For the Love of Reading

Hedda SharapanMy head is still spinning from the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) conference in Washington DC last month with its 20,000 participants – and hundreds of workshop choices. We were amazed to have a crowd of over 600 at our featured session on our Saturday afternoon “What Do You Do with the Mad that You Feel” workshop!

We also had great response to our NAEYC workshop on “Lullabies to Literacy.” This time I focused on infants and toddlers and presented with Tess Riesmeyer from Pittsburgh's Beginning with Books, who talked about their list of “Best Books for Babies.” With the limited time, I couldn’t show the segment from our program of Mister Rogers’ visit with Eric Carle, the children's author who's best known for The Hungry Caterpillar, so I decided to offer it as our featured video this month for all of you. My hunch is you’re as much a fan of Eric Carle as we are. If you’ve never seen him, you’re in for a treat.

Here are more ideas for storytime in child care:

One-on-one time:

As much as possible, make reading an activity for one-on-one time or for small groups. That can be a great way to use volunteers, students, or “adopted grandparents.”

Ask questions:

Show the cover and ask what the story might be about. Ask what do you think will happen next? What do you notice in the picture? Did anything like that ever happen to you?

Fidget toys:

Some children manage better at storytime if they have “fidget toys” like some play-dough or a squishy ball, or if they sit on a special kind of cushion.

Most importantly, read the books you love – and love the books you read. One of Fred Rogers’ favorite sayings was “Attitudes are caught, not taught.” When you’re excited about a book you’re reading, that’s contagious! And you’ll be passing on your love of books to the children. Remember, that’s part of our job in the early years – to help them love books and want to become readers.

Best wishes for whatever holiday you're celebrating this season -- and a happy and healthy New Year!

P.S. I'd love to know what books you like to read to children, or what you do to encourage a love of books. Please e-mail me at, and we'll share your ideas with our readers.

From Our Readers

In response to our November issue about USING WORDS:

Great articles for the Professional Development newsletter this week! The title is perfect. I hear that all the time. People saying, "Use your words." But having never done the work to help the kids figure out what words. I'm on a LinkIn group for Children's Grief Support, so I posted the link forward there, too.

I happened across the "mad feelings" video for a second time and realized that I had previously missed the fact that one of the options is a narrated version by you. I really liked this and would find it most helpful as an option for less experienced observers. You know how they sometimes focus on the minutia…instead of the major point. This could be helpful in a number of ways: assigning the original and asking them to write out their observation…and then having them go back and listen to the narrative to see what they might have missed. Then we’d discuss in class.

I wanted you to know that I just watched the video that you included (two children and the toy bus). This is an excellent example that I would like to share with my students who are currently studying child guidance at the University. I really appreciated your article about providing children with words, and I recognize the truth that when we tell children to “use their words” we sometimes may need to be more explicit! I always caution my students to be deliberate about our attempts to help children work with others and never let our instructions, such as to “use your words,” become trite strategies that may be meaningless to children.

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