Category Archives: transitions

Teach love with books

reading-together

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator
Family Reading Partnership

If there is one thing that the world needs most, especially right now, it is love. Love for our family, friends, and those we cross paths with in our daily lives. Love for the plants and animals of the earth, and for the earth itself. Love for the opportunities we have and the struggles we overcome. And love for ourselves so that we may embrace this life and radiate our love to make this world a better place.

There are many children’s books that explore and celebrate the topic of love. Sharing these stories with children helps them understand and embody the act and feeling of love so that they, too, can share it with the world. These books lend themselves to wonderful discussions about love, kindness, and what it means to care for others.

A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams
After a fire destroys their home and possessions, Rosa, her mother, and grandmother work together to save and save until they can afford to buy one big, comfortable chair that all three of them can enjoy.

Pinduli by Janell Cannon
Pinduli’s mama has always told her that she’s the most beautiful hyena ever. But Dog, Lion, and Zebra don’t think so. Why else would they make her feel so rotten about her big ears, her fuzzy mane, and her wiggly stripes? Poor Pinduli just wants to disappear–and she tries everything she can think of to make that happen. Yet nothing goes her way. Nothing, that is, until a case of mistaken identity lets her show the creatures of the African savanna how a few tiny words–bad or good–can create something enormous.

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson
Can one child’s good deed change the world?
It can when she’s Ordinary Mary- an ordinary girl from an ordinary school, on her way to her ordinary house- who stumbles upon ordinary blueberries. When she decides to pick them for her neighbor, Mrs. Bishop, she starts a chain reaction that multiplies around the world. Mrs. Bishop makes blueberry muffins and gives them to her paperboy and four others, one of whom is Mr. Stevens, who then helps five different people with their luggage, one of whom is Maria, who then helps five people, including a man named Joseph who didn’t have enough money for his groceries, and so on, until the deed comes back to Mary.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually, Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead
Friends come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. In Amos McGee’s case, all sorts of species, too! Every day he spends a little bit of time with each of his friends at the zoo, running races with the tortoise, keeping the shy penguin company, and even reading bedtime stories to the owl. But when Amos is too sick to make it to the zoo, his animal friends decide it’s time they returned the favor.

Leave a comment

Filed under activities, bedtime, benefits of reading together, board books, book activites, book routines, books for babies, children's books, classics, Creating a Book Home, creativity, decision-making, exploration, family, family reading, family time, fathers, library, love, magic of words in picture books, manners, non-fiction, opportunities for conversation, peace and harmony, Read to me, read-aloud for teens, reading to babies, same and different, traditions, transitions, unique words, words

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?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under activities, At Home With Books, autumn, benefits of reading together, book activites, book routines, books for babies, books for toddlers, can do, children's books, classics, colors, cooking, Creating a Book Home, exploration, family, family reading, family time, fathers, following directions, following written directions, grandparents, Halloween, holidays, imagination, library, love, magic of words in picture books, nature, non-fiction, opportunities for conversation, Read to me, read-aloud for big kids, reading numbers and symbols, reading outside, reading to babies, science books, Thanksgiving, traditions, transitions, unique words, words

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under activities, At Home With Books, bedtime, benefits of reading together, board books, book activites, book routines, books for toddlers, can do, children's books, classics, Creating a Book Home, creativity, e books, easy readers, family, family book traditions, family reading, fathers, Feelings, friendship, grandparents, humorous, imagination, library, love, magic of words in picture books, movement, music, non-fiction, opportunities for conversation, Read to me, read-aloud for big kids, read-aloud for teens, sing-along, transitions

The Gift of Possibility

 

reading outside

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator
Family Reading Partnership

As it is for many families, the last day of school is an exciting event in my home. Beyond the thoughts of long summer days filled with swimming, hiking and ice cream, and late nights filled with bonfires, lightning bugs, and a sparkling, starry sky, is the anticipation of what has come to be known as, ‘the summer bags’. The summer bags are simple- usually brown paper sacks decorated with each child’s name and a fun summer scene that the kids excitedly open as soon as they return home on the last day of school. Now, you ask, what’s inside that makes these bags so exciting? Books.

Books purchased for the occasion from local booksellers, books passed down from friends, books from a Bright Red Bookshelf, and books long forgotten on our own bookshelves. Plenty of books. There may also be magazines and homemade gift certificates for summer activities, but always books. These books, thoughtfully chosen and presented as gifts, become treasures waiting to be discovered during chilly mornings and rainy afternoons, or read with a flashlight during too-warm, sleepless nights. These books hold endless possibilities and become the inspiration for outdoor play and art projects. They become a friend when boredom strikes, are the best reason to curl up in a hammock, and are the perfect activity for a long car ride. They can be taken anywhere and enjoyed everywhere.

Not only do the books from the summer bags provide entertainment and companionship, they also help protect the valuable skills and lessons my children gained throughout the school year. Reading during the summer helps all children retain information and expand their knowledge, preventing them from losing valuable skills and having to work extra hard to catch up in the fall when school starts up again. Children who lose skills over the summer find themselves even further behind their peers because while they are regaining skills previously learned, their peers who don’t need to catch up are already moving on to more advanced skills. Summer reading is both a pleasure and a necessary activity.

My children see the books they receive in their summer bags as a gift. And they are. These books are a gift that will introduce unique words not used in everyday conversation and will provide a glimpse into unfamiliar worlds. These books are a gift that will expand on and challenge the knowledge of what is already known. These books are a gift that will be opened again and again and their influence felt long after they have been read. Books are a gift with unlimited potential in how they shape a person’s life. My children perceive their summer bags as gifts of fun summer reading. I see them as gifts that contain endless possibilities.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under activities, book activites, can do, children's books, Creating a Book Home, family, family book traditions, family reading, library, summer, summer reading, traditions, transitions

Books: A Holiday Tradition

by Melissa Perry, Program Coordinator, Family Reading Partnership

images-1       images

No matter which holidays you celebrate this time of year; we all experience the same sense of anticipation and excitement, the same yearning for familiar traditions. An act that, if missed, makes the special day seem not quite complete.

The best traditions are those that bring families together. Sharing the same special story each year on the same special day is a simple tradition that evokes heart-warming images of snuggling up together in a cozy spot and reading a favorite story. Perhaps it is one you enjoyed as a child and are now able to share with your own little ones. Or maybe it is a book you and your children are discovering together for the first time. Regardless of which book you are reading, it is the act of reading together that is most important.

So, how do you choose just the right book for the occasion? Really, any book that is significant to the event will do. A book given as a gift to celebrate a child’s birth or adoption can be read each year on the child’s special day. A book about winter can be read after the first visit from Jack Frost, and books treasured by parents in their youth can be shared with their children when they reach that same particular age. The possibilities are endless.

To make your chosen books even more beloved, present them as gifts to your children. A book’s value and meaning increases tenfold when it is given as a beautifully wrapped gift. A fun way to surprise family members is to place wrapped books at the foot of the recipients’ beds. When they open their eyes the next morning, they will be delighted to discover a lovely gift awaiting them – ones that can be opened again and again. This tradition has come to be known as “A Book On Every Bed.”

Thousands of families across country have embraced this tradition of leaving wrapped books for loved ones to discover on a day that is meaningful to them, beginning the special day with a special gift. We invite you and your family to join the fun! For those of you with little ones, try giving gifts of books for them to find on their beds for them to open right away; not only will they see books as an important gift, but, it may also just keep them in bed a little longer that morning!

For more information about “A Book On Every Bed” please visit www.familyreading.org.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under A Book On Every Bed, bedtime, book activites, children's books, classics, family, family book traditions, family reading, fathers, grandparents, holidays, love, peace and harmony, traditions, transitions, winter

How to Think Like a Child

The best children’s book authors can really think like a child. They tell a story from a child’s point of view and explain things that a child may not understand. They alleviate fears, confirm feelings, and teach new ideas. Here are some books by authors who validate what a child is experiencing:

KindergartenRocks

When a child starts kindergarten there is some nervousness about all the unknowns. “What happens if you spill your milk?  Are there mean people at school? How will I get lunch? What if I get lost?” In “Kindergarten Rocks!” by Katie Davis, Dexter’s sister, Jessie, who is really old now (in 3rd grade), reassures her brother Dexter that everything will be ok. Dexter takes along his stuffed dog, Rufus, for comfort and finds out that school is fun! The author describes kindergarten activities including art time, play, dress-up, listening to books, the play-dough table, and writing. The book’s illustrations are rendered in crayon, which adds a child-like quality to the story.

When your family is expecting a new baby, your child will have lots of questions. “What Is He Doing Now?” by Patti Farmer and Janet Wilson nicely describes events during a pregnancy from the point of view of a little boy waiting to meet his brother or sister.  Illustrations are realistic but loosely done in watercolor and colored pencil. The boy wonders: Is the new baby growing in mommy’s tummy? How is the baby breathing in there? How does he eat? What will he do when he is born? This book gives plenty of opportunity to talk about how your child feels about a new sibling.

For the very young child, “Little Chicken’s Big Day” by Katie Davis and Jerry Davis is a simple book about what it’s like to be little. “I hear you cluckin’ big chicken,” says the little chick. But just like any two-year old, this little guy is easily distracted wanders off to chase a butterfly. Now where did big chicken go? Little chick can’t find his mama at first, but there is a happy ending. Illustrations of the mother and child chickens are bold yellow images outlined in black.

TodaySilly1

“Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods that Make My Day,” by Jamie Lee Curtis, with pictures by Laura Cornell illustrates how many emotions a child can experience, including silly, grumpy, angry, joyful, quiet, confused, cranky, and lonely. Children will see that all of these emotions and the different shades of feelings are ones they may experience at times and are normal. This is a playful book with rhyming text and whimsical illustrations.

Leave a comment

August 15, 2013 · 2:51 pm

It’s a “Goodbye” and “Hello” Time of Year

It’s a “goodbye” and “hello” time of year. Children are starting school, beginning music lessons or sports practice, finding new playdates, and attending new after-school programs. There can be a little anxiety for children in all of this coming and going. And, when you know your child has “butterflies,” it can make you as a parent have your own anxiety.

You can make goodbyes easier if you have a consistent routine. Leave enough time so you don’t have to rush. When saying goodbye, give a firm, loving hug and then leave, without hesitation. Be calm and show your child that you are confident that he or she will be fine. Experts say that making it clear to your child that you are leaving is much better than sneaking away. Your child needs to see that you are leaving, and be reassured that you will be coming back.

When you see your child after you’ve been apart, be on time. Give another hug hello and follow through on any promises you made about what you will be doing together. When your child knows the “goodbye” and “hello” routine, and knows that he or she can count on you to come back, it will be easier to be apart.

Here are some books about family love that are a warming way to spend time together when you are finally reunited after a busy day.

“Daddy’s Lullaby” by Tony Bradman, illustrated by Jason Cockcroft. Daddy come homes from working the night shift and finds every in the house asleep, except his smiling baby. Illustrations are soft and dreamy watercolor.

“How About a Hug?” by Nancy Carlson. There are lots of kinds of hugs–a “Good Morning” hug, an “It’ll be A-Okay” hug, a “Boy Am I Glad to See You Hug!” and the “Anytime, Anywhere, I Love You Hug! What kind of hugs does your child like best?

“The Night the Moon Blew Kisses” by Lynn Manuel, illustrated by Robin Spowart. Even though this is a winter scene, it’s a beautiful book to read any time of the year. The perfectly matched text and illustrations are magically gentle. A grandma and grandchild blow kisses to the moon and the moon sends some sparkling kisses back down to them.

“Hug” by Jez Alborough. An almost wordless board book about a young chimpanzee looking for a hug. At first he is happy seeing other animals get their hugs, but eventually is sad because he wants his own. After some searching, this little guy finds his mama for a big and cuddly reunion hug.

Leave a comment

Filed under children's books, family reading, transitions