Every Child Ready to Read in Michigan Newsletter - July 2016 Issue

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Every Child Ready to Read in Michigan
July 2016

Every Child Ready to Read

Toddler writing numbers on chalkboard

Fun with Science and Math
for Parents and Children

This is the last in this series of newsletters covering three workshops from the Every Child Ready to Read Project that is on a special topic. In May we looked at  Fun with Letters, June was Fun with Words, and now, the Fun with Science and Math workshop.  All three workshops can be presented to parents, grandparents, and/or childcare providers, however the child is also present. Here is a brief look at this workshop.

To present the workshop, librarians are encouraged to display an assortment of materials for children ages two to five including picture books and informational books related to science and math, also activity books parents can use to find science and math activities that their children may enjoy. Also, you should have a fun math or science activity the families can do together. The case is made that the more a child learns about the world around her, the more words she will be exposed to. Children are natural scientists and mathematicians who use basic science and math concepts every day by exploring, predicting, sorting, classifying, comparing and contrasting. The manual has a sample science activity that you can do by exploring ice cubes (or you can do your own activity). Another activity has children learning new words by observing pictures of a monarch butterfly. Then simple math concepts are discussed such as more and less; large and small; long and short; and shapes and repeated patterns. The suggested math activity is using machine tape to measure the height of the children present. Though the manual does not mention this, if you have legos or duplos, there are various math concepts you could introduce using them, plus it would provide a fun play activity.

A handout on books about science and math is included in the Every Child Ready to Read manual. However, I would like to mention a few of my favorites that have been published in the last year that are not included in the bibliography since it was compiled several years ago.

Davies, Nicola. I Don’t Like Snakes. Candlewick, 2015.

Dickson, Irene. Blocks. Nosy Crow, 2016.

Henkes, Kevin. When Spring Comes. Greenwillow, 2016.

Heos, Bridget. I Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are. Holt, 2015.

Jenkins, Martin. Fabulous Frogs. Candlewick, 2016.

Kleber, Dori. More-igami. Candlewick, 2016.

Shannon, George. One Family. FSG, 2015. 

New Books of the Month

The Cookie Fiasco

The Cookie Fiasco. By Dan Santat. Disney-Hyperion, 2016. ISBN: 978-1484726365, $9.99.

We Are Growing

We Are Growing. By Laurie Keller. Disney-Hyperion, 2016. ISBN: 978-1484726358, $9.99.

Many of us were disappointed to hear that Mo Willems has written his last Elephant and Piggie book. Not only did kids love them, but they were fun to booktalk, and I even acted out a few of the stories with props. But all good series must come to an end, and now at least other authors/illustrators have a chance to win a Geisel Award or a Geisel Honor Award as the Elephant and Piggie books won numerous times over the years!

There is now a new beginning reader series (Yikes! They also could win a Geisel Award!) called the Elephant and Piggie Reading Series. Each book is introduced by the Elephant and Piggie characters in a few short pages, and at the book’s end, Elephant and Piggie also conclude the story. Different authors/illustrators will write each book and supposedly, these are some of elephant and piggies’ favorite books to read. The dialogue-driven text is written in a storytelling style, and the books could be read to younger children who have not yet learned to read, because of their silly humor. The first two books are being released September, 2016, but many more will follow.

After attending the American Library Association Conference in Orlando, Florida this June, I literally ran into Mo Willems at the Orlando airport food court and chatted with him while we both ate lunch. He will be editor for the entire series, which is a new role for him (editor). So, his talents now include: cartoonist; writer and animator for Sesame Street where he garnered six Emmys; stand-up comedian in NYC; animator for other TV series; author and illustrator for numerous award-winning books; producer of children’s videos that have won the Carnegie Medal; and now, editor. Some people have a never ending list of talents!

Here is a brief recap of the first two books in the series arriving this fall:

The Cookie Fiasco. Four friends, hippo, croc and two squirrels, have a problem. There are four of them, but only three cookies. How can they make an equal number of cookies for all of them to enjoy?

We Are Growing!  Walt and his friends are grass blades that are really growing! Each of them has a special characteristic: the tallest; the curliest; the silliest; etc. But Walt feels he is not anything special. It takes a lawn mower to bring them all back to size for Walt to realize what his specialty is.  

"Children are natural scientists and mathematicians who use basic science and math concepts every day by exploring, predicting, sorting, classifying, comparing and contrasting."

– Sue McCleaf Nespeca

Websites of 

the Month

I am mentioning two articles from websites this month. The first is from Bustle and concerns a fact I talk about in every lecture I present. Kids Books Use More Rare Words than Adult TV, So Drop the Remote for Improved Vocab talks about how children’s books present more rare words than TV shows or adult conversation. My two favorite quotes: “Out of every 1,000 words in a work of kidlit, 30.9 will be rare;” and “Children’s books have 50 percent more rare words in them than does adult prime-time television and the conversation of college graduates.”

Read Brightly posted an article titled 5 Ways to Use Picture Books to Build Kids' Language Skills which highlights the importance of reading picture books to increase children’s language skills. The five areas that picture books help with in relation to language skills are: Expand Vocabulary; Build Social Language Skills; Improve Comprehension; Develop Reading and Writing Skills; and Learn Sequencing and Story Development. Five Ways to Use Picture Books to Build Kids’ Language Skills was written by Rebecca Eisenberg, a speech language pathologist and author.  

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Summer Reading Programs are well underway, and by the time you read this, some of you might already be wrapping up your program. This year I saw a lot of activity on listservs on how libraries keep track of children’s reading during summer programs. This question seems to arise every year, and there are some libraries that have tried to come up with unique ways. For example, reading 20 minutes for 20 days; counting days read; counting pages read; simply writing titles; and “filling out a book review form, where children write and/or draw about a book they have read, no requirements on reading time or length or quality of writing/drawing.” YIKES! The last one is what we did when I first became a children’s librarian back in the ancient year of 1976, so I guess that is definitely a retreaded idea! There are many other ideas, but just to make you think a little, I am going to direct you to an article that talks about how any recording, logging  OR REWARDING book reading by giving prizes is a negative thing to do, and actually deters some children from reading, even for children that previously loved reading! I am sorry to say that I saw this happen with my grandson with a school reading program. You would not be able to find a child who loved reading as much as he did. But once in school, when he had to read and log his book reading, he began to dislike it. It was no longer fun for him, but became an assignment. So check out this article and think about whether you might want to adjust your summer reading program for 2017!

The Atlantic. Can Reading Logs Ruin Reading for Kids? Rather than creating a new generation of pleasure-readers, forcing kids to keep track of their reading time can turn it into a chore. By Erica Reischer. June 3, 2016.


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Sue McCleaf Nespeca

Sue McCleaf Nespeca is an early literacy & children’s literature specialist heading Kit Lit Plus Consulting. She is a trainer for the Every Child Ready to Read Project and The Very Ready Reading Program. In addition to her M.L.S., she has a M.Ed in Early Childhood with a specialty in early literacy.