Some of us are cat people and some of us are dog people. I am a cat person. I am not a dog person. That's not to say I don't like dogs. I do. Really. Long ago, I even shared a home with a sweet beagle for a time. It's just that after that experience, I prefer to enjoy other people's dogs in their homes or parks or even at the library where we have some wonderful dogs come in and visit. But even though I am not a dog person, I still appreciate a good dog story, and recently have enjoyed some delightful stories about dogs.
Five words on the cover of a new children's book caught my attention, and I knew I had to read it. One was Mystery (I really like mysteries), one was Cake (I adore cake!), and the other three were Alexander McCall Smith - a favorite author of mine! McCall Smith explains in an afterword that he felt compelled to explore the childhood of Precious Ramotswe, the heroine of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency mystery series for adults. He found that many adult readers were sharing that series between generations, and thought it would be nice for children under age 10 to have books about Precious they could perhaps read themselves. In The Great Cake Mystery (and oddly enough, we have the same book under the U.K. title - Precious and the Monkeys), the young Precious realizes that an overweight classmate is being unfairly blamed for stealing pastries. She helps the others at her school identify the true culprits, while also imparting a gentle lesson about not judging people by their appearance. The text is interspersed with lovely illustrations in shades of red, black, and gray, by Iain McIntosh. Extras include information about the characters and about the geography of Botswana, a reader's guide with discussion questions, and even a recipe for Precious's Sponge Cake Worth Stealing. Recommended for grades 1-3.
Help us call attention to the importance of literacy as we celebrate Bloomington Reads! week, May 6-12. The second annual event, sponsored by the Foundation of Monroe County Community Schools, features a week of reading and literacy-related activities in our community to spotlight the importance of literacy. (See the mccsfoundation website for a listing of upcoming events.) Just 20 minutes of reading a day can build a community of readers.
While many of us get in the habit of reading aloud to our pre-readers, children who have begun reading on their own still benefit from having an adult read aloud to them. Reading aloud a story to an independent reader can be a chance to share new vocabulary. Reading aloud also provides an independent reader with an opportunity to hear fluent reading, which helps them build their own fluency and ability to read with proper pacing and expression.
It's important to remember, too, that children learn to value reading, not only by having someone read to them, but by seeing the adults in their lives spending time reading. No matter whether it's a hardcover or paperback book, e-book, magazine or newspaper -- what do your children see you reading? What are you reading today?