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Are you expecting a second child? Purchase a book for your little one to give to his or her new sibling. This not only reinforces the importance of books in your home, but is also a keepsake.
Is your baby beginning to crawl? Set a soft, colorful book a few feet in front of your child. This is a great motivator and reinforces the idea that books are an integral part of daily life.
Take stock of your child’s reading library. Does your child’s bookshelf have a diverse compilation of books? Do you have a smattering of nonfiction books? Do you have at least one series? Are your child’s books of varying lengths and levels? Do you have a nursery rhyme book in your collection, or a compilation of classic stories? Are there magazines available? Do you have any wordless picture books? What other "must haves" do you think a good young library should include?
Playing is an essential learning tool for your little one, and young children are not discerning. They will ‘play’ with whatever is presented to them. Keep interesting, easy to manipulate books open and available on your child’s eye level. Then sit back, and watch the play.
Have your little one pick one or two books to bring into his or her crib or bed each night, just as you might a favorite blanket or stuffed animal. This not only reinforces the idea that books are an important part of daily life, but also can give your child another friend to fall asleep with. Added bonus: if he wakes up early, he has something to read before he calls out to wake up his siblings or parents!
As often as is possible, connect your child's daily life with one of his or her books. Simply referencing a story while eating, playing, or engaging in an activity will help your little one think about the books you have shared together.
If you attend storytime, you are giving your child more than an enjoyable outing, you are giving them a ahead start. Storytime introduces children to new vocabulary, ideas, authors and illustrators, develops imagination, models listening and oral reading skills to both children and adults, exposes children to art, music and creative activities, and also to a community of book lovers.
Do you attend story time at your local bookstore? If you can’t make it to one of these wonderful, personalized book readings, Barnes & Noble has an online story time, featuring one book a month, read by an author or celebrity. Some examples: Green Eggs and Ham, read by Rachel Ray, Snuggle Puppy, read by Sandra Boynton, Splish, Splash, Splat!, read by Molly Ringwold, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, read by Laura Numeroff. Previously released selections are also available.
Does your child love penguins, sharks, turtles, or other aquatic creatures? Does your little one enjoy zoo animals? A great way to extend a trip to the aquarium, zoo, or other destination is to promote your child’s interest and contribute to your growing library. Visit the gift shop, which usually has a nice selection of books for all ages focused specifically on animals or other related topics.
There are many wonderful books written for children about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We love Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo for preschoolers and older children. For younger children, our friends at Playful Preschool recommend the board book The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Johnny Ray Moore. Books about historical figures and events are nice to read at the table when everyone is sitting together, and can spark rich, interesting conversations that bring meaning to important holidays. Fan Michelle Devine Hallman also recommends Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport.
Can you recite a favorite nursery rhyme? If so, someone did you a favor. According to the National Institute for Literacy (Jan. 09) the words in rhymes become part of a child’s early speaking vocabulary because of their repetition. Words that children use in their speaking vocabulary later become part of their reading vocabulary at a more rapid pace. Rhymes also provide an introduction to rhythm and contain words/contexts caregivers do not typically use with little ones. (For example, “fetch” and “tumbling” from Jack and Jill.) In addition, concepts such as counting, time, measurement, position, and weather are found in many traditional rhymes. There are many wonderful nursery rhyme treasuries available at your local library or bookstore. Pick one up today.
If you are without a book (or have gone through what you brought for an outing), retelling a favorite story is a wonderful way to expose young children to factual recall and oral language skills, including expression and vocabulary. You might also ask your child to ‘help you remember’ what comes next in a story or devise a new ending.
Your local children’s museum is a wealth of interesting activities and drop in classes. Exhibits are sometimes even tied to popular children’s literature, such as Arthur and Friends, which is an easy way to make book connections with your child. They also often have books in their gift shops dedicated to exhibit-related topics or special places in your area. A book souvenir is a nice way to indefinitely extend a day at the museum.
Visiting a foreign country? Visit a local bookstore and look for a copy of a favorite children’s book printed in the native language. In addition to having a memorable souvenir, kids can “read” the familiar story and can see that children everywhere enjoy reading! Colorful picture books often need no translation, so you and your child can also enjoy a new story.
Home is not the only place you can keep books easily accessible for your child. Keep a small cloth bin of books next to your child’s car seat. He can entertain himself, or ‘read’ aloud to you while you drive. If you live in the city or don’t drive, consider keeping a small bag of books stored in the bottom of the stroller -you won’t have to scramble as you are leaving, and they’ll be available if you have an unexpected wait somewhere.
Will you use these words with your child today: Clever, Professor, Scientist, Launching, Moment, Clearly, Lever, Parachute, Medal? If you read Curious George and the Rocket [H.A.Rey] you will. Studies show that adults speak the same words over, and over again. Expand the words your child hears by reading words an author has chosen. The more authors you read, the more vocabulary your little one will be exposed to, overall.
Getting away for the weekend or vacation? Present your child with a wrapped book about your destination as a trip begins, so she can be on the lookout for places mentioned in the book. Alternately, present the book as the trip home begins, so she can reminisce. Either way, you are helping your child actively think about and make personal connections about what she reads.
Read the words you come across everyday. Words you find in your daily life provide a natural springboard for early reading. Is there a sign you pass everyday, or words at your child’s eye level? Read them aloud. Do you have words written on art or on picture frames in your child’s room? Is your little one wearing a shirt with words? Point to those words and sound them out slowly. It will not be long before your child can repeat familiar words back to you.
“Do you have a wagon that’s permanently parked? Use it indoors as a stylish bookmobile, says New York City organizer Chip Cordelli. Store board books spines up so kids can easily see and select their stories.” (Real Simple) No wagon? Gather a set of casters and a piece of rope from your local hardware store, and attach them to a crate or box. If you have a new crawler, pull the Bookmobile along, enticing him or her to follow. Be sure to reward all that crawling with a favorite story.
Will you use these words with your child today: Startled, Interrupted, Declared, Fantastic, Chirped, Banner, Wondrous, Mighty, Gorgeous, Lively, Disturbed, Captivated, Familiar, Hollered, Arrived, Appeared, Gusty, Glorious? If you read How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills you will. Also a Parents' Choice Honor Book, Rocket touches on seasons, weather patterns, migration, emotions, perseverance, letters and spelling.