Make every reading day magic


Advice and strategies to help your children read

February 24, 2002

Editor's Note: Jerdine Nolen delivers her final column today.

Coming to the end of a good book can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand, you have been on a journey that deepens an awareness of the world and others. More important, you find out much more about yourself.

On the other hand, the story is over. There is nothing left for the character to worry about, to do. Period. End of page. We close the book. Eventually, it gets put on the shelf. But that is not the end. If the author has done her job, the elements of the story (character, plot, conflict) live on inside of us.

Several years ago when I began writing this column, my focus was centered on creating a conversation with parents and care givers in our community addressing what we already do and what we can do at home to support our children in reading and writing. It has been a delightful run. And now this column, like all good things, must come to an end.

I have enjoyed every single minute of thinking out loud with you, the audience, the invisible reader. It is my hope you will continue to think out loud and consider what you can do to create a community of readers and writers. Every day in our homes should be a celebration of our abilities to comprehend, speak, listen, write, think and read. Make sure reading and writing happens every day -- books and stories are meant to be shared. They invite talk and wonder and play. We read to discover the magic between the lines. I'll leave you with some favorites from my own family:

Will's Mammoth, by Rafe Martin

Henry and Mudge, by Cynthia Rylant

Dr. Seuss books, by Dr. Seuss

The Rainbabies, by Laura Krauss Melmed

Meet Danitra Brown, by Nikki Grimes

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis

A Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

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.

Hand puppets help kids play roles

When children act out stories, they often role-play, donning costumes and trying out different accents. Some kids may feel more comfortable using puppets. Local resources can offer guidance.

The Black Cherry Puppet Theater was established in 1980 by students from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Since then they've put together more than 100 handcrafted puppets and thousands of performances. They also organize workshops for youngsters in schools, community centers and camps. Puppetry teaches kids to plan, problem solve, work as a team and write creatively.

At, kids can follow instructions for making dragon hand puppets and finger puppets. Check out Black Cherry's progress in building Baltimore's first permanent puppet theater, where kids will be able to use a resource center to learn more about the art of puppetry.

-- Athima Chansanchai

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: 84)

2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner Of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (127)

3. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park (3)

4. Junie B., First Grader (At Last!) by Barbara Park (14)

5. Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (141)

6. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (68)

7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (166)

8. Everything On A Waffle by Polly Horvath (1)

9. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket (46)

10. The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares (16)

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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