Friday, February 26, 2010

Keep love in your heart

I am a huge, huge advocate for reading to your children. OK, so I was a 1st/2nd grade teacher and that makes me a little biased, I guess. I taught in a not-so-nice area of Los Angeles and English was the second language of most of my students. They started out at a disadvantage and it made teaching more of a challenge. Experts say that you should spend something like 2000 hours of “on the lap” reading for your children to develop the pre-reading skills they need to start school. Advertisements promote 20 minutes a day. I say, the more time your kids will sit and listen, the more you should read to them.

I have read to both of my girls, from before they were even born. Every night includes a bedtime story. Every day we try to read something else together, and because I have gotten them used to this, it’s usually a lot more. Joy has her own library card, and Marlo is due to get her own pretty soon. We enjoy our weekly trips to the library. Joy knows the librarians and loves to see “Miss Amy” and “Miss Susie” when we go. They know the girls by name and seem to be as excited to see the girls as they are them. They participate in the summer reading program and go to many of the extra activities, like story hour, arts and crafts, and family night. Getting the books is quite an experience…

I have a big bag from Michael’s Craft Store. I like to do crafts when I have more than one spare moment to myself. This bag is no longer a craft bag, though. It has been commissioned for our library books. We are allowed to check out 25 at one time. This means 24 for the girls and one for me. We walk into the children’s room and they head straight for the shelves. Marlo isn’t very particular. A few board books and a few with pretty pictures and she’s good to go. Joy is just starting to read some sight words, but even so, she is still a little more selective. Anything with wolves, princesses, or frogs really appeals to her. Anything with writing that is too little is out. Anything with a recipe to try out is in. She is amazingly good at finding exactly what she wants. My job is to keep Marlo from pulling every book off the shelves while running behind Joy and catching her selections in the Michael’s bag. Every once in a while we get a dud and we vow never to waste our time on that book again. But almost every trip we find a new favorite.

Here is a list of Joy’s favorite books, in case you are looking for a good read with your kids. Keep in mind she’s 4 so your older kids might not appreciate them so much, but they will probably be a hit with the younger crowd. (This is a small sample because I don’t want to take up all the space on the internet!)

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Oh, My Baby Little One by Kathi Appelt
Hillside Lullaby by Hope Vestergaard
Frannie B. Krannie There’s a Bird in your Hair by Harriet Lerner
Gunnywolf by A. Delaney
Betsy who Cried Wolf by Gail Carson Levine
Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard
Tumble Me Tumbily by Karen Baicker
Hello Lulu/Happy Birthday, Lulu by Caroline Uff Walker

And now, there is a new one. Last night we reached into our bag and pulled out “Keep Love in Your Heart, Little One” by Giles Andreae. I didn’t even know it was in there—I’ve never even heard of it before. If there ever was a book that tugs at your heartstrings, it’s this one. We all loved it so much that I think we are going to have to buy it—it’s a keeper.

Whatever your kids are into, find them books about that. Be enthusiastic. Use different voices for different characters. Talk about the different parts of the book. Show them the copyright symbol and tell them that’s the book’s birthday—they love to know if the book is older or younger than they are! Make time to read to them everyday—it’s that important. Not only does it help them in school (up until 4th grade they learn to read, after that they read to learn),but it also helps to develop their imaginations, gives them something to do rather than watch TV or play video games (which actually inhibits their imagination), and it helps to build their vocabulary. It’s never too late to start reading with your kids. And it’s good for you, too—you get to spend some quality time with some of the most important people in your life.

Happy reading and remember…keep love in your heart!

Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.

1 comment:

  1. Perfect. It's so true. you need to read to your children, get them excited, help them learn more about what they are interested in. It helps them grow tremendously.



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