How Families Can Celebrate Read Across America Day

This Saturday, March 2nd, is Read Across America Day so I wanted to share some reading resources, tips to help your children develop a love of reading, ideas for a Dr. Seuss party, and even an awesome freebie ($40 value)! 

Early literacy has been a cause that’s been really important to me since my college days as an early childhood education major, throughout my years teaching pre-k, and now as a mom. From volunteering to read to children in schools, to hosting book fairs to collect book donations, to sharing about the importance of reading here on this blog, I try to do as much as I can to promote literacy. Since I’ve been celebrating this special day for years I wanted to share ways you can get your family excited about this “holiday” and reading in general. The first annual Read Across America Day was March 2, 1998 and it’s celebrated on the birthday of beloved author Dr. Seuss. The purpose of Read Across America is to motivate children to read because research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.

My boys recently developed a love of reading which makes me so excited because I loved reading as a child (and still do though I don’t have as much time to do so now). While both my boys have learned reading basics they are at very different places in their reading skills. With Lucas, who is a fairly new reader, we are working on retaining more information about what he has read so he is able to answer basic questions about the books. For Jacob, my goal is to find age-appropriate books he will enjoy at his reading level. Just this week he tested at almost a 12th grade reading level but he’s only in 5th grade so many teen books aren’t appropriate for him yet and books that are age-appropriate aren’t challenging enough for him. If anyone has any tips to help either of my boys I’d love for you to share them with me on Twitter or Facebook!

Anyway, let’s get on to the fun! Here are some ideas of how your family can celebrate reading this week and every day:

Throw a Dr. Seuss themed party

There is no better way to celebrate reading than with a party and of course, on Read Across America Day, we celebrate Dr. Seuss so I had to make that the party theme. Get Seussical party ideas here. All the ideas are based on Dr. Seuss books and characters. These Truffula Tree Cupcakes would also be fun to make with the kids.

Make reading fun

Another one of my favorite posts shared ways to encourage reading by making it fun! When I became a mom I vowed that I’d help my kids develop a love of reading like I had when I was a kid but, nowadays, kids just don’t seem to get lost in books like my generation did. I think that part of this is because there are so many distractions vying for their time, whether it’s screens or just busier lives in general. While we can’t eliminate all the distractions that are getting in the way of reading time, we can show them how much fun reading can be to encourage them to become life long readers. Here are some of my ideas to make reading fun:

PICK GOOD BOOKS.

This might seem obvious but kids are more likely to want to read if given books they enjoy (even if they are choosing to read books about superheroes in underwear or wimpy kids with diaries…. ) I’ve found that older kids are drawn to series and books with characters that they can relate to.

MAKE READING A GAME.

I’ve found when I make anything into a game it’s automatically more fun for kids (I can’t be the only parent who discovered that the cleanup “game” could even get children excited to do a boring task like cleaning up their toys!) There are so many ways to turn reading into a game when kids are younger but one of my favorites is to follow the likes of my child’s favorite YouTube stars and play the popular “try not to laugh challenge”. Challenge your kids not to laugh as you read the book out loud in as many silly voices as you can. Then let them take a turn trying to make you laugh!

READ IN NEW PLACES.

Part of the fun of reading is that books transport the reader to new places, whether real or imaginary. Bring that adventure to life by reading together in different places in your home or community. Spend a rainy afternoon reading inside a pillow fort in your living room and enjoy a beautiful fall day outside on a blanket in your backyard or in the shade of a tree at a nearby park. Books don’t just have to be read while sitting on a couch!

BRING THE STORY TO LIFE.

When I was a preschool teacher I found that the best way to get my class excited to read was to get them involved in the story. Whether they acted the book out, did a craft that corresponded with the story, or yelled out the repetitive lines in books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, they loved participating. Being part of the story is so much more fun than just listening to someone read it. One of my fondest memories of story time was when I was a teacher and had created a giant caterpillar out of posterboard and let the kids in my class take turns “feeding” him pretend play food as I read the story of the Hungry Caterpillar to them.

I share more ideas on how to make reading fun here.

Consider reading apps and programs

While nothing can replace the feel of a physical book, reading apps can be a new way to make reading fun. Our boys LOVE the smartphone app Epic which they were introduced to in school. This app turns reading into a game and encourages them to read for badges with honors like “I read two days in a row” and “I read 50 books”. While nothing can replace the feel of a paper book, I was impressed that this app makes my boys so excited to read that in the past (even when Lucas was reluctant to read) he’d spend hours at a time doing so!

Hooked on Phonics is also a great program for younger children (ages 3-8) and they are offering a freebie in honor of Read Across America Day. HOP is offering their digital app “Learn To Read” year subscription plan for FREE ($40 value; iOS, Android, Amazon, Web) on Friday, March 1st, 2019. To get your freebie go to their landing page hookedonphonics.com/read2019 and put in READ2019 in the promo code area on the HOP website for your free year subscription. (Please note this is ONLY valid on Friday 3/1/19 which is the day before Read Across America Day.)

Other resources:

List of summer reading programs that reward children for reading.

Reading is Fundamental Literacy Central Parent Resource Page

How to make a fun superhero bookmark

My 10 favorite books for preschoolers

25 fun writing activities for kids (that build reading skills as well)

I hope that I have given you ideas to make reading fun for your family that will help you celebrate Read Across America Day. Though March 2nd is the official “reading holiday” I encourage you to spend time reading with your children every day, whether it’s a short book in between errands, an afternoon of reading as you are cuddled together on the couch, or a chapter a night before bed. 

Ways To Make Reading Fun For Kids

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyLiteracyStory #DGMyStoryEntry #CollectiveBias

When I was younger I loved to read. Whether I was in the backseat of our van on a long family road trip, or curled up in bed begging my eyelids to stay open for “just one more chapter”, reading was something that I always enjoyed doing. So much so that at one point I even wanted to be an author and write books of my own! (A blog author is close right? I may not see my name on bookshelves everywhere but I still get to share my stories here!)

Anyways, I vowed that I’d help my kids develop a love of reading like I had when I was a kid but, nowadays, kids just don’t seem to get lost in books like my generation did. I think that part of this is because there are so many distractions vying for their time, whether it’s screens or just busier lives in general. While we can’t eliminate all the distractions that are getting in the way of reading time, we can show them how much fun reading can be to encourage them to become life long readers.

Here are some of my favorite ways to make reading fun for kids:

HAVE A SNACK WHILE YOU READ TOGETHER.

I was just talking to a mom yesterday about how our kid’s favorite part of their sports team seemed to be the snack at the end of the game and how they both looked forward to that every week. As silly as it sounds, snacks are important to kids- whether it’s their game day snack or their after school snack- so reading during snack time can make it more enjoyable (especially for reluctant readers). Our favorite snacks are ones that are easy and mess free- like bowls of colorful Kellogg’s® Froot Loops® Cereal.

(Hover over the image above to start shopping Kellogg’s® line of cereals at Dollar General)

PICK GOOD BOOKS.

This might seem obvious but kids are more likely to want to read if given books they enjoy. There are so many good books out there but here are ten of my favorite picture books:

  • The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
  • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
  • Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch
  • Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
  • Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  • If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • What If The Zebras Lost Their Stripes? by John Reitano
  • There’s An Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Some of these books I enjoyed reading during my childhood and they are still favorites of mine! I also loved Shel Silverstein’s books like The Giving Tree and Where The Sidewalk Ends. Books have such a lasting effect on people!

As children get older I think that letting them select the books they read becomes even more important (even if they are choosing to read books about superheroes in underwear or wimpy kids with diaries…. ) I’ve found that older kids are drawn to series and books with characters that they can relate to.

MAKE READING A GAME.

Lucas spent almost four hours reading and listening to audio books this past Saturday, all thanks to a smartphone app that turns reading into a game. and encourages them to read for badges with honors like “I read two days in a row” and “I read 50 books”. While nothing can replace the feel of a paper book, I was impressed that this app made him so excited to read and kept his attention for hours! Another way to turn reading into a game? Follow the likes of your child’s favorite YouTube stars and play the popular “try not to laugh challenge”. Challenge your kids not to laugh as you read the book out loud in as many silly voices as you can (I know you all can probably do a great impression of Tony the Tiger from those Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes® Cereal commercials!)

READ IN NEW PLACES.

Part of the fun of reading is that books transport the reader to new places, whether real or imaginary. Bring that adventure to life by reading together in different places in your home or community. Spend a rainy afternoon reading inside a pillow fort in your living room and enjoy a beautiful fall day outside on a blanket in your backyard or in the shade of a tree at a nearby park. Books don’t just have to be read while sitting on a couch!

BRING THE STORY TO LIFE.

When I was a preschool teacher I found that the best way to get my class excited to read was to get them involved in the story. Whether they acted the book out, did a craft that corresponded with the story, or yelled out the repetitive lines in books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, they loved participating. Being part of the story is so much more fun than just listening to someone read it. One of my fondest memories of story time was when I had created a giant caterpillar out of posterboard and let the kids take turns “feeding” him pretend play food as I read the story to them.

I hope that I have given you ideas to help make reading fun for your family. I encourage you to spend time reading with your children every day, whether it’s a short book in between errands, an afternoon of reading as you are cuddled together on the couch, or a chapter a night before bed. 

Early literacy has been a cause that’s been really important to me since my college days as an early childhood education major. From volunteering to read to children in schools, to hosting book fairs to collect book donations, to sharing about the importance of reading here on this blog, I try to do as much as I can to promote literacy. I really love when companies support causes that I’m passionate about so I was so happy to learn that Kellogg’s, a brand that makes some of my family’s favorite cereals, is promoting literacy as a sponsor of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is celebrating over 20 years of helping individuals learn to read, prepare for their high school equivalency, or learn English. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $140 million (WOW!) to nonprofit organizations and schools that have helped more than 9 million individuals advance their literacy and basic education skills.

I encourage you to learn more about this literacy initiative and enter the #DGMyStory Sweepstakes for a chance to win a $50 Dollar General gift card. Entering is easy, just share your own personal literacy story with the hashtag #DGMyStoryEntry by 10/22/17. (Just think about all the cereal you could buy with that $50 to Dollar General! Yum! Just wandering down the cereal aisle you could grab all your family’s faves, like Kellogg’s Frosted Bite-Size Mini-Wheats® Cereal and Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® Cereal, and you’d be set for easy breakfasts and snacks for months.)

How do you make reading fun for your kids? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below or join the conversation on social media.

Help Kids Learn Phonics & Spelling With The Wonster Words App

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

We love discovering new smartphone apps for the kids and the best ones, in my opinion, are ones that have a learning aspect to them. I feel like children are more likely to want to learn if learning is fun. Wonster Words, a free iOS and Android app, is definitely one of those games that kids enjoy playing and parents love because they see their kids learning.

In Wonster Words, kids will have a blast playing with animated letters to put together words through interactive spelling puzzles, letter hide-and-seek, and other engaging mini-games. The animated letters sound out the phonics, gliding vowels, and consonant blends as they are being played. Once the words are complete, then short animations and mini-games tells the story of the words via a group of adorable Wonster characters!

You can see the game in action in this video below:

I think this game is a great way to help children learn to sound out words and learn basic word families. Since children learn in a variety of ways, I think the addition of fun clips about the words just reinforce what the children are learning. The fact that the clips are silly and make children laugh is great.

Another thing I like is that the app encourages kids to engage and explore, with no scoring, quizzing, or limits. My youngest, who is on the Autism Spectrum, stresses out when he feels rushed through learning activities so the fact that he can just play without worrying about losing or running out of time is perfect. Though this game is for ages 3-6 typically, I think it’s also an app that’s useful and fun for older children on the Spectrum (or with other special needs) who are still learning to read. Lucas is seven and I saw an online review from someone with a nine year old on the Spectrum saying he enjoyed it as well.

Wonster Words has won numerous awards, including Children’s Technology Review, Parent’s Choice, NAPPA, and others. It comes with many free words, along with free daily “words of the day”. More words are available through in-app purchases (but don’t worry because the purchases are parent-gated so your child can’t make any purchases). The app updates monthly with more words so your child can continue learning and having fun.

Want to try Wonster Words? Download it for free using the following links:

Also, though the app is free, there is a “pro” version available with all the words unlocked. This “all access pass” is discounted on Google Play right now! You can get it for $9.99 until 1/6/2017 (the regular price of the “all access” app is $14.99.)

Go On A Reading Adventure With Ooka Island

Jacob is just starting to read and I’m trying to do everything I can to encourage him in this journey. Ooka Island recently contacted me about working with them and using their adaptive reading program so I am going to try it out and write about it in a few weeks.

Ooka Island is a learn-to-read adventure for children ages 3-7. They are an educational company committed to using science-based reading methods and technology to increase literacy skills for children. The goal is to teach children to read fluently and well through reading instruction that is fun and compelling.

The key word there for me is “fun”. As a teacher of young children I believed that play was important and a key way children learned. As a mom I still believe that.

Ooka Island contains everything a child needs in one big learn-to-read adventure, including:

  • 80 hours of research-based curriculum for preschool to 2nd grade
  • An integrated, science-based approach to the five pillars of reading: Phonemic Awareness, Phonological Development, Fluency, Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension
  • Over 500 sequenced lessons with 7,000 discrete learning objectives
  • Guided progression through 24 levels in a variety of 3D, virtual world environments
  • A built-in e-Reader designed specifically to teach reading with highlighting and narration
  • 85 original Ooka Island e-Books, leveled and sequenced from preschool to 2nd grade
  • A fun and engaging learning flow cycle that motivates and supports each child’s journey
  • Comprehensive online progress reporting for parents and educators
  • Access to the Ooka Bookstore featuring all 85 e-Books and guides in print
  • Free motivational toolsworkbooks and a musical soundtrack app in iTunes
  • Curriculum alignment with Common Core State Standards for K-1
Want to try out Ooka Island? My readers can get 30% off a subscription here.
(Disclosure: Disclosure: I received compensation as part of my affiliation with this Ambassadorship via Splash Media Engagement. The opinions on this blog are my own.)

Top 10 Books For Preschoolers

I’m  excited to be joining in with a great group of bloggers for a special Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas series over the next 6 weeks. Please join us as we share our favorite books, games, building toys, pretend play toys, crafting supplies or kits, and stocking stuffers! Each participating blog will create their own unique list each week for each of the categories so be sure to stop by each of the links at the bottom of this post.

This week we are talking books. Having taught preschool I have hundreds of preschool books and I’m sharing my favorites with you all! These are good for the older 4s.

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Here are favorite book lists from other bloggers:

Thaleia Maher from Something 2 Offer: Books for all Ages

 Nicolette Roux from Powerful Mothering: Books for under 3 year olds

Sarah McClelland from Little Bins for Little Hands: Picture Books

Emma Craig from P is for Preschooler: Books for Preschoolers

Samantha Soper-Caetano from Stir the Wonder: Books for Toddler Boys

 Natalie Figge from Afterschool for Smarty Pants: Books for Advanced Bookworms

Alisha Carlson from Makeovers & Motherhood: Holiday Books

Varya Sanina-Garmroud from Creative World of Varya: Books for Non-English Speakers

What are your favorite books for children? I’d love to check them out!

Our New Puppy Friend, Read With Me Scout

The boys have a new little puppy! Okay…so it’s not a real puppy. We received Read with Me Scout from Leapfrog to review and the boys are loving him.

Read with Me Scout from LeapFrog is an interactive plush toy that helps children develop reading comprehension skills to get them on a path to reading. Not only does puppy pal Scout make reading fun with five interactive stories that he reads aloud, but he also responds to every pet, pat, hug and kiss! Simply press a button on his collar to start reading and pat his head to turn the page. Scout will ask your child questions throughout each story to create engaging learning moments and help build comprehension skills. Scout loves to sing, too!  Switch into Sleepy Time Mode when it’s time to snuggle and listen to relaxing stories and eight minutes of lullabies.

It was interesting to see how both boys interacted with Scout. Jacob, who is five and just starting to sound out words, really enjoyed reading the books with Scout. He followed along while Scout read the words and he’d tap Scout’s head every time he was ready to go on to the next page.

Lucas played with Scout completely different than Jacob did. Lucas, my four year who has Autism, looked at the books for a few minutes but spent most of the time just cuddling with Scout and listening to his songs. Luke isn’t too fond of books at the moment but I’m hoping that as he gets older he will use Scout’s reading feature.

Overall, Read with Me Scout has been a hit in our home. We’ve had it for about 2 weeks and the boys have played with it numerous times so far. I like that Scout doesn’t just read the books but asks questions as well. This makes kids become an active participant in the story instead of just having the story read to them. I loved watching Jacob answer Scout and could tell that he was really thinking about everything he heard. I like that Scout is soft and cuddly and has different options for play so that kids of all abilities and ages can enjoy him.

Having owned a variety of Leapfrog products these past years I have to say that this is one of my favorites (second only to the LeapPad).

(Disclosure: We received a Read with Me Scout from Leapfrog to review.)

Kohl’s Cares: Holiday Giving With The Peanuts Gang

(Disclosure: I am working with Kohl’s to promote their Kohl’s Cares program and received promotional items but all thoughts are my own.)

Kohl’s Department Stores is offering classic Peanuts storybooks, plush toys of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and friends and gifts, for just $5 each that will leave the entire family grinning from ear to ear this holiday season. Through the Kohl’s Cares program, 100 percent of the net profit from this collection supports children’s health and education initiatives nationwide. I love this program because it’s a great way for people to find gifts for those they love while giving back to the community at the same time.

Now through late December, Kohl’s offers exclusive hardcover editions of beloved Peanuts storybooks by renowned author Charles M. Schulz, along with coordinating plush toys. Kohl’s also offers a cookbook, holiday CD and a Peanuts Jigsaw Puzzle –perfect gifts guaranteed to spread holiday cheer this season.

Kohl’s Cares Cause Merchandise for Kids

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas and Charlie Brown plush: Join Charlie and Linus as they uncover the true meaning of Christmas through fun holiday traditions, including ice skating, participating in the school pageant and finding a Christmas tree.
  • You Can Be Anything and Snoopy plush: Children will dream big with Snoopy as they learn they can do anything or be anything – from an astronaut to a lawyer to just plain cool – as they grow up.
  • Be Yourself! and Woodstock plush: The whole Peanuts gang is gathered together to show children that being yourself is fun and everyone has different qualities that make them unique and special!
  • Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown and Snoopy plush: Follow Linus as he tries, with the help of his friends Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Lucy, to part with his beloved blanket before his Grandma’s visit.
  • Peanuts Classic Gift Set: Experience two-times the holiday cheer and endless Christmas miracles with a book two-pack of Happiness is a Warm Puppy and Christmas is Together Time – great classic Peanuts stories.
  • ONLINE EXCLUSIVE – Linus plush and Lucy plush: Children will buddy up with Linus and Lucy plush toys as they celebrate the holiday season. Available exclusively at Kohls.com.
  • Peanuts Jigsaw Puzzle: Wrap up in a blanket, pour a cup of cocoa and get to work with the family assembling a jigsaw puzzle with artwork from the classic Peanuts storybooks. It is the perfect stocking stuffer or new family tradition this holiday season.

Kohl’s Cares Cause Merchandise for Grown-Ups

  • Holiday Cheer: Make sure the halls are decked and everyone is jolly this holiday season with the perfect book for holiday recipes, decorating, entertaining and gift ideas. The go-to holiday handbook this season is filled with tips and tricks from Good Housekeeping, Redbook and Country Living and makes the perfect hostess gift for holiday parties and festivities.
  • Upon the Winter Solstice: Trans-Siberian Orchestra CD: Delight in the holiday spirit with the sounds of this year’s CD from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Grab one for the car, the home and the office to spread the holiday cheer!

Gifts that promote literacy and give back to the community? These are a must for any gift list!

Literacy Events Around The Nation Today

Join the record-breaking literacy celebration today, October 3, with Jumpstart! People all across the country will read the children’s book Otis by Loren Long in support of Jumpstart’s mission to work towards the day that every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. Joined by Tiffani Thiessen, actress and star of USA’s White Collar, Jumpstart hopes to break last year’s record of 2.3 million participants reading the same book at the same time.

Jumpstart will host several large scale events on October 3 in cities and towns across the country with marquee events in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. In addition, many of Jumpstart’s campaign Reading Partners and sponsors will be hosting events. Gymboree will host events in every Gymboree, Janie & Jack, Crazy 8, and Gymboree Play & Music locations across the country. Additionally, official Reading Partner, We Give Books will have Otis available to read online for free in both English and Spanish at www.wegivebooks.org.

”Jumpstart’s Read for the Record is a meaningful way for Americans to support the critical need for high-quality early education in our country,” said Jumpstart’s president and CEO, Naila Bolus. “We know that for children living in low-income communities, this need is significant. By the time these children enter kindergarten, they are already 60% behind their more affluent peers. Jumpstart’s Read for the Record brings light to this national issue and gives citizens a platform to voice their support for this cause.”

Learn more at http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/read-record.

Chicago Area Events

Chicago will hold two events today in honor of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record.

Lincoln Park Zoo:

The Lincoln Park Zoo will host three readings of “Otis” by Loren Long on Thursday morning. The readings are open to the public, and U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley will attend. Readings are at 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Chicago Children’s Museum:

The Chicago Children’s Museum will also hold an event. Kraft Family Free Night will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is open to the public. There will be readings of “Otis“ throughout the night.

 

 

8 Tips For Teaching Your Child To Read

Teaching your Child to Read

Image courtesy of Rusty & Rosy Reading.

Fun With PLAY-DOH’s Let’s Create Series

We were supposed to go out to an amusement park today but it’s raining outside so we decided to stay home. By 10am the kids were already restless so I needed to find something to do to keep them busy. I remembered that PLAY-DOH had sent me two of their new “Let’s Create” products so I pulled them out for some late morning fun.

The two books are Let’s Create: Letters and Let’s Create: Shapes. Both books combine tactile, interactive play with learning to not only help children retain basic concepts taught at the preschool level but also make the learning experience fun.  Let’s Create:  Letters introduces youngsters to the letters of the alphabet, the first step in learning to read.  Kids follow Zany Zebra through different classroom settings to identify key object related to letters. Similarly, in Let’s Create: Shapes, kids take a trip through “town” and learn basic shape recognition – a key pre-school math skill.

Both books are fully illustrated by clay artists using colorful PLAY-DOH.  Hands-on education is priority number one with this new series, and children can make their own shapes and letters using the PLAY-DOH compound, letter and shape molds, and double-sided play mat that are enclosed with each book.

Both boys really enjoyed this activity and it kept them busy for a while. Lucas did the shape book and matched his PLAY-DOH shapes with the ones on the mat. Jacob did the letter one which is a little more advanced than the shape book. Jake had to find all the letter cookie cutters and then match the letters to the ones on the mat.

(Disclosure: As stated above, I received these products for review. All thoughts are my own.)

Kohl’s Cares Teams Up With Curious George

(Disclosure: I received a few products from the new Kohl’s Cares line but all thoughts are my own.)

Kohl’s Department Stores is inviting children and families across the country to indulge in playful curiosity while giving back to their communities with the latest Kohl’s Cares merchandise. Young readers will be thrilled to embark on new adventures with Curious George, the lovable monkey and adults will be proud to support the program. The Kohl’s Cares program has raised more than $231 million for children’s health and education programs across the country.

I personally love the program because early literacy is so important to me. I think it’s great that these hardcover books are made available to all families at such a reasonable price (each item is only $5) and the money goes to a good cause. The addition of the featured character stuffed animals allow children to retell the stories themselves.

The featured books and characters available currently include:

  • Curious George’s First Day of School and Curious George plush
  • Curious George’s Dinosaur Discovery and Dinosaur plush
  • Curious George and the Puppies and Puppy plush
  • Curious George Visits the Zoo and Kangaroo plush
  • Curious George Goes Camping and Moose plush (online exclusive)

Other items available include:

  • Curious George Backpack
  • Curious George Note Cards
  • Kids Treats Book
  • Taste of Home: The Busy Family Cookbook

Which book and character plush set would your child love the most?

How To Read With Your Child, Not To Them

Reading a book to your child is a great way to help your child learn. Sometimes, though, simply reading the words on the page may not be stimulating enough. Some of the time your child might be perfectly content to sit and listen; on other days, he may not be able to keep one foot still! Do not fret. Your child can get his learning and keep his energy at a high level, too! The trick is to read with your child.

Start with the old standby–reading. Once the story has begun to unfold, ask your child some questions before moving onto the next page. Use questions that will encourage interaction.

For example:

* Point to some of the pictures on the page and see if your child can describe what the illustrations show. Is the main character revealed on the first page? Can you tell where the story takes place? Is it daytime or nighttime as the story begins? Do you think it will be the same at the end of the story? (And no peeking ahead is allowed!)

* Have your child try to reason how a picture on the page relates to the story. For example, you could ask, “Why does the candle droop?” Could it be that it is because it has been burning for a long time?

* Identify specific words used in the story as a teachable moment. Are some words written in a different way from the rest of the words? Are some bigger? Smaller? In a different color? Ask your child to guess why. Have your child say the special words in the story in the way he thinks the author intended for them to be read. Talk about how the words could be said differently to express a different emotion.

Are you getting a sense for how easy reading interactively can be? By reading in this way, your child is part of the reading time, too! Enjoy watching your child’s excitement as he/she figures out the answers to your questions and comes up with unique ways to add to or change the story. Encourage your child to ask questions of you too. Prompt your child to come up with the questions for you by announcing, “on the next page, it is Daddy’s turn to answer YOUR questions.” The possibilities are endless for ways that you can read interactively with your child.

If it isn’t naptime or bedtime, have your child act out part of the story, or make up a song or dance to retell the story to you after you have finished.

If your child has a lot of stuffed animals and they are the same type as in the story, let the teddy bear dance around or climb up the pillows and let the dog bark, etc.

Try to come up with new ways every time you read a book.

Happy reading!

About the Author:

Thomas Weck is the author/creator of the *Lima Bear Stories. Originally made-up bedtime stories he told his four children, the Lima Bear tales resurfaced when Weck’s son Peter had children. Peter remembered the stories and wanted to have his father write them down so that he could share them with his children. Father and son took it one step further and created Lima Bear Press (www.LimaBearPress.com) to produce the stories as books that children everywhere can enjoy. The first three titles were released in 2011: The Megasaurus, How Back-Back Got His Name, and The Cave Monster. The books are not only fun and funny with great illustrations, they also have an underlying message such as such as tolerance, honesty, courage, etc. Learn more at http://www.limabearpress.com.

(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. All thoughts are those of the author.)

Creative Opportunities for Reading with Children During the Busy Holiday Season

The holidays are fast approaching. Families and friends will come together for food, fun, and festivities. The kids will be excited to have time off from school, and parents will hopefully be able to spend a little more quality time with their children. Somewhere in between all the shopping, sledding, cookie baking, and house preparation for the incoming friends and family, the bookshelf calls.

Reading can be a positive and relaxing outlet, especially in these busy times. You can help create special times with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other relatives whom they may not see often. One great way is by suggesting that the relatives read with the children (either reading to them, have the child read to them, or taking turns). Books can help open up dialogue and sharing that straight questioning never can. New books for this time can be very special. Or have the relative or friend bring along THEIR favorite book.
Setting up a reading corner for quiet time may also be a good idea when the holidays become hectic. Kids can escape all the noise and chaos, and so can the adults. After a while BOTH might grow weary of adult conversation.
Also during the holidays, we seem to become more thankful and aware of the things we have and the people who are in our lives. Just ten minutes of reading a book or two with your child in front of the fireplace or any other cozy spot can become a memory that lasts a lifetime. It could also become a tradition to read a book in that same spot each night.

Reading with your child means so much more to them than the book itself. They see their parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle/cousin taking the time to sit down with them, showing them that they care and want to be there. As each page is turned, a stronger bond forms and memories are made as giggles, jokes, and discussions transpire. Who knows? You may even come up with your own stories to share. So, this holiday season, make sure to take the time to read with the youngest members of the family and build that bond and tradition. Both you and your children/grandchildren will be glad you did.
~ ~ ~ ~

Thomas Weck is the author/creator of the Lima Bear Stories. Originally made-up bedtime stories he told his four children, the Lima Bear tales resurfaced when Weck’s son Peter had children. Peter remembered the stories and wanted to have his father write them down so that he could share them with his children. Father and son took it one step further and created Lima Bear Press to produce the stories as books that children (and parents) everywhere can enjoy. The first 4 titles in the planned 12-book series are currently available: The Megasaurus, How Back-Back Got His Name, The Cave Monster, and The Labyrinth. The 5th title, Bully Bean, will be released in April 2013. The books are not only fun and funny with great illustrations; they also have an underlying message such as such as tolerance, honesty, courage, etc.

Dinosaur Train Book Giveaway {“Get Caught Reading” Month}

Early literacy is a cause I am passionate about so I am proud to be participating in this Dinosaur Train promotion to help share information about Get Caught Reading month. Get Caught Reading is a nationwide campaign to remind people of all ages how much fun it is to read. May is Get Caught Reading month, but the campaign is promoted throughout the year.

Research has proven that early language experience stimulates a child’s brain to grow and reading to children gives them a huge advantage when they start school. Member organizations of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) participate in a variety of ways in Get Caught Reading to encourage people of all ages to enjoy books and magazines and to share that pleasure with the young children in their lives.

Image from GetCaughtReading.org

As part of the Get Caught Reading campaign, Buddy, from Dinosaur Train, is depicted “caught reading” in posters made available to teachers and parents for use in classrooms, libraries and other locations. The “Buddy” poster is available here. Posters are FREE plus a $5.00 charge per set (1 – 12 posters) for shipping and handling! The order form is available here.

In Guess Who, Buddy!, “What’s that dinosaur?” is the question Buddy needs to answer as he plays a guessing game with his friends. Kids can play along with Buddy by reading the playful descriptive text for each hidden character, guessing the dinosaur, then lifting the flap to see if they are right!  A surprise pop-up at the end of the story adds to the charm of this fun book. SRP $10.99. Ages 2 and up.

GIVEAWAY

Guess Who, Buddy! Book

HOW TO ENTER

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me what celebrity or character you or your child would like to “get caught reading”

2) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

3) Follow @hensonparents on Twitter

4) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

5) Like Dinosaur Train on Facebook

6) Share this giveaway on a social network

7) Enter another one of my giveaways {found here}

Giveaway ends May 31, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US Only.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this post. Thoughts about literacy are my own. The other information is courtesy of Dinosaur Train.)

ABC’s with Bingzy Bee: Phonics {Free App- 2 Days Only!}

I’ve been working with Bing Note to help promote their new IPhone/IPod application, ABC’s with Bingzy Bee: Phonics. This application uses a fun ABC song to teach phonics and was developed by an award winning teacher who found success with this method in her classroom. I had to share this with you all this weekend because for today and tomorrow (March 31st and April 1st) this application is FREE! {It’s normally only 99 cents but a penny saved is a penny saved, right?}

I don’t have an IPhone but I have seen great reviews from other bloggers. Here’s what other moms and teachers had to say about the application:

“My students enjoyed this game and were able to play it with ease.” ~Rebecca, The Beauty of it all

“…it’s really a great way to introduce basic phonics skills to your child.” ~Kimberly, 2 Kids and a Coupon

“Overall my son and I really like this app as it is another fun way for him to explore and learn his letters.” ~Alicia, The Mama Report

“This app is a cute & fun app for waiting in the doctor’s office or a way to keep the kids busy for a few minutes.” ~Kristi, Creative Kristi

“….this is what makes it a great app.  She can use it for years to come.” ~Brande, Faith and Family Reviews

“This app is one of Willow’s favorite apps right now.” ~Debi,The Spring Mount 6 Pack

You can find out more about the app on their website here or download ABC’s with Bingzy Bee: Phonics from the app store here.

(Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for posting this on my personal blog, however, this is a client of Living Your Moment, a company I am co-owner of. Bloggers quoted received compensation for their time. All thoughts are our own and honest opinions.)

10 Fun Literacy Activities

Today is National Family Literacy Day!

Since 1994, National Family Literacy Day has helped communities celebrate the wonders of literacy and reminded people of the importance of literacy. The entire month is special as well – many families, programs and communities now join us in celebrating family literacy throughout the entire month. That’s right, November is National Family Literacy Month!

Here are ten fun activities to do with your children throughout the year:

1) National Children’s Book Week is November 13-19th. Read your child’s favorite book together and talk about what happened in the story afterwards.

2) National Cookie Day is December 4th. Make cookies with your child and use a recipe to talk about sequence. (ie. “first we have to preheat the oven, next we get the ingredients out”)

3) January is National Soup Month. Serve alphabet soup and spell words using the noodles in the soup.

4) The first day of Spring is March 21st. Help your child make a list of nature’s first signs of Spring and then go on a nature walk and have your child check off the signs that they see.

5) Mother Goose Day is May 1. Take turns reciting all the Mother Goose rhymes you can think of or read them from a storybook

6) June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. Ask your child to try to name a fruit or vegetable for each letter of the alphabet. Try to eat as many as you can during the month.

7) July is National Picnic Month. Use the newspaper to find a day that will be nice for a picnic.

8) The first Sunday in August is friendship day. Have your child write a letter to one of their friends.

9) September is Library-Card Sign Up Month. Take your child to get a library card if they don’t have one yet.

10) October is National Popcorn Popping Month. Enjoy popcorn with your child while your child makes a list of all their favorite things about popcorn.

These ideas came from the National Center For Family’s  Celebrate Literacy Calendar. Check it out because it has lots more ideas for activities to do with your children!

This post is linked to Oh Amanda’s Top 10 Tuesday.