Rainy Days and a Far-Off Adventure

Growing up, one of the things I looked forward most to during summer vacation was having an unlimited amount of free time to read. I remember lazy rainy days tucked into a chair, nose buried deep in some far-off adventure. There was also the intense research of finding just the right books to take on the long-awaited beach trip. I have always enjoyed reading and still do, although I must admit as an adult, there seems to be less time to fit it into my schedule!

Unfortunately, our kids today are more interested in video games, TV, YouTube and their other electronic devices than actual books I get the sense that they feel like reading is a chore, and I understand that what they are required to read for school is not that entertaining.  Summer is the perfect time to introduce them to pleasure reading: take a trip to the library and let them pick out something they really want to read. Then when the rainy days hit or they’re just tired of going to the pool, there will be something enriching for them to do.

A few suggestions, according to age:

Age 3-5

After the Fall by Dan Santat

Can I be your dog? By Troy Cummings

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Age 6-8

The Jada Jones Series: Class Act by Kelly Starling Lyons

Fish are not afraid of doctors by J.E. Morris

Where the wild things are by Maurice Sendak 

Age 9-12

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney

Daring Dreamers Club #1: Milla Takes Charge by Erin Soderberg

Harry Potter series books 1-3 by J.K. Rowling

The Legend of Greg by Chris Rylander

The Importance of Reading with Your Child

It has been about a year since I last blogged for KPA. At that time, I was expecting my first child. Now, I have a 10 month old daughter!  I could probably devote this entire blog to how time goes by so much more quickly after becoming a parent, but all of you probably already know that!

Instead, I’ll mention that I’ve recently often thought to myself, “What should I be doing with my child? What types of activities should I be exposing her to for her learning and development?” There are numerous answers to these questions but a fantastic answer is always going to be: read to your child, there are so many reasons why!

  • It will actually help with vocabulary later. It allows you as a parent to talk with your children and probably use words you would not use in daily conversation (children’s books use such fun language)!  The more language and words children hear before the age of  3, the better they tend to do in school with reading. A larger vocabulary helps children with schoolwork because they spend less time understanding what they’re reading and less decoding the words they are reading.  This means even reading comprehension is better.
  • Reading to your child often opens new doors for conversation and play. If you are reading  fiction, it will always lead to more conversation and questions.  It’s great for your child to be imaginative and creative.
  • It gives children a model on how to do kindergarten foundation reading concepts. They will already know how books work, the structure, how to read left-to-right, top-to-bottom, and even how to turn pages.
  • You can model good reading to your child. You will model fluent and expressive reading so that your child will pick up on pauses, the rise and fall of your voice in speaking, and patterns of rhythm and sound.
  • It is so much fun! What better way to interact with your child and bond.

A few quick tips for reading to your child based on age:

Before 6 months:

Think about reading more as exploring the concept of books.  Read sturdy books; allow your child to chew on them.  You can even read magazines or books you are reading yourself because they still get the benefit of hearing the sounds of language.

6-12 Months:

Talk about pictures.  Encourage pointing to things on the pages.  Let your baby turn the pages.  If your baby gets bored or distracted, don’t stress about not finishing the book.

12-18 months:

Use dramatic reading with different voices and big expressions and gestures.

18 months to 3 years:

  • Help your child become the storyteller. Each time you read the same book, do less reading yourself, and let your child talk more.  You can point and ask questions. Make it interactive!
  • Read alphabet books and rhymes so your child gets to hear the sounds of different letters.
  • Sound out words, syllable by syllable. This can help your child link letters and their sounds which can help decode words later and help with spelling.

4-5 years:

  • Have your child read aloud what they know. Point out words you know that they know which will help with word recognition and comprehension.
  • Ask questions about the story while you read. Reread parts your child maybe did not understand.  Ask questions about the plot of the story.  Research shows how important conversation during reading is.

I hope I have given you a new zest for reading with your child.  Please remember how important it is to read together every day, even if it is just for 5-10 minutes.  The benefits are numerous!

A very special thanks to my sister (also a wonderful aunt to my daughter), who helped me with my post.  She has been a first grade teacher for 8 years.  Her passion for reading and early education amazes me daily!

Media and Violence

On average, children 8 years of age and older watch greater than 2 hours of TV a day and at least 6 hours per day when all types of media are included (e.g., movies, videos, gaming, social media, etc.) (1) Even children’s programming is quite violent with cartoons showing 25 – 50 violent acts per hour (2,3). There is a positive correlation between the viewing of violence in media and the behavior of the viewers (4 – 9).  

What can we do as parents to stem the tide? 

1.  Limit children’s total media time to less than 1 to 2 hours a day.  I would suggest even less especially on school nights!

2. Remove TV sets and computers from children’s bedrooms and do not allow them to sleep with other devices such as phones.

3. Discourage  television and screen media use (except for video chatting) for children younger than 18 months.

4. Monitor the shows viewed and games played by children and adolescents.

5. View media with your children and discuss the content.

6. Play digital games with your children to better understand them.

7. Encourage alternative entertainment (Reading, athletics, hobbies, etc.)

8. Use parental controls to block unauthorized viewing.

These are simple steps to help your child get along better with others and resolve conflicts without violence.  The American Academy of Pediatrics also provides tips and resources to develop a “Family Media Plan,” which you can find online. 

1, 2.  Rideout VJ. The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens (Accessed on November 01, 2016). 

3. Dietz WH, Strasburger VC. Children, adolescents, and television. Curr Probl Pediatr 1991; 21:8. 

4. Yokota F, Thompson KM. Violence in G-rated animated films. JAMA 2000; 283:2716.

5. Sege R, Dietz W. Television viewing and violence in children: the pediatrician as agent for change. Pediatrics 1994; 94:600.

6. Council on Communications and Media. Media use in school-aged children and adolescents. Pediatrics 2016.

7. American Academy of Pediatrics. Committee on Public Education. American Academy of Pediatrics: Children, adolescents, and television. Pediatrics 2001; 107:423.

8. Caring for your baby and young child: Birth to age 5, Shelov SP, Hannemann RE (Eds), Bantam, New York 1991.

9. Council on Communications and Media. From the American Academy of Pediatrics: Policy statement–Media violence. Pediatrics 2009; 124:1495.

 This information was obtained from a website which provides current information for physicians.