Local Expert: Book Nook and its young readers

What’s a better way to homeschool than read with your kid? (Parents: no nodding off). And while reading aloud is part of most households already (we also do a lot of books on tape), I thought it would be helpful to turn to the folks at Book Nook,  the childhood literacy center on Warren, for some advice. Rina Collins was a K-6 literacy teacher in the Jersey public schools when she and her husband, Andy, decided to launch the first Book Nook on the UWS in 2012; they opened ours in 2017 and they just launched an at-home literacy series called Branched.

Reading is the foundation of all learning and utilizing this time at home to remind your little ones of the magic and wonder of using our imaginations is crucial and beneficial – and can lead to a lifelong love of reading. We came up with a few ideas to bolster your little one’s excitement and add a much-needed layer of fun in the coming weeks.

Read from new genres.
Kids can always expand their horizons when it comes to reading, but often they stick with genres they know and love. More often, a child will read one book from a genre outside of their comfort zone and then swear off that particular area of literature forever. Window shop (online, of course) and encourage kids to choose something new. It can open the door to unique worlds and ideas, which is never a bad thing. Independent bookstores across the city and beyond have transferred over to an entirely online model and are shipping out new books daily. This is a great opportunity to support the independent bookstores who need our support more than ever. Check out Bookshop.org to find and order from your local bookstore and you’ll help raise money for indies in the process!

Make a game out of it with a reading bingo sheet.
There are many examples of these that can be found online, but there’s plenty of room for you to design your own as well. Incorporating squares with goals like “make a reading fort” or “check out a story on audiobook” can keep things fresh and exciting. It also gives kids something to work towards and, ultimately, accomplish — which acts as a confidence boost, as well.

Follow a theme.
At Book Nook Enrichment, our curriculum each week is based on individual themes — everything from the holidays to reptiles. Asking your child to choose a theme and then pick a handful of books that correlate with that theme gives the project a sense of purpose while also making it cohesive. This can open your child up to a new genre, but also a new subset of information entirely. Have them pick books on certain type of animal, or maybe another city, and see what knowledge they are able to acquire. You can stick to the theme in other areas of learning as well — make a craft, learn additional facts about the history of your focus, etc.

Search for online reading communities.
We know the goal right now is to limit screen time, but there are plenty of educational opportunities online throughout this period of social distancing. Many schools and enrichment programs are offering digital learning experiences for kids of all ages. Book clubs, virtual classes, and themed curriculum packets are taking the internet by storm. These options open up the opportunity for educational routines to be filled out and supplemented – and for kids to get a truly well-rounded experience while away from school. Book Nook Enrichment is preparing to launch BRANCHED, an at-home literacy series delivered to your inbox each Monday. Check out our website for more information.

Make a schedule and stick to it.
Now more than ever, a consistent routine can be the most important part of creating good habits and keeping some normalcy in your day-to-day. Pick the same time each day to set aside for reading. Set up a cozy corner of your house and settle in for an hour or so. Busy during that time one day? No problem — find another time that works. So long as your child is reading each day and making the time as opposed to waiting for it to just present itself, it’s a win in our book.

We know things are tough right now, but there’s always a little joy and comfort to be found in a good book. Happy reading!