Reading a Book Over and Over and Over Again Has Its Advantages

Today’s blog post is written by one of our SPARK Parent Partners. Corrinne recently attended a training called “The Power of Shared Reading.” Here is a summary of the information she learned…

Think about your child’s favorite book. Now think about the number of times you have read that book to your child. Re-reading a book over and over may be tiring for you, but it has some extremely important benefits!


Reading a book over and over helps teach comprehension. Go beyond simply reading the book. Focus on different early literacy skills each time you re-read a book.

During the first read, keep your child engaged and help him understand the story by focusing on the pictures. Ask your child to recall the “who’s” and “what’s” in the story.  Encourage him to retell the story to you using words such as first, next, and last.

When you re-read the book to your child, begin to encourage his participation during the reading.  Young children love to participate when you read a book to them. Allow your child to recite repeating phrases with you and let him shout out predictable words in books with rhyme.

During the next few reads, move your child’s attention to the print in the book. Point to the words as you are reading to draw his attention away from the pictures; this will also show them that we read from left to right. Talk about the letters in the title or teach him the meaning of an unfamiliar word from the story. Children’s books often put words and phrases in bold or a different font to help draw a child attention to the print.

As you continue to re-read the book, let your child take ownership of the repetitive words or phrases without your help. Take turns finding rhyming words in a book. Pick a letter and see if he can identify words in the story that start with the sound of that letter.

Don’t forget! Give your child a turn to read the book to you. He may make-up his own version of the story or even have the book memorized by now. He may even surprise you by reading some of the words in the book. There’s only one way to find how much he has learned, and that is by giving him the opportunity to show you.

There are many tools you can use to get the most out of storytime with your child. Illustrations, participation, verbal interaction, using written text, and allowing your child to tell the story himself are only a few ideas. What is your favorite thing to do while reading with your child?

Reading with Wiggly Children

IMG_3643In honor of Read Aloud Month, we will be doing a series of posts on storytelling, reading aloud to your child, and sharpening your child’s narrative skills. Today, we will be discussing how to read with a wiggly child.

Picture this: A six-month old sits quietly in the arms of her father while he reads her favorite picture book, Night, Night Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton. She reaches her fingers to touch the colorful illustrations. She helps turn the pages. She is attentive. She can’t wait to see what happens next.

Now picture this: A six-month old wiggles restlessly in the arms of his father while he attempts to read a book. He cries as dad tries to read the rhymes and turn the pages. He won’t sit still. crying babyReading to a young infant, toddler, preschooler, or high schooler can be quite the task.

Sometimes you might experience the child who loves to sit quietly and listen to you read. Other times it may feel like you are reading to yourself.

Children, no matter what their age, are wiggly. And that’s okay. While there is no fool-proof way to keep your child sitting in your arms patiently while you read, here are some tips you can follow.

1. Read age appropriate books. While you may love The Polar Express, your two-year-old probably won’t appreciate it quite as much. Wait until they are in school before attempting a book of this length or stick to just talking about the pictures. Dr. Seuss is a great author…but wait until preschool. Babies and toddlers should experience books with colorful pages, simple illustrations, and basic vocabulary and rhymes.

2. Create a routine. Read at the same time every day whether it’s bed time, bath time, or playtime.

3. Change the sound of your voice as you read. This doesn’t mean you have to practice new voices, it just means reading with inflection. Read with a whisper. Read with a loud voice. Read with a silly voice.

4. Read while you are sitting in a waiting room or standing in line. Always have a book with you. Or point to the words around you and read them aloud.

5. Don’t worry if your child isn’t sitting with you for the whole book. If you have a toddler and she loses interest, let her. You can keep reading–chances are she is still listening. Or set the book down and try again a little later or the next day. The most important tip we can share is to make sure reading is a positive experience. We never want children to feel frustrated or upset that it’s time to read.

March is National Read Aloud Month!

In honor of Read Aloud Month, we will be doing a series of posts on storytelling, reading aloud to your child, and sharpening your child’s narrative skills. Today, we will be discussing the importance of reading aloud for just 15 minutes every day. Yes, just 15 minutes a day.

file-page1So find a favorite picture book and read it this month with your child. Share your favorite childhood chapter book with your child by reading a chapter a day. Let your child choose a new book from the library. And visit storytime as often as you can. In just 15 minutes a day, your child will learn a love a books and reading, gain knowledge, and he will get to spend quality time with you every day!


Homemade Monday: Painting with Tape Resist

Last week we talked about bringing the snow indoors and painting it as an extension activity after reading books about the winter and snow. This week we continue our snowy day theme with tape resist painting.



  • White art board/canvas OR thick construction paper
  • Watercolor, fingerpaint, or washable paint
  • Masking tape OR blue painters’ tape
  • Glitter


1. Tape off the edges of the paper or canvas. Begin to create the tree using the tape. Tear the tape into skinny pieces to make the branches. Use tiny pieces of tape around the background of the canvas–this will eventually look like falling snow once the tape is removed.

2. Let your child paint all over the canvas. Let them paint on the tape, but make sure they paint all over the white paper or canvas. Talk to them about the colors mixing. Ask questions. Let  your child use his finger to add a red cardinal to one of the branches.

3. Sprinkle glitter on the wet paint.

4. Once the paint has dried slightly, begin to peel the tape off. Add lines across the white areas of the tree so it resembles a birch tree.

5. Talk about the winter scene and let your child make up a story about what is happening.

Asking the “right” Questions Matters in Dialogues about Learning

Originally posted on Dialogue About Language, Literacy and Learning:

Here’s an example/excerpt from

Curiosity: It Helps Us Learn, But Why? By Maanvi Singh, Published Oct 24, 2014

“How does a sunset work? We love to look at one, but Jolanda Blackwell wanted her eighth-graders to really think about it, to wonder and question.

So Blackwell, who teaches science at Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior High in Davis, Calif., had her students watch a video of a sunset on YouTube as part of a physics lesson on motion.

“I asked them: ‘So what’s moving? And why?’ ” Blackwell says. The students had a lot of ideas. Some thought the sun was moving; others, of course, knew that a sunset is the result of the Earth spinning around on its axis.”

Once she got the discussion going, the questions came rapid-fire. “My biggest challenge usually is trying to keep them patient,” she says. “They just have so many burning questions.”


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Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Raise your hand if you have more than five stuffed animals in your house. Raise both hands if you have more than 10 stuffed animals in your house. Raise both hands and both feet if you are reading this while buried under a pile of teddy bears and other stuffed animals. Don’t worry; you are not alone. Today, we are going to share some ways to use those teddy bears and bring them to life!


One of my favorite stories is We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen. There are so many options for telling this story. You could read it directly from the book, but here are some more exciting ways to tell this story:

  • Add hand motions to the story.
    • If you are waiting for a meal to finish cooking or you have a few minutes and need to occupy the attention of your child, act out the story using the motions as presented by Michael Rosen.
  • Hide your child’s teddy bears in one spot in the house. Tell them you are going on a bear hunt. Bring the story to life as you make  your way through your house or backyard chanting the rhymes of the story. Let your child make up things that he or she “sees” along the way.
  • Let your child retell the story in his or her own way.

After you read a selection of books about bears, have a teddy bear tea party picnic. Set out a blanket on the floor in your house. Let your child set out dishes and cups. Serve small cookies like Teddy Grams and juice. Make sure the serve the teddy bears something.

Lastly, here is another of my favorite teddy bear story is Cordoruy by Don Freeman. As a preschool teacher, this was one of my favorite books to read with my class. Normally, I don’t promote watching movies on this blog, but in the 1980s they made this book into a movie. After you read the book to your child, it’s worth watching. Cordoruy actually comes to life in the movie–make sure you are watching your child’s face at this point.

Bringing the Library Home

Question: How old do you have to be to sign up for a library card?
Answer: Newborn to age infinity!

That’s right. There is no set age for a person to qualify for a card at the Stark County District Library. So what’s stopping you? Sign up your child for a card. You can stop by one of our 10 locations throughout Stark County or find a Bookmobile stop. Just go to to find a location near you.

And while if you get stuck inside on one of those cold and snowy wintery days, have fun creating a library at home with your child. Click here to download and print your own set of library pretend play materials from Learn, Create, Love. It even has a printable “scanner” to scan books and check them out.

Homemade Mondays: Painted Snow

On days like today, it’s easy to stay inside, put on a movie and watch television or play video games all day–especially, if weren’t planning to stay inside all day. But when it’s too cold and icy to go outside for extended periods of time, here is an easy activity you can do with your children while you try to stay busy inside. You need to things: watercolors and snow. That’s right: snow.

painted snowGive your child a bowl or container filled with snow. Let them explore the snow for what it is. Describe it. Cold. Slippery. Wet. Icy. White. Clumpy. Smooth. Sandy. Then give them a set of watercolors or colored water if you don’t have watercolors (just add a couple drops of food coloring to water–be careful though…it’s not as washable as watercolors). Then let them have fun painting the snow. Ask them what they are painting or what happens when the colors mix as they paint. Talk about the rainbow they create.

As an extension, read books about snow and/or rainbows.