Anytime we go to bookstores, Liliana and I both make big stacks of books that we want to read. We sit on the floor and go through them - sometimes together and sometimes apart. Inevitably, we end up with more kids around us than when we started. And this makes it so much fun.
"I want to read Tikki Tikki Tembo..." Liliana says to me.
My response? "Great! Go get it!"
Organizing mounds of books can be a daunting task! Especially if kids are in and out of them all day long or in charge of putting them away. But it's one worth doing.
Liliana knows how to go find the book she's looking for because they are organized. She knows she can browse her books because she can see her books and this makes her more likely to search, sort and read whatever books she wants to - whenever she wants to. The act of gathering books is easy for her - and that's what you want.
You want it to be easy for your kid to browse books, pick a book and sit down with it to read.
Here are a few tips to help you get started on organizing your books on a bookshelf.
I'm really glad that I've introduced Liliana to the world of Alexander.
The first time we read the book together, she kept repeating, "terrible, no good, very bad day." The reading teacher in me wanted to tell her that's not how it goes and that she forgot horrible, but the mom in me overrode that thought. Thank God.
I'm thankful that I've introduced Liliana to Alexander because when I am the one having the terrible day, we can pull that book out and read it together. The same goes for her. Sometimes she will pick it off the shelf because she is having a bad day. And, sometimes, Liliana will even ask me if my day will get better. I'm glad she's so sweet and thoughtful.
And honestly, reading this book usually makes my day better. In my classroom, I used to leave the book on top of a pillow in the corner with a sign nearby labeled, "Australia." Any kid who needed to get away and go to Australia, could. It was a great self-managing behavior tool.
Today, our puppy has diarrhea and just farted something awful. Our cat is still jealous that we have a puppy. The cat is on happy pills because otherwise all of his days would be terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Everyone else is napping in the house, except me - I am on puppy diarrhea watch at the moment. I've even already gotten to do puppy poopy laundry today. I get to bring puppy poop to the vet tomorrow too.
I know it's not really a terrible day and that actually I'm pretty lucky and that really the puppy is having a terrible day, but sometimes, I can relate to Alexander and his desire to go to Australia too.
I'm sure Liliana and I will read this book later and it will lead to reading the other book that she loves...
I cannot take credit for the name of this tip. It comes compliments of William Pope.L, an artist.
Last week, I took a break from writing a quick literacy tip on purpose. There is a lot going on in real life that is tense and I wanted to give myself some time and space to be uncomfortable, engage with others, reflect on my own thoughts and actions and be ready to re-engage. I think it's important to do this in order to grow and learn as adults and be ready to teach our youngsters.
In order to teach, I need to understand. I spent time listening and learning from others - hearing the fabric of our country speak. I am talking about the state of race relations and power structures in our country.
This post is part of a series on organizing your physical space to encourage literacy.
Awesome photography and memory captured by Shaina Fishman. Thank you!
A couple weeks ago, Liliana and her new puppy, Noodles, went to a photo shoot. We'd only had Noodles for two days and Liliana knew Noodles was going to be her buddy. But, she wasn't sure how predictable that buddy was yet. He nipped, he barked, he peed wherever he wanted to (still does...).
And this photo captures her trepidation perfectly. She's willing, but unsure.
It's also a perfect prompt for me to tell the story of Liliana and Noodles' budding friendship. How she enjoyed bringing him to puppy playtime, how she taught him how to sit, how he was nervous on his first subway ride and how he peed in his carrier in my lap which made me look like I peed in my own pants - and how she bellowed in laughter and asked incredulously, "Mommy, did you have an accident?!"
I will print this photo (and others from the shoot) and put them on our walls. It won't live on my phone, in my email or on my desktop.
This awesome photo and story will live on my wall.
We all want our kids to read. And, we want our kids to understand what they're reading.
And! The real kicker - we want them to enjoy reading.
This seems obvious, but sometimes getting there is not obvious and it takes some quirky roundabout turns to get there. Enter, printed photos on your walls.
"There is something very powerful in touching your fingers to an actual print,” says Craig Steinberg, a licensed psychologist who works with children ages five through 13. He goes on.
There’s a lot of stimulation of the brain when you have that sensory experience. That is a bit lost in the move to digital. You are touching a keyboard, mouse or a touchscreen but you are not touching the image.”
So, please print your photos and talk about them.
Tell your kids about your favorite memories, your life experiences, your stories. When you do, you will be writing out loud for them. Showing them how to put together a good story, a bad story, one that someone wants to listen to. You'll be showing them how to use the picture to start a story or how a picture better explains a story. You will build their self-esteem and their confidence.
You will also be storytelling them your life. And their very important place in your life.
P.S. I will also share some of my favorite, easy and creative ways to put photos on your walls in the next few days.
These two photos were the ones Joe and I loved the most from the photo shoot.
Again, photography done by the amazing Shaina Fishman!
One of my past tips involved sending mail, but this one is all about getting mail.
I was going through our firesafe box the other day. Among our passports, birth certificates and social security cards, I found two handwritten letters.
One is from my cousins who live in Pakistan. They wrote to me after I visited. Even then, reading was important to me - I left them my copies of Harry Potter books that I read on the flights over to Pakistan. They loved them and were getting the next book. Yay!
Another, is from my grandfather who passed away in 1994. He worked hard to learn English and he used some of his English to write me letters. He wrote about missing his homeland and wanting the area to be peaceful.
I cherish these letters.
And, the whole point of getting mail is to read it. It's one other meaningful way to read.
Hands down her favorite. Liliana loves the song, she loves the pictures, she loves Peter Yarrow.
She recognizes when it becomes the sad part of the book and then reminds herself that she's had friends move away and it all ends up okay.
I think she personally identifies with Puff and uses the book as an emotional tool.
Books can do that for you - give you language and help you feel better about being lonesome sometimes.
Let's be honest, Lily likes this book because there is a wackadoodle character named Lilly in the book.
She loves this book which makes my heart smile because I LOVE Kevin Henkes.
This book is about a duo who does everything together and are not very nice to new girl, Lilly. But when Lilly saves the day, they all become fast friends.
Kevin Henkes does a great job showing how to positively change a situation and even has a bullying episode in the book without giving away language that the bully would use (we don't need to model that in our reading with kids).
This is such a sweet tale and I have a hunch Liliana likes this book because it makes me melt.
Little Chester raccoon (no relationship to the above book) is going to school and is nervous. I used to read this book to little kids on the first day of school so they were reminded that their parents loved them, even though they were in class with me.
Chester raccoon even has a sweet surprise for his mother.
Liliana likes this book because it's something she can relate to. We live in Brooklyn which is where this book is set. We do our laundry in a laundry room and she helps out. She's even had to wash her favorite stuffed animals before (although never lost them like Trixie does).
I love the illustrations meshing with real life photography work and the story is sweet.
This post is part of a series.
I love books.
Gather favorite books.
One of the best ways to use your physical space is to gather favorite books. It's calming to have favorite books in one spot. You'll always know where to find them. If you're still reading bedtime stories, that's a great place to pick one or two or eight.
Plus! There is research to support having physical books around in your house - and their outcomes on increasing reading comprehension later for kids.
Tips for setting up your kids' ideal bookshelf:
- Ask your kids what their favorite books right now. They can change over time, so emphasize the here and now.
- First, let them bring as many as they will call favorite. If you start to notice that they have brought you half their bookcase or are talking about 25 books, start explaining what favorite means. The best of the best. Requiring a curated list makes them think about why the books are the best for them.
- Have them gather the books, if they have them. If they don't, go to the library or bookstore and collect them.
- For each book they talk about, ask why it's a favorite book. Don't judge their answers. Just let them be, but still have the conversation and be encouraging. Fake smile if you have to.
- Favorite books are special books so decide on a physical space to put their favorite books all in one place.
We put Liliana's books in a basket on the wall. They are easy for her to pull out and put back in. A basket like this would work.
Allow favorite books to change every once in awhile.
Always ask why a book has changed - either fell out of favor or why a new one is a added to the favorites. After that, add/remove from the shelf.
Have so much fun with this!
Here are mine:
I collect good storytellers. I like finding stories and analyzing whether it was the best version it could have been.
A Wrinkle in Time is that for me. A story of love, a story of family and a story of personalities. I loved it.
And, my copy is signed. Even better.
I went back and forth on this title. In my mind, it's kind of an odd title. But, it was also a first foray into scary fantasy.
I've read more books by Stephen King because this one was so well-written. There are parts in the book that are totally unbelievable in the movie (moving hedge animals) that are so believable in the book, it's...well, scary.
It is so well-written.
Stephen King is a phenomenal writer.
I don't love poetry, but I love Maya Angelou. She is lyrical, she speaks from the heart. She tugs at your heart.
Maya Angelou writes from her own life and tells her own painful story in such a connected way, it makes it hard to not feel human.
As far as I've read, she is the best at writing about humanity overcoming humanity.
I remember reading this book when I was 9.
It was the first book that showed me you could feel empathy and strong emotions through reading about a subject that I knew nothing about.
To me, it's timeless. I still feel strong emotions when I think about this book.
Dystopias are a favorite genre of mine. I read almost all of them - even ones that are on the edge of being defined as dystopias.
This was the first one that I read which married my own feminist viewpoints and a genre which I love. And, I found Margaret Atwood, a supremely talented multi-genre author.
This book is a must for any New Yorker. It's a whimsical picture book full of possibilities with illustrations by Maurice Sendak.
I love this book because it gives me a great shared experience with my daughter. She loves this book, I love this book and we can go to Times Square and see if Little Lori made it.
This is one of the only books I've read that speak to my own culture. Cultural experiences through reading are a little surreal, but also very engaging.
I read this book when I was in middle school and roughly the same age as Shabanu.
I loved reading about Shabanu, how she made very important choices in her life and became an adult. I loved that it gave me insight to my own culture.
And, I prefer books in paperback. Unless they are signed, then I'll take them in whatever form you want to give them to me.
What's on your ideal bookshelf?
Award Winning Books
Books And Movies
Quick Literacy Tips
Reading And Art
Reading And Science
Reading To Your Kids
Read Real Books