MAY 20-June 5, I’m playing host for the annual KS/MO SCBWI Critique Group online event. The humorous Christine Schmidt, author extraordinaire, is our marvelous organizer. With my group of five, I’ve discovered fun, authentic, encouraging, and supportive writers. Some are YA. Some are MG. Some are YA/MG. We’re all looking forward to the experience of meeting new authors and reading new works!
SPICE UP READING ALOUD
Listening to stories, children learn how the funny marks on pages make sounds. Sounds become words. Words have meaning and paint pictures. Internal “dictionaries” are built and expanded so what children want to say and write is understood.
When I first began teaching primary grades in the 70s, I set up a “language experience” before reading a book. I asked a few questions about words, ideas, or artwork from the book. Children ended up better listeners and more focused on the stories. They got excited when they heard a word we had talked about! Afterwards, I asked one to two simple questions about the story, helping children better connect to the book’s “take-away.”
Spice up your read-aloud experience with one or more of these ideas:
- Read aloud every day. Pick a time when family is together. During wet and wild moments, I sat on the tub or toilet and read to my son. He got squeaky clean while listening! By reading every day or night, children learn that reading is important.
- Talk about the cover. Read the title and author and illustrator names. Ask what children see in the artwork. You’ll scratch your head in wonder at what you missed! Ask what the story might be about. Keep this talk short. You want to grow interest and vocabulary, not sprout boredom.
- Read like a Movie Star. Use different character voices. Read SLOWLY, QUICKLY or QUIRKY. Pause now and then. Don’t be afraid to laugh … or cry.
- Share the illustrations. Allow time for listeners to wonder at the art. Don’t stop and ask questions unless listeners do.
- Wait for a page turn. Before turning a page, pause. Give children time to absorb what’s happened so far. Let them have a moment to predict what might happen.
- Applaud when finished. Celebrate the story! Clap! Finger tap! Clink juice glasses!
- Story Chat: What pictures do you like? What was funny? What was sad? What did ___ want most of all? Why couldn’t he/she get it? What would you have done? Would you like ___ as a friend?
20 October 2017
Missing my son Tyler in LA as he works his way into the film industry. Missing my husband Clay who’s still working. But NOT missing my students’ research papers in English 102! The richness of retirement showered me this morning. I actually made blueberry buttermilk pancakes from scratch. No gulping them whole to race to work!
I spent days researching author websites and WordPress. Then with the two-hour help of my gracious neighbor, my site was born! Luckily my name is nondescript so foreign hackers won’t come sniffing. I continue to write children’s stories and look forward to my first “Middle of the Map” SCBWI Conference in Overland Park, Kansas, November 3-4.
On November 3, I meet with Emma Ledbetter, editor at Atheneum Books for Young Children. She’s critiquing one of my children’s book manuscripts this month before the conference. Already I’ve added a new text to the file that I sent Emma. Sheesh! Scrap the editor’s cap, Marsha! I’ve been a published author in the educational world for many years. Publishing in “kidland” is a new universe for me, one I’m excited to be part.