I’m doing something a little different today guys…because I firmly believe that it is so important to encourage your kids to read — and to love it! On that note, I’m pleased to host Bloggers Read Across America (BRAG)—Promoting Children’s Reading and Literacy. It’s Day #10 of the BRAG tour! BRAG’s founder and children’s book author, Jo Ann Kairys, shares lots of great information about programs that help children learn to love reading.
Jo Ann Kairys is co-author and co-illustrator of the children’s picture book, Sunbelievable—winner of the Mom’s Choice Gold Medal 2012 Award.
Widely published in the medical/science literature, she recently shifted from highly technical writing to creating stories for young readers.
“I don’t know which is more challenging… writing a research article or producing a book that children will want to read over and over again. I love that wonderful stories can last for generations!”
Jo Ann is also Founder of the 2012 First Annual Bloggers Read Across the Globe (BRAG) Project—Promoting Children’s Reading and Literacy—one enthusiastic blogger at a time.
Please head on over to Story Quest Books to learn more about the BRAG project and join in for special bonuses!
The Mommy Muse—Reading to Kids While Walking the Dog!
Sometimes children’s chatter seems more “noise” than I/we want to hear. But if I stop to listen, I hear rich, magical sounds. I know, the cacophony can be too much sound blaring at once—get out the headphones!
Young children are all about auditory expressions. One day I heard my 5 and 3 year-old granddaughters talking about rain—they were eager to get outdoors and impatient for the passing storm to end. So, they pretended they were the rain. “SWOOSH! SPLAT!” Their words were innocently onomatopoeic. For me as a storyteller, they were inspiration.
Watch toddler boys as they play with cars or trains. “ZOOM! BOOM!” As a picture book author, I hear sounds. Sounds become actions. So when my granddaughters were excited one evening as they watched a purple sunset, they exclaimed, loudly, “LOOK! LOOK! The sun changed into pajamas!” That moment sparked the idea for my new picture book, Sunbelievable. Sound became story.
From that point, I paid even closer attention to the girls’ make-believe. When their brother was born, his “WAH! WAH!” noises entered the vocal landscape. Listening to three children at once, as you know, can be overwhelming. So I focused on sounds that would, in reverse, catch their attention when I read to them aloud, mimicking their voices and energy.
I’ve been a professional medical/science writer for years. Transitioning to children’s stories was a huge challenge—altering my writing style from very technical (following strict guidelines and rules) to imaginative and creative without a proscribed format.
For sure, writing for kids is a huge challenge, but an even greater one is reading to children while every possible distraction vies for attention. Let’s take talking on the phone as an example. How is it possible to read aloud while having a conversation on your smartphone—and—at the same time, walking the dog or getting ready for your first night out with friends in forever?
No problem! Child development experts have you covered. As children listen to you talk, the more they build vocabulary. The more they hear different kinds of words and phrases – the more their oral language develops. They naturally follow the tone of your voice, so when you’re expressive, they’re keen observers—and listeners. You’re actually ‘reading’ to them without a book.
The mommy muse is everywhere, your own voice prompting early language and building literacy. “Stop making such a kerfuffle! It’s too noisy! or “Isn’t this a conundrum? I see you’re confused, but we can talk about it when we’re back home.
In writing this article, I’ve discovered some wonderful children’s reading and literacy resources for parents. Here are two of my favorites. I hope you’ll check them out—while walking the pooch and talking with your kids!
- Moms Inspire Learning: An active blog by Dawn Morris, MA. “Busy mothers,” says Dawn, “make decisions every day that have to power to change the world, starting right inside their own homes. Dawn’s blog offers children’s book recommendations, parenting tips, and other resources to help build lifelong learners.
- Literacy Launchpad: Another active blogger, Amy is a mom and early literacy teacher, passionate about children’s literature and creative ways to get children excited about books. “I love to share what I know, and what I’m learning, with other teachers, mothers, and anyone else looking to share the joys of reading with children!”
Thanks so much, Jo Ann, for sharing your awesome tips for finding time to get our kids interested in reading!