Celebrate “The World of Eric Carle” November 14th

Welcome to Kids’ Book Fest and The World of Eric Carle!

by Elizabeth Stilwell, Early Childhood Specialist, Family Reading Partnership

It’s that time again. The days are shorter and cooler, but there is a big bright spot on the horizon. Saturday, November 14th from 10-4, Boynton Middle School in Ithaca, NY will be transformed into a fun and magical venue for children and families to participate in Family Reading Partnership’s annual Kids Book Fest! This year’s Kids Book Fest theme is “The World of Eric Carle,” in celebration of 20 years of welcoming babies in the community with the special gift of Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” through Family Reading Partnership’s “Welcome Baby!” program sponsored by Tompkins Trust Company.

Kids’ Book Fest is a fun, free, family-friendly celebration that focuses on the joy of books and reading aloud with young children. The whimsical illustrations and stories of beloved author and illustrator Eric Carle, will be central to this year’s event. To build anticipation, over 3,600 children in Pre-K – 3rd grade in the TST-BOCES District have received their own copy of Eric Carle’s, “The Mixed-Up Chameleon,” thanks to funding through Wegmans Reading Centers and local schools. Classroom teachers have been invited to engage their students to create artwork and projects related to this book. This helps to connect children throughout the community to the celebration and to each other. The children’s work will be displayed prominently and proudly at Kids Book Fest, transforming the hallways into beautiful galleries of children’s creative thought and process.Chameleon

Other highlights of this year’s Kids’ Book Fest include:

  • The Tompkins County Public Library will host an interactive, mobile library. Children will be able to check books out and families can help their children and babies sign up for a library card.
  • Storybook Theater–Ithaca College students from Voice and Movement classes will bring children’s books to life through simple interpretations of stories by Eric Carle and many more.
  • Children will be invited to enter the world of “The Mixed-Up Chameleon through a special interactive book room.
  • Ithaca Children’s Garden will sponsor a “Very Hungry Caterpillar interactive experience and invite children and families to provide input into the design of their new Very Hungry Caterpillar Boardwalk to be installed at the garden next year.
  • Community Organizations will provide an array of fun activities related to many different Eric Carle books. Participants of all ages will be invited to contribute to community art projects including a color chameleon mural and a word wall.
  • Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers can relax and play in a special area just right for them and their parents to take a break from all the Book Fest fun.
  • Additional parking will be available at the Ithaca High School with a free Kids’ Book Fest shuttle van.

A great way to begin to enjoy “The World of Eric Carle” before coming to Kids’ Book Fest, is to read some of his more than 70 children’s books. Here are some favorites that you can find at your local library.

“Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” Gently rhyming and beautifully illustrated. every page introduces the reader to a new character, all of which are adorable animals. Children quickly learn to chant along with the text.

“The Very Busy Spider.” This story follows the tales of a number of farm animals who are trying to divert a very busy spider from completing the spinning of her web. She persists anyway, and creates something that is both beautiful and useful.

house_hermit_crab“A House for Hermit Crab.” As children learn about the life of a hermit crab this story also teaches about nature and the benefit of working and living together as a community.

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me. This is a tale of a father’s love for his daughter. and includes interactive fold-out pages for extra charm

“Pancakes, Pancakes! Jack would really like to enjoy some delicious pancakes, but first he’s got some chores to do!

“The Tiny Seed.” This story gently invites children to learn about the life cycles of nature. The text is quite poetic and beautiful, but certainly simple enough for young readers to enjoy.

Please come and join Family Reading Partnership at Kids’ Book Fest as we celebrate books, children and connecting our community through the joy of books and reading!

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The Importance of Book Series


by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator
Family Reading Partnership

Some of the greatest books of all time have been part of a series. The Little House books, Winnie the Pooh, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, to name a few. What compels us to start a series and what keeps us reading until the very end? More than that, why do book series matter?

There are two basic types of book series. The first involves books with interwoven plots, meant to be read sequentially, from the first book to the last. The second type may feature the same characters and setting but, lacking a chronological plot, these books can be read in any order without missing major pieces of the story. Both are equally appealing to readers for each of these reasons.

So what draws us into a series and what keeps us coming back for more? When reading a series, we know there is the promise of more adventures with beloved characters to come after finishing the first book. Having a blank slate stretching multiple volumes, an author is able to develop more complex scenarios and character personalities, deepening our relationship with these fictional friends. Seeing characters work through conflict, take on increased responsibility, and grow in their relationships throughout a series is especially rewarding for children and allows them a type of reference for their future experiences. All of this, in turn, captures our attention and sparks our interest, bringing us back for more. And the more we read, the more we love reading- and that’s what’s important.

Visit your local library to rediscover the book series of your childhood or to fall in love with a new favorite you can share with the young readers in your life.

Favorite Book Series:
“The Magic School Bus” by Joanna Cole
The “Bear” series by Karma Wilson
“If You Give a….” series by Laura Numeroff
“Berenstain Bears” collection by Stan and Jan Berenstain
“Skippyjon Jones” books by Judy Schachner
“Llama, Llama” books by Anna Dewdney

“The Boxcar Children” by Gertrude Chandler Warner
“Mr. Putter and Tabby” by Cynthia Rylant
“Imagination Station” by Paul McCusker
“The Magic Tree House” by Mary Pope Osborne
“The Wingfeather Saga” by Andrew Peterson
“Tales of Magic” by Edward Eager
“Mercy Watson” by Kate DiCamillo
“Time Warp Trio” by Jon Scieszka
“Binky the Space Cat” by Ashley Spires

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Filed under activities, autumn, award winners, bedtime, children's books, classics, family reading, friendship

Kindergarten, Here We Come!




By Elizabeth Stilwell, Early Childhood Specialist, Family Reading Partnership

It’s hard to imagine, but 3.7 million five year olds (and their families!) are starting kindergarten this school year in the US. Locally there are more than 1,000 children starting school in Tompkins County, NY. Many of these young children have attended a childcare or preschool program, but going to kindergarten is a big transition. Riding the bus, entering a big school building, and managing many transitions throughout the day are new experiences for most children. Helping your child know what to expect before they cross the threshold can help pave the way for a smooth start. But how can you do it, especially when your own heart is pounding in your chest?

Reading picture books about starting school can create opportunities for children to discuss their worries, and talk about all the wonderful new things they are about to experience. Encouraging your child to ask questions and talk about their expectations will offer opportunities for you to calm their fears and help them look forward to this new adventure.

Here are some wonderful books to help you get the conversation started:

  • “First Day” by Andrew Daddo, illustrated by Jonathan Bentley. This fun picture book gives children the opportunity to encourage their fretting parents and remind them that change can be a good thing!
  • “Starting School,” by Jane Godwin, covers new routines, new people, and new surroundings in a way that is positive and inclusive, helping children to see that they aren’t so different from the other kids who are starting at school.
  • “The Night Before Kindergarten” by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Anna Walker. This little book captures the excitement and anticipation of the first day of school. Details about how kids pack up their school supplies, lay out clothes, and then bound off to school the next morning are right on target!
  • “Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten” by Joseph Slate, illustrated by Ashley Wolff. This book shows how a teacher gets her classroom ready to welcome her new kindergarten students. All of the characters are animals…but that doesn’t seem to bother children at all, in fact they love the whimsical feel of the book.

So why not plan a trip to your local library and check out their collection of books on starting school? You might find that reading these books together will help calm your own worries along with your child’s!

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Reading On the Run

by Melissa Perry, Program Coordinator, Family Reading Partnership

With many families taking some sort of vacation this summer, there will be a lot of time spent on the road travelling with children. While traveling can be an exciting adventure, with opportunities to explore the world, experience new things, and create family memories, the reality is that it can also be stressful- especially when taking road trips with children. Fortunately, travel time is the perfect opportunity for children to enjoy the pleasure of reading! Not only is it a fun, quiet activity that can fill long stretches of time, it also lends itself to the discovery of far off lands and incredible people. (All of this to say nothing about the importance of reading to fend off summer learning loss!)

It’s simple to outfit a vehicle with a variety of literacy material within easy reach of your children, keeping them occupied to read to themselves, or read to you, the driver! Stash some books in the seat pockets or buckle in a milk crate or a backpack in the center seat and fill with books. It’s fun to bring along a few favorites and add some books related to your destination or journey along the way. Learning about the states or big cities you plan to travel through, the vehicles seen on the roads, or activities you may be doing on your trip, such as fishing, camping, or visiting Grandma. There is an abundance of books that can capture the attention of your young travelers. Books are the perfect travel companions because they can be read again and again and children can read them to each other. Bring along small clip-on book lights for nighttime reading. Don’t forget that comic books, joke books, I spy books, magazines, and graphic novels count, too!

Another great way to weave literacy into your car trip is to borrow a few recorded books to enjoy while traveling. There are many options at your local library and it’s something the whole family can enjoy together, naturally encouraging conversations about predicting what may happen next, what each character could have done differently in the story, or what may have happened with the characters before the story began. Adults can also check out a few recorded books of their own and pop those in while the kids are asleep.

With over two-thirds of the population of young children in the US having regular access to an e-reader or tablet of some sort, it may seem logical to leave the printed books and recorded books at home, opting instead for the electronic versions of books. However, if your intention is to encourage your children to read while on the road, it’s useful to know that only about half the number of children using an electronic device use it for reading. And even at that rate, electronic devices only hold a reader’s attention for five minutes per day; compared to 30 minutes per day a child will read printed books. That’s a significant difference!

So, as you pack the car for your next family adventure, be sure to include reading material for every member of the clan, including the adults to model reading as a pleasurable, relaxing, and valuable activity. You can even create simple activity kits that relate to the books you have decided to bring along that extend the experience for little ones and keep them occupied just that much longer. Consider small toys such as finger puppets, small animal figurines, or, my favorite, a notebook and crayons. A theme-based snack can be a fun addition, too!


Some fun travel themed books to check out include:

“Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go”
“Our 50 States” by Lynne Cheney
“Road Trip” by Roger Eschbacher
“Swimmy” by Leo Lionni
“S is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet” by Helen Foster James
“Mister Seahorse” by Eric Carle
“Planes” by Byron Barton
“Dear Zoo” by Rod Campbell
“Next Stop Grand Central” by Maira Kalman
“A Bear Called Paddington” by Michael Bond
“Wabi Sabi” by Mark Reibstein
“Fly High, Fly Lo” by Don Freeman

For older readers:

“The Magic Tree House” series by Mary Pop Osborne
“From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” by E.L. Konigsburg
“The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick
“The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Perilous Journey” by Trenton Lee Stewart


Happy reading on the run!










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Filed under activities, book activites, can do, children's books, family reading, siblings, summer

Go On an Adventure by Book!

Ready to go on an adventure? Open a book and begin! Children’s books are full of new ideas, words, and excitement. Read a book with your child and then experience the book through real life for added dimension and pizzazz!

If you read a book about a bakery, go visit one and get a sample of a tasty treat. If you read a book about birds, do some backyard bird watching and see what feathered friends you find. If you read about construction vehicles, spend a week looking for them on any outings. You can also go on a reading adventure at home, learning about things you do every day to see life in a new way.

When you are on your adventure, you can have your book with you to read and compare. What is the same in this bakery as the one in your book? What birds did you find that are the same or different as what you read about? How many construction vehicles did you spot that were in the book you read? Your child will be learning new words as you talk about what you are doing and will be practicing how tell you his or her own ideas.

Here are some suggestions for books to read and activities to do. Have fun on your reading adventures!

Read “From Head to Toe” by Eric Carle and do all the movements in the book. When you are done, play a guessing game and take turns remembering what motion each animal makes.

Read “Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crockett Johnson, then make a picture together. One person can draw something with a crayon on paper, then can give the crayon to the next person, who adds to the drawing. Go back and forth adding to the drawing until the paper is full.

raindrop plop

Read “Raindrop Plop!” by Wendy Cheyette Lewison, illustrated by Pam Paparone on a rainy day, then put on some boots, grab an umbrella, and see what you find out in the rain. Are there any new streams of water or puddles? Are there any animals or insects out in the rain with you?

Read “Lunch” by Denise Fleming, then try to find a rainbow of food to eat for your own lunch. What food is red, purple, or green? Can you find anything to eat that is pink, blue, or yellow?

Read “I Went Walking” by Sue Williams, illustrated by Julie Vivas, and go on your own walk. Take a walk around your neighborhood, a park, or a farm. What animals do you see? What color is each animal? You can repeat the refrain in the book as you go, “I went walking. What did you see? I saw a (fill in with animal name) looking at me.”


Read “Jamberry” by Bruce Degan and find some berries to eat! Look at the grocery store, farmer’s market, or farm stand. Try to find fresh berries, but if you can’t, you can get frozen berries or berry jam at the grocery. Which berries are your favorites? Which berries does your child like?

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Silly Sounds are Perfect for Your One-Year-Old

It is an exciting time when your growing baby starts communicating more intentionally around his first birthday. He may know how to shake his head no, respond to questions by pointing, and even saying a few easy words. At 12 months your child is becoming much more social and she can interact with others by imitating noises and learning new words.

Children at this age enjoy books with rhyming text and silly sounds. As you read aloud, repeat the rhymes or noises and see if your child says them along with you. Ask questions about the book. When you see a picture of a cow ask, “What does the cow say?” You can also pause before saying the last word on each page and see if your child fills in with a sound or word.

Here are some books with text just right for your one-year old. They all come in a sturdy board book format so there are no paper pages to rip or crumple and your baby can even teethe on them without too much damage. See which books your child likes best.

“Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?” by Dr. Seuss. The board book version of the original is an abbreviated story still filled with buzzing, banging, and mooing sounds and asks the child to make the sound on each page. When your child gets older, you can graduate to the longer version of the book.

Flip-Flap-Fly-Root-Phyllis“Flip, Flap, Fly!” by Phyllis Root, illustrated by David Walker. A baby bird leaves his nest and sees many other animals on his first adventure in flying. He sees a baby snake that ziggle, zaggle, wiggles, and a baby otter that sloop, slop, slides, along with many other baby animals with fun-loving words to say on each page.

“Itsy, Bitsy Spider,” a Child’s Play book illustrated by Annie Kubler. There are many books that retell traditional nursery rhymes, but the Child’s Play series are all board books that include motions to do while reading and joyful illustrations of smiling children. They lend themselves to snuggling and giggling with your baby.

“Moo, Moo, Brown Cow! Have You Any Milk?” by Phillis Gershator, illustrated by Giselle Potter. This story is based on the cadence of the traditional nursery rhyme, “Baa, Baa Black Sheep” but has many new verses that fit together to make a farmyard frolic. Your baby will love the rhythm and rhyme. You can try to just read this book aloud, but you may end up singing it!

“I Went Walking” by Sue Williams, illustrated by Julie Vivas. Each page starts with “I went walking,” with an illustration of child. And then asks, “What did you see?” We see a girl discovering animals, one by one, on her walk. When you read this book with your child, make the noises of each animal as they appear in the story and soon your child will be making the animal noises with you.


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Filed under board books, books for babies, books for toddlers, reading to babies, rhyming, rhythm

Imagine What Is in a Book!

Picture books help children expand their imagination. Reading stories about how other people think, what they do, and places that are different than their own, help children learn new vocabulary and think more creatively. It helps them be better problem solvers! Any book can be an adventure for a child when you talk about it as you tell the story. Ask your child questions, suggest some different endings to the book, and talk about new ideas. See if some of the following get your child’s creative juices flowing.

“Now What Can I Do?” by Margaret Park Bridges, pictures by Melissa Sweet. A raccoon child wonders what he can do now that it’s raining outside. Every parent knows that complaint! His mom sees all the chores to do inside and helps her son see how fun it can be to make everything into a game. Making his bed is much more fun if he pretends his bed is a boat. Putting toys away becomes herding cattle. Putting socks in a drawer is like making a slam dunk in a basketball game. Brushing teeth can be pretending to be a singer. After reading this book, you and your child can think of even more fun you could have around the house using just a little imagination.

“Magic Box” by Katie Cleminson. When a girl pretends she is a master magician, she makes animals appear and disappear in great abundance. Animals can float and play music too! Illustrations are ink outlines with blues and reds splattered into the background. With a wave of her magic wand, everything vanishes… except one thing… Read the book to find out what is left!

“Red Wagon” by Renata Liwska. Lucy has a new, bright red wagon and is ready to play, but her mother wants Lucy to use the wagon for chores. Instead of pouting, Lucy does her chores with her wagon and her trip to the market becomes a high-seas adventure, a ride through outer space, and a day at the circus.

DoCowboysRideBikes “Do Cowboys Ride Bikes?” by Kathy Tucker, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott. A question on each page and then a rhyming answer tell about cowboy life, from what they eat and say, to what they do at night. This book is a great conversation starter. Is cowboy life easy or hard, fun or just a job? After this book you can read, “Do Pirates Take Baths?” by the same author/illustrator team.

“Mouse Mess” by Linnea Riley. What would your life be like if you were a mouse? This rhyming story has illustrations with big bold shapes and colors for young children. Mouse has fun after the humans go to bed, raking the spilled corn flakes, nibbling food, making a castle with brown sugar, taking tops off of jars–what a mess! After his night of adventure he takes a bath and goes to bed. Will the humans know that he has been there?


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