Monday, June 07, 2010

What a beautiful day! We've had lots of rain but the sky is blue and it isn't supposed to get above the 70s today but up to 90 by the end of the week.

Spent more time this weekend going through books so that we can get one of my double bookcases out of my office so it will look bigger. We are slowly making progress toward getting the house ready to put on the market. Steve is painting the dining room and it is going to look wonderful compared to the ugly brownish gold that was in there. Apparently the builder used whatever leftover paint around as no two rooms in the house were the same color. They all complimented each other, but there was no way to match the paint to do any fix-ups.

I read some fun picture and early chapter books in the process:
If you have a little primary grade glamour puss, which I think my granddaughter McKinley is going to be, check out the Perfectly Princess series. Purple Princess Wins the Prize by Alyssa Crowne caught my attention as even the pages of the book are purple. Also because she has big brothers who she wants to show she is just as good as they are. Even we adult girls who have older brothers remember that feeling! Reading level on the series is 2nd grade so these books will be as popular as the other Scholastic Little Apple series - The Rainbow Magic books. There are a lot of them as there are different types of fairies, with several books in each group include The Rainbow Fairies, The Weather Fairies, The Jewel Fairies, The Pet Fairies, The Fun Day Fairies, The Petal Fairies, The Dance Fairies and the newest – The Music Fairies. There is a really cool website for the Fairies with activities and all kinds of stuff for computer literate primary age girls would enjoy: I could see myself sitting down with Mary when she was little and doing some of these activities together. Keep in mind that I am a fairy lover myself and no one can make me grow up enough to quit believing in them! :-) I have Danni the Drum Fairy by Daisy Meadows in front of me and what fun – figuring out how to get the instruments back from the goblins who stole them. If they don’t, everyone will find out about Fairyland! What little girl wouldn’t love these books? Lots of white space and line drawings break up the text so even the most “chapter book” reluctant girl may find these accessible.

Although our kids go through series like the ones discussed above so fast that we feel like we are at the library or bookstore every day, this is a good thing. Are these high quality literature – of course they are not. But, it is books like these that help us ensure our kids are lifelong readers. Once they have mastered the basics of reading, novice readers need to go through a stage in reading development referred to as unconscious delight – in other words, wallowing in books that don’t require a great deal out of the young readers, but they are practicing their reading skills in a safe, known, fun environment. In other words – they discover reading is fun. It isn’t just something they have to do for homework or points. Some of us oldies went through this stage with The Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope (I was devastated when I found out she wasn’t real – these books were written by several different authors from an outline given to them.) The Bobbsey Twins of Lakeport is the first book in the series. Penguin has brought them all back along with an easy reader series as well. Nostalgia! We hope our kids love the same books we did as children, but don’t get upset if they don’t. Allow them choose their own books and then step back and watch them become lifelong readers.

We are seeing teens going through the unconscious delight stage because they spent the last 8 years of school having books picked out for them by points or reading level. Many tweens/teens don’t know how to self select books, let alone consider that reading can be an enjoyable pastime just like sports, hanging out with their friends, or talking on the phone. Basically, we have to “wallow in unconscious delight” at some point in our reading life to discover it is fun before we truly become a lifelong reader. Let your kids read whatever they want and ignore the reading levels for a change. Little guys who love dinosaurs can read nonfiction books that some middle school kids can’t because they love the subject and they figure out the big words because they want to. So what if it is the 50th manga title your middle school son reading. He’s reading! I find graphic novels more difficult to comprehend than straight text as I am not as good at visual comprehension as our kids are.

The magazine you keep seeing your son or daughter scanning in the store every time you are there, buy a subscription. Magazine reading is very similar to the short bursts of information that standardized tests use for comprehension questions.

Okay, I’ll get off my high horse on this subject but we want our kids wallowing in “unconscious delight " reading so they don't become unconscious from boredom while struggling with the required reading book that they have no interest in at all. Perhaps if they were encouraged to “wallow” in the books/magazines/online sites they want to read, they could better handle reading the “stuff” they don’t want to as they are honing their skills reading and these books become less difficult to read. Can't change the boredom factor totally but they can progress through the books more quickly so they can get back to the titles they want to read.

I talked about the girlie series, what about the ones for the guys? Scholastic has Little Apple series for the guys too. I personally am so not into Pokemon but some boys love this little critter. There are many books in Pokemon Junior Chapter Book Series. Not all of them are still in print but you can buy used ones online for a couple of bucks and even Pokemon Battle Frontier: Team Rocket Truce is only $3.99 new.

I think the Ready, Freddy! primary level series is a delight and I’d start with volume 1: Tooth Trouble by Abby Klein. There are enough line illustrations by John McKinley to break up the text. Freddy may be fascinated by sharks with their wicked looking teeth, but he’s embarrassed as he’s the only first grader who hasn’t lost a tooth yet.

For the primary age boys who love sports check out the Gym Shorts series by Betty Hicks. Henry and his buddies try out various sports, from basketball to soccer, to swimming, to baseball, to track and the latest adventure: Doubles Trouble about tennis. The wonderful line drawings by Simon Gane break up the text and make this a fun book for sports minded early readers.

For the slightly older readers (7-10) who love to laugh introduce them to the Melvin Beederman, Superhero Series. Longer in length, the text is still broken up by line drawings. The latest title in the series by Greg Trine, Invasion from Planet Dork is hilarious. How many times have we seen movies and read books about aliens being used for experimentation. Well, what if the Evil Aliens are coming to Earth, specifically Los Angeles, to kidnap Earthlings for their own science class experiments? This ones hits the bookstores this week.

Summer is upon us and kids are out of school. Don't let them lose the progress they have made toward becoming a lifelong reader. The public libraries have fun reading programs if you child likes to be involved. As long as the programs are self competitive and don't list names and charts that clearly show ranking I am all for them. But I'd not have my own children involved in the ones that "pit" children against each other. They deal with enough competition in other areas of their life, reading should not be a competitive sport. It is like yoga or running - you work to improve your own skills not to be better than someone else. If you don't have a suitable summer reading program, make up your own. Read with your kids, read to your kids, have them read to you and talk about the books. Spend a Saturday at a used book store and let them pick out some books. Hit garage sales. There are ways to build your child's book collection without it costing you an arm and a leg.

All for today.