Board Books or Picture Books?

Most people start reading to babies using board books which is great! Usually (but not always) board books have simple patterns, repeating lines, simple story lines, and the pictures closely match the text so they are easy for babies to enjoy and understand.

I have a lot of friends ask me when to transition from board books to regular picture books. The answer really lies with your child. I have three kids so the littlest one has always heard regular picture books as part of our routine. When he was really little he just laid there nursing while I read to the other boys. I always started with him in my lap and then he’d listen for a bit and then get down. He’d wander around the room or he’d sit and look at his own board books but he could still hear us reading and talking.

Now he’s almost 20 months and he’ll sit for 3-5 regular picture books before bed. The key is routine and also to choose books you know he can handle. I wouldn’t sit down and read a complicated or lengthy book to him at this point, but it is good for him to expand his reading horizons and hear books with more of a story line. I ask him questions and although he can’t always answer, he often tries and says what he can. The point is that I include him and he knows that I will be asking him questions about the book and expecting him to contribute to our discussion.

I usually choose 3 or 4 books that I know he likes and then add one new one. If he likes that one, I’ll add it to the familiar reading pile and add another new one. Just go with the flow….if he’s not into it and wants to get down, that’s ok. Sometimes I keep reading even if he doesn’t seem interested and he’ll come back around and climb back into my lap. I’ve also let him hold one of his board books while I’m reading the other book and that keeps him interested as well.

There’s no true age at which to transition so play it by ear and remember, those old board books are still great for him too! We read a few each night and even my 5 year old thinks they’re great and loves to hear some of his old favorites.

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Dec 7 Books

Late summer and the start of school have been busy and crazy.  I’ve taken a hiatus from posting books but we’ve still been reading things from the library every week and have read so many good ones since I last posted.  Here are a few we loved:

by Eric Litwin

by BJ Novak

by Scott Campbell

by Herve Tullet

by Herve Tullet

by Jeff Mack

by Greg Pizzoli

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Sort It Out

I’m always trying to think of learning activities to do with my kids….ones that they will enjoy but that will also be educational!

My most recent activity has been sorting.  This is great for all ages because you can differentiate it based on the child’s age.  You can sort pictures, letters or words.  Here are a few ideas for what I do with my little guys.

Picture Sorts
I have my three year old sort pictures based on beginning sounds.  I pick one sound that I know he knows (like the first sound in his name) and then pick one or two other sounds and have him sort pictures based on the beginning sound.  I pick 15-20 pictures and I write down each beginning letter on a post it note.  Then I have him say each picture (i.e. mouse) and then ask him which pile it should go into (M, B or T).  I model this for him several times and then have him help me a few times before I have him do it on his own.  If he struggles, I jump right in to help.  The point is not to test him, but to let him practice, gain confidence and then independence.

Letter Sorts
I also do this with my three year old.  You can sort letters based on characteristics (i.e. letters with balls (b or o), letters with sticks (t or f), or letters with slants (k or x).  I also do a sort where I type out the lower case and capital letters and print them on one sheet.  I use excel so they print off in a grid.  Then I cut them up and put them into a pile.  I have him say each letter, what sound it makes and have him sort them by matching the uppercase and lowercase letters.  I also help out when needed and I first model it so he knows what to do.  If you think all 26 letters might be too much at first, start with 10 or 12.

Word Sorts
I do word sorts with my five year old.  I type out words into an excel grid based on whatever sounds I want him to learn.  Currently we are doing long vs. short vowels.  He knows all the short vowels already so I’ve moved him onto differentiating the long and short.  You could do things like short vowel sorts using words that contain short “a” and “short “e” for example.  I would only do two sounds at once since it can get confusing and cumbersome to have too many things going on at once.

The thing to remember about sorts is to revisit them again and again!  The first few times, the child is just getting used to the activity itself and how the process works.  But once he has the process figured out, then you’ll want to do the same sort again and again so that he gains confidence and really learns the sounds that you are working with.

The other fun thing to do is to do an open sort.  Give your child several pictures or words and have them say the word/picture and let them sort the pictures or words however they see fit.  It can be really fun for kids to do this and they are so creative!  Again, model how this can work and then let them go.  Make sure to teach them that they have to justify their sort and explain it to you if you can’t figure it out.  Some ideas for sorting:  beginning sound, number of letters in the word, ABC order (much more advanced skill), vowel sounds, meaning of the words, patterns in the words, etc.

Happy sorting!

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Books, Books Everywhere!

I have three boys….and they are definitely boys!  Rough-housing, fighting, jumping, crashing, smashing etc.  They are a wild bunch!

Sometimes when things get too wild, I sit them all down and we read.  It seems to be the only real way to calm them all down without putting them in separate rooms in time out.
The key to this, is having books everywhere!  We have books in every single room in our house except the kitchen and bathrooms.  I have bookshelves or bins all over and I occasionally change the books out so it’s fresh but it’s usually ok if it’s the same for awhile because I’m not alway reading the same books in the same place.

I also have a bin of books in the van so we always have access to those if we need some distractions while driving or at restaurants, doctor’s offices, etc.

Often, just having the ability to drop everything and read is what saves my sanity when my boys get too crazy!
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Summer Reading

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Often in the summer we relax….maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the lack of a schedule since the kids aren’t in school…but we forget to read to our kids. I suggest the opposite approach! I suggest bombarding your kids with books since they won’t be reading as much at school.

Our local libraries and school districts put out a list of suggested summer reading books. I look those up every year and then reserve them all! (Yes, the librarians love me…not so much!) Then I be sure that we read them all. That gives me some ideas for what to read. I also visit the local bookstore once a month or so and take pictures of all their new books shelves. Then I go home and reserve those books at the library too.

Our library also does a summer reading challenge with prizes and special story times. It’s fun for the kids to track their reading and it motivates them as well.

So this summer…jump into the pool…but also jump into some great books!

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June 8 Books

My kids giggled and giggled over the book about pressing the button!  They also made me re-read the dot one about a billion times until I taught my little guy to look at the colors on each page so he could read it himself.  The Bedtime Math book is great!  It has varied ranges of math so both of my oldest guys can find something to solve.  It’s fun to do one or two math problems each night and my husband loves doing it with them too.  We’ve noticed an improvement in their math skills in only a couple of weeks.

I love finding books that they love to revisit again and again.

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June 1 Books

We have been on vacation, super busy and sick lately so I haven’t posted about our library books but this week we have some good ones!

My oldest is really into different variations of traditional tales lately so I’ve added a few of those that he likes a lot. We read a lot of them and discuss their similarities and differences. We were on a Gingerbread Man craze for awhile but lately it’s been The Three Pigs.

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Nursery Rhymes

With all the technology in the world today we’ve gotten away from some of the traditional things we grew up with as children…such as reciting poems and nursery rhymes.  Nursery rhymes are important for children to hear.  They help children develop a sense of rhythm and rhyme and they also have some rare vocabulary (tuffet, curds, whey, fiddle, king’s men) that our children might not otherwise be exposed to if we don’t teach them these rhymes.

As a teacher, I was shocked at how few of my 25-30 students knew any of the poems.  We spent the first month of school learning them and acting them out again and again and the students loved them.  I also found it much easier to teach rhyming words using these poems as examples.

I have charts of the poems (easily purchased at any teacher supply store) that are illustrated beautifully but you can do it on your own!  I recommend writing them on a big chart and letting the kids illustrate them or you could type them and print them and illustrate them yourself.  I read them with my kids on a regular basis and we act them out, find rhyming words, find letters they know, find words they know (easy sight words such as: me, you, I, we, he, sat, on, in), and just enjoy the language.  Another fun thing is to make up your own lines to the poems and use your children’s names.  My kids love this!  I suggest reciting the poems as you are driving to the store, getting dressed for bed, or out taking a walk.  Kids love the rhythm and will soon develop their favorite poems.

I have printed each poem and put them into sheet protectors in a binder for each of my boys and once they know each poem well, I let them illustrate that poem.  They love to do this and we talk about how they are the illustrators which makes them feel so proud!
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April 20 Books

The boys liked a bunch of books from this week.  Some fiction and some non-fiction so there was a bit of variety this time.

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Books on Tape/CD

My eldest has “story packs” that he receives from school.  He brings them home and they contain a book, puppet of some sort, and a journal.  Well, he brought home one the other day and it also contained a tape of the book.  I had gotten rid of all my books on tape (not my best moment) when we were organizing the house because I thought I didn’t have a tape player.  Well, then I remembered that I did have one!  I dug it out and after a quick tutorial for the boys including color coded tape on the buttons, the kids loved listening to the story on the tape!  My middle guy listened to it twice in a row after I had already read it twice in a row.  :)

This was a huge A-ha moment!  That week I went to the library and checked out 10 different books on tape/CD.  We’ve been listening to them over and over again in the van to and from school and during the day as well.  The boys love to hear them!
Often I’m home alone with all three boys and I’m trying to prepare dinner or fold some laundry and I’m against putting the kids in front of the TV to keep them from fighting or tearing the house down.  This is an enormous help!  Now I just get two of the same book….this might be tricky for some of you…but my boys fight over who turns the pages so I give one of them the copy of the book from the library and give the other one a copy from our collection of books and they are good to go.  You could also have them take turns with the pages if you only have one book.  The tapes are usually only 8-10 minutes…BUT….they often read the story twice, once with chimes and once without, so I let them listen to it twice in a row and they are totally fine with that and it gives me 15-20 minutes of work time.

It’s also great because my eldest, who is starting to read now, follows along with the words and he’s picking up some new sight words from following along with the tapes.  It’s also good for them to hear some of their favorite books read by people other than me and Daddy.  They learn that the stories are always the same but they sound differently when read by other people and that’s ok!


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