Build reading into your daily routine


Advice and strategies to help your children read

January 27, 2002

Editor's note: Jerdine Nolen urges parents to keep a good thing going when their kids get hooked onto reading and writing.

Reading and writing habits are acquired.

When families acknowledge the importance of exposure to excellent literature and place value on reading, writing, speaking and listening, children usually benefit by improving their language acquisition.

I do not suggest that parents must formally give reading instruction to the baby in its crib. We must make it an important part of family routines and our daily lives -- just like meal preparation and chores.

Our homes provide rich language experiences that help our children learn to read or prepare them for when they enter school.

Things to consider to support your child's language development

* Model good listening examples for your children.

* Let them develop into better listeners at their own pace.

* Begin reading (age appropriate material) to your child as soon as possible.

* Read materials at your child's attention level (picture books, board books, etc.)

* Find out about the people who make stories and if you feel really ambitious, establish relationships with book authors and illustrators.

* Re-read stories several times.

* Have your child retell stories (as they recall it).

* Encourage your child to read with you, as well as reading to you.

* Make a goal to keep reading throughout the year.

* Make it an enjoyable experience for all of you.

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.

Coldest months call for the coolest fun

After months of hemming and hawing, it looks like winter has finally decided to come a-callin'. Help your kids find activities to do both indoors and outdoors with Winter Play Day!, by Nancy F. Castaldo (Chicago Review Press, $13.95, ages 3 and up).

This book includes more than 70 crafts and games that incorporate traditional school subjects (geology, chemistry, astronomy) with more hands-on observations of wildlife and the great outdoors.

Kids can create "spirit masks" representing their favorite animals, play "mitten madness" in the warmth of their living room, make paper "snowflake mobiles" and eat homemade "snow cream."

Besides a wealth of things to do, the book also gives video and book recommendations, as well as Web sites.

Kids who are looking forward to this year's Salt Lake City Winter Olympics can take advantage of this section of the book. It shows them alternatives of their favorite winter team sports they can do at home -- broomball instead of hockey, snowball shot put instead of the traditional heavy iron or brass ball.

Don't let a little cold weather stop you and the kids from having a great time this season!

-- Athima Chansanchai

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

Editor's Note: 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. Olivia Saves the Circus, by Ian Falconer (weeks on list: 18)

2. Olivia, by Ian Falconer (68)

3. You Read to Me, I'll Read to You, by Mary Ann Hoberman (6)

4. I Spy: Year-Round Challenger! by Jean Marzollo (7)

5. Little Lit: Strange Stories for Strange Kids, edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly (1)

6. What's Wrong with Timmy? by Maria Shriver (8)

7. My World, by Margaret Wise Brown (13)

8. The Water Hole, by Graeme Base (5)

9. Monsters, Inc., adapted by Catherine Hapka (10)

10. A Redwall Winter's Tale, by Brian Jacques (5)

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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