Tag Archives: reading

The Church should be like a library

My husband always give me books as presents. He’s good that way. Although I talk with him frequently about my reading interests and maintain an up-to-date GoodReads list, he still might present me with something under the Christmas tree that is completely off my radar. He is good that way, too. This year he surprised me with a book I had never even heard of previously.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean not only details the circumstances surrounding the April 1986 fire which devastated the Los Angeles Central Library, but also chronicles the history of the California library. Orlean has completed painstaking research following Harry Peak, the accused, his life and the years after the fire, while providing juicy tidbits on the early head librarians from the late 1800s onwards, most of whom were women. Her book jumps from a detective whodunnit, to a work of archival history, to an homage on the nobility and malleable nature of the library’s role in society and its identity. The last section gives credit to library and library-inspired innovations like OverDrive, book mobiles, the Biblioburro in Columbia, Little Free Libraries across the world, and more.

However, toward the end of the book something caught my attention. A description of the library as a safe, public place, welcoming to all reminded me of something even more beautiful than a library. When speaking to the issue of homelessness most city libraries face, Orlean writes,

“The library’s commitment to being open to all is an overwhelming challenge. For many people, the library may be the only place they have to be in close quarters with disturbed or profoundly dirty people, and that can be uncomfortable. But a library can’t be the institution we hope for it to be unless it is open to everyone.”

p. 245

As much as I love libraries and all they do for communities, what if this section were instead speaking of the church? Certainly, church buildings can be important places to meet, organize charitable events and gathering places for community outreach. Church buildings have hosted AA meetings. They have held marriage seminars, opened their doors with food pantries, and threw neighborhood block parties. But I am thinking of something more than the building. I read the above quote with a specific eye on the church as the PEOPLE.

What would our communities be like if we, as a church, were open, welcoming? What if we accepted all unconditionally? The public library may be nearly viewed as a sacred space for the very reason that it enfolds the prosaic and unwanted, the lonely, the unemployed, the retired and the graduate student. Even though we all deal with problems in our lives, the church cannot be the people Christ expects for us to be unless we are loving and open to everyone.

Of course, I need to begin with myself.

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For our records: First grade

In ten years I suspect I will look back on G’s first grade year, and primarily remember us reading together. I might remember him lugging his math manipulatives up and down the stairs, or driving him to his art co-op class, but what I will likely remember most is all the books we read when he was six…together, cuddled up on my bed in the middle of the day, or out on the patio swing in the back yard.

Our daily read alouds were such an integral part of our day. They provided tremendous opportunities for discussion. I believe if we had ever skipped reading on any one day,  I would not have felt we had “done school”, even if we had successfully covered math, writing and art.

In order to collect ideas and grow our book list,  I enjoy seeing what other people are reading with their kids. For our records, and in case you are interested, here is what G and I read for first grade.

G’s READING LIST 2016-2017 SCHOOL YEARIMG_7565

  Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

 The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne

  Leif the Lucky,

Columbus,

Pocahontas,

George Washington,

Benjamin Franklin,

Abraham Lincoln,  and

Buffalo Bill by Ingrid and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

The Green Ember by S.D. Smith

Ember Falls by S.D. Smith

In theYear of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Betty Bao Lord

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Revolutionary War on Wednesday by Mary Pope Osborne

George vs. George by Rosalyn Schanzer

Half-Magic by Edward Eager

The Knight’s Castle by Edward Eager

Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager

The Time Garden by Edward Eager

Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

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G looks at his reading list.

Me: What was your favorite book this year?

G: Probably Winnie the Pooh and the Half-Magic books. Oh, and The Green Ember.

Me: Why those?

G: They were just so magical and fun.

Early Reader Chuckles

Somewhere between the insipid and obsolete Dick and Jane books and the latest preschool television-character phenom lies a wonderful collection of early or emergent reader books.  These books not only emphasize age-appropriate character development, but also infuse the reading with clever facial expressions and witty lines even you as a parent or adult facilitator would appreciate.  In short, they are not mind-numbingly dull.   My apologies to Dick and Jane and the BOB books.  Authors like Arnold Lobel have intuitive books with beloved characters who speak in repetitious ways without boring their readers, young or old.  Thank you, Mo Willems, Arnold Lobel, Kate Di Camillo, and others for providing us opportunities to share a giggle together on the sofa, growing closer, growing in literacy.  Here are our favorite early reader chuckles.

MO WILLEMS

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The Elephant and Piggie series is a brilliant blend of facial expressions, font choices and speech bubbles.  The text is simple.  The plot is basic.  The vocabulary is repetitious.  The personalities are HUGE.  I dare you not to laugh at Elephant’s irritated expression, or Piggie’s elated grin.  There are many choices to choose from in this series.  Truly, any of them will instantly become your favorite.

 

 

 

ARNOLD LOBEL

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This classic series is priceless for many reasons.  Written in simple sentences, replete with endearing illustrations, these very early chapter books are also full of life lessons and sweet reminders of friendship.  There is always a reason to giggle at Toad’s worries and Frog’s laid-back approach to trouble. Cut out a pair of toad or frog foam feet for your young reader and turn these brief stories into fun, impromptu plays.  These two will always be our friends.  Titles in this series include Frog and Toad are Friends, Frog and Toad Together, Frog and Toad All Year and Days with Frog and Toad.

 

 

KATE DICAMILLO

DSC_0001_2636Just look at that face – pure exhilaration!  This is how Mercy Watson approaches most adventures.  From wearing a pink tutu to an adventurous Saturday drive the “porcine wonder” of Deckawoo Drive charms her owners, readers and sometimes even her grumpy elderly neighbors.  Each adventure includes giggles, mishaps and a tall stack of hot buttered toast.  Honestly, I would read these stories even if I didn’t have a young one next to me.  Award-winning author Kate DiCamillo (Because of Winn Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane) deftly places humor in simple sentences.  And Chris Van Dusen’s glossy, gouache illustrations only add to the merriment.

 

Go ahead, let your little one read to you.  You will not be bored.

“C” is for Cowboy

My little G has presented me with new opportunities to focus on early literacy.  There is a wide enough gap between S and G that I was nearly out of practice.  And to be honest, I am not sure I had much practice to begin with.  If my memory serves me correctly, A came out of the womb half-literate.  By the time he was four he was trying to write the name of Central Asian countries, and at four and a half he could spell “micropachycephalosaurus.”  Remember, this is the aspie we are talking about here, the one who must know everything dealing with his chosen subject.  That last word, by the way, is a type of dinosaur, and please don’t look it up, because I may have spelled it incorrectly.  Perhaps it is because I have simply forgotten, or perhaps, sadly, because S is a middle child, but I have few memories of him really learning to read.  Somewhere between four and six, he did learn.  So,  now, here I am with G reading book after book, revelling in environmental print, finding ways to incorporate words and letters into our play dough or painting or bathtime.

Here is what we have done the last couple of days.

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I know that this is not an original idea, particularly.  I have seen preschools and websites galore allowing children to explore the large forms of letters.  We decided to make this on our kitchen floor with blue painters tape.  Creating the curve of the letter ‘C’ with straight tape was more difficult than I imagined, but G recognized it immediately.  That is mostly what I cared about.

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‘C’ is for cowboy.  Here he is lining up his Papo and Lego cowboy figures in formation.

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‘C’ is also for car.   He showed a bit more enthusiasm for driving his car along the ‘C’ than I expected.  Generally, he is not a car enthusiast.  Completely the opposite from how A was at this age!

Next, letter is                                                                                                                       !!!!!November 2013 009

And yet, I am not sure how much he is really getting out of this.  He spends the vast amount of his time actually looking at his books and focusing on word recognition: cat, farmer, happy……oh, and consequences, of all things!  Regardless of which of my boys I am talking about, I am fairly confident that the literacy activity which is 100% effective is, of course, reading, reading, reading and more reading.  Who doesn’t love a good story?  Or sharing it with someone they love?

November 2013 008