Happy summer! Inner City-Inner Child wishes you and all of the early learners in your life a warm season of fun and reading. We are pleased to share with you in our next two posts some of our favorite ways to enjoy books with young children. This month, we send a shout out to the teenage photographers and writers at Reach Incorporated, who created A to Z: The Real DC (available through Shout Mouse Press).
This is a fabulous book that takes young readers on an alphabetical and rhyming journey around DC, celebrating its vibrant neighborhoods, culture, and attractions. From it, children learn that A is not just for apple, but is also for Anacostia. They also learn that Ben's Chili Bowl, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, quadrants, the Supreme Court, and the X2 bus are all a treasured part of the unique city that they call home. It’s the ultimate staycation guide for DC area preschoolers and their parents!
Thanks to a generous grant from a donor, Inner City-Inner Child has the privilege this year of providing copies of A to Z: The Real DC to hundreds of children in DC’s early childhood centers and classrooms. We have also incorporated the book into our Dancing With Books curriculum. Our ultimate goal is to make this wonderful book available to every preschooler in DC.
Here are our suggestions for enjoying A to Z: The Real DC with your child this summer:
- Read. Find a cozy place to sit—a chair, rug, park bench, picnic blanket, or even a seat on the Metro—and read to your child with expression and enthusiasm. In the early years, reading to your child is vital to your child’s reading development. Let your child read to you, too. Even if your child has not yet learned to decode words, your child can look at the photographs in the books and assemble words to go with them from memory or imagination.
- Visit. Pick one, a few, or even all of the destinations in A to Z: The Real DC and go there with your child. Take the book with you to compare the photographs in the book to the actual destinations. If possible, take photographs of you and your child at each site to remember your visit. Depending on the site, you may wish to bring a snack or lunch, a blanket, and other books to read while you are there.
- Look. One of the most clever features in A to Z: The Real DC is that it captures images of objects around the city that resemble letters of the alphabet. Bike racks, fences, leaves, shadows, sidewalk brick patterns are all among the letter-makers that surround us every day and appear in the book. Help your find these images in the book, then encourage your child to look around and find objects in your own environment that resemble letters.
- Sing, dance, and drum. Inner City-Inner Child’s Dancing With Books program brings picture books to life through teaching artists who use singing, movement, and musical instruments to amplify the words and themes in the book. But you don’t have to be a teaching artist for you and your child to dance with books at home. Have fun creating your own songs and dances around the words in the book, and tap on any safe, hard surface to add a drum beat
- Make. Have your child make an original alphabet book, featuring items in your own home environment or neighborhood. You don’t need fancy materials—just plain or scrap paper, crayons, and a stapler will do. Let your child draw the images freely, without criticizing your child's work. Your child can also do the writing, you can write words that your child dictates to you, or you and your child can do a combination of both.
While you’re at it, check out the websites of Reach Incorporated, Shout Mouse Press, and Shootback—the organizations that collaborated to make A to Z: The Real DC possible.
An Invitation to You
A blog can never do “ ‘J’ is for justice” to what children gain when Inner City-Inner Child’s teaching artists share A to Z: The Real DC in early childhood centers and classrooms. To learn more about how to support our art education programs for children and teachers, we invite you to watch our video and click here. Happy summer reading!
For more than two decades, Inner City-Inner Child (ICIC) has supported early childhood education in Washington, DC through arts education programs and early childhood development training. We provide quality arts integration and early childhood development programs that serve low-income families in DC. ICIC also provides arts-focused professional development programs for teachers who work in early childhood centers and school-based early childhood education programs in DC. In addition, we engage low-income DC parents in child development activities that help them create learning experiences at home.