Reading with Kylee

Friday, February 5, 2016

Kylee does everything well.  She speaks several languages, is a gourmet cook, travels all over the world, and has a home that looks like it came from the pages of a Pottery Barn catalog.  She is a world-class mom.  Something I really admire is how Kylee helps her kids find things that they love and supports them in their individual pursuits.  It's not surprising that they are evolving into athletic, musical, and academic wunderkinds.  She's dabbled in homeschooling, has a more impressive home library than most cities, and has organized one of the coolest children's book clubs I've ever heard of.

When I had my first baby, Kylee gave me stacks of books to start my home library and consistently has the best book recommendations of anyone I know. We're so grateful that she agreed to share some her thoughts with us here!

Name: Kylee
How many kids do you have and what are their ages? I have 4 kids: ages 13, 11, 9 and 3
What did you study in college? I studied French and German in college, and have a master's degree in elementary education
Where do you live? Northern Virginia

What are 3 ways you foster reading in your home?
1. Making books very accessible (each child has a bookcase in their room, there are books on the toy shelves in the basement, and our family room has three bookshelves full of books).  I try to get books that align with their interests or remind me of books that they've loved in the past and make sure that they always have a few books that they're looking forward to reading.

2. Reading out loud with my children.  I read stacks of stories to my three year old before naps and bedtime, but I also read books out loud with my older children.  It's been a special one on one bonding time.  We are pretty busy and only get to read together once or twice a week, but we all look forward to it.  I used to teach fifth grade and would read a book out loud to my students every day for about 15 minutes after lunch.  They looked forward to the read aloud more than younger kids I have taught--I think in part because many people stop reading books to their kids once they are able to read themselves.

3. I read what they read.  When my kids are assigned books at school, or when they find something that they love, I will read it.  My kids often come to talk to me about what they think about their reading, or share a part of the story that they found particularly funny, and it really helps to have read the book.  Because we have these conversations somewhat frequently, my kids listen to each other and sometimes read a book that their sibling read because the conversation sparked their interest.  Often the conversations are very brief--this reminds me of so and so from this book--but there is a shared understanding based on what we've read.

What picture books do you think every home library should have? 
I had a hard time answering this --there are so many.  I just went around the bookshelves and gathered up some that it seems all of kids have loved at some point. 

1.  Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.  My kids also loved his Chicken Soup with Rice, One Was Johnny, and Pierre.
2.  A Very Special House by Ruth Krauss
3.  Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
4.  Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
5.  Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
6.  There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Tabak.  My kids also loved his Joseph Had a Little Overcoat book.
7.  Frog Goes to Dinner by Mercer Mayer
8.  Tuesday by David Wiesner
9.  Little Gorilla by Ruth Bornstein
10.  Crictor by Tomi Ungerer
11.  The Wide Mouthed Frog by Keith Faulkner
12.  Manners Can Be Fun by Munro Leaf
13.  No Roses for Harry by Gene Zion (his Sugar Mouse Cake, now out of print, was my childhood favorite)
14. Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood
15.  The King, the Mice and the Cheese by Nancy and Eric Gurney
16.  I Wish That I Had Duck Feet by Theo LeSieg
17.  The Surprise Doll by Morrell Gipson (only my daughter loved this, but I loved it too as a little girl so it made the cut)
18.  Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymous Bosch by Nancy Willard
19.  Traction Man by Mini Grey
20.  The Best Pet of All by David LaRochelle
21.  When You Were Small by Sara O'Leary
22.  Beware of the Frog by William Bee

What is something your parents did well to encourage a love of reading in you?
My mother read to us a great deal when we were growing up, and she read a great deal herself.  She helped us to imagine and act out our books.  And she always let us stay up late to read by the hall light or a flashlight--I loved that feeling of sneaking that I got, immersed in a good book while I was supposed to be trying to sleep.

What are you reading right now with your kids?
Right now, my 3 year old is really into Everyone Loves Bacon by Kelly DiPucchio, and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt.  I'm reading Rose by Holly Webb with my 9 year old, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart with my 11 year old, and Ungifted by Gordon Korman with my 13 year old.

What are you reading right now for yourself?
Right now, I'm reading the The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler. 

Do you have a favorite children's Christmas book? If so, what is it?
One of my favorite childhood Christmas books was Plum Pudding For Christmas by Virginia Kahl, and my kids love it, too.  


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