

An easy way to help develop your child’s print awareness is to occassionally point to words as you read them.  Let your child turn the pages as you read.  Books with different sized or expressive text, or signs and words as part of the illustrations, also draw the child’s eye.  Find a book with a phrase that repeats and have your child help say it when you point to it. 

Or try this silly tip — open a book upside down and say, “That’s funny, I can’t read this book!  I wonder what’s wrong.”  If your child can’t figure it out right away, say, “Oh, look, it’s upside down!  Silly me!”   Be sure to point out the text and illustrate what it looks like upside down and right way up.

It’s also easy to work on print awareness without books.  Words are everywhere!  Point out street signs, signs in the grocery store, or print on the cereal box.  For more early literacy tips, check out our Born to Read pages.

More great print awareness books!

Stuck in a Rut

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Ahhh, days are getting longer, trees are budding, the air is a little warmer…it’s Spring!  Break out of your winter doldrums with some books about being stuck

Then dance to “Stick to the Glue” by Jim Gill , “Sticky Bubble Gum” by Carole Peterson, or “Chew Chew Chew” and “Molasses Molasses” by the timeless Ella Fitzgerald.  Furthering a reading experience with related music is a great way to work on early literacy skills

And don’t forget to come to Saturday Tales for more fun ideas like this!

More books about getting stuck!

Early Literacy Tip: Best Books for Phonological Awareness

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

This early literacy skill might sound intimidating, but it’s actually quite fun!   Phonological awareness is simply the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words.  There are so many easy ways help your child develop phonological awareness!  Singing is great because words are broken into smaller chunks when the pitch moves up and down.  Rhyming is also great, and clapping on every syllable of a word is surprisingly fun for the kiddies.  Try this fun chant:

Who took the cookies from the cookie jar?
Who took the cookies from the cookie jar?
Who took the cookies from the cookie jar?
{Insert child’s name} took the cookies from the cookie jar! (clap on each syllable of child’s name)
Who, me?
Yes, you!
Couldn’t be!
Then who?
{Insert sibling’s name/mom/grandma, etc.} Took the cookies from the cookie jar!
Who, me?
Yes, you!
Couldn’t be!
Then who?
Continue with as many names as you want, then end with someone funny — daddy, or cookie monster, or Santa — taking all the cookies!

More great phonological awareness, rhyming, and nursery rhyme books!

More info on the six early literacy skills: print motivation, vocabulary, print awareness, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, and narrative skills.

Early Literacy Tip: Best Books for Letter Knowledge

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Gather ’round, ya’ll, it’s time for the next installment in our series of posts about the six early literacy skills: print motivation, vocabulary, print awareness, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, and narrative skills.

Letter knowledge is understanding that letters are different from one another, and that they have different names and sounds.  Older kids can work on this skill by reading fun alphabet books, picking out favorite letters on signs, or playing a game to see how many words they can think of that start with the same sound/letter.  You can work on early literacy skills anywhere and anytime with a little creativity!

Babies start developing letter knowledge by learning about shapes.  Think of it this way — the only difference between a lower case “n” and a lower case “h” is the height of the stem.  If your child is used to looking at shapes and can differentiate one from another, it’ll be much easier for them to pick out different letter shapes when the time comes.

More books for developing letter knowledge!

Early Literacy Tip: Best Books for Vocabulary

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

A few weeks ago, we introduced you to the six early literacy skills: print motivation, vocabulary, print awareness, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, and narrative skills.

Vocabulary is simply knowing the names of things.  The larger your child’s vocabulary the better they’ll be able to express themselves, avoiding unnecessary frustration.  When your child has the words to explain what they’re feeling, it’s easier on both of you.  Furthermore, children with larger vocabularies have a head start when they learn to read because it’s much easier to sound out words that are familiar to them.

More great books for developing vocabulary!  And don’t forget to check out our Born to Read page for more early literacy information and tips!