Feat No 8: Once upon a time…there were treasures on shelves!

If you have a bookcase at home full of books, then you ultimately have a treasure!

If you place the children’s books on the lower shelves, then they have immediate treasures, too.

Just like they learn how to play with toys, that is how they can learn to read books.

Naturally!

I have been placing books in close access of my children since they were born.

Mags Nick reading

– But they cannot read, Eugenia. What were you thinking?

– They cannot speak when they are babies either, yet we give them toy telephones. They cannot play, catch or kick, yet we buy them soft colourful balls. In the same manner, I strongly felt that easy access to books – soft books initially, then board books and then gradually to paper books – can turn reading into something as natural as playing. And so far with Maggie the results are more than evident. And Nicholas is following. Moreover, having Maggie as his guide he too spends some time flipping through books, looking at pictures, some pages more intensely than others. His eyes see words that he cannot read but it all becomes a familiar sight to him. Just like with Maggie.

It might start off with a thirty-second glance, then become a three-minute action. Further on it becomes a twenty-minute activity and before you know it, books are as loved as toys.

We did exactly the same at our wonderful former English school in Ioannina, Greece; The Loras English Academy. Our vast bookcase was our main attraction and ultimate joy for teachers, parents and students.

Libraries LEA

(The Loras English Academy is a Feat of its own. Sooner or later I will have to write about it… I think I am better now; I am almost ready to do so.)

Some children seemed like they were picking out candies in a candy shop when choosing books. And some others were not as interested but at least once borrowed a book from us. A start must be made somehow.

“Wow, how many books you have!”, said a mother of two children who were our students. “Yes, we are very lucky to have so many and we try to expose the children to them as much as we can. I do the same at home with Maggie. Just place the books close to them and they will come to love them”, I went on enthusiastically as usual. “No, no, it depends on the child. It would be a waste of time and money if I did that with my children”.

And all of sudden… disappointment “fell kerplunk on Eugenia’s head”. And I so wanted to tell her, “Well if you have not tried it, why do you make guesses, to their disadvantage?” But I didn’t. So, I just decided to do my best through the books in our school and at some point, hopefully, the children themselves would ask their parents to also quench their thirst for books.

Encyclopedias – for children and adults, dictionaries – simple, specialized and picture-based, thesauruses, course books, grammar books, readers – fictional and factual, story books, audio and not…we have invested in. Slowly, progressively, we almost had it all.

The more we bought, the happier we got!

My absolute favourites, though, are audio story books. And we have noticed at home but throughout our career that they are the most popular with children. They are so educationally fun that I actually teach a five-year-old boy this year, who wants to go through the full two-hour session we have, sometimes, only with these storybooks.

Both my children are very fond of them too and we have the whole series of some at home. Readily available for them. Tapes, CDs and books. All at hand.

“Come on Nicholas! Let’s listen to storybooks!” says Maggie to her brother just as if doing another playful activity.

My Top 5 Super Recommendations (in order of personal and professional preference):

  1. Express Publishing – Audio Storytime Readers (Stages 1 – 3)
  2. Scholastic – Readers (several series)
  3. Scholastic – Audio Storybooks
  4. Random House – Step into Reading Series (Steps 1 – 5)
  5. Oxford – Start with English Readers (Grades 1 – 6)

And I cannot wait to do something like this again!

2013-03-03-2402

I just cannot wait!

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10 thoughts on “Feat No 8: Once upon a time…there were treasures on shelves!

  1. […] Feat No 8 will take you to Story Land, books and all their wonders… in – house and at school! […]

  2. Graham Jones June 22, 2013 at 21:56 Reply

    Eugenia, thank you so much for pointing me in the direction of this post. Wonderful reasoning (re: the toy telephones and soft colourful balls). I’m looking forward to exploring the rest of your blog!

  3. Eugenia Loras June 24, 2013 at 19:32 Reply

    Thank you very much, Graham.

  4. Martin Sketchley October 25, 2013 at 13:17 Reply

    Eugenia, the resources that you have for your young learners are wonderful. At our school, we need to focus more on young learner graded readers. It is a great idea to place books or other resources at a more appropriate eye-level so that learners can pick them off the shelf as and when they want.

    On a more personal level, I have always bought books for my son and I have always found my son heading off to his library at home and choosing books to read at home and for school. He is so lucky that we go to the local charity shop to buy second-hand books or look at various other things. A school should try to practice what it preaches and obviously the cynics will find reasons why they shouldn’t fund for reading or other material and one example is with other parents explaining why it doesn’t work. Best of luck with your reading corner and I hope you start to have a weekly reading day where learners can read, share their readings, or explain what they have read during the weekend or week.

    Finally, wonderful and interesting blog post. Keep up the good work.

  5. Eugenia Loras October 25, 2013 at 13:27 Reply

    Hello Martin and thank you once again for your time, your feedback and all your support! I cannot but express how lucky we are to be teachers and parents! Have a great weekend and congratulations on all your work!

  6. […] of The Loras English Network shares Once Upon A Time, There Were Treasures on Shelves! Her post talks about the importance of putting books in your children’s lives the way you […]

  7. A French American Life April 30, 2014 at 20:33 Reply

    Love the huge bookshelves. We did the same in our house – easily accessible shelves filled with colorful children’s books, as well as our own up higher, so the kids would see that reading and books are a huge part of our lives. Hard to believe that there are people out there who don’t realize the importance of books, or how interesting they are to babies! Both of my kids made straight for the bookshelves as soon as they learned how to move around a room. I have videos of my 7 month old daughter dragging herself to the shelves – unable to crawl quite yet but desperate to pull down those books and check them out!

    • Eugenia Loras April 30, 2014 at 21:07 Reply

      What a video that must be!You described it so well that I feel as if I have actually seen it! Congratulations on both of your children and congratulations to you as well, as a family for so wonderfully providing them with the great gift of books.

      Thanking you very much for your time and your lovely comments,
      Eugenia

  8. michelecherie May 2, 2014 at 06:41 Reply

    I try to be a minimalist but our bookshelves are exempt from this minimizing! I love Anna Quindlen’s quote, “I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” And yes, audiobooks can be so wonderful for children, all of whom love to listen to good stories!

  9. Sarah @ Baby Bilingual May 6, 2014 at 00:14 Reply

    One of the best pieces of advice I received as a new parent: Make sure to take time to read to yourself every day, and make sure that your children see it. Keep books and magazines around the house and model for your children that reading for pleasure is important!

    And I would also add (since I work in a public library) that taking your kids to the library long before they can read is so valuable too! Let them roam and explore and be surrounded by books and readers.

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