I read a sensational article last week and I just had to share it. It summarizes the importance of reading books with your children very well.  "Education is a vaccine for violence," writes Mexican-American actor Edward James Olmos - I just loved this quote inside the article and I had to laugh since it is the only vaccine that I would whole-heartedly support!  And the best way to get that education he is talking about is through books.  Read the article yourself and tell me what you think:

Read more:  http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/columnists/ci_25046173/this-is-your-brain-books#ixzz2sY1ngcJe

Did you go to the Oxford Owl link that Bonnie put in her article?  I did and discovered a great site I hadn't known about.  A little searching led me here to a list that gives tips on reading to 3-4 year olds.  Those tips include reading every single day and everywhere you go (the first time we realized my toddler was connecting words on a page to a book and words in the outside world was driving in a car when he pointed out a stop sign and told us what it said)!  The list also includes singing songs and rhymes, asking questions about the stories you read and asking the child about their favorite parts.

I'll be exploring this website further.  It also has tips for other age levels and tips for mathematics as well.

Share with me what you think and find as you read the article and explore this website!

What books are you reading to your child this week? Here's a few we've read:



As of today, my son and I have completed the first 15 lessons of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. 🙂 So far it is a really great program and we are having fun with it.   

I'm not trying to rush my 3-year-old (almost 4) into reading early...I'm just going with his readiness signs he has given me and his enthusiasm.  I talked about that a bit more in my earlier post.  Check out Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons if you haven't already 🙂

So like I said, we have finished the first 15 lessons.  So far they have introduced 8 sounds and at least a dozen words as well as two short stories (3 word sentences).  I like the approach.  There is a clear concept of teaching the child to sound out the word and a follow-up of going from sounding a word out slow to saying it fast to hear the word the child is sounding out.  In addition there is rhyming skills that are taught (although my son seems to have that skill down rather well - driving me CRAZY with all the nonsense words he rhymes together in a day!).  In addition, now that we are reading the short 'stories', there is picture comprehension.  A picture accompanies each story (short sentence for now) and questions to prompt a discussion to establish comprehension of what the child reads and sees in the picture.  It's really a nice set up.

It's a really interesting approach based on the Distar Reading Program.  One thing that makes this approach unique is that it does not initially teach letter names because the letter names do not play a direct role in reading words. That fact is so obvious yet not many of us think about that concept when it comes to teaching our children.  My son already knows the letter names but I can see that realizing this concept could save some parents some real grief as some kids just don't seem to catch onto letter names right away but can still catch onto sounds.   So in this approach you teach your child the sounds, not the letter names.  You present them one at a time having the child practice saying the sound by itself and combined with a few short other sounds to slowly sound out short words and then learn how to 'say it fast' or blend the sounds together to form a word.  This is the reason we have only covered 8 sounds so far but can still read a good number of words and now short sentences too!

This approach also uses its own Orthography or how words are spelled and thus involves writing.  Now my son is only 3 and isn't really interested in writing with a paper and pencil.  BUT, he does like markers and he does like sand....soooooo... I've adapted a bit.  I filled a cake pan (one that has a lid) with cream of wheat (you could use sand but we didn't have any available the day I started this) and he forms the letters with his fingers in the cream of wheat.  He LOVES this!  So even on days where his attention is a little shorter, I can sometimes get it back just by reminding him he can write in the sand when we are done! (otherwise we just cut the lesson short and finish later or the next day - no pushing at all!)

So I just wanted to share where we are in this beginning stages of reading experience.  It's so much fun.  He still points to words in books and says "What does that say?" and of course I tell him.  I sound it out with him too.  And he loves to find words in books he already knows.

We are also enjoying reading the books and doing some activities as suggested in Before Five In A Row.... today we covered Blueberries For Sal, a childhood favorite of mine 🙂

What are you doing in your homeschool today??


" Possibly the greatest role a book can play in the lives of young readers is o assure them that they aren't alone."

~  Richard Peck

You are absolutely correct, Richard.  I can attest that books, when I was younger especially, were my friends.  I didn't' feel alone in the world with a good book in my hands, no matter what the outer environment was - whether I was home alone, home with people I'd rather not be with at the time, or at school surrounded by bullies and people who put on airs like they were better than anyone else (now that I'm older I realize those were most likely their own protective shields since they didn't know how to escape in books!)

Little Women, I recall, captivated me in 5th grade.  Inside that book I had friends - The March family understood strife-  and they taught me to continue looking for the beauty in the world around me as strife surrounded myself and them.  Of course, our challenges were different- but it was an association that young minds (and adults) can make.

Living Books (there's that Charlotte Mason term!) provide this to children - characters and concepts they can identify with.  Surround  your child with books of good quality and amazing characters.  It may be one of the best things you do for them.

As a side note, Richard Peck is a well known author of young adult literature including the Newberry Medal for A Year Down Yonder.  Other popular titles include A Long Way From Chicago, The River Between Us and Are You in the House Alone?

Random Thoughts On a Saturday:

  • Sugar should not be a staple ingredient.
  • Vegetables should be.
  • The Red Badge of Courage is not one of those books that pull the reader in and assure the reader that he or she is not alone..... good book....yes, it's a classic... but did not pull me in at all. (more on that later this week)
  • Little boys look adorable when they put their own pants on....backwards.
  • "A Writer who isn't 'serious' isn't a writer at all."  ~ E.B. White
  • I've been going through some of my blogs stats - It seems these are the top most read posts - here are the links if you are interested and haven't read them yet:  Those People Who Always Make You Smile (I really should follow this one up),  Russian Christmas Customs, and Our Food Story.
  • I have 98 followers!!  It's exciting to see the numbers grow.  I would never have imagined this in the beginning 🙂


I just bought this book a few weeks ago from Amazon. Some may be think I'm jumping into this too quickly if you know my boy is only 3!  He will be 4 in a few months and I don't think I am.  The signs are there.  He's ready to learn.

***  If you are not familiar with signs of reading readiness - here are a few blog and websites I found on the subject:   Chocolate on My CraniumCalvert Education, and Growing Home.

My son actually started to show these signs some time ago....  always wanting to be read to, flipping the pages of the book in the correct order, picking up on the letters of the alphabet rather quickly, and actually recognizing words in books we read over and over to the extent of recognizing them outside of the original source.  His first recognized word was STOP in the book Go, Dog, Go....  which he quickly transferred to recognizing STOP signs when out and about without any direction from us!

I had no intentions to teach him to read at this young age.  But he has started on his own and I'm a firm believer if a child WANTS to learn something, he should be given the opportunity.  Now he's only 3.  I KNOW his 'desire' COULD change.  And if it does, I'm NOT pushing it.... but while it remains, I'm going to do what I can to encourage it.  So what to do?

I've heard about this book from various homeschool sources through the years.  And while we've been using some basic workbooks bought from the local stores for Preschool Activities and some I had stashed from garage sales, I felt I should be looking for something with a little more structure.  So when a friend from church mentioned that this is what her son's teacher was using in a life skills class, I thought....why not check it out?

I have to say, thus far I am deeply impressed.  I've read the Introduction and Parent's Guide in the book and we have conducted 7 lessons so far.  As a former teacher in the public schools, I am impressed with the logic of the program and can really relate to the reasons the author, Siegfried Engelmann, gives for the reasons the usual approaches to teaching reading in the public schools do not work. I'm really wishing I had had this book in hand years ago when I taught in learning support classrooms.

So far my son is really catching onto the methods fast and seems to enjoy them.  There are days he's not into it...that's ok.  He's 3.  We are not in any rush here.  We just don't do it those days.  But when he's into it, the lessons are quick and easy.  The book recommends a lesson should take between 12-20 minutes.  Most only do one lesson a day but it does state for older children 2 a day is not unheard of but recommends highly that they be done during two separate time periods of the day - NOT together.

I think I will blog more about this as time goes on.  I'll let  you know more about the program and the thought process behind it as well as the progress we make.  If you have used this program, I'd love to hear how you made out with it and what your thoughts are.  If you have questions, I hope I'll be able to answer as our adventure continues!