Thursday, July 29, 2010

Road Trip Mix Tape!

I love a good road trip. Road trips include little traditions, routines, and rituals that I find comforting. Picking out books to read on the way (or some trashy celebrity magazines), digging out the bean-shaped neck pillow (I love my little neck pillow), and of course making a MIX TAPE (well, okay, it's an iTunes playlist).

This time, I not only made myself my own special mix of music for the road, but I also made Baby L a playlist.

Here's a sampling what Baby L's been going to hear on her way to Vermont, then Boston:

Elizabeth Mitchell (You Are My Flower, You Are My Sunshine, You Are My Little Bird)
Jerry Garcia and Dave Grisman (Not For Kids Only)
Bob Marley (Legend)
The Beatles (The White Album, Abbey Road)
Nina Simone (Miscellaneous)
Louis Armstrong (Miscellaneous)
Ziggy Marley (B is for Bob)

Baby L loves to hear the same music again and again. She bangs her little hands against the carseat to play "drums," shakes her rattles and shakers, kicks her tiny feet, and sings at the top of her lungs "Ahhhhh!" to her favorite tunes.

Bon voyage!

Monday, July 26, 2010


This morning the weather is BEAUTIFUL here in sunny Brooklyn, so Baby L and I went for an extra long walk with Indigo to enjoy the breeze and the sun. And on the way, L made a new discovery--TREES!

Every tree we passed was reason to stop, look up, wave to the branches, touch the bark, feel the leaves, and for Baby L, to say an approving, "Aaaah."

If hadn't been for L's coos, it would have been just a regular walk around the neighborhood, but she reminded me to stop and appreciate the trees. It's so easy to take them for granted, isn't it?

The next time you go for a walk in the park, a stroll down the block, or a hike on the trail, maybe you'll stop and appreciate the trees with your tiny readers. Talk about the height, the shapes of the leaves, the colors, and the names of the trees if you know them. Doing this gives your little ones experience with science, the outdoors, builds vocabulary, and models that trees and the environment are worth appreciating and thinking about.

Like they say, stop and smell the flowers-- and the trees too!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wallwisher! What is it? Read this and find out!

Looking for ideas for fostering a love of reading and writing with babies or little kids?

This is so cool. You can go to this link to see my Wallwisher wall where my blogging friends have been helping me gather up great ideas for reading and writing with tiny readers and writers. Plus, while you're there, you can add your own ideas to the collection.

No further explanation needed! Maybe you'll even make a Wallwisher page of your own? If you do, leave a comment so we can go and visit it.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Show Tunes

When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a singer on Broadway. I took Tap & Jazz dance lessons, and I knew all the words to Annie, A Chorus Line, Cats, and The Wizard of Oz. My mom and my grandmas would take me to see musicals at the local theater, The Flynn Theatre, whenever a good musical was showing, and I had a whole collection of the book-versions of the stories that went along with each show.

Of course, as the years passed, my dream of being a Broadway singer was replaced by other dreams: being a Broadway singer turned into being a musician, and I learned to play the clarinet and saxophone. Being a musician turned into being a writer, and I would spend hours making my own magazines and writing stories with animals as characters. This eventually grew into a short phase in which I wanted to be an artist, which eventually changed to wanting to be a teacher, among other things...

I had all but forgotten about my love of show tunes until I recently discovered the TV show Glee! Friends of mine know that our family does not own a TV, and we don't have cable. But, I figured out how to download seasons of certain shows using iTunes, so that I could keep up with my favorites--and Glee! is now one of my favorites, not because of the storyline, but because of the nostalgia that the songs spark.

Show tunes can be like old friends. No matter how many years go by, when you hear a song that you know all the words to, it's like the song has always been there.

After watching Glee! I decided that Baby L. needs to have some show tunes in her repertoire, so that someday she could also sing along to all the words. I figured out that if you make a Lion King station on Pandora, it plays lots of kid-friendly musicals like Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast, and Wicked. So now, L. and I spend our mornings listening to show tunes, and singing along, gleefully.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Summer of Loving Reading

This week I'm teaching at a five day reading institute for teachers, so I've been thinking a lot about how to help kids--and teachers--develop a love of reading. Let's be honest, if you don't really like to read, than it's going to be hard to get the kids in your life to love reading!

Here are a few ideas to spark a love of reading, for yourself:

1. Stop buying the books that your best friend, who was an English major, recommends. I know it seems counterintuitive, but forcing yourself to read things that aren't interesting (to you) is tedious. Next time you're at the book store, don't just shop for books your friends are reading--ask the staff for help. Tell them what kind of books you like. If you aren't sure what kinds of books you like, tell them what you don't like.

2. Open up the book and read a page or two before you sign it out from the library or pay for it at the book store! Don't force yourself to read things that are boring! Put it back, and find something else. There's a whole wide world of books out there!

3. Don't be afraid to try young adult literature. Some of my favorite books are on lots of middle school or high school reading lists! Especially if you've been in a reading slump, a good YA book can help jazz up your reading life.

4. Think about what's going on in your life. A new baby? Thinking of getting a dog? Going on a trip? Search for books that will help you learn about a topic that's relevant and interesting to you. Or find a good story that takes place in a setting that you have a good reason to be interested in!

Good luck! Happy reading!