Wednesday, June 28, 2017

So Long, Farewell

In February of 2010, our freshly appointed Early Literacy Specialist, Jenna, had a wonderful idea. She started a new library blog and described it in this way: "This blog is designed to highlight all of the fun and engaging things you can be doing with your children before they go to school. I'll highlight favorite read-alouds, developmental tips, updates about our library storytimes, and suggestions to help you as parents and caregivers be your child's first and best teacher."

"Just in case you’re wondering what the term 'Early Literacy' actually means, it is simply everything children know about reading and writing before they can actually read and write. Early literacy is a baby who chews on a book, a toddler who wants his favorite book read over and over, and a preschooler who 'reads' the story to you from memory."

Over the years since then, most of us in the Youth Services department have contributed blog posts at different times to Open Shut Them. In the process, we’ve offered some of the early literacy tips that help guide our storytime planning, and featured new research related to kids and reading readiness. We’ve tried to assist all of you in navigating the sea of new books that are published each year, selecting a few of our absolute favorites to share with you. In addition, we’ve tried to approach reading and literacy in a sensible, but humorous fashion, knowing that some days that can be helpful.

Now it’s time to move on to new endeavors here at the library. This post will be the final one in the Open Shut Them series, but our Children’s website will continue to offer plentiful reading suggestions, as well as opportunities to learn about new ways to foster a love of reading in your children.

For additional reading suggestions for kids, please visit our kids' website. There are lots of ways to read, learn, and play there, as well as stay informed about all of the special programs we have planned for you and your family. You can also subscribe to receive your choice of reading suggestions by email. And keep your eye on our library's Facebook page, where we will always have up-to-date information on what’s happening at the library.

An additional option is to check out the Parent and Caregiver Resources section of our web page, which features Library Services, Research Databases, and Web Links for child- and parent-centered web sites.

Most importantly, please continue to visit us in the library! We are always happy to see you and to share some of our favorite new books with you. It has always been, and continues to be, our pleasure to join you and your children on their journey to literacy!

Guest post by Bridget W.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

And Then Comes Summer

Now that summer is officially upon us, it’s time to start thinking about all the ways to entertain our children and ourselves. In a contemporary environment, the "lazy days of summer" are often anything but lazy. Many parents will anticipate the time about to be spent rushing from swimming lessons to baseball games, and squeezing meals in between; children might imagine playing video games or watching TV for hours while planning for the next sleepover or scouting event.

And Then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner reminds us of the joys of our youth: flip flops, double-decker cones from the ice cream truck, crickets’ songs, and playing outside until dark. Hopscotch, lemonade stands, and fireworks all join together to paint a picture of a calmer, more relaxing and enjoyable summertime. "When it’s so hot you’re practically panting, and not even the sprinklers provide relief…then it’s time to head to the lake." Campfire stories and tents provide the setting for a cozy family getaway that everyone can enjoy and remember fondly.

The text is simple, but evocative of a less complicated time. Jaime Kim’s illustrations are colorful and energetic, representing the exuberance of childhood and a simpler way of life. Life seems extraordinarily busy for most people these days, and we all deserve a rest; a chance to just stop, breathe, and marvel at the beauty and joy around us. Watch the flowers bloom. Ride your bike or play just a bit longer. Everyone watches out for everyone else. Bedtime can be delayed. This is the way life was meant to be.

"When your fingers are sticky with marshmallow and chocolate, and fires burn down to glimmering coals, then snuggle into your sleeping bag and plan tomorrow’s adventures."

Now doesn’t that just sound delightful?

Guest post by Bridget W.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Building Narrative Skills

Narrative skills are an essential component of the early literacy skills children need to have in order to be able to read and write. Narrative skills are all about storytelling – being able to describe things, tell events in order and retell stories. The ability to do these things helps children understand what they hear when you read to them and will help with reading comprehension later on.

Here are some ways you can help your child develop narrative skills:

· Ask questions that encourage conversations rather than yes/no or right/wrong answers. Instead of, "Do you have your shoes on?" ask "Where are your shoes?"

· Talk about your day and its series of events. Narrate your actions in simple terms. You could say "First we’ll eat breakfast, then we’ll brush our teeth, and then we’ll get dressed and go to the park."

· Retell familiar stories without the book.

· When reading a story, guess what comes next – or come up with a different ending.

· Read stories without words. This is great for developing narrative skills!

· Read a story and let your child retell it, act it out, or draw it and explain the drawing.

· Have your child talk about what he knows and retell real-life events ("What did you do this morning?").

· Use props to retell a story – you can use puppets, toys, and even cardboard boxes!

· Ask your child to tell you a story.

· Have your child tell you about pictures she draws.

· As your child gets older, label not just things but also actions, feelings, and ideas. Talk about your own feelings. Use words to say what your child might be feeling. 

Guest post by Allison C.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Perfect Day

This is a simple, repetitive tale of several animals enjoying a perfect day. Cat’s perfect day includes lying in the flower bed in the sun; Dog enjoys sitting in a wading pool full of water; and Chickadee and Squirrel are eating birdseed and a corncob provided by their young friend Bert. All of a sudden, a bear comes on the scene and ruins everyone’s perfect day. He eats the corncob and birdseed, drinks the water in the wading pool, and flattens the flowerbed. As Bert and the four animals watch the sleeping bear from inside the house, the story ends with: "It was a perfect day for Bear." The illustrations use muted colors, show movement and texture through brush strokes, and are gentle, charming, and hilarious as the bear smiles with the corncob stuck in his mouth and ruins the flower bed while making snow angels. The repetition in the story makes this a good book for beginning readers.

A Perfect Day by Lane Smith is a humorous story that is sure to be a hit with kids and parents alike!

Guest post by Allison C.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Who Broke the Vase?

When children grow old enough to realize that there might be repercussions from things they’ve done, like, for instance, breaking something, it’s not surprising that they try to find a way out of the trouble that might lie ahead. It can even be humorous to watch their contortions as they attempt to avoid facing the reality of the situation.

Who Broke the Vase? by Jeffrey Turner opens with that simple question. Images of bouncing balls on the end pages give a clue as to how the vase was broken. A young dog plays the title role and immediately conjures up a tale about an elephant who swung his trunk, causing the accident. When he realizes that sounds a bit outlandish, he quickly changes his story to say that a mouse who was inside the vase actually did it. The account changes again and again to blame a wayward crow, a knitting sheep, a hippo, and a nonexistent baby (who didn’t really mean to do it).

The author’s bold, eye-catching black silhouetted illustrations offer the perfect blend of humor and engagement, especially when the dog, knowing he has no other recourse, finally admits to breaking the vase. Mama dog accepts his confession and then they go out to play. Moments later, another ball comes flying through the window, headed straight for another container full of flowers. This time it’s Mama who threw it, and she comes up with her own story about a huge leapfrog-playing grasshopper having caused the damage.

Not only is this book humorous, it can also open the door to conversations about truthfulness and taking responsibility for one’s actions. There is no punishment or time-out when the dog confesses to his role in the incident. He even acknowledges the rather preposterous nature of the excuses he offers, and the issue is resolved. As children enter new territory in the world around them, they need loving, non-judgmental guidance, especially in these kinds of situations. Who Broke the Vase? delivers a simple but effective message, stated at the beginning of the book: "Being truthful is better than being perfect." The laughs along the way are an extra bonus!

Guest post by Bridget W. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Go Undercover!

It’s that time again! We’re almost ready to kick off our annual Summer Reading Club. If you’re not familiar with our club, it’s easy and fun! Registration begins Tuesday, May 30th, and can be done in person at either library or online. Children entering Preschool – Grade 5 can join our children’s club, where they get game cards to track their reading, either by hours or by numbers of books read - it’s their choice. Along the way, there are opportunities to win great prizes!

For babies and toddlers, we have game cards that are filled with fun early literacy activities for you and your little ones to do together, and each child who completes either the baby/toddler or children’s club will win a book to take home!

During SRC, we’ll also have a long list of great programs for the whole family to enjoy. Check out our program schedule here. In addition, each week we’ll have a different theme for our craft centers located in the children’s room at the Centerville Library. You and your kids can stop by anytime we’re open to make cool crafts and complete our coloring sheets.

Finally, I know that many of you are eager for storytimes to start up again. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait too much longer, since they will begin the week of June 5th. Check out the new summer storytime schedule here. Registration is not necessary for any summer storytimes, so feel free to join us whenever you can!

We’re looking forward to seeing lots of excited readers this summer who are ready and willing to “go undercover” with a good book!

Guest post by Bridget W. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Print Awareness

Print awareness is one of the six early literacy skills necessary for a child to have in order to be ready to learn to read. Print awareness is noticing print everywhere, understanding how to hold a book properly, and understanding that the words and letters on the page have meaning.

Children have to understand how a book works before they can be ready to read. They should know that books have front and back covers, are held a certain way, and that you read from the top of the page down and left to right (in English). They need to know that the words have meaning and that the words and pictures work together to tell the story.

Here are some ways you can help your child develop print awareness:

· Start babies out with soft padded books or board books with rounded corners that they can grasp and chew. It’s important for babies to explore books with all of their senses.

· Point to the words in the book as you read.

· Let your child turn the pages as you read.

· Turn the book upside down and see if your child notices. If not, tell him it was not the right way for reading and turn it right-side up.

· Point out signs as you are out and about and read them to your child.

· Point out print wherever you find it – cereal boxes, restaurant menus, recipes, shopping lists, etc.

· Play “I Spy” with words you see while driving (for example “I spy an M” as you near a McDonald’s).

· Read to your child every day.

These are just a few ideas to help your child develop print awareness. The more your child is exposed to print, the more she will see how print is all around us and used in our lives every day.

Guest post by Allison C.