The collector instinct applies to books
         What does your child collect? Keychains? Baseball cards? Barbies? Action
figures or little stuffed animals?

         Use your child’s collecting urge to work toward his advantage. When he
finds a book he likes, look into other books that the same author has written.
Chances are if he liked one, he’ll enjoy the same author’s style in another tome.

         One of my favorite authors of books for children is James Marshall. I begin
every school year by reading the seven books in the George and Martha series,
written during the fifteen year period of 1972 - 1988. These two lovable hippos
exemplify characteristics of a solid friendship: mutual support and appreciation,
consideration, occasional scuffles, pranks, and, at the end of the day, always
being there for each other. Once my students hear the first one, if I tell them
there are more George and Martha books, they want to hear them all.

         James Marshall was prolific, and his multiple-books series include Fox, The
Stupids, Miss Nelson, and The Cut-Ups. He also re-told several familiar fairy tales in
his inimitable style.

         In “collecting” and reading the works of authors, help your child look for
the elements of style: the same characters appearing throughout, the
appearance of the artwork, the themes of the stories told, or the sense of humor
of the author.

         You get your child to think critically if you ask, “How can you tell that this
book was also written by that author?”  As your child grows, you are helping her
with this skill if you ask such questions as: Why do you think the author wrote this
book? How would you have told this story? What changes would you make if
you had a chance to write it?

         This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children
Well: A Teacher’s  Advice for Parents.

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