Not All Board Books are Created the Same…

Toddler Girl Reading a Picture Book, Isolated, WhiteBoard books are one of the most practical gifts you can give a child. They were created for young children (babies, toddlers, and preschoolers) with the idea that this age group can be rough with their toys: biting, stomping, throwing, sticky fingers, etc. Board books can typically stand up to this kind of treatment. But not all board books are created the same…

Board books are not cheap. They are heavy duty, glossy, multi-sensory (sometimes), and often, hefty. If you are spending the extra few dollars to give your child something that is going to last a little longer than that paperback book at the bottom of the toy chest, you want to make sure you are getting something that is beneficial to your child and something they will hopefully cherish as they grow older.

Keep in mind, board books are not marketed toward the child who is reading them; they are marketed toward the parent, grandparent, auntie, or friend who is buying them for a child. So while you may find a favorite picture book in board book form, take a peak inside and make sure it is a book your toddler will actually have the attention span to read or sit through.

Thankfully, Zero to Three has put together a great list of tips, so you can choose the right book for your child. Click here to see the list. And make sure you stop by your local library to check out board books for free before you make that big investment.

Recycle Those Cereal Boxes

The next time you finish a box of cereal, save the box. It has so much potential. Really.

puzzle-300x225It’s one of the easiest ways to make a puzzle. Just cut it up into pieces. Let your children design their own puzzles by allowing them to draw shapes on the back and cut them out.

Cut out the words or letters and glue them to index cards. Make your own matching, guessing, or identification games using these cards. Or cut out the letters and make different words out of them.

Cut out the characters from the front or back of the box and make them into puppets by gluing them on popsicle sticks.puppets2

Cut out the words from the cereal boxes and then tie a piece of string on one end to make bookmarks.

In addition to using the box at home, visiting the cereal aisle at the grocery store can be a very educational experience for your young child. Turn grocery shopping into a scavenger hunt using the colors, letters, words, and shapes printed on the boxes.

And if that’s not enough, turn cereal that is starting to get a little stale into beautiful art or sorting games. Make a rainbow or sort the colors into different cups.

The Dyslexic Font…

If you’ve been reading the internet news lately, or looked at what’s trending on Facebook, you may have seen this poster by Daniel Britton, a dyslexic graphic designer:

Daniel Britton, 26, has created posters to raise awareness to dyslexia which simulate the experience of reading with the condition

The poster is intended to help people understand what it’s like to read when a person is dyslexic. Britton was diagnosed as dyslexic about seven years ago when he was 18 years old. He said the poster he created simulates the frustration he feels when he trying to read. It’s not what a dyslexic person sees on the page, only what he or she might feel.

Another textbook that came out a couple of years ago is designed to do the same thing.

According to one article, one in ten people is dyslexic and affects more than 700 million children and adults worldwide.

If you know someone who struggles with dyslexia, here is a tip sheet from Dyslexia International that helps answer some questions like how do teachers help struggling students, what can be done to help dyslexic readers, etc.

For more information, you can visit our website for books related to the subject.

Whisper Phones

Here’s an inexpensive way to make reading aloud more fun:



Oh wait…*quiet voice*…whisper phones.

Whisper phones have been used by teachers in the classroom setting for a while now, but there’s no reason you can’t make your own for your children to use at home.

Simply take two PVC pipe elbows and connect them to a straight PVC pipe about 5 inches long or so. You can add decorative duct tape or stickers to the pipe to make it more festive.

Use them just like any phone, except you’ll want to have your children whisper into the phone as they are reading aloud from their favorite book. It will carry sound quite well, so you’ll want to make sure they whisper.

The purpose of these whisper phones is to let children hear themselves as they read aloud. This helps enhance fluency (the ability to read accurately, quickly, and with expression). This is also a great activity for children who might find reading boring. They can “call” their favorite person and pretend to read to them over the phone.

If you visit our Laugh, Play, Read: Heroes programs this summer, your children will be able to test these out!

Secrets of a Library Storytime…

Shhh…what you are about to read is top secret. Very top secret. I’m about to de-mystify storytime at the library. But you can’t tell anyone.

Librarians are people. There I said it. Storytellers are just ordinary people reading children’s books and singing songs in what might seem like extraordinary ways. Have you ever wondered how your librarian tells those stories and sings those songs so flawlessly? It takes practice. Lots of practice. Trial and error. Flexibility. Research. Flexibility. Trial and error. And did I mention practice?

So when you attend storytime with your child, keep in mind, these literacy tips, songs, stories, rhymes, and activities are for your benefit. For baby storytime, it’s entertainment for the child and modeling literacy skills for the parents. For the toddler and preschoolers, it’s entertainment and learning for the child, in addition to modeling the literacy skills for parents.

If you are looking for some storytelling ideas to try at home, visit some of my favorite storytime websites from some very talented librarians. Keep in mind these are written for librarians, but I think some of the activities, songs, and books could be translated very easily in a classroom or home setting:

Before I wrap up this post, let’s talk briefly about why libraries provide storytime to children and their families and why you should be attending:

Remember when we discussed the early literacy skills: Loving Books, Using Books, Sounds, Storytelling, Vocabulary, ABCs

  • It will help instill a love of books
  • Your children will learn how to use a book
  • Children will practice rhyming
  • You’ll learn new ways to tell stories and sing songs with your children
  • Children will learn new vocabulary
  • It will increase letter and number knowledge
  • Good reason to visit the library
  • Meet and interact with other children and families
  • Free entertainment!

And…if you’ve never been to storytime, please click here —-> Story Time at the SCDL.

Letting Your Child Choose…

Recently, I have been seeing articles about children’s attitude toward reading as they get older. As I think back to my own childhood, I remember loving books, going to the library, and spending time reading outside in the backyard. I also remember some of my classmates disdain for reading. I remember them saying it’s boring, it’s hard, it’s not fun, or they don’t have time. Much of what they said is echoed in this post from Reading is Fundamental.

Credit: Real Teacher of NY

Credit: Real Teacher of NY

Reuters recently posted an article that states a study that found when children choose books they want to read reading scores can improve. Researchers asked students in elementary grades to choose a books they wanted to read over the summer. The researchers also gave another group of students books to read but did not let them choose the titles. Based on a series of reading tests before and after summer break, the results showed students who had the opportunity to pick their own books had higher test scores than those who did not get to choose.

Students, especially those living in low-income neighborhoods, typically lose learning over the summer. This is what many educators call the “summer slide.” Researchers also noted, though, that it’s still important to provide preselected materials to readers in order to help them hone their reading and comprehension skills.

By offering your child choices, it gives him the freedom to find something within his own interests. If you are struggling to find something your child wants to read, here is a checklist of ideas from Scholastic:

  • Don’t pressure your child.
  • Make time to read and let your child see you reading for pleasure.
  • Try audiobooks. (Check out our awesome app HOOPLA for free audiobooks you can download to your smartphone or tablet.)
  • Read book reviews and find popular booklists, and then share them with your child.