So, I’ve been asked many times in the last year for my thoughts about young children playing on iPads or reading on Kindles. My answers always lean towards it being better to play with toys or each other and read books rather than screens. Even when it’s just to occupy them because you need a minute, I would much rather parents hand their three-year-old a crayon and piece of paper than a phone with an open app. When it comes to early reading, my sense has been there is value in experiencing the book, in turning the pages, taking in the pictures and talking about the story. Thankfully, my favorite technology writer Lisa Guernsey has pulled together a fuller answer in her Time Ideas article titled Why EReading With Your Kid Can Impede Learning http://ideas.time.com/2011/12/20/why-ereading-with-your-kid-can-impede-learning/?xid=gonewsedit. If your pre- or early reader is already on a screen, check this out for tips on how to use it better and consider setting and enforcing time limits.
Lisa Guernsey is the director of the New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative and author of Into the Minds of Babes: How Screen Time Affects Children From Birth to Age Five. Great book!
I’d like to share a few of our holiday traditions that revolve around reading. We’ve compiled a stack of 25 Christmas themed picture books. Each night, starting on the first of the month we include one in our read aloud time before bed. On the night of the 25th, we read what was their favorite The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Scarry.
Each Christmas morning there are three new books for each child under the tree. I recognize they quickly get set aside for the toys and tech gadgets, but I think it is important to have books be a piece of the gift exchange. As they’ve gotten older, we’ve branched out with more reading related gifts. This includes book marks, box sets, a writing journal, magazine subsriptions (thanks grandpa!) and now a kindle. I recently read a suggestion to wrap one book and leave it on the child’s bed, so the first thing they open on Christmas morning is a new book. For you last minute shoppers, http://www.bookswithbows.com/DanaHome.asp is an online service that sends your loved one a book-a-month based on the categories you select.
You might also check these great holiday reading tips from Reading Is Fundamental http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTgEorSmd7o&feature=youtu.be. In this clip, Dr. Judy Cheatham reviews tips to build a love of reading over the holidays. Enjoy!
Dear Dr. Rene,
My second grader is a pretty good reader. She is making progress in her reading group at school but still doesn’t love books the way I loved books when I was little. I was always buried in books and had a great love of reading. Is there something more I should be doing? Might this love still develop?
Mom of two, ages seven and four
It is great she is making progress in her reading group and hopefully she is on the path to be a book worm.
The first thing to know is she is still learning to read. At second grade they are still teaching phonics and patterns and rules of reading. It may be that she is still so focused on the details and the effort of reading that she isn’t yet at a point to relax and just enjoy the story. Many children fall into loving the stories when reading to themselves a few years later.
There are several things you can do in the meantime. The first is read aloud to your children EVERYDAY. Read aloud for the love of reading, discuss the stories you read over dinner, read long and often. Read a wide variety, things they choose and things you choose. The goal is 20 minutes a day and this isn’t time to be quizzing comprehension or testing phonics, just build a love of reading and story. The National Education Association points to reading aloud as the best way to build successful readers.
Read aloud long past the point you thought you would. Children read to aloud through high school do better on verbal SATs than read to aloud through middle school and through middle school better than through grade school. Now, I know, to many parents the idea of reading aloud through high school sounds awkward, but it won’t be if you just never give it up. And be creative, if they are readers take turns by page or pick characters for each person to read about.
Also, make books available. Think books on every level of the house and some stashed in the car. Let kids stay up a little late if they are reading. Take them to browse the bookstore and the library often. Join a children’s book club. Make family projects or plan family outings based on the things they read. If you read Blueberries for Sal, make blueberry muffins. Make it fun! The love of reading should follow.
Hello Baby by Rockwell
Before You Were Born by Davis & Cornell
Julius baby of the World by Henkes
Big Sister, Little Sister by Zolotow & Alexander
Shelia Rae the Brave by Henkes
The Mightiest by Kasza
Timothy Goes to School by Wells
Time to Pee by Willems
Once Upon a Potty by Frankel
Where’s the Poop by Markes & Hartung
A Potty For Me by Katz
The Potty Book by Capucilli & Stott
Everyone Poops by Gomi & Stincheson
Today I Feel Silly by Curtis
When Sophie Gets Angry, Really Really Angry by Bang
Baby Faces (board book)
Wemberly Worried by Henkes
The Way I Feel by Cain
Feelings by Aliki
How Are You Peeling by Freymann & Elffers
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Viorst & Cruz
Boomer’s Big Day by McGeorge & Whyte
The Berenstain Bear’s Moving Day
Big Ernie’s New Home by Martin & Martin
We’re Moving by Maisner & Stephenson
Whisper in the Woods by Wirth & Banfill
I’ll Always Love You by Wilhelm
I Miss You: A First Look at Death by Thomas & Harker
Help Me Say Goodbye (activity book) by Silverman
Sad Isn’t Bad (on grief) by Mundy & Alley
Tear Soup (on grief) by Schwiebert & Deklyen
The Kissing Hand by Penn
I Don’t Want to Go to School by Pande & Voerg
DW’s Guide to Preschool by Brown
What to Expect at Preschool by Murkoff & Rader
100 Days by Wells
Tales From Hilltop School by Wells
>Dear Dr. Hackney,
My four year old son recognizes all of his upper and lower case letters. What is the next step?
Mother of two, ages four and three years
That is great he recognizes his letters. The next step, if he is interested, is to pair the letter shapes with their sounds. This means when he finds an “A” you say, “Yes, that is an ‘A;’ the ‘A’ makes the ‘Aaaa’ sound like ‘aaaapple’ or the ‘Eeh’ sound like ‘aaaacorn’” Then, you might think of all the words you know that start like apple or acorn. Strive to make this learning fun. You might go for a letter hunt in the grocery store by finding all the things you can that start with the B sound, and then really stress the B sound when you say, “Yes that is a BUHnana.”
To reinforce the shapes and pairings, you might also play some upper and lower case matching games such as Memory or Go Fish with pairs.
Rene Hackney, PhD.
Parenting Playgroups, Inc.