Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Trees in the Forest: Day One

Trees in the Forest: Laying a Path

We’re excited to announce the new book, Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers through Deep Comprehension, by Rita Cevasco with Tracy Molitors.

Rita has spent over thirty years working with children as a speech-language pathologist and a reading-writing specialist. She has extensive training for treating dyslexia and using various reading and spelling programs for children with weak reading and writing skills.

Tracy is a watercolor artist, graphic designer, and a children’s book author and illustrator. She is the illustrator and a contributing author for Rooted In Language publications.

Rita and Tracy will be guest posting all week here on the Brave Writer blog. Enjoy!


“I loved the time that you said ‘set a small task of writing and then be done, remembering that they are tired even if you aren’t.’” —Tara, Homeschool Parent

Rita Cevasco and Tracy MolitorsLaying a Path. Remember those words. Everyday your children walk on a path as developing readers and writers. For some it is a pleasant, easy walk. For others, it is uneven ground. For still others, it is a steep and daunting climb—overwhelming and exhausting.

Our goal is to lay a path for our children, one stone at a time. Reading and writing is a journey, and when we lay a thoughtful, encouraging path for our kids, we can rest in the knowledge that they are growing at their own pace. They are not stuck or overwhelmed. They are not skipping over important steps.

One way we lay a path is by consolidating language arts skills, so there is a smooth flow from reading to writing, and from writing back to reading. This path becomes smoother as children learn to capture their thoughts on paper.

This week we’re sharing an activity from our book Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers through Deep Comprehension. Our activity, called Cartooning Characters, encourages kids to think more deeply about text, then express their thoughts in Bits and Pieces of writing—all combined with visual art!

Cartooning Characters by Rita Cevasco and Tracy Molitors

Each day this week, we will walk on this path, each day we will discuss an addition to the activity, each day more drawing and writing—all in Bits and Pieces! By the end, your children will be further on their own journey to becoming deeper readers and thoughtful writers.

We encourage you to do this activity along with your children—one character for each of you. Each of you will choose a character from a story to “draw,” in sketching and words. In our book, we discuss the concept that drawing can help us see new aspects we may not have noticed before. Drawing a character, eventually adding Bits and Pieces of writing, will help us capture our thoughts on paper.

Having each person in the family select a different character will help reduce competition. We want children to believe their ideas are valid with no single answer or perfect drawing. Keep your own performance in line with your children, so you do not overwhelm them with adult-level abilities and expectations.

  • Download Cartooning Characters to begin. You will receive a packet that contains a blank drawing sheet, five days’ worth of activities labeled Day One through Day Five (each adding to the original drawing), and an example of Tracy’s completed cartoon for your reference.
  • Each day in this blog, we will explain that day’s strategy. If your children are feeling inspired and want to do all five days at once, then go for it. But we will give you daily insights into how and why the next step matters, so be sure to read along throughout the week. Spreading the cartooning over five days allows us to revisit our character, each day digging deeper into our thoughts and writing a bit more.

For today’s activity, you and your children will choose a main character of a fictional story. It can be from a favorite book they have read, your family’s current read aloud, or other media. You will each draw your chosen character from the directions on the Day One sheet. Encourage your children to draw as elaborately or simply as they desire—even stick figures (check out this helpful guide by Tracy). Simple drawings, like simple words, can lead us down a path to deeper insight.

Download our PDF, and let’s begin with Day One . . .

DOWNLOAD Cartooning Characters

Day Two: Bits & Pieces I
Day Three: Bits & Pieces II
Day Four: Story Symbols
Day Five: Connecting with Character


Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers through Deep Comprehension
by Rita Cevasco with Tracy Molitors

Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers through Deep Comprehension (Volume 1)Think deeply to write deeply. . . Geared to parents, educators and Speech Language Pathologists, this creative resource can be used to aid children in becoming lifelong readers and writers.

This is available in PDF or PRINT formats.

[This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. When you click on the link to make a purchase,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


A Conversation with Rita!

Rita Cevasco was also with me on Facebook last week and we talked about reading, writing, and learning differences. Watch the recorded broadcast below.

Learn more about Rita and her work at Rooted in Language.

Rita Cevasco

Stuff Every Parent Needs to Know about Reading

Reading: Stuff Every Parent Needs to Know

Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty.
It should be offered to them as a precious gift.
—Kate DiCamillo

In the recorded broadcast below we look at reading in all its facets:

  • Learning to read
  • Reading aloud
  • Reading poetry
  • How reading translates to good writing
  • Motivating reluctant readers
  • High school reading
  • Reading for pleasure and reading for academics

Want more? Enjoy these Brave Writer blog posts:

Reading Aloud Matters

When Kids have Trouble Reading

5 Ways to Encourage Reading

YouTube Thursday: Books I Love

Some of Julie Bogart's favorite books

Whenever you read a good book,
somewhere in the world
a door opens
to allow in more light.

–Vera Nazarian

Here are books I love! The criteria I used for choosing the titles: Did the book fit a critical moment in my life? Did it suit me for some unique reason?

In the scope below I share the books and the unique reasons. Enjoy!

Books Shared

A big thank you to Angela of Nurtured Roots for jotting these down!

[This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Brave Writer.]

Shadow of the Moon by M. M. Kaye
I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron
Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Drawing on the Artist Within by Betty Edwards
I Hate Mathematics by Marilyn Burns
Nitty Gritty Grammar by Edith Fine and Judith Josephson
More Nitty Gritty Grammar by Edith Fine and Judith Josephson
The Tea Party Book by Lucille Recht Penner
The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden
Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield
Clues to Acting Shakespeare by Wesley Vari Tassel
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Writing with Power by Peter Elbow
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
Otherwise by Jane Kenyon
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Home Education by Charlotte Mason
Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore
Close Range by Annie Proulx (short stories)
Siblings without Rivalry by Adele Faber
Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson (good to read with teenagers)
Poems New and Collected by Wislawa Szymborska
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster

The Homeschool Alliance

What are Brave Writer parents reading to their kids?

33 Read-Alouds for Kids

One of the moms on BraveScopes asked: “What’s in your current read aloud stack?”

Here are some of the replies:

Mr. Poppers Penguins
Adam of the Road
How to Train Your Dragon
The Bard of Avon
Medicine in the Medieval Ages
My Side of The Mountain
The Cricket in Times Square
The Penderwicks
Ginger Pye
Ella Enchanted
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Oliver Twist
Boom Town
Betsy-Tacy
Spirit of the Cedar People
The Adventures of Jayne, the Cat Who Was a Dog
The Way of Gnome
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone
The School Mouse (Dick King Smith)
The Lightening Thief
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Railway Children
Love that Dog
Detectives in Togas
The Pushcart War
Anne of Green Gables
The Great Turkey Walk
The Story of Dr. Dolittle
The Cricket in Times Square
Wonder
The Wheel in the School
Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics
Minn of the Mississippi
Paddle to the Sea

So the next time you’re searching for a good read aloud you can refer to this list!

Reading the Classics

A year of classic books

by Brave Writer summer intern Amy Hughes

I’ve always been a goal and projects kind of gal, so it was hardly surprising that the year I turned fifteen I decided to read my way through the classics. After taking some Boomerang classes the year before, I decided that I would ‘educate’ myself through reading through as many classical books as I could, and keeping a list of the titles. Some books I read for homeschooling, and others I dipped into myself.

It was a great experience, and I read a lot. I read my way through nearly the entire works of Jane Austen, after discovering I was a Jane Austen fan, and educated myself on as many movie adaptions as I could lay my hands on. I read newer classics: The Great Gatsby, Murder on the Orient Express, but also older books such as the Aeneid and the Odyssey.

I discovered heroines that I admired – Jane from Jane Eyre, Lizzie from Pride and Prejudice, and heroes that I fell in love with – Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, and Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. I read through books I loved, and I made myself read books I truly hated. Yet this was very valuable. Often, if I read on my own, I edit the books I read. I find myself selecting the books that I love, and not finishing the books I didn’t enjoy as much.

However, this is not very helpful. There is achievement and learning in finishing a book that I didn’t enjoy (cough, cough, the Aeneid, cough, cough). There is knowledge that I’ve learned something new and stretched my brainpower. Even in the books I really didn’t enjoy, I had motivation to finish because I was reading them for my list. I couldn’t add a half-finished book to my list: did I really want to get half-way through the book and have all my time reading it wasted?

While shameless egotism in being able to boast about my list isn’t a great motive, my year of reading classics was still valuable in broadening my mind and my reading scope. I’m really glad I spent a year reading the books I loved and the books I loathed. It opened my eyes to beyond what I’d normally read, and led me to new experiences. Some were not so good, but some were fantastic. And for those fantastic experiences alone, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a year of reading the classics to anybody.

Image by Leyram Odacrem (cc cropped, tinted, text added)