On your mark, get set, read!

Each month, this column will feature tips on how to include everyday literacy in your family’s daily routine using five familiar practices: reading, talking, playing, singing, and writing together!

Each article will include book and digital media recommendations as well as activities you can try at home.

Reading with children, even before they can talk, is important. In each family, and with each child, reading aloud may happen differently, but researchers confirm it is essential for growing readers.

• Reading aloud, and talking about the story and images, is an important part of children’s language development. Young children hear the sounds that make up words. Being able to hear the individual sounds helps children more easily sound out words when they formally learn to read.

• When adults and older siblings read with young children, little ones learn that reading has value. Young children copy what they see and what their family members do. Reading, by example, helps grow readers.

• Spending time with children strengthens the family bond. Family life can be busy and some days positive, shared moments can feel few and far between. Taking time to read, talk, and play together helps adults and children connect in simple ways.

Reading aloud to children will sometimes mean reading every single word on the page of a high quality picture book or book app. Reading can also take the shape of a conversation or storytelling about pictures in a child-friendly magazine or in a nonfiction book, letting the child turn and choose the pages to share. Some days, reading one book, even a child’s favorite, may take a whole day, with a few pages read while waiting at the doctor’s office, a couple more read during a busy child’s lunch, and a few more shared before bedtime. It all works because reading is reading!

Share this Book!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a favorite with young children. When the story of the caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly is read during storytime at the library, many children recognize it. Reading the familiar story may seem redundant to adults, but the young audience delights in being able to name the different foods eaten by the caterpillar as well as being able to anticipate what happens next in the process of metamorphosis and how the story ends. Reading books a 2nd, 3rd, or even 15th time, transforms reading into a shared experience with adults and children reading together. Many children are excited, engaged, and proud to use their background knowledge to help “read” along, using the images as prompts. The book offers many opportunities to talk about science, animals, and even art. Ages: 3-6

Share This App!

Young artists will love The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Creative Play! by StoryToys, a collage-making, digital studio inspired by Eric Carle and his book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The app includes 40 different collage sheets (virtual tissue paper) created by Carle as well as digital cutting, painting, & drawing tools that can be used to create pictures with provided templates based on animals and objects featured in Carle’s books.

To get started kids layer the virtual paper over the outline of an object found in one of the templates. Then they use their finger to “cut” away the paper along the dotted line leaving the shape covered in the texture they chose. (Following the outline of the image with a finger is one way to support a child’s pre-writing skills.) Young artists can add to the template with the drawing and painting tools and layer more virtual paper. Children can also create their own designs from scratch using blank pages. Pictures can be saved to the device’s photo gallery for sharing. Play with this app together after sharing one of Eric Carle’s books. Ages: 4+.

Claudia Haines is the Youth Services Librarian at the Homer Public Library. She can be reached at 235-3180 or chaines@ci.homer.ak.us.