Benefits of Being a Book Hoarder

In honor of National Young Readers Week, I wanted to share some thoughts on books.

Everyday I walk through the house collecting the books lying around in the kitchen, the bathroom, on the couch. You name it, we’ve probably got a book there. Sometimes as I try to find shelf space for the misplaced books I catch myself mumbling about having too many books. Hahaha! I get a good laugh every time because having too many books is a good thing and there’s no way I’m downsizing.

There are actually benefits to having too many books.  I should clarify that the books should be quality reading material with an educational element of some sort. A bookshelf full of crime drama or erotica is great if that’s what you’re into, but definitely don’t contribute to the benefits I’ll be referring to here.

First, having books means your kids always have access to reading material. Even if they read the same book twenty times, they are going to learn something new from it as they grow. Different ages retain and comprehend reading material differently.

Second, you can teach your kids about primary sources rather than going straight to Google, Siri, or Alexa for answers. When my kids ask what life was like when there were no cities and people were looking for new land to settle, we whip out books like Boomtown or Little House on the Prairie. And we read. And we look at pictures. And we talk about what life might have been like. What the world looked like before houses were crunched together in grid patterns. When a wild animal in the neighborhood was an opportunity instead of a nuisance. When you planted your food instead of buying GMO corn at the grocery store.

Third, books become handy resources for a variety of learning opportunities. I found this book at the library bookstore called From Sea to Shining Sea for $3. It’s a treasury of American folklore and folk songs and includes everything from Native American culture to the Industrial Revolution to America’s favorite pastime – baseball. We can read Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech and the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind. We can read a poem about Harriet Tubman and how she risked her life 19 times to guide hundreds of slaves to freedom. For $3 we got a book we can use over and over again. For many subjects. For years to come.

If you have a house full of books, it’s hard for kids to avoid reading. It makes it hard for you to avoid reading, too. That being said, some kids do need to be encouraged to read. But if you’ve got shelves of books covering a variety of subjects, there’s got to be something interesting that young readers will gravitate to. Drones, extreme sports, National Parks, rocks, horses, writing your own stories, Shakespeare, mythology – we’ve got tons of subjects in our nonfiction collection. Our chapter books and picture books are also overflowing from the shelves. When you have books available that you consistently share and read with your kids, they will eventually learn to read. And some of them will even grow to love it.

For more information about National Young Readers Week check out the Pizza Hut Book It! program, and pay a visit to your local library. Happy reading!

 

Learning to Read

This year my 4-year-old is very excited about preschool. I have made an extra effort to ensure that she has her own special work to do for preschool. Sometimes it’s as simple as pattern block puzzles or color by numbers. Other times, she gets special projects like mixed-media art and using buttons to spell her name.

One of her favorite activities though, is learning to read. When my son was in kinder his teacher gave him a sight word ring and we use that to practice some of our words. Then she uses the tiles from All About Spelling to copy the words onto the board. But what she enjoys most is Teach Your Monster to Read.

Start to Read Pack

Teach Your Monster to Read is an online game that pairs up with the Start To Read pack from Usborne Books & More. The game is free and anyone can register for an account to play, but it works seamlessly with the Start To Read pack. The pack comes with 8 beginning readers, a parent guide, and an alphabet poster to track our letter-learning progress. The readers are dual readers, meaning that the page on the left is meant to be read by the parent and the page on the right is read by the child. The child pages focus on letter sounds and identifying letter combinations that were taught through activities in the parent guide and through practice on Teach Your Monster to Read.

teach your monster to read

My daughter could already identify most of the letters when we started the program, except for the tricky ones that look different in certain fonts, but this has been our first real practice in learning the phonemic sounds. This is new territory for me as my son learned to read without any real instruction. He told me he could read one day and that was that. Now at age 7, he reads well beyond his age. I don’t have an educators background so some teaching experiences seem scary, but the Start to Read pack has been a great guide. I don’t have to guess what to teach, it is laid out for me. I also purchased the Phonics Workbooks and these are fun ways to reinforce learning the letter sounds while using hands-on interactive activities.

phonics workbook 3     phonics workbook 4

I’ve heard of several other programs that I am interested in trying for reading, but for the time being, I am very happy with how this program is working for us. And when my daughter asks me if we can practice reading, it makes my heart smile.

What is your favorite reading program to use with your kids?

 

 

Our Book List: What We’re Using for Preschool

preschool booklist

This year we are officially starting preschool with my daughter. While I won’t be forcing any work on her, I want to be prepared with preschool-level curriculum that she will be able to use and learn from. Last year was our first year of homeschool and she loved sitting at the table with us while we did first grade work and I spent a lot of time searching for things for her to do and modifying 1st grade work to fit her level. While my preschooler will spend a lot of time doing creative activities and playing with play doh or sand, this year we’ll be more prepared with other learning activities.

Reading:

Start To Read Pack – The Start to Read Pack introduces letter sounds and follows the synthetic phonics system. It comes with 8 beginning readers, an activity book that reinforces the letter sounds, and a colorful poster to help us identify and master our letters.

Very First Reading Set – This 15 book set includes level one readers that focus on shared reading – the parent reads one page and the child reads the next. The pages that children read helps them master word sounds and builds up reading confidence. The end of each book includes story review activities, sequencing, and phonics lessons. The set also comes with a parent guide and online resources for additional learning resources.

Start to Read Pack

Math:

First Illustrated Math Dictionary – We’ve got this on our shelf already but we’ll be using it a lot more this year. The math dictionary introduces basic math concepts from counting to shapes and so much more (great for pre-k through 2nd or 3rd grade as it covers fractions and symmetry and lots of other advanced topics). It includes activity ideas as well. We’ll focus on learning the concepts and use our math manipulatives kit (bear counters, rulers, pattern blocks, etc.) that we got for our math program last year. If you want to know more about how we use our manipulatives kit (because we use it all the time) read my math post here.

Wipe-Clean First Math – This wipe-clean activity book comes with its own dry erase marker so kids can practice their early math skills in a fun way. We have others from this series and they get used constantly around here!

first illustrated math dictionary   first math

Spanish:

My First Spanish Word Book – We’ll be using this book to match words with pictures as we begin our adventure in preschool Spanish. She’ll get additional practice from the books her brother and I use that are closer to his level.

My First Spanish Word Book

Writing:

For writing practice we’ll be doing a lot of pencil and paper, but we’ll also have these two wipe-clean books on hand: Get Ready for School abc & 123 and Ready for Writing.

get ready for school abc & 123   ready for writing

 

What will you be using with your preschooler this year?

Historical Non-Fiction: What We’re Reading

historical nonfiction

We love reading and we love history. There are few things more exciting than getting a glimpse into what life in the past was like, especially when it is presented in well-told tales or realistic “you are there” language. We love our history book – we use the Children’s Encyclopedia of American History. But we like to supplement, and find other interesting books that tell the whole story and not just bits and pieces. So we’ve recently found a few historical non-fiction series’ that I want to share.

Blast to the Past – This series is about a group of school-children that run into historic dilemmas and are able to travel back in time to address the issue. For example, in Lincoln’s Legacy, he almost decided not to deliver the Emancipation Proclamation and the children traveled back in time to help Lincoln understand why the proclamation was important and see that his decision would change the United States forever.

My Name Is America – This series features a different person in each book and is formatted as journal entries. We are reading The Journal of Augustus Pelletier: The Lewis and Clark Expedition and are enjoying learning about his journey, his struggles, and the things he encounters along the way.

My America – The same format as My Name is America, these journal entry books follow a specific character for two or three books, learning more about their life as you go along. We are finishing book one of Elizabeth’s journey in My America: Our Strange New Land: Elizabeth’s Journey Book One. My son especially enjoyed telling me about Elizabeth’s relationship with John Smith and Pocahontas.

On My Own History is a well illustrated account of historic events such as the schoolchildren’s blizzard, the Galveston hurricane of 1900, or the composition of the Star Spangled Banner. The stories are sensitive enough for younger readers, but address the true event in a factual light.

Do you have a favorite historical non-fiction series? Please share it with us!

Learning with Graphic Biographies

learning with graphic biographies

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We found a set of comic-style nonfiction books that are really cool. The Graphic Library books are published by Capstone Press and they have topics on everything ranging from the Vikings, to Colonial America, to the Titanic. They even have a science-themed set that covers biology, the environment, and so much more.

I like these because my son likes comics, but I only let him read the ones in the Sunday paper, these books, and the Dinosaurs series by Papercutz. Once in a while I let him get a graphic Garfield, but I like it best when he reads normal books. Still, I like to give him the opportunity to read books in a style that he enjoys, but I get the satisfaction of knowing that he is learning.

Since it’s Black History month, we’ll be grabbing a few about important people and events from this topic. There really are so many to choose from, but here are some that you may want to consider:

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Great Civil Rights Leader (Graphic Biographies)

Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad (Graphic History)

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (Graphic History)

Nat Turner’s Slave Rebellion (Graphic History)

George Washington Carver: Ingenious Inventor (Graphic Biographies)

Matthew Henson: Arctic Adventurer (Graphic Biographies)

Wilma Rudolph: Olympic Track Star (Graphic Biographies)

Madam C. J. Walker and New Cosmetics (Inventions and Discovery)

Jackie Robinson: Baseball’s Great Pioneer (Graphic Biographies)

Martin Luther King Jr  Jackie robinson

rosa parks   matthew henson

 

Book Images courtesy of Amazon.com