Reading is more than a skill…it's a lifestyle!
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of How to Get Your Child to Love Reading!

I am delighted to announce the release of How to Get your Child to Love Reading, a five hundred page compilation of the best ideas and recommendations I have garnered from my experiences as a bookseller, teacher, school librarian and mom. Read-aloud, reading motivations and connecting children to the real people behind the books are the cornerstones of my approach, along with the idea that children's literature can be the great equalizer in education. By using what already exists and broadening where we believe learning can occur, all children can enjoy the rewards of lifelong literacy. Whether the child is a new arrival or skateboarding into the sunset, I hope you will find that this book offers a childhood's worth of wonderful reading experiences as well as chance to celebrate and expand your role in a child's reading life story, whatever it may be.

Please keep scrolling to find the answer to some frequently asked questions (FAQ's) and to view the table of contents.

What if my child already loves to read?
Congratulations! Then maybe your child would like to decorate her room a la fairy tale? Send fan letters to a favorite illustrator? March in a book parade, put on a science magic show or perform a favorite poem? Enrichment benefits children both below and above level. There are no "sharks" and "minnows" in the book, all kids are in the same group: learning to love reading at their own pace, and eager to do something fun.

The cover says, "a parent's guide." Is this a resource for teachers as well?
I tried to include everything in this book that I would want to know about children's literature as a teacher entering the profession, and I sincerely hope the book will be used that way. I have felt that training in children's literature has been the missing link in teacher education for a long time. If I had not first had experience as a children's bookseller, I don't believe I would have had success working in the schools. Knowledge of children's literature allows teachers to modify their approaches based on individual needs of the children; if you know your books, you can tailor the children's reading experience. You can also share more of yourself and what interests you with the children, positioning yourself as a possible role model while making your own experience in the classroom much more honest and enjoyable. There is no need to be restricted by mandates and cookie-cutter curriculum! Critical thinking skills and classroom community can be built upon the firm foundation of trade literature. I hope that my book and its literature-based approach will be widely adopted in teacher training programs, and it answers many of the "how do you do that?" questions that came after my first book, Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year.

Additionally, teachers can use this volume to find and suggest ways that parents can meaningfully contribute to the school community. Teachers have more on their plate than ever before, and class sizes are reaching preposterous levels. Though not everyone is a trained teacher, everyone can pitch in and wear a "teacher hat". Homeschoolers across the country are already modeling that hat with panache, and children who are traditionally schooled are equally capable of reaching new reading heights with just a little help from home. Many parents really want to be more active in their child's education but don't know how, and maybe feel daunted by socioeconomic conditions, difficult hours at work that put family time at a premium or a lack of information. I hope teachers will share this book to create a bridge between home and school. By working together, we can move from an era of shared blame and usher in an era of shared responsibility. I think we are inundated in the media with negative messages about what isn't being done in education, and maybe we can now give some air time to what can be done and what is being done. Every adult can be a caring and instrumental person in a child's life; I hope this book will empower all people who care about children to step up and focus on what already is in their arsenal.

What is the relationship between the book and the website,
The goal of the website has always been putting great books in the hands of great children, and that's the goal of this book as well. While some of our favorite Storytime Central lists appear in updated form, the book has several hundred more pages of content than the site, and thanks to very comprehensive indexes, the book may also be easier to navigate! The site is dynamic and ever changing, but they compliment each other; you can check back to Don't Miss, the site's clearinghouse for reviews for all the best new children's literature that's been kid-tested, teacher approved, and apply your family's favorite activities found in How to Get Your Child to Love Reading. All I can say is, if you like the website, you'll love the book.

How does this book compare to Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook?
I consider The Read-Aloud Handbook to be one of the most important education books of the last century, and for me personally, the most important. In education, there is a lot of theory, but the acheievement and life-long benefits to twenty minutes of daily read-aloud are fact, documented eloquently and entertainingly in Trelease's book. I hope my book will offer lots of recipes for those feeding off of the enthusiasm that Trelease's book stirs up.

Why don't you have a big section about Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson? Everyone knows that is a great book.
Yes, it is, but I didn't read it to a class. I did not seek to include every children's book that falls under a theme, or to pay special tribute to books that have already won lots of awards. All of the titles shared in How to Get Your Child to Love Reading are books that I have read myself and recommend based on personal experience. I am confident in exploring the 3,000+ titles that are included, readers will encounter titles they enjoy above and beyond the ones I suggest, and ones that fit their own personal tastes. In the process, I am sure readers will have their own success stories and recommendations. I am looking into a chatboard especially for readers of How To Get your Child to Love Reading, but in the meantime, you can e-mail me your favorites. Maybe they will appear in a future edition!

What do you think of a phonics-based approach to reading?
I don't have anything against phonics. Some children might benefit from having words chopped up into parts, but all children benefit from exposure to print and experiencing language in the context of a strong narrative, so that has always been the focus of my work.

At what age should children learn to read?
"Emergent literacy," or the period in which children begin to sound out words or recognize them by sight, usually occurs somewhere between four and seven years old if the child has been exposed to print. Some ways to jump start this special time in a child's reading life story is to:
* read aloud daily, and get your child his own library card as soon as he can write his name
* take dictation and let the child read her own stories
* offer children series books, with recognizable characters that children can visit with again and again, like old friends
* succumb to requests for repeated readings of books; children who memorize stories and pretend to read them are actually engaging in very helpful pre-reading activity that can help them to begin to recognize sight words and gain confidence
* connect books to real world situations, bringing in non-fiction to help answer questions children may have about the world which is still so new to them.

While there are a few talented toddlers who read, there is no indication that children who rise to the reading occasion early necessarily shine later on. In parts of Scandinavia where the literacy rates are some of the highest in the world, the subject of reading is not even broached in schools until children are around seven. To me, the real definition of reading is communication through written language, which means children understand that there are real people behind the books they read, and that the person behind the book is trying to share something. Pretty sophisticated stuff that will take a little experience to really grasp, I think! While it's natural to be excited about that incredible day when your precious one will sound out that first magical word, relax! What is the real benefit of having a baby who can read, besides being able to say "my baby can read"? The skill of reading can occur at any time, and you and your family have a whole lifetime together to discover and enjoy its rewards. Look to the "Books for the Littlest Bambinos" section for no-pressure ways to enjoy page-turning with your sweet pea.

What were your favorite books when you were a child?
Besides comic books, I enjoyed A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, among others.

Exactly what's in this book?
So glad you asked! Please take a peek at the table of…

for How to Get Your Child to Love Reading!

In addition to the contents listed here, you'll find book borrowing and lending etiquette…thoughts on bibliotherapy and books for children with learning differences…a complete list of Newbery and Caldecott winners…the Not-So-Cosmo Volunteer in the School quiz…Reading heros throughout history…"Dear Madame Esmé" advice column…tons of websites…extensive indexes to locate over 3,000 book recommendations by author, title and subject!

Part I: The Beginning of Your Adventure as an Adult in the World of Children's Literature

  • Potato Power: The Art of Using What You've Got
    Potato Possibilities
    Potatoes Up Close and Personal
  • Children's Book Basics
    Magic Piece of Background Knowledge Number One: Read-Aloud Works Every Time
    Magic Piece of Background Knowledge Number Two: Kids Have Reasons for Reading and these Reasons - or Motivations - Can Be Milked
    Magic Piece of Background Knowledge Number Three: Award Winner Are Children's Royalty and Knowing them Is Handy
    Magic Piece of Background Knowledge Number Four: Level Shmevels or In the World of Letters, Numbers Can Be Misleading
    Magic Piece of Background Knowledge Number Five: You can Locate Long- Lost Books
  • Raise Your Hand if You Want to Volunteer in Your Child's School!

    Part II: Connecting Books with the Littlest Bambinos

  • Great Expectations
    Sibling Arrivalry: Books for Growing Families
    Rock-a-Bye Reader: Books for Babies
    Hints for Reading with Infants
    What's Good for the Goose: Rhyme Schemes
    Do, Read, Mi! Putting Books to Music
    Reading Play Dates
    All Wet! Books in the Bath
    Read-Aloud and Storytelling
  • Barely Beyond Baby: Supporting Emergent Literacy
    Next Time Won't You Sing with Me? Alphabet and Counting Books
    Wordless Picture Books
    Series Books and Strategies That Support Emergent Literacy
    Rebus Readers!
    Take Dictation
    Comic Books: My Thought Balloon
    Naughty, Naughty! Good Books for Bad Choices
    Nothing but the Tooth: Books That Celebrate These Landmark Losses
    Reading Readiness, Learning Readiness, Living Readiness

    Part III: Beaucoup de Book-Coups

  • Reading and Eating
    Good R'eating: Literature-Based Cookbooks
    Books for Breakfast
    Raise a Reader
    Why I Hate Pizza: Thoughts on Rewarding Reading
  • Page-Turning Parties: Special Events for Fundraising and for Just Plain Fun
    Sleep-Over While the Sun is Up
    Johnny Appleseed Anniversary
    A Very Merry Unbirthday!
    Holding A Candle to Authors and Illustrators
    Birthday Book Donation Program

    Part IV: Have Book, Will Travel: History, Social Studies, and Geography

  • A Crash Course in Time Travel Safety Procedures
    History Hypothesis: Gauging Your Child's Development Stage
    Helpful History: How to Get the Most Today Out of Books about Yesterday
    Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk: Taking History (and Literacy) Personally
    History and Heritage
    History's Horrors
  • Reading Time Travel
    Building a Time Machine
    Little Footprints in the Sands of Time: Children in History
    Who's Who? Biography
    Wave that Flag!
  • Location, Location, Location!
    A Passport to Geography
    Survival Stories
    Water, Water Everywhere: Sea Voyages

    Part V: The Math and Science of Reading

  • Science Magic Show
    Getting Your Hands on Experiments
    Museum Science Books
    The Question Board
    Cooking Counts As Chemistry!
    Mythology and Science…Pourquoi Pas?
  • Mother Nature's Library
    Weather-Beaten Books
    The Environment: Reading for Your Great-Great-Great Grandchildren
    Earth Friendly Deeds=Earth Friendly Reads! A Planet-a-Thon
  • Math Magic
    Penny Power: Money-Related Reading

    Part VI: Now Playing in a Book Near You: Books in Broadcast and Performance

  • Radio, Television, and the Cinema
    Radio Days
    Television: The Bad Guest
    Couch-Potato Pedagogy: Cinema Club
    Unlocking Sherlock: An Investigation into Children's Mystery Reading
  • The World is a Stage: Literature Based Performances Starring Your Children
    Reader's Theater
    Storytelling: The Tell-Tale Art

    Part VII: Inside the Gingerbread House: Fairy Tales, Wonder Tales, and Fantasy

  • Fairy Tales
    Before There Were Beanie Babies
    Single-Title Fairy Tales: Some Notable Illustrators
    Popular Fairy Tale Archetypes: Dragons, Liberated Princesses, Giants, Fools, Tricksters, and Simpletons
    Fairy Tales: A World Tour
    Fairy Tale Parodies for Your Funny-bone
  • Aesop's Fables
  • The Spirit of Hans Christian Andersen
  • Add Wonder Where you Read: Enchanting Housewares You Can Make

    Part VIII: Very, Very Literary: Nurturing Book Lovers and Book Creators

  • Poetry Readings
    Poetry Breaks
    Performing Poetry
  • Literature Circles
  • Author/Illustrator Studies: The Best Project Ever
  • Nurturing the Artist Within
    Great Books for Future Artists and Illustrators
    Story Starters
    It Is Important to Know How to Draw (at Least a Little)
    Artist Models: Kindred Spirits for Creative Kids
    Parade of Books

    Part IX: Storytime Central

  • Picture Books Worth A Thousand Words
    Stories for a Rainy Day
    Family Stories
    The Finer points of Making (and Keeping) Friends
    Wild Kingdom
    Stories for All Seasons
    Books for Spring Cleaning
    Picks for Summer Camp
    School Stories
    Not-Too-Scary Stories
    December Holidays
    Unlovable Love Stories
    Case Clothed!
    Books in Living Color
    Big-Top Reading
    Toyland Friends
    Far Out Space Stories
    Buggy for Books
    Gesundheit! Stories for Sick Children
    Plant the Seed to Read: Garden Books
    Books about Books
  • Gender Related Books
    Girl Power
    Here Comes the Son! Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Meet Their Males Counterparts
  • Must-Reads by the Time You're Thirteen
  • Teen Angst: The Classic Young Adult Problem
  • Cyberspace: The Last (?) Reading Frontier

    Last Lines: Connecting Readers

    To order a copy of How to Get Your Child to Love Reading or to read reviews of the book, click on the book cover at the top of this web page, or please visit Booksense to support your local independent bookseller.

    If you would like an autographed bookplate, please send a note listing to whom you wish it autographed, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope, and mail your request to: Planet Esmé, Attention: Love Reading, P.O. Box 6225, Evanston, IL 60204.

    To request Esmé for a school appearance, booksigning or keynote, please check out Book Esme and then contact Veronica DiCapria. Please note, she is currently booked through 2004.


  • Special thanks to Jim Pollock, Dean LaPrairie and Veronica DiCapria for their help with this page,
    and to my great and faithful friends at Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill for bringing this book to life.

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