Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Please welcome Magdalena Ball

Teaching Preschoolers to Read - Five Steps to Literacy

Some children begin school reading, while others seem to have no idea what a book is or how to recognize letters of the alphabet. While Kindergarten is a great opportunity for young children to develop their reading skills, it is difficult for even the best teachers to give the children the kind of one-on-one time that parents can. Also, by the time children reach Kindergarten, their attitudes to reading are already ingrained. For children to grow up loving reading, books need to be a part of their lives almost from the day they are born. It is never too early to begin "teaching" children to read. This isn't about "hot housing," formal lessons, or gimmicky videos. The key to raising book lovers is making books a part of children's lives. In other words, read! Read to your children from the day they are born, read yourself, point out words, talk to your children clearly, enunciating your syllables, take delight in language and in the pleasures of the written word, and the chances are that your children will naturally want to learn. The following five points are for parents whose children are around 4-5 years old and who want to prepare their children for reading at big school.

1. Read. Your child is never too old to be read to. Cuddle up, put on your corniest acting voice, and have fun together. And let your child see you reading for fun. Read signs, magazines, the back of cereal boxes, the TV guide, and of course, read good books (see my website The Compulsive Reader at http://www.compulsivereader.com/html if you want help choosing adult books!).

2. Know your child. Children learn in different ways. Some children learn to read instinctively through whole word recognition. These children just slide from memorizing and reciting the text to making the connection between the words they say and the words on the page. For a child like this, let them pretend to read as much as possible. Let them fill in missing words for you, "read" to parents and grandparents, and always have lots of books around. For most other children, you will probably need to do some phonics (teaching the sounds of words). There are many phonic resources on the market, but the best one I've found is a free website: http://www.starfall.com. It begins with letter sounds and builds up slowly with games, varied activities and printouts. You can do as much or as little as you and your child want, but since it is interactive, colourful and presented as play, you may find that even reluctant readers will be keen.

3. Play. Word recognition games like "I Spy" using letters, finding road signs, letter memory, word and letter puzzles and even junior scrabble are all great ways of teaching, as are posters you can point to, friezes, and other bright resources.

4. Write. Writing helps children understand how letters build to words, words build to sentences and sentences to ideas and books. Write little notes to your children and then help them read them (I like to put notes in my children's lunch boxes -- keep them simple, with smiley faces or love hearts). Help children write a book by stapling pages together. Cut out and paste pictures onto a sheet of paper and then write about them. Have your children write a simple letter to a favorite relative and post it. There are lots of ways to play with writing.

5. Keep up the work. The year before starting school is the perfect time to begin teaching your child to read and if you have a short reading activity of the kind listed above every day, the chances are very good that they will start school with, at the very least, a readiness to begin reading. This is a wonderful head start to literacy, a love of reading, and a positive school experience.

Magdalena Ball runs The Compulsive Reader. She is the author of the poetry books Repulsion Thrust and Quark Soup, the novel Sleep Before Evening, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Blooming Red, Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future. She also runs a radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks.  Find out more about Magdalena at http://www.magdalenaball.com

 Magdalena, Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing that great article with us.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Jennifer Gladen

Jennifer, Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us today.
1.What three words do you think describe you as a human being?
Quiet, busy and .... short.
2.  How do you think others would describe you?
That's hard to say. Those who I'm close to would describe me as silly. I can't help it, I'm a kid at heart.
3.  Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.
You mean there are other things besides writing? My Catholic faith and spending time with my family tops the list.
4.  Do you have any pets?  If so, introduce us to them.
We have:
1 cat:
Mickey: This is our first cat and the "diva" of the family. She thinks she's the only animal that lives here and everyone else is passing through. She  decides who pets her and when. If you’re busy, it doesn’t matter. She will sprawl herself in front of the computer , book or whatever else you’re doing in order to get attention.
Her latest trick now is communicating when she’s hungry. She will meow until she is fed – even if you’re already filling her bowl. Occasionally she will push her bowl onto the floor if you don’t move fast enough.
We had two other cats as well who are no longer with us. This does not help Mickey’s “diva complex”.
A dog:
Scooby: he looks nothing like Scooby-Do. In fact, he's a black, 10 pound Chihuahua /Rat Terrier mix. He was a Father's Day present to my husband. Scooby is very affectionate and follows me everywhere. Lately he follows anyone who appears to be going to bed. The dog loves to sleep. 
5.  What is your most precious memory?
My most precious memory is our family trip to Disney World in April of 2005. My middle child, Jacqueline, is a liver transplant patient and the Make a Wish Foundation granted her wish to go to Disney World.  Everyone from the M.A.W. Foundation to every staff member at Give Kids the World Village we stayed at, to every staff member at Disney World made Jackie feel like a star. For once, her illness caused her joy instead of pain.
6.  What is your most embarrassing memory?
I was a teacher at an elementary school. All the teachers were to make an appearance at the 8th grade dance. While I was getting ready, I put a hole in my last pair of stockings. There was no time to hit a store. My only option was to wear knee-highs. I wore a long skirt - but a-hem - unfortunately a student noticed.  *blush*
7.   If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing with your life?
In addition to writing I teach children. I have taught kindergarten and second grade. Currently I’m a head teacher in an infant room at a child care center.  
8.      In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.
Jennifer Gladen, children's author, is survived by her husband and three children. She loved to write and has an extensive collection of stories, articles, poems and books for children. She founded and ran My Light Magazine, a Catholic Magazine for children.
When she couldn't teach children by working as a  teacher due to her obligation to her children's medical conditions, she chose to teach children through her writing. Family members say that she can rest peacefully because her work will continue to reach and teach children.
Jennifer Gladen the writer:
9.  Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a "real" writer?
I realized I was a "real" writer once I allowed myself to think it. My first publication was a poem in a Pro-Life newspaper. The editor gave my poem a half -page spread and included my bio. Once I saw that in print, I thought, "Wow - just like a real author!"
10.  What is going on with your writing these days?

My first book, A Star in the Night,  was released September 2010 through Guardian Angel Publishing and Teresa’s Shadow came out in October 2010. My 3rd book , Angel Donor, is under contract  this summer.  In addition to these books I founded and run a Catholic Magazine for Children titled
My Light Magazine.
11.  Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

A full writing day now occurs only on the weekends.  During week nights, I visit a work in progress for an hour or two before heading to bed.
First I get on the computer and check any mail (could there be an acceptance this morning?) I check my calendar and make sure there's no appointments for the day. I've missed many of my own doctor appointments because I've gotten too wrapped up in the writing world.
Then, to get my brain working, I check to see if I have anything new to update on my website or blogs.
I then move on to revising a current work in progress.
I'm in three critique groups, so I usually have a manuscript any given day to critique.
After lunch I review one of my "almost ready to go out" manuscripts. I begin market research to find out which publisher might best fit my book.
On days that I'm ready for a submission, I prepare my cover letter, envelope and manuscript for mailing.
12. Why do you write?
 I write because I love it. There's nothing more satisfying to me than creating a world, characters and situations.

13.  What writer most inspires you?  Why?
Currently, I'm most inspired by J.K. Rowling. She created a whole entire world and characters that you just love. She stuck with her creativity, stayed true to her story and characters, and her books did well for it.
14.  How do you define your writing?
My writing is a gentle, yet fun teaching tool for our children.
15.  In one sentence-what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?
I'd be happy if someone came across one of my books, and nostalgic feelings arise.  "I remember that book. What a great story."
Jennifer Gladen the details:
16.  Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website?  Blog?

17.  Is there a place where readers can reach you?
Sure. Readers can reach me at jens_creations@jennifergladen.com
18.  Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?
A Star in the Night
Teresa’s Shadow
Coming Later: Angel Donor
Check back at my website often for updates on news about my current works in progress.  http://www.jennifergladen.com/
19.   For new readers-what can they expect when they read your book(s)?
You will hopefully experience the story along with my characters. A Star in the Night provides a unique experience for David, my main character, on a special Christmas Eve.
In conclusion:
20.  Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers-what would you like them to know about you and your writing?
I write with a purpose: To share my characters' world with my readers. The stories the characters provide are gateways to the imagination. I do write nonfiction also. So far, it has only shown up in articles. But again, I write these not to just write about something. I write to share what I've found fascinating.  My article, "Fulfilling a Destiny," is an article about caterpillars turning into a butterfly. I wrote about that when I saw how wondrous it is for life to change right before our eyes. To fully understand what my writing is about, feel free to visit my webpage: http://www.jennifergladen.com/
Thanks so much for taking the time to tell us more about you and your stories. 

Make sure to stop by tomorrow and see what Virginia Grenier has to say on Heidi Thomas's blog.

About Me

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Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States