Top 3 Reasons to Read Aloud to Your Kids

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Almost 14 years ago, I started reading everything aloud to my newborn son.  He dutifully listened to Emily Dickinson's poems, all the latest adult novels and numerous classics. At the time, I didn’t realize how much reading aloud would shape our family, but I did know that it felt right.  Later I read  age appropriate books--Sandra Boynton and Dr. Suess with an occasional Walt Whitman or Rudyard Kipling poem thrown in the mix.  We graduated to longer books and now I still read aloud to all five of my kids, mostly when they are doing the dishes or cleaning their rooms.  One day last fall, I read an entire 200 pages of Because of Mr. Terupt for 3 hours as my kids weeded!
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My instincts are correct, according to Jim Trelease, the author of the Read-Aloud Handbook. When I first read it a couple of year ago, I was thrilled to find hundreds of read aloud titles, tips for luring kids away from electronics and into reading, and reasons why reading aloud is essential for all ages.  Here are my top 3 reasons for reading aloud to my kids.

  1. Vocabulary:  Kids who listen to books read aloud learn and understand more words because of it.  I’m continually surprised by the words my kids use and I know it’s because they’ve been exposed through hours of reading together.
  2. Empathy:  Reading fiction improves empathy according to a researchers at the New Smchool.  I’ve had many conversations with my kids about book characters and the parallels between them and real people. 
To read about the last reason, go to Children's Book Academy, here.

17 Kidlit Read Alouds

We love children’s books at our house.  I read aloud to all of my kids (even the almost 14 year old!) And as a marriage and family therapist, I even read picture books to my adult clients.  So it won’t come as a surprise that I’m celebrating my 17th anniversary today with a list of my 17 favorite kid-lit read alouds!
the day the babies crawled away
The Day the Babies Crawled Away, by Peggy Rathman (Picture book) We never tire of the rollicking rhyme and story of a little boy rescuer.  Every time we read this book, we find something new to notice in the stunning illustrations of this book.
barnyard dance
Barnyard Dance!, by Sandra Boynton (Board Book) The rhythm of this book makes you want to dance with the animals.  Every single one of my five kids loved this when they were toddlers and can still recite it by memory.

out-of-my-mind
Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper (Middle Grade)  This is one of the most powerful books I have ever read aloud. This book sparks discussion and teaches about discrimination and compassion without being didactic.

monster needs a costume
Monster Needs a Party, by Paul Czajak (PB)  The Monster and Me series is cleverly written, fun to read and filled with beautiful illustrations!

little pea
Little Pea, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (BB)  Whenever we read this book we laugh at the incongruities!  Spinach for dessert?  We can’t get enough!
To read more of this list, go to Lioness Calling here.

Interview of YA Author, Jessica Verdi

jessica-verdi-174I first heard of Jessica Verdi on Netgalley when I requested her upcoming book,What You Left Behind.  I found it intriguing and thought provoking and I’m thrilled to interview her on Writers’ Rumpus!
KC: You have written 3 YA novels.  What is your process and how long does it usually take to complete a book?
Jessica Verdi: Thanks for having me on Writers’ Rumpus, Kirsti. I usually start writing with only a few plot points in mind, and see where the story takes me. Then, when I’m about halfway through (or so), I’ll stop to make an index card outline and try to structure the rest of the book in a more organized way. The length of time it takes me to finish a book varies greatly. The shortest it’s taken me to complete a solid first draft was about two and a half months. The longest was probably about a year.
KC: Do you have a writing schedule?
JV: Yes. Because I have a day job, I typically write on Saturday and Sundays. I start in the morning and try to get as much done as possible before my brain is fried, which usually happens in late afternoon.
KC: Each of your books addresses edgy topics.  How do you choose what to write about?
JV: I sort of wait for the ideas to come to me, rather than the other way around. Ideas can come from anywhere! What You Left Behind was inspired by a newspaper article my husband sent me about a teen girl with cancer who was pregnant and whose parents didn’t allow her to abort her pregnancy in order to continue her cancer treatments. She died shortly after giving birth, and her boyfriend raised the baby.

To read more of this interview, go to Writer's Rumpus, here.

40 words


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Birthdays have never really affected me...until now.  I’m turning 40 tomorrow and I thought it’d be fun to wax poetic on 40 of my favorite books, or 40 great writers or 40 ways to procrastinate when you have a writing deadline...but let’s face it, a list of 40 is just too long!

So here’s a 40 word poem.


40 Words

In my sentence of life

40 seizes a semicolon;

detaching the past from the future


Yes!

40 exclaims authentically!

and questions unequivocally?


But I’d prefer that 40 pause.

An ellipse...

anticipating the page turns

of the rest of my life.



How would your age be represented in the sentence of life?

Top 10 Picture Book Read Alouds

Kids are books are my favorite.  That’s why I’m drawn to writing kidlit.  That’s why I’m always reading at least 5 books at once and that’s probably one of the reasons I have 5 kids of my own. Reading aloud to my kids synergizes two of my favorite things, making it more appealing than ever.  Here is a list of my family’s top 10 picture book read alouds.  (I.e.  we have read each of these books a gazillion times and we still love them!)
cockle doodle oops!
creepy carrots
mustache baby
se cover
that is not a good idea
the three ninja pigs
you nest here with me
wolfie the bunny
What are your favorite picture book read alouds?  Sit down and take a moment to write your top 10!