Night Buddies - Adventures After Lights Out

If You Don’t Think Your Child Notices What You Do, Here’s A Video to Change Your Mind

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The other day while I was searching through some YouTube videos, I came across this one called, “Kids Perspectives on Dads” as part of The Fatherhood Project. Take a look at it below:

Aside from being a very sweet Father’s Day gift to us fathers across the Internet, I thought this was a great video to remind us just how much our kids notice what we do, and especially what we do with them. The kids in this video talk about playing sports with their dads, watching TV with them, and just spending time together in general; the one thing I sadly found missing was any child talking about their dad reading with them.

If your child notices you watching football games or your favorite TV show, they’re going to want to join in. The same goes for reading—if your child notices you reading a book each night, they’ll want to do it too. You are your child’s biggest inspiration. You are the example in your home. I think we, as parents, need to keep this in mind with every decision we make.

Creating a new generation of kids who love reading starts with us. Introduce your child to the many worlds they can experience through reading, and enrich their lives with literature. Then, maybe, if this Youtube channel makes a video like this again we can say we did it, our children love it when we read with them. They’ll only be better off for it.

What kind of things do you and your child do together? Is reading with them important to you? Let me know in the comments below!

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Book Recommendation Time! The Best Historical Fiction for Children

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I’ve written a few posts now about how important it is for us as parents to help our children fall in love with reading. But today I want to take this one step further—I think it is important for us to get kids interested in reading about history. History is one of those subjects that a majority of people sleep through during grade school and don’t even consider studying past their few general ed requirements in college. But it’s also one of the most important subjects out there, if only to keep our world from repeating its past mistakes.

I’ve been a history buff from the time I was a kid, and I think that is largely due to teachers who made the subject interesting for me and books that made historical stories come alive in a tangible way. So I’ve compiled a short list here of some books for kids that hopefully will do the same for them.

Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry

Number the Stars

I’m sure you’ve heard of this classic already, but I couldn’t help but put it on my list. It takes place in Copenhagen during World War II, and it is a beautiful story that helps children to see the difficult reality of the Holocaust, while also telling of a friendship worth risking lives for.

Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos, by Robert Lawson

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First published in 1988, this funny, entertaining story tells the story of Benjamin Franklin and the founding of the United States of America through the eyes of a mouse named Amos. According to the book, Amos gave good ol’ Benjamin all of his best ideas. It’s a very charming book filled with important historical information, and I guarantee your child won’t be able to get enough!

She Was Nice To Mice: The Other Side of Elizabeth I’s Character Never Before Revealed by Previous Historians, by Alexandra Elizabeth Sheedy

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Yet another historical tale told with the help of mice! This one takes place in the Elizabethan era, and follows the life of a mouse living in Queen Elizabeth’s courts. What I think is interesting about this book is that it was written by a twelve-year-old. It really helps kids relate to an era from long ago because it was written by a child who related to it herself!

Pink and Say, by Patricia Polacco

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This picture book (still intended for kids ages 5-9) is set during the Civil War. It tells the story of a black Union soldier named Pinkus Aylee finding and rescuing white Union soldier, Sheldon Curtis (who goes by Say). It is a tragic story based on true events from the author’s own family history. To me, the Civil War is one of the most interesting historical events, and I give this book my highest recommendation.

Did you read any historical fiction when you were a kid? Did it help grow a love of history in you as an adult? Leave a comment and let me know!

 

 

 

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Need to Get Your Boys to Read? Here’s My Top Tips to Help You Do it!

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You want to know what I think? I think that right now, we are living in a time where most boys are encouraged to play sports or video games by their friends and by society to be considered “normal” or “cool.” We aren’t living in a world where the next generation of boys will be a generation who loves to read. But that’s not right. Reading opens up kids’ minds to think of things they might never have had the creativity to imagine before, it improves their performance in school, and it’s a way for them to entertain themselves away from the Internet or the television, which they’re probably getting more than their fair share of.

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So how do we do it? How do we make the next generation a generation of boys who read? Here’s my top four ideas about where we begin.

1. Put interesting books on acceptable school reading lists. Books don’t have to be extraordinarily literary or realistic to be beneficial to education. Especially among younger kids, why not let current bestsellers count toward silent reading credit? Why not let kids do book reports on something they find interesting? If they can read what is popular amongst their generation, kids might start bonding over the books they read just like they do over the video games they play.

2. Never put down books that they find interesting. To go along with my first tip, as parents we shouldn’t judge books that seem too silly, or too “boy-ish.” The book is based off a video game? It’s still a book. The book is about some guy who wears underwear outside his pants? It’s still something for them to get acquainted to the literary world with. If we want boys to read, we have to let them read what they want; the more they do read, the broader their literary interests will become.

3. Seek out reading role models. A lot of celebrities participate in reading campaigns for children. Seek them out. Or maybe there’s a teacher, an older sibling, or a basketball coach they look up to greatly; ask that person to talk to your kid about reading. If the person they think is the coolest in the world tells them they think reading is cool, chances are your child will want to give it a shot.

4.Take your child to book fairs/festivals. Book fairs usually have lots of games set up for kids, and book festivals have everything from games to live readings and full-on shows to peak the younger generation’s interest in reading. They happen all over the country, are usually free entry, and will end up being a fun day for the family—your child finding a book they’re dying to read would just be the cherry on top.

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How do you interest your child in reading? Do you think it’s still important for kids to read? Let me know in the comments below!

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5 Ways to Help Your Child Fall in Love with Reading

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There’s nothing better than the feeling you get as a parent when you walk into your child’s bedroom and see their nose buried in a book, completely lost in a world between pages. Today most children spend more time on their iPads or watching television than they do reading books, but we at the Night Buddies Headquarters know that just one great book can turn a child into a lifetime reader. Here are some of our suggestions to help you make that happen.

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1.) Pick out a book for them that is tailored to their interests. If you know your child loves horses, pick out a book that revolves around horses. If they like television programs about witches and wizards, pick out a book that is about witches and wizards. Make sure you pick a book at their reading level so that they don’t get frustrated reading it (once they start reading more, you can steadily find books that will be more difficult for them to read). In the beginning, it is just important to find a book your child will enjoy, so that they begin to associate reading with fun.

2.) Set aside a specific time, preferably right before bedtime, for them to read. This makes reading turn into a habit, and makes it more likely for them to choose to read at that time on their own later on. Plus, studies have shown that watching television before bed might interfere with sleep quality, so reading is a good, calming alternative!

3.) Don’t take away their other forms of entertainment. This will make reading feel more like a punishment than a reward, and you only want them to have positive associations with reading if you want them to fall in love with it. If your child is used to and enjoys watching a certain amount of television or playing video games for a certain amount of time in the day, allow them to continue. The goal is to incorporate reading into their routine, not to completely change their routine.

4.) Take them to your local library and let them explore. Libraries can be an exciting place for kids, especially during the summers when most libraries offer reading contests and rewards. Plus, allowing your child to pick out his or her own books gives them a level of independence, and it lets them try new things and develop their own reading tastes. Taking them to your local library once every couple of weeks can be an exciting excursion for you two to share!

5.) Read with them. Some of my favorite memories associated with reading are the times when my mom and I would trade off reading chapters of my favorite books as a little kid. Not only does your child get to learn a better vocabulary as you help them through the difficult sections, they get to bond with you at the same time as they are falling in love with books. When you read with your child, it’s always a win-win situation!

 

 

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“Wise Words for Writing Dialect” by Ol’ Sands

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It goes without saying that you need to be very familiar with any dialect to capture it on paper. You need to be able to speak it yourself and “hear it inside your head” while writing it down. You need some innate talent, a natural “good ear,” in the same way that good musicians are “born.”

With that said, writing dialect is a balancing act. The trick is to deviate from standard orthography enough to impart the flavor and the distinctive “sound” you want, but not so much that the reading becomes difficult. And try to err on the standard side. If you write too phonetically, few will understand you (or put in the effort to try to). This is true for the King’s English (a dialect), Brooklynese, or southern Georgia. By definition, dialect departs from standard speech, but don’t overdo it. Use just enough in your writing to get by.

Let me illustrate this point with two pretty fair practitioners of black American dialect, William Styron and Roark Bradford:

“’Yam,” Arnold replied . . . ‘Majah Riblees he lib dar, ap yonnah road ap yonnah . . . Yam, me tek ‘ee dar, missy, me tek ‘ee dar . . . Yam, missy, me tek ‘ee Majah Riblees!’” (Styron, The Confessions of Nat Turner, pp. 262-3)

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“’Anywhar you says, John Henry,’ Julie Anne told him. ‘You go and den turn around and you see me standin’ at yo’ side. All de time like dat, John Henry.’” (Bradford, John Henry, p. 121)

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See the difference? To be fair, Styron was trying to make a sociological point with his almost un-readable Afro-Virginia patois, and that small sample is all that he uses. Otherwise his book would suffer.

I have to say that Bradford has struck a more proper balance. To be phonetically “true,” he could have written:

“’Anywhar you says, John Henry,’ Julie Anne told him. ‘You go an’ ‘en tuin roun’ an’ ya see me stannin’ at yo’ side. All uh time lak dat, John Henry.’”

But he didn’t take it this far, and his version works much better than my corruption of it. It gives us the Louisiana flavor without stressing the reader.

Dialect is an important component in much of children’s literature, notably in Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer.  Twain tells us he used the dialect of Hannibal, Missouri, his home town.  It reads like this:

“Hang the boy, cain’t I never learn anything? Ain’t he played me tricks enough for me t’know better? But old fools is the biggest fools there is. He pears t’know just how long he can tease before the anger starts.” (Twain, Tom Sawyer)

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Dialect should be used gently in children’s literature, as it is above, since children are just starting to get the hang of reading grammatically correct English. However, using dialect does help them to sound out words and figure out their meanings based on that, so don’t be afraid to use dialect if you’re writing for kids!

Again, try to tread lightly whenever you use dialect.  No reader, regardless of age, wants to be alienated by the language used in your book.

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Why You Should Be a Reading Superhero for Your Kids (and how to do it!) Guest Post by Charles Franklin

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Courtesy of PhotPin?Flickr

Courtesy of PhotoPin/Flickr

Reading is a skill that every parent knows is essential for their child to thrive in the modern world. Gaining your children exposed to reading helps foster brain development, language development, and more at a critical time in their development. The skills and behaviors learned in those early years can have a strong impact on your child throughout their life. Starting early helps build a foundation that your child can improve on in the later years. In other words, the earlier,  the better!

Courtesy of PhotoPin/Flickr

Courtesy of Pixabay

Gaining reading skills is such an important task that pediatricians now offer reading as a prescription for children as well as their parents (for their newborns). Not gaining these skills can be detrimental. According to an article from Quello.com, children with parents who read to them an hour a day had a vocabulary of 10,000 words of more by the time they reached Kindergarten! Low literacy can also impact children as they get older. According to Intellihealth.com, surveys show that children who don’t develop the appropriate reading levels by third grade harve a harder time graduating from high school. Adult patients with low literacy had more problems with their treatment and medication compared to those with well-developed literacy.

Courtesy of Pixabay/Flickr

Courtesy of Pixabay/Flickr

Children often  begin their path to reading in Kindergarten, but that path can (and should) begin earlier than that. The more exposure your child has to reading, the easier reading can become for them. The earlier you expose your child to reading, the better. It can begin at home, with you.  Sadly, a survey found that only half of parents with young children read to their children every day (see here). We can improve that!

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You can be a reading superhero. A reading superhero is a parent or other adult who demonstrates and shares their love of reading with children so they can battle for literacy!

All it takes is a minimum of 15 minutes…

Here’s how you can get started….

1. Read to your kids every day (even if it’s just 15 minutes a day!)

Reading to your kids every day sets the foundation for reading behavior in the future. Depending on your child’s age, this can range from just a few minutes reading aloud and allowing a child to play with a book or can be a 30-minute (or more) dedicated storytime. Find the time and balance that works right for you and your family.

 

2. Have a dedicated time and place to read.

One way to encourage a habit is to repeat a behavior in the same place at the same time. Reading to your children in a comfy chair or by their bedside consistently helps children starts the process. After awhile, children will expect to have a book when they get in that chair (even if you aren’t there with them!).

Don’t worry though if your child wants to read a book at a different time or in a different location. Reading is reading! The point is to establish the behavior.

Choose a comfortable, quiet spot and start reading!

 

3. Keep books and magazines around the house.

Another easy way to encourage literacy is to have books and magazines around the house. Buy a couple of children’s books (based on your child’s interests) and magazines to keep your child busy. Encourage them to read when they feel bored. Develop activities and stories based on the books you read (Sands Hetherington did this and became a 6-time award -winning author!)

All it takes two or three books to start.

 

4. Encourage and praise reading behaviors.

Talk about reading and encourage reading in your home! When your child finishes a book, ask them about it. Ask them to read the book to you and others (like siblings or their favorite teddy bear). Get them in habit of seeing reading as a natural and positive activity in your house. Your child will follow suit.

 

5. Read yourself!

Children model what they see. If they see that you as a parent enjoy and make time for reading. They will model that behavior

You’ve got your orders. Now go out and start reading!

Courtesy of PhotoPin/Flickr

Courtesy of PhotoPin/Flickr

 

Need more help? Check out these additional tips and resources:

“Born to Read” (Insight on how to read your child) http://www.human.cornell.edu/pam/outreach/parenting/research/upload/Babies-20are-20Born-20to-20Read-20Updated.pdf

“Importance of Reading” http://www.mychildrensmedicaid.org/content/importance-reading

“Born to Read” http://www.ala.org/alsc/issuesadv/borntoread/resources

“Reach Out and Read Program (Physician-led literacy program for kids): http://www.reachoutandread.org/

“Babie

 

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Children's Museum of Alamance County
217 South Main Street
Graham, NC 27253
Phone: 336-228-7997
Reading begins at 3 pm


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