Stuck in the House Because of School Closings? Create a Family Reading Tradition and Allow Young Readers to Catch Up On a Ton of New and Classic Reads!
With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, parents, and especially young ones, are naturally anxious.
Heck, we all have a bit of the jitters when outside our comfort zones.
Children depend on adults to model good behaviors and what is normal.
It’s okay to say that you understand that they are scared and nervous about the spread of the virus and the changes in routine activities that it has suddenly brought with it, but there are other wonderful compensations …like reading at home!
Kids thrive on predictability and routine, but here is a chance to let them begin to practice patience, a bit of endurance, lack of instant gratification and thankfulness for the positives in their lives.
Life will deliver curve balls in their young lives at indeterminate times. and this is certainly one of them. The skills I’ve mentioned are developed through navigating successfully the rough patches in life, knowing they will come out stronger and better capable of succeeding the next hurdle…. and the next.
Unfortunately, we try to insulate our children from so much that is negative, frightening or unpleasant that they tend to lose the ability to be resilient in the face of life’s sometimes unpredictable realities.
And the Covid-19 is one of them.
Now some parents will take the time off from school as an opportunity to go out to movies, mall shopping, or other indoor activities .
Please do not do this as it does not help, because of the the advice of the social distancing presumed to be part of large group gatherings.
Instead get out the children’s picture BOOKS and chapter BOOKS which hopefully are in abundance in your home.
Have older ones read to younger ones.
Have the young readers play the roles in the books and act them out.
Pop some pop corn or make some s’mores and make it a special time.
Have your young readers make up there own stories with an adult giving the opening line and each child adding onto the tale.
There are plenty of books there that you may have read to them and they know by heart. Have them recite the story to you as best they can from memory. It will increase their use of vocabulary as with each turn of the picture book page, your young reader tells YOU the story they know so well.
With a dictionary at the ready, you can help them to look up words they may not know in books you read together. I am thinking of a favorite of mine called “Amos and Boris” by William Steig. A former illustrator for The New Yorker, he began writing picture books in his 60’s, won the Caldecott for Best Picture Book for “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble,” in 1970, never dumbed down vocabulary for his picture book readers or made them less “text dense.” He used terms describing the ocean as a “phosphorescent sea” and in “The Amazing Bone,” a villain was referred to as an “odoriferous wretch.” Young readers love it and they usually get the gist in context, but a dictionary at the ready does help.
Have paper and crayons handy where they can draw the characters.
This is a extremely challenging time for parents and children alike, but it is an opportunity to draw families closer as they face the challenge of normality gone awry for a bit.
But, there can be in its place a new normal of reading, not just for homework assignments, but for fun, to develop the imagination, to increase sustained attention span and to allow children to just “BE” for a time, outside of the usual frenetic pace of living, over scheduled and over planned.
Referring back to Steig’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, its moral, if there is one to be gleaned, is that parents love their children more than anything, and that family and the love that can be realized within it, is more important than anything that can be wished for with a magic pebble.
I wish for everyone of my readers to have that wish realized.
Oh, and while distancing for a bit from social media now, with its drumbeat of doom, this is something uplifting that I recently saw referencing the opposites of cancelled things. It made me smile and think:
Reading is Not Cancelled.
Going outdoors is Not Cancelled.
Music is Not Cancelled.
Singing is Not Cancelled.
Family is Not Cancelled.
Laughing is Not Cancelled.
Hope is Not Cancelled. – very important!
I’m sure your young readers could add many more to the list, if they put their imaginary “thinking caps on,” as my mom would say.
Why not try it?
I bet the list would be long and it would allow the positives of “”We can” fill their thoughts and time, instead of “We can’t.”
Remember to scrub a dub dub your hands!
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