Articles tagged "children"

The Power to Connect: Children, Writing and Storytelling

Pam Allen is a world-renowned literacy expert, author and motivational speaker. She has often spoken about the many reasons why starting children’s education in writing early in their academic careers is imperative. Of course, Allen supports the reasons we’re accustomed to hearing—writing builds confidence in a child’s sense of self while facilitating emotional growth; it helps kids create and strengthen their identities; and develops critical thinking skills.

But there is more to Allen’s advocating for the early introduction of creative writing: the importance of language and its ability to connect children with their parents, teachers and families.

It is natural to communicate with people and, in return, be understood. Providing children with the ability to express themselves through the written word at a young age opens myriad possibilities for self-expression, while simultaneously building confidence and reassurance in their communication abilities.

In Allen’s own words, “The human desire to connect through language begins with a baby’s first smile. It is never too early to start your child down the path of a writer’s life. By engaging in the act of writing, we are engaging in the valuing of life, valuing one another, and valuing the precious moments we share.”

Through a child’s imagination, we can experience the extraordinary stories fabricated only by the young. Writing and storytelling the Lulu Jr. way offer a pathway for children to continue to grow their writing skills. As the result, teachers and parents are seeing better communicators, learners and innovators that are more closely connected to those around them.

Why children should be writing stories

We couldn’t agree more with Gail E. Tompkins. As a professor of literacy and early education at California State University and author of numerous books touting the benefits of learning composition skills from an early age, Prof. Tompkins has consistently acknowledged the importance creative writing carries in early childhood education.Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 2.06.23 PM

Prof. Tompkins outlines seven unique reasons why children should write stories. These are:

  1. to provide entertainment for the child and others
  2. to foster artistic expression
  3. to explore functions and values of writing
  4. to stimulate imagination
  5. to clarify thinking processes
  6. to search for and identify the child’s identity
  7. to improve reading and writing skills

Well documented as pillars of early education, these seven benefits greatly affect how children learn, express themselves and think critically later in their development.

We’re big fans of Prof. Tompkins’ work at Lulu Jr. as we continue to work toward our mission to inspire creativity, strengthen literacy skills and build self-esteem among children with Lulu Jr.’s Education Programs. Our free book-publishing programs support writing and language arts curriculum through project based learning, communication and collaboration.

Lulu Jr.’s Storybook and Classbook programs allow teachers to meet the needs of the classroom while inviting students express creativity through their own writing and illustrations.

We love being a part of early education and sharing the findings and research from established educators like Prof. Tompkins. We hope you’ll take the time to explore Lulu Jr.’s Education Programs by visiting http://www.lulujr.com/teachers.php.

Early Age, Early Adopters: How Kids’ Aptitudes for Tech Change the Face of Reading

Photo Credit: http://ar.gy/38fP

Children interact with technology in a different way than we do. Their brains are like sponges, which means they are able to intuitively use any new technology without reference to older ones.

Give a child an iPad and watch what happens — within minutes he’ll be more proficient than you. When it comes to eBooks, the demographic difference between young and old readers is just as stark: according to a new study on digitalbookworld.com, more than half of U.S. kids are reading eBooks, which is more than double the proportion of adults who are e-reading.

Consider what this means as these young readers mature to become the dominant consumer block. These readers will be mostly digital-natives, their cherished childhood reading memories formed in the glow of an iPad and not the heft of a book.

While sales for eBooks have slowed their pace recently, all signs point to them becoming the dominant form of book within the next few years. Young readers will take the surge of eBook reading from the Children’s genre to Young Adult, and eventually to Contemporary Fiction. The study also found that young e-readers are reading a lot: 85% of young e-readers are reading at least one book a week, which, if you’ve worked with children, is a pretty outstanding figure.

Still, some impediments remain for young e-readers. Only 54% of children have access to tablets, where most young readers find eBooks. Once tablets and handheld computing become more popular and less expensive, we can expect the number of young e-readers to rise even more.

School programs that utilize tablets, as well as the popularity of smartphones with larger screens, will make eBooks soon indispensable to the learning environment, eventually turning an entire generation into e- readers.

And while we aren’t saying goodbye to print just yet, it does seem like there are going to be swaths of the population in a few short years who simply have never read a print book. For print books, its not the pricing that may be their downfall, it’s the speed at which children can adapt to new technologies.

Collaborative Storytelling with Kids

When I was little, I took stories my parents told me and added to them as I drifted to sleep. My mind would take a story and turn it into something very different. Bedtime stories becomes so much more than just stories in the imaginative minds of children — they become worlds.

Thanks to independent publishing, children and parents are using teamwork to create polished novels that can be shared with other young readers. A profile in Wired details how a father and his two young sons were able to collaborate on a successful fantasy book for children. Nimpentoad, which the family published independently, has been a success as well as a learning experience for the two young authors, Josh and Harrison. The boys have been selling their book at farmers’ markets, participating in public speaking engagements and agreeing to interviews for profiles in Young Entrepreneur Magazine. They are learning at an early age that publishing is just one step in the process of becoming a successful author.

Josh, Harrison and their father, Henry, are part of a long history of intergenerational writers who have used writing as both a teaching experience and a way to bring generations together by changing storytelling into a more participatory process. Writing groups around the country use intergenerational writing practices to keep seniors and young people interacting with one another.

Intergenerational writing can also help children with learning disabilities by encouraging them to continue to write outside of the classroom setting. Hal and Alex Malchow wrote their fantasy novel, The Sword of Darrow, when Alex, who is dyslexic, needed encouragement to continue his uphill climb toward reading at his own grade level. Alex was able to use the confidence from writing the book to tackle his own disability.

What intergenerational writing have you done? What have you learned from young storytellers, and what is your best advice for them?

Related Services: Children’s Formatting Service

Do enhanced eBooks promote children’s literacy?

Mixing a children’s book with something like a videogame seems like a no-brainer for promoting reading skills, right? Apparently not.

A new study finds that enhanced eBooks for children don’t raise literacy levels. The study, which followed 32 pairs of parents working with young children, found that the young readers were distracted by the many different interactive parts of the enhanced story, and quickly forgot certain key parts of the narrative. The young readers were given an eBook, a physical copy, and an enhanced eBook version of the same story. After reading them all, the comprehension just didn’t add up.

The authors of the study commented, “The enhanced eBook was less effective than the print and basic ebook in supporting the benefits of co-reading because it prompted more non-content related interactions. When adults prompt children with questions pertaining to the text, label objects, and encourage them to discuss the book’s content in terms of their own experiences and curiosities, this elicits increased verbalization by the child and can lead to improved vocabulary and overall language development.”

“Butterfly in the sky…”

LeVar Burton, doing what he loves.

So, last night I found the picture below on the often hilarious shirt.woot.com. I was suddenly flooded with memories of my favorite show as a kid: Reading Rainbow. Sadly, I realized that, before last night, I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I even thought about this program. Then it dawned on me…the entire reason I like books, love writing, and work at a self-publishing company isn’t because of all the Hemingways, Faulkners, and Emersons – it is because of one man: LeVar Burton.

With his warm, friendly charm, Burton captured childrens’ imaginations each week with fun stories, guest celebrity appearances, and a genuine enthusiasm to inspire kids to read. Without this show, I wouldn’t have discovered greats like Goodnight Moon, Miss Nelson is Missing,The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or Where the Wild Things Are. Even more remarkable is Burton’s 20+ year struggle with dyslexia, which he overcame before auditioning for Reading Rainbow.

It took a silly cartoon to remind me, but Burton really is a true inspiration. He diligently piloted the show Reading Rainbow, helping it win a Peabody Award and 26 Emmy Awards. The man is almost single-handedly responsible for helping four generations of kids not only learn to read, but find the fun in it. My favorite episode was when he went to a hat store. Each hat would magically transport him into the pages of a story. I remember endlessly begging my mother to take me to that shop for the better part of my youth.  I think I speak for several hundred-thousand kids when I say:  Thank you Mr. Burton. Thank you for teaching us that yes, “we can do anything.”

Wonderfully enough, Reading Rainbow will be coming back on an iPad® near you soon. According to Fast Company, Burton plans on revitalizing the show as a multimedia app with games, voiceovers, and over 300 books at launch. “But, you don’t have to take my word for it…”


What’s your favorite Reading Rainbow memory? Did it impact you as much as it did so many other young readers? Feel free to share in the comments below. Also be sure to learn about Lulu’s own literacy program:  Lulu for Literacy.

Room to Create- Kids Can Publish Too

This is Chloe. Her big sister, Mia, just published a book on Lulu, and now Chloe wants in on the action.

And why shouldn’t she publish? Seeing your story printed is an amazing feeling. I still remember staring in awe, when my first grade teacher placed a book of my story, Perry the Parrot, into my tiny hands. Of course, that “book” was held together by red yarn and glue. I probably would have never stopped bragging if Perry had been a printed book.

Perry the Parrot may be out of print now, but there is a whole new generation of budding authors on Lulu. Check out The Travelling Dolphin by Clara Curtis or, my personal favorite, The Shiny Fork, to see the possibilities. With just a little help from parents to create an account, scan, and upload their work, kids can have the best book they will ever take to school for Show and Tell.

What stories will your kids have to tell?