Reading Adventures – Connecting Cloverbuds to Literacy

Recently I spent time with my grandson who is in kindergarten.  When I asked him what his favorite subject is, he responded with reading!  Oh how happy this grandma was to hear those words! Being an avid reader myself, I understand the importance of reading and the love of curling up with a good book.

Why is reading important to our youngest 4-H members?  Being able to read and comprehend is the cornerstone of any child’s education.  Reading introduces educational foundation skills, increases vocabulary, and instills a love of books and reading in children at a young age.  Children who read are better able to make the connection between written and spoken words, not to mention the fact that reading is fun!

Reading just one book per day to a child from birth to kindergarten will result in them hearing almost 300,000 words by the time they start school.  Children will also bond with that caring adult who takes the time to read out loud.

The cool thing about books is that they can be used to begin conversations with children about sometimes difficult or challenging subjects.  Reading provides an opportunity for children to safely explore strong emotions.

Cloverbud volunteers can reinforce the love of reading by incorporating a Reading Adventure (or two!) into their annual Cloverbud activities.  Reading Adventures take popular children’s books and pair them with ideas for healthy snacks, games, and activities.  Reading Adventures are designed to be stand-alone lessons that can enhance your already dynamic Cloverbud program; or, they can be used with different chapters found in the Big Book of Cloverbud Activities.  Each Reading Adventure identifies which chapter of the Big Book can be used with that particular adventure.

Most books featured in the adventures are popular books which you may already have on your bookshelf.  If not, these titles should be readily available from your public library or from an online library source.

Check out the Reading Adventures included in this blog.  Check back often as new titles are added as they become available.  Have an idea for a book that would make a great Reading Adventure?  Send your book recommendation to williams.418@osu.edu.

Reading a book can take us places when we need to stay where we are.  And, a child who reads will be an adult who thinks.

The Power of Words

The Word Collector, by Peter H. Reynolds, is the story of a boy and the love for his very special collection – words.  Jerome was inspired to write down words that he heard, saw, and read.  He organized his collection into scrapbooks.  There were so many books!  One day when he slipped and fell, the words were tossed into a jumbled mess.  Jerome began to reorganize the words into poems which later became songs.  He noticed that words could move people.

My daughter began to discover her first written words at the age of two.  The books became her friends, and she would sleep with them like stuffed animals.  By age four, she was reading books.  She discovered early, like Jerome, that words are powerful.  They have the ability to transport, transform, and transition a person to a new way of “thinking, feeling, and dreaming”.

Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States, grew up with a speech impediment.  She used written word as a form of self-expression and practiced spoken word as a way of developing her own “speech pathology” to overcome her speech difficulties.  Gorman was chosen to read an original poem for the inauguration of President Joe Biden.  Words can heal.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a voracious reader, masterful orator, and eloquent writer synthesized words into a symphony of thought that united people during the Civil Rights Movement.  In his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. King stated, “This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”  Words can unite.

George Washington Carver stated, “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom”.  Carver, who was born into slavery, later became an instructor and researcher at Tuskegee Institute, a scientist, and an inventor.  He used his words to educate people in traditional and non-traditional classroom settings, to pen bulletins and newspaper articles on agricultural innovations, and to craft more than 400 uses for crops such as the “peanut, sweet potato, soybeans, and pecans”.  Words can inspire.

Peter Hamilton Reynolds concludes The Word Collector with this quote, “Reach for your own words.  Tell the world who you are and how you will make it better”.  Looking for ideas to guide your Cloverbuds as they begin their word collections?  Check out Cloverbud Reading Adventures.  You will find a diverse collection of books and activities that will inspire our youngest 4-H members to find their words as they “think, feel, and dream” the world better.

Sources:
https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/i-have-dream-address-delivered-march-washington-jobs-and-freedom  
https://www.biography.com/scientist/george-washington-carver

Utilizing Children’s Books to Have Tough Conversations

Are you wondering what to say to your children about racism in the United States?    What is too much to say?  What is not enough?  Do not wait for children to bring this up to you.  We, as a society, need to be proactive in helping build a positive awareness.

Children recognize differences in people at a very young age.  They are not too young to be exposed to diversity.  Start the conversation early and continue the conversation as children are growing.

The 4-H program is for all who are interested.  As parents, volunteers, supporters, educators, we should have confidence in ourselves, as well as in the children we work with, that we can handle these tough conversations and situations.  Our role should be to be honest with our children and specific in our answers so the future generation can continue to confront and handle racial injustices that are still evident in our society.

But, where do you start?  Utilizing children’s books is a perfect way to begin the conversation.

We all love children’s picture books.  They have so many important lessons built into their stories.  Use diverse characters in books.  Children want to be able to see themselves in books, and this allows an opportunity for further discussion.  In addition, when they see characters that are different from themselves, they become more accepting which will stay with them as they grow into adults.

Ask building questions.  Use this opportunity as a chance to learn what the children know, what they do not know, and what they might be thinking about race.  Then, most importantly, you can help them learn more by asking additional questions and preparing yourself for additional conversations in the future.

It is never too early to have this conversation.  If the topic is racism, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, being a good citizen, helping others, or any other topic, starting these important conversations can be done using children’s books.  Incorporate children’s books into every 4-H Cloverbud activity and meeting.  We want our 4-H members to grow into caring, competent, contributing citizens.  As 4-H parents, volunteers, and supporters, we have an opportunity to have important conversations, so our children are ready to take on the world and make the best better.

Links for diverse children’s books: