Posts Tagged ‘reading’


March 2, 2010 3 comments

Not a lot new on the Ella reading front.  We continue to read regularly and she continues to show interest in reading on her own.  There was a close call a couple of days ago where it was approaching the normal time for Ella to go to sleep and I hadn’t yet read her a book.  That would have been tragic after all these months of reading to her every day to have missed a day.

Ella’s unspoken vocabulary continues to grow because of reading.  She is picking new words up very quickly as she points at things in books and we tell her what they are.  She doesn’t seem to tire of this very easily.  The other day we were reading Biscuit Goes to the Pumpkin Patch, in which there is a sad jack-o-lantern.  Every time she pointed at it I would say, “Ahhhh” and then she would lean against me and I would hug her.  After about five times I decided I’d count how many times we’d do this.  We got up to 14 before she finally decided we could move to the next page.

There have been two separate confirmations of Ella reading the word DUCK.  I opened up MS Word and typed it in a big font while Ella was in the office and she immediately said, “Duck!”  Then later Lauren did the same thing.  Ella deliberated a little more this time, but she said it.

We have been trying a new strategy to get Ella to say the words she has learned.  With Ella in the area, I’ll tell one of the kids to say a word and then after they do it tell them what a good job they did.  Using this strategy we got her to say, “Mom.”  It was clear as day two times, but she hasn’t done it again since.

Ella and I were on the couch reading today, each of us with our own book.  I called Lauren in to take a picture, but of course once Ella knew there was a camera in the area, she had to start mugging and we didn’t get the shot I wanted.  The picture is below.

Reading With Dad

Quotes from another resource

February 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Wow, time sure flies when one should be blogging. 

Our neighbor recently gave us a stack of books as her son has outgrown them.  Included in the stack was a set of books called “First Steps to Reading*.”  Ella has enjoyed reading those books and I think they will be great even when Ella starts to read.

Included with the books is a parents’ guide.  When reading through it I came across a few quotes that do a good job of explaining the value of parents teaching their children to read and would like to share them.

You are your child’s first – and perhaps his best – teacher.

Because of this, you will want to help your child take full advantage of every learning opportunity.  This includes the opportunity to learn to read – as soon as interest is shown – rather than waiting for a pre-set time.

 I especially agree with the statement about teaching a child to read when they are ready instead of waiting. 

Short, three-to-five-minute reading times are far better than one long reading time.  The quickest way to stop the fun of reading is to make this a “come and sit down time.”  Avoid that like the plague.

Definitely true for reading and for learning the phonograms.  I pushed Hayden harder than I should have many times when he started reading.  I even knew I was doing it, but continued anyway.  Maybe being older and wiser will help me with Ella.

When do you begin teaching?  Why, at the very beginning.  From the moment you first hold your baby in your arms, you are teaching the language of touch.

As you smile, hug, sing, and talk to him, he is already on the road to developing language.

Language seems to bubble out from a bottomless spring, as your child discovers that EVERYTHING has a name.  And you – you are his language teacher.

 I’ve said this in the blog before, but this is stated much more eloquently.

…research shows that the more first-hand experiences a child has during his early years, the better his language will be.

This is what drives me to read, sing and talk to Ella as much as possible.  A variation on this I’ve heard is that a child has a three-year window where the brain is most receptive to new learning and once that window is closed the brain is set for life.  I want Ella’s brain to be as powerful as possible. 

I’ve stolen some good quotes from that parent guide, with proper credit I hope, and encourage you to visit the site below to take a look at these books. 

* First Steps to Reading by Jane Belk Moncure (

Did Ella Read a Word?

January 30, 2010 1 comment

The television show Word World was recommended to me by a friend a while back.  She told me that one of her neices learned to read early partially because of this show.  Ella has watched it often and it does seem to be good.  It even addresses some of the multiple-letter phonograms when the sounds of words are covered.  The characters and most of the objects in the show are formed using the associated word.

Yesterday during the introduction I swear I witnessed Ella read the word DUCK.  I hadn’t noticed before that when they characters are introduced the word comes on first and then forms the character.  DUCK came on the screen for about two seconds before forming the duck and during that time I believe I heard Ella say, “Duck.”  Could it really be true?  I tested her by showing her the word duck.  She didn’t read it, but she looked at the TV as if seeing if the duck were there.  Pretty exciting stuff!

Duck From Word World

 Here is a coloring page of the duck from the web site.  It is a great idea to form the characters and objects from the word.  It will be excellent practice for Ella once she starts learning the phonograms. 

Yesterday evening Ella chose a book and a comfortable place to read, as you can see below.

Reading in a Basket

 Ella is a little bit goofy, but I’m glad to see her taking an interest in books.  It is part of the process as long as children are introduced to books through consant reading and making sure there are plenty available. 

We are going to the library later today and totally surround her with books!  Last time we were there she was very interested in the computers in the children’s section so we will get her some time on the computer as well.

Favorite Books and Reading Behavior

January 28, 2010 1 comment

Ella has cycled through a number of favorite books over the months.  When a book becomes her favorite she listens to it repeatedly.  When she was a baby, her favorite at the time was the one to use when she needed to calm down or it was naptime or bedtime.  So far we have been lucky in that her favorite books weren’t ones we detested.  It was a close call recently on a counting book called Spookley about a square pumpkin.  Spookley and his fellow odd-shaped pumpkins gather until there are ten of them.  Fortunately, that book is difficult to find…

Below are the books which have served time as Ella’s favorites.

I Love You Through and Through was one of Ella’s first favorites.  It is a great book and is a joy to read.  It teaches body parts and emotions and we get to tell Ella how much we love her over and over.  While reading it to her you can tell she loves hearing that we love her.

I’m really happy that a nursery rhyme book was one of her favorites from early on.  This is a small but quality collection of nursery rhymes.  Ella likes most of the rhymes but Are You Sleeping? served some time as her favorite.  She lit up when she heard that one even in the beginning and would listen to it over and over. 

I mentioned Ten Little Ladybugs in an earlier post as the book that fell apart and had to be repaired due to the many readings.  It is a counting book that uses different animals to ferry away one ladybug at a time.  In the end they all are happy to be gathered in one location.

Biscuit Visits the Pumpkin Patch is Ella’s current favorite.  She loves dogs and Biscuit is a good little dog so it is an enjoyable book.  She likes another Biscuit book, but it is a flap book and Ella tears those up eventually so we are trying to save that one until she is a little older.  The remains of another flap book she enjoyed is around the house somewhere, but there aren’t many flaps left.  Must say, she was very persistent as she worked to tear out those flaps.

I include The Jungle Book not because it is a favorite, but because it is a good example to use to describe one of the behaviors Ella has started with most books.  She will point to items in books with the expectation that the reader will tell her what the items are.  This is the inside of the front cover and first page of The Jungle Book.  On these two pages she will point at each of the two monkeys (do monkeys really have hair from the 60s?), then each of their tails, then the bird and finally at the branches and leaves in the lower right corner.  And then she will do it again and again.

Ella’s visual vocabulary is really exploding as shown when we take our turn telling her to point at objects in the books we read.  If she doesn’t already know the object, she soon learns it.  For instance, in Biscuit Visits the Pumpkin Patch there are many vegetables randomly spread throughout the patch.  Today I found that she didn’t recognize the cucumber so I told her what it is and reviewed a couple times.  Later in the day when we read this book again, she knew it.  I first remember doing this with Lauren using the characters on the back of Little Golden Books. 

Ella isn’t saying many words yet, but when she decides to start talking more, all  this work should have an impact on her vocal vocabulary which then will help with her reading vocabulary.  This all leads to success in school.  As a former teacher in 1st grade and then 4th and 5th, I can attest to the value of being a good reader and the difficulties resulting from not being a good reader.  That is why I spend so much time reading with Ella and am passing on the experience through this blog.

One More Thing and a Bad Thing

January 26, 2010 1 comment

I forgot to mention one other thing that we’ve done to get Ella on the road to reading.  It is important for children to see others reading.  That way they know the family values reading.  Below you can see Hayden reading and Ella looking at a book.  This is something she has just recently started doing.

I was guilty of a bad thing this evening.  Not helpful at all on Ella’s road to begin reading.  She came to me with a book during the first half of the KU-Missouri basketball game and I told her in no uncertain terms that I was not going to read to her during the game.  I did later relent and read the book to her during halftime.  I’ll also make an effort tomorrow to read her a few extra books and some extra nursery rhymes.

Hayden Reading to Ella

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Hayden is reading to Ella this morning even as I type.  They chose Ten Little Ladybugs, which is another of Ella’s favorite books.  That one was read so much it finally fell apart and Jennifer had to tape it back up.

Hayden Reading to Ella

Ella does have an advantage on both Lauren and Hayden when it comes to learning to read.  Her advantage is having a big  brother and sister to take turns reading to her and helping her learn.  Hayden has spent a lot of time with her teaching her the parts of he body.  They both will be able to help once we start teaching her the phonograms.

Birth to 20 Months #1

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

This blog is about teaching Ella to read so it would be well to go over some of the things we have been doing since we found out we were going to have a new baby.  The first thing we had to do was get over the shock of having a new baby, of course.

Once I got over that and started to think about all that we would get to experience again as Ella grows up, teaching her to read was one of the early thoughts.  Being much younger and less experienced with Lauren and Hayden, I wasn’t nearly as focused as I plan to be with Ella.  The excitement continues to build as she ages and approaches the time when she can start learning the phonograms and reading.

The obvious first step was to begin reading to Ella en utero.  Reading is good for children so I figure the earlier the better.  There is a lot of discussion on the web about the value of reading to babies en utero. Here is a link to one page:   Do a Google search for reading en utero and you will see many more pages.

First Book Read to Ella

Once Ella was born, I started reading to her regularly.  If there is one thing that any parent can do to make their children better prepared for school and learning, it is reading.  It is not difficult and almost anyone can read picture books written for children so there is no reason not to do it.  I didn’t read any books to Ella in the hospital, but as soon as she came home, I started reading.  Snuggle Up, Sleepy Ones is worn and tattered now because it has served time as Ella’s favorite book more than once and has been read many many times.

I believe I have mentioned this before, I created the reading program and started this blog partially because I want parents to better understand how they can help their children learn to read.  The most basic and important thing parents can do is read to their children regularly.

Reading is great and is what I have always focused on most heavily, but nursery rhymes are fun as well.  The books we had saved from Lauren’s and Hayden’s childhood in anticipation of our grandbabies included a few nursery rhyme books.  I still have many nursery rhymes memorized, but the books came in handy as a refresher.  Hayden and I spent a lot of time together with Ella saying the nursery rhymes.  For a while we imagined ourselves hosting a nursery rhyme show on our deck with Ella as the host.  We talked about creating videos and posting them to YouTube, but never got that done.  Maybe we will do that once Ella starts learning them herself.

More discussion of this in the next post…


January 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Ella was born on May 15th, 2008.  She is a third child born about 11.5 years after her brother and 16 years after her sister to parents who never expected another child but were overjoyed at the thought off experiencing it all again.

This blog will be about the process of Ella learning to read.  The first two Boline children learned to read with haphazard help from their father.  While Hayden was learning to read, the process became more structured, eventually leading to a well-defined program.  The program has been commercialized to a small degree and will be used to teach Ella to read.

My name is Mark Boline and I’m the father.  There are many things to enjoy about raising a child, but watching a child learn to read is one of my absolute favorites.  As I mentioned above, Ella was a surprise.  I figured it would be many years before I was able to watch one of my grandchildren learn to read, and then most likely from afar.  I am extremely excited to be able to go through this process again with Ella.

Ella is 20 months old as this blogging begins.  I will write about what we have been doing to build a foundation for reading as well as describing daily activities.  The blog is planned as documentation of the learning to read process, but will include many personal observations as well.

As a former first-grade teacher who loved watching multiple children learn to read each school year, I would love for other parents to use the experience documented here to assist them with teaching their own child how to read.  The program I mentioned before came about through my desire to help parents teach their children to read and this blog is just another path for me to do that.