Saturday, September 29, 2012

happy birthday, Clifford!

I got a call from my mom the other day and she asked if I'd heard the news about Clifford. I told her I hadn't and figured it was just another excuse for her to bring up the fact that I played Clifford in my school's book parade when I was in fourth grade. Those of us in the library club got to dress up as children's book characters and spend part of the school day at the primary school, which taught kids from kindergarten to second grade. (I had a pretty awesome get-up... but don't worry, I won't subject you to photographs)

So I looked into it and found this article on NPR's website. It's amazing to think that Clifford the Big Red Dog has been around for fifty years. It doesn't seem like that long ago since I was reading them myself! The interview with Mr. & Mrs. Bridwell was particularly touching. When he says they try to respond to each letter they get, I wonder if they mean emails or actual hand-written letters. A lot has certainly changed since the time I was reading Clifford books (or parading around in his likeness) but it's nice to know that the seemingly timeless stories are still helping kids learn to read.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

finding inspiration

Having never created a blog before, I struggled a bit to think up a title for my blog that was both: a) memorable and b) appropriate for the purposes of this class. I decided to find inspiration by borrowing from the thoughts of others... and in doing so, I came across this quote by Horace Mann:
A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them. It is a wrong to his family. Children learn to read by being in the presence of books. The love of knowledge comes with reading and grows upon it. And the love of knowledge, in a young mind, is almost always a warrant against the inferior excitement of passions and vices. 
Because it's always important to consider the context of quotes, a bit of background information on Mr. Mann: Considered by many to be the Father of American Public School Education, Horace Mann was born into poverty in Franklin, Massachusetts in 1796. He struggled to put himself through college and eventually studied law and became a politician. In 1837, he left the political sphere and was appointed the first Secretary of the State Board of Education in Massachusetts. While at this post, Mann campaigned endlessly to reform educational policies and was responsible for establishing school district libraries. (source)

With that biographical information in mind, it's easy to see why Mann placed such stock in books and reading.

In thinking back on my own emergent literacy, I found this quote to be extremely relatable. This particular line really spoke to me - "Children learn to read by being in the presence of books." I credit my nightly storytimes with my parents for contributing to my learning to read. But having been raised in a house full of books, it seems like it was almost a matter of time before I picked up a book and started reading. And as my mother recalls, that is precisely what happened. One day, a three year old me picked up the copy of In Cold Blood which she had been reading from its place on the kitchen table and just started reading it aloud. (I realize that's not the most age-appropriate book but such is life) Looking back on it, I think my learning to read was the result of those storytimes as much as it was a matter of circumstance. Either way, I am eternally grateful to my parents for raising me in a house full of books.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Hello fellow 506ers. Just to warn you all: I'm way new at this, but I'll get some content up as soon as possible!