Now that school is almost out and summer vacation is just around the corner, it's a good time to start looking for fun activities to do with the kids. One of our favorite summer activities is the summer reading program at the Marin County Library. It's a great way to discover new books and revisit some old favorites. Children are awarded prizes based on the number of books they read—books that are read to them count, too, so even younger children who can't read yet can get involved in the fun.
This year the Marin County Free Library sponsors its “Dream Big, Read!” reading program from June 9 through August 11. Prizes include rainbow gel pens, magnetic bookmarks, Round Table Pizza coupons, and a "Dream Big, Read!" T-shirt. To claim their prizes, your kids can take their reading logs to the children's librarian at your local library branch. Check with your local library for details.
Stop by the Pratum Children's Library in Ross this weekend as it holds its introductory open house on January 22 and 23, 2011. Come visit the library, located on the expansive ground of the Marin Art and Garden Center, from 10 am to 6 pm Saturday and Sunday and browse their shelves, which contain everything from board books for babies to the complete Oxford English Dictionary to the very best books on education, parenting, and childhood.
Todd Pratum, proprieter and book and literacy expert, will give introductory talks at noon and 3 pm on both days. He'll also personally lead tours of this very special collection. Bring the children to come read some books, discover new ideas, and have fun exploring the eleven magical acres of the Marin Art and Garden Center. The library is located adjacent to the rose garden and directly across from the octagon house.
One of the things I take great pride in is our daily habit of settling down at the end of the day and reading for at least a half hour. This is something I've done with both my children since they were old enough to sit up and look like they were paying attention. I think it's partly responsible for the fact that my son is a pretty advanced reader for his age, too. It's also responsible for helping to instill the idea that reading is a fun form of entertainment, as well as a necessary life skill. It also gives my wife a priceless daily moment of "me time" after being around two small kids all day.
These days, our current nightly reading repertoire is dominated by the A to Z Mysteries series of books by Ron Roy. If you've never heard of them, you probably will at some point. The A to Z Mysteries are aimed at about the second- or third-grade level, and, as the name implies, are mysteries that are solved by a team of ordinary third-graders from fictional Green Lawn, Connecticut who just happen to have a natural aptitude for detective work. Each book—there are 26 in all, but you probably figured that out already—has a title tied into a letter of the alphabet, such as The Absent Author, The Jaguar's Jewel, or The Zombie Zone.
Get a jump on your holiday shopping, and get excited about reading at Pleasant Valley Elementary School's 2009 Book Fair—Destination Book Fair: Read Around the World. Organized in cooperation with Scholastic, the Book Fair offers hundreds of different titles for all ages—even parents, with many at bargain prices, in both paperback and hardcover. Popular titles and series include Flat Stanley, Magic Tree House, I Spy, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and more.
Destination Book Fair takes place from November 16 through 20 in the multi-purpose room at Novato's Pleasant Valley Elementary School, located at 755 Sutro Avenue (between Center and Vineyard Roads). Hours are Monday-Thursday 8 am to 2 pm and Friday from 8 am to 1 pm, with a family shopping night on Wednesday, November 18 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. The Fair is open to the public, and inexpensive Scholastic books made great gifts and stocking stuffers.
Books may be purchased with cash, check, or credit card, and all proceeds go to support the school. You can also purchase books to donate directly to the school library and classrooms.
Our son has been using our computer for a while now, and, in true younger sibling style, our 3-year-old daughter now wants to play on it, too. We don't mind if they do, but we also want to make sure that their limited "screen time" is more than just playing around. We also want to limit their exposure to commercial kids' websites and the ads that accompany them. One of the websites that all of us love is Starfall.com.
Starfall is free public resource that we were introduced to through our son's kindergarten class last year. It's a non-commercial website full of activities, games, and stories for preschoolers through elementary students. The focus with Starfall is on learning to read using a phonics approach, and is divided into sections range from the "ABCs" to the more challenging reading materials included in "I'm Reading!" Activities take the form of fun stories, often with interactive elements and animations to help get children involved. Each word can be clicked and read aloud.