Reading Aloud Resources for Parents

I’m teaching a Mommy & Me Literacy class in a few weeks and I’ve been doing some research to figure out how I want to structure my class. Normally I would just Google some key words and have information at my fingertips in seconds. However, now that the weather is finally nice, I’ve been going to our local library and I decided to check out some of the books in the parenting section. Our library is very old fashioned (you can check out the Bobbsey Twins), but they do have a wide variety of children’s and parenting books.

To help me navigate the Parent’s Corner, I asked the children’s librarian for some guidance. She is the typical old school librarian, and was more than thrilled to assist me in my search. We chatted about the changes in reading with children today and she made a very good point. It’s not the children that have changed, it’s the parents. Kids still act like they always have (running around, touching everything in sight, etc.) but parents respond and interact differently with their children. She also said that you can tell the parents that read to their children and make literacy a part of their life because those kids go straight for the bookshelves on their visits to the library. Those kids that go straight for the computer are typically ones whose parents are on their phones during the library visit, and use more technology at home.

Since my Mommy & Me Literacy class is about helping moms incorporating literacy into their daily routine, I found the librarian’s comment to be very interesting. Over the years as a teacher I’ve seen different parenting styles, and now as a parent I tend to watch how other parents handle situations, and I would have to agree with the librarian.  Each parent and family has their own way of parenting, and as a new mom I respect that more each day.

I got to thinking, it’s human nature for us to avoid things we aren’t familiar with or good at. In this case some parents are not comfortable with reading to their children which is why they turn to technology. We know why it’s important to read aloud to kids (see previous post), but it can be challenging to find even just five minutes on some days to check email, let alone research reading aloud strategies. Which is what brings me to this post today. I’m going to share some resources that I have been using lately to hopefully help another parent. This post is for parents and early education teachers. 

Podcasts

With the nice weather we’re starting to have I’ve been taking Molly to the park more often. I’ve discovered I enjoy our park time more if I’m listening to something while I walk a few loops around the park, so I’ve started listening to podcasts.

Read-Aloud Revival

This podcast is truly a gem. I struggled finding a good one that focused on literacy, but it was worth the digging. It focuses on motivating your family to read and proviRaising Kids Who Readdes fantastic read aloud suggestions, tips for parents, and just great ideas. They also have a great website that is super user-friendly. The podcast I listened to today was from April 4, 2016 on Raising Kids Who read, which was an interview by author Dr. Daniel
Willingham. One of the best parts of this interview was how they discussed realistic ways to help kids of all ages read more at home. This included how to monitor screen time and leaving books in certain places in the house. Dr. Willingham discussed his book, Raising Kids Who Read: What Parents and Teachers Can Do, which I plan on purchasing and reviewing in the next few weeks.

Reading Rockets

For those of you unfamiliar with Reading Rockets, it’s a fantastic website for parents and educators about reading. I’ve actually used it for multiple graduate school assignments and in my own classroom. Even though there are no recent podcasts, the existing ones are great. They have a few different podcast series for parents and children including: Meet the Author, Watch and Learn, and Meet the Experts. Meet the Author includes interviews of popular children’s book authors, Watch and Learn has videos for teaching reading, and Meet the Experts are interviews of various experts on specific reading topics (spelling, reading today).

Videos

Our children live in an exciting time of technology because there is so much out there that kids and parents can watch.

One Youtube Channel, Children’s Books Read Aloud, actually has adults reading aloud popular children’s books. This is great for parents to watch and listen to get ideas about how to read aloud. It’s also perfect for those days when you don’t have time to read to the kids, but they can watch a video of the book with someone reading to them.

I also came across a quick Ted Talk, Why we should all be reading aloud to children, and I LOVE the way Rebecca Bellingham reads aloud. Even as an adult, you feel captivated by her voice, especially when she uses the different voices. This is great a video just hear how effective a great read aloud can be.

The last video I want to share with you is one done by Pre-K teacher Breeyn Mack, and it’s called Strategies for Reading Aloud to Young Children. There are so many positive things about this video, but the biggest is how she interacts with the text while she’s reading. She demonstrates how to think aloud, read at a good pace, use appropriate voice volume, and more, providing parents and educators with a great demonstration on how to read aloud to little ones. I would love for Molly to have a teacher like her in the future.

Being a teacher first allowed me to become comfortable with reading aloud. I made it a priority to read to my students over the last few years because I saw how invested they became in the stories. If I didn’t have a teaching background I would feel reading is important, but I probably wouldn’t be doing it enough and not as effectively as I would want. If you or someone you know feels this way, these are some great resources for parents and educators to help feel more comfortable and confident in reading aloud.

Test Prep Information for Parents

Every year around this time there is a shift in the education world from normal homework and routines to the dreaded test prep. Many teachers have been doing test prep all year long, but use this “crunch” time to make sure that students are fully prepared.

My third year teaching I taught literacy support and sent out an email blast with test prep suggestions for parents. I received a response from almost every parent with questions and gratitude for keeping parents “in the loop”. Today I want to share some of those suggestions as we start to get into the most dreaded time of the year.

This post is for parents of 3rd-8th grade parents.

General  Testing Information

  1. Know the test. Here in NJ we are in the third year of administrating the PARCC test. Prior to PARCC, there was NJASK, which was completely different in every way, shape, and form. As parents, the first thing you need to do is be familiar with the test. How many days of math are there? How many days of English/Language Arts? How many essays are there? Can students use calculators on all math days? All you have to do is find your test guide online (make sure it is for spring 2017) and read through it. The more you know as a parent the easier it will be to understand the score results.
  2. Understanding the results. Each test calculates their score differently, so please make sure you are looking at the most current information for your state as testing companies like to make frequent changes to things. Look back at your child’s scores from last year. How did he or she do? What were some of their strengths? What were some weaknesses? Now think about present day. Are those answers the same? If you’re unsure, please reach out to your child’s teacher. Teachers have a ton of information they can give you about your child’s progress this year, so they are your lifeline.
  3. Practicing the weaknesses. Based on previous test scores, conferences with the teacher, and current report cards you will have a lot of information at your fingertips. Depending on how your child has grown academically, there may be only a fewtest anxiety areas to improve on, but sometimes there can be quite a few. DO NOT try and fix everything at once. It will be extremely frustrating for both you and your child. Instead, pick one or two concepts that are manageable for your household. See below for ideas on improving literacy scores.
  4. Read all the school information. Testing days are THE WORST for teachers and administrators because it often means schedule changes. The school may also include information on snacks, breaks, etc. Be on the look out for any emails or letters home that outline information from the school. This will cause you less stress during testing days.
  5. Eating and sleeping. During testing time, please be observant about when your child goes to sleep and what they eat. My first year teaching I taught eighth grade and some of my students decided to have a sleepover the night before testing (which was English). The girls came to school on three hours of sleep and struggled to stay awake during the test. Consequently, when the scores came out in the fall, I had some parent emails asking how their daughter could have scored so low when she had high grades in my class all year. I also had a student last year eat a strawberry pop tart and a can of diet Coke for breakfast right before testing. The student was super engrossed in the test the first hour, but fell asleep during the second part of testing. Please make sure your child is getting adequate sleep and eating a healthy breakfast during testing time.

Improving Literacy Scores

There are tons of easy ways to work with your child to improve their literacy scores. Remember, always choose a text your child will like. Take them to the library or bookstore and have them pick out what they want to read. Below are some suggestions you can do at home.

  1. Nonfiction reading
    1. Magazine subscription- Purchase a subscription on a topic or hobby that your Common Corechild enjoys and spend time reading it together. For instance, if your child enjoys nature, get a subscription to Kids National Geographic. When it comes in, read the cover story with your child and discuss what they read. Do they agree or disagree? Why? How was it interesting?
    2. Daily/Weekly article- Either you or your child finds an article that interests them. Sit down together and read it and then discuss it. This is a great way of keeping up with what’s going on in the community and keeps your child up with current events.
  2. Fiction reading
    1. Find a book they want to read. This is half the battle and I discuss how do to thisHomework Help  (here). Once you have the book, read it together. You can read it in the car on the way to soccer practice, or ten minutes before bed. Make sure you always talk about the book and share your opinions.
    2. Book and a movie. Some kids require a little more work to read, so choose a book with a movie. Still read the book together, but then make it a family movie night when you finish reading the book. Afterwards, compare and contrast the book and the movie and discuss why things were done in each media form. Harry Potter is my normal go to book and movie suggestion for parents because it is such a great series and can be read starting at around 4th grade.
  3. Writing. For most kids at this age, they struggle with generating ideas and writing quickly.
    1. Writing prompts. Give your child a little writing prompt every few days and Writing Storieshave them write you a paragraph (can be longer in 7th and 8th grade).
    2. Keep a journal. Suggest to your child they start keeping a journal. Have them pick out the journal, or if they want to do one in Word, allow them to be creative with the colors and font. Depending on your child, you can read their entries or they can remain private. I have had some students that would show me their journals daily.
    3. Write stories. It’s incredible how many students love to write stories. Last year I had a sixth grade boy write about a super hero and it was amazing to see how excited he was to have me read it. Encourage your child to write fan fiction, poetry, or short stories. This is their free space to be as creative as they want to be.

To purchase any of the books you see on this post, click here. If you have specific test prep questions feel free to email me at littlereadcoach@gmail.com.

Lost in a Book: An Enchanting Original Story-Book Review

A few weeks ago I was super lucky and won an Instagram/Facebook giveaway from @mwladieswholit. I’m not the type to win anything, especially good things like a free book, so I was extremely excited when I saw I won. The ladies did a beautiful job with making the book special for me, which made winning even better.

First, everyone is in a Beauty and the Beast craze right now with the movie coming out in two days (eek!). I will admit I’m just as excited, and I plan on seeing the new movie with my husband as soon as we can line up a babysitter. Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my favorite Disney movies, and I wore Alfred Angelo’s Belle dress as my wedding dress in 2012, so I’m also a BATB fans.

The book itself is simply gorgeous. The cover art is imaginative and captures Belle’s feelings for her love of books perfectly. I love that the book is hardcover because it just wouldn’t feel right in paperback.

The book is an offshoot of the movie, which I really liked because I was able to visualize everything to match up with the film. As any fan knows, the movie focuses on the relationship that blossoms between Belle and the Beast, and the book does as well, but it also dives more into Belle’s emotional journey at the castle. For some reason I never thought much about Belle’s transition to life in the castle because, before viewers knew it, she was in love. This book is a glimpse into the emotional turmoil that Belle experienced while she became friends with the Beast.

Quotes

As a middle school language arts teacher, I have spent the last seven years teaching students how to infer quotes, and this book is full of them! There were so many times that I wanted to take out my highlighter and mark up the text, but I refrained because I plan on keeping this book personal and not professional. One of my favorite lines in the text spoke to me as a lifelong reader.

” ‘Reading became my sanctuary,’ Belle continued. ‘I found so much in those books. I found histories that inspired me. Poems that delighted me. Novels that challenged me…’ Belle paused, suddenly self-conscious. She looked down at her hands, and in a wistful voice, said, ‘What I really found though, was myself'”(p. 19).

Many of my passionate student readers have always told me that reading is an escape for them, and I would have to agree with that. This quote accurately describes the relationship between a reader and a text, which is probably the most personal relationship in a reader’s life.

Vocabulary

Another aspect of the reading which caught my attention was the language used. There were pieces of French to align with the film and story, but there was an impressive amount of challenging vocabulary. I would definitely recommend using reading strategies like context clues and looking up the definition to assist with decoding some of the vocabulary. At first I would have had recommended this book for 5th grade and up, but after reading I would suggest high 6th or 7th grade and up. The plot is simple and easy to follow, but the vocabulary can be challenging to middle school readers.

Comprehension

I will admit that I had to re-read parts of the first few pages because I expected to be thrown right into Belle’s world. As a warning, the prologue sets up the main conflict of the plot, which involves Love and Death. This did confuse me at first because it was unexpected, but as the story continued it did make sense.

Other than the very beginning, the book was a quick read and very predictable. The author sets the story up to show how unhappy Belle is with her life at the castle, which is why she resorts to literally throwing herself into Nevermore. The best reading comprehension strategies to use for this text would be re-reading, and creating a character chart. There were some new characters introduced so a character chart would be beneficial to help keep all of the new ones organized. I would suggest using one like this chart.

Overall, I thought the book was an interesting addition to the original movie plot. It was a quick read, but one that I probably wouldn’t read more than once. I would recommend it for upper middle school students and up because of the vocabulary.

 

 

 

Preschool & Kindergarten Literacy

This week I did a Facebook class for preschool and kindergarten. It’s amazing how much the expectations for this age group have changed over the last decade with the changes in education. It’s quite clear after looking at the Common Core Standards for kindergarten that preschool is extremely important for children at this time.

This post is for parents and early childhood educators. Below you will find a bunch of information and book suggestions for children around 4-5 years old for math and reading.

Learning Math1001-things-to-spot-collection

Preschool

  • Counting (count on hands, objects)
  • Understands written expression means number of objects for #s 1-5
  • Can do basic addition and subtraction
  • Can put numbers in order

Kindergarten (from the Common Core State Standards)

  • wipe-clean-number-cardsCount to 100 by ones and tens
  • Write numbers 0-20
  • Solve addition and subtraction word problems using objects or drawings to represent the problem
  • Fluently add and subtract within 5
  • Identify and compare shapes

 

 

At Home Strategies

thats-not-my-height-bookMath

  • Make activities into games. Some suggestions include:
    • Number sense- count items, use a calendar to countdown to events, play simple board games
    • Geometry- name 3D objects, create simple patterns
    • Measurement- record height monthly

Learning to Read

Preschool

  • Make simple predictions and comments about story being read
  • Hold and look thats-not-myat words right side up, turning the pages one at a time front to back
  • Name the letter in first name and can recognize name in print
  • Say and point to at least 10 letters of the alphabet
  • Match a letter with beginning sound of word
  • Recognize words see often (sight words)

 

 

Kindergarten (from the Common Core State Standards)

  • Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print
  • Understand spoken words, syllables and sounds
  • Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words
  • Use a combination of drawing, dictating and writing to compose original pieces

At Home Strategies

Reading

  • Point out letters and numbers. “What word on this page starts with ‘s’ “
  • Make up stories about the pictures together
  • Ask comprehension questions. “Why is he mad?” “Where is hted-friends-with-cde going?”
  • Relate stories to child’s experiences (festive, doctors, et.).
  • Encourage writing and drawing. Have a constant supply of paper and crayons. Standing kid easels work really well.
  • Point out letters in your child’s name.
  • Make everything into a game so they don’t get frustrated.
  • Listen to books on tape.

 

Learning to Read Collections

As a parent and educator, I love to have everything given to me in a neat and organized pack. Usborne offers three different reading packages for parents that are really great.

Option 1: Phonics Reader Collection. 

Usborne has a fantastic Phonics Readers collection that is phonics-based, includes a guide for parents, and is leveled using Fountas and Pinnell. The books are sold individually, but can also be purchased as a box set with 20 titles.

phonics-reader-collection

 

Option 2: The Usborne Starting to Read Pack. This is the perfect set to help a child read. The pack includes an activity book, an alphabet chart and books. Here is a great video from a fellow consultant that shows specific details about this pack.

starting-to-read-pack

 

Option 3: Reading Box Sets. Usborne Very First Reading has 15 books that are meant to be read with an adult. As time goes on, the child takes on more of the reading.

Usborne My First Reading Library includes 50 books (the first are from the Very First Reading set) and the rest are leveled. The goal is to have the child read these independently, only getting help from an adult when needed.

Both sets come with a parent guide and links to “online help” at http://www.veryfirstreading.com.

very-first-reading-set

There is so much information to cover for this age group, it is truly unbelievable. For more information on the products featured, head over to my Usborne site here. To be a participant in my Facebook classes, follow me here .

 

Toddler Literacy

Last week I discussed literacy in the first year, so today I want to share some information for toddler literacy. In preparing for this class, a lot of my research for toddlers overlapped my baby research information. Many of the same materials we use with babies can also be used with toddlers.

This post is for parents and early childhood educators on literacy in toddler years (from my Facebook class). It includes toddler development information, stages of learning and book suggestions.

get-dressed-max-and-millieYoung Toddlers (12-24 months)

  • Books with children doing familiar things
  • Books about daily routines/customs

Toddlers (2-3 years old)

  • Simple rhyming books that can be memorized
    • Kids this age can say 150-300 words so they can recobig-book-of-colorsgnize those used in rhymes
    • It helps them learn sentence structure and expressing a complete thought
  • Books about counting, shapes, colors, and size

    • Kids this age can distinguish the difference between sizes and colors
    • Foundational skills are developing at this age (numbers and letters)

 

Motor Skillsvery-first-fingertrail-playbook-garden

  • Gross Motor Skills– larger movements
    • Crawling, running, etc.
  • Fine Motor Skills– small movements
    • Using fingers, toes, lips, and tongue
    • These are skills that can be practiced with books

Potty Training

  • Many parents say this is the most stressful part about having a toddler. It’s important to talk to talk to your toddler about going to the bathroom and use books to help him or her get familiar with going potty. potty-training-books

New Siblings

  • Some children have a rough adjustment to welcoming a new sibling. You can help ease the transition by including your toddler in discussing the new baby and by reading books about family.

Special Interests

  • By two years old many children have a special interest. This can be animals, trains, trucks, ballet, etc. Make sure to have plenty of texts to reflect your child’s interests. little-ballerina-dancing-book

Strategies

  • Talk or sing about pictures. This helps with comprehension skills. Some examples include:
    • Who or what is in the picture?
    • What are it/they doing?
    • What color are they? Etc.
  • Show children the words.
    • Point while reading
    • Books with labels
    • Feel free to spell the words out as well
  • Ask Questions.
    • While reading ask comprehension questions that include why, how, and what. Focus on feelings and actions from the story.
    • Encourage your child to ask questions while reading.
  • Let child tell the story.
    • By around 2 ½ or 3, children can memorize a text. Use this to their advantage by letting them “read” stories they memorized so they can embellish and make it their own.
      • This helps with creativity and processing skills.

For more information on toddler books, feel free to follow my Facebook page or check out Usborne Books and More.

 

Literacy in the First Year

I got an idea last week to do Facebook classes for parents on literacy tips for different age groups. My goal is to educate and provide parents with ideas about how to effectively teach their children literacy from birth through childhood. Most of my experience teaching literacy is grades 6-8, but now that Miss Molly has entered the picture, I have been doing a lot of research on infancy literacy.

This post is for parents and early childhood educators on literacy in the first year (from my Facebook class).  It includes infant development information, stages of learning, and book suggestions.

New parents know that reading is important, but many don’t realize that reading to a child from birth is extremely beneficial. I found this great YouTube video from CNN about The Importance of Reading to Babies and used this to get my class started. Some of the highlights from the video include:

*Language, reading and writing skills develop at the same time and go hand in hand.

*Birth-3 years is when 90% of the brain develops

*Language and cognitive outcomes increase when reading to children

*Two biggest benefits of early literacy: the ability to learn and succeed later and strengthens emotional bond with parents

These are great ideas to keep in mind during a little one’s first year.

Literacy During Pregnancy:

*Talk to baby, play music, read to belly

*Create a baby library with a variety of texts (NB-preschool)

*Create a literate environment

-Warm and inviting (colors, pictures, etc.)

-Music (CD player, iPod)

-Texts around the house (magazines, books)

*Usborne has a fabulous Home Library Starter Collection that is perfect for a new baby!

home-library-starter-collection

Newborn-3 Months

*Baby senses are developing, especially sight and sound, so it’s importacloth-baby-booksnt to nurture with literacy
-Sing to baby

-Talk to baby

-Read books with pictures and little to no text on the page

3-6 Months

*Babies start to sit with assistance (makes reading to them so much easier), start to reach and hold objects very-first-playbook(which makes reading more interactive)

-Allow your baby to hold books, help turn pages, etc.

-Use books with common objects

–helps them get familiar with objects and language development

 

6-12 Months

*Babies are more independentvery-first-bus-book

-Let them “play” with books (mix among toys)

-If he/she brings you a book read it to them.

-Have he/she help during reading time (hold book, turn pages)

Tips for All Ages

*Read every day!

-Set reading time (part of bedtime routine)

-On the go reading (doctor’s office, parties, etc.)

*You don’t have to finish the book every time!

*Make the story come alive!

-Use voices, different tones, etc.

For more book options click here.

 

Damaged Goods Book Review

I have always been a huge reader, especially with young adult literature. Over the last few years I have followed The YA Gal (Jennifer Bardsley) on Facebook. I always find her posts honest, which is one of the reasons why I like her. She just released her new book, Damaged Goods, a few weeks ago and sent free copies to those interested in writing a review. I totally took advantage of this opportunity and want to share my thoughts about her book. Damaged Goods is a sequel.

damaged-goods

This post is for teachers of middle and high school and parents.

This is from my review on Amazon:

I’m an avid reader of young adult literature and a teacher, so it can take a lot to impress me with a new book. I found Damaged Goods to be an interesting futuristic read that really makes the reader reflect on current trends in society. I read the book in two sittings because it was that good I had to read past my bedtime.
The plot was not as predictable as I thought it would be. It jumps right into the story and the plot moves along at a steady speed. There were a couple of twists that really accelerated the plot in the right parts, especially towards the end, that felt very natural. I loved the theme of social media and how it can change society, which is something we don’t always think about. The extremes that Bardsley went to were risky, but worked in her favor and got her message across clearly.
I really enjoyed the character of Blanca in this novel because of her realness. Her emotions and reactions to the events are realistic and relatable to girls of all ages. She’s a strong young woman, but is still very vulnerable.
Overall, I would recommend Damaged Goods to any lover of young adult literature. The plot is great and the characters are relatable and likable. I can’t wait to read more about Blanca and the next chapter of her life.

For Teachers:

*This book would be a fabulous literature circle option for science fiction for grades 7-12. It falls under themes such as: futuristic, good vs. evil, friendship, and technology.

For Parents:

This book is great for a child:

* reading at a seventh grade reading level and up

*with an interest in science fiction and social media

*who likes books such as The Uglies and Divergent

 

Touchy-Feely and Sight Words in One Book

Having a child can be expensive, so when I see a product that can grow with my daughter I get excited. I’m very picky with choosing books for Molly because I want texts that she can use for years instead of a month or two.

As a new mom, I do a lot of research on how to give my baby a strong start and the most popular suggestion is reading to your child (see previous post for more ideas on this). However, I’ve noticed that as Molly gets older she sometimes needs a little more stimulation, so we have introduced touchy-feely books in our house.

Molly is constantly drawn to bright colors and lights, so I want to read books that are visually appealithats-not-myng to her. She is also starting to grab things more, and we are working on introducing her to new textures. Usborne’s That’s Not My collection is perfect for Miss Molly because of the bright colors, cute themes, and touchy-feely pages. These books are perfect for me because they can be used now and also when she is in preschool and kindergarten.

This post is for parents on how to use the That’s Not My collection at home to engage your young reader.

When I purchased my mini consultant kit in January it came with the That’s Not My Dinosaur book, which is adorable for a little boy. As a girly girl myself, I had to get Molly one of these books that was geared towards a baby girl. I was debating between the Princess and Dolly and decided to go with Dolly this time around (I’m planning to get the Princess and Mermaid soon).

The physical construction of these books is incredible. As with many baby books this one is a board book, but it’s extremely lightweight with thicker pages than other baby books. Molly has seen me hold a book and turn pages for a few months now, but this was the first book she wanted/was able to grab by herself. She was able to lift the book on her own and hold the pages with her four-month-old hands. molly-reading-thats-not-my

The pictures are large and use contrasting colors for little eyes to see everything clearly. Each page has different color schemes, which helps keep Molly engaged longer. The touchy-feely components match the main idea of the page. For instance, the page Molly is on says, “That’s not my dolly. Her hat is too soft.” The touch and feel aspect on this page is the doll’s hat.

One of my favorite things about this collection is how they can also be used with early readers. These books are perfect for helping little ones with sight words and learning to read. Each page has a handful of sight words (to see the Dolch list click here) and is made up of simple, concise sentences that are manageable for young readers.

Some suggestions for using That’s Not My with preschool/kindergarten kids:

*Use them frequently. They are small and light enough to throw in a bag to use while you’re out and about, or read one a day as an activity. They are definitely a quick read, which is all you need sometimes.

*Show off! Kids love to show friends and family when they can do something new. Have your child readthats-not-my-monkey the book (or have them help you) to people the child feels comfortable with. This will not only boost their confidence, but also give them the additional practice.

*Relate the theme to daily life. If you’re taking a trip to the zoo, get your child excited by reading books like That’s Not My Monkey or That’s Not My Lion. There are so many different options so this is quite easy to do, especially if you use them seasonally.

These little books are portable, durable, and adorable. I love how they can be used from infancy all the way through kindergarten. For more information visit my store.

Reading Aloud

Research shows that reading aloud consistently at all ages helps with word recognition, comprehension, higher order thinking skills, and so much more.

I decided to experiment with this idea during my third year of teaching when I was a literacy support teacher for sixth and seventh grade. I was working with students who were below proficient on standardized tests, who struggled with reading, and who didn’t like or want to read. I chose my books carefully (Divergent in 6th and Double Identity in 7th) and started my read aloud. I would read for five minutes at the beginning of every class and we would have a quick discussion based on a question.why-read

To this day, this was the best thing I have ever done as a teacher. It was amazing to see how well my students responded to this activity every day. The fact that I made reading aloud part of my classroom routine was not only good classroom management, but also allowed kids time to appreciate and develop a love of reading. Unfortunately, my supervisor at the time did not agree with my use of class time, and at the end of the year I was non-renewed because I wasn’t a “good fit”. Even now almost three years later, I still wouldn’t change how I spent those first five minutes of my class.

Today’s post is about incorporating reading aloud into daily classroom and home life, so this is meant for both parents and teachers. Sometimes reading aloud isn’t just the adult reading to the child, but can be the child reading to the adult, or a child reading to another child.

Teachers

  1. Class read aloud. For the last few years I have incorporated a read aloud during the first few minutes of my classes. They should be between 5-7 minutes (depending if you have a block schedule or not) and each session should end in some sort of a discussion to check for understanding. This can be done at all grade levels (yes, even high school). Some things to remember for a class read aloud:
    1. Make sure the book is appropriate for the class. The text should be equivalent to the grade level or a little higher. Since the book is being read aloud along with a discussion after every reading, you can challenge students with a more complex text.
    2. The book is engaging! It’s hard to carve out class time in general, let alone every day, so you want to make it worth the time. Choose a text that will have students excited to read, and that you enjoy.
    3. Be consistent with the time. When I taught in a block schedule I would read for seven minutes then post a question for kids to respond to for about a minute, then we would discuss answers for two minutes. When I taught in a 40- minute class, I cut my reading time down to five minutes and responsepartner-reading sharing down to one minute. It’s so important to keep the consistency because students will get used to the timing. However, some days when my timer goes off my students beg for a few more minutes. It’s so hard to say no when this happens, and almost every time I give in, although I warn them they may have additional work, but they never seem to mind. As a teacher, use your judgment. Some days you can read for a few more minutes, others it’s just not possible, but you want to keep the “usual” reading time as consistent as possible. **Save time on student sharing by using technology tools like Padlet, Google classroom, Random Name Picker, etc.**
    4. Recap! Always make sure you recap the last reading before moving on to a new section. This is a great pre-reading strategy to help students prepare for the next reading, and it also catches up any kids who missed a reading.
    5. Be excited! I think one of the reasons why my read aloud times were so
      successful was because I was legitimately excited for them myself, and my kids knew it.
  2. Small group read aloud. For upper elementary, middle school, and high school lots of lessons involve analyzing a text as a small group. This is a great opportunity for students to read aloud to one another. Most of the time, the set up of this activity involves students reading, highlighting, and discussing a text and answering questions, so all you would need to do is have students incorporate reading the text aloud. Depending on the groups, I either let students determine who reads what sections (everyone has to read something) or I instruct them to read one paragraph or one page each.
  3. Partner read aloud. This is often a concept seen in elementary classrooms because of the many benefits, but it can be used in all grades. Students are able to hear and see reading habits of a peer. The teacher can choose partners based on reading level, high student and low student, so students can learn from one another. The teacher can also give the option for students to choose a partner, allowing them to work with someone they are comfortable with, which is half the battle with some students.

Parents. Reading aloud is a great way to help your child with reading skills and develops a love of reading.

  1. Pick a time to read. Most families are super busy all day and don’t have a chance toread-aloud-everyday really sit down until bedtime, which is what makes it the most popular time for family reading. Whatever time works for your family, keep it consistent. Some nights it will change or not happen at all, but for the most part keep the time consistent.
  2. Pick a spot. Along with the time consistency, you want to dedicate a special reading place. It could be your bed, the child’s bed, or a special chair.
  3. Involve the whole family. Kids learn so much just by watching their parents, so it’s good to have the whole family involved in reading. The goal is to get everyone involved in the read aloud in some way, even if it’s just listening along. I’ve been reading aloud to Molly since she was born, and we make it a point to read every night before we put her to sleep. I’m normally the one that reads to her because my husband isn’t a big book reader, but he will read articles and blogs. He knows how important reading is to me, so he participates by choosing the books and listening on the floor.
  4. On the go reading. Sometimes reading at home just isn’t possible, and that’s okay. Growing up I spent most of my time in the car traveling from one activity to another. This is still true for many parents today, so it can be challenging to get some read aloud time in. However, it is possible. Option 1: Read in the car. My mom actually had my sister read aloud to her while she would drive. It was a great way for my sister to practice reading aloud because my mom could help her with decoding and reading comprehension. My sister would stop and ask questions periodically and the two of them would discuss the reading. It did take them a while to finish the book, but those car ride sessions still allowed them to practice great read aloud strategies. Option 2:Read at the event. Parents are always waiting for one activity to end and another to begin, so use this down time to read with your child. The great part about technology today is that so many books and articles are available digitally, so you always have a text at your fingertips. You could also leave a bag of books in your car for situations like this. This would be best for younger children because they rely on pictures to comprehend the stories, and many digital books are tiny so the visual is hard to see.

Usborne knows how important reading aloud is to children, so they have a whole collection dedicated to read aloud books.

*Aesop’s Stories for Little Children five-min-bedtime-stories

*Big Book of Little Stories

*Five-Minute Bedtime Stories

*10 Ten-Minute Stories

*10 More Ten-Minute Stories

* Animal Stories for Bedtime

*Fairy Tales for Bedtime

If you’re interested in purchasing any of these titles, or other Usborne product, click here.

Wipe-Clean Collection

Early Learning and Entertainment

I had a children’s book themed baby shower back in July, and we asked attendants to bring a children’s book instead of a card to start Molly’s home library. This was by far the best thing we did (along with a diaper raffle) because it gave us such a great variety of literature. Among the books we received, my grandma gave us two Usborne books, Noisy Farm and Wipe-Clean Dot to Dot Farm. My parents started a farm, Mini Mac, my senior year of high school and currently work it. My grandma (GG) thought it was the perfect opportunity to give Molly her first farm related book. wipe-clean-dot-farm

Today, I want to share some information about the Wipe-Clean collection from Usborne. These books are really cool in so many ways. The book and pages are thick and glossy, and aren’t that easy to rip, bend, or fold. A special pen comes with the book, making it convenient to use. These books can help kids with practicing pen control, numbers, letters, and numbers, and also provide entertainment.

Two words that best describe these books are versatile and portable. The Wipe-Clean books can be used as an independent activity or with a buddy/parent. It can be transported anywhere because all you need is the book, pen, and something to wipe with (tissue, paper towel, sleeve, etc.). There is no charging required, so you don’t need to worry about cords and outlets. They are thin and lightweight, and they fit easily into almost any type of bag.

Book Suggestions for Teachers and Parents

For preschool age kids, I would recommend using Wipe-Clean 1,2,3, Writing Numbers, Alphabet, and First Letters. Usborne also makes Wipe-Clean cards for learning the wipe-clean-telling-timealphabet and numbers that are also great for this age group. For kindergarten students, I would suggest using Wipe-Clean Capital and Lowercase Letters, Common Words to Copy, First Math, and First Words. For early elementary students, I recommend Wipe-Clean Starting Times Tables, Telling the Time, and Action Words to Copy. Depending on the student’s needs, you may need to differentiate with lower level or more advanced level books.

 The activity books come in great themes and can be used from preschool through early elementary. There are also some engaging sets meant for helping kids get ready for school, which would be a great summer activity. wipe-clean-ready-for-school-kit

Here are some great ideas on using these books for parents and teachers of preschool-early elementary kids.

Teachers:

  1. Center Activity. When I taught sixth grade, I would do a variety of center activities with my students. Mine didn’t look as appealing as elementary centers because of lack of space and resources. However, I always felt like I used the same ideas over and over (online games, videos, etc.). These books are awesome because students can work on them independently and they are easy to check. There is also minimal set up because all you need are the books, pens, and a tissue or paper towel.
  2. Remedial or Enrichment activities. As teachers we are always told to differentiate, and these books are PERFECT for doing just that. I suggest using these during math and/or reading instruction because that is where they would fit the curriculum best. Also, if you have ICS or pull out, these books would be perfect to use during those times as well.

Parents

  1. Extra Practice or jumpstart skills. As a parent, you can use these books however they work best for your child. They start at basic skills (pen control, learning the alphabet and counting, and common words) and continue into harder concepts, such as times tables and telling time. Again, it’s up to you as a parent to determine to use these books for fun, extra practice, or to jumpstart skills that will be taught in school.
    1. Independently. Over the years I have had parents ask me what they can do at home to help their kids with skills. Some parents want to be able to give their kids worksheets to do on their own, and these books can work the exact same way.
    2. Buddy Work (Parent). Similar to how some parents like independent work, others like to do practice work with their kids. One great strategy could be you do one page and talk about your thinking process aloud, then have your child do the same on another page. This allows kids to hear and see how an adult works and when they imitate an adult, it gives the parent a chance to understand their child’s thinking.
    3. Buddy Work (Sibling, relative, friend). Kids love to do activities with someone wipe-clean-pirate-activityelse. These books are a great opportunity to have your child interact with a sibling, relative, or friend. For the activity books, your child can do a part and their “helper” can do another. For instance, in the Dot to Dot books, there are dots to connect and words to write on each page. Depending on what the child wants or needs, they do that part and the “helper” would do the other.
  2. Fun activity books. While it’s great that these books can be used for writing and math skills, they are also meant to be fun and entertaining. As mentioned above, they are easy to transport and require little to no set up and clean up. Kids can complete mazes, dot to dots, and theme activities like dinosaurs and pirates.

For a complete look at the collection head over to Usborne. If you see anything you think could be useful for your classroom and/or little one, purchases can be made here.