Tag Archives: kids reading

Sunday Morning Shout Out


Happy Summer!  As summer starts, my children and I are looking forward to an incredible adventure.  This adventure is courtesy of some great reads at our local library.  The New York State Summer Reading Program, “Every Hero Has a Story” is underway. Truly a fantastic theme, both the Erie County library system and the Nioga County Library System, which encompasses Niagara, Orleans, and Genesee Counties, are all offering a myriad of special events this summer.  This is in addition to their fine collection of books, blockbuster DVD’s, periodicals, lectures, and story hours that are offered.  Each of these sites will give you a further breakdown of what is happening at individual locations, within the system

But what do you look for when you are there?  I do believe it is important to allow a young person to get out books of their personal persuasion (of course within reason) – But what about the reluctant reader?  Fortunately there are some great on line sites that suggest some pretty wonderful reads for young people.  The “Huffington Post” article, “32 Enthralling Summer Reading Books for Kids of All Ages,” has some wonderful and unique finds for the most hesitant or uncertain young person.  The website about.com lists their top books for young people for this summer in an article titled “2015 Reading Lists for Kids and Teens“.  From individual picks to great series oriented books, there are some wonderful choices for young people here, too.

Summer is fleeting, but just the right time to embark on an adventure.  The sky is the limit when it comes to literary ones…..

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


Let me set up the scene.  The snow is softly falling. The children are in their warm jams.  Hot chocolate is ready to come off the stove.  A tall Christmas book is in your lap ready to be read.

Okay scratch that scene.  If your house is anything like mine, most bedtime moments are not so Norman Rockwell.  Sometimes the holidays can seem more  “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”  than anything else.  But I have a perfect antidote.  Even if the jammies are mismatched and the hot chocolate is burning, the right holiday book can remedy any situation.

At Children’s Book Review.com,  there is a great breakdown of the best in new holiday books for the youngest set of readers. National Public Radio affiliate KOSU put together a list of one writer’s favorite science fiction books for young (tweenish?) readers, for the holidays or anytime.  If you have burnt the hot chocolate and can only clothe your children in their most stained, non-cute pajamas, and it has been a disaster of a night, perhaps you need  a humorous holiday book at your side.  A new  funny offering this year is  the book Awkward Family Photos.  Finally, for readers looking for more traditional books, “Stylist” magazine offers a list of some great holiday books they call ‘50 Best Christmas Books‘.  What is your favorite book for the holidays?

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Is Imagination Disappearing In Children?


It is easy to assume that with the increase in academic structure and teaching to tests that the ability of children to imagine is disappearing.  Even with today’s children being busier than ever it seems that imagination is actually surviving based upon new research.  Psychologists at Case Western Reserve University have found that the imaginations of children have not suffered – in fact, it appears to have increased.

The findings were especially surprising for psychologists Jessica Dillon and Sandra Russ who expected the opposite outcome when they analyzed 14 play studies that Russ conducted between 1985 and 2008.  But as they report in “Changes in Children’s Play Over Two Decades,” an article in the Creativity Research Journal, the research data told a story differing from common assumptions.  First, children’s use of imagination in play and their overall comfort and engagement with play activities actually increased over the three decades of data.  Second, the results suggested that children in more recent studies expressed less negative feelings in their play.  Lastly, the capacity to express a wide range of positive emotions, to tell stories and to organize thoughts stayed consistent across the studies.

In an interview about the study Russ stated that “even with the lack of time to play, children, like some other forms of higher mammals, have a drive to play and always will find ways to do it”.  As new stimuli, like video games and the Internet, have become a part of everyday life, Russ suggests that children might actually gain cognitive skills that support imagination from using technology rather than from acting out situations in play.  Russ said future research will need to focus on whether acting out emotions and creating stories in play is as important as it once was in helping children to be creative since more recent studies are showing less negative feelings which actually had been found in the past to support creativity.

In summary, Russ advises that even though children tend to have less time for play, we still need to try and make time for it, since it helps children develop emotional and cognitive abilities. It is also important to remember the value of reading since reading feeds a child’s imaginations and provides a safe environment for a child to explore people and ideas as they form their own opinions.

Note: More information can be found at: http://www.creativitypost.com/education/despite_less_play_childrens_use_of_imagination_increases_over_two_deca#sthash.9QG6FCZE.dpuf

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Reading To New Levels


Educators often forget to tell parents some of the basics about education philosophy and what it means to the material they use to teach a child.  Currently the implementation of the Common Core or what is more formally known as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in some areas of the USA has changed many aspects of reading especially in the PreK to 6th grades. Especially important to parents in my mind is the shift in the common core of when a child is ‘Learning to Read’ to when they are expected to ‘Reading to Learn’.

Prior to Common Core the expectation for many schools that the shift of expectations occurred in the 5th grade. Now with Common Core this seemingly insignificant concept is shifted to the 3rd grade. This means the expectation of educators is that a student has mastered all the basics of reading and can now read competently with little to no help. For parents this means working with your child and their reading skills in the early years is more important than ever.  The problem is that takes time…lots and lots of time and that is a commodity most parents in the USA do not have anymore.

So how can busy parents help a child learn to read better and faster? There is no silver bullet answer for that, but some suggestions for newborns to 7 year olds would include:

  • Have books in the house and make sure some are at the level that your child can read
  • Read for your own pleasure and let your child see you doing that
  • While driving make a game out of reading road side signs
  • Read to your child daily…bedtime story is best
  • Get your child into a UPK (Universal Pre Kindergarten) program
  • If your child goes to daycare make sure they read to your child and have books available for the children to look at.  Do the same if you have a sitter or family member provide the care
  • Use TV as a teaching tool BUT limit the time. Carey Bryson at About.com has a nice list of programs that encourage and teach reading skills
  • Enlist the support of other family members like Gram and Gramps to read to as well as with your child
  • Get a tutor to work with your child an hour or two per week
  • Use web sites like ‘Learn to Read‘ that allow the child to explore reading through interactive sounds, reading, and video
  • Use magazines, comics, and newspapers
  • Use computers, tablets and other electronic devices.  Teach your child how to search or ‘google’ for information.
  • Ask your child’s teacher or school district for material to help your child’s reading development
  • Go to the library. Explore it with your child and talk to the librarian…they can be an outstanding resource! Get your child a library card and take books out and return them
  • Look for story hours that are age appropriate at your local library, Barnes and Noble store or local book store.

One final suggestion is that you keep in regular contact with your child’s teacher and remain aware of how your child is doing.  Try to remember that the teacher and you are a team and neither can do the job of teaching your child alone!

For more information on the Common core you should search on line. A nice article I came upon was in the Seacoast Online by Joey Cresta ‘Common Core raising the expectations of education

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


Summertime is so many great things for children and families.  Picnics, swimming, vacations, fireworks, campfires, smores, slower paces, and more relaxing routines.  However, summertime can also mean the “summer slide” for many children when it comes to academics.  Time out of the classroom can cause a sharp loss in academic skills the following school year.

All to often reading and math skills are totally ignored and set aside for two months with the school backpack.  A report listed at the New York State Library website used the tern devastating to describe the “summer slide” children can experience.  The same report highlights that these losses are especially pronounced for children of economically disadvantaged backgrounds when it comes to reading.

Fortunately, there are some amazing summer reading programs going on in libraries and schools, that the above report says can profoundly ameliorate this problem.  By providing books; incentives to read; and other educational and cultural opportunities for individuals, families, and communities; this gap can be bridged.  This year’s New York State  Library system summer reading program theme is “Dig into Reading.”   Many libraries are featuring programs for  preschool through adult.  A quick use of your search engine can tell you what your library has in store for your community.

As parents, we know, that this must start at home. However, it is difficult for many parents to set aside the time or know what they need to do. The folks at Scholastic.com offer some great tips to keep your child enthusiastic about reading during the summer.  From getting them connected to the summer reading program at the local library to enforcing and modeling certain behavior regarding reading, parents can go a very long way in preventing “summer slide.”  The key is making reading as strong a focus and hopefully a habit as during school year….

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


tipsHappy end of the school year and happy summer! , As parents and students alike, we have waited so long for this time. All in all, I know most parents really enjoy these special days of vacation with their children.  Yet speaking from the parent domain, I have come to realize many parents I know, myself included, angst a little bit to about these lazy, hazy days of summer before us. For some of us with smaller children at home, alongside our school age children, it means a vast change in dynamics in the household.

Stay at home mama or papa’s time (and patience) are vied for between multiple parties. Diverse needs to be met and fulfilled, as naps are squeezed in between swim lessons and rides to friends’ houses.  For work-at home parents in these situations, they must figure out how to best see to their children’s needs, while getting her their work done in the home setting.  For mamas and papa who work full-time, there are also many different needs to fulfill for children in terms of day care; getting children to summer activities; having quality time with their children;  and assuaging the parental guilt that many working parents feel ,when it comes to balancing work demands versus family demands.

I believe that some of these intense feelings, for parents in all situations, stems from the struggle between wanting to wallow in unstructured, summer time versus the hated child exclamation, “ I am bored,” with a capital “B.” What is a parent to do?  I offer this which is a summation of my own personal experiences and suggestions I found on-line.

1)     Accept the fact there is going to be a time in which everyone readjusts and regroups to the new dynamic and routine of summer.  For many years, I felt like the worst mother on the planet for the palpable sense of uneasiness at the start of holiday breaks and summer vacations. Now I see it for what it is, a dynamic system, the family system, adjusting to meet the needs of its many members. Every year we go through this and every year we readjust. Sticking to a routine, but having some flexibility seems to ease the feeling and help it pass.

2)     Gage what your family would like to do this summer. One site on line talked about coming up with summer “bucket lists” of sorts, another called them wish lists. While maybe you can’t trudge off to Disney or Europe, you probably can fulfill your 10 year-old’ s desire  to campout in the backyard, or your eight year-old’s desire to build a fairy house. This will help stave off those end of summer feelings of not doing what you wanted to during the summer or having someone feel like their need were overlooked or unmet.

3)     Take advantage of all the free or low cost events in your community. Many communities offer free concerts; hold summer festivals; or feature great parks, creeks, lakes, hiking spots, historical buildings, etc. that can be enjoyed. There is so much to see close to home!

4)     Take part in your local library’s summer reading programs. As we know, it is so important to keep our children reading during the summer months. Many libraries offer special incentives and prizes, along with great activities to encourage reading among young people. A good book is such a place of respite for both child and parent, alike.

5)     Insist your child unplugs or limits their electronics during the summer. Our children need to get outside. If you do not have firm limits already, now is the time to establish them. With set boundaries, everyday won’t be an argument around usage.

6)     Get cooking. Have your children pick out some new recipes to try. What a wonderful way for busy families, in busy households to connect. What a great way to instill healthy eating and learn about new foods!

7)     Let your kids get creative. Break out the boxes, glitter, and paint. Your children will have a ball! Do it outside and don’t fret about the mess! Think of it as your own open air school of painting/ art center.

8)     Pick and choose what works best for you and your family. Summer has so much to offer.  But use yes as a seasoning, so summer doesn’t get too hectic or overwhelming for everyone.

9)     Take a break and get away if affordable or possible. Camping is good, affordable fun! So are the cousins’ houses or grandma and grandpa’s.

10)  Let your child try a new hobby or sport. With the additional time that exists in summer, compared to the often harried school year, take advantage of community sports programs or recreational program that are offered. These short term programs can help a child discover new interests, passions, and talents.

11)  Savor the days. Readjust, slow down, and enjoy the summer days before you and the children that go with them. Before you know it, it will be time to get the children off to school again. Make memories; laugh with them; play with them; read to them; and try to also  “just be,” some of the time.

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Suggested Reading For Elementary Students


Reading5Summer is here and you want to keep your elementary students engaged and reading with these great summer books!

Popular Clone, by M.E. Castle
Protagonist Fisher Bas is a nerd, but he blames his bookishness on his family. With a Nobel laureate mother and a scientist dad, he’s probably right! Fisher uses his natural talents to overcome the difficulties of elementary school by cloning himself so he can send his clone to school while he stays home and plays video games. This book is a great read for those who are struggling to get into books or with social situations.

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
This is a fun read about four elementary school students who set out to make the ultimate candy. Through their experiments, the reader gets to learn about candy making and science which is what this art is based on. This book is so engrossing, you won’t be able to put it down! Try some candy recipes of your own when you’re done.

The Worst Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure: Everest by David Borgenicht and Bill Doyle
This choose-your-own-adventure book is a great read for those who enjoy sport, adventure and travel. You will be the youngest member of a team who will be attempting to climb Everest. The team’s success depends on your choices, so think carefully! This is a cliff-hanging thriller from start to finish!

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
This is a delightful account of a Chinese family’s legacy. Minli is enthralled by her father’s bedtime stories about a poor dragon and the old man in the moon. When she sets out to change their fate, and the fate of her family, she has an epic adventure filled with stunning illustrations and incredible characters. This is a really special book that you will find enchanting and touching.

Drizzle by Kathleen Van Cleve
If you loved the Wizard of Oz, you will adore Drizzle. It’s an eclectic mix of humor and imagination that will have you skipping through the crazy farm that Polly lives on. Here bugs can talk, rhubarb tastes like chocolate and the balance of nature keeps everything in check. When the daily drizzle ends, things start to go horribly wrong and Polly must restore the natural balance in order to save her brother’s life.

100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson
When Henry York opens a cupboard, he discovers a portal to a whole new world. This is the first in a trilogy that is as thrilling an adventure as you have ever been on. When Henry’s family goes missing, he discovers the 100 cupboard doors, each cupboard leads to a new world, but Henry must figure out which ones his parents are in and how to get back to his own world. This series is thrilling, scary and gripping, so be prepared to buy all three books before the summer is though!

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