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 . . .
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 . . .
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 . . .
Thanks to Austin Woman for featuring me on the cover and highlighting the great work of the Texas Book Festival, Austin Public Library Friends Foundation, and I Live Here I Give Here. It's an honor to work within such a vibrant nonprofit community, fighting for more equitable distribution of our region's vast resources. . . .
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 . . .
I read picture books to my daughter for nearly five years before I gained a deep appreciation for the form. Sure, I read them daily and with enthusiasm (mostly). But I read them the same way I would read a chapter book or an illustrated dictionary. That is, I read them as if the pictures were servant to the text, secondary and utilitarian. If I referenced a picture at all, it was to capture Zora’s attention with quick questions like: What color is her shirt? or How many ducks do you . . .
It’s hard to know where a parent’s work ends in supporting children’s academic achievement. Witness the helicopter parent next door who’s got Kumon on speed dial and watches the classroom webcam like it’s House of Cards. We sense that she’s gone too far in her vicarious quest for success, but can’t pinpoint exactly where she crossed the line between supportive parent and obsessive micromomager. But it’s abundantly clear where a parent’s educational work starts--at birth. Long before children . . .
I celebrated Dr. Seuss’s 112th birthday by donning a red and white stovepipe hat and reading “The Cat in the Hat” to eager first graders at University of Texas Elementary School. On my way over, I worried that the book selection was too young for them. As the mom of a four-year-old, I knew the elementary schoolers should have mastered Cat in the Hat vocabulary years ago. They’re beginning readers, I thought, but they’re veteran listeners too. A chapter book might better capture their . . .