Saturday, May 2, 2015

One more time....please

Happy Saturday everyone and welcome to Storywraps.  So glad you can join me this morning.  Today we have our resident guest blogger, Natalie Finnigan here with us.  She is unwrapping something, that I am sure if you have kids, you will be very familiar with....

The Books that Repeat on you...

My little boy loves books. I'm very lucky, but he does with books what I used to do with music. He gets hooked on a book and that will be the one book that I have to read as his bed time story from that moment until I can pry his attention away onto something new. Sometimes I try to do that quickly (there has been a couple of books that were appalling to read as an adult and incredibly boring - I won't name names!!) And then other times, I end up quite enjoying the book and don't try to rush him away from it. (I've had to read Melinda Kinsman's Night of a Magical Flight for two and a half weeks now and we're both still enjoying it). Which made me wonder what it is that hooks you and draws you in. Sometimes it's obvious...Melinda's book has the cute Wardrobe Gang (which Alex now wants as toys), an enjoyable story, great illustrations and the Oil Lamp Challenge to keep us interested and turning the pages. But the things that keep a book going beyond a week tends to be the ones with a hook, like the Oil Lamp Challenge, or the picture books where quirky things turn up randomly throughout and, once you notice them, you can't help but search the pages for them. The Gruffalo used the same trick with a recurring squirrel, my illustrator did it with a robin and Melinda did it with some frogs. It may just be a recurring theme on the books my son enjoys, but it's an interesting concept of almost subliminal messaging - things that appear consistently almost beyond our recognition that give consistency to a story. In children's books the pictures are almost as important as the words and, just like the consistent rhythm and rhyme can be soothing to the ears, I've come to realise that the consistency of the images, in style and content, may be just as soothing to a young child's eyes. Thinking of all of the books that Alex and I have consistently enjoyed for a long time and keep coming back too, most seem to have this visual hook as well as a good story.

So next time you're reading a book - seemingly on an endless loop of repetition for your child - start having a better look at the pictures, and not just read the words, to see if you can find the hook that so many good children's books employ! (Aside from anything else, it will keep you entertained in the search!)

Happy reading!

About Natalie...

Natalie Finnigan was born in Suffolk, England and re-discovered her love for writing rhymes after the birth of her son, Alex, in 2010. Now writing the Alex, Dragon & Spider series, Natalie has also written some Bespoke rhyming story books.

Unwrapping some wisdom for you from:

UTOPIA - Talking Over Books - Read it Again!

If you're like many parents (and teachers) who read to their children, turning the last page of a book means hearing a familiar request: "Read it again." Why, with so many differentbooks, do children ask for the same favorites again and again? To give you stamina and support, here are three good reasons (and some evidence) for turning back to page one.
Young children are reassured and comforted with repetition of the familiar.

The lullabies and rhymes you share, the safety of your lap just before bedtime, the comfort of a story that turns out 

familiarize themselves with books by reading them over and over again. 
just the same no matter how many times it's heard, form some of the best parts of childhood. Repeating patterns within familiar books also reassure and soothe. And—from these repetitions grows the child’s sense of language—its playfulness and meanings. During the extraordinary early learning years, stories, songs, and rhyme plant seeds of sounds and language. So, talk, sing, and tell stories, too, but don’t give up on 'reading again.'

Children who experience the same book again and again talk about it differently over time (and that's good).

Early on, parents point and name or ask: "What's that?" "Bmpphh," replies the brilliant baby. "That's right, it's a ball!" says the proud parent. Early on, too, books aren't read from first word to last, but bouncingly across pictures, with plenty of sounds, jiggles and action, all designed to focus attention and invite language. Over time (and with growth and development), what children say about familiar books changes. Babies ask, "Whazzat?" They point. You label, and before you can "Moo" like Mr. Brown one more time [Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, By Dr. Seuss, Random House], your baby is a toddler and joining in. It's not long before there are names for animals, talk about what they're doing, questions about what's happening, and even critical reaction: "Mr. Brown no can moo!" protests the brilliant three-year-old. Four-year-olds who listened to the same stories in their childcare centers three different times talked more as the story became familiar, asked different (and more high level) questions, and commented on different features. This support for attention, thinking, and language are still more reasons to read again.
Children who are familiar with stories begin to look at print.

It's the children who "know a book by heart" who begin to look at the print. "What's this say?" is the way attention to print can begin. Or: "There's my letter." Very familiar books—those that have been reread many times—are the ones children first "read." That is, they act like real readers until their memories become supported by their understandings of how sounds and letters work. Familiarity with books underlies children’s initial connection of spoken and printed words—the beginning of reading.
As your children babble, point, and make nonsense words, they are practicing to be literate. The next time you hear those words, "Just one more time, p-l-e-a-s-e!" remind yourself that you are laying the foundation for life-long literacy. So—with the same enthusiasm you've demonstrated one hundred times before, warm up those vocals and "Read it again"—as though it were the very first time! 

Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.

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