Tag Archives: literacy

Reading Aloud for a Lifetime

My first child learned to read early. Soon after, he announced, “I don’t need bedtime stories anymore. I can read by myself.” He made the same mistake many adults make: that reading aloud is only for the very young. Reading … Continue reading

Posted in Our Bedtime Story Book, Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

4 Responses to Reading Aloud for a Lifetime

  1. deidra says:

    Thanks for the reminder. I have kind of stopped reading to my 8 year old, mostly because he devours books on his own. I will have to start again.

  2. Shannon says:

    Thank you for this. My mom and I went through so many children’s classics — and later, adult classics — together. We read every morning before school all the way through high school. It’s very much a comfort activity for me now. We still try and get together around Christmas and reread some of our favorites.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Ah, lovely. What a wonderful way to start the day, and what a wonderful gift for a lifetime. Thanks for sharing your family’s reading tradition. Inspiring!

Modern Memorization

When my grandmother was losing her memory, she still remembered the poetry she had memorized as a girl.  She had no idea who I was (“this is my great friend…(pause) tell me again how we met?”), but out for a … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules, Joyful Literacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

8 Responses to Modern Memorization

  1. Deidra says:

    Great Post. The photo is beautiful. I still know my child hood phone number by heart, random parts of the “Midnight ride of Paul Revere, the lyrics to “Show Me the Way to go Home,” and various other things. I often feel smart phones have made us dumb. Growing up, I probably knew everyone of my friends phone numbers by heart!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      I just heard on NPR today that it’s a problem when we look up information on our smart phones and find information too fast. We don’t have time to wonder. The radio expert was suggesting that we wait 20 minutes before looking up an answer, pause, and exercise the human brain capacity to WONDER for a while. This is not a problem for me since I don’t have a smart phone…

      Love it that you have snippets of “Paul Revere” and “Show me the Way…” in your head!

  2. Heather – The poems I can recite from memory are the ones that my teacher, Mrs. Kline, had her students memorize in the fifth grade. To no surprise, in my heart she stands head-and-shoulders above the rest of all the other teachers I’ve ever had — and that’s saying a lot. When I was in my 20’s, I made a point of locating her and telling her what being her student meant to me. Needless to way, we both cried (happy tears).

    I agree with the list of items you suggest our children learn, by heart. Sadly, I’ve encountered many adult clients who don’t have a handle on half of it.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Laurie, What a wonderful gift you were given in 5th grade! I’m so glad you told Mrs. Kline. A life gift indeed.

      Teachers out there – can you introduce poetry memorization into your classes? It carries forward.

  3. Fleda Brown says:

    I would never have started writing poems if I hadn’t listened to my father recite them all through my childhood. Nothing is more magical than hearing memorized poems. I am a lousy memorizer. My great loss. I have several lines of hundreds of poems, but I can’t seem to hold a whole one for very long.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      The world is so glad you started writing poems! Thanks to your father. I agree there is something magical about hearing something memorized. I take my kids to the Beach Bards each summer where anyone can tell a story or recite a poem – as long as it’s from memory. Something glorious about that.

  4. Ah, memorization. I lament that it is one of the casualties of the Internet Age, and perhaps one of the negative “unintended consequences” of going electronic.

    I will always memorize important phone numbers because to me nothing would be worse than needing to call a family member or friend in an emergency and not having one’s cellphone available to speed dial the number.

  5. Heather Shumaker says:

    Yes, numbers. I agree it’s important to store vital information in our heads. I never was much good at remembering numbers — words I can remember! I still have trouble remembering my own phone number sometimes (!) but I do have several phone numbers memorized.

    I wonder what our culture’s current lack of memorization is doing to our brains?

Sharing Sad Stories

When I was five, my aunt sent me letter I’ll never forget.  It was a loving letter, but a sad story.  It began like this: Now I’m going to tell you the story of little Penelope Boothby.  I met her … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules, Joyful Literacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

7 Responses to Sharing Sad Stories

  1. Heather – Another post that offers delicious food for thought. So much so that I just Tweeted and Google+’d it.

    You asked about sad stories from childhood…

    We were a family that adopted “unadoptable” animals from shelters because they were either missing a limb, an eye, completely blind, or had significant health issues. During the adoption process we usually learned the story behind what had happened.

    What kind of an impact did that have on me? I believe those experiences are in great part what makes me compassionate and helps me to love “in spite of” rather than “because of.”

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks for sharing your wonderful story about caring for “unadopatable” animals. Wow! I can see that made a lifelong impression. Yes, important for us humans to expand our view and think about animals’ stories, too.

  2. Karen Gough says:

    We lost our first baby boy to leukemia so our son and daughter are growing up knowing about their angel brother, the fragility of life, the reality of death and the knowledge that love and family are so important. But at the same time we don’t dwell on his death and we remember his living spirit that is part of the family. I tell my children real life stories that are sad and they have read some themselves. But I think it is very important to balance these stories with ones filled with hope and joy, silliness and happiness. You don’t want to weigh a child down with “survivor’s guilt,” or give them a depressed view of reality. Everything in moderation! 🙂

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      My heart goes out to you on the loss of your son. It sounds as if you have struck a marvelous balance in incorporating your first child’s life story into your family life. I agree – moderation and the courage to share all feelings together is so important – sad, silly, and every feeling in between. Bravo! Your children are growing up in a very loving and accepting environment.

  3. Well said, Heather. I think we’ve created a society that has a strange combination of protecting children from reality on one hand, and allowing them to be desensitized to death and violence through virtual entertainment on the other. I think we disrespect our children when we act like they can’t handle the hard parts of life. Of course, as a Christian I also believe that there is life on the other side of death, and that the sad ending doesn’t have to be the last word, so I think that part of the story needs to be told as well. Thanks for your insights! – JP

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Interesting insight, Jim. Yes, it is an odd combination when we overprotect, yet at the same time show so much violent entertainment. You’re right, it is a basic level of respect. Talking about death also gives us a chance to share our personal thoughts and beliefs about death with children. It opens the conversation. Thanks for your comment!