Tag Archives: reading

Babies and Books


by Elizabeth Stilwell
Early Childhood Specialist

There is an abundance of advice about the benefits of reading with babies, but what if your baby doesn’t respond…or reacts by crying? The first and best tip for sharing books with babies is to enjoy the time together. The next is, don’t give up! Research confirms that reading to babies and surrounding them with words, contributes to the development of language and their growing brains. An added bonus is that the emotional connection to this special, one to one time with you and a book, also lays the foundation for your baby to develop a life-long love of books and reading. All of this magic will happen, but only if the experience is enjoyable for both of you.

You may have already discovered that reading aloud to an infant is very different than reading to a preschooler. Here are some things to remember as you begin to make sharing books with your baby part of your family routine.

 A Few Minutes at a Time is OK.
Don’t worry if you don’t finish the story. Tiny newborns might be a captive audience. In a few months though, your baby may be much more distracted with the big world around her. As your baby grows and develops, so will your style of sharing books.

 Talk or Sing About the Pictures.
You don’t have to read the words to tell a story. The important thing is for your baby to experience sharing books as a pleasurable time with you. Singing a song about the animals or talking about the picture may be much more interesting to your baby than the words on the page

 It’s OK if your baby wants to hold or chew the book.
That’s her way of getting knowledge about what a book is and how it works. Babies learn through all of their senses. She will soon learn that there is a story inside.

 Make Books a Part of Your Daily Routine.
The more that books are woven into your baby’s everyday life, the more likely he will experience reading together as a familiar pleasure.

 Select the right book.
Books for babies should be easy for them to hold and manipulate. Books in heavy cardboard format (board books), hold up to a baby’s use. Choose board books with simple engaging photos or illustrations, rhyming text or just a few words on each page. Remember that for babies, the book is a tool to engage your baby with your voice and your words.

Snuggle up…or not
If your baby is fussy when you are sharing a book, it may be that he just needs to move. Follow your baby’s cues. Try again when your baby is happily sitting in his bouncy seat or laying on his back kicking and stretching. Try adding books when your baby is already happy!

Let your baby choose the book
When your baby is on the move, have books on the floor for her to discover. When she finds one tell her about it. Soon she will be crawling over to a book and brining it to you to read!

Babies Belong at the Library!
As part of our county-wide initiative Babies Belong at the Library, babies receive their first library card at birth. If you enjoyed a home birth or adopted your baby, stop by your library to pick up your card, check out beautiful books for your baby and connect with other families!

Here are some of Family Reading Partnership’s favorite books for babies. See more on our list of Fifty Great Books for Baby’s First Year on our website www.familyreading.org

 Whose Toes are Those? by Jabari Asim
Snug by Carole Thompson
Flip, Flap, Fly by Phyllis Root
Baby Faces, a DK book
Peek-a-Boo by Roberta Grobel Intrater
Ten Little Fingers by Annie Kubler
Rah, Rah, Radishes! By April Pulley Sayre
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton

When it comes to sharing books with your baby, it’s never too early to start and the benefits last a lifetime!


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Be a Read-Aloud Super Hero!



Family Reading Partnership invites you and your family to join our March Read-Aloud Challenge, Books are my Super Power, an exciting and interactive celebration for National Read-Aloud Month.

Our theme, Books are my Super Power, highlights the many ways books empower young children to be thinkers and doers, and how to become Read-Aloud Super Heroes!

Why are Books a Super Power? Books provide opportunities for children to imagine themselves in the character’s situation, think about what they might do, and to practice being, among other things, kind, brave, persistent, and a good friend. These qualities really are SUPER POWERS for children.

Read aloud to the young children in your life and make reading at home a treasured part of your daily routine for the Challenge in March, and beyond. The benefits last a lifetime!

TAKE THE PLEDGE with your family and together we will invite every child to believe in the magic words: Books are my Super Power!

BooksSuperPowers2Here is how you can join the Books are my Super Power Read-Aloud Challenge:

  • Visit www.familyreading.org to learn more!
  • Take the pledge to read all month. Grown-ups can pledge to read and children can pledge to ask for read-aloud!
  • Download a Tool Kit filled with fun ideas and activities including Super Hero masks and wrist cuffs!
  • LIKE the Family Reading Partnership Facebook page to see all the action, enter to win prizes, post photos, and share your favorite read-aloud moments!

During National Read-Aloud month, March 2016, Family Reading Partnership’s book, “At Home with Books/En casa con libros,” is available at a deep discount so families and classrooms can enjoy more read-aloud!  Written and illustrated by Katrina Morse, this bilingual book is the story of the Bear Family and all the family members and friends that read aloud during the day. It is a book that encourages, supports, and celebrates reading aloud to young children. Read to the young children in your life every day because… Books are a Super Power!


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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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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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Wrap Up and Read!

by Katrina Morse, Family Reading Partnership

How are you staying warm this cold winter week? How about wrapping up in a cozy blanket with your young children and reading some favorite books aloud? Make it a daily routine to choose some books in the late afternoon when everyone is home. Find a spot on the couch or floor and then pull a blanket around everyone and enjoy your time imagining, exploring, and traveling through the stories. Here are some authors that write engaging stories that make great read-aloud:

Pat Hutchins writes stories that each answer a simple question. What happened to the cookies in “The Doorbell Rang”? What is the fox going to do next in “Rosie’s Walk”? Will everyone get the right message in “The Surprise Party”? Her writing style creates suspense that will keep your child wondering what will happen next.

Time-to-SleepDenise Fleming writes for the very young, but in a way that entertains grown-ups too. Her stories have things to find on each page if you look closely. There is rhyme, alliteration, and onomatopoeia that will tickle your tongue and make your child giggle. “Beetle Bop,” “Lunch,” and “Time to Sleep” are just a few of Fleming’s many books, all with illustrations created with her beautiful, colorful handmade paper.

Margaret Wise Brown’s stories have stood the test of time. Her main characters are usually animals that do people activities. “Goodnight Moon” and “Runaway Bunny” have the child-like sensibility of magical realism. Her books often have things in the illustrations that aren’t mentioned in the story but are fun to discover. Look for the little yellow butterfly in “Big Red Barn.” Can your child find the 5 sleeping kittens “Goodnight Little One”?

Mem Fox, an Australian author, has a book for every occasion. “Time for Bed” is a sleepy story that introduces animals. “Where’s the Green Sheep?” is a humorous hide-and-seek story. “Koala Lou” tells about a mother’s never-ending love.


Virginia Lee Burton wrote books in the 1940’s, so you and your child may be surprised by some of the “old-fashioned” ways of living shown in the illustrations. There were no cell phones or computers in those times! These stories will delight children with the constant action and determination of the main characters. There is a tractor in “Katy and the Big Snow,” a steam shovel in “Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel,” and a family’s home in “This Little House” that all have personalities that are brave and unselfish.

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A Renewed Dedication to Reading Aloud

In this new year, make a resolution to yourself to read aloud to your young children and make books a daily part of your family’s life. As Dr. Seuss says in “I Can Read with My Eyes Shut,” “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Reading with children gives them new ideas, new hopes, and new dreams. Most importantly, reading aloud helps your children develop a lifetime love of books and reading to give them more choices and opportunities as they grow older.

Here are a few easy ways to make books and reading the center of your family’s life and help your children be comfortably at home with books.

Read aloud together every day. Reading to your children gives them a diet rich in words. It feeds their brains! Sharing books together regularly gives your children a sense of security in the routine and time spent with you. They will come to associate books with your love and attention, which will only strengthen their own love of books.

Have books at hand, many places in your life. When children can reach books, they will pick them up, open them up, and enjoy them. Take your children’s books off of the top shelves in your bookcase and put them down on the floor in baskets, in little spaces between furniture, or on lower shelving. Take them in the car, in the stroller, on the bus. Get books at the library, at yard sales, trade with friends, or buy books at your local book store. Don’t worry if a book gets a tear or smudge; they can be repaired and cleaned. Books are better well loved than not read at all.

Show your children that you value books and reading. Read books, newspapers, and magazines yourself. Read signs, cereal boxes, and cookbooks to your children. Read special books on holidays or events. And talk about what you have read. You’ll be showing your children how words are used in every day life.


Learn more about read-aloud by checking out the tips, techniques, and children’s book suggestions in some of these books: “The Read-Aloud Handbook,” by Jim Trelease, “Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever” by Mem Fox, “How to Get Your Kids to Love Reading” by Esmé Raji Codell, Baby Read Aloud Basics” by Caroline Blakemore and Barbara Weston Ramirez, “Great Books for Babies and Toddlers: More Than 500 Recommended Books for Your Child’s First Three Years” by Kathleen Odean. Start early and read often. Happy New Year!

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Holiday Family Reading Traditions

There is something quite magical about reading one book with your family at the same time each year. I’m thinking of “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore read each December when I was young by my mother or father. I have fuzzy memories of sitting on the sofa, leaning up against a parent, looking intently at the pictures and listening with comfort (and excitement!) to the story that I knew so well. I still have the worn copy my dad had when he was young, with the familiar illustrations. It was a peek into another world where men wore nightcaps to bed, mice slept soundly at night, and Santa’s sleigh really landed with a clatter on people’s roofs.

The Night Before Christmas

We have so few traditions in our hustle-bustle world–so little of any common culture in society today–it is heartening to think that we can, as parents, hand down this small gesture, the tradition of reading the same story each year, to our children. With this tradition we hand down the feeling of being part of a family and being included in a common family culture; we all know this same story.

A book reading tradition doesn’t have to be holiday-based. I have a friend who used to read “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back” by Dr. Seuss, each year at the first real snowfall and then went outside and made a snowperson with her children–that they colored with watered-down red food coloring of course! (You have to read the book to see the significance in that!)

A good book for creating a tradition is one that has a generous helping of wonder and that stays special because it is appropriate for just a certain occasion. Imagine reading the same adventure book each year on vacation or a keeping a birthday book to be read just around that day.

This time of year, you may want to read about the holidays you observe or the change to new weather. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Muharram, Winter Solstice, or hot chocolate season, add a children’s storybook to your family’s traditions.

Amy Dickinson

Amy Dickinson reading to her granddaughter Sahela

Once you have chosen a book, you can make it even more memorable by presenting it to your family as a gift. Family Reading Partnership and nationally syndicated columnist Amy Dickinson of “Ask Amy” have teamed together for the fourth year promoting “A Book On Every Bed.” The idea is that after you choose a new book for your family or choose a book for each child, you wrap it up and place it at the foot of your child’s bed one evening. Then in the morning, there is a special gift to unwrap and read together!

You can do this with a new book or a book you have read year after year. You can use a seasonal book or a book you know your child will enjoy based on his or her interests. Get adults in the family involved too and put a specially chosen book at the foot of every family member’s bed, young and old. Have a warm and wonderful December filled with happy family reading!

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