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July 3, 2017

This Summer, Find Learning in FUN Things!

Our favourite activity at Calgary Reads during the summer is to read outdoors. Between our staff, we like to read in our backyard, in the park, on our deck, on our dock, in the mountains, on the beach, while camping, while hiking, and in new places that we might visit. Part of what makes the summers so special is that we get to do things (like reading while lying in the grass) that we can’t always do throughout the year. Similarly, there’s an opinion among parts of the research community that summer learning shouldn’t resemble learning in school. Like teachers and parents, school-aged children benefit from a break in their routine. Unstructured time and time for play are important for healthy brain development and allowing children to learn about the world around them.

Here are some ways you can incorporate learning into a whole lot of fun this summer.

Make summer reading just about fun: Give your child permission to read whatever and whenever he or she wants to. Even if the reading material may not seem to have any apparent educational value, your child will show improvements in vocabulary, fluency, confidence, and associate reading with joy. Even the pictures in magazines can spark a child’s curiosity or interest or imagination.

Take advantage of summer activities and events: It’s not just Calgary Reads staff and our love of outdoor reading, there are many festivals, farmers markets, concerts, and other special events that occur only in the summer. Many of them, like the Calgary Stampede, provide educational opportunities for children to learn about different things like agriculture, fire safety, or science. There are many more informal learning opportunities; for example, your child can learn about waste, recycling, composting, and landfills (and see lots of big trucks) by going to a community clean-up.

Take advantage of your local library: There are many summer programs taking place at Calgary Public Library branches. While you are there, be sure to encourage your child to pick up as many books, CDs, and DVDs as you can carry home. If your child would like to learn a musical instrument, you can now borrow those from the library for free as well!

Remember that not all learning needs to look like classroom learning! Spend time with your child this summer exploring their interests and finding learning in everyday activities that are both educational and fun, and also remember to read aloud with your children, regardless of their ages.

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July 1, 2017

Summer Reads and the “Collyercott” Medal Awards

In 1937 the Caldecott Medal Awards were created by the American Association of Library Service to Children presented annually to selected ‘most distinguished children’s picture books’. Randolph Caldecott was a nineteenth-century English illustrator and his namesake award continues to this day. As an elementary school teacher I used to also place ‘stickers’ on my favourite picture books so children could be introduced to the amazing art found within wonderful children’s literature. As a play on words I called the awards I gave in class as the Collyercott Medal. It’s time to revive this award so I can regularly share again my favourite picture books but this time with Calgary Reads readers.

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Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin
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This magical wordless picture book is a perfect parent-child story telling experience. Follow the little fox and discover a delightful and wondrous world.

This is Sadie by Sara Oleary (author) and Julie Morstad (illustrator)
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Enjoying reading about a little girl with a big imagination who likes stories.

Because it is summer and the perfect time to read a chapter book aloud together as a family I am also awarding  Wild Robot by Peter Brown and What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World by Henry Clark with Collyercott Medals.

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Hispanic father reading book to daughter

June 14, 2017

Hop on Pop and Read with Dad This Father’s Day!

This Father’s Day, one of the best gifts your child can give Dad is a book that they can both read together. Books build babies’ brains and bonds, and storytime is also cuddle-time!

Nearly 40 years of research tells us that when fathers are involved in their children’s language and literacy development, a myriad of positive outcomes arise. Children demonstrate a greater interest in books when they see Dad modeling reading. They encounter more opportunities to have meaningful conversations about a wide range of topics, they develop stronger cognitive, emotional, and social skills; and they learn through play.

Above all, reading with Dad sends the message that reading is important.

The benefits of storytime are not limited to just children—even Dads benefit in numerous ways: by learning new things and picking up new skills—especially if they themselves struggle to read—by increased confidence and self-esteem, by being more engaged in their children’s learning, and by having an opportunity to de-stress.

Father’s Day doesn’t have to come only once a year. Every day can be a celebration of the bonds between fathers and their children when Dad makes time to read to his children—no matter how old they are.

If you’re looking for ideas on what to read this weekend, here are some of our favourite books that feature dads:

3 Classics:

  • Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
  • Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
  • Just Me and My Dad by Mercer Mayer

3 Newer Titles:

  • A Perfect Father’s Day by Eve Bunting
  • Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
  • My Dad Used to Be So Cool by Keith Negley

Supporting Research:

Five Reasons Why Dads Should Read to Their Children More: The Telegraph, 2015

The Benefits of Fathers Reading to Their Children: National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, 2015

Why Fathers Matter to Their Children’s Literacy: Christina Clark, National Literacy Trust, 2009