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Penguin Books

 

My favorite animal is the penguin, so it should come as no surprise to you that as a girl, one of my all-time favorite books was Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater. Originally published in 1938 the Newbery Honor Award winning book spoke to me as a child because who would not want to live with a flock of penguins? It also spoke to me because of the reality it conveyed. Mr. Popper’s Penguins showed that living with penguins would be hard and there are lots of challenges to face. So it helped me understand that while living with a live penguin would be cool, it certainly would not be perfect. In 2012, thoughts of my childhood fondness for Mr. Popper’s Penguins returned when I read the Caldecott Honor award winning picture book One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo and illustrated by David Small. The book’s main character, Elliot, also dreams of owning a penguin. And when his father expectedly agrees, Elliot finds out just what living with a penguin is like. I love this book because it adds on a wonderful theme about making friends that I had never found in Mr. Popper’s Penguins, but at the same time, made me want to go back and read an old favorite. This experience underscores one of the things I believe about literature, and that is, books make connections. Connections happen between a book and their reader as we see our own experiences in the pages we read. Connections also happen between books—just as they did for me with these two penguin books. And books can even make strong connections to the world around us as we see events and themes playing out in the real world. For me, the reality that literature does not exist as a single entity but connects to us, itself, and the world, is one of the things that makes books and reading richer. This reality is also an important key to know. Because I have found as a teacher and avid book recommender, one of the best ways to find a book that will make a great fit for a reader is to see how it connects to them, their reading, and their world. Maybe next time you’re looking for a great book for one of your readers, you’ll take a tip from Worlds Awaiting and will look a little closer at book connections.


By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING

 

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater, illustrated by Robert Lawson. Little, Brown Young Readers, 1938.

 

One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by David Small.  Dial Books, 2012.

 

DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.


Book Apps


One thing is very certain -- technology and how we use it today has expanded the concept of what a “book” is. A book certainly no longer needs to be printed on paper, but it can apply to technology in exciting and interesting ways. One of these applications that I love to follow are book to app transitions. This category is essentially a book or book character that has been recreated into an app.  Sometimes these apps just take the book and put it in an app, making it more of an e-book. Sometimes app creators take the book a step further and add magical things that print books can’t do, thus making the book interactive. Some apps just take the character or premise of a book and make a whole new application. 


No matter the form, these apps are exciting and take books to a whole new level. Now don’t get me wrong, not all apps are created equal and some of these are big misses. And, in all honesty, sometimes you just have to try them to see if they offer the kind of experience you want. Also, the reality is that most of the really great ones cost a little money, so you have to spend a bit to get them. But, in the end, there are those that are worth it. 


My personal recommendations are Sandra Boynton’s book apps. Boynton is an amazing artist who is well known for her outstanding board books. She has taken four of her classic books and put the stories into apps. The apps recreate the book experience with a two-page spread where the user has to turn the page. And, they include fun interactive elements where the characters move or items are added. All the interactives fit really well with the story and make sense for what is going on. So, there is another nice layer to the story without being distracting. Boynton’s books also include narration so the book can be read for you or you can read it yourself. Add in some subtle music and you have created a fun interactive app that is right for the kind of kids who love her board books. So, if you are like us here on Worlds Awaiting and you also like to look for new kinds of books, maybe it’s time to check out the apps on your phone or tablet to see what kinds of new reading experiences await you.

 

By Rachel Wadham, Host of Worlds Awaiting


Check out Sandra Boyton’s apps here:

http://www.sandraboynton.com/sboynton/Going-to-Bed-App.html

 

DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.



Financial Literacy


I recently read a newspaper article relating that starting this year a financial literacy course will be a mandatory graduation requirement for students in Florida.  The Florida department of Education sees great benefits in developing this particular kind of literacy in students. Because you know we think highly of all literacies here at Worlds Awaiting, it will come as no surprise that we agree that financial literacy is pretty significant. Again, as with all literacies, financial literacy is something we build over time, which means that we can’t just start with high school graduation. 


It’s clear that we want to see these skills building from early childhood on up. Starting this early to help kids build an understanding of how money works in the world is quite significant, considering research indicates that financial skills are often created by the age of seven. So, if you agree with us and with the folks in Florida, that financial literacy is an important skill for your child’s development, there are lots of ways you can address concepts of financial literacy with your children. 


First, it is recommended that parents help children understand what money is and how it’s used. Here experts suggest that a good place to start building this understanding is for children to earn money so they can make their own spending decisions. Another part of this equation is for children to learn how to save money for larger, more important purchases in a way that allows us to have important conversations about needs versus wants. A piggy bank or a trip to the bank and a savings account in the child’s name is a great way to start a habit of saving. 


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also tells adults to consider that whenever and however we use our money, we are teaching children about it. They recommend open and honest communication that allows us to talk with our children firsthand about our own financial goals and expectations. As children watch and listen to you, they will certainly learn from the financial literacy skills you have already developed as an adult. Here at Worlds Awaiting we know it’s these fundamentals that lay the groundwork for children to have a solid foundation of good financial habits and values that will allow them to deal with money in positive ways.


Check out these links for more information about financial literacy:

 

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/local-education/financial-literacy-education-will-now-be-mandatory/nr5ty/

 

http://www.themint.org/index.html

http://www.consumerfinance.gov/money-as-you-grow/

 

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/games-to-teach-financial-literacy-andrew-miller

 

By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING


DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.


Expository Text


Today I’d like to tell you about expository text. What is expository text you may ask? Let’s start by saying that the purpose of expository text is to explain something or give information. This kind of text is designed to teach someone something and to give the facts that will inform the reader and help them build new knowledge. Because of these purposes, these texts are always nonfiction. You are probably familiar with different kinds of expository texts since we’ve all interacted with them. Newspapers and magazines, which we often encounter, are great examples of expository texts. Many of you may have used a textbook at one time or another—another clear example of expository text. Because many people equate expository text with dull try textbooks, they react to expository texts with disdain. However, just because a text is expository does not mean that it has to take all the fun out of learning. The very best authors of expository nonfiction for children are able to aptly convey their love of the world to readers. One of my all-time favorite authors of expository nonfiction for kids is Gail Gibbons. Writing on a wide range of topics, from Tornados to Ladybugs, all of Gail’s books engage readers with bold illustrations and lots of factual information. But good authors of expository nonfiction don’t just keep their readers engaged, they also construct their texts to support the reader as they read.  For example, one of the cool things that expository texts do is that they often use textual elements like headings and subheadings to guide a reader thought the text. Additionally, they often use specific structures to convey information such as when they compare and contrast facts, or they outline a problem and then give a solution. One publisher of a number of excellent expository texts for kids that uses all of these support elements is DK. In their books, like the First Dinosaur Encyclopedia, they use headings to organize large amounts of dinosaur information as they compare and contrast the meat-eaters with the plant eaters. For the inquisitive dinosaur fanatic, a book like this is perfect. And it doesn’t have to just be dinosaurs; there are all kinds of things out there that kids are interested in. Expository text may be just the ticket for learning more about the things kids love.

 

By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING


Tornados by Gail Gibbons. Holiday House, 2009.

 

Ladybugs by Gail Gibbons. Holiday House, 2012.

 

First Dinosaur Encyclopedia. DK, 2016.

 

DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

 

Handwriting


As an educator, one of the things that people like to talk to me about is the fact that many schools don’t teach cursive anymore. Personally, the demise of cursive in schools has been of very little importance to me since, though a series of unfortunate events, I never learned how to write in cursive. And even today, the only thing I write with cursive letters is my very crazy signature. Even though I’m personally ambivalent to cursive writing does not mean I still do not advocate for writing by hand. At a recent conference I attended where several children’s book authors presented, I was surprised to find that many of them still do a great deal of their writing by hand. In fact, I realize that I do quite a bit of my own writing with a pen and paper first before I turn to a computer. So, it seems that in the adult world, writing by hand, is still alive and well. But does that mean it should be in our kid’s world? Research seems to indicate that, yes, it should. Studies have shown that writing by hand activates many regions of the brain related to memory and comprehension. Meaning, that we may be able to learn things better when we write them by hand. Other studies show, that particularly for younger children, learning to write by hand is an important part in developing fine motor skills to help them connect the visual parts of the brain with the areas that process language. This finding seems to indicate, that being able to visually decode text, is linked to how we use our motor skills to create letters. But while we can still champion writing by hand, we can’t make this an either/or occurrence; learning to create text fluently with a keyboard is also a significant skill. In fact, research shows that there are correlations between handwriting and keyboarding skills. Instead of focusing on one or the other, it seems more beneficial to focus on helping children develop good written communication skills both by hand and with a computer.

 

By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING


Al-Ghabra, I. (2015).  Handwriting: A matter of affairs.  English Language Teaching, 8(10), 168-178.

 

Dinehart, L. H. (2015).  Handwriting in early childhood education: Current research and future implications. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 15(1), 97-118.

 

James, K. H. & Engelhardt, L. (2012).  The effects of handwriting experience on functional brain development in pre-literature children.  Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 1(1), 32-42.

 

Stevenson, N.C. & Just, C. (2014). In early education, why teach handwriting before keyboarding?  Early Childhood Education Journal, 42(1), 49-56.

 

DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

 

Series Books


As a young girl I could not get enough of Nancy Drew.  I probably read every book published up to that time at least three times. While I had one librarian who frowned upon my constant diet of Drew, luckily I also had parents and teachers who encouraged me—something that I’m very grateful for because I am sure it’s because of this series that I’m a reader today. As I’ve worked with a wide range of readers, I’ve found that series books are often an important part of reading development. Becoming immersed in the adventures of a favorite character or revisiting a stunning world is something that is very comforting for a lot of people. Familiar comfort alone seems reason enough to enjoy books in a series. But research also shows that series are an important part of a young reader’s development. In fact, research has shown that the best readers and writers are often those who read series. This is because reading series books gives them the practice they need to learn how a story works and to get comfortable with literary conventions that govern all literature. Because they have reoccurring patterns, series books also allow readers to build stamina with long texts without having to be derailed by too many new elements. This was certainly my own personal experience. The patterns of Nancy Drew are what helped me focus on the things I struggled with without getting overwhelmed. They showed me that I could get lost in a book, thus helping me to build my reading confidence. With that confidence I progressed on to many other things. Even though I still love a good Nancy Drew story, I have a wide range of reading tastes today because of those first reading experiences. When your child reads books in a series over and over, remember that like all skills, reading takes practice. And, that here at Rachel’s World we believe that sometimes a series is just the right kind of practice.


 By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING


Ward, B.A. & Young, T.A. (2007).  What’s new in Children’s Literature? Engaging readers through series books.  Reading Horizons, 48 (1), 71-80.

 

Ross, C. (1997).  Reading the covers off Nancy Drew:  What readers say about series books.  Emergency Librarian, 24 (5), 19-22.

 

DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.



Audio Books


I love taking long car trips. One of the reasons I love car travel is that I can listen to audio books.  In fact, a recent trip that was to take a few hours quickly became a one-day trip when I could not stop listening to the audio version of Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn. Audio books provide a great way for readers of all ages and abilities to connect with stories, and they have a lot of other great benefits.  First and foremost, audio books allow readers to access books they may not be able to read independently. I know of struggling readers who read along with audio books so they can better access the text without feeling overwhelmed.  Audio books help all types of readers build critical listening skills and they provide good models for fluent reading. A great narrator with the ability to read in a fluid and expressive way helps children understand the way words sound and how all the words can flow together in an effortless, connected pattern. Audio books are also a great way to enjoy books together, especially if you feel a little bit less than comfortable reading aloud. Audiobooks are a great way to enjoy togetherness without you having to do the reading. All in all, audio books are a great way to read (and yes it’s still reading even if you listen to it). To start your audio book adventure, I suggest you check out the Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production given by the Young Adult Library Services Association, which highlights some of the best audio books for kids out there. To find these and other great audio books, I suggest you check out your local library. Today, libraries often have services where you can download great audio books for free or you can even check out and listen to physical formats as well. So, maybe on your next car trip (or even for a little reading time at home), start discovering the great joys of a book well read.

 

By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING

 

AudioBook: Airborn by Kenneth Oppel.  Full Cast Audio, 2006.  

 

Print Book: Airborn by Kenneth Oppel.  HarperCollins, 2005.

 

Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/odyssey

 

DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

 

Book Review: "The Plot to Kill Hitler” by Patricia McCormick

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor and staunch pacifist, faces dark times when his beloved country is thrust into war. A devotee of Gandhi, Bonhoeffer believes that peaceful means can end destruction, but as the atrocities are revealed, the only logical path is violence. With their path chosen, Bonhoeffer and his associates conspire to get information about what is happening in Germany out to the world while developing plans to assassinate Hitler. It soon becomes clear that sharing the evidence of hate is having little impact and when several assassination attempts go awry, allowing the enemy to flush them out, Bonhoeffer and his cohorts realize that it is likely they will give their lives for their cause.

 

McCormick, author of the hard-hitting Sold and Never Fall Down, offers an intense biography of a simple man who acted on his beliefs. The idea that being a hero does not mean success but can come in the form of someone who just takes action, is a powerful overarching theme of this biography. On the surface, it also addresses ethical questions of war and when violence may be necessary that will certainly provide fodder for deeper conversation and contemplation. Organized chronologically with additional information on the timeline and brief historical asides, Bonhoeffer’s story is well contextualized in ways that bring the time and place to life. Peppered with only selected photographs, the text itself is so engaging that readers will be able to easily visualize Bonhoeffer’s life and the deadly dilemmas he faced.

 

*Contains violence and sensitivities of war and the Holocaust.


Review by Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING  


The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero by Patricia McCormick. Balzer and Bray, 2016.


Find this and other book reviews at: http://byucbmr.com/


DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

 

"Why Picture Books Are Important, And Why They Are for Everyone" by Rick Walton

By Rick Walton


Picture books are often seen as literary baby food, the stuff we feed children until they have the teeth to eat real food.

 
I would argue, however, that picture books are not baby food. They are not just for young children.
 
In fact, I would argue that picture books are perhaps the most important literary format that we have.
 
Here are 10 reasons why I believe this:
1.   They are the first books that children fall in love with, that turn children into lifetime readers. Lifetime readers become lifetime learners. Lifetime learners become lifetime contributors.
 
2.   Picture book language is often more sophisticated than the first chapter books that children read, and therefore an excellent way for children to learn language. It is here that children, and others, can learn vocabulary, imagery, rhythm, shape, structure, conciseness, emotional power.
 
3.   The picture book is the most flexible of all literary formats. You can do almost anything in a picture book. This flexibility encourages creativity, in both writer and reader. It broadens the mind, and the imagination. And given today's challenges, we desperately need more creativity, broadened minds. Imagination.
 
4.   The picture book, with its interaction between text and illustration, with its appeal that the reader analyze that interaction, helps develop visual intelligence. It helps us look for meaning in the visual. And since most of us are surrounded by, and inundated by visual images our whole lives, visual intelligence is an important skill.
 
5.   Some of the best art being created today is found in picture books. Picture books are a great resource for art education.
 
6.   The picture book appeals to more learning styles than any other format. It is read out loud for audible learners. It is written and illustrated for visual learners. It often asks you to interact with it physically for kinesthetic learners.
 
7.    In fact, the picture book, of all formats, is probably the best format for teaching an idea, getting across a point. Because picture books are short, all messages, knowledge, ideas expressed in a picture book must be boiled down to their essence. They must be presented in a way that is impossible to misunderstand. If you want to learn a difficult subject, start with a picture book. If you want to express a powerful message, a picture book is one of the most powerful media for doing so. Many middle, upper grade, and even college instructors have recognized the value of using picture books in their teaching.
 
8.   The picture book does more than any other literary format for bonding people one with another. As a child sits on a lap and is read to, as a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, a librarian reads to a child, extremely important connections are made, bonds are formed, generations are brought together.
 
9.   The picture book also has the broadest possible age range of audience. Few four-year-olds will appreciate a novel. But many grandparents enjoy a good picture book. I have read picture books for upwards of an hour to groups including toddlers, teens, parents and grandparents, where all were engaged.
 
10. The picture book is short, and can fit easily into the nooks and crannies of our lives. Five minutes here, 10 minutes there, plenty of time for a complete literary experience.
 
 Picture books are poetry, adventure, imagination, language, interaction, precision, and so much more.
 
 Picture books are not books that children should be encouraged to "graduate" from.
 
 For picture books have something important to say, to give, to all ages, all generations.
 
 Picture books are not just books for young children.
 
They are books for everybody.


 
DISCLAIMER:
At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

“Phonological Awareness”

“Phonological Awareness”

By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING 

Let’s talk today about something that is important to me as an educator—phonological awareness. This term describes a person’s ability to be able to hear the structure of words including the smaller sounds in words such as syllables and single sounds. A reader’s phonological awareness is a strong predictor of reading ability, with many studies showing that poor readers struggle in this area. Being able to recognize and use the smaller sounds in words are important skills for children to have. Children who are phonemically aware should be able to identify when sounds in a word are the same, identity and make up rhymes, and parse out the syllables in a word. Parents can do a lot of simple things to help develop these skills in children. Common action rhymes, like the Itsy Bitsy Spider, are great places to start introducing the structure and rhyming capabilities of words. Also, playing games with words can help children practice hearing and using word sounds. A simple game of coming up with rhyming words is a great place to start or, for a more complex version, start stringing word sounds into sentences, such as “making milk was Molly moo-cows main matter.”   Another great way to engage children with word sounds is through singing and listening to music. Because music naturally breaks up words into syllables, hearing and playing around with the words in songs naturally helps children recognize sound divisions. And last, but not least, read books with rhymes.  Some of my favorites include:The classic Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See by Bill MartinThe extensive series Llama Llama books by Anna Dewdney, shows there is no end to rhymes,No Sleep for the Sheep! By Karen Beaumont, provides a good foundation for connecting beginning word sounds andPete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin is a rhythmic feast. So with that little bit of advice and a few poems, games, songs, and books, you’re well on your way to helping your children develop their own phonological awareness. 

DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

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