Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Questions? Answers!

From the very first moment I saw this book, I knew it needed to be read in library. A wonderful colleague brought it to my attention and I was thrilled to know about it.  This book is certainly entertaining and humorous so it would be fun to read, but my question was: could it be more?

Questions are one way we begin our quest to understand. When we ask questions we are trying to understand a little better how the world works. We can ask a lot of questions, but where do we find the answers? And are all the answers we find true and reliable?  Good question!

So my 2nd grade students and I read this story and talked about questions.  And answers.  Almost all of Little Miss Know-It-All's answers sound far fetched, but in fact, only about six of her facts are actually "malarkey"... we had fun trying to sort out what was true and what was not.

Also, we took some time to ask some questions - questions we want to know the answers to.  Here are a few examples of typical 2nd grade questions:

Why does the moon look different colors?
What is going to happen to earth?
How much hair does a cat have?
Why are the flag's colors red, white and blue?
Why is water clear?
Who invented pizza?
How high can frogs jump?
Why is the sea salty?
What did the world look like before the world existed?
How does the sun get so hot?

Now we need to get some answers!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Reading Aloud to your Child - an important piece of creating a lifelong reader

May 6th
Coffee with Ms. J.

We must take care that children’s early encounters with reading are painless enough so they will cheerfully return to the experience now and forever. But if it’s repeatedly painful, we will end up creating a school-time reader instead of a lifetime reader.” 
-The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

I had a chance to talk with a few Upham moms this past Friday about the importance of continuing to read aloud to our children even after they can (technically) read on their own. This topic was inspired by a recent Wall Street Journal article, What You Miss After Your Child Learns to Read by Clare Ansberry, about how parents often stop reading to their children once the child has learned to read. Here are some of the highlights from our Friday morning conversation:
  • Don’t forget how hard it is to read when you are just beginning. When my daughters were in 1st and 2nd grade I was reminded that learning to read is actually quite hard work.  Grueling.  Onerous. My daughters were not that interested in curling up with a book and reading… at least not yet. Spending 10-20 minutes a day reading a “just for fun” book to your child can remind them what all of that hard work is for… remind them of the joys of reading a great story.
  • There is a lot of competition for our children’s attention and some of it (video games, Apps and movies) is really fun and entertaining.  Spending time reading together gives reading a fighting chance with your child… a chance for him or her to realize that reading is fun and entertaining too.
  • Spending time reading aloud to your child gives them your undivided attention - something children love and long for.
  • You might be able to select a book that is special to you to share with your child, but be open if he or she is not as excited about the story as you were as a kid and be willing to try a different book if that first one is not a hit.
  • Keep reading aloud to your children as they get older because it is relaxing, bonding, fun, together time that de-stresses you both at the end of the day.
  • Don’t feel like you have to read to your child before bed if that is a bad time for your family… be creative and try different times like before school or every Saturday or whatever works for your schedule.
  • Check picture books with CDs out of the public library for your child to read along with in the car.
  • Model reading for your child - don’t forget that children love to do what their parents do (at least until they get to middle school)... if they see you reading they will be more likely to pick up a book or a magazine and spend some time with it.  Invite them to curl up on the couch with you and read side-by-side.
  • Jim Release's book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" is a valuable resource that you might want to pick up at the public library or purchase and keep.

Read On!
Ms. J.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Thoughts on the Book Fair

Some folks think I won't be overly excited about the book fair taking over the library for a week, but, in fact, I rather enjoy it.  It is sort of like working in a book store for a time. There is definitely a different vibe.

Students are so excited about shopping and buying books.  Sometimes, I'm taken aback by how excited these kids get about the prospect of buying books. I mean they see a lot of books in their lives and most of them get to buy books rather often, but there is something magical about the school book fair.  I get it.  I feel the same way.  Like being let loose in a candy store.  So many colorful covers.  So many books to look at and pick up and feel in my hands; to turn over and read the flap or the back cover.  To weigh in my mind, which one do I want to buy more - this one or this one?

I also find out what my students are really interested in.  I get to see what books they select and ask them about why that book appeals to them.  I get to help a student who is looking for, " that perfect book for my little sister" or field the frequent queries about where the Minecraft books are.

Yes, it is rather chaotic and my regularly scheduled week has been pre-empted, but I can handle it. Its only once a year, afterall.  In exchange for my regularly scheduled library programing I get so much thrilling energy and excitement from my students and it is all centered around and about books.

Read On!
Ms. J.

p.s. I ended up buying four books this week - definitely the danger of being in such close proximity to so many great new books. My purchases included: The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, The Boys in the Boat (for Young Readers) by Daniel James Brown, a really beautiful paperback copy of The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling and The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox for my 8th grade daughter.