I was three days postpartum, weepy and home alone with my newborn son when I first introduced him to Dr. Seuss’s One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. He seemed vaguely interested (for like five seconds) and then nodded off. Every day I continued to read to him, he continued to do his part and fall asleep, and soon we had a routine going. But as the months progressed he stayed awake longer, glanced at the pictures, and began to babble at the pages.
According to the ZERO TO THREE Policy Center, learning to read and write doesn’t start in kindergarten or first grade. Developing language and literacy skills begins at birth through everyday loving interactions—sharing books, telling stories, singing songs, and talking to one another.
The newborn that feel asleep to Seuss is now in seventh grade and has a fully stocked bookcase in his bedroom (a bookcase that currently needs to be replaced because the shelves can’t handle the weight of his collection). This past week he just finished reading Of Mice and Men, and over the summer he read, along with a solid helping of graphic novels, and his perennial favorite Mad Magazine, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickeled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. Did he read these books because they were required school summer reading? No. He read these books because they happened to be in my beach bag and he found them interesting. It’s because of this that I’m always on a quest to find him new books to read.
This week it’s easier than ever to find books for your child’s book collection (and your own) by going to the Easton branch of the American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) annual book sale. The sale begins on Thursday, September 20 at the Jay R. Snyder Memorial Park, Eddyside Pool House, Route 611 North & E. Lafayette Street, where you’ll find tables and tables laden with gently used adult’s and children’s books ranging in price from fifty cents to three dollars. If you want first dibs, you can pay $10 to get in the door at 8am on the first day of the sale. Otherwise, admission is free later in the day (1pm-5pm) and on subsequent sale days through September 29. The book sale raises money for scholarships for girls and women in Easton.
If you don’t want to spend any money at all, head over to the Easton Cops ‘n’ Kids Reading Room at 901 Washington Street on Thursdays from 11am to 7pm and the first and third Saturday of every month from 10am-12pm. Children who visit the Reading Room, housed in the basement of the Easton Area Community Center, can choose free books off the shelves. There’s also a Bethlehem Cops ‘n’ Kids Reading Room located at 511 East Third Street that’s open every Wednesday from 11am-7pm and for special Saturday programs. Visit www.copsnkidslv.org for more information.
You have books (and books and more books) but you’re running out of ideas for activities you can do to help support your child’s learning? The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) can help solve this problem with free activity guides available in both English and Spanish. You can request the Everyday I Learn Through Play activity guide that has activities to go along with some of the infant and toddler books you might already have. This activity guide is designed around six key routines that provide multiple opportunities for infants and toddlers from birth-to-thirty-six months old to interact with adults and everyday materials found around their homes.
If you have children of multiple ages and stages you can request the Learning Is Everywhere activity guide which offers no- or low-cost activities families can do at home with their children ages birth to five as well as book suggestions for each month.
Other activity guides available from OCDEL include Kindergarten Here I Come! and Kindergarten Here I Am! The latter features different children’s authors each month including Jan Brett, Leo Lionni and of course Dr. Seuss. The activities in the guide are linked to the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards for Kindergarten. These standards are being used in kindergarten classrooms across Pennsylvania as a framework for curriculum and assessment in the classroom. To download the guides go to http://paprom.convio.net/site/PageServer?pagename=LIECIndex .