Monday, April 2, 2012

International Children's Book Day

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Beginning in 1967, every year on April 2, the world celebrates International Children's Book Day. This marks the birthdate of famed storyteller Hans Christian Andersen. It celebrates, not only the birth of one of the world's most famous and beloved authors, but also aimed at "inspiring a love for reading and to call attention to children's books" (from Education Scotland website).

We love reading. My children would (and do sometimes!) sit for hours as we read book after book. Some of our family favorites are Pinkalicious, Fancy Nancy, The Little White Owl, and Freckleface Strawberry, just to name a few. I think they get their love of reading from me.

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When I was a child reading was a beautiful escape for me. I remember one time when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade, I had finished the days math assignment. I quietly pulled out my fiction book (probably something by Ann Rinaldi. I LOVED her at that age) and began reading as I waited for other students to finish. I got so involved in the story that I didn't realize how much time had passed. My teacher had moved on to the next subject and was asking me a question about the assignment we had done the day before in geography! Yikes!

Not only did I love reading, but I loved writing my own books too. I wrote this book about killer whales attacking a beach and I won the schools writing contest that year. I think it was 3rd grade. When I was in 8th grade I had this literature teacher that did a unit on writing our own fiction. It was awesome! The assignment was to be creative and just write. I was in heaven! I would sit for hours and pen these stories about lost love and the tragedies of teens. Ahh... those were the days. :)

I am professionally trained as an elementary teacher. Since elementary school is the prime time children learn to read and write, we read study after study and theory after theory about the best ways to cultivate a love of reading. All studies showed the best way to begin teaching your children to read, and to love reading, is to #1 read to them, and #2 allow them to see you reading. Now this doesn't necessarily mean you must read a fat novel and allow them to watch you as you do. No! Reading is anything from reading the newspaper, to reading a recipe! Having print materials in the home helps children become familiar with the concepts of print. It is a huge foundation that reading is then built upon.

My husband didn't have such a positive experience with school or reading books. It's a long story why not, but for our children we've tried to focus on helping them develop a love for reading by cultivating the experience in our home. There are 3 main things we do as a family, and I thought since today is International Children's Book Day, I'd share.

1. We read together every day. We have made it a habit that we read stories before naps and before bedtime. In the afternoon it is just me and my girls snuggled up reading books, but in the evening the whole family gathers in my daughters' room and we read. Sure there are days when it would be more convenient to skip story time. But it's part of our routine. The girls love it, and it's a nice break in my day just to relax, snuggle my girls and just read.

2. My girls get to pick their own stories. We all have different interests. If we allow our children to read about their interests, they will be more inclined to keep reading. Obviously, as a parent, we have to exercise judgement about what is appropriate for our children, but if at all possible, let them pick the story. Even if it is the same story you read all week. Kids love repetition!

3.We use our resources to get books. There are so many resources to get books these days! At one point we lived near a Scholastic Book Fair warehouse. Once or twice a year it was open to the public and the books were 50%-75% off the book fair prices. This is so cheap! For Christmas one year, I spent $45 and bought over 65 books. This was our big Christmas gift to our girls that year. They LOVED it. We try to make books a regular part of our gift-giving. Sure, our children get presents like dolls and trucks and blocks, but we make sure at least some of their gifts for birthdays and other holidays are books. If you don't have access to a warehouse, keep reading for more! Hope you find this information helpful. There are many other resources available out there, but I just wanted to share a few.

Other resources: 

-Cheerios is giving away free books in their specially marked boxes right now. They are books by award-winning authors such as Mem Fox.

-Chick-fil-A is giving books in their kids' meals instead of toys. Most recently the books they were giving  tell a story in history and teach a value such as "Harriet Tubman and the Value of Helping". They were previously giving books about one of PBS' shows "Martha Speaks".

-There are free resources on the internet such as DLTK's website that allows you to print and make your own mini books. There are instructions how to make, and there is a large range and selection of topics.

-Use the public library! Most libraries still allow free access to take home books. Most also have a separate children's center where you can sit and relax and read with your kids.

Happy Monday and Happy Reading!

1 comment:

  1. yup! we love reading books too...i mostly use the library...=)