This post is sponsored by HarperCollins and the I Can Read! books. Be sure to enter the book giveaway listed at the end of this post.
It’s almost back-to-school time, and children nationwide will soon be getting ready to return to school or start for the first time. Starting the school year off right is so important when building the foundation of a successful school year for both teachers and students. It is a time to develop classroom community, set expectations for the year, and build relationships.
This school year my daughter will be starting First Grade, which is so hard for me to believe! Time, please slow down!
Making the transition from Kindergarten to First Grade is a big one for parents and children. As a parent or caregiver, one of the best things you can do to help your new first-grader prepare for the school year is to start having conversations at home early on about what they can expect. From my own research, I’ve learned that in First Grade reading skills come into play, math becomes more complex and science and social studies expose children to new worlds. Here are three tips to help prepare your child for reading in First Grade:
1. Read, read, and read some more!
First grade is a BIG reading year so it’s important to set aside regular time to read aloud with your children every day. Many children begin the year sounding out basic consonant-vowel-consonant (cvc) three letter words such as “big” and “cat.” However, more advanced readers may be given more challenging words.
Spelling lists and weekly spelling tests are common in most first grade classrooms too. These spelling lists might focus on teaching word families and basic word patterns. By the end of the year, first graders are reading more complicated sentences such as “She jumps up and down.” without needing to sound out known words. Most first graders are also learning to answer questions about key story ideas, retell the story, describe the characters or maybe even asked to write short book reviews.
One of my favorite series of early reader books for kids is the I Can Read! series. I like them because they have great repetition and words that kids can sound out without too much help from an adult. I know it can seem a bit overwhelming when trying to decide what early reader books to buy for your child because it can be confusing to figure out what book level to purchase. I find the I Can Read! books to have appropriately labeled and color-coded levels for their books (Levels 1 – 4). The “My First: Shared Reading” and “Level 1: Beginning Reading” books are perfect for incoming Kindergarten and First Grade students.
Teachers do not always detect children’s reading problems until they’ve become more serious. If possible, find out early in the school year from your child’s teacher if they can sound out words, know sight words, use context to identify unknown words, and clearly understand what they read. If any reading problems are identified, be sure to seek help. The more likely problems are identified early, the more likely your child will become a good reader.
3. Encourage a wide variety of reading activities.
Make reading an integral part of your child’s life. Have them read menus, highway and road signs, game directions, weather reports, movie time listings, grocery lists and other practical everyday information. Also, make sure they always have something to read in their spare time when they could be waiting for appointments or riding in a car. I like to keep a tote bag of a few books in the back seat that are within reach for my kids.
Showing enthusiasm for your children’s reading is also important too. Your reaction has a great influence on how hard they will try to become good readers. The most important thing to remember is to let your child set his or her own pace and have fun at whatever they are doing. The last thing you want to do is discourage them from reading or see it as a boring chore.
Our friends at HarperCollins were generous enough to sponsor this awesome prize pack for one lucky US resident winner. One (1) winner will receive:
We’re celebrating the second book in the “Riley Books” series which is entitled Riley Knows He Can.
Riley is excited about starring in his first school play – but his nerves keep getting the better of him. His Mummy and Daddy will be in the audience and Riley is excited that they’ll be there to watch him in his starring role as the wise king. In addition, Riley can’t wait to put on his costume – a kingly cape and crown! But he keeps getting overwhelmed by the butterflies in his tummy! What if he walks on the stage and freezes? Or what if he walks on the stage and sneezes? Thankfully, Riley’s big sister Ella is on hand. Not only did Ella help her little brother to practice his lines for the play, she also gives him the encouragement he needs to take to the stage with kingly confidence. With Ella’s help, Riley learns how to ditch the doubt and tell himself he can do it – because deep down, he knows he can!
Photo Credit: A Mum Reviews
The follow-up to 2017’s Riley Can Be Anything, Riley Knows He Can follows young Riley on a new and exciting journey of discovery. In this wonderful rhyming tale, our young hero learns, with the help of his big sister, how to conquer his fears by believing in himself.
The Giveaway! We’re giving away three (3) copies of this book to three (3) different winners. This giveaway is open to anyone age 18 and over internationally. Good Luck!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Disney-Hyperion. Thanks, Disney for sending us this book for free and allowing us to host a giveaway!
We’re so excited to partner with Disney to celebrate the release of their picture book entitled Drawn Together, which is now available for purchase. It’s a beautifully illustrated story about a grandfather and his grandson and how they learn to overcome their language barrier through a shared love of art and storytelling.
About the Book When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens—with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words. With spare, direct text by Minh Lê and luminous illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat, this stirring picture book about reaching across barriers will be cherished for years to come.
Grandparents are a unique and special gift that fill our children’s lives with sweets, fun and lots of love. If your child is lucky enough to have grandparents involved in their life like mine are, savor each and every precious moment they have together. Some grandparents have a great wealth of experience and time, and many love nothing more than making a significant impact on the lives of their grandchildren. Oftentimes, grandparents (and other family members!) can also play an important role in your child’s literacy development, offering experiences that can be unique from what you do with your kids.
I love the bond the grandfather and grandson share in Drawn Together and how beautifully the story bridges the gap between two generations and languages through pictures. It shows that despite your differences you can still be accepting of other people and find a common bond. This book is so powerful and meaningful. One not to be missed!
About the Author
Minh Lê is a writer but, like his grandfather, is a man of few words. He is a national early childhood policy expert, author of Let Me Finish! (illustrated by Isabel Roxas), and has written for the New York Times, the Horn Book, and the Huffington Post. A first-generation Vietnamese-American, he went to Dartmouth College and has a master’s in education from Harvard University. Outside of spending time with his beautiful wife and sons in their home near Washington, DC, Minh’s favorite place to be is in the middle of a good book. Visit Minh online at minhlebooks.com or on Twitter @bottomshelfbks.
Minh Lê’s debut, Let Me Finish!, received critical acclaim, and this new picture book once again demonstrates his sensitivity to readers and mastery of the form.
About the Illustrator
Dan Santat is the author and illustrator of the Caldecott Award-winning The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, as well as The Cookie Fiasco, After the Fall, and others. He is also the creator of Disney’s animated hit, The Replacements. Dan lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids, and a menagerie of pets. Visit him at dantat.com.
Illustrator Video Dan Santat’s illustrations are robust, vibrant, and packed with emotion, a perfect match for Minh Lê’s poignant, and ultimately cheerful, story. Learn about the Drawn Together art process from Dan Santat himself! Watch the video on YouTube!
Did you know that 70% of all kids quit organized sports by the age of 13, with girls quitting at 6x the rate of boys?
Alison Foley, Boston College’s Women’s Head Soccer Coach, and Mia Wenjen, parenting blogger at PragmaticMom to help coaches, both parent volunteer and professional coaches crack the code of how to keep girls in sports. HOW TO COACH GIRLS focuses on the key elements to keep girls coming back next season covering topics like Coaching Your Own Daughter to Pitfalls of Choosing Captains to Developing Team Chemistry. This is a hands-on manual to help coaches keep girls in sports!
Mia is also a blogger at PragmaticMom.com, a mash-up covering education, parenting, and multicultural children’s books. Her blog receives over one million views a year. She is a co-founder of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, January 27th, a non-profit which celebrates diversity in children’s literature. In just three days, the event generated over 3.6 billion social media share impressions!
A mother of two daughters and a son who play sports year round, she experienced first-hand how girls react differently than boys as athletes. It is from this, and her husband’s experience coaching their kids as a volunteer parent soccer and golf coach, that this book was conceived.
Alison Foley is the Boston College Women’s Soccer Head Coach. Her team’s success has led them to the NCAA Final Four and Final Eight during 13 consecutive play-off appearances. In her 20+ year career, she has coached many national team level players.
Alison started playing soccer at a young age, receiving ODP regional and national invitations. She played for Keene State College where she was an All-American, and earned a degree in psychology, focusing on sports psychology of female athletes. She still enjoys playing the game and can be found on the pitch both as a coach and a player.
HOW TO COACH GIRLS by Mia Wenjen and Alison Foley Q&A
1) Why did you decide to write this book?
Mia: My oldest daughter had an amazing volleyball coach who was so positive that even when they lost every game in a tournament, he emphasized their improvements. The players left feeling like champions. I was walking next to him for a team dinner and he told me that early in his coaching career, he was that coach that yelled more at the most promising player — a completely different coach than he is today. It took him a long time of trial and error to learn how to effectively coach girls.
Alison, my neighbor and friend, was always my go to for any sports related drama for my girls. I wanted to write this book with her because I think that coaching girls is a learned skill, not an innate one. We are hoping that by sharing this knowledge, ultimately it will help keep girls in sports.
Alison: I have had the opportunity to coach girls for the last 20 plus years and have seen things that consistently work really well with girls and have fumbled through my own mistakes of things that don’t work. I think there are a lot of capable coaches out there but they “miss” simple cues or don’t implement a small change that will have their players happier, developing faster as athletes and people and be a better teammate. I’ve learned a lot of this by trial and plenty of error. If I can help coaches with a couple of “secrets” to short cuts to team success I will feel this book is a success.
2) The stat you quote is alarming: 70% of kids quit organized sports by age 13, with girls quitting six times the rate of boys. Why are girls quitting at such high rates?
Alison: I think there are a lot of options out there for kids these days and you have to create environments that they are excited to go to. You have to blend pride, sense of community, and success all in this formula to retain your players. Understanding how our young athletes think and what makes them click is shared in our book and hopefully keeps girls excited and engaged in sport.
Mia: I’ve noticed with my girls, especially when they are trying out a new sport, that it can be one seemingly small thing that will either get them excited to keep going OR make them want to stop.
3) What can be done to retain girls in sports?
Mia: What we learned is that research shows that the number one reason why kids play sports is to have fun. But for girls, “fun” means being valued and respected. Interestingly, kids do not care about winning! That’s not a factor as to why kids stay in sports.
4) What are some of the ideas in your book to keep girls in sports?
Alison: a coach needs to create a safe and nurturing environment for the team. This starts with building a relationship with each player that extends beyond just an athlete, but as a whole person. It’s taking the time to learn about their family, their extra-curricular interests, and other aspects of their life.
Mia: Something as simple as picking Team Captains can be a way to build team chemistry or destroy it. A rotation schedule that gives each player a chance to lead also teaches the value of being a good follower.
5) Let them eat cake at games or practices?! Doesn’t that go against healthy eating as food as fuel for sports performance?
Alison: One of my assistants at Boston College, Mike LaVigne asks the day before our player’s birthday what type of cake they want for their birthday and then he brings it to the locker room the next day. To me, it’s not about the cake. It’s about the fuel of happiness. Our players feel so special that he remembers their birthday and they love to be celebrated by their teammates at the start or end of practice. Celebrating individual milestones (a great test grade, first communion, bat mitzvahs, first goal) all are great reasons to bring in a little sugar!!! It does volumes for your team spirit!
Mia: My girls were in it for the cake! If they knew someone was bringing cake to celebrate a birthday at a game or practice, they’d be there even if they were deathly ill!
6) Growth Mindset is the Big Idea in education these days. How do sports teach Growth Mindset?
Alison: From a coaching perspective, Growth Mindset emphasizes development over winning. The focus is not about outcomes but on effort during practice.
Mia: As a parent, you can teach your child self-advocacy through sports by letting her resolve issues directly with the coach such as playing time, starting lineup, or moving up a team.
7) It sounds like building team chemistry is essential for a good experience. What are some ideas that every coach, volunteer or professional, can do?
Mia: Something simple is counting off to form small groups versus letting girls choose their own groups. Usually girls cluster in friend groups on a team that are based on what school they go to. Counting off mixes them up, creating opportunities to make new bonds.
Alison: It’s the coaches’ job to teach equal value of all players. Giving positive feedback to every player each practice signals that every player is “good.” Also recognizing behavior that is not skill based shows what coach values. For example, recognize the player that helped an injured player or lead the effort to clean up the field after practice. And recognize all the players that assisted in the build-up for the goal that was scored, not just the person who got the goal.
8) I was struck by how much influence a coach has. You book talks about how coaches should focus on developing good people not just good players. Should we really be expecting this from coaches, especially parent volunteer coaches?
Alison: As a coach, you are in a leadership role and how you act sends a message and influences your players. If you are a coach that gets sent off the field for arguing with a ref, that’s what your players will emulate. On the other hand, you have the organization in the form of a team, to help others. Helping kids develop qualities such as strong work ethic, confidence, leadership, compassion, and working through issues to reach goals are skills that players will have for life.
Mia: We have a list of sports related non-profits on our HowToCoachGirls.com website for teams looking for ways to give back. We will keep adding to that list if anyone has suggestions for organizations to add to the list. We’d also love to post on the community service work that teams are doing.
9) Coaching your own daughter seems tricky but most parents who volunteering to coach are doing exactly that. What is one piece of advice to them?
Alison: You are really wearing a “different hat” for a couple hours. Include them in your decision to coach BEFORE you decide and ask them what they may feel would make them feel uncomfortable and then if reasonable stay away from these requests. Don’t put more pressure on them. Use the same tone of voice you are with them as you do the other players. Don’t worry about complimenting your daughter if it’s something you would have recognized in another player on the team.
Don’t evaluate their play on the way home or at all at home. Keep the environments separate. Also refrain from them hearing any coaching “chat” with your assistants or other parents. It can be a beautiful bonding experience for you and your daughter!
10) Any parent who has attended their child’s game has probably witnessed the “crazy sports parent” who screams at the ref, their own child, or the opposing team. What is your advice on how to deal with that?
Mia: Don’t be that parent.
Alison: Have a Parent Code of Conduct contract that parents sign before the season starts. Go over this in a parent meeting at the start of the season. If there are any infractions by parents, call a mandatory parent meeting after practice.
About the Berenstain Bears Stan and Jan Berenstain published the first Berenstain Bears book in 1962, and the series has gone on to capture the hearts and minds of children across generations and across the globe. In the 50+ years since “The Big Honey Hunt,” the Bear family has grown from three to five members; the Berenstain Bears have been translated into over a dozen languages; and over 300 million books have been sold worldwide.
About The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story The Berenstain Bear cubs are candy-crazy this Easter! But Missus Ursula and some Sunday school students tell the cubs about the true meaning of Easter. Includes a sheet of colorful stickers! Recommended for ages 4-7.
As with all of the Berenstain Bears books there are lessons to be learned. In this book Brother and Sister Bear learn the true meaning of Easter, how Jesus rose from the tomb. I love how the story was presented as part of an Easter play in Sunday School which made it easy for my children to understand. They are familiar with watching plays at school and going to Sunday school at our church.
I’m a total fan of the Berenstain Bears books. I read them when I was younger and I am now reading them to our children. I love the lessons taught in each one. I didn’t realize that Stan and Jan Berenstain had both passed away and their son is now writing the books. I’m glad that the tradition is being carried on and that Brother and Sister will still continue to share important life lessons with our children today. I also liked that on the back cover page there are activities and questions that help children apply the lesson learned.
One (1) winner receives:
1 Copy of The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story
I consider myself to be a pretty healthy eater. I pride myself on eating a well balanced diet most days and drinking the recommended 8 glasses of water per day. However, I do have days when I like to eat “not so healthy” foods including junk food.
As much as you want to hide from it, junk food will come and find you and your kids at some point in life. It’s inevitable. Birthday parties. Vacations. Holidays. Grandparents. Workplace celebrations. Need I go on?
Of course, when kids are really young, parents (or caregivers) control what they eat completely. However, as kids get a little older, it becomes more important to teach them how to make good choices for themselves. That’s the overall message of the book Jolene Adventures of a Junk Food Queen by Alexa Palmer & Catharine Kaufman.
The book is based on the experiences of its authors: Alexa Palmer, a preschool teacher who noticed a need for a nutrition book tailored to the way she observes children absorb information, through fun and fantasy; and Catharine Kaufman, a nationally syndicated food columnist. Kids can relate to Jolene- she is a junk food junkie just like they might be. AND she is transformational in her eating habits. This similarity between the behaviors of the characters and the real-life tendencies of children is what attracts kids to the story.
At the back of the book are healthy smoothie recipes for the kids to make at home and with their friends, just like the main character Jolene does in the book.
Today, we’ve teamed up with the authors of this book to bring you this fun giveaway! Enter below for your chance to win a copy of the book. Good luck!
Publisher: Kaufman/Palmer Pages: 60
Jolene loves junk food. She loves it so much she wears red licorice in her hair–and pink taffy underwear! The Munch Bunch calls her “The Junk Food Queen.” Then, one night in her dreams, she meets a bunch of cool characters who take her on an incredible, edible journey into a world of juicy fruits, super salads and yummy smoothies.
In honor of Black History Month, today we’re partnering with author Rachel Ruiz to bring you this fabulous book giveaway! I already shared this book and reviewed it last year, but if you want to read my review you can find that post by clicking here.
Enter our book giveaway below if you’re interested. Good luck!
Synopsis:No discussion of the Civil Rights Movement is complete without the story of Rosa Parks. But what was this activist like as a child? Following young Rosa from a fishing creek to a one-room schoolhouse, from her wearing homemade clothes to wondering what “white” water tastes like, readers will be inspired by the experiences that shaped one of the most famous African-Americans in history.
Interior illustration from the book When Rosa Parks Went Fishing