Monday, August 20, 2012

Raising Readers

Bust out your spectacles! Lately, we have been so excited to see our 3-year-old actually reading by herself! She reads ME her bedtime stories now, and we can hear her reading to her stuffed animals and our family dog long after we've said, "good night".

Disclaimer: I'm no expert on this. My degree is in secondary English education, so teaching my wee ones to read is a trial and error system. I do, however, utilize many of the strategies I was trained to use with ESL students and reluctant readers. With great joy, I can report that we have had much success sparking the desire to read in our daughters.
teaching reading
Create your own labels to help early readers connect words with specific objects.
When my eldest was about 9-months-old, I began creating labels for many common household objects. When I'd turn on the lights, I'd point to the word and clearly enunciate it. Then I'd use her hand to move the switch up and down while repeating the word to help create a connection.
create labels
Keep related literature accessible wherever you can.
Wherever we keep adult literature, I have added kiddie lit as well. I have placed books next to our youngest daughter's potty so that she can read about bath/potty time in the bathroom, again, making a connection to the words. 

I also firmly believe that interweaving the sense of touch helps my1-year-old make a tangible association with words. We were given My First Touch 'n Feel Flash Cards and have used them constantly to help teach our girls to read. Physically holding flashcards gives children an active role in the learning process. Using a manipulative like this empowers them to see reading as a game and creates a positive association.
Use flashcards as an early reading game!
You can also find tons of great flashcards in dollar stores. We snagged Playshool First Words Flashcards there.

Lisa Dejohn's Alphabet Animal Flashcards are, without a doubt, the most beautiful, durable and inspiring cards we own. If you need a lovely gift for a birthday party, grab some at Anthropologie. Once you get your own, consider framing the first letter of a child's name. These cards are THAT good. Trust me.
teaching reading
Lisa Dejohn's Alphabet Animal Flashcards are wonderful!
Munchkin Bath Letters and Numbers have made every bath time a learning experience in our home. Our 15-month-old just likes to play with the letters, but our eldest spells out messages now and leaves them on the wall for her dad to find when he takes his shower. So cute.

Our eldest was given subscriptions to Highlights magazine and Wild Animal Baby for her birthday last year, and she goes bonkers over every issue. She can read most of these magazines by herself now. Simply astounding! These magazine are so easy to toss into diaper bags, place in the car and bring along whenever you travel. We also love books that have text in both English and Spanish for early language acquisition.
Highlights & Wild Animal Baby are exciting and engaging magazines for young readers.
Leap Frog makes Fridge Phonics Magnetic Alphabet Set, which captivates both of our daughters constantly. When kiddos pop a letter in the slot, the machine clearly pronounces each sound and sings the ABC song.  It's also a lifesaver if you're making dinner and need to keep the kids nearby but out of harm's way while you cook.
teaching reading
Fridge Phonics Magnetic Alphabet Set is ideal for manipulation and letter pronunciation.
Because our daughters love puzzles, I often take the pieces and write the word of each image alongside of its place. As a starting point, I will ask one of my girls to place the picture of the grasshopper next to the word. As their skills mature, I have written the word on the BACK of each piece. Later in reading development, I can flip the pieces and ask if one of my kids can read the word on the back to identify the picture on the front.
label puzzle pieces
Write the word next to, and on the back of, puzzle pieces for additional challenges.
We love art in this house. I have found glittery letters and doorknob signs at our local dollar store. We use these to create name tags for different rooms in the house. I can teach spelling and reading by helping my girls sound out the letters for their names and the names of friends. We make doorknob tags to give as gifts often.

Let them see YOU reading! My husband and I read constantly, and we are sure to let our girls SEE us enjoying literature. Our house is full of books, so we encourage our daughters to flip through our reading materials and their own daily.
Make books accessible and important in your home.
We place books of various genres in baskets in every room the girls frequent. We want them to pick them up as often as possible, so we make them accessible and prominent in our house.
book baskets
Book baskets beckon kids to grab ahold to investigate what's inside.
We keep another book basket directly adjacent to our 1-year-old's crib. She pulls small board books into her bed to flip through as she falls asleep or to keep her busy when she wakes up from napping. 
book basket
Consider keeping a book basket with board books next to the crib.
Bookshelves can be too tall for shorties and can be a falling hazard in a young child's room, so we have used wooden crates to store literature for our 3-year-old. She loves heading over to her little library to choose stories every night. As her reading is advancing, I'm starting to read more poetry to get her into predicting rhyming words and rhythm. Shel Silverstein is my favorite author of all time, so if you haven't checked out his books, oh PLEASE do!
low book shelf
Low-level bookshelves are a great alternative to taller options.
We have had the MOST success teaching our 3-year-old to read by leaving her notes every night. To catch up on this process, check out my earlier post on Learning to Read Love Letters.

And now that we have laid a solid foundation for reading, our daughter is very inspired to start WRITING! We have a large, laminated piece of notebook paper for her to practice on for fun. Using Crayola Dry Erase Crayons, she experiments with writing regularly in an artistic, creative way!

Teaching reading has been such a natural, enjoyable process in our home, and I can't tell you how pleased we are with the results. We hope our daughters grow to love literature as much as we do and know that they're on the right path. 

As always, if you have any questions or great new ideas to share, please feel free to post them here. We hope YOUR summer reading was spectacular!  
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours
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GGG said...

Janets comment - do thoses girls have any idea how fortunate they are? They certainly are. XX

GG said...

OK Cal - you can start to teach me spelling