Friday, February 24, 2006

Who's got Scrabble Fever?

Well - that'd be us.

First and formost - Scrabble Night has been Re-scheduled. Please come and bring your friends.

Also proud to report that my home Scrabble Party has done better than I thought! And I'm still waiting on a few pledges! For those interested in knowing how I'm doing you can visit the Scrabble Site HERE. Go to the Donate section (don't panic, you don't then have to actually donate :), go to Find Participant and query me - Louise. Then you can see the nifty bar graphs showing how I'm doing!

In response to Lyndsay's post about Scrabble Fever - I have this photo. I think it conclusively demonstrates that Avian Flu is still out there....

Lots of other interesting news abounding too! We made another bloggers day earlier this week. Some might remember that we linked to his blog a while back regarding discussion around Breakfast Programs. Always nice when another blog recognizes us - considering the fact my blogging experience sometimes feels similar to Reading Circle on snow days. :)

Chicken Spaghetti's got some more info on the 2nd Carnival of Children's Literature HERE. If anyone has any suggestions re: past posts we might be able to submit, do let me know. Not too sure if our blog technically qualifies, but figured I might give it a go and submit all the same.

Chicken Spaghetti also had some interesting suggestions for weekend reading, including one on what is fast becoming my second obsession (after literacy of course) - blogging. The blog links to a piece in New York Magazine on Blogging - on the "A" List bloggers versus the "B" list and "C" list. Good read about the phenomenon generally. Thinking we are still on teh "C" list over here... And I'm okay with that.

Couple recent entertaining posts over at A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cosy. First off, book review on Tuesday, Feb. 21 of a book called The Secret Chicken Club. Really, the name alone makes me want to read it. Apparently good for the Grade 2-3 crowd - so I may try and locate it for some of the circle kids.

Also, in the spirit of blogger disclosure, I'm also a bit of a fantasy sci-fi geek so Tea Cosy's post on Geek Hierarchy's made me laugh. Happy to know I'm actually pretty un-geeky :)

Big A little a has a post about kids and TV - ie: Good? Bad? Read on! Or watch on!

For any girls out there with fond memories of reading Nancy Drew in elementary and middle school - you'll be thrilled to know there is a movie coming! AND a sequel!

Finally, nice piece in the Calgary Herald today about reading to kids:

PUBLICATION: Calgary Herald
DATE: 2006.02.23
SECTION: Special Section
BYLINE: Donna Gray

Reading brings gift of language: Stories open world of learning to children - even between the lines

It's story time at the High River Child Development Centre, and the children have gathered eagerly at the feet of Penny Deter, the centre's operator and master storyteller.

As she chooses the book the children requested, she pulls out some extra surprises -- Props, puppets and voice characterizations that lend to the magic of the story. The children respond, voicing the lines they've memorized and waiting for the moment when they get to hold the puppets and take part in the adventure that lies within the pages.

All in a day's work for Deter, who regularly inspires pre-school-aged children to fall in love with books, no matter the age, upbringing or comprehension. In her opinion, reading prepares them for the grown-up world of language, literacy and communication and it's never too early to begin.

"Language is only learned by human interaction. By reading, we bring the gift of language to young children. One of my goals is to bring storytelling back. I really want people to feel good about telling stories. The more you read, the more your children will want to as well," says Deter.

Research has shown that reading to a child at a young age (even before a child is born) helps him or her learn the cadence, rhythm and pronunciation of vocabulary and also helps the child recognize the symbols and words once formal reading and comprehension begins.

Margaret Hunsberger, professor of language arts and curriculum at the University of Calgary, says the old days of reading and writing have made way for a new generation of thinking about how children develop reading skills. Surprisingly, it's more free form than originally thought.

"Reading is divided into two parts. Decoding the little squiggles of black on the page into words and sentences, and then there's comprehension. It's not all sequential. Children don't learn to listen, talk, read and write in that order. There are many little bits like that along the way in how kids learn language, and they do it on their own time," Hunsberger says.

Some of the pressures for reading, writing and comprehension can backfire, whereby parental expectations for their own achievement, guilt about an inability to help with reading or anxiety over the competitive environment that awaits a child in the years ahead can take a toll on a child. The result is known as "hothousing" and can actually cause a child to pull back on their eagerness to keep the pace.

If a family is studying English as a second language, it shouldn't deter a child from learning to read. Hunsberger suggests reading to a child in their native language if English isn't strong with the parents.

"A child born into a family or society speaking another language will still learn to talk English and read without formal lessons at the preschool age. By the age of five, they'll have mastered the language and make themselves understood without learning all the details," Hunsberger says.

Jean Ludlam, manager of youth services at the Calgary Public Library, says making regular visits to a local library can spell success for a child's development. And you don't have to read a book cover to cover. She says the beauty of reading begins with understanding the hidden elements of a story (the bigger picture) and how it relates to growing up in a wide world of possibilities.

"You can open a book at any point and have a conversation about what you see on the page, what characters look like, what your child thinks is happening from the pictures. Help them use all the information available to them. The illustrations will help them find clues about what the book says. In time, they'll learn a story has a beginning, middle and an end," says Ludlam.

Deter adds to the mix by suggesting that storytelling doesn't have to come from a book. Reminiscing about your own childhood memories with a younger generation creates an opportunity to build a relationship of understanding.

"My parents travelled all over the world and when I was young, they would tell us their stories right after dinner. My mother told me the times when she dined with kings and queens, and you can imagine, being a little girl, hearing about your mother having dinner with a queen and princess. Your own stories are a wonderful way to get them thinking about where these people live, what they eat, where they play," she adds.

Some popular themes for preschool readers:
- Basic subjects such as trucks, dinosaurs, animals
- Nonsensical books, rhymes, rhythms, songs
- Stories about families
- Stories about growing up as a child
- Audio books (these assist

English as a Second Language kids/parents)

Top Picks for Preschool Readers:
- Good Night Moon or The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown
- Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
- Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen
- Robert Munsch series
- Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
- The Arthur Series, by Marc Brown
- The Franklin Series, by Paulette Bourgeois
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
- Ben Over Night, by Sarah Ellis
- Mr. Grumpy's Outing, by John Burningham

Books for parents to build their parenting/reading skills:
- Babies Need Books, by Dorothy Butler and Shirley Hughes
- Read Aloud Handbook, by Jim Trelease
- The Gift of Reading, by David Bouchard and Wendy Sutton





At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Susan said...

You definitely qualify for the Carnival, and I encourage you to submit something! Anything related to children's reading is good.

At 5:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read the NY magazine article last week and I just want to second your comment that it's worth reading!

The article does a great job of summarizing blog culture, where blogging has come from, and some of the academic research that has sprung up around the issue. ...Some things I have been secretly fascinated with for a long time. :)

Bon weekend,



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