The Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home

Blog, She Wrote: The Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home

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Reading. It’s what every parent hopes for their children from a young age. It’s the primary educational goal for young students in school. In fact, even after children learn to read, schools concern themselves with how well they are reading- with leveled reading books and reading comprehension exercises designed to improve fluency and understanding. This post is all about how to build a reading culture in your home without a structured, prescribed method but by immersing your home in story and books.

As homeschoolers, we have a unique opportunity to engage our children in the world of reading and most families I know want to take advantage of it. How do you go about establishing a reading culture at home? Let’s take a look.

Blog, She Wrote: Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home

Build a Home Library

For certain, one of the best ways to make reading a priority is to make books a priority. Surround your children with a print rich environment from the start.

  • The book basket- When our 15yo was a baby, we had a basket of books in every room he hung out in his nursery, the living room, the car, and the kitchen.
  • The bedroom bookcase- Make sure your child’s room has books! We’ll talk about organizing books in a bit, but having them where your kids are is important.
  • Buy Books- The library is a wonderful resource, but nothing beats owning books.
  • Get books at Library Sales- This is my favorite way of getting new titles because there is so much available at low cost.
  • Growing Your Home Library without Breaking Your Budget- A post on how to get books the frugal way.

Choose The Books for Your Library

Once you decide to build the library, how do you know which books would make a good library? Lucky for us, there is no shortage of resources and information on the topic! Here are some of my favorites and links to other bloggers with their own ideas.

  • Read for the Heart: Whole Books for WholeHearted Families- I love this book by Sarah Clarkson. She shares compelling reasons for making books a priority in your home. If you choose just one book to take away from this post, it’s this one!
  • Honey for a Child’s Heart- A classic book on using books with your children. I have one of the original editions and the newest edition which addresses screen time. You’ll find a nice anthology in this book to give you a hand with choosing titles.
  • Honey for a Teen’s Heart- Based on the same idea as the first title, this book focuses on books for older kids which is a much needed resource! I love this one because it shares how to communicate with teens using books. Imagine advice on enhancing the relationship you have with your teen based on shared books!
  • Charlotte Mason Series: Living Books- Cindy West tells all about “living books” and what to do with them. If you’ve never heard the term, living books are books written by one author who cares a lot about a topic. They make a much better read than text book type books which are edited by more than one person- less personal and more cursory on the topic.
  • Choosing Good Children’s Books- A look at how to go about discerning a good book for kids.
  • 50 Great Books for Young Readers- A lovely list of titles for elementary readers. I love a good list. Don’t you?
  • Emergent Readers to Super Readers- Wonder what books to put on the shelf for kids just leaving phonics and working on fluency? This is a must read!

Blog, She Wrote: Organizing Your Homeschool Library

Organize Your Home Library

Once you have a lot of books, you’ll need ways to organize your books as the collection grows. I’ve found a system which really works. What’s your preference?

  • Organizing Your Homeschool Library- Ideas for how to organize your books by topic. This is an older post, but we still organize books this way. Only we’ve added many titles since then!
  • Face the Covers Out- Find a way to face some of the covers out like they do in bookstores. I like to put books in a plastic shoe box so we can flip through them like papers. It saves bookshelf space too. The orientation of the books makes it easier for kids to see the books and choose to read them.
  • But Where Do We Keep the School Supplies?- A fun look at a homeschool library. I love the sheer volume of books from the basement up in this unschooler’s home!
  • Organizing Children’s Books- Another look at how you can organize books for young children.

 Set Up Your Book Environments

It’s important to have lots of areas with access to books. What does your home library look like?

  • Educating the Whole-Hearted Child- Sally Clarkson does such an outstanding job of explaining how your homeschool world could look. In it you’ll find suggestions from a veteran mom on how to encourage book reading at an early age. Trust me. This is inspirational!
  • Provide plenty of reading nooks and/or places where each child and go on their own to enjoy the book.
  • Help Your Child to Become a Confident Reader (and lover of books)- Great ideas on providing time for reading and a cozy reading environment
  • Homeschool Extras within Sight- Keep your books in your kids’ minds by setting them out on the mantle. Great tips on getting kids to notice books.
  • 10 Homeschool Centers- Include reading nooks. Love this tour of the Hodgepodge school by Tricia.

Blog, She Wrote: Library Shelf

Establish a Library Shelf

One of the best things I did for our homeschool library was to find a bookcase that I could use only for library books. Who among us doesn’t use an inordinate number of library books at any given time? Benefits of a library shelf:

  • One stop for all things library- easy to keep them there and have them returned there when a child is finished with a book
  • Easy access for exploring the books- when they are stuffed in the bag you bright them home in, they aren’t likely to be remembered or seen because they get forgotten about in there.
  • Makes a great way to find the books that need to be returned to the library- cuts down on (though doesn’t eliminate) the panic of finding a book on the due date as you try to scramble out the door!
  • The top makes a fun place for themed displays. (see link)

Read Aloud to Make Friends with Books

Reading aloud to your kids from a young age and long into their teenage years is a great way to make friends with books and to deepen and continue the relationship. It also soothes away the grumps and helps to refocus your kids on school. Need proof that it’s worth your time? Check out these posts and articles.

  • The Read Aloud Handbook- This is a topic near and dear to Jim Trelease and in this book he compels the reader to make the time for a host of undeniable reasons. Included with this book is a thorough annotated bibliography for extra help in choosing the right books.
  • Trelease on Reading- If you want to hear more on how reading aloud affects the ability of kids to read, check out Jim Trelease’s website. You’ll find a lot of great information here. One of the things I love about Mr. Trelease is his unwavering opinion that reading aloud does take a lot of time and it’s worth all the time you can give it.
  • The Reading Promise- This is a book about Alice Ozma and the books she shared with her father. It’s mostly about their relationship and the commitment he made to reading aloud to her. Their “streak” lasted well over 3,000 days. I’d love to see more about the books they read than the interpersonal goings on, but with regard to the reading commitment it’s very inspiring.
  • Tips for Reading Aloud- Ideas for how to have a successful read aloud time with your kids.
  • List of Our Favorite Read Alouds- This is the Baker’s Dozen version of a Top Ten list. Which ones does your family enjoy the most?
  • Introduce Your Kids to a New Series or Book- Often if I have a child who is reluctant to read a new book or author, I will start reading it aloud until they are drawn into the story. Then they will voluntarily read it by themselves- and love it.
  • Handwork Ideas for Read Aloud Time- Fun ideas for keeping hands busy while you read aloud.

Blog, She Wrote: Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture

Engage in Activities Based on Books to Have More Relationships with Books

My kids have always been taken with stories and making activities to go with books has never been a problem- even from when they were tiny. Here are some links and tips:

  • Create more fun from a book they love- without using any books at all, I would make up activities based on what I noticed them enjoying the most out of a book. For example, my oldest loved the book Too Many Pumpkins. One page he would spend a lot of time on is the page with all the jack-o-lanterns lit and covering two pages. I made a felt set of pumpkins of different shapes and sizes with the face pieces for him to decorate. I especially made sure to make the letters for his favorite pumpkin which said, “Boo!”.
  • Five in a Row- in all its forms including Before FIAR, Beyond FIAR, and even Above & Beyond FIAR. From preschool to middle school, this curriculum will introduce your children to books and the many layers of learning you can experience with them.
  • Picture Book Activities- this book has less formal activities such as snacks, fingerplays, and crafts that go with picture books. It’s written for preschoolers.
  • Picture Book Art- This is a lovely book with art lessons in imitating children’s story book illustrators. These are easy to follow making the process enjoyable and the results fabulous!
  • The Gentle Ways of Reading- A lovely post about how to incorporate books and reading into every day life with your children.
  • Summer Reading Fun- Ways to enjoy books all summer long with activities and incentives
  • Literary Adventures- An Adventure Box them to take your kids on a literary voyage. If you want a way to immerse kids in a fun learning experience, check this one out.

Host a Book Club  & Other Ways to Involve Older Kids with Books

As your kids get older, you can try a lot of different ways to interact with books using more sophisticated conversation. Book clubs are a great way to read books you normally wouldn’t read and to try new foods and activities. Best of all, it gets middle and high schoolers talking about books and relating them to their own world. That’s a win!

  • The Kids’ Book Club Book- A nice volume all about planning & implementing a successful book club from tweens through teens. You’ll find out how to make the guest list, where to meet, how to invite, what to do and what to eat. There are also book suggestions with ideas for club meetings.
  • How to Host A Classics Book Club- Find out how to choose books and activities to go with classic book choices. Middle and High School students are often surprised at how enjoyable classic literature can be. One favorite idea is to watch the movie after reading the book and comparing the experiences.
  • 5 Reasons to Host A Book Club for Girls- We’ve been hosting a book club for girls since September and this post details all the benefits of girls enjoying a book together.
  • How to Start a Book Club for Kids- This post from World for Learning includes a free checklist to go through as you prepare for a book club. You’ll find lots of practical ideas on how to put a group together and what to do each time. Take a look at the bottom of the post where you’ll see activity guides for three classic literature pieces.

Blog, She Wrote: Ten Reasons to Use a Kindle in Your Homeschool Part 1

Use eReaders to Boost the Reading Habit

Book lovers are sometimes reluctant to embrace the eReader, but it’s been a lovely addition to our reading culture. Enjoy the following eReader resources:

  • Ten Reasons to Use a Kindle in Your Homeschool- This is part one of a post on using Kindles which focuses on the eReader format.
  • Quick Acquisition- One of my favorite reasons for using a Kindle is that you can have that book within a few seconds of browsing for it. This is great when you forget to plan ahead or you didn’t count on the one title you need. Sometimes a Kindle book is less than the cost of gas to get you over to the library!
  • Built in Dictionary- Kids don’t think it’s a big deal to look up a word they don’t know while they are reading. Works for adults too! Don’t get me wrong. I love a good print dictionary and everything you can do with it, but we often don’t bother to look things up and the ability to linger your touch on a word in the text and have the definition and other information appear is simply magical.
  • Ten Reasons to Use a Kindle in Your Homeschool (Part 2): The Kindle Fire- The Kindle Fire brings color and interactiveness to the book party. It allows you to view picture books. While this may seem crazy to some, it does open many possibilities for taking large numbers of books with you on vacation! I love the Kindle Fire for reading pdfs and non Kindle ebooks over the eReader.
  • Free Kindle Book Series- Judy at Contented at Home keeps a fantastic list of free books you can get by series for the Kindle. Follow along with Judy so you can get all her latest book from Amazon.
  • eReader Homeschooling on Pinterest- See my collection of eReader ideas for homeschooling and reading.

Surrounding your family with good books and reading them together is never wasted time. At this point in our homeschooling, we have grown four excellent readers- some reading earlier than others, but all going from just starting out, to emergent reader, to fluent reader, and finally to being a fully engaged voracious reader. Even my 8yo is a reading hound. His greatest love right now are computer manuals as he tries to learn new programming languages!

Enjoying books together has always been a part of our family culture and it pays off in big ways as your children become teens. Ethan, my 15yo is taking literature classes both at home and at our co-op. Reading and discussing books with your teens is a fun way to stay connected.

Invest in your homeschool library! Establish the reading culture early on and enjoy the benefits of learning together with books.

Other bloggers with the iHomeschool Network are sharing Ultimate Guides today. The topics are terrific so make sure and stop by to see all the resources waiting for you!

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Blog, She Wrote Top Ten Posts for 2013

Blog, She Wrote: Top Ten for 2013It’s been a great blogging year for Blog, She Wrote. In January we moved from Blogger to WordPress and streamlined our look and organization. I’m still working on some of that, but I’ve tried more than ever to create relevant content for you all.

Most Popular Blog, She Wrote Posts for 2013

Blog, She Wrote: Top Ten Toys for Open Ended Play

Top Ten Toys for Open Ended Play- This is my ultimate list of long lasting toys for creative play. We love the things on this list. Do you enjoy any of the same things?

Blog, She Wrote: Life of Fred {Homeschool Math}

Life of Fred {Homeschool Math}- This post is very popular! Enjoy a look at how we use Life of Fred math from elementary through high school and why.

Blog, She Wrote: Organizing Your Homeschool Library

Organizing Your Homeschool Library- This is an older post that is still viewed often. I need to update this post to show our new home’s arrangement, but the basic organization is the same.

Blog, She Wrote: Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew}

Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew!}- This was part of my five day series on Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool. Full of ideas, projects, how to mentor are all there. Have a look.

Blog, She Wrote: Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day

Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day- I love this post. It shares the elements that make a joyful and productive day of homeschooling in our home. Among my favorites are reading, projecting, and collaborating. What makes a great day in your homeschool?

Blog, She Wrote: Adventure Box Themes

Adventure Box Themes- The first in a series of Adventure Box ideas in a ten day Hopscotch Series. This one features a video on exactly what Adventure Boxes are and how they can pour into your kids’ passions.

Blog, She Wrote: Working with a Bright, Occasionally Motivated High Schooler

Working with a Bright & Occasionally Very Motivated High Schooler: Tips & Tricks- The details on how we work with our high schooler to set goals and help him to see them through. I tried to share how we work with a student who isn’t always ideally motivated. I bet a lot of us have smart kids who like to sit back some.

Blog, She Wrote: Summer Fun Close to Home

Our {Close to Home} Summer Bucket List- Otherwise known as how to have fun close to home in the summer! We were grounded from traveling when my husband fell and had a severe sprain in his ankle which resulted in five large blood clots in his leg. We aimed to enjoy our time near to home and it was a fabulous summer.

Blog, She Wrote: Robin Cam

Robin Cam- Does anyone remember our robin cam from the spring? Dan set up a camera to capture the nesting season for a pair of robins who set up camp in a potted plant we were given as an encouragement when Dan was injured. Right on the table on our back porch we got an up close look. The videos are still viewable if you’d like to do a little spring dreaming. Just go from the bottom up to see the series.

Blog, She Wrote: Our Learning Environment

Our Learning Spaces: A Tour- The title says it all. This is the grand tour of our homeschool spaces. This post makes me smile.

Thank you for being a reader at Blog, She Wrote. If you’ve never taken the time to subscribe, please do so now and enjoy Blog, She Wrote in your inbox.

Happy 2014! I can’t wait to share more practical homeschooling advice and encouragement in the coming year.

Ten Reasons to Use a Kindle in Your Homeschool {Part 2- The Kindle Fire}

Blog, She Wrote: 10 Reasons to Use a Kindle in Your Homeschool Part 2- Kindle Fire

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Last week I shared the Ten Reason to Use a Kindle in Your Homeschool Part 1. That was all about the Kindle eReader such as the Paperwhite. Part 2 is focused on the Kindle Fire tablet.

5 Compelling Reasons to Use a Kindle Fire in Your Homeschool

Video

  • The Fire has an HD video capability which gives a great picture for things like You Tube
  • and Netflix.
  • I’m excited for the possibility of also viewing what’s on our satellite dish on the Kindle Fire. With Dish Anywhere we can do this- so our recorded school related shows we could see on the go if we needed to fill time.
  • Record video and take pictures if you have the Kindle Fire HDX models.

Blog, She Wrote: Ten Reasons to Use a Kindle Fire in Your Homeschool

Audio

  • You can download all your favorite stories and mp3 files onto the Fire
  • Listen to Audible books.
  • Did you know that Whispersync is available for the Fire? If you own the Kindle book and the Aubible file, you can play the audio and follow the highlighted text as you go with the Kindle. This has a lot of possibilities for students with reading disabilities.
  • Even better if you decide to listen only, the next time you open your Fire you can choose to start where the audio left off or where you stopped reading. Pretty clever.

Blog, She Wrote: Ten Reasons to Use a Kindle Fire in Your Homeschool

Cost

  • If you’d like to play in the world of tablets, the Kindle Fire is a very cost effective way to do so.
  • There are different models of the Fire from a basic 8G wifi with no camera or mic all the way up to a 3G plus camera and mic and the works. There is a Kindle Fire to fit your needs and your budget.

eReader

  • The Kindle Fire is primarily a Kindle after all, so the reading screen is lovely.
  • Best yet, it reads PDF files nicely as well. In fact, it’s the best Kindle for viewing PDF ebooks if you have any of those.
  • In addition, the Fire lets you easily view books which are graphic heavy.
  • Our cK-12 textbooks look great on the Kindle Fire and make it easy for my high schooler to read and interact with the text (like following embedded video links) all while at a table to do written work at the same time. Win.

Blog, She Wrote: Ten Reasons to Use a Kindle Fire in Your Homeschool

Games/Apps/Web Browsing

  • The Silk web browser is very functional- fast and easy to use.
  • We can access homeschooling blogs and tutorials and use them right at our work surface which is a lot less cumbersome than even a laptop.
  • There are some popular games/apps for the Kindle Fire, but don’t expect the same selection as iTunes or Google Play.
  • Follow news articles or links from email and other sources.

Blog, She Wrote: Ten Reasons to Use a Kindle Fire in Your Homeschool

All in all, I love my new Kindle Fire. It’s been a great addition to our homeschool for all these reasons and more. I’ve only had it for about a month, but it’s already proven to be useful on many occasions. In fact, I’d love to have more of them for our students. From reading books in the public domain to using online texts and doing research, tablets are very handy homeschool tools.

Win a Kindle Fire for Your Homeschool

Fortuigence is giving away a Kindle Fire HD and you still have time to enter. The giveaway ends Friday, December 20, 2013. Sign up for the newsletter and be entered into a drawing for a Kindle Fire for you homeschool.

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Ten Reasons to Use a Kindle in Your Homeschool

Blog, She Wrote: Ten Reasons to Use a Kindle in Your Homeschool Part 1This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

5 Great Reasons to Use an eReader Kindle

Quick Acquisition

  • Using an eReader doesn’t require a lot of advanced planning. You simply make the purchase and less than 30 seconds later your student is reading! I find this especially helpful when we’re asked to read a short story as part of the day.
  • Rather than going to the library or purchasing our own hard copy, we can simply add it wirelessly to the Kindle and reading begins.
  • Kindle books cost less than printed books and sometimes the book is so cheap, the gas to run to the library and back is more than the cost of the ebook.

Built in Dictionary

  • As much as I’m a fan of a bound dictionary in our homeschool, I recognize the value of taking a moment to click for the definition of an unknown word.
  • Even the most reluctant reader can come across a word she doesn’t understand and find out what the word is effortlessly. That’s a win.

Blog, She Wrote: 5 Reasons to Use a Kindle in Your Homeschool

Less Storage

  • We love paper books on our bookshelves. We also have a finite space to store them. eBooks allows us to have books that take up less room.
  • They are also very easy to organize on the Kindle eReader because you can sort them by genre.

More Portable

  • My daughter and I love that we can take many books with us places without having to carry them all or find room for them all.
  • At any given time she can enjoy all of her favorite books.
  • We like to read aloud to our kids even on vacation and this way I don’t need to leave room for anything, but my Kindle!

Open Source Texts/Public Domain Classics

  • Are easy to read and easy to work with while doing school.
  • Our high school science texts are cK-12 texts available in multiple electronic formats. My high schooler can work from the Kindle at a table to do his biology and chemistry.
  • We read a lot of classics in our homeschool and they are big books.
  • The Kindle can make a large text appear much less intimidating! And you can adjust the font size to accommodate your students needs and preferences.

Kindle Fire Giveaway

Fortuigence is sponsoring a giveaway of a Kindle Fire. Click through here or on the graphic to sign on for their newsletter and enter the giveaway. The contest ends on December 20th.

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Our Must Have Items for Homeschool Unit Studies

Blog, She Wrote: Our Must Have Items for Homeschool Unit Study

Do you ever get going on your homeschool day and think, “How would I ever homeschool with out this?” Today bloggers at the iHomeschool Network are sharing their must haves. I’m sharing must haves for unit studies.

Must Have Unit Study Curriculum

Five in a Row- this is the mainstay of literature unit study curricula and one we have used for years for our kids through 7th grade. We’ve used FIAR from preschool to middle school at all levels.

Amanda Bennett Unit Studies- We are fans of the original four week unit studies. I do dabble in Download n Go, but we’ve enjoyed many topics with AB units.

Unit Studies Made Easy- Hands down my favorite book about unit studies by Valerie Bendt. The magic of this book is how Ms. Bendt explains putting together your own unit study.

Blog, She Wrote: Our Must Have Items for Homeschool Unit Studies

Must Have Unit Study Reference Material

Books- a large home library full of the good stuff. Essential.

Library- we use our local library for extra resources on topics.

Notebooking & Lapbooking Resource Books- such as Dinah Zyke books and The Ultimate Lapbook Handbook. These have a treasure trove of ideas on how to present information kids learn in a unit study.

Reference Books- Dictionaries, Atlases, thesaurus, etc. We also have general reference books on various topics of science and social studies. I like having something on almost any topic my kids can come up with as a starting place for research.

Maps- both large wall maps and map software. Being able to see where your studies take place is important. We like to check the wall map for a quick look and being able to print good quality maps is crucial to a thorough unit study.

Blog, She Wrote: Our Must Have Items for Homeschool Unit Studies

Must Have Unit Study Technology

Computers- We have two desk tops and a laptop for our children which they share. We use Open DNS as a filter which allows us to control access at the router level. Two of our kids have Android devices and we turn the wifi on and off of those at regular hours as well. The internet is such a wonderful resource for doing in depth research.

Google Earth- Replaces our globe. So many possibilities with this software. You visit a lot of places pretty vividly with Google Earth.

eReaders- We have two Kindles at our house and four devices with a Kindle app. I love my Paperwhite and my daughter adores her Kindle Touch. I love the Kindle for books and short stories in the public domain. The flexibility of downloading a book within minutes is huge for us and keeps our day going.

Video- Whether its stop motion animation or more conventional video, our kids enjoy making videos of what they are working on.

Printer- What homeschooler can live without a printer? I bought a new one last month which can print duplex. Swoon.

Blog, She Wrote: Must Have Items for Homeschooling Unit Studies

Must Have Unit Study Supplies

Craft Supplies- Such as paper of all kinds, paints of all kinds, adhesives, stencils, etc. The two most important things about craft supplies are quality and accessibility. Make them available and watch your kids create. The result is worth teaching them to be safe with the materials from a young age.

Notebook Paper- This is a non-negotiable at our house! It is one of the most used items in our unit studies. Click the picture or the link to see how we use ordinary notebook paper in our homeschool.

Blog, She Wrote: Our Must Have Items for Homeschool Unit Study

Blog, She Wrote: Our Must Have Items for Homeschool Unit Studies

Must Have Unit Study Bonus Material

Games- You can find board games and card games based on specific topics to enjoy with a study.

Learning Activities- Bingo games, flash cards, maps, songs, music, etc.

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iHN Must HavesJoin other bloggers with the iHomeschool Network for a look at their must haves!