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Aug 27

How to Get the Most Out of Your Read Aloud Time by Andrea Lorenz

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on August 27, 2021 at 9:21 AM by Genesis Gaule

Research shows that one of the best things you can do to prepare your children for school and later success is to read aloud to them. Even just 15 minutes a day is enough to make a big difference. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your read aloud time.

1) Book Choice 

When you’re looking for your next bedtime book, look for something that will interest your child. You can choose books related to their special interests, like tractors or spiders, or you could choose books that relate to experiences your child has had lately, like losing a tooth or visiting the zoo. Whatever it is, find something your child will be into and at an appropriate reading level. (Need help choosing? Any of our librarians would be happy to help!)

2) Pre-Read

Take a look through the book before you start your read aloud. This can help you identify jokes, figure out what kind of voices you want to do, and familiarize you with the plot and the text.

3) Use Some Expression

You don’t have to have an EGOT* to be a good reader. Your child will love reading time because they love spending time with you! But a little vocal expression never hurt anyone. Find places to slow down and speed up, get louder or softer. You can even try out some voices! (I personally love making teeny tiny squeaky mouse voices.)

4) Point Out Words and Letters

As you read, follow the text with your finger. Point out specific words that you see, or specific letters that your child might be familiar with. This helps children to understand that you’re reading the words and not the pictures! You can talk about what new words mean and point out when words are BIGGER than others and what that might mean.

5) Ask Questions

You can make read alouds more engaging by asking your child questions as you read. These can be as simple as “What do you think will happen next?” or a little more complex like “What would you do in that situation?” Gear your questions toward your child’s comprehension level (for example, you might ask a three year old “What’s that?” and point to a picture on the page, but you’d probably ask a six year old “What does this remind you of in your own life?”)

6) Have Fun!

Reading time should be fun. Make silly faces and laugh. Don’t finish books you don’t like. Choose another one instead. Above all, enjoy the time you have together.

Some of Miss Andrea's favorite read aloud books:

read-alouds cover collage


Elementary School: 

Chapter Books (Elementary and up):

*EGOT: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards (People who have received all four awards are said to have an EGOT and include Rita Moreno, Audrey Hepburn, Mel Brooks, and more)

May 07

What Does that Word Mean? by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on May 7, 2021 at 12:55 PM by Genesis Gaule

In the middle of a good read, no one wants to be disrupted by an unfamiliar word. I don’t mind a new word now and then, but too many will make me shut the book and go to the next. It’s good for my brain to add something that I can turn around and use, but again, too often and the whole read will be abandoned.

For the most part, words can be figured out by how the author uses them. If a main character wears a green jacket than any other word that refers to its color would mean some kind of green, like emerald, pastoral or verdant.

Our individual vocabulary is made up of the words each of us use. We each have four kinds of vocabulary:

  1. Reading--a word we can understand while into a book
  2. Listening--the words we understand when someone speaks
  3. Speaking--words we use when talking to someone
  4. Writing--the words we use when writing a letter, office work or homework

As I mentioned earlier, you may understand a word while reading because a good author has guided you to its meaning.

When listening to someone talking, words fly past quickly but we have the advantage of body language. If I heard ‘plummet’ for the first time and a friend demonstrated it with a hand coming down quickly, I’d understand. This may mean we understand more words than if we were reading them.

What words we choose when speaking to someone depends a great deal on who that someone is to us. If we’re looking at the weather with a 3-year-old, you might say, “It looks like it’s going to rain a lot today.” When speaking to Grandpa, you might say, “It looks like a thunderstorm.”

Our writing vocabulary can demonstrate a different range of words than when we’re speaking. Though there may be many words we use when talking that we’d never write down. Some we may never have seen in print. Kitty-corner is a word like that for me. I’d used it all my life and only recently saw it in print.

These vocabularies can be surprisingly different. Consider how you speak to your closest friends compared to how you speak to co-workers, Grandma or a flight attendant. There may be favorite words shared or some less favorable. All these vocabularies combine to make your personnel collection of words.

There are authors I read to challenge my vocabulary. I know I’ll have to take my time and focus. Other books, I fly through, knowing there will be no challenge.

doctors-blackwellIf you’d like to learn a few new words from good authors, how about trying The Doctors Black by Janice P. Nimura. The book is casual and yet a fascinating account of the first 2 female medical doctors. Nonfiction is good at teaching new words, but so is fiction. The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells is told from a robot’s point of view. I loved how its techy language was like a casual conversation about what’s for dinner. The author who always challenged me the most was Umberto Eco. If you like words, try his books.

pomegranateAn important part of learning how to read is learning new words, written and spoken. When I was young, I had no experience with pomegranates. I couldn’t have recognized one until I was an adult. A great book to share with kids is Grena and the Magic Pomegranate by Melvin Leavitt. Not only will the reader learn what a pomegranate is, but will also enjoy a great story and possibly learn a new word.

Feb 12

How I Bribe Myself with a Good Book by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on February 12, 2021 at 3:55 PM by Genesis Gaule

There is very little I’d rather do than escape into a book though I am aware that life goes on around me. I have found a solution that keeps me balanced between work, home chores, my friends, family and reading.

I bribe myself with a chapter. Now, I’m aware that not all books have numbered chapters and some don’t have any breaks beyond pages.  I’ve found solutions for pacing myself through those too.

Now, how long is a chapter? First, I don’t get too wrapped up in the length of any chapter. Sometimes, I get lucky and it’s many pages long. Other times, they’re super short.  

Good titles with some short chapters are:

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. It’s the third in the DaVinci Code series. When I read that, I was excited to see that as the action started to speed up so did the chapters. They were like springs.  I loved how the chapters jumped the action forward. One chapter was never enough.
Another is the Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I read this in Large Print and found that some chapters were just over a couple pages which in regular print would be one page. Here again, when a fine author can cut to the chase by being succinct, there is an inertia that pulls me forward into the story.

Some books break up chapters with a physical space between scenes or points of view.  The space on the page stalls forward thinking and resets the story in another place or mind. It is a poetic tactic. How words are lined up on a page can be as powerful as the words themselves. These spaces sometimes include a symbol as simple as a line.  In other books, there are elaborate symbols connected to the time period or culture represented in the story.  

Chapters can be numbered and/or titled. I have found that I fly right right past a number at the beginning of the chapter unless it is in a fancy script or calligraphy. A title often causes me to pause. Is it a clue as to what is coming next? Many times, I don’t think about it until I bump into the next chapter and do an ah-ha.

So, I wash the dishes and read a chapter.

The longer chapters simply have to be broken down to help those of us who have to get up in the morning to go to work, too. Chapters have a purpose not only in the story but in the rhythm of a reader’s life. If a book does have chapters, a bookmark can hold my place until the next workday is done. Or perhaps there is a break on a page and I can mark that spot. If those both fail, I’ll break at a full sentence that ends at the bottom of the page and on my return, start at the top of the following page.

First, I fold the clothes that buzzed halfway through the last paragraph.    

An essential key to make the bribe easy to maintain is that bookmarks can be found everywhere. If the stove timer for my muffins blares, a bookmark needs to be on the table nearby. If I’m sitting in the sun and the recycling truck empties my container, I want a bookmark on the end table so I can dash outside. If my kids call and I’m lying on the floor reading a book, the bookmark has to be within reach.  

Chapters or planned breaks in our books are essential to give us that pause to make a cup of tea, use the bathroom or do the laundry. Oh yeah, the breaks are also there to give a good pace to the story or information we’re reading.