Category Archives: traditions

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.

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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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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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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.

 

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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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