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January

What reading experts say:
The two most powerful predictors of reading success are phonological awareness and letter-name knowledge (recognizing and naming the letters of the alphabet), according to the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement at the University of Michigan. Studies by Bryant, Bradley, McLean and Crossland show a strong relationship between rhyming ability at ages three and four and performance in reading and spelling at ages six and seven.

"Once children become adept at noticing the ends of words (called rimes which is easy to remember because that is the part that rhymes), they begin to get the idea that the beginnings of words (called onsets) can sound alike as well," say Linda Rath and Louise Kennedy authors of The Between the Lions Book for Parents: Everything You Need to Know to Help Your Child Learn to Read.

"Rhymes and alliteration make a listener aware of the individual sounds of language in ways that ordinary conversation cannot. The tongue twister quality of the text causes the reader to slow down in order to enunciate clearly the words," says Judith Schickendanz, author of Much More Than the ABCs: The Early Stages of Reading and Writing.

What good readers know:
Good readers can identify words that have the same first sounds (peas, potatoes, pasta), can create their own fun tongue twisters and enjoy books that feature rhymes and alliteration.

What parents can do to help children Grow Up Reading™:
Week 1:
Talk about odd and even numbers. Mark all the odd numbers on January's calendar with an "O" and mark all the even numbers with an "E."
Week 2:
Visit the Library to select books from the Counting the Days ‘til Kindergarten book list. Check out the new books section in the Youth Services area.
Week 3:
Read five books from the "Writing" booklist.
Week 4:
Write a thank you note together. Help your child write words, draw pictures and sign the note.

Activities - Writing:
  1. Use empty spray bottles in fun ways. Fill the spray bottles with water and food coloring for a fun fine motor activity. Spray the bottles on the sidewalk, snow or on the ground outside, write your name, draw pictures or just spray. The rain and snow will wash away all the colors.
  2. Have your child draw a monthly self-portrait. Give your child a mirror, so they can see themselves. Point out facial features like eye color, eyebrows and eyelashes. If they draw their whole body, add in some fashion design! Don’t be surprised if your child takes some unique qualities such as purple hair or a green nose. This activity builds fine motor skills and shows great progression over time while allowing your child creativity and imagination.
  3. Writing is a process. As children develop better control over the muscles in their hands and fingers, their scribbles begin to change and become more controlled. Toddlers may make repeated marks on the page—open circles, diagonal, curved, horizontal, or vertical lines. Over time, children make the transition to holding the crayon or marker between their thumb and pointer finger and it will look more like picture formations.

More Great Books to Read(click on a title to check for availability at the Library)