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Episode 8: How to Make Your Child a Better Book Worm

Superintendent Godfrey sits down with two long-time Jordan School District elementary school teachers to ask the questions we hear from parents all the time. When is the right time to start reading to children and how can parents help students develop a love for reading?

But first, Superintendent Godfrey heads to South Jordan Elementary School where he talks to second-grade students about their favorite books and why they love to read.


Audio Transcription

(00:18):
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Today, we're going to talk about reading and literacy. We'll talk about the best time for parents to get their children started reading and ways parents can help instill a lifelong love of reading in children. But first we head out to South Jordan Elementary School to talk to some second grade students about the books they enjoy. I'm the Superintendent for Jordan SchoolDistrict. You guys know what that means. Anybody have a guess.

Student:
You like, listen to kids, read.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I like to listen to kids read, that's right. You saw me doing that when I came in. Good job. What's your name?

Student:
Maddie

Student:
Maddie you're in second grade. What do you like to read Maddie?

Maddie:
About unicorns.

Superintendent Godfrey:
You like to read about unicorns, fiction or nonfiction. Oh, okay. And Liam, what do you like to read?

Student:
Lego books.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Lego books. So like how to build stuff or stories about Lego creatures and vehicles and stuff? Tell me about.

Student:
Like lion guys, like creatures and they have like these kinds of vehicles and they teleport through portals and a few bad guys.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So are they animals or people?

Student:
Animals.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Animals with Lego vehicles that go through portals. That sounds pretty exciting.

Student:
I like to read informational books about space.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Informational books, about space. Do you hope to conquer space as an astronaut or what's the plan?

Student:
Not really.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What do you like to read?

Student:
I like to eat Scooby Doo books.

Superintendent Godfrey:
You know, I can do a Scooby Doo impression, but it's not really impression of what's in the book bcCause that's just words on a page, right?

Student:
Yeah.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Watch the cartoon.

Student:
Yeah.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. You want to hear it? You want to see what to do it?

Student:
That's pretty good.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Thanks. Sorry to interrupt you guys, but thanks for letting me talk with you.

Thanks to the second grade students at South Jordan Elementary, we had a lot of fun talking to them and reading with them during our visit there.

Now we're back in studio with Laurie McCarty, a teacher at Terra Linda Elementary School and Bonnie Loki, a teacher and instructional coach at Heartland Elementary School. Alright, Bonnie, tell us a little bit about yourself and Lori.

Bonnie:
Bonnie Logan. I'm an instructional coach.  I'm located at Heartland Elementary and I love Jordan District. Go, Jordan.

Lori:
I'm Lori McCarty and I have been teaching kindergarten for 21 years. I have one son who went through the Jordan District school system.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So 21 years, that's a lot of five-year-olds. That is  awesome.

Teacher:
Yeah, I, they don't advance me. I keep saying I'm  in kindergarten. So now they're like 20 years old. This has happened this year. One of my kindergarteners is one of my kindergartner's children. Second generation, it's happened. It's awesome.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Well, thanks for coming. We're talking today about literacy for young children and we have this question every year. What should I be doing with my young children to help them not just learn to read, but learn to love to read. So what tips do you have for parents to make sure that kids learn to read and that they're passionate about it and it's exciting for them?

Teacher:
Well, parents have a huge influence with their children and they play a critical role in starting that literacy process and development. It's important to start right now, too, as soon as your child is born or even in the womb, start reading to them. Let them develop the love of reading by watching you read and watching you write all the time. Make it a consistent practice that you guys do in your home, where it becomes a part of your daily routine, right from the very start.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Just make it part of what you do. It's just what we do we read.

Teacher:
Yeah. It can be a part of your nap time routine, your bedtime routine, have books in the cars, but make it part of your daily routine.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I like those suggestions because what that means is that maybe you're anchoring it to some other things that are already part of your routine. When we're in the car, going to bed, first thing in the morning, just some things that are already making up your day, reading to those events during the day.

Teacher:
Yeah. I think it's also important to create a cozy little nook in your home too. That it's fun to cuddle up with your child and read a book. And it's amazing that you are reading and you're developing those literacy skills with your children, and you are really creating a strong bond with your child. It's really crucial quality time that you have with your children. And in fact, oftentimes when we ask children, "What is your favorite activity to do with your parents?" A lot of times they will revert back and say, "When we cuddle up and have story time."

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's great. Well, I have to admit that when you said cuddle up and cozy little nook, it sounds like I want to have a nice hot cup of cocoa and a Minky Couture throw. That's a great idea. So that might happen later this weekend. So tell us, what else can parents do? We get a routine, have a nice kind of a comfortable spot. And remember that it's a bond between a parent.

Teacher:
Yes, I think it's also important to let them pick books that they're interested in. Find out the interest of your children and help them find those books. Make going to the library to check out books a fun day, a fun date with your child to have an adventure and really let them have a say in what books they're going to read. It's important to also introduce them to informative texts so they can learn that sometimes we're reading stories and we're receiving a story from it. However, other times we are reading to learn about a specific topic. Maybe it would be dinosaurs, maybe it would be dancing. Maybe it would be bugs. But it begins to develop that interest, the thirst for reading for information.

Superintendent Godfrey:
And a library is a good resource for that. You can just ask a librarian and say, "Where can I find some green informative texts?" Now I used to teach English and we called it fiction and nonfiction way back when, and nonfiction is just like, well, it's not fiction, but I guess we'll read it anyway. It's nice. Informational text is a much better way to refer to it. I love that. So what other tips would you have for parents who want to be sure that their kids are readers right from the start?

Teacher:
Well, as you're reading for reading with them, one thing to keep in mind is that you're building vocabulary. And so, especially in informative texts to be talking about if it's an animal that they're interested in, you know, "What do you think that word means?" Or "Today in the classroom, we read about a character that had scraggly hair." And so we talked about "What do you think that would look like?" And we had a lot of fun trying to figure out what scraggly hair probably looked like and drawing those pictures of that and building on some visualization. So not only are you building vocabulary, but you're building the skill of being able to visualize some of those things as you get into different texts that don't have a lot of pictures.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So do you actively tap into the child's imagination by asking, "What do you think scraggly hair would look like? Or what does that sound like?"

Teacher:
Yes, absolutely. It's so important to have them imagine what that would look like or think about what they would do if they were in that story and ask those questions, have that dialogue. And as you're in that cozy place with your child to have that dialogue with your child, what did you think of this story? What do you wish would have happened at the end or any sort of conversation just about it, just to have that time of dialoguing about the characters, the setting, or the problem or the solution.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's a good reminder, to think about questions that you can ask to kind of activate the child's imagination and maybe have them ask some questions of themselves about the text, so they're interacting with the text. That's something that I can forget to do sometimes when I'm reading my son. My youngest is 10, but we still read it.

Teacher:
Right. And depending on what a child's exposure is, sometimes they're almost intimidated to step into that imaginary land. They think there's a right or a wrong answer. And so for them to just be able to just fantasize about what they think it could be, it's kind of unfamiliar territory for some children.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So it's good, right from the start to ask them those questions. I like that there's not a right or wrong answer. It's just their reaction. And they get to react to it the way they want to. Is there a certain amount of time that parents ought to be reading with their child every day? I've heard numbers knocked around about how many books you should have read to your child by the beginning of kindergarten. Any recommendations that way?

Teacher:
The more you read to your child, their attention span will lengthen. So as that lengthens, you can increase the time that you're reading nightly with your students.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So you just need to be sensitive to the child's attention span.

Teacher:
Absolutely. I have the opposite problem. A lot of times with my kids, they would outlast me and they would want to read so long that I'm falling asleep and I start to read jibberish. So if you have any tricks for how you can be in a cozy nook and still stay awake while reading to your kids, please let me know.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So are there, are there some things not to do? Are there some things that become kind of an obstacle to encouraging reading in children?

Teacher:
Well, I just wanted to say, and it's tagging onto what you said, as a working parent, sometimes you're exhausted and I just want to skip it. I don't have a half an hour. I don't have time just to read. Don't feel like you have to have a certain amount of time that's bookmarks, right? You can start it and stop it. There's a skill in that and talking about what did we, what happened yesterday in the story? What was the beginning? Now let's continue. What do you think's going to happen next? So don't be intimidated. If you don't have a lot of time in the evening, I know what that's like as a working parent. So just read as much as you can.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's great advice because sometimes we put this expectation on our central. I've got to read for half an hour, where just being consistent for five minutes is probably better than, than trying to force that.

Teacher:
I loved the way you said consistency, because honestly, that is the key. If you're consistently reading for five minutes with your children each night, do it. But make sure it's a consistent practice.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So read every day, gauge their level of interest, your ability to stay awake and blend it together, to just create an experience they can look forward to every day.

Teacher:
Absolutely make it a fun activity with that child.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. We'll take a quick break. And when we come back, we'll talk about some of the skills be aware of as you're reading to your children, to help them begin to develop into independent readers. We'll be right back.

Sandra Reisgraf:
How many times do you hear your child ask, "What's for breakfast or what's for lunch?" Find out what's on the menu at your child's Jordan School District school every day by simply downloading the Nutri-slice app to your smartphone or desktop. The Nutri-slice app gives you quick and easy access to daily menus, pictures of meal choices and nutrition information, along with allergens present in the food. The app also allows students and parents to give feedback on food. Download the Nutri-slice app today and enjoy school breakfast and lunch in your school cafeteria.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Alright. We're back from the break with Lori McCarty from Terra Linda and Bonnie Loki from Heartland Elementary. And they're here to talk with us about reading with your young children before they get to kindergarten. What are some of the specific skills that we can help support children in developing so they become independent readers on their own. What do parents need to be aware of so that they can have a solid foundation?

Teacher:
When you begin reading with your child, it's really important to go over concepts of print with them. And that simply means, how you hold the book, turning a page when we're looking at that page, where do we start to read on that page. Which direction do we go? Letting them know that you read from left to right and top to bottom, just those very, very basic skills that children develop as they are immersed with reading. It's also important for them to start to understand that those letters on the pages are delivering the message and that they are intrigued with that. And they want to read to find out what message that book is holding. I like to tell my students, when they're learning the alphabet, that this is just a magical process. And if you can learn these letters and you can learn the sounds that these letters make, you're able to make these words.

And with these words, we make sentences and with sentences we can write stories. And then we can read stories and write about our stories and it unlocks a whole magical process and a whole new adventure for the child. But that adventure honestly starts with how do we hold a book and where do we begin to read on that page. Environmental print is a huge thing for young children. What's environmental print? As we are driving around running our errands, we always see these signs of McDonald's and Burger King. And these are signs and words that these children see all the time. It's the print that they see throughout their environment, but these children naturally pick up on these words and they're able to read these words. We want to help them with these, play games in the car. What word can you find? Or can you find a letter B on this sign. Playing those fun games, getting them excited about the print is a great way to spark their motivation.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What about reading the same book over and over and over and over again? I've done that many times and I've tried to be a really good dad and not say anything about how many times we've read that same book. Even, as I described earlier, tried to stay awake through that same book. Is there value in that? Should we allow some kids to just keep reading the same book over and over again?

Teacher:
Yes, absolutely. The child wants to read that book over and over because they love it. They have interest in that, and that is a way to build their motivation. It also helps them with learning certain skills in that book and building fluency with maybe the letters or the words in that book as well.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Sorry parents, you have to keep reading that book over and over again.

Teacher:
And it also helps with comprehension. I love to do that even in the classroom. Read the same book and go deeper and talk more about some comprehension skills I'm inferring. What do you think's going to happen next? And why do we know that? And for me, that's so much fun to delve in when you've read the book more than once and to really start talking about why you think the character said that, or what you think they were looking at then. It's kind of like giving you a chocolate chip cookie and only letting you have one your entire life. It does not sound like a good idea.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Oh, you love those cookies. Enjoy them all the time. You can tell.  It makes sense to me that reading the book over and over again has benefits. What if you feel like a child wants to keep reading books that are too easy for them, or maybe aren't challenging them? Is it better to let the child choose the book and allow them to read something that's of interest? Or do you need to be thoughtful about making sure that they're progressing with more and more difficult texts?

Teacher:
I believe there's a balance with that. We want to keep our child or children motivated with reading. We want them to have the opportunity of choice and choosing books. They want to read. However, we do want to be able to push their skills and help them develop deeper vocabulary, deeper comprehension, and there's a time and a place for both. And when a text is easier for a child, that is a time when you can delve in a little bit more to some comprehension or even do some writing beyond it. You know, if you were to write some more to this story, what do you think would happen next if there was a day two to this story? So there's an advantage sometimes, of having a text that's a little bit easier. So then you can go deeper with some of your questioning and have some fun with it.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So texts at different levels of difficulty can accomplish different things.

Teacher:
Absolutely.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah. Tell me some of your favorite books for young readers, some great picture books, some books that are perennial favorites.

Teacher:
Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom, Brown Bear, Brown bear. The Mitten is fun. Pete, the Cat books.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What are good resources for parents to go to, to find lists of books or ideas for what they can read to their child?

Teacher:
Any library would have a list, but you can also go to the Media Specialist at your school. Talk to your child's teacher, and they could give you a list of books that would be appropriate for your child's reading level.

Superintendent Godfrey:
We're going to take a break. And when we come back, we'll talk about how to address concerns you may have regarding your child's reading skills. Stay with us.

Sandra Reisgraf:
Do you want to know what's going on in Jordan School District, maybe see your child or a friend featured in a school story? Check out our website at jordandistrict.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at Jordan District. Let's connect today.

Superintendent:
We're back with Lori and Bonnie, talking about their ESY for very young children. If a parent is worried that their child might be falling behind in reading skills, is there a sign for them to watch for, or what should they do if they have concerns?

Teacher:
Honestly, you need to go talk to your child's teacher. That's what the teachers are there for. They're professionals. They're working with your child daily and they know your child's reading skills. So approach them. Have a conversation with them. Ask them for helps and tips that you can be doing to work with your child at home. Some things that you can do to further their development. Going to your teacher is the best.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Thank you very much for being with us. This is great information. We end every podcast with Two Truths and a Lie. It's your chance to lie to the Superintendent. And I can tell that Lori is dying to lie to me. So, it's your time. I can see it in your eyes. So let's do this. Two Truths and a Lie.

Teacher:
Okay. I used to work for a movie star. I ran my first marathon this summer and I've been to every state except for one.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I wanted to ask a follow-up question on every single one of those. So let's see, I'm going to say that you have not run a marathon.

Teacher:
I haven't. Wow.

Superintendent:
I guess my lie meter continues to work. It was honed when I was an Assistant Principal at the high school. It's still working, fortunately. So tell me about which state have you not been to?

Superintendent Godfrey:
Alaska. Yeah. Just made it to Alaska. It's my 50th birthday. My 50th state. I made it. Are you going to go? Are you hoping to go?

Teacher:
It's not where I'm planning on going to anytime soon, but it's on my bucket list making the other 49.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah. Thank you. I'm dying to know which movie star.

Teacher:
She's old school, butI worked for Mia Faro.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Really? Wow. In what capacity?

Teacher:
A tutor to one of her children. She's adopted several children when I lived in Connecticut. And so I had one of her students that I worked with.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Fascinating. How long did you work with Mia?

Teacher:
Oh gosh. It wasn't that long. It was just through the summer because I worked in the classroom with him and then tutored him over the summer, but I went to her home and everything.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Wow.

Teacher:
Yeah. So pictures of Frank Sinatra. Should this all be on? Maybe Mia doesn't want to know that she doesn't want to know about it.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I'm not sure Mia listens to the podcast.  If Mia is listening....

Teacher:
I think she's a fan.

Superintendent:
Mia, if you're listening.....

Teacher:
She's a follower of your's, I'm sure.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Thank you very much. Both of you. That was fantastic. And remember, education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see you out there. [inaudible].

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