Monthly Archives: September 2013

Make Read-Aloud Part of Your Child’s Bedtime Routine

The cooler nights of autumn are perfect for reading in a warm cozy bed with your children. After they have changed into nightclothes, brushed teeth, picked out stuffed animal friends, and are tucked into bed, share books with them and enjoy some one-on-one time together. Make books a regular part of your children’s bedtime routine and they may even look forward to going to bed.

For young children choose picture books that are soothing and put them in the mood for sleep. There are many stories that tell about a busy day that leads to a slowing down and a “good night.” There are books that talk about the bedtime routine. And there are humorous books about trying to get to sleep. Snuggle up and enjoy some stories together every bedtime! Here are some books to try:


“When Mama Come Home Tonight” by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Jane Dyer. A rhyming book with the rhythm of a lullaby, this story is soft and gentle. A toddler thinks of all the wonderful things that happen with mama when she comes home from work after a busy day.

“Good Night Gorilla” by Peggy Rathmann. This is an almost wordless book that stars a little gorilla at a zoo. When the zookeeper is closing up the zoo, he doesn’t realize that a little gorilla is opening all the animals’ cages as soon as the zookeeper tells each animal “good night.”

“Snoozers: 7 Short Bedtime Stories for Lively Little Kids” and “The Going to Bed Book” by Sandra Boynton are both in board book format for the youngest listeners. Short, humorous stories with Boynton animal characters will become family favorites.

“Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo” by Kevin Lewis, Illustrated by Daniel Kirk. The story begins with the sun rising and ends when it sets. During the sun’s arc in the sky, a little train is bustling up and down mountains and through tunnels. He finally winds down to a slow pace and rests at the end of the day.

“Kiss Good Night” by Amy Hest, illustrated by Anita Jeram. Mrs. Bear put Sam to bed but the wind and rain outside keeps him awake. Does Sam need a cup of milk, a hug, or a book? What can help him get to sleep?

Saturday, September 28, 6:30-7pm, listen to bedtime stories read aloud by Family Reading Partnership executive director, Brigid Hubberman, at the Tompkins County Public Library, for the library’s Read-a-thon. Books will be read aloud starting at 6am until midnight as a fundraiser for TCPL. Learn more and donate to a reader at:

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by | September 26, 2013 · 11:03 am

Strategies for a Reluctant Reader

Do you have a child who knows how to read, but doesn’t want to read? Does your child read only when asked and never chooses a book for fun?

If you find that your school-aged child is a reluctant reader (despite all the family times you enjoyed reading picture books together), you may want to try some new strategies: change where to read, what to read, and who is reading. One of these changes could spark your child’s imagination and interest and ease him into becoming a willing and eager reader.

Change where to read. If your child associates reading with hard work and no fun, think about a more comfortable and unique location where she can read.  Make a special spot that is only for reading.

How about putting a blanket over a table and making a cozy, private place to read underneath? Add some pillows and a good reading light and you have a reading destination. Maybe your child would want to change into pajamas and sit in a big, overstuffed chair, or wear a favorite baseball cap and snuggle into a quilt on the sofa to read. Brainstorm with your child and see what he or she can dream up.

Change what to read. What does your child love to do when he or she is not reading? Is she into sports? Is he into fantasy gaming? Does she love animals? How about cooking or growing vegetables?  Use your child’s interests as guidance for what books to choose. There are epic fantasy stories such as “Harry Potter,” action-packed books about every sport imaginable, such as those written by Matt Christopher, and non-fiction books that teach how things work and why. Ask your school or local librarian for ideas.

Change who is reading. Even when your child is an independent reader, read aloud to your child. Read aloud! Your child will always be able to understand more listening to you read than he can understand reading on his own. By reading books aloud to your child, he will hear new words pronounced that he never would have known by himself. She will be introduced to new ideas and have you as a parent there to help explain. Best of all, you will be spending quality time together, which is harder to come by as children get older and have various activities and interests outside of the family.

Read-aloud also keeps your child interested in books, which encourages more independent reading!  Maybe your child’s friend or other children in the family want to listen too. You could plan a regular read-aloud time with popcorn and good stories.

Remember that your reluctant reader knows how to read, but isn’t motivated to read for pleasure–yet. Keeping reading and books fun is key. For more ideas check out “The Read-Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease.

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It’s That Time Again: Welcome Back to School!

Sharpen your pencils and adjust your backpack straps; it’s almost time to start another school year! Is your child excited or nervous to step into a new classroom?  Does he feel prepared or overwhelmed with what is to come? Reading a book about the first day of school could help ease the jitters and give your child the confidence to walk into school ready to take on new challenges and adjust to new surroundings and classmates.

The internet is a wonderful resource for finding just the right book for you and your child to read together. There are humorous stories about what could happen at school and purely informational stories about what to expect in kindergarten. There are books for starting pre-school and books for coping with middle school. And then there are books that just making learning more fun.

Searching for “best children’s books about starting school” online, the top lists that I found were from:,,,, and

Here are some of suggestions from the “experts” about what to read before that first day.


Books about what you do at school: “Look Out Kindergarten Here I Come!” by Nancy Carlson, “Kindergarten Rocks” by Katie Davis, “The Night Before Kindergarten” by Natasha Wind, illustrated by Julie Durrel, and “D.W.’s Guide to Pre-School” by Marc Brown.

Books about the kids you meet at school: “Chrysanthemum” by Kevin Kenkes, “Splat the Cat” by Rob Scotton, and “Yoko” and the “Kindergators” series by Rosemary Wells.


Books that make learning fun: “Rocket Writes a Story” by Tad Hills, “Library Mouse” by Daniel Kirk, “Bugs by the Numbers” by Sharon Werner, illustrated by Sarah Forss, and “The Foot Book: Dr. Seuss’s Wacky Book of Opposites.”

Books about separation anxiety: “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn, “Llama Llama Misses Mama” by Anna Dewdney, and “Oh My Baby, Little One” by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jane Dyer.

Humorous books about school: “A Fine, Fine, School” by Sharon Creech and Harry Bliss, “There’s a Zoo in Room 22” by Judy Sierra and Barney Saltzberg, and “Baloney” by John Scieszka and Lane Smith.

Whatever books you end up reading with your child, the most important thing is that you are spending quality time together so your child feels loved and supported as he or she embarks on the great adventure of a new school year.

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Filed under back to school, family reading, read-aloud resources