Monday, June 29, 2015

Preventing The Summer Slide

Image courtesy of

Each summer, parents work hard to keep children active and engaged. It is important to include educational activities and reading in the mix.  According to experts, kids who read during the summer enter the school year with more skills than their non-reading friends.  Studies also show that children who don't read actually slide back and lose many of the skills they've already acquired.

National Summer Learning Association reports: "A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year.... It's common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills."(

So what can you do to make sure your children keep up with exercising their brains as well as their bodies?  Here are tips to keep kids reading (and happy about it)!

1. Connect reading with an activity.
Reading about fish? Visit the aquarium!  Reading a book in which someone has a garden?  Plant some veggies or flowers together!  Reading a chapter book?  Grab two copies, read along side your child, and discuss!

2. Visit the library.
This might seem obvious, but a visit to the library is more than choosing books.  Children are often amazed by choices and excited that the library offers everything for free!  It is a place where everyone can feel comfortable looking and asking questions.

3. Teach by example.
Keep books and magazines around the house.  Make sure your children see you reading and enjoying books.  Studies show that children who grow up with books in the house are better readers than those who grow up in homes without access to books.

4. Relax the schedule.
It is ok and actually healthy for children to have free time during their day.  Time to play, pretend, read, or experience boredom.  Free time helps children problem-solve and use their imaginations.  If books are around the house and there is free time, suggest reading, but try not to push it.  Leave it open as a fun option.

5. Little incentives are ok, but in the long run children should read for the sake of reading.
If you have a reluctant reader on your hands, it is ok to offer small incentives, especially if the child has required reading for the summer.  If your child reads one of their required books, they get a trip to the bookstore to choose any book they want.  For every 20 minutes of reading, the child earns 10 minutes free time to choose an activity.

6. Remember,, children won't think reading is "boring" or "hard" if they have the right book.
Often, kids only dislike reading because they are not being guided towards books that are good for their reading level, interests, and needs.  Summer is a perfect time to spend time talking to a librarian or bookstore staff about what is appropriate and will be enjoyable for your child. 

7. Use the Five Finger Rule to judge a book.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Great kids books that teach body literacy

From a young age, children are very curious about their bodies, and this curiosity continues to develop and grow as their bodies do the same!  Developing body literacy, an understanding how their bodies work and a knowledge about their own unique body, is a very important skill to foster, especially as they approach puberty. Below are some of my favorite body books for kids of all ages.  I especially like that all of these books portray all different types of bodies and bodily experiences, representing diversity in many forms so no child feels as though their body is abnormal.

I love you nose! I love you toes! by Linda Davick
Ages 2-5
Our wonderful bodies-aren't they amazing? Come celebrate all the things that make us who we are-from the tops of our heads to the tips of our toes, to our tummies, our freckles, our dimples, our skin, and everything in between! With silly, rhyming text and bold, simple illustrations, this fun and frank approach to exploring body parts provides factual information that is just right for the young reader.

My Nose, Your Nose by Melanie Walsh
Ages 2-6
This book introduces the concept of diversity, but the approach is very gentle: Agnes has blue eyes. Kit’s eyes are brown. But . . . they both close their eyes when they go to sleep.  The close-up and lively illustrations of kids and all their cute bits--eyes, hair, skin, noses, legs--will invite readers to tell what’s unique about themselves. And at the same time, children will see that there’s so much they have in common, too.

The Busy Body Book: A Kid's Guide to Fitness by Lizzy Rockwell
Ages 3-7
A celebration of the amazing human machine and a life on the move! Your amazing body can jump, sprint, twist, and twirl. Your body is built to move.  Lizzy Rockwell explains how your bones and muscles, heart and lungs, nerves and brain all work together to keep you on the go. Kids walk and skate and tumble through these pages with such exuberance that even sprouting couch potatoes will want to get up and bounce around—and that’s the ultimate goal. Studies show that American kids are becoming more sedentary and more overweight and that they carry these tendencies with them into adolescence and adulthood. Experts agree that we need to help kids make physical activity a life-long habit. Through education, information, and encouragement, this book aims to inspire a new generation of busy bodies!
This series for young children provides easy-to-understand facts and answers. Launching the series is Who Has What?, a simple story following Nellie and Gus on a family outing to the beach. Humorous illustrations, conversations between the siblings, and a clear text all reassure young kids that whether they have a girl's body or a boy's, their bodies are perfectly normal, healthy, and wonderful.

Also note Harris' other fantastic books for younger kids: It's not the Stork! and, for a slightly older audience, It's so amazing! : a book about eggs, sperm, birth, babies, and families

Ages 8-10
In her uniquely warm and funny style, Lynda Madaras wrote this entirely new book especially for younger boys to give them everything they need to know about the new and exciting changes that are happening to their bodies during puberty.

Ages 8-10In her uniquely warm and funny style, Lynda wrote this entirely new book especially for younger girls to give them what they need to know to celebrate and accept the new and exciting changes that are happening to their bodies during puberty.

Madaras also has a set of books for older boys and girls (10 and up), entitled "What's happening to my body?"

Ages 8-10
A comic book for kids that includes children and families of all makeups, orientations, and gender identities, Sex Is a Funny Word is an essential resource about bodies, gender, and sexuality for children as well as their parents and caregivers. Much more than the "facts of life" or "the birds and the bees," Sex Is a Funny Word opens up conversations between young people and their caregivers in a way that allows adults to convey their values and beliefs while providing information about boundaries, safety, and joy.

Silverberg also has an award-winning book for slightly younger children about conception, gestation, and birth called What Makes a Baby.

Ages 8-12
The definitive book about puberty and sexual health for today’s kids and teens, now fully updated for its twentieth anniversary. It’s Perfectly Normal has been updated with current and correct information on subjects such as safe and savvy Internet use, gender identity, emergency contraception, and more. Providing accurate and up-to-date answers to nearly every imaginable question, from conception and puberty to birth control and STDs, It’s Perfectly Normal offers young people the information they need — now more than ever — to make responsible decisions and stay healthy.