Advice and strategies to help your children read...


June 18, 2000

Advice and strategies to help your children read

Building a literary lifestyle

Editor's Note: Jerdine Nolen continues her series on language development. Her column appears biweekly.

Because of the strong connection between oral language and reading, it is important for children to have a rich literary experience throughout their lives. A fertile environment to develop the necessary skills and appreciation for this ongoing process can be found at school. When a child enters school, educators work to build on what she brings from home, which is learning to recognize the symbols of language in the world around her.


* talk about things that happened

* listen attentively to stories and retell (and sometimes make up) stories themselves

* can revert to toddler behavior when feeling sad or unsure

* make shapes, such as circles and squares

* recognize names and characteristics of immediate family

* begin to draw figures that represent people, animals, and objects

* understand that pictures, numbers, words and letters are symbols of real things and ideas

* write as a way to tell stories and offer information

* enjoy reading on their own

* may recognize a few words, such as their name and words on signs

What You Can Do:

* Provide books in English and in your family's native language.

* Let your child see herself in books.

* Choose some books about families like yours and people from your cultural/ethnic group.

* Have a special place for books, magazines, and other reading materials. Make it cozy.

* Make it possible for your child reach books without help.

* Help your child create her own "This Is Me" album.

* Share family photographs/memorabilia on a regular basis.

* Show your child how reading and writing are important.

* Talk about books together.

* Bring books to read in the car or on the bus.

A resident of Ellicott City, Jerdine Nolen is the award-winning children's author of "Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm" and "Raising Dragons." She is a former teacher and administrator in elementary education, and has personally field-tested her suggestions on her son and daughter.

A stepping 'Stone' for writers

Aspiring writers can get a jump start in their publishing careers with "Stone Soup," a 28-year-old magazine founded on the premise that youth carries with it the capacity for "works of astonishing power." Founders Gerry Mandel and William Rubel carefully read through thousands of submissions every year to determine what goes into their renowned publication.

Kids through age 13 can send in stories, poems, book reviews and art. The magazine encourages youngsters to write from their own experiences and observations to create original work. If they get published, they'll get paid $25 ($15 for illustrations, $50 for cover art).

Send your work to them (accompanied by a self-addressed envelope with the proper postage if you want it returned) to:

Ms. Gerry Mandel, Editor

Stone Soup

P.O. Box 83

Santa Cruz, Calif. 95063

Submission guidelines and other details can be found at

On Wednesdays: The Just for Kids section with read-aloud story, puzzles and poster

The Sun's readers tell their success stories and offer tips on encouraging children to read.

Make books a family priority

"Establish a family reading night. Once a week, everyone in the family reads instead of watching TV. While the children are still young, read out loud to the whole family."

-- Maureen Davis, Beltsville

Reading on the road

"Most of our hectic days require some sort of car travel. We make our own audio book tapes by recording ourselves reading aloud. The tapes are labeled with the book title and are always in the car along with the book so our little girl can read along if she wants. We give prompts on the tape for our child to 'turn the page.' "

-- Paula Reed, Catonsville

Bring characters to life

"At bedtime I'll read aloud until we come to a speaking part, then my daughter will read the part of the character. We have fun with different voices and personalities." -- Holley Jones, Baltimore

The Sun invites readers to send in tips about encouraging children to read, and we will print them on this page or on, our place on the Internet. Please include your name, town and daytime phone number. Send suggestions by fax to 410-783-2519; by e-mail to; or by mail to Reading by 9 Parent Tips, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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