Once upon a time, teachers used classics like Dick and Jane to teach literacy to students. Dick and Jane were revered at the time for their relatable stories and simple literary structure. D & J were living simple lives other children could understand, and the pacing of their stories was slow enough for even the most beginning readers. Dick and Jane worked. Sort of.
There was a problem with the D & J books. They weren't exciting. They lived normal lives, and their books progressed at a glacial pace. For many young children, the feeling was this: There's nowhere to go from here. Reading is just not that fun.
Dr. Seuss' Challenge
Theodor Seuss Geisel, who we know as Dr. Seuss, was working as a writer and illustrator in 1957 when he was contacted by Houghton Mifflin's textbook division. They asked him to create a book that "first graders can't put down." The publisher gave him a list of 348 words that could be used in the text, then gave him creative freedom to write about and illustrate whatever he wanted.
The end result was The Cat in the Hat. It took Dr. Seuss a full year to write The Cat, as he poured over every lovingly written word. Published in May 1957, The Cat in the Hat sold 2 million copies in the first four years.
Almost overnight, Dr. Seuss changed children's literature forever. The gleeful, unbridled chaos of the story was catchy, fun to read, appropriate for beginning readers and used many of the same words found in the Dick and Jane series. In later books, Dr. Seuss expanded his repertoire. His books taught moral lessons to children. They developed character. They expanded the imagination.
Publishers Weekly reports that The Cat has been translated to 18 languages and continues to sell at an average rate of 500,000 books annually. Even after all these years, Dr. Seuss books continue to sell...
According to former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, “There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all.”
I completely agree! Your imagination can change the world. And flexing that muscle through reading books is crucial for all of us, but especially kids.
So how do we get our kids to love books? Equip your preschoolers with early literacy and a love of learning as you encourage reading in the following fun ways.
1. Let Your Kids Choose the Book
Whether your child is into dinosaurs, cars or princesses, let her browse the selection at your local bookstore or library. Like you, she’s more likely to want to read if she’s interested in the book’s subject. We think owning books is important for kids. They make books for kids about everything under the sun. I'm sure your little one can find something that gets her excited.
2. Add Expression
Turn any story into an entertaining and engaging experience with expression, energy and drama. Let loose, get silly and make sounds, use an accent and sing as you show your kids that reading is fun. My daughter loves me to read The Magic Treehouse books to her before bed, and she says that the voices are half the fun.
3. Encourage Pretend Reading
Sometimes, I skip the printed words and make up a story based on the pictures. My daughter gets a kick out of our silliness, and I’ve caught her pretending to read books to her stuffed animal friends. Imagination is the key. And priming them to relate good experiences with books as much as possible is how we have the best chance to get that to stick for them.
4. Put on a Play
If your child likes to play dress-up, act out her favorite children’s books. Include props and costumes, invite friends and bring your child’s favorite stories to life.
5. Attend Library or...
I got an interesting question today while I was getting my oil changed. I was telling the mechanic about the bookstore. (In fact, there aren't many people I don't tell about the store that I see out in the world. It is the second best thing I've ever had a hand in making, and I'm very proud of it.) He interrupted my sermon about our 200,000 books and asked me what makes our bookstore different.
I started to talk about the selection, and the space, and the staff. All of which I think are pretty special. But, I wish I would have said something else.
Don't you hate that? When you think of the right thing to say after the fact? Since it would be weird to go back to Jiffy Lube and tell the guy now what I should have told him then, I'm going to tell you.
All we have done is to build a framework. You all know that for every book that we sell, we give one away. You know that we make space for community events. You know we work with groups in our community that are trying to give back in the same kind of way that we do.
Then we open our doors and wait for you all to shine, and that is exactly what you do. Time and time again.
Over the past couple of weeks you all have helped to make sure that homeless children will have gifts this Christmas. Earlier this year you raised over $1,000 for hurricane victims. Last year you raised over $5,000 to help my favorite young reader in the world Brody Heinrich and his family as they battled (and continue to battle) a terrible condition. And since we opened our warehouse to the public, your purchases have allowed us to donate over 200,000 books locally here in Dayton, and around the country.
So as 2017 is coming to a close, we want to say thank you to all of you who participate in our community events, give so generously to wonderful causes when we ask,...
We recently met an amazing woman named Peggy Cottle. She is doing an amazing thing this holiday season in our community and we want help get the word out. There are many people in the Miami Valley that are struggling and aren't going to have the kind of Christmas morning that most of us will enjoy. She wrote the following blog post and asked me to share to it with you. We are more than happy to be part of her amazing efforts and hope you will too. -Greg Murphy
My name is Peggy Cottle. I started Helping Hands for the Homeless in 2013 after my mother passed away. When she was a young teenager, she became homeless and depended on family, friends and sometimes the streets for places to live. When I was a child, she always made sure people she knew had a place to stay and food to eat. I wanted to do something to help others in her memory.
Last year my son and I started the Christmas Hope Box drive to help local homeless
children at St. Vincent de Paul’s Homeless Shelter have a chance to experience the joy of Christmas regardless of their circumstances. By giving them these boxes we are trying to bring a little joy into their lives. We were able to give 81 boxes to the homeless children last year.
This year, there are 121 homeless children at the shelter. Each child is in need
of a Christmas box.
Our Christmas Hope Box program allows for every child at the shelter to be assigned a sponsor (a person that promises to give them a Christmas box). Sponsors will place a toy, game, personal care items, activities, school supplies, hats, gloves, etc in wrapped empty shoeboxes for each child. Through this drive, we are also taking in much needed donations for the families and other individuals that are in need at the shelter.
Murphy’s Used Books and Handyman Ace Hardware have agreed to sponsor barrels for the drive. Murphy’s has also agreed to host one of our kick off events for the drive. It will be on Friday, November...
It has been a very busy and exciting week this past week as we threw our first Halloween party at Murphy's. While most of the staff was busy with that, we also made three new additions to the website. All of them are pretty exciting for me, and I hope they will resonate with the community.
1. The Blog
Now this one shouldn't be a surprise to you since you are reading this right now on the blog. But three is a better number for a list than two, and it is new. Outside of a delightful Halloween video with Sydney, (who is four years old and has asked me repeatedly for a youtube channel) this is the only post so far.
I'm hoping that this blog will end up being the place where I am able to keep everyone up to date with what we are working on. Posts on Facebook and other sites get lost so quickly into the oblivion of cat videos, cute babies, and indulgently curated selfies, that I want there to be one place in the world that is ours. Me and you. Because I am under no illusion that any of what we have built would be there at all without this community.
2. The Volunteer Page
We have had a volunteer program for the past two years at the DBS Warehouse Sale, and it has been one of the reasons we are able to give away so many books and keep our prices so low. Volunteers earn free books by helping out at the warehouse and there will soon be opportunities at Murphy's as well. You can learn more here.
3. The Online Store
This is the most exciting one for me. I've been working on this for awhile, and we are finally able to launch our first e-commerce site. It will get more robust over time, but for now you can find it here. We are really excited about it and as far as I know, this site will be relatively unique.
Our online store will be a place to buy used assorted lots of books in bulk, for cheap, and...
The First One is on Us :)