Soup with a Story

dumpling-soup

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator
Family Reading Partnership

Though not yet officially winter, the cold has set in and my favorite part of the culinary year is finally here- soup season. There are few things more satisfying than a bowl of steaming soup on a nippy day, warming us body, mind, and spirit. For the ultimate cold day, soup-eating experience with young children, I recommend recreating soup recipes that can be found within favorite children’s books.

There are several engaging stories that weave the step-by-step process of creating a wonderful soup with a lovely story. There are also others that feature soup as a significant aspect of the story and of which you can easily find recipes to recreate online or in a favorite cookbook. Either way, you’re sure to be in the mood for soup by the time you’ve finished reading the book!

To turn a few minutes of reading together into an afternoon of fun, why not make the soup from the book? Making soup is an art that has it’s own natural rhythm. The process can be just as comforting as the end result and both are a wonderful experience to share. Are you new to making soup? No worries! Soup is an art, but a very forgiving one, which can easily be mastered and customized to fit your own tastes.

  • Choose a soup-themed book

Before delving into the book with your child, take a moment to read it over             yourself first, particularly the recipe. Take note of the ingredients, materials, and             steps involved.

  • Read the book together

Read through the book as you normally would and then go back and talk about             the process of making the soup. What ingredients were used? What did the             characters in the book do first? What did they do next?

  • Look over the recipe together

Read the recipe together and relate the materials and ingredients needed to those             that were used in the book. If you have the ingredients on hand, you can begin             prepping them. If not, work together with your child to write a shopping list,  again relating back to the pictures of the book.

  • Make soup!

Once your ingredients are prepped, show your child the step-by-step instructions             of putting together your soup. If your child is old enough, you can talk about the             importance of following the steps in order and making sure you don’t leave any             steps out.

  • Use your senses

Talk about how the ingredients look, taste, feel, and smell before they are put into             the soup and once they are cooking, and again when the soup is done.

  • Go back to the book

Refer back to the book often, pointing out how the characters completed specific             steps and what their soup looked like at different points of the cooking process.             After enjoying your soup, re-read the book together. Ask your child about what he or she liked and didn’t like about the process and the soup itself. Was his or her experience similar to that of the characters of the book? What would he or she do differently next time?

Soup books with recipes:
Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan
Soup Day by Melissa Iwai
Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
Pretend Soup Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

Books that feature soup:
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak
Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
The Cat Who Liked Potato Soup by Terry Farish
Everybody Serves Soup by Norah Dooley

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My Favorite Book Tradition

books

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator
Family Reading Partnership

 

As the leaves start to fall and the nights set in ever earlier, with signs of Jack Frost’s midnight escapades when we wake, thoughts in my home start wandering toward ‘the books’. Even my anticipation rises as I look forward to the joy of a few quiet hours, so precious in themselves as a parent, spent pouring over the books, reliving heart-warming memories as I wrap the books with newspaper or the remnants of last year’s holiday paper. When the time comes, these books will be unwrapped, more carefully than any gift, in reverence of what they mean to our family- togetherness and love during the holiday season.

These books are a collection of both old and some new holiday and winter-themed tales, collected overtime from many places- my childhood, from loved ones, from Bright Red Bookshelves in the community, yard sales, thrift stores, school book fairs, and local booksellers- all selected to be part of this elite group of books because they are meaningful to our family in some way. Lovingly wrapped and cradled in their own festive crate, these books have a designated place of honor amidst our holiday décor.

Each night, starting the day after Thanksgiving and ending on our big winter holiday, our family chooses two wrapped books from the crate. Before the books are unwrapped, the children love to try to guess which book is under the paper, in hopes of getting their favorites but never disappointed if it isn’t because they are all so special to us. Then, we pile onto the couch, with our cat, inevitably, budging his way on to someone’s lap, not willing to miss this family holiday book tradition, and we snuggle under the quilt meticulously hand-stitched so long ago by my beloved great-grandmother to lose ourselves in the spirit-lifting winter wonderlands of these stories.

This nightly ritual gathers us together and gives us pause during the bustling holiday season. We crave these quiet moments of reading and reminiscing together, all heading to bed with sweet words and memories to keep us cozy during the long winter nights. These books, gifts in themselves to be sure, become a focal point of our holiday celebrations, with reading together the most treasured piece of this seasonal ritual.

After the holidays, when all the books have been read and re-read countless times, the crate of holiday joy is quietly tucked away in the back of a dark closet. There they will await their time of glory next holiday season.

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Make the most of family time this fall with books

 

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator
Family Reading Partnership

Piles of crunchy leaves, a spicy bite in the air, chilly mornings, and flocking geese; all these signs point to fall. When this time of year rolls around, we tend to take notice of and truly appreciate the colorful, yet slowly browning outside world, with a few moments of summer-like sun sprinkled in for good measure. We spend more time at home enjoying the warmth thrown off by a baking oven overflowing with delicious, tempting smells, and lingering just that much longer in the comfort of a cozy blanket with a steaming cuppa and a few good books. Children love the extra family time that comes as a result and reading together is the best way to make the most of it.

Here are some ideas of expanding on your time spent reading together and incorporating books into your fall activities.

‘Leaf Man’ by Lois Ehlert, is a book that features collages of real leaves made to tell the story of the very busy leaf man, traveling wherever the wind takes him. You may enjoy taking a walk outside to collect leaves to make your own leaf people and animals. What types of leaves work best for feet? Heads? Hair?

‘Why Do Leaves Change Color?’ by Betsy Maestro teaches you all about why and how leaves change in the fall when the weather turns cool. You can explore the park or your yard to see what kinds of leaves you can find and talk about how and why the leaves change from green to red, yellow, orange, and brown. If you find a green leaf, make a guess at what color it might turn!

Explore different types of leaves with ‘Autumn Leaves’ by Ken Robbins. How many of the leaves in the book can you identify in your own back yard? To preserve the beautiful leaves and make your own book with them, cut contact paper to the desired size, then press leaves onto the sticky side of the paper. Carefully cover with another sheet of contact paper, slowly smoothing out the air bubbles. Make a cover out of a cereal box or construction paper and decorate.

To learn about the growth cycle of pumpkins, check out ‘Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden’ by George Levenson. You and your child will see the pumpkin’s process from seed, to plant, to fruit, and then as it decomposes. Try it with a pumpkin at home! Cut open a pumpkin and take a look at the seeds. You can even save a few to plant next year. Leave the pumpkin outside and watch it decompose as time goes on. You can even keep a diary of the pumpkin and draw pictures of how it looks as it changes.

‘Pumpkin Soup’ by Helen Cooper is a charming tale about a dog, a cat, and a duck that live together and make pumpkin soup together every night, each with their own special part of the process. Enjoy reading the recipe at the end of the book and following the steps to make the pumpkin soup recipe with your family!

‘Cranberry Thanksgiving’ by Wende and Harry Devlin has always been a favorite at my house. This funny tale offers a glimpse of the New England autumn and teaches us not to judge others by their appearances. You’ll also find the secret recipe for Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread in this book- a fall time favorite that you can recreate with your own family!

‘In November’ by Cynthia Rylant is a sweet story about how the earth and all it’s creatures prepare for winter. When you look outside or go for a walk, what winter preparations do you see taking place? What does your family do to get ready for winter?

 

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Connecting with Grandchildren and Books via Skype

grandparesnt-readingkeepintouchwithgrandparents_skypestorytime

by Elizabeth Stilwell
Early Childhood Specialist

If you are like many grandparents today, you may be experiencing the “love lag” of having young grandchildren who live far away and out of arm’s reach. More and more long distance grandparents are closing that gap using Skype, a service that allows you to communicate by voice and video over your computer. Seeing your grandchild on screen, watching all the new developments and making sure that they are familiar with your voice and your face, can make a big difference in feeling connected. Skype is also a great way to create read-aloud rituals with toddlers and young children.

 

If you are new to Skype – don’t worry! Chances are that you have everything you need to Skype. The setup involves a computer and a webcam. Most newer computers come with built-in webcams. Your computer will need a high-speed connection and you’ll need to use a speaker or earphones. That’s it! Then go to skype.com and set up your account. It is a free service and your adult children can help you with the simple set up and operations.

 

Reading aloud to children is a time-honored tradition used by grandparents to create special connections and memories with grandchildren. Although it’s not the same as having a little one snuggled on your lap, starting read-aloud rituals through Skype is another way to create and maintain meaningful relationships. Here are a few tips to make this experience more engaging for your grandchild and more rewarding to you.

 

  1. Choose books that are simple and age appropriate.   Often we remember childhood books that we read to young children when they were five or six. If you are reading to a toddler, classic picture books like ‘Make Way for Ducklings,’ or ‘The Little Engine That Could,’ have too much text and plot to keep a very young child engaged. It’s best to start with a simple board book, possibly with rhyming words or repeated phrases. Visit your library and get some help from the children’s librarian to find a rich selection of stories that are appropriate for you grandchild. The best part of this is that you can then invite your grandchild (and his/her parents) to check out the same story at his or her own local library!

 

  1. Make a “Skype date” for your read-aloud. Call or text your adult children to find a time that works for you to read to your grandchild. This should be separate from a regular video chat. The read-aloud Skype date will be a special time for you to share a story. Eventually try to set up a regular reading time that you can all plan on and look forward to.

 

  1. Practice the logistics of Skype reading with your spouse or another adult. It might feel awkward at first and if you practice you can be sure that you are holding the book so the child can see the illustrations and that you’re comfortable. Try pausing after reading each page and then do a “close up” so your grandchild can point to things in the illustration, just as they would in a traditional book. Read through the story in advance so you can anticipate characters, plot, and create special voices.

 

  1. Add a finger play, rhyme or song. Often at library story times for young children, the experience starts with a brief song or finger-play. This “warms up” the audience and helps the children settle in for the story. You could start each Skype story-time with the Itsy-Bitsy Spider, Patty-Cake, or any other simple song or finger play. Here is a website with songs and finger plays in case you need some inspiration! http://www.songsforteaching.com/fingerplays

 

  1. Read chapter books to older children. At Family Reading Partnership we believe that reading aloud to children should continue well beyond the time they can read independently. Sharing reading time with older children through Skype is a gift of time that you as a grandparent can give. It might be while parents are busy making dinner or as a break from homework. Invite your grandchild to check some books out of the library, choose a book to share and text you the title so you can check out the same book. Or, as a special treat, send a copy of a book to the child, maybe one that you remember reading aloud to your own children. Invite your grandchild to read ahead if it’s too hard to wait for your next Skype reading time but to let you know so you can do the same. Then have a conversation about the book in your own private Skype “book group”. In real time, these focused interactions can sometimes be hard to schedule in the busy world of young families. Skype can actually be a more intentional one to one interaction with an older grandchild.

 

There is a quote I love by Lois Wyse that says, “Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation”. Sharing books through Skype is one more way for long distance grandparents to help connect the dots!

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Modern libraries have much to offer

 

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator

When you think of a library, what image comes to mind? A large, dusty room patrolled by a stern-looking librarian ready to glare at and shush you if you dare to make a peep? Or do you think of friendly, light-filled rooms full of activity and smiling faces, a happy librarian on the floor singing and doing finger plays; while in the next room, children are building with Legos and families are designing forts to act as their very own reading oasis for the evening? If the latter description doesn’t sound much like a library to you, it’s time to take a trip to your local library!

Modern libraries are gathering places for the community. At the library, one can view an art exhibit, listen to lectures, watch movies, and participate in book groups. Patrons can enjoy any variety of story times, read with cats and dogs, treat their favorite plush friend to a sleepover, participate in STEM events, play games and, of course, read! And all of those activities and books you can read? They’re free. And open to everyone. These books and activities are the library’s gift to the community.

Libraries have so much to offer, much more than I have mentioned here. The next time you’re looking for something to do, head to your local library! Check out the variety of activities your library has to offer. From infants to seniors and every age in between- the library has something for everyone!

Check out these events happening at local libraries:

Tompkins County Public Library

Laura Doherty Performance: Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Laura Doherty will make a rare tour stop in Ithaca. She has won multiple awards, including the American Library Association’s prestigious Notable Children’s Recording Award.

LEGO at the Library: Saturdays from 2 to 3 p.m. Children are invited to attend this weekly LEGO building program. ‘LEGO at the Library’ encourages children to use their imaginations or LEGO books from the TCPL collection to create their own LEGO art! The library provides LEGO bricks, and all creation will be displayed at the library for one week!

Yoga Storytime with Diane Hamilton: Wednesday August 24 and 31 from 10 to 10:45 a.m. Children ages 3-10 are invited to join yoga instructor Diane Hamilton for ‘Yoga Storytime’ to bring favorite stories to life with yoga pose. No yoga experience or mat required, but comfortable clothing is recommended.

Ulysses Philomathic Library

Farmers’ Market Storytime: Wednesdays until October 26, from 5 to 6 p.m. at Trumansburg Farmer’s Market.

Summer Storytime and Art Project: Thursdays until September 29, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Southworth Library

Guided Storywalk: August 20 and 27 from 11 a.m. to noon at the Montgomery Park Storywalk.

Pajama Storytime and Author Visit: Friday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Children will hear “How to Put Your Parents to Bed’ by Mylisa Larsen.

Lansing Community Library

Preschool Storytime: Every Tuesday at 1 p.m. This event includes stories, crafts and fun for preschool children.

Toddler Storytime: Every Thursday from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Geared especially toward toddlers with new themes each week!

Newfield Public Library

Family Storytime: Every Tuesday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Themes for the next two events are games and the circus!

Groton Public Library

Fun Day: Every Tuesday until August 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Join other kids for a half-day of fun and activity that includes read-aloud, crafts, lunch and free play!

Tween Nerf Wars @ the Village Park: Aug. 26 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Bring your nerf guns and ammo, if you have them. Some are available to borrow. Hot dogs and s’mores provided!

For complete lists of activities, please visit each library’s website.

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Read-aloud for Big Kids!

teen

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator
Family Reading Partnership

Everyone loves a good story. Infant, child or adult, we all enjoy tales that entertain us, teach us about the world, and connect us with others. This is why so many children- including big kids- crave read-aloud and “just one more book!”

Although read aloud is widely considered one of the most important things parents can do to influence the future success of their children in both life and school, it’s startling to learn that only one in three children ages 6-8 (34%) are read aloud to at home 5-7 days a week. By age 9, that number is halved to just one in six children (17%) and drops even more dramatically after age 11. (Scholastic’s ‘Kids and Family Reading Report’)

This loss of read-aloud robs children of the numerous benefits and pleasures that come with time spent reading with a family member. There is no reason to stop reading aloud to children, no matter what their age. In fact, there is much to support continuing read-aloud long after your child has learned to read on his or her own.

Read-aloud builds relationships.
When reading with your child you explore many topics together. As you both share your thoughts and opinions about these topics, you have an opportunity to model respectful listening and your child has the opportunity to practice this skill. When you have differing points of view, as may often be the case, discussions about why you each feel the way you do allow you to develop a deeper understanding of each other, strengthening your bond and associating the sense of closeness with read-aloud.

As children enter their teen years, parents may find read-aloud particularly helpful in lieu of lecturing when the need to discuss tough topics arises. Telling your child you don’t want them participating in certain risky activities or befriending a particular person may not be well received and instead seen by your child as you not trusting them. But by reading a book together about a kid that finds himself tangled up with the wrong crowd, your child will be able to experience the situation and possible consequences that you are guiding him or her away from. When reading together, you have the opportunity to talk about these situations and discuss what a character could have done differently or about what your child would have done in that situation, leading your child to a clearer understanding of why you cautioned against those activities or friends. Being able to have honest, open dialogue with one another is an important aspect of a strong relationship.

Read-aloud supports learning and school success.
A child’s listening level, the level at which he or she comprehends what he or she is hearing, is far more advanced than what he or she can comprehend while reading. Most children reading at a fourth grade level will be able to understand read-aloud from a sixth or seventh grade level book. Hearing read-aloud of a higher-level will increase the number of complex vocabulary words the child hears. Research shows that children with larger vocabularies perform better in school than those less familiar with words. Since most instruction in school is relayed orally, a child with a larger vocabulary will have an advantage because he or she will be able to comprehend more of what the teacher is saying.

Read-aloud models fluency, which is especially beneficial for struggling readers. Read-aloud demonstrates how we read language; noting exclamations and questions with voice inflections, pausing at appropriate times in a story, at commas and periods, and showing that even a seasoned reader sometimes stumbles over an unfamiliar or difficult to pronounce word and how one can work though it.

Read-aloud creates community.
In addition to teaching children the art of truly listening and the skills to share their point of view while respecting the opinions of those that think differently, read-aloud develops awareness of others outside our frequented circles. By offering a view of the world that may not otherwise be experienced, children are able to gain empathy for and understanding of the lives others lead. With broadened horizons, a child is better able to determine what they value, and accept others regardless of their differences, making our communities a better place for us all.

 Read-aloud encourages a lifetime of reading.
Simply put, reading begets reading. A child that is read to will be a child that develops a love of reading. With warm memories of snuggling up with a parent and a book, or of a teacher taking time out of the day to devote to reading aloud from a chapter book, a child will develop a love of reading that will bring a lifetime of great joy, as the books they explore offer incredible experiences from worlds near and far.

Melissa Perry is the program coordinator of the Family Reading Partnership. Please send comments or your familys favorite childrens book titles to Melissa@familyreading.org or call (607) 277-8602. Family Reading Partnership is a community coalition that has joined forces to promote family reading across the community by placing books into the hands, homes, and hearts of children and families.

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Read All Summer Long!

girl reading

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator

Have you heard of the ‘summer slide’? Not the slide at the park, the slide that affects learning and the retention of knowledge. Did you know that children regress in their academic skills during the summer months? Fortunately, this can be avoided with one simple act- reading! Reading throughout the summer can prevent the loss of skills and knowledge and is a great activity to do with your child. Check out the tips below for planning a successful summer of reading.

Model Reading
Let your child see you finding pleasure in reading each day!

Read Together
Read aloud to your child, or have an older sibling or family friend read with him or her. Let your child read to a younger child, the family pet, or a favorite stuffed animal!

Let Them Decide
Let your child choose what he or she reads. Remember- newspapers, magazines, and comic books count!

Make Time
Set aside time each day to read. Make it an enjoyable time that everyone looks forward to! You can create a reading area with comfy blankets and a spot for books- inside or outside!

Take Reading on the Road
Whether you’re headed to the park down the street, a friend’s house the next town over or to visit family across the country, don’t leave home without something to read! Reading in the perfect way to occupy the lulls of travel time.

Host a Book SwapInvite your friends to gather up some books they are ready to pass on, and then get together to trade. You’ll have something new to read and the books will find new homes.

For more activity ideas, please visit www.familyreading.org.

 

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