Thursday, June 10, 2010

What I have learned Thursdays…

As I began thinking about what I wanted for my kids this summer, I knew it was reading.  I wanted them to read to themselves, and I also wanted to read with them.

So in order to achieve this, I set out to discover the best ways to accommodate to all of them.  They are each on a different reading level.

I knew that I wanted to read a novel with Jex and Stella, or several novels.

I knew that I just wanted to read with Isaac and Tess.

In order to focus on reading this summer, I made sure that I was armed with a plan:

1.  We turned off our cable.  Now there is no excuse.

2.  I asked the expert, my sister in law JoDean.

3.  I put good books within their reach.

4.  I made a plan of when and what I would read to each child.

My SIL JoDean is really the source for all my knowledge.  What she has taught me is what I want to share with each of you on What I have learned Thursday.

A little background.  JoDean is Jonathan’s oldest sister.  She is amazing.  She home schools her two youngest children.  They are bright and beautiful.  As is her oldest who goes to public school.  JoDean is a walking dictionary.  She is library of knowledge.  Once she has read something, she remembers it.  She is where you go if you want the facts about something.

I knew that when I wanted to find out more she was the one to call.  I was not so much concerned with what to read to Tess and Isaac.  I have been there done that, and I have a great reader in Jex to show for it.  I was concerned with what to read to Jex and Stella.  I wanted their books to be something worthy of my time, and also something that both the  kids would enjoy.

JoDean came through.

Not only did she share some great ideas, but she also sent me a box full of books.  She shared some from her own personal library that are more on Isaac’s level.  Then she went to her local thrift store and started a hunt for my first classic book collection.  What a fun thing to collect.

They are old and tattered.  Some pages have started to yellow, and it makes you wonder how many hands have turned the pages and feasted on the words.

It made me so excited that I went out the next day and found some more.  I found classics like: Charolette’s Web, Black Beauty, Little House, and Treasure Island for .25 cents a piece.

Little House 

I can’t wait to keep adding to it. 

Honey, I think we might need more bookshelves. 

Once I was armed with books, I set them out within their reach.  Books for Tess and Isaac are next to our reading chair.  I read to them before their naps.


Books for Jex and Stella are on their shelf in the play area. This way, I can grab and read or they can.  I find Jex in the morning reading, and I feel pure delight.  I read to them when I don’t have distractions from the younger two.  Nap time seems to be the best time.

Books 2

JoDean recently sent me an informational email.  It is full of valuable info that I didn’t know.  This is the kind of knowledge  she learns and shares.  The stuff she reads and remembers.  This is what every parent should know about the importance of reading to your children.

I wanted to pass it along to you.  With her permission, I am sharing her email.

JoDean says:

“Did you know that reading aloud to your kids past the age of their being able to read independently is still very important? Hearing language is more important than seeing language to develop consistently correct, reliable, sophisticated language in children, both for speaking and writing ability. Even kids that read a lot to themselves need to hear language as they don't often audiate during reading, or "hear" the words in their head.

So keep reading to your kids! The advice I've heard is read two years above the level of your oldest kid that is listening. You might find you need to have two read aloud times during the day so you can tailor the selection for your youngest listeners. For example, Isaac probably won't want to listen to what Jex does, but Jex and Stella could likely enjoy the same book.

My kids just like to sit and listen to me now, but they didn't always. I used to have things to keep their hands busy that were used only for read aloud time, like: coloring, beading, knex or lego, pattern blocks, knitting, folding laundry, etc. Things that are quiet and don't take a lot of brain power so they can listen.

Since my kids are older now, I've decided that I'm going to really jump up the level that I read to them, no more kidsie books for them. They can read those on their own.

As a general rule, I would stay away from much of what is currently being written for kids. Not only are the messages lame at best and harmful at worst, the writing isn't very sophisticated. So, not much on book orders, the best sellers lists, or most checked out at the library are good choices. Notice, I said most, not all of popular lists.

Henry David Thoreau said, "Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all." This goes along with the good, better, best ideals that we use to make our daily decisions.

If you want your kids to be able to understand complex language, say Shakespeare or the Bible etc. Expose them to the good stuff now. They are able to develop the neural pathways for language much easier than adults can. A good intro to Shakespeare is Lamb's Tales of Shakespeare, by Charles and Mary Lamb. The Lamb's were contemporaries of Charles Dickens, so the retellings are in wonderfully sophisticated Victorian English. We've loved this book!

I've spent a lot of time reading about reading and reading list after list of booklists and just want to share.”

Here's one of read aloud books:

a classics list:

There are good ones on this list:

Isn’t she full of wonderful ideas?

She suggested the book The BFG by Roald Dahl, and even picked it up for me.  That is what we are currently reading.  My kids are loving it.  They can’t get enough and ask me to read all the time.  BFG stands for The Big Friendly Giant.  You might recognize the authors name from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Isaac spent two hours in his room today just looking at books. He is fascinated.  In fact, he ended up taking a late nap, because I didn’t want to disturb him.  He was being so quiet and still which is so unusual.

I am thankful to JoDean for her help and  preparing me.  I feel armed and powerful. She helped me take reading to the next level.  She helped me understand where to go next.  I feel like I can help my kids love books.  More then anything she helped me pick GOOD books.

Thanks JoDean for being a guest on J&Aand Co., and letting me share your marvelous ideas and thoughts.

I hope you find them as powerful as I do, and make time to read to your children.


Alaina and Mitchell said...

I have learned so much about this topic in the last year! I started college as an Elementary Ed major and a year later switched to Child Development (they value that more than El Ed in Montessori Education, which is where I want to teach). I am also taking a young adult lit class this semester and children's lit next semester. We talk a lot about reading to your kids. So many young adult books are wonderful; it gets overlooked as a genre and is still so important! :o)

Andrea said...

I was going to say something to you about the BFG when I saw it on your shelf, such an amazing books. One of my faves when i was a kid, glad you're reading it to yours!

Becky said...

Thanks for those book lists, Andrea! I LOVE reading to my kids. Like Alaina, I majored in Child Development in college (same college - what a coincidence. ;-). Time and time again the importance of reading at a young age was hammered into our heads! Reading comprehension is a gateway into competence in so many other areas!

Tara said...

This is so great, Andrea - the lists are fantastic. I read a really great book lately about reading aloud to children - it's called Reading Magic by Mem Fox. It's completely changed the way I read to my kids - and I LOVE it! :) Maybe in your spare time, right ;)

Baileys said...

As you know, I love to read and I love inspiring others to read. Thanks for spreading the word!


Krysta said...

Great post! I am really enjoying reading to my kids this summer. I need to remember that it doesn't have to just be a summer thing. I hope to find time for it during the school year too. It's also good to know that it is still so important to read aloud to your kids even after they really know how to read. I'm going to look for that BFG book at the library.

Deanna said...

I just found your blog today and was reading through some past entries. You should totally read "Honey for Child's Heart". I just finished it and am so passionate about reading quality books to my kiddos. She has great suggestions and an amazing book list. Check it out!

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