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children’s literacy

    children's literacy, our latest obsession, summer reading

    Our Latest Obsession: Summer Bridge Activity Books!

    I never gave the “summer slide” much thought until I became a parent.  It’s one of those new buzz word phrases that has become more popular over the past few years.  When I was growing up, I don’t recall much learning taking place – we simply had fun playing outside with our friends.  Since we couldn’t afford to go to summer camp or take elaborate family trips to Europe or elsewhere, we just used our imagination and spent our summers playing things like dodgeball, double dutch and kick the can sometimes until the wee hours of the night.  Those were the days!  Now looking back, I’m sure we definitely rode the “summer slide” just about every summer.  Yet, it didn’t prevent me from excelling in school, making the honor roll every year and graduating second in my class from high school.  Yes, I’m tooting my own horn!

    Ok, back to the topic at hand – the summer slide.  What is it?  The summer slide is a decline in reading ability and other academic skills that can occur over the summer months when school isn’t in session.  Numerous studies show that kids who don’t read during summer vacation actually slip in reading ability by the time fall rolls around.

    But as parents, we don’t need studies to tell us this, do we? It’s evident in all sorts of situations. For example, if your child plays the piano but stops practicing for three months, he/she isn’t going to be as good as his/her friend who continued to practice and play the piano over the summer, right?

    The secret to preventing the summer slide is to keep learning all summer long. Now, don’t panic: I’m not talking about year-round schooling, although for some homeschool families, year-round schooling may be a good solution.  What I am talking about is providing learning opportunities throughout the summer that keep kids’ academic skills sharp.

    I’m not usually a big fan of workbooks, flash cards or activity books.  However, on my quest for different resources to use with my kids over the summer break I stumbled upon this series of activity books called Summer Bridge Activities.  Have you heard of these gems before?

    Prevent the Summer SlidewithSummer Bridge Activity Books!

    With daily, 15-20 minute exercises kids can learn a variety of different skills ranging from letters to fractions and everything in between.  This workbook series prevents summer learning loss and paves the way to a successful new school year.  And this is no average workbook—Summer Bridge Activities keeps the fun and the sun in summer break!

    Designed to prevent a summer learning gap and keep kids mentally and physically active, the hands-on exercises can be done anywhere. These standards-based activities help kids set goals, develop character, practice fitness, and explore the outdoors. With 12 weeks of creative learning, Summer Bridge Activities keeps skills sharp all summer long!

    After researching these books, using them with my own kids and reading the rave reviews they’ve received online I was completely sold!  I ordered the Summer Bridge Activities Grades PK – K book and we’ve been working through it in just 15 – 20 minutes each day – it’s great!  These workbooks aren’t too easy either – they incorporate some challenges too which is exactly what I was looking for.  The book we purchased covers topics like: patterns, shapes, colors, numbers, phonics, writing and letters.

    Following the introductory pages is a “Summer Reading List” that suggests 34 different fiction titles and 12 nonfiction titles.  It’s divided into three sections of increasing difficulty; each 20-day section can be completed in a month.  Every section begins with a list of Monthly Goals and a Word List, followed by the 20 days of activity pages, and they conclude with a few “Bonus” pages.

    Section 1 features shape recognition, fine motor skill development, and numbers and counting activities provide a good variety of potential learning opportunities. Its bonus sections seem to focus on physical activity and character development. Section 2 highlights numbers and counting, handwriting and phonics, and colors. The bonus section following this section had a science activity, outdoor extension activities, and character development exercises. Section 3 focused on classification and phonics, handwriting and phonics, visual discrimination, grammar and language arts, numbers and counting, and the alphabet.

    63 flash cards complete the final “learning” portions of the activity book. There is also a certificate of completion you can remove from the book and fill in with your child’s name once they complete all of the exercises. For those who like a visible affirmation of “great job”, a page of 264 star stickers has been included to use as well.

    You can find the complete Summer Bridge Activity Series listed below.  Now that I’ve started using these workbooks with my kids, I’m excited to complete the entire series in the summers ahead!

    Summer Bridge Activities Grades PK – K
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades K – 1
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades 1 – 2
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades 2 – 3
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades 3 – 4
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades 4 – 5
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades 5 – 6
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades 6 – 7
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades 7 – 8

    Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and I was not compensated to write it.  I purchased the workbook with my own money.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    Your turn:  What do you plan to do with your children to beat the summer slide? Have you used these workbooks with your kids before?  Share in the comments below!

    children's literacy, read aloud, subscription boxes

    The Story Box: New Packages, Lower Prices & A Discount!

    Great news!  In an effort to bring you more value and more affordable options, our friends over at The Story Box are celebrating their new book packages and they’ve lowered their prices a bit.  Hooray!

    Receiving a surprise package in the mail is always a thrill for me!  My daughter is at the age where she thinks getting mail is so fun too now that she recognizes here name in print.  It makes her feel special to open up a box with her name on it. That’s one of the many reasons why I think a kids’ monthly subscription box is a great gift idea.

    Owned by speech-language pathologist (Holly) and her husband (Clint), the Story Box is a subscription box that is intended to be an inexpensive way for parents to grow their children’s personal library of books.   When you subscribe to The Story Box, your family will receive a monthly box that is curated by a nationally certified speech-language pathologist.

    Each book is carefully selected to be fun and appealing to your little readers.  The Story Box family also takes great care in selecting books that will facilitate your child’s communication development and emergent literacy skills.  Just to name a few attributes, they love books that are colorful, have great illustrations, good vocabulary, good story line, rhyming, alliteration, and so much more!

    We received the Family Package box in the mail which is perfect for our family!  Our box contained 1 picture book, 1 board book, a tip card and a parent guide.  The tip card contained a challenge to make reading a part of your child’s routine every single day.  This challenge isn’t hard for us since we’ve been doing this daily since both of my kids were born.  I think the parent guide is so helpful and full of excellent information including language concepts and example extension activities to go along with the picture book we received.

    FullSizeRender (4)

    Ok, sounds great.  Let’s hear about the new pricing structure and packages!

    Board Book Package (Ages 0 to 2 1/2 years old)
    Includes: 2 board books per month and the monthly tip card
    Month-to-Month Plan: $14.99 per month
    3 Month Prepay: $44.97
    6 Month Prepay: $89.94

    Picture Books Package (Ages 2 1/2 to 6 years old)
    Includes: 2 picture books and a parent guide
    Month-to-Month Plan: $19.99 per month
    3 Month Prepay: $59.97
    6 Month Prepay: $119.94

    Family Package (Appropriate for families with children in both ages ranges)
    Includes: 1 picture book, 1 board book, tip card and parent guide
    Month-to-Month Plan: $17.99 per month
    3 Month Prepay: $53.97
    6 Month Prepay: $107.94

    Shipping is always FREE for all plans!

    The Discount: Here Wee Read readers get $5.00 off the first order! Just use coupon code SPRING at checkout!

    Disclosure: I received this complimentary box for review purposes. I was not compensated in any way. All opinions are my own.

    Connect with The Story Box!
    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

    Your turn: Have you tried this fantastic subscription service for your little readers yet? Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's literacy, product reviews, subscription boxes

    Petit Mail Story Card Subscription for Kids + Giveaway!

    If you follow my blog, you’ve probably heard me talk about a variety of different subscription boxes and services for both kids and adults.  I love kids’ monthly subscription boxes because they offer unique educational experiences. They can give kids of all ages the chance to learn by doing fun projects, crafts and activities.

    Today I’d like to introduce you to Petit Mail!  Have you heard about these cute subscription story cards yet?  I met Alison, owner of Petit Mail,  last month on Instagram.  I saw a picture of the cards posted on her page and immediately reached out to her.  As a mom of two kids under the age of 4, I’m always on the hunt for different activities to do that incorporate both learning and fun.


    Petit Mail is a monthly story postcard subscription for kids, ideally suited for preschoolers and early readers.  Each month, a story card arrives in a bright, fun envelope, addressed to your child.  Story themes follow the adventures of characters Oliver and Olivia, and encourage imagination, creative play and family connection.  Currently, there are only two characters available, but there are plans to expand the characters to include more diversity.

    Parents and children can read each story card together and use the monthly adventure as inspiration for family time activities. Oliver is putting on a puppet show? You can too. Story topics include science, nature, reading, art and more.

    With so much of our days filled with technology, it’s a wonderful treat to receive paper mail – children LOVE finding envelopes in the mailbox addressed just to them.  (My children are no different.)  Some months include little bonus extras, like stickers or bookmarks and every story card includes a link to additional content for parents with activity tips and suggestions.

    When our story cards came in the mail my kids were happy to see their names printed on the envelopes.  My son received the story card entitled ‘Oliver Loves Reading’ and my daughter received ‘Olivia’s Science Project’.

    The activity on the back of my son’s story card was to go to your local library and have a library scavenger hunt.  We haven’t done this yet, but I’m looking forward to doing it!  My daughter’s activity on her story card was to mix two colors together to make a new color.  We had fun using food coloring to mix blue and red to make purple and blue and yellow to make green.

    Untitled design

    Parents and caregivers might find Petit Mail to be a very affordable gift subscription. Canada and US subscriptions cost just $6 per month (including postage) and international subscriptions are also available.  Subscriptions can be purchased for 3, 6 or 12 months, and make a great non-toy gift for kids.

    Parents can find out more about Petit Mail at:

    Petit Mail Shop:

    Sign up for the Petit Mail newsletter here!

    Connect with Petit Mail!

    Instagram | Facebook

    Sounds great, is there a discount?
    Yes, there is!  Here Wee Read Subscribers and readers can save $10 off a 1 year (12 month) subscription using code HEREWEEREAD until May 31, 2016!

    How about a giveaway?
    I’m glad you asked!  One (1) lucky winner will win a Petit Mail story card of their choice.  You can choose between the following themes:

    • Oliver Explores Art
    • Olivia’s Pen Pal
    • Oliver Loves Reading
    • Olivia The Superhero
    • Oliver Learns About Fossils
    • Olivia’s Science Project
    • Olivia Builds A Boat

    Enter today!  Giveaway ends Thursday, April 28, 2016.  Good luck!

    Petit Mail Story Card Giveaway

    Disclaimer: I received two complimentary story cards in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    children's books, children's literacy, family fun, read aloud

    Kids Read the World: A Kid World Citizen Initiative

    A few days ago while browsing on Instagram, I found out about an awesome initiative that I just had to share!  By now you should know how passionate I am about reading and books, so naturally I would be intrigued by this amazing project that Becky Morales from Kid World Citizen has started.

    Becky is an ESL teacher and mom to 5 kids.  Her husband is from Mexico, and she is from the US.  When they had their two daughters, Becky began looking for ways to incorporate Mexican culture into their family life. Soon, they adopted their son from China, and a couple of years later, another son from Ethiopia.  As their family grew, they expanded their celebrations, books, and music to include all of their heritage cultures.

    Kid World Citizen
    Becky decided to start a blog to help other adoptive families honor and learn about their children’s cultural backgrounds. Many of her readers were adoptive families, but she soon realized that many parents – of all backgrounds – were looking for ways to teach their kids about the world. Parents are interested in raising little global citizens who are aware of others inside and outside their communities. Becky wanted this for for their children too, so she expanded her blog to include the whole world. Hence the name, Kid World Citizen.Becky has been blogging for several years reading tons of books set around the world. Yet, when she read the jacket covers, most often the author was from the US. While the books were taking place around the world, they were not written by authors of the specific culture, who grew up in the particular country. Wanting to experience world cultures from the perspectives of their citizens, she began to look for children’s books that have been translated into English.

    One day while Becky was playing on Facebook, serendipity struck: She clicked on a TED talk of a woman who had read an adult’s book from every country. It was the catalyst she needed to begin. She showed her kids Ann Morgan’s talk and they all agreed they would try to read a kid’s book from every country.

    It’s not a simple task, and may prove to be unattainable: there are many countries that have few publishing houses (or none at all). If they have published children’s books, it is possible that none of have been translated.

    Becky decided to start an editable google doc, where she could crowdsource ideas. She called out to her networks and asked friends, family, teachers, librarians, and organizations to suggest book titles.

    The project “Kids Read the World” is just at the beginning stages. They are looking for recommendations of favorite, original children’s books (translated) from every country in the world. They are hoping to read classic books that are enjoyed by kids around the planet: picture books, traditional stories, folktales, picture books or easy chapter books.

    Kids Read the World
    The best part?  The live document is editable, and anyone can read it and add to it!  That’s right, Kid World Citizen is asking readers to look over the list, and add any book titles under the appropriate countries. When they finish with the list, they will also share that so that others can read their way around the world!  What a neat project, wouldn’t you agree?  I can’t wait to see the final list of books!

    I hope you’ll join Becky and our friends over at Kid World Citizen in researching books titles and compiling the master list!

    Your turn:  What translated books from around the world would you add to the list?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's books, children's literacy, subscription boxes

    The Story Box: A Review Plus a Discount!

    During my holiday gift guide series, I mentioned a new children’s book subscription box called The Story Box.  You can check out the original post here.

    Owned by speech-language pathologist (Holly) and her husband (Clint), the Story Box is a subscription box that is intended to be an inexpensive way for parents to grow their children’s personal library of books.   When you subscribe to The Story Box, your family will receive a monthly box that is curated by a nationally certified speech-language pathologist.


    Each box contains 2 children’s books and a guide for parents.  Use the books and guide to make the most of your family reading time, enhance your child’s language skills, and improve your child’s chances of becoming a successful reader.  The books in their boxes are most appropriate for children between the ages of 1 and 7-years old which includes: babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary students Kindergarten-2nd graders.

    I LOVE the fact that a portion of each subscription fee is used to purchase books and other educational materials to benefit children with disabilities and children from low-income families.  What a nice touch!

    The books were shipped in a flat brown box with a large bright green Story Box logo on it.  When I opened the box, the kids immediately started flipping through the books.

    Here are the two books we received:  It’s Monday, Mrs. Jolly Bones! and Kiss the Cow.


    There are several things I like about this subscription box:

    • the well thought out and organized parent guide which includes: tips & inspiration, vocabulary tips, language concepts, example hands-on activities you can do with your children that are related to the books you just read (this is by far my favorite thing about this box!!)
    • the variety in reading difficulty, rich illustrations, messages, and styles of the books
    • the relatively simple story lines, basic language, and cute characters also make these accessible books for early readers to explore independently
    • it would make a great gift because you could add a birthday card and you’re all set to go to a kid’s birthday party!

    Overall, I was very impressed with this subscription service.  I think there is a lot of thought that goes into their book selections.  In addition, the great value, plus the nice presentation and personalization makes this a fantastic subscription for little ones!

    The Subscription: The Story Box
    The Cost:

    • Month-to-Month Plan: $21.99 per month
    • 3 Month Prepay: $20.99 per month
    • 6 Month Prepay: $19.99 per month
    • Shipping is always FREE for all plans!

    The Discount: Here Wee Read readers get $10.00 off, good through January 19, 2016.  Just use coupon code HEREWEEREAD at checkout!

    Disclosure: I received this complimentary box for review purposes. I was not compensated in any way. All opinions are my own. Post may contain affiliate and/or referral links.

    Your turn:  Have you tried this fantastic subscription service for your little ones yet?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    book giving day, children's literacy

    International Book Giving Day 2016: How I’m Helping

    Save the date for International Book Giving Day 2016!

    Oh, I just LOVE literary related initiatives and events, don’t you?  Ok, I know not everyone gets excited about stuff like this, but I certainly do (don’t judge me…ha ha!)

    International Book Giving Day #bookgivingday takes place on 14th February each year.  Yes, the same day as Valentine’s Day.  The aim of the day is to get books into the hands of as many children as possible thereby increasing children’s access to and enthusiasm for books.  Although the holiday originated in the UK, book lovers around the world now join in the celebrations every year.


    International Book Giving Day is a 100% volunteer initiative born out of the knowledge that:

    • Most children in developing countries do not own books.
    • In the United Kingdom, one-third of children do not own books.
    • In the United States, two-thirds of children living in poverty do not own books.

    International Book Giving Day’s focus is on encouraging people worldwide to give a book to a child on February 14th.

    Why not use the day to spread love in a different kind of way to:

    1) gift a book to a friend or family member,
    2) leave a book in a waiting room at a pediatrician’s office or children’s hospital for children to read, or
    3) donate a gently used book to a local library, or shelter or to an organization that distributes used books to children in need internationally or locally.
    4) Host a book giveaway on your blog – that’s something I plan to do…stay tuned!  This is a great idea for all you authors out there.

    One of my personal goals this year is to start giving back and volunteering my time again (gradually).  Prior to having children I used to volunteer for several different organizations, but I had to scale back and start being more “stingy” about my time in order to take care of the kids as they were my #1 priority.  Now that the kids are a little older and growing more independent each day, I now feel like I’m ready to start volunteering again even if it’s just in small ways to start.

    Therefore, I’ve decided my first way of giving back this year will be to donate books on International Book Giving Day.  I contacted the local Reach Out and Read organization in my area and told them I’m interested in donating books.  If they agree to accept the books (which I don’t see why they wouldn’t), I plan to make a book donation to their organization.  In addition to donating some of my own books, I plan to reach out to several friends and family members to see if they have any books they may want to get off their hands.

    Depending on how many books I receive, I also want to make a donation to my local library, hubby’s barber shop, and leave some books in the waiting room at the kids’ pediatrician office.  In each of the books I also plan to insert one of the cute International Book Giving Day bookmarks which can be found here.

    So instead of giving the kids chocolates this Valentine’s day why not give a book instead?  Perhaps you agree, but I think chocolate and toys are all very fine and dandy but books, well books are just awesome and last much longer than a box of chocolates ever will.  I’m just saying.

    To learn more about International Book giving Day visit their website here.

    Your turn: What are your plans for International Book Giving Day?  How will you give back?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's literacy

    Literacy Expert Spotlight: Sophie Helenek

    This month’s literacy expert is Sophie Helenek.  Sophie is an elite athlete, award-winning author, former banker, Everest summiteer, runway model, and mother.  Also, her daughter happens to go to the same preschool as my son – how cool is that?

    Please tell us a little about yourself and your background?
    I was born in Guyancourt, France.  I’ve always had a passion for music, education, and sports.  At the age of 22, I obtained my Master’s degree at La Sorbonne Business School.  In 2013, I became a new mom and embarked on the journey of writing a baby book series which includes four delightful board books Fruits, Sky Wonders, Shapes and Musical Instruments.  I am also a motivational speaker and panelist at different events around the world.  I am currently embracing my new career as executive coach and keynote speaker.

    Please provide some insight on what it’s like to be a children’s book author.
    As per my experience, it is not easy to be a children’s book author mainly because everyone thinks they can do it. But it is far from easy. Writing a children’s book is a tedious and challenging process which requires lots of research, great attention to details, and a mental made of steel! You are working on complex concepts that are expressed in “simplistic” ways. Such discrepancy often undermines your hard work and it can be very discouraging.

    My inspiration
    My inspiration was my daughter. When she was a small baby, I showed her an M.C. Escher book. She seemed to like the black and white spiral drawings. When I say “like,” I understand you don’t really know what is going on in an infant’s head, but I could tell that something happened. I was surprised and started reading about how babies’ eyes work, what they see, and why.

    At birth, babies are very nearsighted; that is why they are interested in bold black and white shapes and high contrast patterns. Eager to learn more, I read bunch of studies on speech development, child temperament, and babies’ milestones. Gathering all this information, I developed and designed My First Books series from a baby’s perspective. I wanted to write an engaging book that promotes bonding and supports an infant’s developmental growth milestones: vision, memory, speech, and social skills.

    They are not just picture books or bedtime stories but rather activity books conceived to stimulate a baby’s senses.


    Here how My First Book series works:

    • At first, a baby will enjoy simple illustrations with black-and-white and high-contrast patterns designed especially for the very young to focus on.
    • As babies gets older, their brains learn to distinguish bright primary colors and will start identifying the illustrations with the words you read, which triggers their memory process.
    • Each picture is accompanied by a simple word that babies will love repeating and which helps their speech development.
    • The last pages show all the illustrations together, which also helps the baby’s memory process.
    • My First Book series offers a special feature for toddlers, as they can write on the book with a white board pen, wipe it, and write again!

    What tips and advice would you give to others who may be considering writing a children’s book?
    First you need an idea. Then, do your research and see if your idea makes sense, and if it could target an audience niche. Once you are getting ready to start writing, step back and ask yourself : Why am I doing it? And What do I really want to achieve with my book? Write down your answer, and keep it handy. It will be a good motivation boost going forward!  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need advice.

    What are some activities that you’ve done with your child to promote literacy?
    I placed books everywhere, among toys, on shelves at her eye sight, on the dining table, in the car…. Books are part of her daily life. It is a bonding time, as well as a self-exploratory medium for her. She discovered she can turn pages, choose her books, “read” at her own pace, etc.

    What are some of your must-have children’s books for a home library?
    I always encourage people to think out of the box and be open minded to your child interests and affinities. Some unknown authors wrote wonderful books which are not promoted by big publishing companies and therefore are stuck under the radar of the “must-have” children books.

    Nevertheless, I personally love board books by Karen Katz, Where’s Spot flap books, and Mother Goose.

    Do you have any literacy rituals that you practice in your family?
    I read her books every morning before or after breakfast, and every night before going to bed. I always give her a book to look at when she is in her car seat.

    I also incorporate several types of books into my parenting: nighttime stories, which are mainly soft pastel drawing books that are calming; nursery rhyme books, which are more wordy and playful; and activity baby board books like My First Book series which are placed with all other toys.

    Besides reading, what are some other things parents can do to set their children up for literacy success?
    Don’t hesitate to read in front of your child – before you know it he/she will mimic you reading.

    If you could give parents one piece of advice about reading with children, what would it be?
    It is never too early (or too late) to read to baby.

    Parents play a key role in their child development by supporting their healthy physical, emotional, and developmental growth. Being a first-time mom my motherhood instincts were to love, bond, and nurture my child as well as to feed her active brain. I played and read a lot to her and she loved it since day one. It is never too early to read to your baby, despite their seemingly passive demeanor their brain is constantly at work absorbing information and generating new connections among brain cells.  Reading to babies appears to be an excellent nourishment to complete their brain development, a “brain food” as mentioned in Baby Read-Aloud Basics book.

    Hardcover, Paperback, or e-book (when reading a book on your own)?
    I love hardcover books. I don’t like e-books, I love turning the pages and writing notes.

    Fiction, non-fiction, sci-fi, romance, or some other genre (when reading a book on your own)?
    I am scared very easily, so it is impossible for me to read a suspense or thriller book. I enjoy reading fiction and business/reference books.

    Name an adult book that:
    You really enjoy:
    Gabriel Garcia Marquez author of the marvelous book “One hundred years of solitude”.  I also like more light hearted authors like Natalie Nothomb or Anna Galvalda.

    You would recommend to others: The book series by Katherine Pancol
    “ Les yeux jaunes des crocodiles”, “La valse lente des tortues” and “Les ecureuils de Central Park sont tristes le lundi”

    What books are on your nightstand right now?
    I did not realize how many books I read at the same time. I have two magazines on my nightstand, the Times, and the Atlantic ; a financial book: “The New Advisor for Life” by Gresham and two books in French “au revoir la-haut” by Pierre Lemaitre and “Un secret” by Philippe Grimbert.

    Are you working on any special projects that you want to share with others?
    I am working on a new board book series “Baby Babble” dedicated to promote speech development by introducing fun and engaging age appropriate sounds. The first book of the series will be released in spring 2016 “Baby Babble Ooo”, which includes vocalization such as Ghosts say Boo, Cows say Moo, Owls say Ooo, as well familiar words and functional objects such as spoon and balloon.  Some videos will be added on the publisher website to guide parents in helping their child in the production of the sound Ooo.

    How can people get in touch with you on social media or on your website?

    Twitter:  @nurserybooks
    Books available on :

    Your turn:  Did you enjoy this post?  Are you interested in being featured?  Do you know someone who might want to be featured?  Feel free to let me know in the comments or send me an e-mail.