Category Archives: friendship

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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Connecting with Grandchildren and Books via Skype

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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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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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Family Read-Aloud Resolutions

reading together mouse family

by Melissa Perry, Program Coordinator, Family Reading Partnership

The New Year is upon us and with it the tradition of reflecting on the past twelve months and what we’ll do differently to improve our lives in the upcoming year. Unfortunately, most of our best intentions fall flat within a few weeks. However, if I may, I’d like to suggest a New Year’s resolution that is simple, enjoyable, and will benefit the entire family; a resolution that won’t be thrown by the wayside.

    Read.

Read-aloud to the children in your life. While you’re at it, read to the teens and adults in you’re life, too- I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t love a good story. Make it a special part of your daily routine.

Take time to enjoy a good book yourself. There are few things better than losing yourself in the world of a great book. As a bonus, when others see the pleasure you find in reading, it’ll encourage them to read as well!

Visit your library often to stock up on all types of literacy materials for every member of your family. You’ll find board books, picture books, chapter books, comic books, cookbooks, magazines, recorded books, etc. Drop in for story time, a book club or another family event. Check your library’s calendar for a list of activities.

Create a special place to read together. Any cozy nook will do! An area with space to store library and other reading materials makes it convenient to snuggle up and read anytime of the day.

Give the gift of reading by giving books as gifts. When books are given as gifts, whether for a special occasion or just because, it increases the book’s value in the eyes of the recipient. A book given as a present is a gift that can be opened again and again.

Resolving to read-aloud, read together, and enjoy a good book yourself is a New Year’s resolution that we can all stick to- and all benefit from.

Cheers to the New Year and to all of the reading adventures to come!

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The Importance of Book Series

bear

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator
Family Reading Partnership

Some of the greatest books of all time have been part of a series. The Little House books, Winnie the Pooh, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, to name a few. What compels us to start a series and what keeps us reading until the very end? More than that, why do book series matter?

There are two basic types of book series. The first involves books with interwoven plots, meant to be read sequentially, from the first book to the last. The second type may feature the same characters and setting but, lacking a chronological plot, these books can be read in any order without missing major pieces of the story. Both are equally appealing to readers for each of these reasons.

So what draws us into a series and what keeps us coming back for more? When reading a series, we know there is the promise of more adventures with beloved characters to come after finishing the first book. Having a blank slate stretching multiple volumes, an author is able to develop more complex scenarios and character personalities, deepening our relationship with these fictional friends. Seeing characters work through conflict, take on increased responsibility, and grow in their relationships throughout a series is especially rewarding for children and allows them a type of reference for their future experiences. All of this, in turn, captures our attention and sparks our interest, bringing us back for more. And the more we read, the more we love reading- and that’s what’s important.

Visit your local library to rediscover the book series of your childhood or to fall in love with a new favorite you can share with the young readers in your life.

Favorite Book Series:
“The Magic School Bus” by Joanna Cole
The “Bear” series by Karma Wilson
“If You Give a….” series by Laura Numeroff
“Berenstain Bears” collection by Stan and Jan Berenstain
“Skippyjon Jones” books by Judy Schachner
“Llama, Llama” books by Anna Dewdney

“The Boxcar Children” by Gertrude Chandler Warner
“Mr. Putter and Tabby” by Cynthia Rylant
“Imagination Station” by Paul McCusker
“The Magic Tree House” by Mary Pope Osborne
“The Wingfeather Saga” by Andrew Peterson
“Tales of Magic” by Edward Eager
“Mercy Watson” by Kate DiCamillo
“Time Warp Trio” by Jon Scieszka
“Binky the Space Cat” by Ashley Spires

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Make Friends with Books at Kids’ Book Fest!

Saturday, November 9, 2013, marks Family Reading Partnership’s 16th Kids’ Book Fest. Come to Boynton Middle School, Ithaca, NY, 10am-4pm, for hours of family fun celebrating the joy of children’s books. The event is free for all, thanks to the support of an anonymous donor. Families can see performances based on favorite stories, children can make their own book to take home, storybook characters will be on hand to read books, and more than 20 community organizations will be hosting book activity stations.

This year’s theme is “friendship” and thanks to Wegmans Reading Centers and local school districts, nearly 4,000 children in Tompkins County have received the book “Chester’s Way” by Kevin Henkes. Come to the fest and meet Chester, Wilson, Lilly, and Victor, the mouse characters from the book, and do friendship activities with them. The book will come to life!

Reading children’s books about caring, thoughtfulness, and sharing is one way to show your child the qualities that make a friend. Find the Kids’ Book Fest bibliography of friendship books at www.familyreading.org. Here’s a sampling of some fine friend books to read together with your young child:

“Those Shoes” by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones. Dreaming about owning a pair of the most popular shoes doesn’t make it come true. A boy learns about expectations, sharing, and true friends.

“Fran’s Friend” by Lisa Bruce, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw. Fran is so busy with her painting project that she ignores Fred, her loving dog. Fred becomes more and more dejected as Fran creates, until he sees the final product.

“Bear’s New Friend” by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman. Bear hears a noise, “hooo, hooo, hooo,” and wonders who is there. He sees all of his forest friends one by one, but not one of them is saying “hooo.”  Then, Bear sees something is moving in a hole in the ground. Could it be a new friend?

“One Green Apple” by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ted Lewin. When Farah moves to the U.S. she doesn’t know the language or have any friends. When she goes on a school field trip to an orchard and makes apple cider, she learn her first English word and finds out that laughter is something she can share with all her classmates .

“1, 2, I Love You” by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. Based on the classic rhyme, this playful version of “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” features a grown-up and child elephant. The pair has adventures in a make-believe land and in the meantime count from 1 to 10 and back again.

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