Reading, Reading, Reading: Five Ways to Foster the Home/School Connection

Now that school is under way and your children settle into their routines, how can you ensure connections with your kids stay at the forefront? Linking experiences from home to school (for example, reading a story aloud) can establish the connections that children need for success in later literacy learning. Here are some ways you can build literacy bridges to school and home:

Greetings Novel Effectors!

Now that school is under way and your children settle into their routines, how can you ensure connections with your kids stay at the forefront? Linking experiences from home to school (for example, reading a story aloud) can establish the connections that children need for success in later literacy learning. Here are some ways you can build literacy bridges to school and home:

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  1. Know what they’re reading

Many teachers provide a booklist. Do you have it yet? Chances are you’ve seen the books they’re reading in your own library or at home. Build up your library with these titles (or make a weekly habit of checking out titles from the local library!)

  1. Create a literacy rich environment

I know how busy you are, but this checklist has some great and simple guidelines for ensuring you’re giving your child a very important gift. There is one for the classroom as well, so you can see if your child’s teacher has these elements in place to ensure connections between home and school.

  1. Talk about the books

Even if you don’t have a book, you can still talk about it. Search for a youtube video of it – Youtube has thousands (maybe millions) of videos of books being read aloud. Once you’ve watched it yourself or online with your child, connect it to something in the child’s home life.

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  1. Encourage your child to share at school

We all help our children with homework and learning. Use this as an opportunity to connect what you’re reading to them at home with what they are reading or doing at school. And, if you want to share Novel Effect with their classroom as a literacy activity, we thank you and support that 100%!

  1. Start Early

Research shows we should be reading to children as early as six months (and earlier than that won’t hurt). For your littler folks who are not yet in school or daycare here are some ways to build pre-literacy experiences from community outings. This site is aimed at parents of children with disability, but it provides wonderful ideas for children of all abilities.

 

Have fun and keep on reading,

Melody Furze,

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Chief of Education, Novel Effect

First Day Jitters

Whether you’re already a few weeks into the school year or have the first day rapidly approaching, we’ve compiled a list of books that you can read with your children or students to help them process all the emotions running through their little bodies this time of year.

While adorable pictures may be flooding your social media, the back to school time of year evokes different emotions for different people. Teachers may dread it. Parents may celebrate it. And kids…. well, kids probably have lots of big emotions that they aren’t sure how to express just yet, ranging from anxiety to excitement.

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Photo by Rachel on Unsplash

 

Whether you’re already a few weeks into the school year or have the first day rapidly approaching, we’ve compiled a list of books that you can read with your children or students to help them process all the emotions running through their little bodies this time of year.

 

The Invisible String by Patricia Karst

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This story deals directly with the issue of separation anxiety. Remind your little ones with the relaxing music that even if you aren’t there, we are all connected by an invisible thread that unites us all.

 

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Martin

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Through beautiful illustrations and soothing rhythms, this book paints the picture of a parent’s acceptance of their child in all the child’s wonderment, creativity, and aspirations. Reinforce that you support your child at story time to give them an extra boost of confidence on their first day!

 

Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman

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Love, love, love. If a child can count on nothing else in a crazy world of bullies and skinned knees, the one constant is your love for them. The soundscape is dreamy and perfect for bedtime or nap time, helping your kids rest easy.

 

Little Blue Truck by Alice Shertle

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Sure, it’s a classic you’ve probably read 8,000 times already, but it’s a great reminder of the value of friendship. The happy sound effects keep story time lively and lends itself to lots of discussion questions about the kids in their class (and which animal friends remind them of their human friends).

Back to Something….

It’s a time for renewal, for starting over and getting to know a new class of wonderful students, making new friends and celebrating a new chapter of teacherdom. At Novel Effect, we’ve been there. We know that you want something new to spice up the ol’ lesson plans.

Teachers cringe, librarians prepare, and parents rejoice!

Teachers, here’s something you might not want to hear, seriously, cover your ears, shut off the lights, pull down the shades (dun, dun, dun)…

It’s BACK TO SCHOOL (cue terrifying music and lightning flashes!)

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It’s not all terrifying though. It’s a time for renewal, for starting over and getting to know a new class of wonderful students, making new friends and celebrating a new chapter of teacherdom.

At Novel Effect, we’ve been there. We know that you want something new to spice up the ol’ lesson plans. Dust off those favorite books. Pair our awesome soundscape for “Giraffes Can’t Dance” with a music and movement activity. You’re all getting to know each other so it’d be fun to start with a book about the importance of being yourself. With our soundscape you can teach children different genres of music and then break into a movement activity.

Better yet read Oliver Jeffer’s fantastic “The Way Back Home” which coincides with the back-to-school theme of leaving home and making friends. Here are some great ideas for activities. Then, spend the time you were going to come up with accompanying activities enjoying one last summer evening cocktail instead.

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It’s a myth that librarians spend their entire summer reading hundreds of books. They actually read thousands! I jest, but librarians love a good story and the beginning of the year means setting up your space to encourage reading and interaction. Here is an adorable Mo Williams display for the library or classroom. Read “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” with our soundscape to address some of those bus ride anxieties and then have a pigeon noise contest!

While teachers and librarians might be scrambling to get ready, parents are breathing a sigh of relief. Put those babies on the bus, brew a cup of tea, throw on some Netflix and just enjoy all that peace and quiet….until school calls because Joey’s got a fever. Read him “Alexander and the Horrible No Good Very Bad Day,” with Novel Effect (one of my favorites) and then drink this tomorrow instead of tea.

No matter what your role, reading stories is probably a big part of what you do. We want to thank you for helping our littlest learners become book lovers now and the whole year through!

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Summer Reading Fun and Adventures

While research shows the “Summer Slide” can cause the kiddos to lose some of what they learned the previous school year, there’s plenty of fun ways to incorporate the brain-boosting activity of reading into a summer of adventure!

Here are some of our suggestions, inspired by items in the Novel Effect library:

Summer is a great time to explore and try something new. Whether it’s a new beach, a new park, or a new camp, the break from the daily grind of school allows young minds to make all sorts of discoveries.

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Research shows the “Summer Slide” can cause the kiddos to lose some of what they learned the previous school year, but ask any child and they’ll tell you that summer is all about adventure and trying new things! There are plenty of fun ways to incorporate the brain-boosting activity of reading into your summertime fun! Our team shared their favorite summer soundscapes and the ways they inspire their own families to spend some hot sunny days with their nose in a book!

Here are some of our suggestions, inspired by titles you can find in the Novel Effect library:

1. “Make a Joyful Noise”

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Make your own joyful noises! “Make a Joyful Noise” is a short poem you can read using the free e-book right in the app. Open the poem, tap ‘read book,’ and then tap ‘open free ebook’ to read together as a family. When you’ve finished, encourage your children to use their imaginations to write their own poem and make their own music and sound effects. Take a video and tag us (@Novel_Effect) – we love showcasing your creativity!

 

2. Fight the Monday Blues

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We love featuring independent, self-published authors and small publishers to help you expand your bookshelves at home. Books like Alycat and the Monday Blues offer unique characters and stories your children probably haven’t read before. Keep reading fresh by trying one of these new titles. You can connect with the authors like Alyson Foti Borque and let the author (and your friends) Then, hop on social media and let the author, and your friends, know how much you loved their work!

 

3. Scavenger Hunt All the World

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Use the books you’re reading as an inspiration to discovery by using your favorite books as the framework for a scavenger hunt! Hello Baby has lots of animals that you can search for at the zoo. “A Marching Band of Vitamins” is a another free ebook that highlights fruits and vegetables you’d find at a farmer’s market. All the World lists items you can find in a variety of locations that range from a beach to your family gatherings or home kitchen. Engaging with the words of the story and the sounds from Novel Effect soundscape in this deep way increases understanding and gives you an excuse to both read and explore more!

 

We love hearing your ideas for how you’re keeping your children’s brains active this summer. Head on over to our Facebook Page to join the conversation with other parents who love reading with their kids!

How to Do Story Time Like a Pro: Parents

For the next three months, we’re bringing you a series of tips on how to be a master storyteller in any situation. This month, we’re focusing on story time at home. Here are seven ways you can jazz up story time at home to get your little readers coming back for more…

At Novel Effect, we LIVE for story time. We’ve spent years mastering story times, so we thought it was high time we shared some of that info with you! For the next three months, we’re bringing you a series of tips on how to be a master storyteller in any situation. This month, we’re focusing on story time at home. Next month, it’s educators in a classroom. We’ll end the series with story time events like at libraries and bookstores.

As the school year winds down (whoa, that was fast) we want to keep our little learners engaged in literacy experiences even when they’re not in the classroom. Here are seven ways you can jazz up story time at home to get your little readers coming back for more…

 

  1. Set up an awesome story corner

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It doesn’t have to be fancy, just fun. Get a bunch of pillows to lean up against and a snuggly blanket.

 

  1. Review the story before you read

Get to know the story so you can ask questions and expand on your child’s enjoyment and understanding.

 

  1. Get a special book box

Decorate or wrap a box with a lid, place a few favorites and maybe a new title in it and let your child “unwrap” the day’s selections. Novel Effect has over 130 titles, check out the stories you can read with our app and include one of those for a magical story experience.

 

  1. Read the title and the author names

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The simple but oft overlooked step of reading the title of the story and the author name provides children with book understanding basics they’ll use later in life.

 

  1. Relate the story to personal experiences

Discuss family happenings and events to develop a connection to the text and your child.

 

  1. Use Novel Effect to enhance the experience

Summer days are exhausting (who am I kidding, every day is exhausting when you’re a parent!) Reading stories out loud with our app will enhance the experience and add some much needed energy to tired moms and dads.

 

  1. Have fun!

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Story time shouldn’t be a chore, it should be quality time, well-spent. You’re doing everything right already, because you’re reading your child a book! Way to go!

4 Literary Themed Holidays in April

The Month of April showers us with all the things for book lovers.! All month long, there are special celebrations and events that you and your little wordsmiths can enjoy together. Look for these celebrations locally to find shared experiences that will help build lasting memories and lasting love of reading for your family.

 

1. National Poetry Month

April is a month for poetry! We’ve celebrated at Novel Effect by adding free children’s poetry to the app, complete with the text, so you can enjoy some immersive poems right away. Additionally, if you’re looking for a fun poetry-related activity to do together, why not create your own black-out poetry using magazines or newspapers you have around the house?

 

2. National Library Week

April 8th-14th is National Library Week! Since 1958, this established event has been a big deal in the library world. It features micro-celebrations for everyone from school librarians to bookmobiles, with special activities for readers both big and small. The best way to celebrate is to support your local library – stop by and check a book out, attend a story time, and don’t forget to mention Novel Effect while you’re there. If you can’t make it in, little things like following/liking posts on their social media channels can go a long way to help their visibility in the community.

 

3. World Book Day, April 23rd

World Book Day is an UNESCO organized event celebrating all things related to reading, publishing, and copyright. First celebrated in 1995, the date April 23rd was chosen as it is the birth or death day for Cervantes, Shakespeare, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Vladimir Nabokov, and many other notable writers. April 23rd also happens to be St. George’s Day. In some cultures, books are given as a gift to a love interest St. George’s Day, not unlike the gift exchanges on Valentine’s Day here in the US, so feel free to pass along the gift of reading to someone you love on this day.

 

4. Independent Bookstore Day

Indie bookstores are community centers run by passionate book people. The last Saturday in April (this year, April 28th) is a day to celebrate these special places that make a neighborhood unique. Every store (and every Independent Bookstore Day party) is different, but it’s not uncommon to find authors, live music, kids events, art tables, contests, and fun exclusives that can’t be found anywhere else. Seattle bookstores have a passport program to encourage you to hit the wide variety of bookstores across the city. Novel Effect will be participating in several celebrations across the countries, so if you don’t see us, be sure to let the bookstore know that you would like to!

 

April is a big month for Novel Effect in another way – we were nominated for 2 Webby Awards! The Webbys, according to The New York Times, are the “internet’s highest honor.” As a nominee we have the possibility of winning the Webby chosen by the academy or the People’s Choice Webby, chosen by popular vote. We’d love your vote in each of the two categories where we were nominated:

Mobile Sites & Apps: Family & Kids: https://vote.webbyawards.com/PublicVoting#/2018/mobile-sites-apps/general/family-kids

Mobils Sites & Apps: Integrated Mobile Experience: https://vote.webbyawards.com/PublicVoting#/2018/mobile-sites-apps/features/integrated-mobile-experience

6 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Reading

How do we motivate our children to engage in reading experiences and understand the value of the written word? Some early readers struggle and get frustrated. Others find the many distractions more compelling (and instantly gratifying) than doing the work of reading.

How do we motivate our children to engage in reading experiences and understand the value of the written word? Some early readers struggle and get frustrated. Others find the many distractions more compelling (and instantly gratifying) than doing the work of reading.

Researchers have found that there are “two sides to reading”. Reading includes skills, such as vocabulary, comprehension, phonemic awareness and word recognition, but the other (more exciting) part is the “will” to read. This means the motivation to read and the desire to practice and get better at it!

What can you do to get your children motivated to keep reading and enjoy that oh so special, personal experience of sitting down with a good book? Research shows that literacy starts as early as six months, so engaging with children at even the earliest stages of life is key.

Here are six ways you can add reading-focused activities to your daly life to help foster the crucial “will” to read:

1. Expose children to a print-rich environment
Label things! All the things! Furniture, toys, food, pets (okay, maybe not pets) – anything a child might see or use.

2. Talk about the text in books
Ask children questions that focus on elements of print within the text. You can comment on the length or shape of the words. Ask where the words on the page are and point out features of the book like the author’s name, book title, or page numbers.

3. Pretend read
Kids love pretending and make believe, so tying that activity to reading is a great way to positively connect the two in the child’s mind. Encourage your child to “read” a story to their favorite stuffed animal (or that non-labeled pet.)

4. Make a book together
This is both an awesome craft project AND a literacy tool! Let your child dictate the story. You write the words and they make the pictures.

5. Write in front of your child
Engage in various writing activities in front of your child, whether its writing a letter, journaling, or balancing your checkbook. Say the words you’re writing aloud.

6. Read in front of your child
Read a variety of types of text in front of your child and talk about them. Stories on Novel Effect come with a multi-sensory experience, which can help provide context clues and keep everyone more engaged in what’s happening. Look for poems, a different type of text, on Novel Effect starting in April!

Keep the conversation going with some great information on motivating older readers from the good folks at PBS Kids.

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Some of the ideas in this post were adapted from “Book Smart: How to Develop and Support Successful Motivated Readers” (2014) By Anne Cunningham and Jamie Zibulsky. Anne Cunningham is a literacy expert and teaches at the University of California, Berkley. She is also on the Board at Novel Effect. You can pick up a copy of her book here.