Saturday, October 24, 2009

Reading to Moms -- part 2

Today I completed my training on how to motivate parents to read to their children. I ended up learning a lot about how to make reading more exciting and fun.

When I do a workshop with the mothers at the shelter where I read, I’m supposed to pick a topic that is important to them and give them some ideas about books and how to read those books to their kids in a way that makes the whole experience fun. Fun may well be something most of these families are lacking as they ponder homelessness and worries about the future. At the conclusion of the workshop, the mothers will each take home a stack of books to add to their children’s “library.”

I kept getting images of a particular 4-year-old girl as she balled up her fists and held her breath before launching into a fit. She has severe anger management problems.

So with this little girl in mind, I determined that my first workshop would center on “emotions”, something I could use a little work on myself. Among the many books we looked at in my training sessions, I particularly liked “Today I Feel Silly” by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell. It helps the child learn to identify the various moods of the day, including feeling silly, sad, cranky, etc. It includes a “mood wheel” at the end with a spinner that can be used to identify the mood du jour or play a game about all the various moods.

Another book which will work well with this topic is "How Are You Peeling?" It has the most adorable pictures of vegetables with faces that clearly depict the various moods.

Someone raised the question about how to deal with a mother who can’t read. It turns out even those mothers can have a very positive impact on their children. Today I learned about Benjamin Carson, an extremely successful pediatric neurosurgeon in Baltimore. When it looked like he might be going down a slippery slope as a young child, his mother pulled the plug on the TV and gathered an endless supply of library books. She required him to complete his homework, read one of those books, and tell her about it before he could go out and play. She chided him if his homework wasn’t neat and reminded him to check it over. Many years later he discovered she was illiterate.

I’m anxious to meet the mothers at my shelter. It will be so interesting to know more about the families the children come from. If I encounter a mother who has literacy problems, I will find help for her so she can more fully enjoy reading to her children.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think every household could use a "mood wheel!" Love it.

Wish I could be there as you read...Good for you!!



5:00 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Anon -- I agree about the mood wheel. If you can move the pointer around to the right mood, perhaps that's half the battle!

And I would love to have your presence in all things reading!

11:24 PM  
Blogger lettuce said...

this is really interesting

its so easy to assume that reading to children comes as easily to others as it does to oneself.
But it doesn't - and good for you with helping other people learn how to do it

6:49 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Lettuce -- I think I will probably find that most of them know how to read to their children, but because of the demands on them as single parents who were victims of domestic violence, the luxury of reading is not a high priority. My job is to convince them to make it a priority! And to make it something fun, not an exercise in teaching.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

Ideas for moms that are non-readers: Some books come with cassettes or cds... it's not the mother "reading" to her child, it's that time spend with joint attention and discussing what comes up in the book.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kelly -- The same point was raised in our class. It's that special time together which is most important.

Mood wheel fans -- Here is how to make one!

11:36 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Barbara - I'm so excited to hear how this all turns out! Both the shelter and program are really lucky to have you on board.

7:39 PM  

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