children's literacy, read aloud, reading tips

    My Best Tips for Reading Aloud to Young Kids


    Reading to my kids regularly is a fabulous, frugal, habit that I enjoy immensely. It costs little to nothing if you get your books from the library, and it’s a great way to spend quality time together.

    I’ve heard from other moms that reading to your kids isn’t automatically an easy thing to do, especially if you have kids of multiple ages or have a very active kid who doesn’t like to slow down to listen.

    So, in honor of National Read Aloud month, I thought I’d share some of my read aloud tips:

    1. Make it a habit.

    Read aloud every day.  Pick a reading time and put it on your schedule. After breakfast? At bedtime? After lunch? If you work it into your day, you’ll be more likely to do it and your kids will come to count on it.  We do our read alouds either in at bedtime or in the morning before daycare drop off.

    2. Stop before they get tired.

    Some kids can listen to books for hours. Some will only sit for 5 minutes – try to stop before your kids get antsy.  This also applies to you – stop before you get tired too.

    3. Turn the story into a craft.

    If you’re crafty like me, you can find easy projects to go along with most children’s books on Pinterest or other websites.  I’ll be sharing some of our book crafts on this blog as time goes on.

    4. Use audiobooks!

    These are great for quiet time, car trips or when you don’t have time to read books.

    5. Keep a list of books you’ve read together.

    Kids will enjoy looking back over the list and remembering their favorites. You might even get them to write a short review once they get older.  I hope my children will appreciate all of the books I have listed here on this blog that I’ve read to them over the years.

    6. Build up their attention spans.

    If your kids aren’t used to long read alouds, start small.  You can start with short picture books or even read a short chapter in a chapter book.

    7.  Read at least three stories a day.

    It may be the same story three times.  Research shows that children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read on their own.

    Other General Tips:

    • Have fun!
    • Let your child see you reading. (Gotta practice what you preach, right?)
    • Talk about the pictures.
    • Show your child the cover page. Explain what the story is about.
    • Run your finger along the words as you read them.
    • Make silly sounds; especially animal sounds, are fun to make.
    • Choose books about events in your child’s life such as starting preschool, going to the dentist, getting a new pet, or moving to a new home.
    • Make the story come alive. Create voices for the story characters.
    • Ask questions about the story. What do you think will happen next? What is this?  What color is this car?
    • Let your child ask questions about the story. Talk about familiar activities and objects.
    • Let your child retell the story (when they are old enough).
    • Visit your local library often.

    Reading with Your Baby

    Hold your baby on your lap while you read.

    I find that babies like…

    • board books (in case they try to chew on them or put them in their mouth)
    • pictures of other babies
    • rhymes and songs from the same book(s) over and over
    • when you point at pictures – this is how babies learn

    Reading with Your 1-Year-Old

    Let your toddler move around while you are reading if they want to.
    Name the pictures – this is how toddlers learn new words.
    Read labels and signs wherever you go.

    I find that 1-year-olds like …

    • the same book(s) read over and over
    • to choose and hold the book
    • books about food, trucks, animals, and children
    • books with a few words

    Reading with Your 2-Year-Old, 3-Year-Old or 4-Year-Old

    Let your toddler move around while you are reading if they want to.
    Read labels and signs wherever you go.
    Keep different books around the house and let your child choose.

    I find that toddlers like …

    • to help turn the pages
    • to fill in the words in a story they know
    • to point and name pictures
    • to hear the same book(s) over and over
    • books that are silly
    • animal books and animal noises

    I hope these tips help inspire you to start a read aloud habit with your kids if you’re not already doing so.  Read to your child daily because you love being with your child, not because it’s the right thing to do.

    What are your best tips for reading aloud to your kids?

    currently reading, read aloud

    What the Kids are Reading (in March 2015)



    Just as the title implies, this book has no pictures, but the kids love it!  Definitely a hit in our house.  It’s requested to be read over and over at bedtime.


    Shark in the Park by Phil Roxbee Cox
    A cute story about a pup who warns all the other animals there is a shark in the park.  This book is easy to pick up on and would be great to revisit again when the kids are able to read on their own.Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
    This is another one of the kids’ favorites.  They love the rhyming text and the illustrations.  There is even a recipe of how to make Bee-Bim Bop (a Korean dish) at the back of the book.Goodnight Already! by Jory John & Benji Davies
    A very funny story about a bear who just wants to sleep and a duck who wants to hang out all night.


    This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
    This book is written by the same author who wrote I Want My Hat Back which I’ve also read to my kids.  The ending can be seen as a bit dark (in both books), but I don’t have a problem with it as I think it teaches a lesson.  Read it for yourself and draw your own conclusion.  My kids seem to like this book.The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman
    This is soooo fun to read aloud and my kids just love it!  I can’t imagine having seven children, much less seven picky eaters…a delight!Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
    Although my children haven’t shown any signs of being afraid of thunderstorms yet, I thought I’d pick up this book to read to them anyway.  I love the way the grandmother consoles her granddaughter by telling her thunderstorms are nothing more than ingredients used to make Thunder Cake…genius!
    The Alphabet Tree by Leo Lionni

    When a fierce wind threatens to blow all the little letters out of the alphabet tree, they must band together in words—and then sentences—to create a message that’s even stronger than the wind: peace on earth.
    Sam Sheep Can’t Sleep by Phil Roxbee Cox
    Another easy reader phonics book about a sheep who can’t sleep.
    My Mouth is a Volcano!  by Julia Cook
    This is a great book to read if you have children who are constantly interrupting when grown-ups are talking.  We’ll be revisiting this book again when the kids are a bit older.  Great story and illustrations!Rumble in the Jungle by Giles Andreae
    We adore this rhyming safari book!  The kids love pointing to the colorful pictures of all the different animals in the jungle.  So cute!
    Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth
    In Ten Little Ladybugs, one by one, ten tactile bugs disappear. Where did they all go? Young ones will love finding this out as they feel their way through the sturdy, colorful pages of this innovative book. The cute critters provide a hands-on learning experience and the rhyming text reinforces the counting concept. Interactive, educational, adorable – this magical countdown book adds up to a whole lot of fun…a winner!
    Take Away the A by Michael Escoffier
    One of the best alphabet books I’ve ever read and the kids love this one too!  It’s a good way to show children how different words are formed.
    children's literacy, eeboo, storytelling

    A Simple Way to Improve Your Storytelling Skills

    When I first discovered eeBoo after reading about them online last December, I was instantly impressed.  Their games, puzzles, flash cards, and wall art are exactly the kind of toys we like to have in our home.  They are colorful, educational, and made of high-quality recycled materials.

    One of the many products eeBoo produces is an award-winning early literacy product called Tell Me a Story Creative Story Cards.  These cards are my “secret weapon” I use when I want an alternative to reading books and they are perfect for honing my storytelling skills.  Recommended for ages 3 and up (although I use them with my 1 & 2 year olds), the deck of 36 beautifully illustrated cards assist children in creating their own stories.

    An endless number of stories are possible by placing any number of the cards in any order. Short stories, long stories, kids create a new story every time they shuffle the deck. The whole family can make a game out of the cards, by taking turns picking cards and telling a story together. Parents, grandparents and teachers will find the cards useful as an aid in their own storytelling.  Brilliant!

    Create a Story Cards: Volcano Island

    Here’s the basic breakdown of how the story cards work. You lay out all the cards.  Then you choose, or have your child(ren) choose, the cards they find interesting.  Choose as many or as few cards as you like, and lay them out in an order that tells your story.

    Then you go through the cards, describing them in any way you or your child(ren) wishes to tell the story of your making.  And that’s it! Super simple and a really fun way to work the imagination and gain better understanding of the process of storytelling.

    eeBoo offers four different sets of story cards: Circus Animal Adventures, Fairy Tale Mix-Up, Mystery in the Forest, Volcano Island, Animal Village and Little Robots Mission. Sized small at about 4″ x 5″, the cards pack easily in a bag, perfect for travel and come in a sturdy sliding tray box. Because the set is priced reasonably at $9.95, we plan on buying a few of the other sets for more storytelling possibilities. I imagine you can even mix the sets together and make up some pretty wacky stories!

    These open-ended card sets allow for endless variations on games and activities based upon storytelling. The simplest activity is for a young child to choose three cards from the deck and then tell a story (or a sentence) that incorporates the three items shown on the card. As a child begins to gain confidence in telling stories, the number of cards may be increased, or additional players may be added to take turns to create a cooperative story, a fun social group activity.

    My 2 1/2 year-old daughter has a pretty awesome imagination already, and I’ve really enjoyed listening to her tell me some excellent stories. I’ve been particularly pleased because the set encourages her to speak her mind and become a little more vocal, skills that she needs to practice before she starts Pre-K3 this fall.

    I hope you found this helpful.

    Happy Storytelling!

    read aloud, reading tips

    March is National Read Aloud Month


    March is National Read Aloud Month, started by Read Aloud 15 Minutes.  Reading aloud every day is the single most important thing you can do to prepare your child to learn.  Pretty cool, right?  Best of all, it’s completely free!

    When every child is read aloud to for at least 15 minutes every day from birth, more children will be ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, more children will have the literacy skills needed to succeed in school, and more children will be prepared for a productive and meaningful life after school.

    These facts are at the heart of the Read Aloud 15 Minutes campaign, to get have every child, from birth through age 5 read aloud to each day. Babies are born learning, making these years so crucial to development. Reading aloud for just 15 minutes a day for the first five years impact babies and children through:

    • Language development
    • Literacy skill building
    • Instilling a love of reading
    • Brain development
    • Knowledge gained and shared
    • Bonding

    Only 48 percent of young children in the United States are read aloud to each day. March is a great time to increase those numbers. Join me and read aloud to a child during Read Aloud Month.


    adult books, currently reading

    What I’m Reading (in March 2015)

    The Fringe Hours: Making Time For You

    Status: Finished

    Every woman has had this experience: you get to the end of the day and realize you did nothing for you. And if you go days, weeks, or even months in this cycle, you begin to feel like you have lost a bit of yourself.  While life is busy with a litany of must-dos–work, parenting, keeping house, grocery shopping, laundry and on and on–women do not have to push their own needs aside. Yet this is often what happens. There’s just no time, right? Wrong.The Green Ember by S.D. SmithStatus: Finished
    Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.
    Status: Finished

    An Invisible Thread tells of the life-long friendship between a busy sales executive and a disadvantaged young boy, and how both of their lives were changed by what began as one small gesture of kindness.

    My Thoughts:  Good book.  Overall, I enjoyed it and found it interesting how the two main characters were so different, yet so alike in other ways.  I do believe there is an invisible thread that connects us to people we encounter in our lives.


    children's literacy, reading tips

    Finding the Good Stuff: How I Choose Books For My Kids


    Since I’m an avid reader, it’s important for me to intentionally approach my children’s literacy.  My ultimate goal for them is simple: to create lifelong readers and learners.

    Like many parents, I have high goals for my kids’ learning–a lengthening attention span, a love of language and the intricacies of words, and a developing vocabulary. Reading them good quality books helps us head in the direction of these goals.

    When it comes to choosing high quality books I usually steer clear of any dumbed-down literature for my children.  In the literary world, those types of books are referred to as “twaddle”, a coin termed by Charlotte Mason during the 19th century.

    Examples of “dumbed-down” books include most books based on kids’ television shows (Thomas the Train, Doc McStuffins, etc.), abridged versions of classic books that simplify the language and meaning, and books that don’t leave scope for a child’s imagination.

    As a parent, it’s my job to nourish my kids’ minds as well as their bodies.  Therefore, I pay attention to the quality of reading material they digest.

    When choosing books I do any of the following:

    • Look for children’s books with text, illustrations, and topics that appeal to me.  Yes, it’s important for me to like the book too since I’ll be the one reading it aloud.  If I don’t enjoy it, the kids will be able to tell and they won’t enjoy it either.
    • I follow the kids’ interests.  For example: whenever the kids show signs of a new interest, I jot it down. Then I go to the library and do some research on different books.
    • Browse different book lists.  No need to reinvent the wheel, right?  There are so many wonderful book lists have been written to help you discover the best books for kids.  I refer to these often.

    I truly believe by giving kids the best literature from the beginning, they’ll grow up to choose it for themselves.

    I hope this helps you in your search of great children’s books for your little ones.  Now, head to your local library, bookstore or online store and fill your world with the good stuff!

    adult books, currently reading

    What I’m Reading (in February 2015)


    Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

    Status: Finished

    I found this book to be very inspiring.  It was interesting to read about all the things she endured and the people she met along the way in her very emotional and compelling journey.  The quality of writing in this book is fantastic.  Cheryl is a wonderful storyteller who vividly captures her experience of hiking the PCT.  Now I want to see the movie starring Reese Witherspoon!


    The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
    by Marie Kondo

    Status: Finished

    WOW, this book is AMAZING!  I read the entire book cover to cover in five days.  I probably could have finished this in one full day, but between work, taking care of the house and the kids I had to squeeze it in when I could.  Anyway, this book was definitely a page turner for me from beginning to end.

    The topic of decluttering and tidying has always intriguied me, but Marie Kondo has definitely got me beat.  She spent more than half of her life researching tidying since the age of 5…that’s impressive!  Some people may find this book a bit over the top, but I loved every.single.word.  Who knew I would find a book about decluttering and tidying so intriguing?

    Now that I’ve completed the book, I’m going to start the process of tidying up our home using the KonMari Method.  I can truly see how this book can be life-changing and magical.  It just makes so much sense to me by putting your house in order you can put your entire life in order.  Kudos to Marie Kondo for writing such a well-written and inspiring book!

    The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective by Andy Andrews

    Status: Finished

    I started reading this book on a Thursday and was finished by Saturday of that same week.  This book is a quick read – only 156 pages in length, but it’s filled with so many great nuggets of wisdom that can truly be applied to your everyday life.

    I absolutely loved the chapters about the four dialects that people use to convey love.  It definitely gives you a whole new perspective and makes excellent comparisons between the four dialects and corresponding animals – brillant!

    I look forward to sharing the life lessons I learned from “Jones” in this book.  Everyone needs a “Jones” in their life – I know I do.  I can definitely see why this book has gotten such rave reviews on Amazon and other websites.  I’ll be purchasing this book for sure to add to my collection.  An excellent read!