Archive | Early Literacy

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Children Learning to ask Great Questions

The qualities of the questions we ask children are important. From them, kids learn to ask and answer good questions or to remain silent. There are Direct questions, which focus upon verifiable answers. Questions we hope even young kids can correctly answer are designed to ensure that a student / child is processing experiences productively and that expanding their thinking. […]

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The Primacy of “Mother Language”

This week the world celebrates International Mother Tongue Day. February 21st is the date designated in 1999 by the United Nations to recognize the primacy of the home language in everyone’s culture. That language in turn is the most comprehensive path to the full understanding of a people and their values. The commitment of this […]

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The Magic of Letters

Letters are magic. No, not alphabet letters. I mean  “snail mail.” Handcrafted letters are slow motion conversations across space and time that share emotions, events and ideas using paper and print. They have the gravity to split time into “before the letter arrived” and “after the letter arrived.” They provide us with an invisible asynchronous connection with other people. The first time a […]

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Do you have the most important job in the world?

Early childhood education, defined as the nurturance of cognitive, emotional and physical growth of children from birth through age 8, is inarguably the most productive and fruitful window for establishing the life trajectories of kids. This relatively short period of dramatic physical and neurological expansion, of psychological and emotional growth, is paramount in its importance for child development. Yet, that fact seems pretty much ignored by education experts and policy makers who spend an unconscionable amount of time, energy and money on engineering and assessing the results […]


There’s Reading Aloud, and then There’s the Magic of Books

The results are in! Reading books to children is a really, really a good thing. Along with its academic benefits of increasing language and vocabulary strength, reading aloud with children helps them see the wonder that can be found within book pages. Lap reading may be their first encounter with the magic of books, print and […]

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“Could you read with ME today?”

Jean Anne Clyde, my dear wife, is also a retired teacher educator, who focused her university teaching on literacy. Recently, she volunteered at a school two blocks from our home. Every Tuesday she drags a suitcase filled with favorite kids’ books to the school. For an hour each week, Jean Anne works with primary school children, helping them improve their literacy–not just […]

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What Sacrifice is Too Great? What Investment is Too Small?

To sacrifice is to give up forever something we would prefer to keep. Sacrifices are made to obtain something of  value, a personally irreplaceable loss of time, opportunity or possessions, given up usually for others. All families make sacrifices to get what they want for their children. After all, what sacrifice is too great to make […]

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Why Do We Teach Reading Anyway?

The best way to improve children’s reading is to arrange it so that kids are frequently reading what they want to read, at least according to Stephen Krashen who’s a vocal proponent and prolific researcher of this theory. In his recent book*, Krashen asserts that for both developing and fully mature readers, the best book […]

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To Be a Reader or Not: Children Ultimately Have to Choose

Children learning to read books respond well to adult guidance, patience and understanding. In return, adults typically expect children to daily hard work on learning to read. However, daily willingness put forth by kids toward learning to read  is a bigger and wider determiner of success than can be matched by professionals and well-meaning families. The roles […]

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Plant a Book Garden. Grow Readers.

By Mike McGuffee My mother always had a garden. To be precise, she had lots of gardens. Our yard was dotted with plants that were given the prospect of a good life from my mother’s hands. Through the backyard of my childhood, I grew alongside Black Diamond Watermelons and Paper Shell Pecan Trees. I believe […]