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Thursday, February 04, 2010

The ABCs of Teaching the Alphabet

Several years ago -- more than I want to count, I was the school librarian in an elementary school with a magical kindergarten teacher who used the "letter of the week" to interest and stimulate her young students. She was magnificently creative and wonderfully enthusiastic. One January, shortly after my granddaughter was born (December 27), the week after the winter holiday break she marched her children through the library to greet" the new "grandmother."

The week was G week and the rest of the week was filled with many "G's" and of course that week I read one of my favorite Grandmother books to them during their session in the library.  Today I'd probably read My Hippie Grandmother by Reeve Lindbergh, illustrated by Abby Carter (Candlewick, 2003). It's the story of a little girl who loves the spirit of her grandmother. Grandma grows vegetable, but better yet she drives a purple bus. She also pickets city hall and has a cat named Woodstock.

And I would probably suggest the teacher read a couple (preferably ALL) of the "G" books suggested in Toni Buzzeo's new professional book,ABC, Read to Me: Teaching Letter of the Week in the Library & Classroom by Toni Buzzeo. UpstartBooks, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-60213-044-9.
Books suggested in Buzzeo's book:
Bill Grogan’s Goat adapted by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott. Megan Tingley Books, 2002.
Grumpy Gloria by Anna Dewdney. Viking, 2006.
How Groundhog’s Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry. Blue Sky Press, 2003.
Gator Gumbo by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Sally Anne Lambert. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.

A few weeks later that new grandBABY visited school with her mother. It happened to be her mother's Birthday. What fun we had with myriad of "B" words: babybook, blocks, baby food, bath towel, blue rattle, booties, and ... and of course, a birthday cake for baby's mom.
And of course, if this were happening today, I would suggest the books recommended in Buzzeo's book -- what a convenient resource:
Baby Bear’s Books by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Harcourt, 2006.
Bee-bim Bop by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee. Clarion, 2005.
Brave Bitsy and the Bear by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke. Clarion, 2004.
Beetle Bop by Denise Fleming. Harcourt, 2007.
All in all, children making milk mustaches (M week) or drinking RED kool-aid during R week, connections with books are a must. And Buzzeo's book is the perfect resource for quick and fast ideas for titles, as well as, many ideas for enriching the experience.
Sharron McElmeel

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