Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Playing with Sounds and Patterns/Engaged Interactive Read Alouds

Today I was so excited to talk with my friend and colleague, Stacey Kannenberg on her radio show "The Ready to Learn Mom"As you can see from the title of this blog, our topic was again for parents of younger readers.  Although the focus will be on preschool - 1st grade, many of the ideas discussed can be used with children throughout elementary school.

As usual, we had a great time sharing ideas with parents and others loving and interacting with children.  If you didn't hear the show live, you can listen to the podcast from Stacey's website.  The date of the show is 1/27/10.  If you were able to join us, there are many resources listed here that we referred to in the show.

Playing with sounds and patterns of sound in our language is especially important for children as they are learning how to spell and how to decode words.  Besides, it's fun.  Think about silly rhymes and rhyming songs you love (I was listening to country music this morning before the show and heard lots of rhymes).  Don't forget tongue-twisters.  When writing my new book Anytime Reading Readiness, I collected a tongue-twister for every letter of the alphabet and listed them.  Here's the one for X:

The excited experts explained that the extra X-rays were excellent (remember that we're playing with sound, not letters so the fact that many of these words start with -ex but are the "cksssss" sound you get when you say the letter "x" is OK).

Dr. Seuss always played with silly animals and names in his books so anytime you pick up one of his titles (like Cat in the Hat or Hop on Pop) you are playing with those sounds integral to our language.

Here's a list of five other books with terrific rhymes and beginning sound emphasis.  Stop from time to time as you read and point out the sounds that are same and different within the words you are reading.  Talking about words gives your child a new level of awareness.

A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes by Liz Scanlon
Jazz Baby by Liz Wheeler
Baby Bear, Baby Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
Bear Hugs:  Romatically Ridiculous Animal Rhymes by Karma Wilson
My First Action Rhymes by Lynne Cravath (complete with actions - you and your child don't have to sit still when you read!)

The Library Lady shares practical ways to play as well on her website in an article about how young children learn.  Scholastic points out that playing with poetry is another good way to pay attention to those patterns.
Check out Anytime Reading Readiness (for parents of 3-6 year olds) and Before They Read (for teachers) for even more ideas!

A Primer for Engaged Interactive Read Aloud

Introduce the book with a prediction (try to figure out by the title and the illustrations on the cover what the book will be about - don't just guess, put some thought and exploration into it).  HINT: Predictions don't have to be correct to be a good one.

Interruptions by the reader or the listener are always allowed!

Changing your voice, pausing, being intense and slowing down all add to the drama of the story (after all, we're competing with TV and videos)

Thinking, wondering and pondering with your child as you read

Posing "how" and "why" questions at times.

Enjoying the text together.

For more on all of these topics, visit TLA's website and check out Anytime Reading Readiness (for parents) and Before They Read (for educators)- two brand new titles from Maupin House for partnering between families and educators of children ages 3-6.  They've even combined these two titles into a Home/School Literacy Partnership Set of 2 teacher books and 20 parent books for classroom collaborations.

Have fun!

Starting your Tween's and Teen's New Year with Reading

Dropping in quickly to with a few tidbits for those with older, independent readers (ages 6-18).  The new Kindles, MP3 players and other devises make having books more affordable (under $10 most of the time) and portable.  Not able to afford a book reader?  Try audio downloads available as well.  Take advantage of the fact that your young person loves technology and consider one for them sometime this year. 

The local Huntsville/Madison County Public Library in my home of Huntsville, AL is loaning downloads of ebooks (a great idea).  Visit their site to see how they do it and share the idea with your local library too.

Remember when helping choose titles (really let the kids do the choosing) to gravitate to high interest and light topics for the everyday "recreational" reading you want to encourage.  Starting in middle school, kids get a lot of reading assignments at school but you want them to stay connected to the fun, the wonder, the draw of books that are "off that official list" and are chosen specifically by the end reader.  In fact, a friend of mine, Jim Cope of Kennesaw State University did a study several years ago in Georgia that revealed that choice was the major factor in whether older students continued to read past the "snuggle and cuddle stage" of reading with their families. 

Here are just a few titles to consider:

Young Adult: Fang by James Patterson
                     Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
                     Ana's Story:  A Journey of Hope by Jenna Bush

Tweens:         Long Shadows by Erin Hunter
                      So B. It by Sarah Weeks
                      Smiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli

Don't forget the importance of talking with your child about what they are reading - no drills, just good conversation.