By Michelle Luke As spring begins, so does a new year for people from certain cultural traditions, including the Chinese tradition that my family follows. This Spring Festival is a time to greet the Lunar New Year and welcome a new animal from the Chinese zodiac. In this tradition, each year is the year of a different zodiac animal. People born in the year of a particular animal are said to possess some of that animal’s qualities. For example, those born in the year of the rabbit are . . .
By Chrysta Naron I love a holiday! Any holiday is a reason to change up our reading games and reinvigorate them with a new theme. (It also gives me a reason to use my copious amounts of glitter.) What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day and literacy than to weave together love, candy, and letters! This literacy activity lets children draw their own version of those ubiquitous candy conversation hearts and then try to create words with them. Children attempt to make as many words as . . .
By Chrysta Naron If you’ve ever sat with a beginning reader, you’ll notice that knowing letter sounds doesn’t magically jump straight to reading words fluently. Learning how to blend those sounds into a word is your child’s next step to literacy. However, it can be tricky to demonstrate without just doing it for them. With this word slide, your child will learn this key reading skill and be able to control the speed at which they read. This simple activity is a great tool to teach reading. . . .
By Maya Payne Smart More and more students enter school with no knowledge of classic nursery rhymes, primary school teachers report. Some traditional poems like Baa Baa Black Sheep passed from generation to generation for centuries, but they hold markedly less appeal for today’s parents. Indeed, many parents admit not recalling the nursery rhymes of their youth, let alone teaching them to their kids. And this has some educators, researchers, and early childhood experts . . .
By Maya Payne Smart The term “read aloud” is deceptively simple—so self-evident in meaning that it seldom inspires discussion beyond admonitions to read with feeling and do it daily. But three decades of reading research reveals that there’s much more than reading aloud going on during the best story times. And, in fact, conversation that veers off the page may be as literacy-rich as the words in print. Caregivers use more than 20 different kinds of speech during read-alouds, ranging from . . .
By Maya Payne Smart From the pediatrician’s office to parenting magazine columns, numerous voices tout the benefits of regularly reading aloud to young children for language development. But storytime quantity is just part of the equation. How parents read to kids (not just how often) matters too, and I don’t mean the pacing and performance qualities of reading aloud. No matter how thrilling the story or a parent’s delivery, a verbatim front-to-back reading of a book leaves out critical . . .
By Maya Payne Smart Book enthusiasts have long credited family reading with healing and restorative properties, calling it a "magical elixir" or a "super multivitamin" for a range of personal and social issues. As 2020, the year of COVID, yawned to an end, one mom even declared that families reading aloud just might be "the panacea the world is looking for right now." In her estimation, reading with kids just a few minutes a day can combat feelings of pandemic defeat and allow parents to . . .
By Maya Payne Smart The idea of reading to children daily is deeply entrenched in American culture, even if the practice hasn’t completely taken hold. Books advising parents on creating family reading routines, and recommending what to read to kids when, have flourished since the 1930s. Raise-a-reader stories are standard features of parenting magazines and blogs. Schools, teachers, and community organizations all tout the benefits of reading to kids. My local grocery store chain even runs a . . .