Transcription Episode 4 Season 1
“Raising Readers: Supporting Early Literacy At Home”
Intro: Welcome to the Picture Bookstagang Podcast
And we’re the picture bookstagang! We invite you to join us here every other week while we discuss amazing books and issues in children’s literature. As well as Early literacy education and parenting as it relates to reading. We can’t wait to dig in and deep and get nerdy about picture books with you.
0:36 K: Welcome Back to the Picture Bookstagang Podcast I’m Kelly and I’m here with my fellow book lovers: Ale, and Corrie.
A: Hello, hello!
O:47 K: On today’s episode we have another big topic to introduce that will for sure be woven into the fabric of many episodes to come. We’re gonna be talking about raising readers, supporting early literacy at home. Now as parents and caregivers of course we want to be preparing kids for reading and writing at school, and supporting them on that journey. But we all have different considerations, different schedules, different resources, and different children! So we want to talk a little bit about what the most important focuses are on and suggest a variety of options.
1:28 C: As an educator, I know that the success of a student is tied directly to the reading and support that they are receiving at home. As teachers we work to give every child the skills to be literate and capable readers but, students need more attention that they can reasonably get in a classroom full of other students. So that’s really where the role of their family comes in.
1:50 A: Yes! So many parents that I’ve spoken with over the last several years really want to help their children, because everyone wants their children to succeed but the problem is they just aren’t sure where to begin or what priorities to focus on when they’re deciding what to do at home.
2:14 C: So there is a lot to tackle here and we have a big list of 10 different ways to set up healthy, achievable early literacy routines at home. And even though we won’t touch on every single one right now you’ll be able to find the list on our website, and the link will be in our show notes. Tonight the overarching focus of our recommendations for home should be prioritizing joy and love for reading first and foremost rather than drilling in phonics skills and forced reading.
2:47 K: And you know all those drills and phonics are something that many parents buy into. It’s definitely not for us as a family on a personal note, but they are something that’s marketed as being accessible for parents to work with without having to have a background in education. But are they really worth the time, money and effort that goes into them?
3:10 A: I think that, first of all I have to say that a worksheet book on it’s own is not an acceptable literacy program, or math program. You know it doesn’t do everything that needs to be happening, it’s just one very small route thing they’re doing. But if your child enjoys the meditative quiet time of filling in blanks, some kids do enjoy them, having them around can’t hurt to have. We do have a couple, but it’s not something we do every day, it’s something that’s just available to her and she can pick it up and do it like she would a colouring book. I don’t force it because if you force things like that and they’re not into it they can get some really strong aversions to what they consider to be reading and writing and school work in general and we want to avoid them having deeply negative feelings towards reading.
4:17 K: Yeah my son is not a worksheet or workbook type and if I try to force it it’s just a battle so that speaks like directly to what you’re saying. But If I leave a station out of with writing materials or cards like birds he’s interested in right now, he’s more likely to gravitate and try it out on a whim.
4:39 K: Reading together is obviously a big part of every day for us, which leads us to our second point which is not just having discussions together about the books, but also just talking in general.
4:52 A: So in the context of talking about Kindergarten and Kindergarten aged children and younger, I would definitely say this is a much more reasonable approach if you want to introduce things. So working on reading together as opposed to working on a worksheet or having them working alone on a worksheet. You actually need to re ad with them every day that’s our number one priority on our ten things you should be doing list. Making time, most people read before bed, but every day you should be reading whoever is a care giver in your family should be reading one on one, and you should be reading the same book at least seven times before returning it or moving one…but not in a row. Hahahahaha
5:54 C: Right, and when you’re talking about what you have been reading, you can do things like, check for comprehension. I’m sure all of us have been to a library read aloud story time or maybe sat in on a class with an Early Childhood Educator and you’ll notice that they ask a few questions but not a ton of questions. You want to ask a few questions for clarity such as “Why did that girl cross the road?” You know? To sort of make sure they are understanding the story they’re following along but too many questions can pull them right out of the story.
6:38 A: Definitely the questions when you’re using them at the right times are a good indicator of whether you’re moving too fast or if they’re completely bored with the story and maybe you should pick another one. You can also stop and make connections as well as questions but you can do that at the end of the book. So at the end you can say like “remember when we crossed the road too when we went to the park today just like in this book?” and try and help them talk about those connections. You want them to understand what they’re reading and then also be able to take that and connect it to their own experiences.
7:19 K: Right so that’s also, helping them with making inferences about what they’re reading. So, based on the pictures and what they know so far, what can they infer. Like “I think she’s crossing the road because she is scared of the dog.” So that for example, you can see they’re connecting the dots.
7:35 A: And you know or also making connections to other books, not just to their life or what they think is happening but if you’re reading every day then they have a lot of books they can refer to. So one example is we loves reading Robert Munsch books, he is a Canadian author and he writes just tons of books he must have like 5,000 already,
7:59 K: SO MANY
8:00 A: SO MANY! Most of them are really good, so the illustrator that does most of those books, his name is Michael Martchenko, he hides things that appear in different books even though they’re about totally different people and different places. He will hide little objects like “Swamp Water” which is like this weird green drink that appears in a bunch of different books, anyways so when I’m reading with River she’’’ comment “Oh hey! That Bandaid in “Up Up Down” is so big it must belong to the giant from “David’s Father!” So she’s seeing something in one book and she’s able to connect it to another book that she’s read and that’s one of the things that we’re trying to get them to do. They’re taking in all this information and all these experiences and they’re gonna smush’em all together. That’s what we want.
8:52 C: Right, talking to your child is really about listening to them and helping them form their ideas. And this applies to talking to them all throughout the day, at the dinner table, asking them questions. I would say you can treat it like you’re meeting someone for the first time. What would you want to know about the person you’re sitting down and talking with? You want to find out what they’re interested in, what their goals are, your kid has goals and interests and likes and dislikes. And I think sometimes the answers are really funny and surprising.
9:27 K: My son is absolutely obsessed with talking all about Animals and Birbs and that would be another point I do try to make sure the books in our house play to his interests because that helps him be way more interested in books in general. But that’s what we talk about at the dinner table, snow leopards and flamingos.
9:53 A: Yeah River loves making up jokes and she doesn’t really totally understand how a joke works yet hahaha and then she just laughs and laughs. I hope she figures out how a joke works soon, because otherwise it’s gonna be a problem, ahaha. But one of the other things you wanna consider doing another one of our points is rotating where you’re keeping your books which ones you have where, to keep them fresh. So if you have a basket of books by the couch or wherever you want to have a variety and you want to keep on switching. So it keeps things fresh and even if they’re in a reading loop it gets some new material in there as well.
10:44 K: So which leads into another vital point – having books available all the time, a child should own their own books, and have their own bookshelf. We have talked in previous episodes about how to build a bookshelf slowly and in cost effective ways, and we will link some in the show notes as well. But for us as a family we make a point of having books available in pretty much every room of the house… including the bathroom.
11:17 C: Definitely yeah, and when books are at arm’s length it’s much easier to grab one and just start reading you know when the feeling hits for either you or the child. When I was in the classroom I would also do this and have different baskets in different spots around the classroom as well as the elusive teacher’s bookshelf where we stored all special books we brought from home in, to really get people excited. You can also remember that there are reading opportunities built into every part of your life whether that’s you classroom class day life or life at home, or even your commute if you take public transit. You can really incorporate reading into smaller moments like reading recipes (which is also great for math!) helping write birthday cards, getting the mail, you know just teeny moments where we are used to reading things and taking in information but tiny humans are not used to that and they can totally take in stuffl
12:25 A: My toddler’s, actually my favourite too, my toddler’s favourite time to read is on the toilet. And we’re doing the potty training thing right now, and she will sit there for a solid fourty minutes and make me read to her all of her favourite board books. But, yeah, it’s this great sort of side note from our day, you have to sort of stop what we’re doing because you know she’s gotta go but it also becomes this great time to read together that isn’t scheduled into what we’re supposed to be doing. And it’s a good time to be together and read and make connections.
13:06 K: And you know we’re, you know just talking about some of those micro-moments, we’re are really big on saying the letters and sounding out signs and things we encounter when we’re out, whether it’s a store sign or a road sign and it really helps with comprehension – like I can see the associations to sight words like a stop sign forming in his mind, we’ll stop on the road and spell S – T – O – P on the big red sign. That’s forming the association with the sight word for him and I think that’s a totally underrated literacy moment that is just a part of your walk in the evening.
13:47 C: I think my favourite is reading recipes, I’m a huge fan of this because it teaches a few different skills at one time. You know, learning to cook is a skill that every human needs to know how to do and impress their friends at dinner parties down the line. But having the ability to get everyone in the house involved in cooking you know you get a little extra family hangout time, it smashes that stereotype that men can’t cook and it’s just women in the kitchen, and also when you’re having a little one helping with fine motor tasks like mixing and scooping it can help the muscles needed for writing down the line. And all of that is before you even get to reading the recipe itself which is in a different format than books, helps with the mathematical thinking of having ordered tasks, an Recipes are also in a different format than a story, so it helps to be familiar with different styles of writing and helps with the mathematical thinking of ordering tasks and measuring, oh it’s just so good, just love it.
14:51 A: Definitely and you know it’s just understanding procedural writing and understanding that the procedures that must occur in a certain order which applies to so many aspects of their life like getting dressed. Like you have to put on the underwear before your pants that’s a thing you have to learn, you didn’t know that when you just started out. But one of the things I love about getting them involved in the kitchen, is that they feel so independent too. It’s a great activity on so many levels. Like just today River learned to make her own Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, anda I just sort of sat on the couch and just gave her the instructions and that was a great activity for her. And for me…maybe she’ll just start making everybody sandwiches, so…. Ahahaha
15:42 C: You can always dream.
15:44 K: That’s living the dream, I’m really not sure we’re there yet hahaha, I think I am still the primary kid-sandwich maker around here. But baking for us is something everybody gets involved with and that’s we are working on recognizing the numbers for measurements and he’s learning to guess what to do next. Little by little building independence and being able to relate what’s on the page to real life.
16:14 C: And that actually brings us to a really good point of opportunities for independent book exploration. Because reading to a child is so, so important but children should also be able to spend time perusing at their own pace, looking at the pages, the pictures, the words, inventing their own ideas about what is happening. I feel like we’ve all seen those ultra-cute moment when a toddler who doesn’t really know how to speak in coherent sentences sits down with a book and sort of mimes and retells in their own way going through a book, which is one of the cutest things in the world, ahh just love it.
16:59 A: Definitely one of the highlights of having a toddler I have say, I just like to watch her read her own thing and point at the pictures and it’s definitely why we have books stashed away in every corner that they are playing in or working in or wherever I can fit them, which is not at all because I have too many books.
K: No, not at all.
17:26 K: No but having all those books, all over the place allows them to choose what they want to investigate further. And it’s respects their choices of the books they want to read and borrowing from the library and allowing them to choose what they borrow at the library is also a big one. And I know sometimes they want you to read the same thing like ten thousand times and it might not be your favourite – but like for us I try to make sure that our library haul is a blend of what my son wants and what I choose as well, but I try to give them equal reading time when we get home.
18:01 A: Yeah we have a bunch in this house that are just read ragged. I can probably recite “I Took The Moon for a Walk” from memory. I don’t even need the book anymore.
18:12 K: Oh yeah between “Goodnight Construction Site” and “The Going to Bed Book” I’ve read them approximately a million times each. Which is why getting a variety coming in really helps well keeps us all from just running out of the house screaming. And our library routine is huge part of that, letting your child get their own card. The feeling of having that ownership, of responsibility, independence is so important to them.
18:37 A: And also the fact that just going to the library should be a fun highlight part of your week and this even goes back to memories of my own childhood my mom would take us to the library every week and I remember that. I remember how much fun it was to go and pick out your book and we had a little wagon. And I try and get that fun feeling for my kids as well, although it’s a lot easier now because libraries are really designed to entertain your kids in a safe way, in a way they weren’t like 30 years ago, they’ve got toys they’ve got gross motor play areas. So going to the library can be a real highlight and it’s not hard to make it part of your routine in that way. We really miss the library.
19:25 K: I miss the library so much! Curbside pick up is not the same but I do love curbside pick up.
19:31 A: it’s better than nothing that’s for sure.
19:35 C: Oh my gosh don’t we all! But you know what is one thing that people might not considering in all this? Seeing parents and guardians reading for pleasure. (bust out a glass of iced tea and put your feet up, got a book. You get a little relaxing time it’s modelling reading behaviour!) You know reading is really an excellent way to wind down instead of looking at a screen-guilty as charged-
20:08 C: It’s really modelling an everyday habit that will have a huge ripple effect for many years to come
20:16 K: Yeah I really think it’s one of the most valuable things you can do, is have your children see you enjoying reading. So on that note I think a book is calling my name. If you want to take a look at our full list check out our show notes and head over to our website at http://www.picturebookstagang.com You’ll also find links to other resources that we’ve touched on here today. Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast on Apple, Google, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts and follow us on Instagram @Picturebookstagang. Drop us a line and tell us, what are you reading today?