Exploring Reading Options for the Very Young
One can gain inspiration from the world around them. Right now my world is all about babies, since I am about to have my first child. Having a degree in early childhood makes one think all the things when you finally have a child of your own. One of the major things the upcoming birth of my son makes me think about is his education. Yes, I should be thinking about the birth or his health, etc., but a teacher tends to think about education first and foremost! We cannot help it. Being a literacy gal, I have been thinking mostly about how excited I am to read to him and help him establish an early bond to books from the beginning of his life.
Yes, babies can hear you from inside the womb, and yes, you can start reading to them when they are still in utero. I cannot say that I have read nightly to my little one while he is still tucked inside my belly, but, hey, all of those classroom read alouds he was present for count, right? When I am still at the hospital, however, I will take a major step towards increasing his personal library. I cannot WAIT to sign him up for Tennessee’s literacy initiative Books from Birth. This will enable Isaac to receive a book in the mail for free once a month from birth to age 5. Many hospitals now make it their mission to get all new babies registered for the program before they are discharged.
I used to be a spokesperson for our local chapter of Books from Birth. It was first established by our state’s superstar sweetheart Dolly Parton in an effort to help more students in her home county graduate from high school. Dolly used to give graduating seniors money upon their completion of high school until educators helped her realize that her money would be better spent with an investment on the front end of the students’ lives. Over time this program launched statewide and now the governor and his wife are in charge of expanding it. Make sure your own little ones are signed up and make sure the parents of students in your classroom know they can sign up their little ones at home to participate, too. Think especially about those families who moved from out of state.
Even my first graders gravitated to books on my classroom library shelves in which they had a copy of thanks to the Imagination Library. You can rack up whole class sets or at least small group sets of these books at used bookstores like McKay’s to use in your classroom, too (side note: I always get into trouble at McKay’s. When I say trouble, I mean I never leave without less than 50 or so books and sometimes educational board games, too.). It’s exciting when students realize that they can now read by themselves the texts they were given in the mail years ago and may still have at home. I witnessed kids that were certainly motivated to practice these particular texts. That’s all on the subject of books for the very young right now. I think my contractions are starting, so I better get to the hospital! Until next time!