Archive for ‘Books’

April 7, 2012

“Puzzle Me This” – My New Children’s Book!!

Some of you might have already heard the news, but I just wanted to let you know that I have written a children’s book!

One morning back in 2006, I woke up with the words to Puzzle Me This in my head.  It wasn’t until this past summer I realized that my daughter Genevieve could do the illustrations. It was very exciting and fun to create this book together.

Puzzle Me This will be enjoyed by all ages, but was specifically designed for young children. Your little one will enjoy solving puzzles, rhyming, pretend play, and touch & trace, all while learning colors, numbers, and new words!

As simple and homemade as it seems, it is a book that I really believe in, and I hope it will be a worthwhile addition to your home library.

Another exciting piece of news is that it is actually listed on amazon.com., and you can view it by clicking here.

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December 12, 2011

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

When your children are young, say age 2,  you read them books that they won’t be able to read for themselves until they are at least 5 or 6.    Why do we stop doing this?  When your children are older and can read to themselves, we stop reading to them.  Why?

If you are anything like me, when I starting teaching my oldest her letters, sounds, and then words, I began reading her more and more books that were closer to her reading level than to her listening level.  I hadn’t realized what a mistake I was making until I read the advice provided in Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook.  In fact, Trelease goes as far as to say, “You are insulting a 6-year-old’s brain cells if you are still reading them Cat in the Hat or Hop on Pop.”  Notice the logo on these books that says, “I Can Read It All by Myself.”  They should be practicing reading it to you, not vice versa. These books only have 225 words–words that your children have understood since they were 4.  Your 6-year-old has a 6,000 word vocabulary and can listen to stories with more intricate plots.

I’m sure you probably need no encouragement to read to your child; we all can agree that it is important.  What I want to share are concepts I learned from this book when I read it over a year ago that have absolutely bettered my life as a parent and strengthened my bond with my girls.

Take-Away #1: Read 3-4 years ahead of your child’s grade/age.  Their “listening level” is much higher than their “reading level.

I didn’t really believe this concept when I first read it, but I thought it was worth a try.  I first read a great book called Stone Wolf by Robert Gardiner to my then kindergartener.  Not only could she understand it, she never wanted me to stop.  We went on to read the first three Little House on the Prairie books.  This created a lasting change in my oldest.  She is “such a Laura,” as she puts it, and wishes she could live on the prairie.  She also became much more grateful for gifts when she realized how very little Laura, Mary, and Carrie were given for Christmas and how grateful they were to receive it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love picture books and we read them every night.  But after a few, our night has just begun and we move onto something with a bit more depth. If you have a preschooler, I find this quote helpful in figuring out what Trelease is advising: “I’m not suggesting we abandon picture books.  Instead, add a few novel pages and then a daily chapter to the picture books you read to preschoolers.”

Reading books equal to their listening level builds background knowledge so that your child will be better equipped at school.  Simply stated, they will bring more knowledge to the table. Trelease finds that a child’s listening and reading level normally even out around 8th grade.  The one thing to consider is if the subject matter matches their maturity level.  If you start to read a book and realize that is not a good choice (too mature, boring, etc.), he encourages abandoning it and trying a new one.  Reading should be enjoyable for everyone.

Take-Away #2: Read all the time for as long as you can.

Reading doesn’t only have to occur at bedtime.  For example, you can read at the dinner table or while your children are eating their afternoon snack, and you can also provide books all around the house and even in the car.  If you have more than one child, plan to read to each at the appropriate level, and be prepared for this to take more time.  One of my favorite quotes from Trelease is, “Parenting is time-consuming, time-investing–but not time-saving.”  One time we read Old Yeller by Fred Gipson, and my husband really got into it and did most of the reading.  Since it was a classic that he had not read, it was not hard to find the time to read because he wanted to read it as well.

Take-Away #3: Keep reading-aloud to your child through all the grades.

I always figured that you stopped reading to children once they could read by themselves, but this is not so.  The Commission on Reading has said, “Almost as big a mistake as not reading to children at all is stopping too soon.  Reading should continue through the grades.” Reading together is an experience that will only strengthen your bond as you continue this tradition throughout your child’s life. I’m sure the amount of time you give it or the time of day you do it might change, but it should be part of your relationship.  I have little experience with this concept so far since my oldest is 7; however, I am glad to have read this book to help me realize this is something I want to incorporate into my parenting.

My Personal Experience:

I have been practicing these concepts for over a year now, and hands down, this book has proven to be the most important parenting book I have read.  Utilizing Trelease’s suggestions has increased my children’s vocabulary, reading level, and attention span.  Also, it has strengthened our bond and created a comfortable forum where I can talk with my girls about anything.  And even if none of the above were true, it is just plain fun.  I enjoy reading these books as much as they do, and look forward to reading many more with them in the future.