Finding the Right Book

You may have noticed every school district or classroom uses some sort of leveled reading system to help students choose the “right” book based on fluency and comprehension. It is hard for a public library serving so many different school districts to provide this same support for readers–mostly because the books would have so many numbers or letters on them, it would be hard to find the title or author. Instead, we can use a slightly different system to help young readers find just the right book–and parents, you can use this, too!

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  • Find out what your child has enjoyed reading in the last year.
    • What are his two or three favorite books?
    • What does he know a lot about?
    • What are his favorite stories? authors? series?
    • What does he want to know more about?
  • It is important to get an idea of your child’s reading level and fluency rate. Choose one of the books he has read and enjoyed, ask him to tell you what it is about, and read a page from the book. Talking about the book gives you an idea on comprehension and reading aloud gives you an idea on how well he can read without making mistakes for this book. This gives you the opportunity to find something similar in vocabulary and reading level.
  • Once you have an idea about reading level and interests, you can begin searching for a book he might enjoy. It is important to find two or three choices. Browse the books together and talk about them. Get to know what he is thinking about as a reader through casual conversation. Talk about the pictures, the story, the characters, and point out interesting things in the book.
  • The storyline is the most important part during this casual conversation. Don’t get bogged down with vocabulary, yet.
  • Now that he has chosen a book or two, use the Five Finger Rule to determine if it would be a good independent read. Ask him to read aloud the first page, holding up one finger every time he gets to a word he doesn’t know. It’s okay to help him. But if he reaches five words before the end of the page, it’s probably going to be a harder book for him to read on his own. (Don’t put it away, though, as it might be a great choice for you to read aloud to him. Reading independently does not have to be the end goal! Reading together is very beneficial.)
  • Take the book home and read it over and over! Ask your child questions about it. Relate the book to his own life or interests. He is more likely to remember it.

Stay tuned for another blog post next week on how the library can help you find books using Accelerated Reader (AR), Lexile, DRA, and grade level.

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Homemade Mondays: Mirror Games

Mirrors are a simple way to entertain your child and help their development, too! Mirrors help strengthen social/emotional development, image tracking, body awareness, bonding, focus, and object permanence. They are a great way to practice writing skills as well as your child grows.

img_9581You will want to use a non-breakable, child safe mirror for these games.

For your preschoolers and school-age children, use a dry erase marker to have them practice writing their name, sight words, vocabulary words, and spelling words. Have them practice words that interest them. They can practice writing letters of the alphabet or their numbers. They can even draw pictures–ask questions about what they are drawing to help increase their vocabulary.

For younger children, use the mirror to play peek-a-boo. Point to different parts of baby’s body like the nose, ears, eyes, hand, etc. Say their names out loud. Make a face and ask baby to imitate your face. These are great games to get siblings involved by letting them hold a hand-held mirror.

For more fun activities with mirrors, check out Mirror Play for Infants and Why Babies Love Mirrors.

Here are some great books for you to read with your child about playing peekaboo!

Sing a Little Song, Recite a Little Rhyme: Part Two

Over the next few months, we will be sharing our staff’s favorite songs and rhymes. These can be heard during storytime at many of our locations. (Here’s part one in case you missed it.)

Singing and rhyming are great ways to develop sound awareness for children. This sound awareness can lead to better reading as children develop a better understanding of the sounds that make up words!kt8aqxgtr

So, here are a couple of rhymes and songs you can sing with your child when they wake up in the morning or after naptime, in the bathtub, when it is time to change a diaper, when it is time for bed, in the car…and remember, you do not have to be an American Idol to sing a song to your child.

Magic Finger
Magic finger in the air
Magic finger in my hair
Magic finger on my hips
Magic finger on my lips

Hello Song
(to the tune of Hot Cross Buns)
My hands say hello, my hands say hello
Every time I see my friends, my hands say hello.
(then feet, ears, head, whatever the your child wants!)

Two Little Feet
Two little feet go tap, tap, tap
Two little hands go clap, clap, clap.
Two little fists go thump, thump, thump,
Two little legs go jump, jump, jump!

For more fun rhymes, make sure you visit your local storytime.

Homemade Mondays: Fabric Scraps

Have you ever left the baby wipe container sitting out where your child can reach it only to find all of the wipes scattered all over the floor? Or perhaps the tissue box was left on a table within the reach of your toddler and now it looks like it may have snowed on your living room floor? Here is an inexpensive (virtually free!) and quick way to solve this problem–at least when you remember to keep the tissues and wipes in a hard to reach img_9577place.

Peek-a-Boo boxes are a great way to let your child have fun pulling out scraps of fabric or scarves from a box without using up all the tissues or wipes. I found these great little treat boxes after the holidays for pennies, but you can use a Kleenex box (the kind with a hole on top not on the side) or an old baby wipes container. Simply stuff the box with scraps of fabric or lightweight scarves.

You can use scraps of fabric to play matching games as well as build vocabulary. I found fabric swatches at a local fabric store. They usually have them in the upholstery section precut. Often times they are free (just ask before taking). img_9576I cut the fabric in to two pieces. For toddlers and preschoolers, hide one piece of the fabric in a bedroom or living room or other child-friendly space in your house. Show your child its matching piece, and then send them around the room to look for its mate.

You can also use the fabric to talk about texture, size, color, and shape. Ask questions about how it feels using words like soft, stretchy, heavy, light, and rough in addition to color or shape names.

 

Book Review: Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

Today’s blog was written by one of our very own children’s storytellers: Miss Elizabeth. You’ll find Miss Elizabeth sharing stories with children of all ages as well as creating wonderful children’s programs at one of our branches. She shares her review of the book Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak.

Image result for goodbye summer hello autumnSome say nothing is more beautiful than nature.  There are vibrant colors, lakes and rivers, and animals noisily scurrying or perhaps lazily wandering.  When seasons change, so does the sky, wind, and temperature.  All of those pleasant experiences are captured so masterfully in the beautifully illustrated book Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak

Pak uses conversational text between a young girl and nature throughout the book.  The girl greets everything she sees on her journey through her hometown in late summer, and nature responds as it prepares for autumn. 

This watercolor wonder is my top choice for the Caldecott Award this year.

 

Five Activities for the Fall

It’s starting to feel like Fall around here. The air feels cool and crisp. The leaves are turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red. You can find pumpkins and mums everywhere. So I want to share some outside of the box games you can play with your children right now.

img_95311. Friendly monsters. This is an easy project using materials you already have at home. I used felt and cut out random shapes and pieces. You could use old cereal boxes for a sturdy base. You could use construction paper or old fabric, feathers, pipe cleaners–whatever you might have on hand. Then the fun begins. As your children design the monster faces talk to them about what they look like and why. Ask your children to tell you a story about their monsters. Have fun with this activity. Let your child be creative. If you can record them telling you about their monster or write down the story.

 

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2. Where the Wild Things Are. After reading Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, use up your craft supplies and create your own wild thing. Ask your child questions relating to the story to help with story recall. Ask your child what it would be like to be Max. Talk to your child about the wild things in the story. Ask your child what would it be like if they went to their room and dreamed of a faraway place with “wild things.”

 

3. Stacking Pumpkin Towers. This is a great STEM activity. You will need toothpicks and img_9529-2some kind of gummy candy. We used pumpkin candy. Give your children the materials (making sure to tell them to be careful with the toothpicks), and then let theme have fun trying to build the tallest tower. If their tower falls, let them figure out what went wrong. Guide them with clues. This is a great activity to teach problem solving. You can also include counting and measuring.

 

 

img_95304. Pumpkin Hammering. This is a great game to use a pumpkin if you do not want to carve it or if you have an extra pumpkin. Using plastic nails or large push pins and a plastic hammer, let your child hammer the nails/pins into the pumpkin. Add rubber bands around the nails or pins to create shapes. Talk about what shapes you created. Ask your child to identify the colors of the pins or the names of the shapes.

 

 

 

5. Fall Leaf Prints. This is a work of art for your refrigerator. It works best with watercolor paper, img_9549but you can use regular paper as well. Have your child gather three to four leaves–different shapes work well, if possible. Place the leaves flat under the paper. Rub the side of a white crayon over the paper pressing hard where the leaves are. (For younger children, you could do this before the children come to the table to make it a surprise.) Then let your child use watercolors to paint on the paper, allowing colors to mix. Watch your child’s face as the leaf shapes appear! And I recommend reading Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley.

Don’t forget to stop by the library and tell us which activity was your favorite this month!

Sing a Little Song, Recite a Little Rhyme: Part One

The next couple of week we will be sharing our staff’s favorite songs and rhymes. These can be heard during storytime at many of our locations.

Singing and rhyming can have a very positive impact on young children. Singing helps break up the syllables in words, which makes identifying the parts of words easier. Rhymes help children hear the sounds that make up words, which makes reading easier as children are able to identify parts of words quicker. For instance, say the words “Twinkle, Twinkle little star, How I wonder what you are…” out loud. Now sing those lyrics out loud. Chances are you slowed down a little bit to sing the lyrics. This made hearing the parts of the word simpler. It also allowed you to hear the rhymes better.

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Fun fact: If children can identify all of the words in a word family (-at, -an, -ig, -it, etc…), they will know more than 500 words! How cool is that?!

So, here are a couple of rhymes and songs you can sing with your child when they wake up in the morning or after naptime, in the bathtub, when it is time to change a diaper, when it is time for bed, in the car…and remember, you do not have to be an American Idol to sing a song to your child.

Sunshine, Sunshine
(use a scarf to “dance” around your child–a Miss Elizabeth original)
Sunshine, sunshine warms my nose,
Sunshine, sunshine warms my toes.
Sunshine, sunshine warms my chin,
Sunshine, sunshine makes me grin.
Sunshine, sunshine at my side,
Sunshine, sunshine time to hide.
Sunshine, sunshine warms my head,
Sunshine, sunshine goes to bed.
(can be used with bubble, flower, raindrop, and snowflake)

A Hunting We Will Go
(change out the words mouse/house, dragon/wagon with your own fun rhyming words)
A hunting we will go, A hunting we will go
We found a mouse, and put him in a house
A hunting we will go.

A hunting we will go, A hunting we will go
We found a dragon, and put him in a wagon
A hunting we will go.

Stay tuned for more fun rhymes this month!