20131124-233909.jpgThis image is taken from my book Cookies & Milk:  A Christmas Story.  It’s one of my favourite images from the book, as it reminds me of how Christmas can be a perfect time to promote reading and writing with your children.

Little is known on the Christmas tradition of writing a letter to Santa, but it is believed it started around the late 1800’s.  Young children would write about all their good deeds, questions to Santa, Mrs. Claus, the reindeer, and the elves, and what gifts they wished to find under the tree on Christmas day.

With our 3 and 5-yr olds,  this was their first letter to Santa.  They were really excited about the activity of writing the letter.  One Sunday afternoon, we sat down with them, ready to help them write it if needed, otherwise just encouraging them, giving them ideas on how to start and what to write, and generally making sure the activity was an enjoyable and frustration-free one.  When the letters were complete, we asked them if they could read it to make sure nothing was left out.

When the letters were ready to ‘post’, we gave them the opportunity to address the envelope to Santa, and asked them to read the envelope to make sure it was destined for the North Pole.  Lastly, we let them put the finishing touch by placing their letters inside their envelopes.

The aim is to make this an activity that is fun, enjoyable, and rewarding for the child, such that the reading and writing feels like it’s merely part of the overall experience.  Plus, it’s also great for the parents too, as you witness some rather precious and/or amusing writing from your children.

Hang onto the letters and they will serve as keepsakes and memories of an endearing childhood, or things to embarrass the child with when he/she is older, or perhaps even a bit of both.

WitchyPoHalloween_2013_ibooksHere’s a special Halloween poster of Henry and Abbey, courtesy of Curtis Cunningham, the illustrator of The Witchy-Po!

Halloween is a great time of the year for storytelling! Recently, I picked up a Lumio, it’s a lamp that pretends it’s a book. The Lumio is a beautiful piece of modern art-meets-function. It makes a great reading light, and in the dark, a spooky ambience, perfect for some scary stories to be told. Anyways, make the most of the occasion with some fun reading with the kids!

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A year ago, I wrote a fun little story for my kids, hoping that it would spark their interest in reading. Now, one year later, my 3yr old’s reading level is truly astonishing. The thing is, we all want our kids to learn to read, and we know that in order to hold their interest, it means to make reading an exciting and engaging experience. The hard part is finding the tools in which to make it so. What I did was to create The Witchy-Po as an ebook on the iBookstore, so that the kids could see the words highlighted as they follow along to the story, and be drawn in by the pictures as they follow the words. But there are lots of other things we did too. Make a game out of it. Word games, for example, are a great way to get them interested. For instance, in the car, we play the ‘ing’ game: name words that end in “i-n-g”.

Just be creative. It is important to remember that fun in reading is not just about the words behind the story, but about the experience. Every child is different, they each have their own likes, and they will each learn and explore at their own pace. My 5yr old is taking her time compared to her younger sister, and as long as she is enjoying the experience, I have no worries she will be a capable reader soon.

Keep it fun and interesting,
T

Yesterday, we had a little family get-together for Father’s Day. The kids’ Grandpa stopped by which was a nice surprise for the little ones. We all had lunch and a nice family chat, and then it was time for Grandpa to go.

Later that evening, our 5-year old was moping about the house, looking a little sad.

“What’s the matter, Lauren?”, I asked.

Lauren looked up and whispered, “Well, I forgot to say Happy Father’s Day to Grandpa.”

I was a bit taken aback! it was the first time I could see she was thinking of Grandpa as a father figure. Perhaps it was just the occasion, or perhaps I was thinking of my own father who had recently passed, but I was really happy she made that connection. I gave her a hug and it seemed to make her feel better. I suppose it helped me feel better too.

T.

I want to share with you how reading has turned into something really special for my children (and me!). This year for Father’s Day, my 3-yr old daughter Maddy brought back home from her nursery a painting of her feet. Attached to the painting was a poem which she was keen to read out to me. What a truly unforgettable Father’s Day gift!