Monday, July 15, 2013

Books to remedy boredom

In my post last Friday about letting children learn to fill their time on their own, I meant to share a book title with you, but forgot in my rush to finish and start my day. As I was thinking about this, I realized that maybe I should share some other books as well that have proven to be useful in helping my children figure out what to do when they don't know what to do. This is not going to be a definitive list, but just what has popped into my head over the past couple of days. There are plenty of books out there; I buy them and leave them lying about the house and hope they spark something in a child.

(And if you think I may be suffering just a little bit from not knowing what to write this morning, you would be correct. Anyone want to send me ideas for topics to write about? Some days I'm clean out.)

First, the book I meant to add to the post last week. It's Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams. (I'm linking to Amazon so you can see the descriptions, but because I live in IL, I'm no longer an affiliate. Amazon won't let IL residents be affiliates, so I won't be making any chump change money off these links. Bitter? No. Why do you ask?) Anyway, Galimoto is set in Malawi and is the story of a little boy who figures out how to get the wire and supplies he needs to make a galimoto, or toy car. I love how it demonstrates a child's resourcefulness and is a charming story. 

The next book (or set of books) I want to share is a first chapter book series. A child who enjoys reading for pleasure has been given a great gift and reading is nearly always a terrific antidote for boredom, but not every child embraces independent reading quickly. This is something we've been working on with one of my sons. He can read, but he does not do it enough for it to be completely enjoyable. I have been working on this with him in several ways. First, I still read to him a lot. A child needs to be convinced that hearing/reading a story is going to be enjoyable enough to warrant doing the hard (at first) work of reading. In order to reach this point, they need to enjoy stories. So I read out loud and we talk about them and enjoy them. The next two items go hand in hand. I search out books that I think he will enjoy, plus schedule our days so that he has a set amount of reading he needs to do. For him, it is a half hour a day. This is long enough that he can become engrossed in a story, but not so long it feels as if it will be forever. The books I choose need to be interesting, but they also need to not be overwhelming, as in too long or intimidating. They also can't look too babyish. Can I just say, there need to be a lot more books of this type in the world? I recently came across a series by Cynthia Rylant that seems to fit all of these requirements, and sometimes it just takes one or two books to make all the difference. So if you have a reluctant reader, take a look at the Lighthouse Family series. The first book is called The Storm. It was read, enjoyed, and I was asked for more in the series. I was also told that perhaps my reluctant reader wanted to actually buy the series so he could have it long-term. To me, this is high praise, indeed.

But sometimes you just don't want your children sitting around and reading, you want them out playing when it is nice outside. For that, the book, A Kids' Guide to Building Forts has been great. My children may not have ever replicated any of the forts in the book exactly, but it has spurred their imagination as to various possibilities. And that's the whole point, anyway.

And then there are the days when small people need a bit of help to get them started. Yesterday afternoon was one of those times around here. No one felt settled and I knew it was time for some intervention, so I pulled out The Ultimate Book of Kid Concoctions and made some play dough for them. It was worth the little bit of time it took to make it because it kept them all busy for the entire time that dinner was being made. 

The last book I want to share isn't one you can buy in a store, it's my 'Things to Do' binder. This has been many years in the making and it is starting to look as though I need to go through and do some editing and repairing. The binder is falling apart from being used so much. It's where I keep all of the interesting projects, games, crafts, etc. that I wanted to remember. They're pulled out of magazines and printed from the computer. It's sort of like my Pinterest boards in physical form, and frankly, it's far more useful. I would suggest that even if you have a Pinterest account that you print out some and keep them in a book. This way your children can flip through it for ideas without the distraction of looking on the computer. I began creating it when M. was little and it is still in use today.
And the voting is still going on...


Anonymous said...

In the olden days (my oldest is 31!) I just wrote a list in a spiral notebook and I can't TELL you how many times my toddlers (mostly) would have me read the choices and then run off with a great idea :-)

Anonymous said...

In the olden days (my oldest is 31!) I just wrote a list in a spiral notebook and I can't TELL you how many times my toddlers (mostly) would have me read the choices and then run off with a great idea :-)

Sue said...

I saw your blog next to mine on the Top 25 - really enjoyed coming over for a visit! Kudos to you. I am thinking about how to implement your cup/placemat idea.

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