Sunday, June 29, 2014

“ Summer Reading for Parents” (WSJ) addresses the challenges parents face in choosing the right book for their child but I see more confusion ahead with the publishing industry’s attempt to label books, hoping to inform parents to make better-informed choices.

Here are some simple guidelines to follow. A just right book pairs a child with a book with the proper reading level (children are able to read the words of the story) with their appropriate developmental age and stage (children are ready to think and talk about the subjects a book brings up).

Appropriate developmental age and stage and correct reading level is simple enough to determine and when you add in a child’s interest, you have some very easy to follow guidelines to make informed choices on the books your child reads.

However, I believe that every child deserves and needs a Reading Fairy Godmother. They know that the very best of books make a sound in the heart. Books enter the back door of the imagination, not the front door of logic and herein lay their magic.

When choosing a book for a child, I look for books that cause a reader to pause, and inside those pauses, our hearts open and become more porous to ideas and feelings. With each book, the heart breaks open a tiny bit and into that space new ideas and feelings jump in. Every time a heart breaks, it creates a space that invites new understandings. After each “heart break,” the heart expands and becomes more than it was.

Readers, both adults and children, experience with each memorable read, how their heart has been “broken," added to and altered. I believe this is the gift of reading

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Reading to their Children

While reading an article about how fatherhood informs a writer’s life, I found myself imagining my ideal father. My ideal father would not necessarily have to be capable of writing stories such as The Real Thief and T.H. White’s, The Once and Future Kingwho created Merlin, my dream father,  but he would be my very own Scheherazade, telling me magical stories that kept "..and then what happened?" alive and well. Together we would enter the world of story and create our very own understanding and language to talk about these stories.

I would also want my father to be playful, funny, lovable, reliable and eager to listen to all that I had to say. And he would make me feel like Cinderella.  Check out the song, Stealing Cinderella by Chuck Wicks. As many songs do, this one tells a heartfelt story that might possibly bring a tear or two to both fathers and daughters.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer Reading

According to Chartbeat, 55% of visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website. This statistic has me thinking about what it takes to absorb an idea— 15 minutes is not even enough time to stretch out a muscle let alone ponder and reflect on an idea.

Concentration and mindfulness are in short supply when we speak of Internet use but they are in abundance when it comes to reading a book. Statistics and scientific findings clearly show how reading is good for the brain. Dan Hurley’s featured 2013 PBS documentary feature, “ Smarter Brains,” tells a very compelling story.

In addition to helping develop healthy brains, working to full capacity, reading works to enlarge our humanity. It brings to mind a quote from Barry Lopez:

“The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed.  Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each other’s memory.  This is how people care for themselves.”

The calendar tells us summer has arrived and when it comes to reading, many children experience the summer slide, something that happens when young minds sit idle for three months. We know that children who do not read over the summer will lose more than two months of reading achievement. Summer reading loss is cumulative. By the end of 6th grade children who lose reading skills over the summer will be 2 years behind their classmates. AND think about the cumulative loss of hours of pleasure, the pleasure found while being lost and absorbed in a book.

Tips to make summertime reading pleasurable
Help kids find time to read
Continue to read aloud
Combine activities with books
Visit the Library
Relax the rules for summer, encourage children to read what they choose
Lead by example: children need to see parents reading

The ALA website is a wonderful resource for families, offering book recommendation for all ages.