The world is a fast moving experience for most of us, and sometimes things of value, like long days spent reading, can get lost. Annie Riechmann has created the publication Alphabet Glue, which is dedicated to bringing the art of storytelling and a passion for reading back to families everywhere. We recently had a chance to talk to Annie about her work and what motivates her to help keep storytelling alive.
Alphabet Glue is a treat for children and adults alike. What inspired you to create the publication?
I’ve always been a huge fan of children’s literature, and a few years ago I began a regular feature on my blog where I would talk about favorite books that my daughter and I were reading together. At first I really wasn’t sure that anyone was reading my Library Monday posts, and in truth, I was really writing them for myself as a type of journal of our family reading adventures anyway. But before long, I started getting these wonderful emails from other families who were using the posts as a guide for finding books to read together. I realized that my passion for quality children’s literature, bookmaking projects and library going was not at all unique and that so many families were really looking for ways to engage in collaborative, creative projects together around reading, writing and storytelling. So, I created the first issue of Alphabet Glue and was totally amazed by the outpouring of support for the project. That enthusiasm was incredibly motivating and before long, I was working on a second issue. I really love that I’m able to contribute to the family lives of my readers in such a positive and fun way, and I also love that the magazine feels authentic in reflecting my own journey as a parent and an educator.
What role do you believe a love of literature plays in a child’s development?
I think that a love of literature is really a love of story, and story is just such a huge part of how we relate to the world! For children, so much of the way that they express their imagination and creativity is through story, and interacting with quality literature helps them to broaden their view of the forms that this expression can take. I also think that children (and adults) process a lot of their experiences and questioning through the stories that they create, and that their relationships to literature change and deepen as they grow older and have more diverse experiences. Engaging with literature allows us to see the world from perspectives that are unique and differ from our own, and this is important to the way we grow as people — throughout our lives.
You have a lot of creative projects for children to explore. How do these enhance the reading experience for children?
As much as I think that most children really like to be read to, or read themselves, I also think that many children have more meaningful experiences with reading, writing and storytelling when they can get involved in projects that encourage them to actively engage. My own daughter may not be all that interested in just sitting down and writing a letter, but give everyone in the family their own mailbox for her to send things to, and suddenly the idea is much more compelling. I also include bookmaking projects in each issue of Alphabet Glue. I started doing this because I really believe in teaching children that their experiences of reading and writing can be just as authentic when they are the ones creating the story as they would be if they were reading something written by a professional author. Every story that we create has value, and being seven and making a book at the dining room table doesn’t mean that your story is any less important than the one on the shelf in the bookstore!
As parents, in what ways can we help to foster a love of reading with our children?
Honestly, I think that the biggest thing that we can do is to love reading ourselves! I really believe in making reading a priority activity that is included in the rhythm of daily life, pretty much without exception. I read to my daughter every night, even though she is a great reader these days and I could easily send her off to bed with a book to read on her own. I hope to keep reading to her until she goes off to college! I love the idea of reading as an activity of family togetherness. But, I’m also learning a lot right now about encouraging a love of reading through allowing some space for her to make her own choices about what to read. I always choose really high quality, well-written books to read with my daughter — I’m an unapologetic book snob! But I’m also learning to respect the fact that she may well want to read cheesy chapter books about magic spell casting cats on her own time and that this is part of her growth as a reader.
What is your favorite activity or craft from the upcoming Spring edition of Alphabet Glue?
Well, the February/March issue of Alphabet Glue was recently released and I have to say, it may be among my favorites to date. My daughter and I worked on a lot of the projects together this time around, and we had such a great time doing it! It was just a lovely way for us to be together in the busy days after the birth of her baby brother. I love the miniature mailboxes in this issue, and we’ve had so much fun creating our own family postal service. We’ve got mailboxes all around the house so that we can sneak funny little notes to each other. I’m working on the April/May issue now, and have some great garden related activities planned, as well as a feature on projects and books related to flight and flying objects.
Annie has shared with us a tutorial for making Story Lanterns, which originally appears in Volume Two of Alphabet Glue. Enjoy!
Thank you to Annie for sharing her thoughts with us here. To learn more about Annie and Alphabet Glue, please visit her blog.
Annie Riechmann is an educator, parent and unapologetic lover of striped knee socks, avocados and field guides. She lives in Vermont, wishes that she was better at flying kites and can be found online on her blog, Bird and Little Bird.