It’s report card time again, and U.S. reading achievement shows no improvement. National reading scores dipped for fourth and eighth graders this year, according to the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as The Nation’s Report Card. Only one third of U.S. 4th and 8th graders are proficient readers. Not excellent or strong, mind you. Just competent, able to get by. Mississippi was the only state in the union to post reading gains. We should applaud its improved literacy . . .
Spelling is crucial for reading and writing. Still, spelling instruction limps along in the 21st century as “the abandoned stepchild in the family of language arts,” in the words of researchers R. Malatesha Joshi, Rebecca Treiman, Suzanne Carreker, and Louisa C. Moats. Despite evidence that spelling directly affects reading skill, it gets little time and attention in most American classrooms. “Probably more than any other school subject, teacher intervention and influence on the spelling . . .
Kids love a good story and, when we parents take the time to teach them, can appreciate the stories behind how words come into existence. That history brings spelling to life, makes teaching time more fun, and helps answer the perpetual question of why many words aren’t spelled the way they sound. Plus, stories make spellings stick in memory better than just staring at or copying words. Here’s a quick list that explains the origin of spellings from karaoke and hangry to squawk and Achilles . . .
Successful storytime brings together a comfy setting, good books, and page-turning vocal performances. By comparison, family spelling feels stripped down, a capella. There’s no deferring to an author’s words, illustrator’s images, or character’s voice to get through the moments. And there’s no hiding our ignorance when children pose questions about the how’s and why’s of spelling that we can’t answer. Why is the k sound in bake spelled differently than the same sound in back? Why isn’t . . .
In English, there are 26 letters, 44 sounds, and 250 or more different ways to spell those sounds. That means phonetic spelling will only get kids so far. Yet how many times have parents uttered “sound it out” to a child asking how to spell a word? Kids’ responses to this refrain are often as wrong as they are reasonable. Think: spelling does with duz. Silent letters, single letters representing multiple sounds, and a slew of sounds with the same pronunciation, but vastly different spellings, . . .
Many picture books aim to spur conversation around the quirks of English spelling, but Beth Anderson’s An Inconvenient Alphabet is a class above. While alphabet books like the popular P Is for Pterodactyl highlight unconventional spellings without illuminating the why’s behind them, An Inconvenient Alphabet goes much deeper. It brings to life some of the history and power dynamics responsible for English spelling—in ways that intrigue adults and children alike. The book explores the true story . . .
As adults, we know that the professional world judges spelling mistakes severely. Errors in a job application, resume, or email bias recruiters against candidates and significantly harm career advancement. What we parents may not fully appreciate is that the consequences of spelling woes emerge in elementary school, long before students enter the workforce. Here are four things you need to know now about how spelling impacts your child—and how you can impact their spelling: Spelling errors . . .
The reassuring authors of raise-a-reader books often prescribe a chill pill and a nightly dose of bedtime stories to parents anxious about their kids’ reading. They devote page after page to poignant stories of family reading, complete with shared laughs and smiles, the warmth and comfort of a parent’s lap, and the smell and feel of a book’s spine cracked open for the first time. I love the joy-of-reading sentiment and the moving accounts of family memory-making around books, but I worry about . . .
We’ve all heard about how good it is to read aloud to our children, and the many ways it benefits them. Kids can gain oral language skills, new vocabulary, familiarity with foreign worlds, and the undivided time and attention of an adult through storytime. But moms and dads can experience powerful and lasting benefits, too, when they commit to and revel in reading with kids. Here are five parents’ reflections on the fresh perspectives, fond memories, and cherished connections they gained through . . .
Grandparents’ Day may be in September, but a new crop of picture books is here to help us celebrate grandmas and grandpas and nanas and paw-paws year-round. That’s only fitting, because there are more grandparents today than ever before, according to The Census Bureau. And the special ways they love, teach and relate to their children’s children is proven fodder for vivid, powerful storytelling. Look no further than these three titles I discovered at the Texas Book Festival. May they remind us . . .