We are our children's first teachers


Advice and strategies to help your children read

October 21, 2001

Editor's Note: Jerdine Nolen goes back to the basics and reiterates why the Just for Parents column exists.

When children become readers, the world opens up into something rich and wide. I would like to go back to the beginning of our conversations and think about ways to support our children toward achieving the goal of proficient reading. I have planned future articles that address many of the things we can do as parents to prepare our young ones as they make their place in the world and begin school. Because we are our children's first teachers, we are also our children's best chance for success in life. Our connections with our children help them make connections with others on their own. As our children become proficient readers and writers, an exciting world awaits them. As we share the world of reading with our children, an endless cycle of discovery begins.

We talk, sing, interact, listen and read to our children. In turn, they:

* develop a love of communication with you and others through the poems, songs, stories we share

* model and mimic us reading

* want to read on their own

* practice reading

* read for their own information and pleasure

Jerdine Nolen of Ellicott City 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 was a teacher and administrator in elementary education and has tested her suggestions on her son and daughter.

The right titles for every reader

Laura Backes gives parents a new tool in finding books for the reluctant readers in their lives. In Best Books for Kids Who (Think They) Hate to Read (Prima Publishing, $15.95), Backes lists 125 titles and sorts them by age (5-14) and reading level. Synopses are provided for each book.

Backes gives reasons why the book might appeal to the reluctant reader. For example, humor, visual appeal and kid relevance are factors that might sway a child toward picking up a book. In doing so, she guides parents on how to recognize choices that will interest their child. Backes is also there for parents who find that their child takes a fancy to a particular book -- she gives them a couple of additional reading titles to pick up. Her recommendations cover a range of subject matter and genres, both fiction and non-fiction. Though her choices include classics like C.S. Lewis The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, she also scours more unusual findings:

* The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo by Judy Blume

* Smart Dog by Vivian Vande Velde

* Fat Men From Space by Daniel Manus Pinkwater

* Cockroach Cooties by Laurence Yep

* Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne

* Parachuting Hamsters and Andy Russell by David A. Adler

* Amazing Snakes by Alexandra Parsons

* My Teacher is an Alien by Bruce Colville

* The Trolls by Polly Horvath

* The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

-- Athima Chansanchai

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 sunspot.net, 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 sun.features@baltsun.com; or by mail to Reading by 9 Parent Tips, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.

New York Times Best Sellers List: Children's Chapter Books

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. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (weeks on list: 66)

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (148)

3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (109)

4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (123)

5. The Hostile Hospital by Lemony Snicket (5)

6. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (50)

7. Taggerung by Brian Jacques (4)

8. The Prayer of Jabez for Teens by Bruce Wilkinson with David Kopp (12)

9. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket (28)

10. The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket (14)

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