The joy of reading

Reading222Learning to read can be very difficult for a child.  Children need to learn letters – both upper and lower case.  They need to learn the sound(s) a letter makes.  They need to blend those sounds together, and they need to blend the words into sentences.  Motivation really helps!

It is a child’s interest and enjoyment of books that provides most of the motivation. When children hear many stories, are encouraged to make up stories, and want to listen to favorite stories over and over, they will want to read all by themselves.

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Did you know that Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman has very easy vocabulary even though it is 64 pages long? It is certainly one of my favorite books.  I love the dogs, the colors, the opposites, the cars and the party hat!  Give it a try.  ~Maureen

Reading and Rhythm

Singing222In storytime at the MacKay branch this week, we played a game in which we recited each other’s names while clapping on each syllable. My name is Amy; it has two syllables, so we clapped twice while we said it. A name like Mike has just one syllable (one clap), while a name like Caroline gets a whopping three claps!

Learning to break words into their component parts is one of the foundations of early literacy. By dividing their names into distinct syllables, children begin to think about how language is made up of smaller sounds (and by extension, words are made up of individual letters). We can make this kind of activity more fun by adding rhythm elements like clapping, drumming, and stomping feet.

You may find that you’re already doing this without even thinking about it. Nursery rhymes, poetry, and music are all common examples of language that has been set to a structured rhythm. So keep singing with your child and building those pre-literacy skills!


Imaginative Play

There was an interesting Op-Ed piece in the New York Times today about the importance of imaginative play for young children.  At the library we talk about the importance of play for developing early literacy skills, but as this article points out, “many adults think of play as separate from formal learning.  The reality is quite different.”  Play strengthens skills and knowledge and helps children self-regulate in a group.  The article describes what a purposeful play space looks like.  It has activity centers that “invite exploration, fire the imagination, require initiative and prompt collaboration.”

Chelmsford’s Main Library offers a PlaySpace on Tuesday mornings for 2 and 3 year old children.  Children listen to a story and then go to activity stations that are tied to the story.  We create the environment using simple items you can find around the house.  We offer activities to build fine and gross motor skills.  We have crafts and dramatic play.  We have a sensory station, a felt board and an area to read similar stories.

For the next 2 Tuesdays our story will be Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley.  Grownups and children are invited to come promptly at 10:00am and be prepared to play!


Writing begins with scribbling

Has your baby held a crayon or pencil yet?  Research states that around 12 months of age, a baby is ready to start exploring with the ideas of creating marks on paper.  These early marks and scribbles are the first steps that eventually lead to drawing and writing.  The development of writing and drawing is similar to the development of talking in that the pictures or words do not come out conventionally at first.  Just as your young child might say “ba” to mean “bottle,” a simple line or squiggle on a paper may represent a picture and you are encouraged to embrace your child’s creations.  Allow your child to “write” his or her name on a paper and celebrate together that the mark is his or her way of writing his or her name at that stage of development.

Find age appropriate writing implements, such as big, fat crayons, chalk, or even big washable markers.  Get some paper, sit down together and enjoy some creative fun while your child is on the way to becoming a successful writer and artist!



What kind of “writing” can very young children do?

The next great author is….   Your child.

We remind parents that Talking, Reading, Singing and Playing are all stepping stones for a child learning to read.  We also mention Writing.  This may be confusing when talking about very young children who cannot make letters.  How can they “write”?

Little children scribble for pictures and writing.  They are making a permanent record of their thoughts and feelings at that time. The scribbles should always be celebrated.  It is usually a bit later that children will draw and then scribble under the picture to write about it – knowing that pictures and words are different things.

Thick markers and crayons with unlined paper are good tools for this very early stage.