Once Upon a Story
April 18, 2011

I have the educational background.  I have the textbook learning, and the classroom experience.  I’ve taught everything from phonics programs, to guided reading, to learning how to take standardized tests.

But it’s most gratifying when I can take that information, apply it to my daily life as a stay-at-home-parent, and see the results.

Yesterday, I was feeling a little under the weather.  So I was doing what sick parents do when they have no choice other than to continue parenting…I was lounging on the floor of my daughter’s room and monitoring her play from my horizontal position.  She walked over to her bed, picked up her new Thomas the Tank Engine book, and announced, “Mama, read.”  So I prepared myself to put on my cheery reading voice, but she had other plans.  She settled herself on the floor next to me, opened the book, and read to me.

Okay, so it was garbled and mostly nonsensical, and I couldn’t exactly repeat the plot to you.  But there were key elements of early literacy present:

It makes me smile that books are among The Toddler’s favorite toys.  She keeps several at the end of her bed, and they are the first thing she plays with upon waking up in the morning, and the last thing she plays with before falling asleep at night.

So I guess I can say that I’m raising a reader.  Which is good.  Because I have a long list of books that she absolutely must read.

No pressure or anything.

April 2, 2011

Today marks another birthday for me.  It also, quite appropriately, happens to be International Children’s Book Day. From the International Board on Books for Young People website:

Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, 2 April, International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.

So really, I was destined to be born on April 2nd, right?

I’ll be celebrating with family and friends this weekend, but you all are invited in on the fun, too.

In honor of my birthday and International Children’s Book Day, I have gift for you. I’m offering the chance to win your choice of one of the following two books.  Both these books are favorites of mine, and also happen to have been honored in a very important year:

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg (1982 Caldecott Honor Book)

or

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary (1982 Newbery Honor Book)

I’m going to keep this super simple.  Leave a comment sharing your own favorite children’s book (can be classic or modern!).  That’s it!  Because I’ll be away from the computer for much of the weekend, I’ll leave comments open till 10:00pm EST on Sunday, April 3rd.  The winner will be announced on Monday.

Enjoy the party!

March 18, 2011

Hello, friends.  I have to admit, I’m a little taken aback that it’s Friday already.  This week has been a busy one, and I’m surprised to see that Friday is here already.

Nevertheless, Friday it is.  My confession this week is part confession, part secret shopping tip:

I get some of the Toddler’s books from the $1 bin.

Specifically, I get them from the $1 bin at Target (oh, how I love Target!)  Don’t get me wrong– we have numerous books on our shelves that are beautiful hardbound books.  But I supplement that collection with “in the moment” texts from the $1 bin.  These are books that are not necessarily ones that she’ll keep forever and ever, but capture her interest at this stage of her life.

In other words, Sesame Street books.

$1 each, folks.  Which means that I can snag several and put them in her backpack as a nice surprise during our upcoming travel.  Kids not Sesame Street fans?  There are often others on colors, modes of transportation, or even rhyming.  And for toddlers who can still be a little rough on their books, the board books are perfect.

My confession, and secret for inexpensive, colorful, purposeful toddler books.

Because really, who doesn’t need another excuse to visit Target?

March 7, 2011

As part of this week’s Share A Story: Shape a Future literacy tour, bloggers around the web are invited to participate in daily writing prompts (P.S-There are PRIZES).  While I’m not officially competing for one of the prizes, I thought it might be fun to participate in some of the writing prompts, just to share a little bit more about me and where I’m coming from.

So.  Today, I’m responding to this question:

Who was the first person from a book (real or imagined) that you wanted to be when you were a child? Why?

The first character I can remember truly wanting to trade lives with was L.M. Montgomery’s Anne Shirley.  I first read Anne of Green Gables in the fifth grade and took an immediate liking to Anne herself.  Something about this character struck a chord with me.  Her passion for reading, her dream of teaching, these were all familiar. There were parts of Anne that I envied, too. Her ability to speak up for what she believed in (something I, as a painfully shy 5th grader, could not fathom), for example.  Or her seemingly fairytale home on Prince Edward Island.

Then there was Diana.  Sweet, pretty, boring Diana who never quite understood Anne’s imagination, but followed her on every crazy whim, despite her misgivings.  Diana, who was everything a best friend should be– loyal, supportive, and even brave when it came to standing up for her “bosom buddy” Anne.

Upon finishing Anne of Green Gables, I quickly picked up the next book, Anne of Avonlea, and then Anne of the Island, so that over the next few months, I worked my way through the entire series.  And along the way, I met my first literary crush Gilbert. How could Anne NOT recognize what a handsome, compassionate, perfect catch she had in Gilbert Blythe?  While I thrilled in their eventual union, my 12-year-old self  fell in love with Gilbert long before she did.

Such was my love for Anne and her life that I’ve since read everything by L.M. Montgomery that I could get my hands on.  An author who can first pen her words in 1908, capture the heart of young reader in 1992, and remain a strong part of that reader’s memory in 2011 is truly timeless.

And Gilbert?  I might still have a crush on that man.  Just a little.

Now it’s your turn!  Please share!  Which character did you want to be?  Who was your first literary crush?  C’mon, we’ll keep your secret!

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