Friday, March 30, 2012

Making Reading Come to Life

As the last installment in a series on literature, I would like to share information about activities that many of us may not associate with reading. Activities such as reciting nursery rhymes, finger plays, and arts or crafts are just some of the activities that are often overlooked as an important part of building reading skills.

Ben, DCM staff, reads
Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?
by Margaret Wang to a group of children in
our Family Resource Center
 Nursery rhymes are known for their familiarity and poetic prose. Rhymes like Humpty, Dumpty and Little Miss Muffet capture attention in a way that books with a more detailed story line cannot. These rhymes have a distinct set of poetic rhythms that make them easy to recite and fun when motion is added. Finger play with rhymes such as the Itsy-Bitsy Spider take on new significance because of the actions used to accompany the rhyme. Click on the link provided here for some of your favorite rhymes.

Adding art or craft activities can aid in a better understanding of a story. Arts or crafts can lead to engaging conversation that may enhance comprehension. Try accompanying the activity with discussion about the story that was read. Ask, “What was your favorite part of the book?” Or, “Do you remember what happened when…”

Also, spring is a great time to read the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. The colors are vibrant, the story is explorative and the art work jumps from the page. Take a look at the popular website pinterest for activities that can make this story come to life.

Whatever you might do, enjoy where reading takes you!

Mollie Willis, M.S., Curriculum & Instruction
is Early Learning Specialist for DCM. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Encouraging Your Developing Reader

Reading to children is a critical part of developing an interest in language and books.

Setting up a time where children can expect to be read to will give them a sense of comfort that only a routine can give. As you read, run your finger under the text to help establish a connection between the words that are being read and the words on the page. You may even talk about letters and the sounds letters make, or the fact that letters build words and words together become stories.

Don’t be discouraged if toddlers wriggle around, stand or even play during reading time. This does not mean that the child isn’t interested or is not listening. As toddlers grow, you can draw them in by asking, “What is happening in this picture?” This will help to develop a sense of using picture clues while reading.

Cat in the Hat and companions visit DCM.
Dr. Suess books can be a fun part of any shared reading time!
 In addition, making predictions is a reading strategy that can peak a child’s interest in reading before a book is even opened. Ask, “What do you think this story is about?” while looking at the cover of the book. Making predictions together can also help keep a child interested once you start reading. During the story you may ask, “What do you think will happen next?” Encourage all answers and don’t worry about making an incorrect prediction.

Reading skills can blossom with guidance from supportive adults and caregivers. Share reading time with a child and check with your local library to learn about programs that utilize early literacy strategies to encourage reading.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Providing an Opportunity for Reading

In the previous blog, we discussed ways to encourage a younger audience to interact with books. Information was included about introducing infants and toddlers to books they can look at, hold and with which they can interact. Between the ages of 2 and 5, children begin to turn the pages and become interested in the subject matter of a book. This is an exciting time. Try supporting this emerging literacy by rotating the books available, reading a variety of titles and offering books that focus on an area of interest for the individual child.

Eric, Museum volunteer and extraordinary story teller
Growing an interest in reading includes encouraging reading activities and providing an opportunity for reading. This can entail story telling, singing nursery rhymes together, frequent trips to the library and accessibility to books at home. Quick and easy access to books provides opportunity for reading that may lie dormant if books are tucked behind cabinet doors or stored in closets. Furthermore, when children see you read and see books as part of everyday life, it can send a message that reading is important and can be fun and exciting!

Seize the opportunity to share reading with a child – at home, at the your local library and at the Museum where there are books in every Neighborhood. Happy reading!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Growing an Interest in Reading

Literacy has always been an important topic in early learning. As children grow more proficient, their reading becomes important to learning other new concepts. Fluent, comprehension-based reading helps young readers apply meaning, understand a complex story line and follow instructions independently. These skills are helpful whether reading for pleasure, working on a science project or understanding complex math problems.

Simple activities at a young age can encourage a foundation for reading and enjoyment that lasts a lifetime. One of the easiest ways to provide an opportunity for reading is to be sure books are available and accessible! For infants this can mean black and white or chunky books propped up during time spent on their stomachs (with the supervision of a caregiver) or when holding infants or toddlers and reading to them regularly.

As children grow, they will want to handle books. Handling books is part of a developmental process that establishes a connection between the child and books. Try to store children’s books on low shelving where they can grab, chew, toss, pick up and hold their favorite titles. Offer books of various sizes and shapes that you won’t mind losing to toddlers who are learning how to handle them appropriately.

No matter how you choose to encourage reading, creating space for books and special reading time can go a long way in promoting lifelong reading habits and enjoyment!

Join us for story time at DCM
We are excited to welcome the Naperville Public Library for story time…

When: The first Wednesday of each month at 10:00 a.m.
Where: Family Resource Center, 2nd floor

*Stay tuned for further blogs on literacy – including more on providing opportunity for reading, creating reading space and making reading come to life. Enjoy!