My daughter has a scattered family. It’s inherited. My family stretched along the West Coast. Mom and her side of the family were mostly in California, and my dad and all his relatives were in Oregon. Time was split between them, with summers typically being “dad time” and the rest belonging to my mom and young grandparents.
My daughter’s family isn’t just divided into halves--it’s little clusters all over the country. The fact isn't new to me; I remember piling all my antiques and books and cat into a Budget truck and moving to Nashville—but it hadn't hit me how it would alter her childhood experience. Not until Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library delivered a Llama Llama book, where the title character goes to visit his grandparents for the night, did it register. Tears welled in my eyes while reading. Tallulah, oblivious, happily thumbed the thin pages forward.
What had I done? Sure, she couldn't be near EVERY family member, but to be so far from all of them! To have her time reduced to short visits, to not know what it was like to rummage through grandparents’ cupboards to find all the snacks, or to riffle through their old photo albums to see photographs of her parents as babies? Grandparent memories are some of my favorites from childhood. Talking about Robert Redford with my Grandma Sue and hearing her childhood stories, how her face “looked like an Irish map” and how Santa only brought oranges for Christmas. Grandpa George telling me about his trip to Russia and locating Moscow’s McDonald. Listening to him describe all the treasures he found while working on the Roth family tree.
And those young grandparents, my mom’s parents? They filled the majority of my grandparent time, and my memory is saturated with our moments—blueberry pies, Stephen King movies, cruises, Disney, and trips to Crown Book Store. There was always at least one grandparent at arm’s length.
Tallulah’s grandparent memories won’t be an every weekend experience—but does that make them less poignant? Memories don’t always carry weight when they’re routine or constant. Her grandparent experience, even if it’s only blocks of time every several months, is special. My grandparents, her great-grandparents, were here in April. They formed a stronger bond than previous visits (maybe because she isn’t just a blob of newborn anymore), and Tallulah collected memory fodder: playing with blocks at the Frist museum, seeing her great-grandparents step outside their comfort zone at Nashville’s first VegFest, and having the fun of picking out dresses and shoes with Grandma.
And it isn't all bad. We may not have the frequent mom breaks through grandparent sleepovers, or the instant recognition when a family member walks through the door. We have something different, like each generation does.
As Tallulah’s mom, I have to cultivate that grandparent time in new ways. We have to use technology to build long-distant love through FaceTime. We have to make those visits count. We have to keep the family updated through photographs and special gifts. We have to celebrate the precious moments of family. They make childhood special.
Don’t you just love little cafés? So often they offer great food, a fun atmosphere, and a fantastic overall experience. What I love the most about little cafés, though, is the menu. It’s often a work of art, and mimics the feel of the café. The food on the menu has interesting names and every dish starts to sound decadent. In fact, if it weren’t for the menu, you wouldn’t know what each dish offered. And if you want to pick the perfect, “just right” dish, the menu becomes invaluable.
Today I want to invite you into a Café. Will this café offer food? Well, yes, sustenance. Will this café have a menu? Yes, for sure. Will this Café be exciting and fun? Indeed it will! Well, come on then--what--or where-- is this café? Just pick up a favorite book and come dine with me: we’re diving into...Café Reading!
Café Reading is a reading plan developed by two teachers who happen to be sisters – Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. The Café was designed to function right alongside a reading structure named The Daily Five. In the structure of The Daily Five, students or kids develop wonderful habits in literacy.
The five components are:
Read to Self
Read to Someone
Work on Writing
Listen to Reading.
All five of these components help build a stronger reader, and each has distinct benefits.
The Café is a structure, or a menu, that offers many strategies or options that students can use to become stronger, more fluent readers.
Here’s what’s on the menu:
This vital component builds many choices on “the Menu” that children can use to better understand what they are reading or what they are hearing.
This component offers options that children can use to make sure that they are reading the words accurately and, if they aren’t, great options or strategies to use to correct it.
What is Fluency? As noted on Scholastic.com, “The most well-known definition of fluency is the ability to read text accurately, quickly.” Reading smoothly and accurately changes the game. Read more about Fluency here:
E –Expand Vocabulary
I love this one! Every single time a child reads (or you read to them) his or her vocabulary is expanding. That is why it is critical to read to your child from before birth on. They are listening, making connections, expanding their vocabulary and more.
Check out this link:
Over the next several weeks, I will be diving into each piece of the menu and discussing how you, as a parent, can use these wonderful menu options to help your child become a better reader and, in the long run, a better student. The food on this menu will be rich in excitement and learning, so come dine with me in The Café!
Until next time, some food for thought:
There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully
as those we spent with a favorite book.
Disclaimer: All parts of The Daily Five and The Café are owned by The 2 Sisters – Gail Boushey & Joan Moser.