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‘Raising Readers and Writers’: La Jolla author offers caregivers advice in new book

La Jolla resident Lenore Ringler has published her third book to help parents encourage literacy in their children.
(Ann Holt )

“We’re always maturing as readers and writers,” said Lenore Ringler, adding that literacy learning starts in infancy.

To teach parents and caregivers how to nurture budding bibliophilia in their children from babyhood through middle school, Ringler, who retired to La Jolla in 2002 after a career on the New York University faculty teaching developmental psychology and literacy to those in the university’s program for aspiring educators, has co-authored her third book on the subject.

“Raising Readers and Writers: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers” was published April 2, also written by Carole Rhodes, a New York resident who was originally Ringler’s research assistant but later her friend.

Each chapter is “organized by the developmental level of the child,” Ringler said, and starts “with a conversation and very brief dialogue between either two parents, two women, two men, or two caretakers that will focus the chapter.”

They also include “a section on what is the child like at that age, from a psychological point of view,” she said.

Ringler said the chapters feature “redundant topics, but the content is different” based on the age of the child, adding reading aloud, the writing process and role of parents and caregivers is mentioned in every chapter.

The book concludes, she said, with “special topics” such as homework issues, standardized testing and difficulty with reading and writing.

“What’s unique about the book,” Ringler said, “is there are loads of books on parenting. But there are none we could find that link the developmental age and outlook of the child to specific literacy activities.”

She said “the other books, which we looked at carefully, compiled lists of books that are good for children at particular ages.”

"Raising Readers and Writers," by Carole Rhodes and La Jollan Lenore Ringler, offers advice for nurturing literacy.
“Raising Readers and Writers,” by Carole Rhodes and La Jollan Lenore Ringler, offers advice for nurturing literacy.
(Courtesy of Lenore Ringler)

“Raising Readers and Writers” instead offers “a composite of activities, events [and] teachable moments,” Ringler said.

A “teachable moment,” she explained, is when “parents use everyday events, things they would normally be doing, to increase the literacy” of their children, such as involving the children in planning their birthday parties.

“You want to try and write a list of the friends who are coming to the party,” Ringler said. “What food will we need for the body? Where should we shop? Do we need special treats? All of those items become literacy activities.”

She said “our concept is that literacy develops within an extended family. Parents, siblings, grandparents … the more they interact with language, thinking, reading, writing, listening and speaking, the more literate the child becomes.”

Ringler said one of the most important pieces of advice for parents wanting to increase literacy in their children is “to think about listening and speaking as primary in terms of involving the children, which will then move into reading and writing. Those are the four ways that we basically learn.”

Ringler said she and Rhodes were motivated to begin writing books for parents after Ringler realized “I’d worked with educators for 32 years at the university” but had never spoken to parents “in an extended kind of fashion.”

“I thought, ‘Maybe there’s a new audience that we have never reached,’” she said.

Rhodes and Ringler’s first two books, “Born to Learn” in 2004 and “A Leg Up” in 2007, focus on similar themes of increasing a child’s literacy abilities.

“Raising Readers and Writers: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers” is available for $14.99 at bit.ly/ringler3.