I think the question I am asked most frequently by individuals, organizations and the media with respect to my children’s book series, Lady Lucy’s Quest, is this: Why would a former college president (and law professor) write children’s stories?
Sometimes the question reveals genuine curiosity, a desire to understand why I write these children’s books and why both writing them for and reading them to children have such meaning for me.
When is it time to start working on reading skills? Right now. Reading begins with vocabulary, oral language, and talk. So talk with your child often. Talk and listen, share family stories, use new words, ask open-ended questions, be patient, and encourage word use.
People are getting more enlightened today with the help of literacy. Without literacy, we wouldn’t be able to shape meaning out of the world. That is why it is so important to continue fighting for the increase of literacy for everyone.
The many advantages of reading have been well-documented. From exposure to a wealth of knowledge, to enhanced language skills, to improved understanding of the world and its many cultures—books can expose a reader to important information that will benefit them for an entire lifetime.
As the father of 4 wonderful kids, I understand how important it is for them to be outside, burning energy and exploring the world around them. Not to mention, it helps keep the house a little more tidy and gives us parents some time to catch up on our favorite show or book or whatever it is that keeps you calm.
Children benefit when their parents take part, so become actively involved in all aspects of your child’s education. Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher early in the school year. An in-person introduction is best. A simple letter, e-mail, or note is second best.
After children have mastered pre-reading skills, the instructional focus shifts to vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency. Most vocabulary is learned indirectly through everyday experiences with both written and oral language. Many children learn new words through read-alouds, but also through conversation.
I don’t want to talk about politics. You don’t want to talk about politics. But let’s talk about how we talk to kids about politics. Because they’re paying attention, and if we don’t help them frame what they’re hearing in context, they’ll fill in their own blanks.