Education experts believe nonfiction might be the key to a non-reader’s heart. Find a topic that interests your child and look for exciting nonfiction on that topic. But start small with one topic, such as dinosaurs, trucks, outer space, animals or something else that you know your child likes.
Whatever the topic, continue to read aloud classic picture books, but supplement with nonfiction. Although the Internet has countless pages and sites devoted to information about every topic under the sun, there’s something special about opening a giant-sized book that draws in even the most reluctant reader. Pre-historic beasts or giant snakes seem to leap from the pages of the book as a child holds it up to examine pictures from every angle, something not possible on even the largest computer screen.
The advent of the Internet has been embraced as the “best” way to find information. But educator and author Kim Fulcher writes that the Internet, while more child-friendly than a set of encyclopedias, is one-dimensional. “Beautiful nonfiction books in print today,” she writes, “are at once a source of knowledge and the beginning of a sense of wonder” absent on the Web.
Furthermore, interesting and colorful nonfiction can be an antidote to the abysmal amount of time children spend reading. A national study sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the average child in the United States spends an average of five hours a day watching television and playing video games. Fewer than four minutes a day, the study found, is spent reading nonfiction.
Educator Fulcher believes the benefits of reading nonfiction are many, but four stand out:
For the parent of a beginning reader, some of these reasons may sound premature, but educators disagree. According to an article by Melissa Perry on the Website Educational Leadership, teachers encourage parents to read more nonfiction with their children because it builds on a child’s interests and curiosity, as well as increasing vocabulary and background knowledge.
“Nonfiction differs from fiction because it requires reading for content and information…giving children the opportunity to practice gleaning facts, statistics, instructions and other information from text, diagrams, charts and photographs…a skill used in daily life,” Perry writes.
Perry also believes that “whether following a recipe or deciphering a bus schedule…the ability to sift out necessary details is required to be successful.” Paired with fiction on a similar topic, children gain valuable tools to navigate their world.
The Islip Public Library not only has an extensive collection of nonfiction for early readers, it has Book Bundles, which contain picture books paired with nonfiction on a variety of topics, from princesses to firetrucks. Look for the books just opposite the reference desk in the children’s department.
As Common Core standards continue to emphasize the importance of nonfiction reading to prepare students for middle school, high school and college, educators stress the importance of nonfiction reading. Such a base of information, established in childhood, will help students develop important research and evaluation skills, which educators call information literacy.
Additionally, early emphasis on nonfiction, even for children as young as two or three, may be a solution to a growing problem cited by Connie Matthiessen, writing for the website greatschools.org. “Many colleges, she writes, “have discovered that incoming freshmen may be able to compute a math problem or analyze a short story, but they can’t read complex nonfiction or write a well-researched essay.”
Matthiessen cites research by the Leadership and Learning Center that “shows that workplace reading has become more complex in recent years,” and that, most shocking, “jobs that demand low reading and writing skills are being sent overseas, so even entry-level jobs now demand higher reading skills.”
To spark your child’s nonfiction reading, Matthiessen offers tips:
Embarking on a plan to guide your child through the educational years ahead may seem overwhelming, so start small. Pick a topic your child talks about and start there. Below are a few nonfiction series available at most libraries that will appeal to young children.
Whatever you choose, spend time reading along with your child and discussing the topics. You may find that one topic of interest leads to another. Instead of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…”, you can create your own family story of “If You Give a Child a Nonfiction Book.”
Why should your kids read graphic novels? Because more reading is a good thing! Graphic novels can be funny, exciting, suspenseful, and most importantly, fun! In the Children’s Services Department at the Islip Public Library, we have our very own graphic novel section with something for everybody.
Graphic novels are unique because they contain text and words within panels and speech bubbles, similar to comic books. There are benefits to reading them especially for reluctant readers, children for whom English is a new language (ENL students), and for children who have learning challenges. First, having both text and pictures within a book can facilitate reading comprehension. Pictures, combined with text, help a story to come alive. Second, looking at a book with both words and pictures is less intimidating for a child who does not like to read or who has difficulty reading; this is also true for ENL students. Third, today’s children are growing up in a digital world in which visual literacy is an important skill. While reading a graphic novel, the reader must incorporate what is seen (both pictures and words) into meaning. Lastly, when children can retain meaning from a graphic novel and enjoy the experience, they will likely want to read more books. More reading – it is a good thing!
Come in and explore our new graphic novel section in Children’s Services. If you have any questions about graphic novels or any other books for your children, don’t hesitate to ask one of the children’s librarians. We’re here to help! Below I have included ten children’s graphic novels that your child may love. Dog Man, Smile, and the Big Nate series are favorites with children.
Contrary to popular belief, reading aloud to your children should not end after they learn to read.
According to Boston-based journalist and author Jim Trelease, reading aloud to older children—even up to age 14—has both academic and emotional benefits. While many parents and caregivers believe older children should be left on their own once they learn how to read fluently, and many older children demand independence from the daily routine of read-aloud sessions, Trelease argues that reading levels don’t catch up to children's listening levels until 8th grade, and that reading aloud to older children helps children’s language fluency, as well as comprehension, especially if they are following along with the book.
Trelease, who could be called the King of Read-Aloud, turned his passion for reading aloud to his own children into The Read-Aloud Handbook, which is used by educators and librarians as the go-to source for information on the subject.
Trelease argues that parents can and should be reading 7th grade books aloud to 5th graders because children enjoy listening to more complicated plots than they can read themselves. Parents also can use such books as an opportunity to open discussions about difficult social issues that children face as they move through school.
For instance, according to Trelease, parents might tell children not to hang out with certain kids—a lecture that is largely ignored. But if parents read a book about a child who gets in trouble by choosing the wrong friends, that is an opportunity for a discussion about wise choices. One excellent choice of a novel that opens the discussion for an increasingly common problem is Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, in which a high school freshman refuses to speak rather than reveal that she has been attacked by a classmate.
In addition to helping older readers with comprehension, read-aloud sessions help teach practical speaking skills. Melissa Taylor, in an article for www.readbrightly.com, writes that the reading parent or caregiver can model how to read by pausing at commas and periods, with voice inflection indicating questions or exclamations and with pauses to look up unfamiliar words, and how to use clues in the text to help the child figure out the meaning.
Taylor also believes reading aloud hooks kids into trying a new author or series of books and different genres or texts they wouldn’t normally choose on their own, a premise Trelease shares. On his website, www.trelease-on-reading.com, he has book lists, book reviews, excerpts from his read-aloud handbook and other information for parents. It's a good source of information.
When children and caregivers engage in read-aloud sessions well into middle school, their appreciation for reading is enhanced as they get older. The Synergy School, a private school in San Francisco, published a survey by Scholastic and YouGov that 62% of children aged 6-8 reported they “like a lot” and “love” reading for fun. That number drops to 46-49% for ages 9-17. Additionally, the study found that while 52% of younger children report reading for fun is extremely important, that number drops below 45% for older children who believe in the importance of pleasure reading. According to the Synergy article, reading aloud to older children brings alive the little child in them and counteracts what Trelease calls the “sweat mentality” around books because their school commitments reduce the time they have to read just for fun.
Children with reading difficulties benefit greatly from read-aloud sessions at home in a secure environment. In an interview with KQED News, Trelease emphasized the importance of what he calls “broadening the menu,” which shows students that not all reading is drill and skill, that the “good stuff—the really great books” are just ahead. A child with dyslexia can relax and just listen to a good book rather than struggle with it. Read-alouds make reading more fun.
Best of all, memories of books heard last a long time. Trelease said he once received a letter from a retired teacher who reconnected online with former students years after she stopped teaching. The students said the one thing they remembered was the books she read to them. When I was teaching, my favorite part of each day was the time I put aside to read aloud to my 5th and 6th graders. The best thing was students begging me: “please don't stop reading.”
Join our Sensory Story Time - Wednesday, July 11 (4:00-4:45 pm) Registration begins Monday, July 2, 5:30 pm at the Islip Public Library. For Islip Library cardholders. Children ages 36 months – preschool age/with caregiver.
Story times are an integral part of library services for children across the globe. They are designed to help promote literacy, vocabulary, and motor skills while having fun. Story times are developed by librarians and are built upon a foundation of creating and nurturing a love of reading in children. Libraries are a place where everyone can feel safe and welcome.
Sensory-based story times are designed especially for children who have sensory issues. Family attendance helps to create a welcoming and accepting atmosphere. These story times may include children who do not have sensory issues as well. Inclusiveness in a small group setting encourages children to form bonds with their peers.
In sensory story time settings, the librarians are aware that every child has different needs and may behave in a variety of ways. Programs are created to cater to certain sensory needs, such as the need to move about while the book(s) are being read. Studies show that a child’s vocabulary increases just by listening to new words. Interactive books are often included in sensory story times, as are movement based songs and finger plays. These activities help to increase early literacy skills in children who may not enjoy sitting still and being quiet. Join us!
The Children’s Department at the Islip Library currently has an abundance of board games available to play anywhere in the library - Chess and Checkers, Candyland, Operation, Connect 4, Ants in the Pants, Legos, Life, Monopoly and Monopoly Junior, just to name a few.
Not only do they offer a bonding opportunity for families and friends, they offer an enriching experience to our youngest players…
So come on down and try out a game or two and watch your child exercise some life skills!
The five practices of literacy are talking, singing, reading, playing, and writing. These practices are fundamental to children’s growth as future readers. Believe it or not, caregivers are the best people to help their children learn these practices just by doing everyday things with them. Here are some tips to get you started at home.
Talk with children even from the time they are infants. They are listening and learning from you and are looking to you to see how words are formed and sound.
Think of a word and together with your child, find words that rhyme with it. Words that rhyme with cat are bat, hat, and sat!
Sing nursery rhymes such as Itsy Bitsy Spider and Humpty Dumpty. While singing, turn to your child and encourage them to sing along.
Clap to music that you hear on the radio. This helps children recognize rhythm and also can help children in the future when they are learning to sound out letters when reading.
Pick out a book from the library and sit with your child as you read. Make the experience something they will look forward to and not something that is a chore.
While reading ask questions about the book. Was there something funny that they noticed? Did they like the book and want to read other books like it?
Let your child engage in different types of play! One day they could be engaging in unstructured play such as having a birthday party for their favorite toy and the next they could be interested in playing a board game with specific rules.
While playing with your child do not feel tempted to “lead” the play. Give your child the opportunity to tell you what is going on in their mind and see how that influences what you are playing.
Have your child make a Valentine’s Day card. Don’t worry if you see scribbles, the mere act of scribbling shows that your child is working on their writing skills.
Ask your child to draw something special to them (this could be a pet, a favorite toy, etc) and speak about the drawing. Is there something there that your child wants to talk more about? They may feel that they’ve just drawn the world's tallest robot giraffe!
Try out some of these tips and help your children on their way to becoming readers!
Although the Holiday season is well underway, there are more fun things to do this winter:
Magic of Lights - Jones Beach State Park: November 17 - December 31
Pile your family into the car and drive through this eye-catching, enthralling, 2 1/2-mile-long light show that returns to Jones Beach. There’s an "Enchanting Tunnel of Lights," animated figures, and holiday characters. New this year is a holiday festival village, where families can walk around and enjoy cocoa, s’mores, holiday music and movies, a hay maze, and pictures with the big guy himself, Santa.
14th Annual Girl Scouts of Suffolk County's Holiday Light Show Smith Point Beach: December 1 - December 30
The Girl Scouts of Suffolk County and County Executive Steve Bellone have joined together to present the Girl Scouts' beloved light show for the fourteenth holiday season. This year, the show will include more lights and displays than ever before, with proceeds supporting girls' programs. For more information call 631-543-6622 ($20 per car).
Frosty - John W. Engeman Theater, Northport November 18 - December 31
(sensory-sensitive performance on December 28)
Frosty and friend Jenny are united again in their adventures as they try to save the town of Chillsville. Kids in the audience help the duo in their quest to stop evil Ethel Pierpot from melting all the snow. Take a stroll along Northport’s picturesque Main Street after the show.
For further information, call (631)261-2900 or see engemantheater.com.
Polar Express Trolley Ride - Riverhead and Southampton November 24 - December 23
Inspired by Chris Van Allsburg’s award-winning book The Polar Express, families take an interactive trolley ride while listening to actor Liam Neeson’s reading of the book and interacting with a character from the story. A visit from Santa and his elves along with hot cocoa and cookies await passengers as they disembark at the “North Pole.” For full effect, families are encouraged to wear their pajamas (Children must be 2 and older.)
For further information and pricing, see northforktrolley.com
Barnaby Saves Christmas - Theatre Three, Port Jefferson: November 24 - December 30
(sensory-sensitive performance November 26)
An hour-long musical is just long enough for the littlest theatergoers. Celebrating its 14th season, Barnaby Saves Christmas follows the journey of the little elf and his reindeer as they set off to save Christmas, ultimately learning the true meaning of the holiday season. After the show, enjoy the many restaurants and shops that line the streets of nautical Port Jefferson. For further information, call (631) 928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.
Brookhaven Town Holiday Spectacular - Holtsville: December 3 - December 17
For three weekends in December, visitors can enjoy this indoor, walk-through holiday light show at the Holtsville Ecology Site. There are raffles, and children can have their picture taken with Santa. All proceeds help to take care of the more than 100 animals that live at the site. Call (631) 758-9664 for further information.
Bayville Winter Wonderland - Bayville November 24-January 1
Captain Bay's Yo-Ho Holiday Light Show tells the story of a pirate's first Christmas. Santa's Toy Factory Fun House boasts bright flourescent-colored walls that can be seen in 3-D with glasses. Wander through a tricky hall of mirrors and then to Santa's workshop as you listen to sounds from the North Pole. Other attractions include Blizzard Bay's Arctic Skating Adventure, the Holiday Express train ride, and a magical meeting with Santa. To purchase tickets, visit www.bayvillewinterwonderland.com
'Tis The Season at Long Island Maritime Museum Sat. December 9, 4 PM - 7 PM
West Sayville's Dutch heritage and holiday traditions will be celebrated with a holiday lantern tour, ornament crafts, face painting, live entertainment, and tasty refreshments at the Long Island Maritime Museum. Reservations required. Call 631-HISTORY. ($5 per person).
5th Annual Long Beach Electric Light Parade at West Beech Street Sat. Dec 9, 6:30 PM
Free. Come down and check out the antique cars, fire trucks, floats and bicycles wrapped in Christmas lights for this festive holiday parade. Floats line up at the Sands parking lot at 5pm and step off at 6:30pm. There will be parking available at the Long Beach Catholic School lot, with shuttle buses to the West End. For further information, call (516)432-6000.
Holiday Festival at Coe Hall Sat. December 9; Sun. December 10 11 AM - 4 PM
Coe Hall at Planting Fields Arboretum will be decorated for the holidays and will have live entertainment perfect for both the young and young at heart. Call 516-922-8678 for more info.
The Chocolate Expo: Holiday Edition at Cradle of Aviation Museum: Sun. December 10, 10 AM - 7 PM
Dozens of vendor booths will be packed into the Cradle of Aviation for a full day of chocolates, specialty treats, and live demos by celebrity chefs. ($10 per person).
Santa Brunch at Long Island Aquarium Sun. December 10, 10 AM - 2 PM
$22.95 - $49.95 per person. Families will be able to enjoy a Santa brunch at the Long Island Aquarium on December 10th. The brunch also includes admission to the aquarium. Call (631)-208-9200 for more info.
Light The Night Sun. December 10, 5 PM
This event, coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce, is intended to bring the community together for one night to show unity and support for a worthy cause. This year’s proceeds will go to the Jeannette Feminella Scholarship fund, in honor of Commack Road Elementary’s beloved principal who passed away this year. Please purchase your luminary kit ($10) at Nook and Cranny,469 Main Street, Islip or Mojo Printing, 169 Islip Avenue, Islip.
Trollstice Express: A Celebration of Light and Spirit - Port Washington: Sat. December 16
$35.00 per person.Trolls guide youngsters on a magical nighttime journey that departs from the town dock on Lower Main Street. The trip climaxes at the Long Island Science Museum in Manhasset with a campfire, cocoa, and music. Reservations and payment are required in advance. Go to www.eventbrite.com.
Candlelight Evenings Holiday Show - Old Bethpage December 26 - December 30
Experience how the holidays were celebrated on Long Island in the 19th century. Walk among the historic houses, barns, and buildings at Old Bethpage Village Restoration. Enjoy traditional music, performances, storytelling, a vintage model train show, and a roaring bonfire. For more information on this and other events there, see www.obvrnassau.com.
End-of-Year Beach Hike - Jones Beach December 30
Grab your coat, and maybe your boots, and take the whole family to the Jones Beach Nature Center for an end-of-year beach hike. It’s a great way to work off some of those holiday calories, get some fresh air and exercise, and say goodbye to 2017. Phone (516) 780-3295 to register (required).
It sounds like a monumental task to read 1000 books to your infant/preschool-aged child, but many caregivers around the country have done just that. Not only does this activity provide the opportunity to bond with your children, it also helps them to develop early literacy skills in preparation for kindergarten. Literacy experts have determined that children are ready to read after hearing approximately 1000 books!
Any story your child hears read aloud counts towards your 1000 books goal including story time books, eReaders, audio books, and iPad stories. Your child may ask you to read the same book more than once and that counts too! You may “double dip” and use the same titles for 1000 Books Before Kindergarten (1KB4K), and for our summer reading club.
For more information on our 1KB4K program, pick up a flyer at the Children’s Reference Desk at the Islip Public Library. Track each book read to your child either in a book log provided by us, or onto an online tracking app using your iPhone or Android device. For every 100 books read, receive a prize and sticker. Your child’s photo (including first name) will also be posted on the Islip Library’s Facebook page (with parent’s permission) after every 100 books read. Then receive a certificate upon completion.
The New York Libraries’ website, Summer Reading Club link https://www.summerreadingnys.org/kids/ shares the following information about children who read over the summer:
Children who do not read over the summer lose up to an average of one month of school learning. Make sure that doesn’t happen to your child!
The website above also provides links for additional summer activities for children aged infant through teens. You’ll find games, puzzles, reading and writing activities, crafts, and more on this website!
1. Get your child a library card - it’s free!
2. Sign your child up for summer reading at the Library and enjoy free programs with fun activities, storytelling, reading contests, crafts and more.
3. Read with your child every day. Read during “waiting” time on trips, at the doctor’s office, in line at the grocery store….anywhere and everywhere!
4. Take a basket of books for reading breaks at the beach or pool.
5. Read on your own and talk to your child about what you’re reading! Teach by example - families who share reading raise good readers.
6. Visit the Library every week for a fresh supply of books for everyone!
7. Ask a librarian if you’d like books in languages other than English.
8. Turn on the closed captioning during TV shows or movies so children can see the words as they hear them. Check out an audio book and read the book while listening to it.
9. Keep a list on your refrigerator of the books everyone has read during the summer.
10. Choose a subject of interest to the entire family, get everyone reading about it, then share what you’ve all learned.
Beginning Friday, June 16 through Saturday, August 19 children in the Islip School district, ages infant – 6th grade may register for the Islip Library’s Children’s Summer Reading Club. Teens entering grades 7-12 are invited to join the Library’s Teen Summer Reading Club (call the Adult Reference Desk for more info about Teen Reading Club). Beginning Monday, June 26, children in completed grades K – 6 may bring in their books and tell a children’s librarian about their favorite or not-so-favorite part. Logging books online is also an option. Earn prizes and raffle tickets as your child comments on books. Children in completed grades 4 – 6 will earn prizes for the number of pages read. Infants and preschoolers earn prizes after they have had 20 books read to them. Learn more from the Children’s Department.
Call the Islip Public Library at 631-581-5933 and look for our July/August newsletter arriving in your mailbox during the last week of June!
- Jane Hoffman, Children’s Department Head
Large and small cardboard boxes, fabric scraps, bottle caps…although these items may appear to be destined for the trash, wait up! Children can utilize these items and engage their imagination in an experience called open-ended play.
Open-ended play includes utilizing simple items such as paint, water, blocks, clay, twigs, leaves, acorns and more. If you can create a different outcome with each play session, then it’s an open-ended experience. When there are no rules to follow, no problems to solve, and no expectations, your child learns to express patience, creativity, visualization, cooperation, and self-regulation.
Close-ended toys can only be used in one way, have a specific outcome, and have a correct answer. The Islip Library has puzzles and board games which engage closed-ended play. Many toys found in toy stores are close-ended. These are also important to your child’s development but remember to balance it out with open-ended play.
The train table in the Children’s Atrium has many individual train tracks, bridges and other parts in which your child can build a new set-up. Using her imagination she can build a new city each time she comes to play. Markers, chalk, crayons and paper are always available for your child to utilize and create a unique masterpiece during each visit. A container including cotton balls, socks, pipe cleaners and more can be found on the window seat in the Children’s Atrium. Encourage your child to use their imagination and create something with all of the items. You can assist your child by playing with them a bit to model the idea but be sure to pull back so your child can have his own playtime. Be an interested bystander and motivate your child to explore. You can even play alongside of your child. Be prepared to watch your child’s imagination blossom before your eyes!