Books, Reading, and Puzzles

I can’t say enough to the families of the children I teach, about books and reading. The more they know and understand, the better it is for their child. This is a newsletter I sent to families yesterday:

Hi Families,

Every year it seems that our bookshelf is a popular and constant draw for children.  That’s wonderful, and this year is no exception.  Books are more than a teacher reading at storytime.  They are there for children to look at and access anytime.  The feel of turning the pages, looking at words in print, and the illustrations, are a step to reading readiness. Children become comfortable with books.  As they are learning to read, picture books become ‘a natural’ for them. Our wonderful bookshelf changes frequently.  As you can see, there is a collection of fiction, fact, old, new, classics, and favorites.  We’re picky about good books!

Did you know that puzzles are also a step in reading readiness?  Finding the knobs that connect to the holes is much like identifying a ‘b’ or a ‘d’.  We have puzzles out most every day for children.

Another important part of reading readiness is hearing the words.  Rhyming words are popular.  Following a story without pictures is something we do in the Aqua Room. Children have to concentrate and make the pictures in their head.  This is chapter reading. Every day at rest time we chapter read.  We have just started “Charlotte’s Web” – children love it!  They are listening, getting a huge dose of language and new words, and making their own mental pictures.  Stay tuned, as we read many chapter books throughout the year.

As the school year goes along, I will read aloud with passion every day, from picture books to chapter reading.  Some books will be planned, others may be totally spontaneous.  That’s the wonder and beauty of teaching.  I call it ‘seizing the moment’.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
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68 Responses to Books, Reading, and Puzzles

  1. Darlene says:

    As a parent, I would have been delighted to get a letter like this. It’s important to get the parents involved. It will be a fun year!

    • Jennie says:

      I would have loved this as a parent when my kids were little. I remember going to the library and not really knowing good books to check out for my kids. Perhaps that memory spurs me to reach out to parents. Best to you, Darlene.

  2. Opher says:

    A team to deliver the wonder of reading – open up minds!

  3. I did puzzles with my kids, Jennie. They have never been a personal favourite of mine but we did do them as they are a good learning opportunity for children.

    • Jennie says:

      YES!! And the #1 mentioned book is the one I’ve posted. Thank you so much, GP!

    • Jennie says:

      I wish you had been there in my classroom when I read “Fireboat” today. It was wonderful. The children’s questions were about how to put out the fires, with an undertone about the importance of the 9/11 fires. Children know. They understand more than we give them credit for. The illustrations of the firefighters using the fireboat to supply water was the most powerful. It made us stop and talk. Really talk. We sang “God Bless America”, and I taught children how to put their hands over their hearts. GP, I hope you read this book. Who knew that an old fireboat saved the firefighters on 9/11.

  4. quiall says:

    I have always maintained that the greatest gift you can give a child is the love of reading. You can embrace the world literally and figuratively if you can read.

  5. beth says:

    I love this Jennie, this is the embodiment of a classroom rich in the literacy experience

  6. I love when I convince my students that they can read. Teaching little ones (under first grade) they are often convinced that they can’t read since they do not read as adults around them do… but gifting them the understanding that telling the story is reading too is empowering. My reading area in my classrooms have almost always been the favorite.

    • Jennie says:

      I am with you 100%. Yes, it’s about telling them the story, too. That is a gift of understanding. I’m so glad the reading area in your classroom is a favorite. It makes a world of difference.

  7. Reading is one of the best things that happen when children learn to read. It is a beautiful gift that we can give them and inculcate in them during their free time instead of wasting on social media and games that will not educate them. Nice post Jennie.

  8. You’re teaching them and giving them a gift that will last a lifetime!

  9. Dan Antion says:

    The luckiest parents on the planet are receiving this letter. I hope they understand how lucky they are.

  10. It’s more important than ever that parents read to their children. It’s so easy to park them in front of the TV and have some time for themselves after a busy day, but reading is so important to develop a lifelong habit. Keep up the good work, Jennie.

  11. Veena S. says:

    You are a blessing to parents and readers! Well explained and thoughtful. Did our parents in yester years really know all these benefits? It was more of oral telling and picture books were drab black and white.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Veena. No, our parents of yesteryear did not know. Oral storytelling was everything (which is still a good thing). I’m trying to remember when picture books were first vibrant, where the illustrations were as important as the text. I’m thinking Peter Rabbit. By the way, I still read “Millions of Cats” to children. It is one of the few early ones that is still a winner. Our parents of today do not fully understand the benefit of reading aloud. That’s why I will always champion for books and reading to children.

  12. Ritu says:

    Absolutely fabulous, Jennie 💜

  13. Reading and puzzle are both educational and fun. Cherished moments with children.

  14. Oh, the wonder of it all! ❤

  15. Great, Jennie. I think the children and families are lucky to have you.

  16. I had no idea that doing jigsaw puzzles is related to reading readiness! There is something awe-inspiring about learning how to read.

  17. INK ARTICLE says:

    Great work😊

  18. petespringerauthor says:

    Excellent letter. Earning the parents’ trust and having them know that their children are in capable hands is an underutilized tool by teachers. I always had ongoing puzzles going in my classroom (2nd-6th grade.) They were perfect for rainy days, free time, and building skills such as cooperation.

    • Jennie says:

      I think you are right, it is an underutilized tool. My letters to parents were always different. They were never a standard teacher newsletter of reporting what we were doing in the classroom. I used to try to talk to staff about this. One time my letter was simply documenting a powerful classroom conversation. Simple, right? I brought it to a staff meeting. All the teachers looked like deer in headlights. So, I stopped trying to help and explain. But I never stopped writing to parents. 🙂 Puzzles are the best!! Remember Ravensberger brand puzzles?

      • petespringerauthor says:

        Ravensberger puzzles were my go-to move. So colorful and cheery. I’m looking forward to following your school year, Jennie.

      • Jennie says:

        They’re the best puzzles. Thank you for the vote of positivity…this is hard and different, and not the best for children, but the sun always finds a way to shine. Smiling with Eddie on Friday was big. Really big. The sun was shining.

  19. Hadn’t realized that about puzzles — it makes perfect sense!

  20. Great! I hope they will keep the newsletter in their mind, and in their heart, Jennie! Best wishes, Michael

  21. CarolCooks2 says:

    I hope your parents realise how lucky their children are to have you as their teacher. I wish I had received a letter like that when my children at school… x

  22. dgkaye says:

    How lucky this new class is to have you. Enjoy and stay safe Jennie ❤

  23. willedare says:

    Love this!!! Hurrah for the ongoing appeal of Charlotte’s web. Also interesting to learn that puzzles help us learn how to distinguish shapes — including shapes of letters…

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Will. Charlotte’s Web will forever be children’s favorite. When I learned the reading and puzzle connection, I was fascinated. It makes perfect sense.

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