Babies and Books

baby

by Elizabeth Stilwell
Early Childhood Specialist

There is an abundance of advice about the benefits of reading with babies, but what if your baby doesn’t respond…or reacts by crying? The first and best tip for sharing books with babies is to enjoy the time together. The next is, don’t give up! Research confirms that reading to babies and surrounding them with words, contributes to the development of language and their growing brains. An added bonus is that the emotional connection to this special, one to one time with you and a book, also lays the foundation for your baby to develop a life-long love of books and reading. All of this magic will happen, but only if the experience is enjoyable for both of you.

You may have already discovered that reading aloud to an infant is very different than reading to a preschooler. Here are some things to remember as you begin to make sharing books with your baby part of your family routine.

 A Few Minutes at a Time is OK.
Don’t worry if you don’t finish the story. Tiny newborns might be a captive audience. In a few months though, your baby may be much more distracted with the big world around her. As your baby grows and develops, so will your style of sharing books.

 Talk or Sing About the Pictures.
You don’t have to read the words to tell a story. The important thing is for your baby to experience sharing books as a pleasurable time with you. Singing a song about the animals or talking about the picture may be much more interesting to your baby than the words on the page

 It’s OK if your baby wants to hold or chew the book.
That’s her way of getting knowledge about what a book is and how it works. Babies learn through all of their senses. She will soon learn that there is a story inside.

 Make Books a Part of Your Daily Routine.
The more that books are woven into your baby’s everyday life, the more likely he will experience reading together as a familiar pleasure.

 Select the right book.
Books for babies should be easy for them to hold and manipulate. Books in heavy cardboard format (board books), hold up to a baby’s use. Choose board books with simple engaging photos or illustrations, rhyming text or just a few words on each page. Remember that for babies, the book is a tool to engage your baby with your voice and your words.

Snuggle up…or not
If your baby is fussy when you are sharing a book, it may be that he just needs to move. Follow your baby’s cues. Try again when your baby is happily sitting in his bouncy seat or laying on his back kicking and stretching. Try adding books when your baby is already happy!

Let your baby choose the book
When your baby is on the move, have books on the floor for her to discover. When she finds one tell her about it. Soon she will be crawling over to a book and brining it to you to read!

Babies Belong at the Library!
As part of our county-wide initiative Babies Belong at the Library, babies receive their first library card at birth. If you enjoyed a home birth or adopted your baby, stop by your library to pick up your card, check out beautiful books for your baby and connect with other families!

Here are some of Family Reading Partnership’s favorite books for babies. See more on our list of Fifty Great Books for Baby’s First Year on our website www.familyreading.org

 Whose Toes are Those? by Jabari Asim
Snug by Carole Thompson
Flip, Flap, Fly by Phyllis Root
Baby Faces, a DK book
Peek-a-Boo by Roberta Grobel Intrater
Ten Little Fingers by Annie Kubler
Rah, Rah, Radishes! By April Pulley Sayre
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton

When it comes to sharing books with your baby, it’s never too early to start and the benefits last a lifetime!

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Creating a Book Home

 

reading at home

Family Reading Partnership’s Read-Aloud Challenge is drawing to a close but the fun of read-aloud never ends! Check out these tips to make your home read-aloud friendly!

Do you live in a Book Home? Is your home filled with a love of reading, listening to stories and playing with words? Are books a part of every day? Does your child have a favorite book and a favorite time to hear books read aloud?

Before children are ready to read, they need lots of “lap time”–time sitting with a grown-up or older child listening to books read aloud. They also need time to look at books on their own, to be comfortable holding a book and turning pages, exploring at their own pace. Children discover that there is a story inside each book, and pictures too! They learn new words and ideas, excitement and adventure, comfort and delight!

Just listening to books, without knowing how to read themselves, children learn how to express themselves in words, how to think creatively and critically, how to ask questions and, children develop a longer attention span. With all that goodness packed in children’s books, you’ll want to make your home into a Book Home –if it isn’t already!

Here are some suggestions:

  • Own some children’s books, but also borrow from the library or pick up used books at yard sales or a Bright Red Bookshelf, if your community has that program.
  • Have books within reach of children. For baby, put board books in a basket on the floor next to the toys. For preschoolers, make sure books are on lower shelves where children can get them.
  • Stand some books up on a table or in the bookcase so their front cover is facing out and they are more noticeable.
  • Take photos of your child enjoying a book and put those pictures on the refrigerator, in a photo album or in a picture frame.
  • Give books as gifts for special occasions like birthdays and holidays.
  • Let your children see you reading books, magazines, letters and emails.
  • Play with words! Sing nursery rhymes, say tongue twisters, and make-up silly word combinations with your child.
  • Talk to your child about the books you read together. Talk to your child about what you do together. Children learn words by hearing them and using them.
  • Do things with your child that you read about in children’s storybooks, like baking cookies, visiting a park, going for a walk. Relate the books you read to real life.
  • Read to your child every day!

A HUGE ‘Thank you!’ to everyone who has shared read-aloud pictures and stories with us on our Facebook page. We love them!

Do you want to share your read-aloud moments with us? There’s still time! Visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FamilyReadingPartnership.

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Wordless Picture Books are Perfect for Read-Aloud

Pancakes-for-BreakfastIf you’ve ever seen a children’s book that has no words, just pictures, you may have wondered how to even go about “reading” it. How can you read a book aloud to a child when there is no story?

Ah, but there is a story! The illustrations tell the story and it is up to you and your child to come up with your own narrative. Share the pictures together and use imagination and good observation skills to see the plot.

Look for the beginning, middle, and end to this story–the sequence of events. Ask questions and soon your child will be asking questions about the pictures too. Take your time and really look at the illustrations. Your child may see little details in the pictures that you miss.

Wordless picture books are perfect for read-aloud and can be adapted to many levels of understanding. Model storytelling and talk about the emotions of the characters in the book. Can your child imagine how the characters are feeling?  Together, predict what will happen next. You will be stretching your child’s thinking and using the pictures to expand your child’s vocabulary.

March is National Read-Aloud Month and a great time to practice reading  wordless books aloud as part of the “Books are my Super Power” Read-Aloud Challenge! Take a look in the Read-Aloud Tool Kit and you’ll find a pledge you can take to read aloud to your child every day and activities and books lists to download to make read-aloud even more fun!

Check out these wordless picture book favorites:

  • “Pancakes for Breakfast” by Tomie dePaola. In this humorous book about a little old lady’s attempt to make a pancake break- fast, dePaolo tickles the funny bone and gives a lesson about optimism and persistence. Children can make predictions about how this heroine will use her Super Power of Determination to finally have a pancake breakfast!
  • “Flotsam” by David Wiesner. When a young boy goes to the beach to collect and examine the typical objects that wash ashore, he discovers something unexpected–a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera. Children delight in this imaginative exploration of the mysteries of the deep.
  • flotsam1“The Lion and the Mouse” by Jerry Pinkney. This wordless picture book is the well-known Aesop’s Fable about a tiny mouse and a mighty lion. Children will see the themes of kindness, trust, and friendship in the beautiful illustrations.
  • “Good Night, Gorilla” by Peggy Rathman. A zookeeper says goodnight to a gorilla, but the mischievous gorilla is not ready to go to sleep. He follows the zookeeper around, letting all of the other animals out of their cages, before following the zookeeper to his bedroom and getting into bed. It takes the zookeeper’s wife to ensure all (or nearly all) the animals return to their cages.

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Be a Read-Aloud Super Hero!

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Family Reading Partnership invites you and your family to join our March Read-Aloud Challenge, Books are my Super Power, an exciting and interactive celebration for National Read-Aloud Month.

Our theme, Books are my Super Power, highlights the many ways books empower young children to be thinkers and doers, and how to become Read-Aloud Super Heroes!

Why are Books a Super Power? Books provide opportunities for children to imagine themselves in the character’s situation, think about what they might do, and to practice being, among other things, kind, brave, persistent, and a good friend. These qualities really are SUPER POWERS for children.

Read aloud to the young children in your life and make reading at home a treasured part of your daily routine for the Challenge in March, and beyond. The benefits last a lifetime!

TAKE THE PLEDGE with your family and together we will invite every child to believe in the magic words: Books are my Super Power!

BooksSuperPowers2Here is how you can join the Books are my Super Power Read-Aloud Challenge:

  • Visit www.familyreading.org to learn more!
  • Take the pledge to read all month. Grown-ups can pledge to read and children can pledge to ask for read-aloud!
  • Download a Tool Kit filled with fun ideas and activities including Super Hero masks and wrist cuffs!
  • LIKE the Family Reading Partnership Facebook page to see all the action, enter to win prizes, post photos, and share your favorite read-aloud moments!

During National Read-Aloud month, March 2016, Family Reading Partnership’s book, “At Home with Books/En casa con libros,” is available at a deep discount so families and classrooms can enjoy more read-aloud!  Written and illustrated by Katrina Morse, this bilingual book is the story of the Bear Family and all the family members and friends that read aloud during the day. It is a book that encourages, supports, and celebrates reading aloud to young children. Read to the young children in your life every day because… Books are a Super Power!

 

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It’s Chinese New Year!

By Pamela Lafayette
Family Reading Partnership
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Gong Xi Fa Cai! Gung Hay Fat Choy! These are greetings expressed on Chinese New Year that bestow wishes to friends and family for a year of prosperity, good fortune, and wellbeing. Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China and is celebrated in thousands of communities around the globe, from Nanfeng to New York City. The Chinese lunar calendar follows a twelve-year cycle, each year represented by an animal. This year, on February 8, we welcome the Year of the Monkey!

In ancient China, this festival offered hope and renewal for a new year after a hard winter. Today, celebrations are still rooted in tradition with Lion Dances, family customs of cleaning and decorating homes, buying new clothes, offering tokens for good fortune like Hong Bao (red envelopes), and most importantly, families gathering together. Parades with dragons dancing down the streets, firecrackers popping and whizzing from storefronts, colorful decorations strung from doorways, and lanterns zig-zagging from shop to shop, are some of the festivities that welcome in the new year with a BANG!

Children love to learn about cultures from around the world, hear and repeat new words and sounds, and travel within a story to explore traditions and celebrations. Luckily, there are dozens of wonderful children’s books about Chinese New Year, from board books to cookbooks, which do all these things and more.

In addition to the fanciful tales and festivities that stimulate the imagination and broaden a child’s view of the world, reading books about cultures and celebrations provide opportunities for families to talk about diversity and community, and all the possibilities awaiting them in a new year.

In the book, The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac discover how the Zodiac came to be, and how the cleverness and determination of a small rat impressed the Jade Emperor. In the book Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year, spend the morning with a young boy in Chinatown who is finally big enough to be part of a lion dance. In Dumpling Soup, meet a young girl and her large Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian, and Haole family as they come together in Hawaii to celebrate and prepare a traditional midnight meal. Words and phrases in different languages throughout the book give depth and richness to the story, like adding spice and seasoning to the dumpling filling.

What is a dumpling? Preparing and sharing special foods are a large part of Chinese New Year, and many children’s books tempt our taste buds with descriptions and photographs of scrumptious dishes, and offer recipes for families to try.

By reading together about how families celebrate Chinese New Year, your family can join the excitement! Check out these books, and just listen for the POP, SIZZLE, and CRASH – because here comes Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year Book List:
The Dancing Dragon by Marcia Vaughan and Stanley W. Foon
Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Ratigan, illustrated by Lillian Hsu-Flanders
Hiss! Boom! Pop! Celebrating Chinese New Year by Tricia Morrissey, illustrated by Kong Lee
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Anne Wilson
Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s New Year by Kate Water, photographs by Martha Cooper
A World of Holidays: Chinese New Year by Catherine Chambers
Dragon Dance, a Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap book by Joan Holub, illustrated Benrui Huang
My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz
Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats by Nina Simonds, Leslie Swartz and the Children’s Museum, illustrated by Meilo So

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Cookbooks Offer A Unique Literary Experience

 

 

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator
Family Reading Partnership

Reading and cooking are two of my favorite activities. That being said, cookbooks, naturally, are near and dear to my heart. Not only are they useful to adults looking to create a meal, they also offer a unique and important reading experience for children. Read on for ways to share the joy of cookbooks with the young ones in your life.

  • Cookbooks introduce children to interesting vocabulary. Words like simmer, juicy, mince, broil, and garlicky are all commonplace within recipes and help expand a child’s vocabulary and ability to use descriptive words. All while broadening their connection with food and other cultures. Read recipes aloud with your kids and ask them what they think these unique words mean. Then, by way of explanation, give them a demonstration of what broiling or mincing looks like and the opportunity to experience juicy or garlicky foods.
  • Recipes require reading a list and following written directions that combine numbers, symbols and words. Reading for information and then completing the necessary tasks builds confidence while creating something together and showing the importance of reading in real life. Having children help gather and prep ingredients is a great way to practice these skills. Gathering ingredients can be like a scavenger hunt and kids love to measure, pour, and stir!
  • There are many cookbooks that feature foods from favorite children’s books. These types of cookbooks expand a child’s experience and relationship with a story, allowing it to become an even more important part of his or her life. Other cookbooks offer a story within a recipe. Choose a book that has an accompanying cookbook and make one or several of the recipes that you read about in the story. Does what you made look or taste the same as it was described in the book?
  • Cookbooks for kids have fun with language and can make food more interesting for children. With a play on words, vegetables sound much more enticing when called carrot coins or broccoli spears. Check out a recipe for a dish, perhaps one that your child isn’t exactly fond of, and see if having your child follow the recipe and help create such items as ‘cool cucumber soup’ or ‘hide and seek muffins’ makes a difference in his or her desire to eat something he or she would normally not be interested in.
  • Perhaps the most important benefit of reading and cooking a recipe together is the opportunity for conversation with your child. Cooking lends its self naturally to making predictions, describing foods, and offering observations. To expand this experience, work together to compile a grocery list and shop for ingredients. You can take turns describing an ingredient and having the other one guess what ingredient it is.

Food and reading are both important factors of success. Our need for nourishing foods must be meet before we can feed a voracious appetite for reading. Early, frequent, and pleasurable experiences with books are vital to success in school and in all areas of life. Cookbooks help satisfy these two undeniable needs while giving children an interesting reading experience. Plus, your kids will know how to cook real food- and that’s never a bad thing.

Cookbooks to check out:
The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz
Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes by Roald Dahl
The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker
Writers in the Kitchen complied by Tricia Gardella
Pretend Soup By Mollie Katzen
Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters by Jane Yolen, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, and Philippe Beha

For a large assortment of cookbooks for both children and adults, visit the non-fiction section of your local library.

 

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Sharing Digital Story Books with Young Children

ebook family

by Elizabeth Stilwell
Early Childhood Specialist
Family Reading Partnership

Recently, a young mother asked me if I thought reading stories to her 3-year-old on her tablet was story time or screen time? Good question, since the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that parents read to their children beginning at birth but also recommends no screen time for children under 2, and less than two hours a day for older children.

Maybe a better question to think about is, “How can we make reading e-books to young children more like story time and less like screen time?” Pediatricians recommend reading to children right from the start because for a baby, the read-aloud experience centers on connecting with a loving adult through language and warm, responsive interactions. Flipping the pages of a book back and forth, hearing your voice, watching as you point to illustrations, and putting their own sticky fingers and sometimes mouths on the same spot, are all part of sharing a book with a baby. Babies simply can’t have that experience with an e-reader. They might be very interested in watching the screen, but will miss out on the rich, multi-sensory experience of sharing a traditional book.

For older babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, the ideal read-aloud experience is one that sparks curiosity and conversation. How that experience changes with digital picture books depends on a few things. Digital picture books are often enhanced with music, animation, and games. They are definitely engaging to young children but with all this interactive fun, sometimes the actual story gets lost. Research shows that there is much less adult-child interaction and conversation with e-books, so much of the read-aloud benefit is also lost and children spend more time on “making the book work” than settling in and enjoying the experience. There is no denying the convenience of e-readers and the fact that these devices offer access to hundreds of books at home or while families are traveling.

Here are some simple things to consider if you want to get the full read-aloud benefit from a digital picture book for your toddler or preschooler.

  1. Choose digital books in a format that is as simple as possible. If your goal is to read to your child, use books without all the extra bells and whistles. Search for classic picture books in a digital format.
  2. Turn off the narration. Especially the first few times with a new digital book, read the book in your own voice, pause, ask questions, and fully engage in the wonderful parent-child conversation that makes the read-aloud experience so rich for young children. Just as with traditional books, children will learn to “read” them independently. Encourage them to do this without the narration and to tell the story as they remember it by looking at the pictures.
  3. Use the manual instead of auto setting. This allows you and your child to move through the book at a comfortable pace, and to turn back a page or two whenever your child wants to.

One good model of e-readers for children is “Tumble Books,” an excellent resource for digital picture books that stay true to the story and offers a variety of user options. The convenience and novelty of e-readers for young children can provide entertainment and access to a huge collection of books. It’s the adult who can help make this experience more complete by adding a warm lap, and lots of conversation.

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