E-Reading: The Pied Piper of Children’s Literacy

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As CEO of MeeGenius, I make it a point to keep updated with educational trends and news – and I’ve recently noticed a troubling lack of media coverage about children’s literacy and reading skills in America.

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Is Read-Along Technology Helping Our Kids Learn How to Read?

Read-Along technology is a phenomenon that is truly beginning to change how our children are acquiring language, learning to read, and experiencing story telling. Read-Along Technology has developed as a significant function in guided reading groups as well as with independent reading tasks in many schools. When students are in small groups with a teacher, technology in the classroom can ensure that they are also present during their important independent practice. It can also provide time for students to build and solidify their skills. Read-along ebooks, like the ones found at MeeGenius.com, can extend the skills and guidance that teachers are able to offer to their readers beyond what the small group sessions provide. The importance of read-aloud time for all children is critical for literacy learning.  Unfortunately, many children are deprived of daily read-aloud time at home, and this places them at considerable disadvantage in the classroom.
Teachers, faced with many different students and many different activities, often cannot close the gap or provide sufficient guided “read aloud” experiences for individual students. One of the most important roles for read-along technology in the guided reading classroom is to expand the opportunities for individual children to hear engaging reading of text even when their teacher is occupied with other activities. A particular advantage of well-designed electronic books is that, like a mentoring parent or teacher, they can help make the important linkage between written and spoken words. Some other examples that further the child’s comprehension process seen in the e-books at  MeeGenius are: the highlighting of words as they are spoken, personalization of the reader’s voice, and the ability to design your own “library” of books to help keep track of your favorites!
It is true that electronic books can not replace the hands-on learning and meaningful relationships that paper back books provide. However, if individual children can have the opportunity to hear wonderful stories with the help of Read-Along technology, then they are getting the privilege of read aloud benefits. If a program like MeeGenius can offer a child in a busy classroom the chance to work on developing their concepts of print, word recognition and vocabulary skills, then comprehensive e-books are helping our children learn to read!

5 Ways to Instill A Love of Reading

Reading helps all of us in many areas of our lives. It helps people become successful in school and later in their careers. Avid reading allows us to grow as individuals by teaching us new information and by staying connected to our local and global communities.Reading can also help us become more compassionate and empathetic to others, as well as give us pure enjoyment and relaxation.

Instilling a love of reading in your child is one of the best gifts you can give them in their life. Here are 5 ways to do just that.

  1. Read to them regularly, with expression and in different voices and then model reading in your daily life. Let your child see you read often. It can be cookbooks, magazines, the newspaper, novels or non-fiction.
  2. Talk about the books or articles you have been reading. This is a great thing to do at dinner time or for 20 to 30 minutes after dinner. Share the excitement or intrigue you have experienced and enjoy how contagious this enthusiasm can be!
  3. Find books that come with a CD either in bookstores or the library so your child can listen and follow along. This is also a fantastic way to encourage reluctant readers or to keep the motivation high for those children who are struggling with learning how to read.
  4. Always give books as at least one part of a birthday, or holiday gift.
  5. Take your child to the library regularly. It could be to participate in a library program or just to hang out and read. What about making every second Sunday your family’s library day and follow it up with a hot chocolate so you can all talk about the books you read?
Did you learn to love reading as a child? If so, what did the adults in your life do to encourage your passion for reading?

Indoor and Outdoor Museums Promote Literacy Learning!

Summer is the time for extra curricular activities and what’s better then visiting your local museums? Museums both indoor and outdoor have many opportunities for language learning, vocabulary development and overall comprehension of real experiences that they can relate to their reading and writing experiences!

When you visit a museum, it’s important to spend time looking at the art, artifacts, animals or architecture!  By encouraging children to analyze what they see, you help them develop their imagination, critical thinking skills, and powers of observation. You also broaden their horizons and can inspire them to create masterpieces of their own. By making a museum trip an artistic adventure, it even gives you an opportunity to build children’s literacy skills.

Here are some easy ways to keep your children engaged in the museum experience:

  • In an art museum, talk descriptively about what the artist created.
  • Discuss the people, places, and things you see in the art, exhibits or hands-on science discoveries.
  • Ask children to tell you what is happening or what is depicted in the work of art, diorama, or science discovery.
  • Prompt children to discuss what they like or dislike and how they feel about what they’ve seen.
  • Encourage children to bring a notebook to sketch or jot down their observations.
  • Have children write a response to a particularly memorable work of art or experience when they get home.
  • Encourage children to check out books from the library on an artist, animal, or topic in which they demonstrated the most interest.
  • Like any school trip or family outing, museum adventures can engage children in a part of the world that they may have known little or nothing about. These experiences can inspire them to read about what they saw so they can learn more!

Let us know about your museum experiences this summer!

Healthy Cooking Makes Great Readers!

I remember food shopping and cooking with my family when I was a child, and I am certain that the things I learned from this special time supported my relationships with others, helped to develop my ability to make connections from my world to other places, and enhanced my creative and critical thinking skills as a learner. As the summer months are upon us, we can take this time with our children to share healthy foods and learn together in the kitchen! Here are some great ways to promote literacy and life skills through the foods we eat!

1.  Let your kids wash fruits and vegetables when preparing for cooking or eating. Support their growing vocabulary by naming fruits, vegetables and their parts! Talk about where they can be grown or where they came from!

2. Write up a grocery list! This may seem obvious, but if a child has their own list to look at they are making authentic connections between written language and the purpose it serves for a task like shopping.

3.  When shopping, let them select a new fruit or vegetable to try … or several! Finding new foods to try helps stretch their abilities to take risks and develop their self confidence when tasting new things!

4. Let them snap the green beans, snap peas, or break the flowerets from the broccoli or cauliflower. Talk about the concept of “half” when breaking! The introduction of new words always helps language development.

5. Play “I Spy” in the produce section when grocery shopping. Visual discrimination is an important skill for all readers! Take home some of the things you spied and research where they come from (i.e. where bananas grow, where milk comes from, or how a cracker is made!)

6. Let them measure the frozen vegetables before cooking them. Any opportunity to use cups or spoons for measuring supports the development of a child’s literacy and mathematical reasoning skills.

7. Older children can peel and slice carrots, cucumbers, potatoes … the list goes on! Younger children can tear lettuce for salads and sandwiches. These fine motor tasks help develop their small motor muscles used in writing.

8. Make applesauce from fresh apples. Show the recipe so your children can have the opportunity to see how written language helps to create delicious foods! Then, let them help stir and add the cinnamon. What a simple way to help reading comprehension develop!

9. Let them sprinkle herbs or other seasonings onto vegetables. In the warmer months you can grow your own herbs in a pot or garden. Having your own plants to add to your recipes gives a sense of ownership and connection to the foods you eat and share with your loved ones!

10. Keep a collection of family recipes in a box or binder so your children will have them to look at, read and share for a long time. I still have recipes from my Great Grandmother that I love the most!

Share some of your favorite recipes with us!!