Lists: a tool for readers, writers


April 08, 2001

Editor's Note: Today Jerdine Nolen introduces a valuable writing tool: lists.

When this column began several years ago, I had envisioned it as a way to connect with other parents and caregivers of children. Since we are ultimately responsible on the home front for teaching our children to read, it is necessary for us to have tools and support toward that goal. I think we know what to do to support our young people.

Sometimes we need the world to stop for a moment so we can think about what it is that we do, and there are times we need the extra push or a little nudge. I hope this column gives you some of what you need, including a look at other things to consider.

As a parent, I felt it was important to create a rallying point and an opening for this connection: Let's think about how and what we already do to support our children as and in becoming readers. It seemed that a quick reference of helpful information could be used to support you and your efforts in the creation of a community of lifelong readers in the Baltimore area. I still feel that way. We live in a world of words.

As educator, my goal was to:

* show how reading, writing, thinking and speaking are intertwined

* examine some of the complexities of teaching a child to read

* break down the steps into bite-size bits

* give tips for you to consider and activities for you to do with your child

* provide specific information, such as book lists, art activities or suggestions to extend these processes of writing and reading

From the standpoint of writer, thinking and writing are the same to me. I write to:

* learn

* discover what I am thinking

* clarify my own thinking

* think

Considering all of the above, I want to take a look at a simple yet very effective device writers use: lists. It can be one of many tools writers use before putting words on a page or screen to help us think and write. I thought we could look at "lists" as a fun way to stretch the imagination and thinking.

In future columns, we'll see how lists can:

* give vital / relevant information

* help in the creative and critical thinking processes

* help structure summer reading

* offer solutions to problems

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

To encourage reading, speak up!

The Baltimore County Public Library offers these tips for reading aloud:

* For babies and toddlers: Read to your child, whether it's a rhyming song, a birthday card, a cereal box, a newspaper or, of course, a book. It's the sounds that are important to acclimating your child to the process of reading.

* Visit the library often. Let the children get their own library cards and select their own books.

* Make a special time for reading aloud.

* Have older children read aloud while you do household chores.

* Let children see you read. Talk about what you read.

For more tips and other information check out the Web site:

-- Athima Chansanchai

Editor's Note: The children's best-seller list has three categories -- picture books, chapter books, and paperbacks -- which are published in rotation, one category per week.

1. "Easter Bugs" by David A. Carter (weeks on list: 5)

2. "Olivia" by Ian Falconer (26)

3. "Beatrice's Goat" by Page McBrier (2)

4. "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Seuss (195)

5. "So You Want to be President?" by Judith St. George (13)

6. "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum (21)

7. "The Quiltmaker's Gift" by Jeff Brumbeau (22)

8. "Alligator Tales" by Miles Smeeton (5)

9. "Casey at the Bat" by Ernest L. Thayer (4)

10. "Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type" by Doreen Cronin (10)

Contact us

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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