Published By ReadingLady.com
November 12, 2001
1) Thank You
2) Funny Stuff
3) Feed Me a Story!
4) This & That
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BackPacks By Jenny
Funny Stuff - courtesy of Michelle Stoops, NBCT
I teach first grade and have often chuckled at the
endearing misconceptions these young children have.
Their fresh and fertile minds so unfettered by
conventions are one of the major reasons I chose to
We were preparing to do a short writing assignment
for our writers workshop when a little author asked me
to help her spell "unsapona." Not clear on her request
I asked her to repeat. "Unsapona" was the clear reply.
Nonplused I asked her to use the word in a sentence.
"Unsapona time there was a ....," came her patient reply.
A little detective work resulted in the realization that
most of my writers were firm believers in "unsapona." Our
lesson changed from the topic I had prepared to the
literary dissection of the misconception "unsapona" into
the more familiar (at least to me) "Once upon a time."
The class was delighted as we revealed together the hidden
meaning of the mysterious "unsapona."
Check out our 4 blocks
With Parent/Teacher conferences right around the corner I
thought you might enjoy these blurbs. Perhaps you'd like
to compile and create a parent handout.
Feed Me a Story!
What difference can reading aloud to a child for 30 minutes
per day make? If daily reading begins in infancy, by the
time the child is 5 years old, he or she has been fed
roughly 900 hours of brain food! Reduce that experience
to just 30 minutes a week and the child's hungry mind
loses 770 hours of nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and stories.
A kindergarten student who has not been read to could enter
school with less than 60 hours of literacy nutrition.
No teacher, no matter how talented, can make up for those
lost hours of mental nourishment.
Hours of reading books by age 5
30 minutes daily - 900 Hours
30 minutes weekly - 130 Hours
Less than 30 minutes weekly - 60 Hours
Source: U.S. Department of Education, America Reads Challenge
The Value of Words
Research demonstrates that the size of a young child's
vocabulary is a strong predictor of reading-preschoolers
with large vocabularies tend to become proficient readers
(National Research Council, 1998). Children's vocabulary
can be greatly enhanced by talking and reading with parents.
In fact, the vocabulary of the average children's book is
greater than that found on prime-time television
(Hayes & Ahrens, 1988). Children from lower-income families
are at greater risk of having smaller vocabularies than other
children. One study of the actual vocabulary of first-graders
found that those from high-income families had double the
vocabulary of those from lower-income families
(Graves & Slater, 1987). None of these statistics should be
used to blame parents. Rather, we should use evidence of
what works to rally and support all families to take full
advantage of their tremendous opportunity to prepare their
children for reading success. Given what we know about brain
development, it is clear that parents should not leave to
schools alone the important tasks of language and literacy
development. We must do more to enable and encourage parents
to talk with their children and invest 30 minutes daily for
reading. When parents are unable, grandparents, neighbors,
babysitters, siblings, and other adults should step in to serve
as the child's designated reader for the day. It is an experience
that children will remember for a lifetime, and one that will
form the foundation for all later learning.
The Reading Mother
I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scored the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.
I had a mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every child has a right to know.
I had a mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.
I had a mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings--
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a mother who read to me.
Author: Strickland Gillilan
The Consequences of Conversation with Children
More than 40 families were observed over several years to study how,
and how often, parents talk with children. Researchers found a
tremendous variety in the amount of words spoken to children in the
first three years of life and in the quality of feedback they received.
These verbal interactions with adults are major predictors of how
prepared children will be to succeed in school.
While family income was highly related to levels of children's
language exposure, the relationship was not absolute. Some
middle-income families behaved more like high-income families,
preparing their children for higher achievement through vocabulary
development and other language skills. Other middle-income
families behaved more like low-income families, with a paucity
of language exposure for children.
An average child growing up in a low-income family receiving
welfare hears one-half to one-third as many spoken words as
children in more affluent households. At these rates the
low-income child would know about 3,000 words by age 6, while
the child of the high-income family would have a vocabulary of
To provide the low-income child with weekly language experience
equal to that of a child from a middle-income family, it would
require 41 hours per week of out-of-home word exposure as rich
as those heard by the most affluent children.
Number of words heard at home per hour by 1- and 2-year-olds
learning to talk:
low-income child 620
middle-income child 1,250
Number of words heard by age 3:
low-income child 10 million
middle-income child 20 million
high-income child 30 million
Source: Hart & Risley, 1995. Meaningful Differences in the
Everyday Experiences of Young Children
Five for Families!
Researchers have identified five areas where the home and
family can influence reading development in children:
1. Value Placed on Literacy:
Parents show their own interest in reading by reading in
front of their children and encouraging them to read, too.
2. Press for Achievement:
Parents let children know that they are expected to
achieve and help them develop reading skills.
3. Availability and Use of Reading Material:
Homes with reading and writing materials for children-such
as books, newspapers, writing paper, pencils, and
crayons-create more opportunities to develop literacy.
4. Reading with Children:
Parents who read to preschoolers and listen as older
children read aloud help children become readers.
5. Opportunities for Verbal Interaction:
The quantity and content of conversation between parents
and children influence language and vocabulary development,
both building blocks for later reading success.
Source: Hess & Holloway, 1984. Family and School as
This & That
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