Need to learn it? Make a list


April 22, 2001

Advice and strategies to help your children read

Editor's Note: Today Jerdine Nolen talks about the usefulness of lists.

Walk into Any Classroom, U.S.A., and you are going to find all kinds of lists on display. Listing things is something we do to help us think and learn. Because lists are an itemized series of things, they can be an effective thinking tool to help us organize our thoughts. Or they can allow us to recall or access information quickly and easily. Lists are short, informative and attention-getting. Lists used in classrooms instruct children on what or how to do something. They can be very effective tools in our lives. I use them all the time. So do you. Just keep reading.

In classrooms, lists help children:

* Follow directions

* Learn rules

* Learn the structure of words and sentences

* Categorize, organize and prioritize information

* Prepare for quizzes and tests

* Focus on a topic

* Generate ideas (brainstorming helps develop our thought processes)

* Record information quickly

At home, kids can expand upon subjects they learn in school:

* What I already know about (for example, the solar system, ocean, fruits, farms, solar eclipses)

* What I need to know about (tangerines, constructing a bird house)

* Some important things for me to remember (when writing a letter, adding fractions, about place holder zero)

* Specialized vocabulary (math, social studies, science)

* A list of (the oceans, continents, words with the short "u" sound)

* Things that (fill in the blank: are round, grow out of the ground, have fur)

Parents can help bridge the transition between the use of lists in school and in our lives. Kids can also apply the use of lists in other areas:

* Do chores

* Put in their requests for grocery shopping

* Itemize what they really need or want for their birthdays / holidays

* Learn about new places as they give input on family vacation ideas

* Weigh the pros and cons of different situations, which can open up a world of possibilities

Making lists doesn't have to be all goal-oriented. It can be fun. Consider these ideas:

* My favorite (things, books, earrings, weather, kinds of candy)

* A list of 10 things I want to be when I grow up! A list of 100 places I want to travel to in my life!

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 personally field-tested her suggestions on her son and daughter

Couch potatoes, arise! It's TV Turnoff Week

To some it may seem like a member of the family, but to others it's a distraction that keeps kids from truly enjoying the reading experience. We're talking about that magic box found in most living rooms around the world: the television. From April 23 to 29, the seventh annual National TV-Turnoff Week asks families to put down their remote controls and pick up books.

The TV Turnoff Network says participants should focus on creativity, productivity, healthy physical activity, civic engagement, reading, thinking and doing. Six million children and adults around the country are expected to turn off the TV and turn on their imaginations. For more information check out the Web site:

-- Athima Chansanchai

New York Times Children's

Paperback Book Best Sellers

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. "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" by Newt Scamander (weeks on list: 4)

2. "Quidditch Through the Ages" by Kennilworthy Whisp (4)

3. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" by J.K. Rowling (74)

4. "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" by J.K. Rowling (31)

5. "The Captain Underpants Extra-Crunchy Book O'Fun" by Dav Pilkey (6)

6. "Holes" by Louis Sachar (31)

7. "Pikachu & Pichu" adapted by Tracey West (2)

8. "The Best Easter Basket Ever" by Mara Conlon (3)

9. "The Case of the High Seas Secret" by Alice Leonhardt (3)

10. "Blue's Egg Hunt" by Deborah Reber (6)

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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