Posts Tagged 'literacy'

How music can be a key to improved children’s literacy

young girl hands on piano keys

Parents and teachers often promote learning music when it comes to encouraging children to enjoy a thorough, well-rounded education. However, did you know music can specifically influence children’s reading and writing? Here is important information for educators, moms and dads on the link between music and literacy.

How does music help?

Participating in music — whether in the form of song, dance, or playing a musical instrument — helps children learn to follow instructions and listen for comprehension. According to Science Daily, there are several studies supporting the idea that music helps children with language development, with many theories as to why. Some researchers believe the overlap of brain circuitry is at the heart of the matter, that children are learning to use a similar part of the brain for music as for language. Others believe it relates to the timing in a child’s development. No matter how or why it works, the evidence in favor of engaging children with music is overwhelmingly positive.

Home and budding musicians

Adding music to a child’s homelife can be a boon to their literacy. Any family can encourage children toward music through song, and as Scholastic points out, even parents who are not gifted in singing can participate. Children enjoy the musical aspects and interaction, and they really don’t care if family members or friends are “good” singers. Dancing is in the same category, making learning easy and fun for kids who can participate with mom, dad or siblings.

When it comes to learning a musical instrument, you might want to engage a tutor or participate in group lessons. There are also free online music lessons available for various ages and abilities. Some families decide to set up an area at home dedicated to practicing an instrument, apart from the rest of the household so your child doesn’t disturb anyone. You should expect to pay an average price of $1,757 to soundproof a room in your home.

Naturally turning to music 

Many parents naturally gravitate toward music when it comes to raising their children. They sing lullabies when it’s time for sleep and soft songs to soothe children when they are anxious or afraid. When hitting the road, songs provide entertainment on long car trips or an opportunity to learn the alphabet in anticipation of school. In addition to these traditional tools, Bright Horizons points out that music can be a specific resource to child development as well, helping children toward improved literacy and overall learning. You can use music to connect children with particular communication skills, such as learning to form and understand words, speak in sentences, and read. Teaching children tongue-twisting songs, alliterative songs, or songs with foreign words and phrases can build language skills directly.

Examples and specifics

Music naturally engages children, helping them to get excited about whatever they are doing. It is also a way to keep them connected and interested in learning. One of the many ways music helps children in their language development is the learning of rhythms, rhymes and patterns. The repeated sounds, words, and actions that are part of traditional children’s music help give better understanding of what is meaningful, and teach emotional connections to words. Songs we might describe as “sing-songy” are an example, such as “Over the River and Through the Wood.”

Musical activities such as finger plays, which is singing songs with coordinated finger movements, appear to enhance children’s vocabulary and help them learn to pronounce words more clearly. An example of a finger play is “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

Songs that incorporate dance and body movement can also reinforce understanding of words, rhythm, emotion and meaning. You can connect children with fun music and dance videos on websites like YouTube. Playing a musical instrument appears to further enhance children’s language and comprehension skills, as they learn to read notes and understand the variances in soft sounds, short sounds, loud sounds, and smooth sounds.

Every educator and parent aims to help individual youngsters become his or her best. By including music in a child’s life, you can build important language-related skills and abilities. Ensure children have access to music for improved literacy.

­– Charles Carpenter created HealingSounds.info. He believes in the power of music and sound as a healing tool. He is based in San Antonio, Texas.

Meet the author: AnnieMarie Chiaverilla

anniemarie ciaverilla

Like many families across America, my family enjoys special days trips that we try to do at least once a year, including an annual adventure in Frankenmuth. Yes, in a little over an hour away, we savor the world-famous chicken dinner, wine tasting and cruising the Cass River on the riverboat. However, this trip was a little different as I discovered a different little part of Michigan.

During our stroll through the stores, something magical happened in the Michigan Shoppe. There in front of me was an amazing display of children’s books, all written by Michigan authors.

close up of The Twelve Months of Michigan bookAmong all of the books on the table, a particular one caught my eye with its characters and watercolor illustrations: “The Twelve Months of Michigan.” I knew immediately that this book could be sung to the holiday song with almost the same name and I was so captivated that I couldn’t put it down until I had read it through. The story is about a family of mice, including Pirate Paul and Ana Mae, and their adventures across Michigan.

After I read the story, I wanted to meet this author and share all I could about her and her writing. I came home, called her and she graciously accepted to meet with me.

Let me introduce AnnieMarie Chiaverilla, an author, illustrator, publicist, marketer and songwriter. Growing up in West Bloomfield (when it was a blooming field), she and her siblings had lots of room to run, play and experience the outdoors. Her parents taught their children about our great state by exploring fun and unique places, especially in upper Michigan (in particular Mackinac Island and Drummond Island).

As a right-brained learner, AnnieMarie’s interest lay in the creative parts of the school day. Believe it or not, this now-writer received additional support in reading to keep up with her peers. But it was a life-changing 11th grade teacher who took the time to teach AnnieMarie strategies to become an independent and successful student.

AnnieMarie went to nursing school, and after a few years, she realized that her heart wasn’t in it, but rather in art.

She shares, “I was studying for a pathology exam early on a Saturday (about 5:30 a.m.) when an animation, The Selfish Giant, was playing. It was so beautiful and moving. The animation was stunning and the story so lovely. I was pouring myself into my studies to be a nurse but, in reality, I always wanted to be an artist.” She ran upstairs and announced to her parents, “I don’t want to be a nurse, I want to be an artist.” Her dad, still half asleep, replied, “It’s about time,” and went back to bed.

With her parents’ support, AnnieMarie finished an associates degree in respiratory therapy so she could work as a therapist while going back to school for art. She eventually entered Michigan State University’s art school, gaining access to computers and state-of-the-art programs. She later worked at a local television station, where technology and art programs were her playground. Each of these laid the foundation and lead her to the place she is today.

Inspired by “The Nutcracker,” AnnieMarie uses mice as her characters in her book. In fact, the characters and illustrations are ones she began drawing many years ago at 7 years old. In addition to Pirate Paul and Ana Mae, you’ll find the author throughout the book. Since “The Twelve Months of Michigan” is set in Michigan, there are a multitude of fun Michigan symbols throughout the book and I guarantee that, even as an adult, you’ll learn a few things. The book won the Children’s Picture Book: All Ages category for the 2015 USA Regional Excellence Awards and was nominated for “Children’s Book of the Year” in Creative Child Magazine.

I asked AnnieMarie for advice she would give to young writers. She offered these tips whether your child is a reluctant writer a typical writer for their age or an aspiring writer:

  • Start your writing on paper not the computer.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Write every day, even if it’s only a sentence or two.
  • Learn to be an effective communicator and speaker.
  • Color outside the lines.
  • Free yourself from being perfect.
  • Keep stumbling.

AnneMarie’s books are sold at over 80 stores across Michigan. She is currently working on a new book, “The Twelve Months of America” and a CD to go along with it. As you search for books to read with your children or purchase for special occasions, remember that our Michigan authors have unparalleled talent.

– Lori Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer. She’s a former teacher of children with severe disabilities in reading, a consultant with a leading educational book publisher, and a mother of two adult children.

Children and racism

group of diverse kids

Cropped image. Hepingting, Flickr. CC license.

The Oxford dictionary defines racism as “prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”

Racism today seems to be as prevalent as it was 60 years ago during Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement. Just a few months ago, a high school student in my hometown was shot at for merely knocking on a door and asking directions to his school. As a society we acknowledge racism, witness it, and many of us have been targets. So why hasn’t it changed in that 60 years?

Recently I was asked to lead a six-week community series on racism. With a topic so broad and timely, I hardly knew where to begin but I knew I had to do research. As an avid reader, I jumped into the latest literature, read Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and read “America’s Original Sin” by Jim Wallis. I watched podcasts, videos, and spoke to as many people as I could.

At the group’s first meeting, I wanted to hear stories from the participants around the topic; most of the stories shared revolved around their childhoods, how they were treated, or biases in the home. During our six weeks together, we visited a predominantly African-American church, after which we had honest and sometimes difficult discussions about racism. Our trip to a mosque was enlightening as we learned how our Muslim neighbors helped shape the history of early America. Our six-week series was so successful that it will continue in the fall as we delve deeper into this topic.

Since most of our group’s stories revolved around childhood experiences, I felt compelled to explore the topic more, hence, I wrote this blog article. As parents, we should acknowledge racism and its implications. We need to do what we can to raise children to be accepting of others as equal members of our society.

One of my go-to references is “Parenting” magazine. From that, I was surprised to learn that children as young as 2 years old recognize differences among people; they notice skin color, hair differences, and the way people dress. At this point in their lives, there are no feelings regarding the differences, only that they exist. However, by the time a child is 5 years old, if the child is raised in a home that displays intolerance of others, he or she will start to feel superior and treat others differently. Fortunately, there are several strategies available to help raise children to be accepting and kind to all people.

  • One of the most effective strategies to stifle racial bias is when parents and role models have friends of different races. When parents have friends that cross racial lines, children learn acceptance and grow to see this as normal.
  • Allow friendships across racial lines to develop. Having deep and lasting friendships across racial lines helps decrease stereotyping and prejudices. In neighborhoods across America, people from different races and ethnicities are living and raising their families. The more opportunities for children to interact with other races, the less likely they are to treat others differently.
  • Simply talking to our children is another way to eliminate racial bias. Since 2014, statistics show that hate crimes have risen by 20 percent. As parents, we have the ability to foster acceptance of all people with our children. However, racism is a broad topic and parents often feel inadequate or uncomfortable talking about it. I recently read that parents are more comfortable talking about “the birds and the bees” than they are about this important topic. Believe it or not, I’ve read that not talking about it sends a stronger message to our children. When we neglect to have frank and open discussions, our children may feel that the topic is taboo. My research highlighted that white parents tend to talk less about racism, while black parents talk about it on a more consistent basis with their children.

Tips for talking about racism with your children

  • When talking with your children, talk about racism at their developmental levels.
  • Keep the conversations simple and be mindful and not tell stories that may be frightening. For example, a young child may only need to know that Rosa Parks had to sit at the back of the bus or stand up to ride if a white person needed a seat.
  • Conversations need to be ongoing, not only occurring when an incident happens and we hear about something in the media.
  • During these conversations, your child may bring up something embarrassing or make comments that appear insensitive to others. It is imperative that we take the time to listen to our children, ask them what they are thinking, and guide them into acceptance and understanding.
  • Three good resources for parents are:

Using books

As always, books can be an effective tool to start conversations or to end an important discussion. Here are a handful of books you may find helpful although there are numerous other books available.

Grades Pre-K through 2

Grades 1 through 4

Grades 4 through 6

Middle School

As you can see, there are many books available to read with your child on this topic. Check out your local or school library to find specific books; bookstores also have large selections. Remember that reading books with your older child encourages dialogue, so regardless of your child’s age, tackle this topic together. You’ll help raise happy children who are accepting and kind to all people.

Happy reading!

– Lori Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer. She’s a former teacher of children with severe disabilities in reading, a consultant with a leading educational book publisher, and a mother of two adult children.

Always read together

grandma reading to two young boys

Yesterday, knee-deep in boxes in my basement and feeling like a mole underground while the beautiful summer sunshine was calling to me, I happened upon old reading/reflection and gratitude journals that I had completely forgotten about. As an avid reader, I make notes about my reading; I jot down titles, feelings, thoughts and questions that I have while reading. To my surprise, I also made notes of books that my children loved. There were many titles that I read to them, they read to me or that we read together. I had written notes about their thoughts and feelings. Did the book make them laugh or cry? There were notes and tally marks on how often I read the same book to them in a day or week. To me, nothing in the world could be more precious and satisfying than to find that after 30 years.

It’s that discovery that inspired me to write this blog post — notes from the past and what I read to my children. Those journals and my log that I keep today are quite similar, yet quite different.

Reading to and with my children was truly one of the most satisfying experiences as a mom. However, reading with them didn’t stop once they were able to read the words on the page or an entire book. Fast forward 30 years and imagine reading to and with your child. No, we don’t cuddle together as we once did (my children live about 1,000 miles away in opposite directions). Instead we all keep our own reading reflection journals and sometimes we’ll share what we’ve written. Reading together now is definitely not the same as in the past, but nonetheless, it is just as satisfying.

In the beginning

As a young mom, I worked hard to create a culture of reading in our home. Books were everywhere! There was a basket in the bathroom, a shelf in their bedrooms, a pile on the mantle, and frequently scattered wherever a child dropped a book, ready to be picked up again soon. We created journals together where my kids often drew their favorite characters or parts of the book. Until they could read, I read everything to them: cereal boxes, financial reports, store names as we drove by and of course, the newspaper.

In looking back, I can’t believe how quickly my kids grew and were able to read on their own. But that didn’t stop us from reading together. Class books that were taken home to read became our precious time together after a busy day at work and then running them to sports. Why not share that time doing what we all enjoyed best in the evening? Together, we took on the dialog of a specific character, practiced reading with expression, and created mental pictures of scenes from the book. But most importantly, it gave us a time to talk deeply with each other about the books. We asked each other questions such as, “Why do you think he did that?” Or, “How would the story be different if this or that happened?” We talked about what the characters were thinking and feeling. We made quick notes or pictures in the journals.

Reading together as adults

The more you read with your child, you learn to know what genres of books they love and gravitate toward. As an adult, you also know what you love. But something magical happens when your children grow and you enjoy the same types of books as they do. My daughter loves to read and we often read the same book together. Last fall, we both read “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. When we shared our journals, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that our thoughts and feelings were similar. The questions that we both wondered about mirrored each other. How fun was that!

My son and I discovered Dan Brown when he wrote “The Da Vinci Code” in 2003. At that time, my son lived in a small, one-room apartment in Miami’s South Beach and was starting his adult life as a photographer. Within the first few minutes my visit, he shared his new book with anticipation. He read his favorite parts of the first chapter and had the excitement in his eyes that a new book can bring. After he left for work the following morning, I did what any avid reader (and mom who still loves to read to and with their child) would do: I went to the local bookstore and purchased the book. That night we read, talked about the book and jotted in our journals until our red eyes could no longer stay open. I believe that for the entire time I was there, we looked forward to reading, questioning and sharing our favorite parts of the book. Together, yet far away, we have read each of the Dan Brown books. There is nothing that makes my heart happier than to share the adventures that we have discovered in a book.

Don’t stop reading together

So parents, please don’t let your child’s age stop that precious time reading together. Whether it’s Esphyr Slobodkina’s “Caps for Sale” in first grade, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s “Shiloh” in fourth grade or “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee in high school, read together. Talk about the books. But most importantly, enjoy every moment with your child, no matter their age. The days go by slowly, but the years go by quickly.

Happy reading!

– Lori Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer. She’s a former teacher of children with severe disabilities in reading, a consultant with a leading educational book publisher, and a mother of two adult children.

Perspective in reading

bookstore window "The Day the Crayons Quit"

Cropped image. Walter Baxter, Geograph.org. CC license.

Close your eyes and imagine a world in which your child can look at the world and problems in multiple ways. One where your child considers other peoples’ perspectives and sees things from a point of view besides their own. Your child would act on the best interest of all and not strictly on their own. Now open your eyes and see the world in reality; a world where many people are inconsiderate, rude or self-centered. But parents can help children understand perspective before they enter school through reading together and developing a child’s language skills.

Teaching children about perspective

Toddler-age children

Research shows that children as young as two or three years old can be taught perspective. At this age, a child might help another child who is upset or crying, by offering a hug or a toy as comfort.

Young children may still confuse their perspective with others’ perspectives. They may believe that how they see things in the world is the way that others do, too. For example, if a child really dislikes something like a chocolate chip cookie, he feels that other people do as well.

Preschool-age children

Each day, a parent deals with many emotions. Maybe you had a disagreement with a friend or family member. Perhaps a family member is old, sick and having difficulty. Or you’re very excited because you won a trip. Good or bad, emotions are part of our daily life.

It is important to talk about the feelings and emotions that you are experiencing.

  • Label the emotion or feeling and talk to your child about it. If it is a negative emotion, talk about what helps you feel better.
  • When you see someone upset, talk with your child about it and problem solve what could help the upset person feel better. If possible, do what you can to help. Label the emotion again.

Lower elementary-age children

Continue to talk about perspective as it aids significantly in reading comprehension and success in school.

Reading as a tool for teaching perspective

Literarydevices.net says, “While reading a fiction or non-fiction book, readers see and experience the events and feelings about the characters through a certain point of view, which is called ‘perspective’. A perspective is a literary tool, which serves as a lens through which readers observe the characters, events and happenings.” In other words, point of view (or perspective) shows the opinions and feelings of those involved in the story. If a parent and child talk about this as part of their reading time together, the child will grasp the concept much more easily in the classroom.

In fiction books, we see four points of view.

  1. First person. The work uses “I” or “we” throughout. For example, “I love it when you cuddle up and read me a book.”
  2. Second person. The work uses the pronoun “you.” An example of this is, “Often you feel angry when the dog won’t stop barking.”
  3. Third person. Authors use pronouns like “he,” “she,” “it,” “they,” or someone’s name. For example, “Miss Linda is a disciplined woman. She always eats her vegetables like her mother told her to do.”
  4. The author uses “he” and “she” but the narrator has full access to the thoughts and feelings of all of the characters in the story. Shel Silverstein used in the book “The Giving Tree” that I wrote about in May.

Putting this into action

When reading with a preschool-age child, talk about the story then discuss the characters in the book and how they feel. Give the feelings a label. This process helps children understand not only the stories read to them, but also their feelings and how a character’s feelings may be different than their own.

With older children (lower-elementary age), read together then stop and talk about the reaction to situations that may be happy or sad. Discuss why the character is feeling that way.

Book recommendations

There are several picture books that consider multiple perspectives. I read most of these books with children of different ages. While reading these books with your child, it’s fun to consider perspective from another character.

Other good books that help children understand perspective are:

Upper elementary-age children can enjoy exploring perspective with these books:

So get a book with multiple points of view (picture book or not) and read it with your child. Talk with your child at their level and consider multiple perspectives of the characters. Over the years, watch your child’s language and reading skills grow. However, I feel the best gift from your reading together is a well-rounded child who can look at the world and view the things that happen in many ways. Happy reading!

– Lori Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer. She’s a former teacher of children with severe disabilities in reading, a consultant with a leading educational book publisher, and a mother of two adult children.

Summer slide: It’s not a dance

boy reading

We’re all excited as the school year ends and summer is upon us. Most children are so happy on the last day of school as it means sleeping in, staying up late, and best of all: no homework! But many parents know that we must keep our children reading, writing and doing math to prevent the “summer slide.”

What is the summer slide?

This is the slide in academic skills that happens over the summer. When our children return to school, they’ve fallen to a level lower than they were at when they left school in June. Typically, students can lose up to two months of learning in the summer and it takes the next grade’s teacher four to six weeks to get students back to the level where they previously were. The most profound thing about summer slide is that it is cumulative.

Over the years, the one- to two-month slide adds up and creates a gap by the time the child reaches high school. However, a parent can help your student avoid the “summer slide,” provide the opportunity to step right into the new grade level, and even learn the new grade level materials.

Summer slide is more common in lower-income levels, although no student is exempt.

Reading over the summer

Research shows that the amount of time that students spend reading outside of school is linked to gains in reading achievement. In fact, it shows that if your child reads just six books during the summer months, the summer slide can be avoided!

However, these books need to be “just right fit” books. Talk with your child’s teacher before the end of the year to find the right reading level. The books can’t be too hard or too easy; they need to be just right. This video can help determine a “just right” book.

A child is most likely to read books that he or she selects. We need to give children the time needed to select books that will motivate them to continue to read all summer.

Summer reading programs

  • Most libraries offer free reading programs that are motivating and fun. Check out your library online or at your next visit, so your child is signed up and ready to participate. Libraries are meant to be a place to read, have fun and learn as a family. When my children were little, I packed a lunch, went to the library, then headed to the park to spend some time both playing and reading.
  • Some bookstores offer summer reading programs and discounts on books. One chain even rewards summer reading with a free book at the end of the summer. Also, purchasing books for your own home library may be fun for your child, especially for high interest books. Many stores have a book list for each age and grade that children love, as well as the top picks for different age groups.

Just keep on reading

One of the most important tips that I can offer to parents is to keep reading! It isn’t meant to be something we do for a half an hour a day. It can be done all day and every day.

In the morning, grab a newspaper and read the comics, the headlines or weather. In the afternoon, provide time for your child to read the “just right” books that they selected. In the evening, find time to read with your child and encourage them to read aloud to you. Talk about the vocabulary that you encounter in your reading. Reading together helps build listening skills, as well.

When your child was an infant, you may have had books all around the house. As children grow, we tend to keep books in a central location. Instead, I suggest keeping high-interest books all around the house because kids are more likely to pick up a book and read if they are conveniently set around the house. You might also keep some books in the car; children spend a lot of time while moms drive them from here to there. It’s the perfect place to keep a few books for them to read.

There are many online reading programs that find a student’s level and provide motivational activities and books for your child. Talk to your school to see if this is available for you to purchase.

Another idea is ordering a magazine that your child enjoys. It gets delivered right to your house each week or month. They can be very motivational and can keep kids reading.

Don’t forget about math

Math is another area where students slide during the summer. Provide level-appropriate workbooks to practice the skills that your children learned during the school year.

Estimation is an important skill that can be practiced whenever you can. It can be how many miles to you think it is to grandma’s house, how long you think it will take to get somewhere, how many M & M’s are in the jar. Whatever you think of to support this skill will benefit to your child.

Write, write, write

Writing over the summer is also important. Provide a fun summer journal. Each day, have your child take time to write. It can be a journal of what they are reading, or maybe a place to write a story or poem. It is often fun to reflect in writing what they have done that day. Of course, a letter to grandma is always loved and appreciated. Just find time to practice writing.

Enjoy your summer!

– Lori Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer. She’s a former teacher of children with severe disabilities in reading, a consultant with a leading educational book publisher, and a mother of two adult children.

A look at “The Giving Tree”

cover of The Giving Tree book

image credit: wikipedia, by source, fair use.

A half century ago—yes, 50 years ago—Shel Silverstein wrote and illustrated one of my all-time favorite children’s book, “The Giving Tree.” First published in 1964 by Harper & Row, this classic is now printed in several languages with over 10 million copies sold internationally. Scholastic Co., a national publishing company known for educational books and materials, rated this book with an interest level for students in kindergarten through second grade. Personally, however, I feel this book can be read at all ages and can garnish lively conversations of the relationship and various interpretations. It is considered a picture book because the illustrations are as (or even more) important as than the words.

If you don’t know this story, it about the relationship between a boy and a tree. The tree was always there for the boy and gave everything he could to make him happy. As the boy grew into a teenager, a young man then an elderly man, he took what he needed from the tree and the tree continued to give him all he could, until there was no more the tree could give. The illustrations are simple and powerful.

As one of my favorite books, I always thought that it was a story of generosity and self-sacrifice to make someone happy. In a recent conversation with a colleague, I was quite surprised to hear her perspective of this book. Her thoughts of this book are very different than mine. She thinks the story is about greed. She shared why she feels this way, and each of her points were valid and well thought out. I left the conversation pondering and wondering what other people thought of the book.

I began researching and discovered that “The Giving Tree” is “one of the most divisive books in children’s literature.” That one quick conversation I had about a book read and loved by many, lead me to reread this book and look at the relationship between the tree and the boy from different perspectives.

As a teacher and a parent, I carefully choose what I read to children. Seemingly a book of friendship that withstands the test time, I read it often. Never was it read with dry eyes and without a sniffle at the end. In fact, the last time I read it to students, I vowed that I wouldn’t cry. Guess what? Didn’t happen!

So is this a book on selfless giving or a parable of narcissistic greed? The title implies that it is a story of giving, but as you read it you may begin to think differently. Many adults pick it up and read it to their child for the first time in many years. Some of them are disappointed, yet many people love the book just as much.

I asked 25 of my friends their thoughts on the book. Strong opinions and valid points on both were voiced. One friend said that her church recently referenced it in the sermon. My teacher friends all read it to their classes. Some felt it was about the unconditional love as in the parent-child relationship. Another friend thought it’s a parable about life, as our world is full of both the givers and the takers. There are so many ways to interpret this book that go well beyond this post.

Regardless of how you interpret the characters, this story has withstood the test of time. I encourage you to read it with your child and talk about it. Talk about the friendship and the special relationship between the boy and the tree. Take time to look at the simple illustrations and discuss what you see. On another occasion, reread the book together and talk about the boy’s greed and what he did to the tree. What is greed and what it does to others?

One of the questions I continually ask myself is what makes literature good? My answer always comes back that good literature is timeless. Fifty years ago, this book was loved and read by millions, just as it is today.

– Lori Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer. She’s a former teacher of children with severe disabilities in reading, a consultant with a leading educational book publisher, and a mother of two adult children.


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