That Wonderful Moment When A Child Finds Something They Love To Read!

I have two daughters and personality wise they are two very different girls.  My older daughter has always loved to read and is interested in a variety of genres; from biographies to fantasy she can find something she likes and keeps her engaged in her reading.


My younger daughter has never really been attracted to books or stories, that is up until this week.  A magical thing happened in my house this week she found a book she LOVES.  When she came out of her sister’s room carrying some larger chapter books I wondered what she was doing, but honestly we are at the point in the summer where I didn’t even ask I assumed it was props for game she was playing or weights for a fort.  A little while later I found her totally engrossed in the book; looking from left to right, top to bottom just like a normal reader.  She is only 5 and can’t read many words so I was curious of what exactly it was she was doing.  So I quietly and casually tried to sneak by, if she knew I was pleased with her even pretending to read the book would be thrown to the side without a second thought.  When I caught a peek of what she was doing I realized she had found my older daughter’s graphic novels.  The whole story is told through comic book like pictures and dialogue.  No she couldn’t read most of the dialogue but she could see the pictures.

I wasn’t exactly convinced she was able to comprehend the story just from the pictures until I started asking her some questions.  She nailed them! She knew the story was about a family with two sisters, they were going on a camping trip, the sisters were packing.  I asked how she knew all of these things and she went back and showed me the pictures that went with each detail.  She was so proud of herself, and she declared she loves these books what are they called?  I told her graphic novels and she asked if she could go back into her sister’s room and look for more.

Of course her sister was not interested in having her dig through her book shelf so she started asking her questions to see if she REALLY understood the book.  Then they started discussing the characters and the story line.  I sat there in awe, first a little sad that my youngest was growing up, and second that my girls were talking to each other like friends over a book.

I was surprised I hadn’t spent much time as an educator thinking about all of the benefits graphic novels can bring to young and struggling readers.  The graphic novel can help them work on parts of a story, it can give them a door into the world of reading where they can feel confident.  When I searched online I found many more great graphic novels for kids, some are ones that are popular today like; Big Nate by Lincoln Pierce, Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey, or Smile by Raina Telgemeier.


And some were classics that I had read as a kid and were now being introduced as a graphic novel; The Boxcar Children, The BabySitters Club, The Hardy Boys, and many others.

Every child is different maybe graphic novels will light a reading fire for your kids, maybe it will be a National Geographic Magazine whatever it is I hope they find it this summer.


Keep Reading, Keep Reading, Keep Reading

I want to start this week’s post by thanking so many of our families and students for coming out to Pinewood last Wednesday and enjoying the Pinewood Playground Party.  It was great to see so many of our students and staff and get a chance to connect with them during the summer.

Mrs. Vis with her daughter's Jordyn and Jada catching up with Mrs. U'ren

Mrs. Vis with her daughter’s Jordyn and Jada catching up with Mrs. U’ren

Mrs. Allison and Mrs. Palmer

Mrs. Allison and Mrs. Palmer

I had the opportunity to see and talk to most of the students as I was passing out the ice cream and popsicles it was great to hear all of the different things students are doing this summer.  Many students shared stories of bike riding, swimming, camping, and play outside all of the great things that make summer so much fun.

Mrs. Smith with her son Ty and Friend

Mrs. Smith with her son Ty and Friend

Russel and Logan

Russel and Logan

Students also shared with me the great books and stories they have been enjoying.  Third grade student Dorothy shared with me she was enjoying a book series called the Warriors, it is all about a dynasty of cats.  Sixth grade student Seth shared with me he had been reading a large variety of magazines and was also participating in a camp through the Humane Society.  I was really impressed by the variety of different reading material the students were talking about.  Some of the other popular suggestions were; Captain Underpants, Tween Tribune articles, National Geographic Animal books, I Survived book series, and many others.


Thank you to all of the families and students who take time to read the blog post each week, I appreciate your time and commitment to Pinewood.

Pinewood Playground Party Tonight Wed. July 15, 2015

Pinewood families do not forget that tonight at 6:30pm we will be hosting a playground party at Pinewood.  Students and families are invited to come catch up with friends, enjoy some ice cream, play on the playground, and get help with any of the online learning tools we have been sharing each week in the blog.  Great job to all of our students reading and doing their summer learning, thank you to the Wagner Family for sharing this great picture of their summer reading.

The Wagner Family; Rylee, Caleb, and their little sister a future Pinewood student.

The Wagner Family; Rylee, Caleb, and their little sister a future Pinewood student.

I have had a busy week full of new learning opportunities.  After the nErdcamp conference last week I flew to Washington D.C. to participate in a 5 day conference with principals from all over the United States and Canada hosted by Discovery Education.  It was an amazing opportunity to collaborate with other school leaders and participate in sessions lead by national speakers and educational leaders.

At Discovery just outside of  Washington D.C.

At Discovery just outside of Washington D.C.

Welcome to American University in D.C.

Welcome to American University in D.C.

One of the many great resources I learned about was a summer learning series through Discovery Education called Discovery’s World Wide Summer Adventure.  This series combines informational articles, video clips, and interactive material in daily and weekly adventure lessons.  If your student is looking for more learning resources or is enjoying some of the other online sites shared this will be another favorite.  This weeks post is on swimming with sharks, in honor of Shark Week.

Shark Week Kick Off at Discovery Education Headquarters

Shark Week Kick Off at Discovery Education Headquarters

Thank you to everyone for logging their reading minutes in Scholastic we are making progress on breaking the world record.

We Want Our Students to Love to Read

Some Pinewood staff members and myself just returned from a great two-day conference, called nErDcamp.  It was a very fun event that brought together over one thousand educators from all across the Mid-West.  The conference focus was on literacy.

Enjoying Lunch at nErdcamp

Enjoying Lunch at nErdcamp

We met many great authors like Donalyn Miller, many children’s booth authors were there and participating like Laurie Keller.  The conference reminded me of some of the most important foundations in strong reading instruction.

We want students to READ every day.  We don’t care what they are reading; novels, children’s books, online news articles, graphic novels (comic books), the ever popular mindcraft books.  Part of developing strong and life long readers is letting them have a voice and choice in their reading selection.  If your student keeps reading the same series of books, or visiting the same online site it doesn’t matter if they are loving what they are reading.  We hope they don’t see reading as a chore and if they do please let us know we can help find some other books or resources that will hopefully spark their interest.

I love the Scholastic website and having students log their minutes because it is a way for me to gauge if our students are reading.  For my own children seeing their minutes grown and reading the new unlocked stories are motivators for them.  If that doesn’t motivate your child and you prefer to write down reading minutes that is completely fine.  If you don’t even want to write minutes but your child can write a list of books they have read or online article topics they remember, that is fine too.  The only thing that really matter is that they are reading.

Getting ready to participate in the nerdrun a 5K to help fund literacy camp for kids.

Getting ready to participate in the nerdrun a 5K to help fund literacy camp for kids.

Along with reading it is important to do some writing this summer as well.  Mrs. Deleeuw found these great writing prompt resources to help bring some fun into your summer writing.

Summer Poem

Summer Fun Sheets

Let’s Get Writing; The Beach

I look forward to seeing everyone next Wed. July 15, 2015 at the Playground Party, until then enjoy your reading and writing!

Celebrating Summer

The Fourth of July is just a few days away my family is excited to spend the day together grilling, playing yard games, swimming, and watching fireworks. The Fourth of July is about more than just fireworks and family time it is a day we celebrate freedom.
To help get in the spirit of the day and share our patriotic pride I have found a few resources that I think are great for explaining the history behind our celebrations.
The first is a fun School House Rock video, that summarizes the history in a fun song and cartoon.
The second is from Scholastic News and is full of really great reading articles on the Constitution, the heroes of the Constitution, has activities students can interact with, and background information.  Even just a few minutes exploring this site will give your students a better understanding and appreciation of Independence Day.
Happy 4th of July
Happy 4th of July
Thank you to everyone who is continuing to read and log their minutes on Scholastic, keep going, keep going, keep going, we are making progress on helping break the world record.

Please add Pinewood Playground Party to your calendar for Wed. July 15, 2015 at 6:30 pm.  I will be sharing a Popsicle with any student who tells me something they have been reading this summer.  It will be a chance for students to see friends play on the playground, and hopefully get a couple of games of ga ga ball or soccer in.  Also if anyone is having trouble accessing Scholastic or any of the online resources we will have devices and staff available to help.

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