As an author now myself, and an avid reader myself, I love the idea of this holiday because it is a great time to get your children to think about the authors they love, and to do projects relating to books.
According to Holiday Insights, "Today is all about recognizing and celebrating the many great American book authors. Because of them, we have so many great books to read and to be thankful for. It's not easy to write a book. So it seems only fitting, that this special day exists, to allow us to show our appreciation to all American book authors, past and present."
Teach your children a love of reading.
Reading is a great way to teach your kids about the world, and to help them develop their interests. For small children, there are lots of chubby board books that they can read and learn new words. Picture books are a great way to introduce kids to reading and all of the fun that books can be throughout their lifetime.
Taking children to a local library for story time is another way to teach kids a love of reading. At our local library, there are different story hours for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Usually, there is a theme to the books that they read, as well as songs, games and sometimes a craft based on the book. It is a great way to get kids involved with the library, and to think of reading as fun!
Our library also has a special kids area, where kids can read aloud, play with blocks, and other centers. This lets them explore with you, read new books, and learn that the library is a fun place to be!
In addition, many libraries will also have book sales, where you can get used books for a discount. This is a great way to stock up on story books to read with your kids at home. We have gone to many book sales to update our book collection in previous years.
Reading with kids at bedtime is a great part of the nighttime routine that can help them enjoy some together time with you, read a great story, and wind down before bed. When we read with our kids, not only is it a great bonding experience, but it can teach them to speak and read better themselves. As kids get older, they may want to read to you, and eventually read a book on their own before bed.
My kids like to read together sometimes too, it is a great bonding experience for them too, especially since they have such a big age difference. It is fun watching Atlantis read to River, and do all the different voices for the characters. They enjoy their time together, and a bedtime story is a great routine that they can enjoy together.
Reading is a Foundational Learning Skill.
Learning to read is one of the most important skills for kids to learn, since much of what they will learn in school is through reading. We can teach reading through using stories, as well as letter recognition games and phonics activities.
Some of the easiest ways to teach kids to read include using letter magnets, or flash cards. There are also simple tracing pads you can get at the dollar store to have them trace letters and color pictures.
There are many different online programs that make learning to read fun, such as Leap Frog, ABC Mouse, Hooked on Phonics, Reading Eggs, and many others. These programs can supplement what kids learn at school, and what we teach them ourselves.
According to Reading Eggs, the basic reading skills that children need to learn are:
Phonemic awareness – the ability to hear and manipulate the different sounds in words
Phonics – recognizing the connection between letters and the sounds they make
Vocabulary – understanding the meaning of words, their definitions, and their context
Reading comprehension – understand the meaning of text, both in storybooks and information books
Fluency – the ability to read aloud with speed, understanding and accuracy
It is important to remember that these skills will all take time to master. We don't want to push our kids too hard, so that they lose interest in learning to read altogether. Learning to read should be fun, so that you can keep your kids engaged.
With toddlers or preschoolers, it is OK to let them do a reading activity for as little as 15 minutes a day. This is because our little ones have short attention spans, and can easily tire of an activity. Of course, if your child is having fun, you can let them spend longer.
My older daughter innitiated learning to read on her own actually, one day when she was around 4 years old, bringing me her etch a sketch and asking, "mommy, teach me to write letters." I would show her one letter at a time, and she would write it over and over until she got it right.
Another way to get kids to practice learning their letters is simply to write them on a piece of paper and let kids trace them. My younger daughter is great with this, and always wants to "sign" her name on cards that we send out. The more we embed reading and writing into our daily life, the more kids will want to learn so that they can be a part of things.
Model Being a Reader.
When you read yourself, it shows kids that reading is a great passtime. Kids like to do the things that their parents do, and when you read for pleasure it can show them the value of reading.
Whether it is novels, magazines, or news, we usually read something pretty much every day. Letting kids seeing us reading provides a great opportunity for them to appreciate the importance of reading.
Even if you don't have a lot of time to read, there are still ways to show your kids that you like and care about reading.
According to Scholastic (think the school book club), "When life gets busy and I don't have time to be the reading role model I want to be I have found other ways to let my children know that I love to read for fun. Here are 5 simple ways I have been a reading role model for my children when life gets busy:
Talk about the books you are reading. In the car, at the dinner table… a few positive mentions every now and then can make a big impact.
When you go to the library/bookstore to get books for kids make sure you grab one for yourself. There were a few years where most of these books would go unfinished at my house but my young children still got the message that reading was something I looked forward to doing.
Take reading material with you when you travel. I always have reading materials with me on planes and even though I usually end up reading very little my children see how important reading is to me, and even ask "Mom did you remember your book?"
Get a magazine subscription for yourself. When the subscription arrives every month make a big deal about how excited you are and you will be letting your kids know that reading is worth getting excited about.
Ask for book gifts for yourself for holidays and birthdays.
You can show kids that you love reading in any of these ways, or even more. Just make sure that you don't make disparaging comments about the things you have to read for work, at least in your kids' hearing.
Learning about authors.
For National Author's Day, you can teach your kids about some of their favorite authors too. If they like Dr. Seuss for example, then you can look up some fun facts about him, and read them to your kids.
It may be surprising, but many of these much-beloved books were written as early as 1920, all the way through 1990. With books written across such different dates, kids may notice things in the books that were normal for the time, but not any more.
For example, in the book "The Cat in the Hat" the two children are left at home alone, as was common in years past. However, in the new version of the "Cat in the Hat" movie, the kids are left with a babysitter whom the cat puts to sleep. It is interesting to see how the stories are updated to match with current times. When reading these old books, kids may ask some questions about things that are different than in the modern times.
In the past, we have looked at the publication dates on some of our older books too, so that we could explain the historical context. We were reading a book where the characters were talking on a phone with a cord, and we had to explain about old phones, and how they worked. That was a great learning opportunity too.
Author Activities for Kids.
For National Author's Day, you can have your kids do fun activities based on their favorite authors as well. Here are some ideas:
Draw pictures of their favorite book characters
Make a diorama based on a favorite book
Dress up as book characters to do a play
Make puppets to act out a story
Write a second part to a favorite book
Imagine that an old story took place in the present day and rewrite it
Watch a movie based on a favorite book
Any of these activities could keep your kids busy all day, having fun inspired by their favorite stories! These activities are similar to what they do at a book club in the library, and they could even invite some friends to come and play with them.
Teaching kids to appreciate the authors that write their favorite books can be great fun and help kids to further develop their love of reading. You can celebrate at home, or take them to the library or book store to pick out some new books too.
Let me know in the comments what your kids' favorite books are, and what information you would like me to cover in future articles!