Between the Lions the Book for Parents: Everything You Need to Know About How Children Learn to Read--And What You Can Do to Help

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Learning to read is one of the most important challenges children face, but parents don'talways know how to help their children master the complex skills involved. With this wonderful new book, based on the award-winning public television series Between the Lions®, parents of children ages four to eight will find all the information they need to help their children navigate this exhilarating — but sometimes mysterious — journey.

Since its premiere in 2000, Between the Lions has ...

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Overview

Learning to read is one of the most important challenges children face, but parents don'talways know how to help their children master the complex skills involved. With this wonderful new book, based on the award-winning public television series Between the Lions®, parents of children ages four to eight will find all the information they need to help their children navigate this exhilarating — but sometimes mysterious — journey.

Since its premiere in 2000, Between the Lions has become one of the most popular children's series on television — and research shows that it actually helps children learn to read. Based on the literacy curriculum that underlies this innovative, entertaining series, The Between the Lions Book for Parents draws on the latest and most reliable research to give parents practical tips to help smooth their children's path to reading and writing. Practical, comprehensive, and fun, it's helpful both for children who are struggling a bit and for those who are moving along just fine. Parents will find a wealth of specific information about what children should learn every year, how to help them learn it, and how to tell if they're running into difficulties.

Whether your child isn't getting a comprehensive program of instruction at school or you just want to stimulate an interest in books at home, The Between the Lions Book for Parents is an essential addition to every parent's home library.

So enter the world of Between the Lions and help your child fall in love with reading.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Parents of preschoolers are probably familiar with the PBS children's series Between the Lions, which features a family of warm and fuzzy lion librarians and their cubs and friends. This book, by Between the Lions curriculum director Rath, and Kennedy, a journalist, is strictly for parents (despite the hokey lion cartoon illustrations sprinkled throughout the text). Part I focuses on the curriculum, but the real meat of the text is found in the following chapters, in which the authors provide an age-by-age guide to reading development, along with activity guides and book lists. While pointing out that each child is unique and follows his own path to literacy, the authors nevertheless offer parents a guideline for anticipated literacy and reading milestones from preschool to grade three. They outline the development of reading skills (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension) and reveal what kids should be learning in school as well as what parents can do at home to add reinforcement. Storytelling, reading aloud and creating a print-rich environment are just a few of the many suggested methods the authors provide to encourage a love of reading and help kids find success. The book's format is especially appealing; readers can cut to the chase and find the chapter that covers their own child, or read ahead to find out what skills will be coming up in future years. This is a helpful resource for parents who want to enrich their child's reading experiences. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Parents who make reading proficiency a primary goal for their children are helping them lay a foundation for lifelong learning and enjoyment. With an Information Age economy that demands ever higher education levels for success, that goal has become even more important. Fortunately, educators and researchers, in collaboration with animators and puppeteers, have produced such landmark programs as Sesame Street and Between the Lions (BL) to help kids develop reading proficiency. Just like the show, this companion to BL entertains with an educational emphasis. Rath, curriculum director for BL, and Kennedy, an editor at the Boston Globe, offer parents insight into the mechanics of learning to read, guidelines for measuring progress by grade level, marvelous phonics, reading, and writing activities to try at home, and ways to help struggling readers. A helpful and supportive work that is also a good read, this is recommended for all early childhood and elementary education collections.-Kay Hogan Smith, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Lib., Lister Hill Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060510275
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/6/2004
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 7.37 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 0.95 (d)

First Chapter

The Between the Lions (R) Book for Parents
Everything You Need to Know to Help Your Child Learn to Read

Chapter One

What Is Reading?

As parents, we come face-to-face every day with mystery. How does that tiny baby figure out, without being told, how to roll over, sit up, crawl, and walk? Where did your preschooler learn all those words and how to put them together? How can your third-grader program the VCR when you can't? And who left those cookie crumbs all over the floor?

We can't help you with the cookie crumbs—although, let's face it, you probably don't need Sherlock Holmes to figure that one out -- but we can offer some useful information, guidance, and encouragement about one of the great mysteries of childhood: what is reading, and how is my kid ever going to learn to do it? Especially in our society, where so much of a person's success seems to depend on his ability to do well in school, parents can feel anxious about whether their children have what it takes to learn to read. So here's the first thing you need to know: just about every child, given the right support and instruction, will learn to read. And, for struggling readers, there's a lot you can do to help.

Just by picking up this book, you've already demonstrated that you're doing the thing that matters most. You care about your child's reading, and you want to help him learn. Your loving support and guidance, more than anything else, will motivate your child and help him find his way toward being a reader. And because you're a reader yourself -- you're reading right now, aren't you? -- you're probably also already doing the one thing that researchers universally emphasize as a key to children's reading: you're reading to your child. That one simple act, more than anything else you do, builds your child's understanding of books, his grasp of language, and his desire to read for himself. Give him those building blocks, and you've already given him much of what he needs to become a reader.

Of course, he'll still have plenty to learn about the details of the process: how letters represent sounds, how sounds go together to make words, how words combine to form sentences, and how sentences add up to a meaningful whole. But those details are just that: details. They're also small, specific skills that build on and reinforce each other, and that your child will put together one by one to solve the larger puzzle: discovering meaning. That's the point, always, of reading: to make a connection between the words on the page and what they mean -- and, by doing so, to make a deeper connection between the reader and the world. Reading accurately is important, but what's really important is making that connection. And by setting your child in your lap with a book, you're helping him learn how to connect. You're giving him the big picture -- a warm and welcoming context into which he can fit all the bits of knowledge about books and reading that he'll assemble in his years at school.

What Happens When You Read?

If you're the kind of person who likes to know the fine points of how things work, check out the box "Reading: The Fine Print," which details the current thinking about how our brains decipher print. But, just as you don't need to be able to explain how an engine works in order to drive a car, you don't need to know everything about the visual, neurological, and psychological elements of the act of reading in order to help your child learn to read. What can help (to extend that driving metaphor for just a moment) is to know enough to be able to tell when you might be having engine trouble. So, very briefly, let's look under the hood.

This is trickier than it might seem. Researchers have learned a lot in the past few decades about how reading works, but they're still figuring out some of the details. That's because reading is something a skilled reader does swiftly, silently, and internally. Even if you try to observe the process in yourself, it's almost impossible to see just how you do it. For this reason, many people assumed for a long time that skilled readers don't sound words out as they read and that they probably skip words, just focusing on the important ones.

In fact, all of those assumptions have now been proved to be more or less wrong. Believe it or not, skilled readers look at almost every letter of every word, and their brains attend to the sound as well as the appearance of what they read. We think we read with our eyes, and of course our eyes are part of the process. But what's even more important is the language-processing ability of our brains. Reading is a language skill more than a visual one -- an important point to keep in mind as you read in the chapters to come about what instruction your child should receive and which skills it's most valuable to help him develop at home.

Reading, just like learning to read, is a process that starts with small building blocks and gradually assembles them to form a larger whole. Your eye begins with a collection of lines and curves that it assembles into a letter; your brain takes that bit of data and assembles it with others to form syllables, then words, then sentences, then paragraphs, then books. In the same way, when your child is learning to read, he assembles what he learns about letters to build his ability to read words, then puts his knowledge of words together to figure out how to comprehend sentences and the text as a whole. In both processes, knowledge is the goal, but it cannot exist without the smooth assembly of its tiniest parts ...

The Between the Lions (R) Book for Parents
Everything You Need to Know to Help Your Child Learn to Read
. Copyright © by Linda Rath. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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