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Read-Aloud Especially for 3 Year Olds

When you look at your 3-year-old child running and climbing it’s hard to remember that just a short time ago she was a tiny baby in your arms! Since her birth, your child has soaked up all the words she has heard spoken, sung, and read aloud to her. Now she has more of the words she needs to tell you how she is feeling and to describe the wonder of the world she encounters every day.

Your 3 year old has his own opinions and is becoming more independent. He can imagine, and even though he is still the center of his own world, he is starting to understand that other people have different ideas and feelings than he does. He may even be able to take turns and share toys!

What should you read aloud to this newly confident, yet still dependent child? 3 year olds have a longer attention span and can listen to books with more words. They also appreciate stories that are silly and make them laugh.

Since your 3 year old is busy and on the go, read when there is a natural break in your child’s activity, such as during snack time, bedtime, or during a bath. Reading aloud is a great way to unwind and refocus a child’s energy. Ask lots of questions about the story and the pictures so your child can develop his or her curiosity and keep building vocabulary.

Here are some books that keep reading fun and introduce new ideas:

  • “Bark George!” by Jules Feiffer. A humorous encounter with a dog who has trouble saying, “Arf!”
  • “Pete’s a Pizza,” by William Steig. Pete’s mom and dad make him into a pretend pizza with some things they find around the house. Do this at home for loads of giggles!Image
  • “Yoko,” by Rosemary Wells. When Yoko starts school she is the only one who brings sushi for lunch. What will the other children say?
  • “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman. A baby bird hatches and finds his mother isn’t in the nest, so he starts on an adventure to find her, making many unintentionally silly mistakes along the way.
  • “The Doorbell Rang” by Pat Hutchins. Grandma makes cookies, but then friends come to visit. Will there be enough for everyone?
  • “The Salamander Room” by Ann Mazer, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Francher. A boy finds a salamander and his imagination turns his whole bedroom into a woodland paradise for his new friend.
  • “Owl Babies” by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Patrick Benson. Three baby owls are left in their nest while their mother goes off to find food. Will she ever come back? The end of the story is reassuring.
  • “Lyle, Lyle the Crocodile,” by Bernard Waber. This series of books about a lovable crocodile who lives in an apartment on East 88th Street in New York City is filled with many occasions that need creative problem solving and end up in fun.


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by | June 13, 2014 · 11:50 am

Reading to Babies

For those of you with young children, you know that reading to a baby is much different than reading to a toddler. The youngest babies are still being held in your arms and don’t crawl away! Infants sleep a lot and may have their eyes closed much of the time even when not asleep. And, an infant doesn’t respond with a smile when you read, like a toddler will.

But know that reading aloud to your baby is giving him or her the best start in life. Your little child is like a sponge soaking up all the loving attention of being held, and absorbing the many sounds in the words you are saying. Read aloud is creating a bond with your baby that lasts a lifetime, connecting the joy of being with you to the joy of books.

Soon enough, in just 6 short weeks, your little baby will start smiling and you’ll see a happy response to all the books you’ve been reading aloud. Babies smile with their whole bodies, stretching and squirming in delight! Even when babies don’t know the meaning of the words you are reading and saying, they are beginning to discriminate sounds and associate read aloud time with snuggle time. CountingKisses

You are feeding your baby a diet of words when you read aloud. Over time your baby will begin to know what words mean and respond to the pictures and story in books. It’s a magical process!

You can read any book to an infant, but you may want to start collecting board books that are sturdy enough to go through the teething stage coming up for your baby. Choose books that you like to read aloud, that flow nicely or have rhyming, sing-songy text. Books that have silly, repetitive sounds are great too. Babies are most interested in photographs of people’s faces and books that show daily family life. Experiment with different books at different ages and see what your baby likes most.

Books for Babies:

  • “Flip Flap Fly” by Phyllis Root. Rhyming text and beautiful words describe how baby animals move through the world.
  • “Whose Toes are Those?” by Jabari Asim. Wiggle toes, touch a nose, and tickle your little baby!
  • “Baby Dance” by Ann Taylor. Dad and baby twirling, lifting, swinging, around and around.
  • “Moo, Baa, La, La, La” by Sandra Boynton. Silly farm sounds that repeat keep a baby engaged.
  • “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear” by Annie Kubler. A classic nursery rhyme with friendly teddy bears.
  • “Counting Kisses” by Karen Katz. How many kisses does a baby need? Hundreds!
  • “Splash!” by Roberta Grobel Intrater. It’s bath time! Full of beautiful baby faces and wet, wonderful words!

To learn more about a baby’s read-aloud stages and find more book suggestions, read the grown-up book, “Baby Read Aloud Basics” by Caroline Blakemore and Barbara Weston Ramirez.

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by | April 11, 2014 · 12:11 pm

Spring into Read-Aloud

What are signs of spring? Warm sun, eggs hatching, grass growing, green! Flowers blooming, rain falling, baby animals, windy breeze! Even though the weather has been wintery, the official first day of spring is March 20. Let’s say good-bye to the cold and hello to warm days ahead.

Here are some springtime books to read aloud as you anticipate the new season with your young child:

“Cheep! Cheep!” by Julie Stiegemeyer, illustrated by Carol Baicker-McKee. There’s a chick on his way to being born, “cheep!” There are only seven different rhyming words in this book, but a hatching story is told. The illustrations are simple collage of fabric, clay, and other materials that young children will adore.

“Baby Bird’s First Nest,” written and illustrated by Frank Asch. One warm night, Baby Bird fell out of her nest. Frog helps her gets cozy on the ground and then back home in the tree where Baby Bird belongs. This is a story about bravery and persistence.

“Spring is Here,” written and illustrated by Lois Lenski. Originally published in 1945 and now back in print, this cheerful, rhyming book is illustrated with “old-fashioned” pictures.


“This Little Chick,” written and illustrated by John Lawrence. A long-legged, yellow chick gleefully visits all the farm animals and their babies. In rhyming verse with a repeating refrain, Little Chick skips and jumps and finds out what noise each of them say.  The pictures look like woodcuts stamped in block of color.

“It’s Spring!” by Samantha Berger and Pamela Chanko, illustrated by Melissa Sweet. A very cute, hopping rabbit bounces through this book gathering animal friends and announcing, “It’s spring!” One by one all the signs of spring appear, including a bear family, waking from their long winter’s nap.

“The Windy Day,” by Frank and Devin Asch. This father and son team created a book told from the wind’s point of view. What would you do if you were the wind? A little girl finds out and she tumbles, glides, and soars.

“Mouse’s First Spring,” by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Buket Erdogan.  The illustrations are rounded and colorful, the story full of vivid descriptions of the many discoveries young mouse makes that signal that spring has arrived. This is one of a series of “Mouse’s First” books.

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by | March 25, 2014 · 2:41 pm

Let’s Read More!

Have you ever read a book that you just don’t want to end? You’ve grown to know and love the characters. You ache for them as they face challenges, cheer them on as they begin adventures, and celebrate their triumphs… and then, the story’s done! It feels like you’ve lost a friend!

The way to continue the relationship with these new-found friends, is to read books that come as a series – multiple stories about the same characters with new challenges, adventures, and triumphs.

Series books are written for all ages. Beginning with the youngest listeners, there are groups of books that use the same characters to explore a child’s world. Helen Oxenbury has a series of four board books:  “All Fall Down,” Clap Hands,” “Tickle, Tickle,” and “Say Goodnight,” that are all the same-sized, square books featuring the same cute, round headed children doing baby things.  Also popular with young children are the “Baby Face” books that all have photos of real babies.

You can keep up with the adventures of “Spot,” the yellow dog, in Eric Hill’s many books about the lovable canine. If your child likes the story by Don Freeman of how the mischievous bear “Corduroy,” comes to live at Lisa’s house, make sure to also read “A Pocket for Corduroy” and the other books about this same fuzzy stuffed animal with shoe-button eyes.

Corduroy Bear

Nancy Carlson’s plucky character Louanne Pig, Rosemary Wells’ bunny siblings Max and Ruby, Kevin Henkes’ feisty girl mouse Lilly, and Tedd Arnold’s boy frog Huggly all have many books written about each of them, so when your child befriends one character, you can read more books about that same individual. As the personality and behavior of the character becomes clear, your child can start predicting what that character will do in the story. Where is Louanne going to ride on her bike? Will Max and Ruby get into trouble this time?

Older children will enjoy series books such as “The Box Car Children,” by Gertrude Chandler Warner, about four children on their own. (There are over 100 books in this series.) For some American history, read the autobiographical “Little House” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder about her family’s trek across the New Frontier. In this collection of books you’ll read about Laura as a young girl and witness her growing up and finally get married in the 9th book of the series. The series continues in books written by her children. There are also series of books about “The Magic Treehouse,” “Cam Jansen,” “Harry Potter,” “Redwall,” and many, many others.

To relate these books to real life, pick out some activities from your child’s favorite stories to do at home. Cut sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters (like Lilly does in “Chester’s Way”), create a pocket with paper and tape (like Corduroy’s) or make an old-fashioned bonnet out of a paper bag and string (like Laura Ingalls wore on the prairie). For more titles of books in a series, ask your school or public librarian.

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by | March 6, 2014 · 2:10 pm

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

How to Think Like a Child

The best children’s book authors can really think like a child. They tell a story from a child’s point of view and explain things that a child may not understand. They alleviate fears, confirm feelings, and teach new ideas. Here are some books by authors who validate what a child is experiencing:


When a child starts kindergarten there is some nervousness about all the unknowns. “What happens if you spill your milk?  Are there mean people at school? How will I get lunch? What if I get lost?” In “Kindergarten Rocks!” by Katie Davis, Dexter’s sister, Jessie, who is really old now (in 3rd grade), reassures her brother Dexter that everything will be ok. Dexter takes along his stuffed dog, Rufus, for comfort and finds out that school is fun! The author describes kindergarten activities including art time, play, dress-up, listening to books, the play-dough table, and writing. The book’s illustrations are rendered in crayon, which adds a child-like quality to the story.

When your family is expecting a new baby, your child will have lots of questions. “What Is He Doing Now?” by Patti Farmer and Janet Wilson nicely describes events during a pregnancy from the point of view of a little boy waiting to meet his brother or sister.  Illustrations are realistic but loosely done in watercolor and colored pencil. The boy wonders: Is the new baby growing in mommy’s tummy? How is the baby breathing in there? How does he eat? What will he do when he is born? This book gives plenty of opportunity to talk about how your child feels about a new sibling.

For the very young child, “Little Chicken’s Big Day” by Katie Davis and Jerry Davis is a simple book about what it’s like to be little. “I hear you cluckin’ big chicken,” says the little chick. But just like any two-year old, this little guy is easily distracted wanders off to chase a butterfly. Now where did big chicken go? Little chick can’t find his mama at first, but there is a happy ending. Illustrations of the mother and child chickens are bold yellow images outlined in black.


“Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods that Make My Day,” by Jamie Lee Curtis, with pictures by Laura Cornell illustrates how many emotions a child can experience, including silly, grumpy, angry, joyful, quiet, confused, cranky, and lonely. Children will see that all of these emotions and the different shades of feelings are ones they may experience at times and are normal. This is a playful book with rhyming text and whimsical illustrations.

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by | August 15, 2013 · 2:51 pm

Decision-Making Skills Develop Over Time

3BearsandGoldilocksYoung children are at the very beginning of learning decision-making skills. Our society assumes that children become “adults” and can make good decisions at age 18, but science shows that our brains haven’t fully matured until at least 25 years old. It’s no wonder that it is difficult for little children to see different sides of a situation and decide what is right or wrong. Their brains are just still young and growing.

When children can imagine multiple perspectives they start realizing how their actions affect themselves and others. They see how there are many ways to solve one problem. They see that there is not always one right way or one wrong way.

Many children’s books are based on the main character making big assumptions about how someone is going to act or what is going to happen. This can make a very funny story and give you the chance to talk about how we all see things little bit differently, which is what we all need to respect in each other.

“The 3 Bears and Goldilocks” by Margaret Willey and Heather M. Solomon. Oh Goldilocks! She finds the bear’s house messy, so cleans it. She finds the porridge full of beetles and she picks them out. She finally falls asleep on Baby Bear’s bed and then meets the whole bear family. Needless to say, she runs all the way home, very fast! Goldilocks can’t believe how the bear family lives, and the bears wonder why Goldilocks want to change the way they like things!

“Dandelion” by Don Freeman, author and illustrator of “Corduroy.” A lion is invited to a fancy party and decides to totally change his appearance by getting a haircut and new clothes. He doesn’t have a good time at the party though because none of his friends recognize him! This book, published in 1977, brings up a social dilemma we still face today. Should I change myself to be what other people want me to be? Or maybe true friends accept us just the way we are.

“Minerva Louise at School” by Janet Morgan Stoeke. Minerva Louise is a hen who bases all of her adventures on what she knows from living on a farm. On this excursion she goes to an elementary school and thinks the building is a big fancy barn. Cubbies are nesting boxes, pencils are hay, and rooms are stalls for animals. She innocently explores and likes this new place! This book is one in a series that is now out of print, but you can find used copies online or check out a Minerva Louise book at the library.

“Hooray for You! a Celebration of You-ness’” by Marianne Richmond. The colorful, bright, textured paintings of children celebrate individuality. The text is a rhyming message that each of us is unique with our own smile, hair, skin color, and way that we think. It’s okay to be different.

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by | January 25, 2013 · 11:35 am

Mind Your “P’s” and “Q’s”

Duckling“What are the magic words?” Do you remember an adult in your life reminding you to say “please” and “thank you” when you were young? Those magic words go a long way in befriending other people.

Having good manners shows others that you see them, care about them, and appreciate what they are doing. Manners are all about respect. “Thank you for the present, Grandma.” “ Sorry, I didn’t mean to be so loud.” “Can you please pass the butter?”

It would be great if our kids were born knowing how to speak politely, but young children have a very small view of the world with themselves at the center. It takes years for children to develop the maturity to think of how their actions are affecting others and to care about other people’s feelings.

The best way to teach your children manners is by your own example, and by giving them the words to say when occasions arise. Reading some of these books about being polite will help too, as you both see what makes each story’s characters have good or bad manners.

“Mr. Wolf and the Three Bears” by Jan Fearnley. Mr. Wolf plans a big party for Baby Bear’s birthday with cake, sandwiches, biscuits, and Huff Puff Cakes (all recipes are included in the book). It’s lovely, until someone crashes the party. Enter Goldilocks! She budges, pushes, is messy, and inconsiderate. Goldilocks cheats at games and is just plain rude! How can Mr. Wolf save the party?

“Cookies: Bite-Sized Life Lessons” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jane Dyer. This is a kid-friendly dictionary of some choice words that are good to know when learning how to be polite. Each word is illustrated and described in ways children will understand such as, “Greedy means taking all the cookies for myself. –Hee, hee, hee. Yum, yum, yum. Generous means offering some to others. –Please take one. You too. Anyone else want a cookie?”

“How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? By Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. First we see how sloppy and careless dinosaurs can be at the table; then we see all the ways that dinosaurs can be very neat and polite when eating. You may see your own little dinosaur in the pages of this book!

“The Duckling Gets a Cookie?!” by Mo Willems. The Pigeon character that stars in many of Willems’ books isn’t in the title, but is featured in this book as the hungry, curious, and frustrated onlooker. How does Duckling get a cookie, just by asking? (Clue: it has something to do with the magic word!)

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by | December 7, 2012 · 5:27 pm