My favorite Grow a Reader practice in the whole world is (drumroll please!) . . . PLAYING! Goofing off. Clowning around. Kicking up your heels.
But shouldn’t a pre-literacy practice require, oh I dunno—something like . . . practice?
Of course, playing comes very easily to most children. But don’t be fooled into thinking that because it comes naturally, playing doesn’t have value. Playing gives kids practice at thinking symbolically and using their imaginations. And, since words are basically just symbols for objects, actions, and ideas, learning to think symbolically is a priceless pre-literacy skill.*
Born December 11, 1957, William (Bill) Joyce's dream is to be remembered for "a significant contribution to the cause of global silliness." (Publisher's Weekly) His books, TV shows and movies, from George Shrinks to Robots to The Rise of the Guardians have amazed and amused audiences for over 20 years.
When Astrid Lindgren was a little girl, a friend read her stories about the giant, Bam-Bam, and the fairy, Viribunda. Astrid Lindgren loved these stories. Some part of the author never grew up and the result is the enchanting adventures of The Children of Noisy Village, Ronia, the Robber's Daughter, and, of course, Pippi Longstocking.
"I write books for the child I am myself. I write about things that are dear to me--trees and houses and nature--just to please myself."
Best known for her Newbery Award-winning books, Jacob Have I Loved, as well as Newbery Honor winner, The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson's very personal style of storytelling strikes nerves with her readers, who are able feel her characters' emotions, giving them practice for dealing with life's sorrows. What keeps her books from being simple studies in misery is her ability to find the humor and grace in any situation.
Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom is John Rocco's story of his enormous, bushy hairdo as a boy and how he imagined it giving him special abilities! According to our unkempt crusader, "every superhero gets his powers from somewhere," and what better place than the top of your own head?
Welcome to Your Awesome Robot, by Viviane Schwarz, is part comic, part how-to guide, and all around a hilarious way to use your imagination to make something cool. It follows the story of a child who receives a cardboard box with the title phrase written across it.
From there, we explore the fun and logistics of making your own personal robot costume. The book explains the materials you need, tasks that might require adult assistance, and potential hazards to be aware of during your robot's construction. With this guide, your imagination is your only limit.
Jeremy Draws a Monster never gets too scary. The beast in question has some horns and is a bit of a snaggletooth, but his eyes are too tiny to be that threatening. Still, this monster is this one rude dude. Jeremy seemed to just want a friend to play with. He stays inside while other children play soccer. So he takes a fancy pen and draws this creature creation.
He was trouble, into everything at once, with an imagination that just wouldn't quit. Neither his teachers nor his parents knew quite what to do with him. But when he opened his mouth the most beautiful sounds came out. Young Jack Prelutsky had a glorious voice, so good they called him a prodigy, and the New York Metropolitan Opera's choirmaster gave him free lessons. But he gave up his dream of being the world's best opera singer when he heard Luciano Pavarotti perform. He knew he couldn't match that amazing voice, and he did know for certain that whatever he did in his life, he wanted to be the very best at it.
Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly, written by Carolyn Parkhust and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino, is a culinary blast of imagination as two siblings present a cooking show. Henry is your host, and two-year-old Eleanor (Elliebelly is definitely a snappier stage name) helps out…sort of. They’ve got spatulas, they’ve got a theme song, and they know what they are cooking today. Henry instructs his viewers with a cool professional expertise that you just don’t always see on the Food Network: “There are two ways you can make barbecued banana bacon: you can start with bacon and add bananas, or you can start with bananas and add bacon. It’s really up to you.”
I took up residence on the Children’s Desk at the library about one year ago. Although I have been adored and admired by many, some people actually give me the cold shoulder. Can you believe that people say things like, “Oh, it’s a fake hamster. Whatever!” or “Let’s go. It’s not real.” I have even been called a rat! I want you all to know that I am listening, even if I don’t always physically react (my batteries run low sometimes, don’t yours?). And just for the record, I prefer the term faux.