Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How to Support Your Grandchild

Friday we are going to our youngest granddaughter's Grandparent's Day at her school. This will be the sixth Grandparent's day for us. The administration very conveniently schedules the Scholastic Book Fair at the same time. I thought of this when I read 7 Ways for Grandparents to Support Literacy from The Iowa Reading Research Center. Tip #4 is to help your grandchild build a home library. There will be plenty of library building happening on Friday! The first tip, telling stories to your grandchild(ren) about your own childhood, helps to build vocabulary and broaden their experience of the world. Other tips include reading to your grandchildren, taking them to the library and filling your home with reading material. Something I do not do enough of is write to my grandchildren. What kid doesn't like to get mail?

I was very lucky to have a grandmother who bought me books on any topic that interested me. She is the one who laid the foundation for my reading life. She not only bought me books but told me stories about her childhood, my grandfather's and my dad's. Even though she lived only 10 miles away, she still wrote me letters. I have tried to model myself after her.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Books written by, illustrated by and both written and illustrated by Adam Rex have been falling into my lap this fall. I just discovered an earlier book, Pssst!, both words and pictures by Adam Rex. 

After our narrator buys her ticket to the zoo, she hears a loud," Pssst!" She looks around and is greeted by a gorilla with a request: a new tire swing. She agrees to help and moves on until she hears another "Pssst!" this time a javalina needs a trash can. The next "Pssst!" is from a bat in a cave asking for lots of flashlights for a hippopotamus. Everywhere she goes in the zoo there is a "Pssst!" and a request: top hats for penguins, bicycle helmets for sloths and a wheelbarrow for a baboon. How is she going to pay for this? With coins a tortoise has collected from the fountains. When she returns with all the things the animals want will they enjoy them?

Most of the words are in balloon bubbles. Despite an AR of 1.1, an average first grader in the first month of school would probably some help reading this book but by mid-year it would be an easy read. The Sonoma County Library has two copies.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

They All Saw A Cat

Since I tutor first graders in reading, I am always looking for books with engaging stories, few words, lots of repetition and large, widely spaced text. They All Saw A Cat  by Brendan Wenzel delivers.

We have one cat and many observers: a child sees a friendly, smiling cat; the dog, a more sinister, unfriendly cat and the mouse a ferocious monster cat. A fish sees the cat through a watery filter, the bee's compound eyes see a pointillist cat and a skunk sees a grey-toned cat. Sometimes what an animal sees is due to perspective: a bird sees a different cat than a flea, worm or a bat. What does the cat see when she looks in a pond?

Each of Brendan Wenzel's illustrations perfectly illustrates what each of the observers see. There is no need for kids to decode words like ferocious, pointillist or sinister. The picture tells the story. There is a good deal of Caldecott buzz about this book right now.

The Sonoma County Library has seven copies. The AR level is 1.9.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Need Some Book Ideas for Your Beginning Reader?

Finding interesting books for a new reader can be difficult. We want to find the "right" book for each child, one they want to read and one with a little help they can read. For the newest ones, you can find seasonal books with some good tips to help your emerging reader at EDventures With Kids.

For kids ready to advance to chapter books, Melissa Taylor has 30 ideas for Beginning Chapter Books with Diverse Main Characters. The great thing about these books is that many of them are part of a series.

Children's author, Doreen Cronin, wrote an article for Brightly about the joys of reading funny books with your kids. As an added bonus she gives you some suggestions and some of them like Dory Fantasmagory are part of a series.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Candlewick Sparks

Due to the success of the Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo, Candlewick Press started a new series of books for newly independent readers, Candlewick Sparks. I have read three of the 34 titles. Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell, which was awarded a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor in 2013, I reviewed that same year..

Zelda and Ivy: The Runaways by Laura McGee Kvasnosky was awarded the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal in 2007.

Because Dad is making cucumber sandwiches AGAIN for lunch, sisters, Zelda and Ivy, decide to run far enough away so that their parents can't see them but they can see their parents. They play 14 hands of Go Fish, have a little tea party and put on their pajamas. Do their parents miss them yet? Will hunger pains make them go home? Did Dad save each one of them a cucumber sandwich?

Two more chapters follow. One is about making a time capsule and the other is about developing a secret concoction to solve Zelda's writer's block.

There are six books in the Zelda and Ivy series. The type is large and widely spaced, almost every page has a picture and the chapters are short which is ideal for emerging readers just getting into chapter books.

The Sonoma County Library has nine copies. The AR is 3.0.

In Joe and Sparky Go to School by Jamie Michalak and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz two inhabitants of Safari Land, a giraffe and turtle, spend a day in school.

A school bus filled with kids returning to school after their field trip stops right in front of Joe and Sparky. Curious, Joe (the giraffe) and Sparky (the turtle) look in the windows at the kids, the teacher and the driver. When the driver takes off, Sparky is on the roof of the bus. Joe runs and jumps on the back of the bus to the delight of the kids inside. When they arrive at school, the near-sighted teacher's glasses break. She winds up herding Joe and Sparky into the classroom for circle time. Sparky gets a star for listening during reading. They count peas, investigate the magic pond, have music and art before the day ends. Will Joe ever get a star?

The Sonoma County Library has seven copies. The AR is 2.1. There are two other Joe and Sparky books in the series.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Word Attack Strategies

Sometimes kids need more than "sounding it out" to decode words in a story. Melissa Taylor has given us a handy tool in Word Attack Strategies. The one I use most is chunk it. Have the child cover the last part of the word with their finger and read the first part, if necessary then cover the first part of the word and read the last part and then blend.

You can print the bookmarks by clicking on the link above as a reminder for you and your student or child to remember the strategies.