Tag Archives: reading

Great Read Aloud Books

30 Jul


Now that I have your attention, I wanted you to know that you should read to your kids until they are at least 11 or 12 years old. (Some kids will let you read to them until they leave the house.) Select books that are at a higher level than they can read by themselves, but can still understand. Reading aloud to your kids will encourage their imagination, build vocabulary and model reading skills. Most of all it will be a great bonding time for your family.

It’s important not to change the vocabulary words or ask your child to help you read. You are the reader and they are the listener.

Here’s a list of books we think your kids would enjoy listening to.

Ages 5 and up

  • Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  • Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
  • Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Lois Sachar
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
  • A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
  • Stuart Little by E. B. White
Ages 7 and up
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L ‘Engle
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  • Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
  • The BFG by Roald Dahl
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
  • My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
  • The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
  • The Cay by Theodore Taylor
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Ages 9 and up
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  • Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
  • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls
  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

Summer Reading Programs

4 Jun

Don’t miss these summer reading programs available to your kids. Kids of all ages can participate and often earn a prize for reading. It’s a great incentive. Here are some summer reading programs to try: Your library, Barnes and Noble or other bookstores, Scholastic Books,Sylvan Learning CentersHalf Price BookstoresPBSTD Bank, and Chuck E. Cheese.

Make Something for Mom

10 May

If you’ve got a mom who loves to read and has a sense of humor, she’ll love getting one of these funny bookmarks for Mother’s Day. Create a silly pose and snap a picture. It’s as easy as that. Click on the picture for the complete directions.


27 Apr

Today, I’m excited to share some fingerplay videos with you from our local library. They have a program called 6 by 6 which introduces parents to the six reading skill children should have by they time they are six years old and beginning to read. You can access the entire program and videos by clicking here.

You can view three of the videos here, including one in Spanish. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, I think this song is easy enough to learn so you can share it with your child. Foreign languages at an early age build brain power!



As Seen on TV

7 Feb

If you didn’t see our Silly Snacks on Fox 4 Kansas City last Saturday, you can now! We’ve linked up the live segment on Silly Snacks and given you links for all of the activities we shared on TV. Enjoy!

Silly Snacks News Segment

Octopus Hot Dog

“O” is for Octopus Art

Sea Urchin Craft


Math with Seashells




8 Dec

I love brownies for two different reasons. Well, the first one’s obvious. :0) The second reason I love brownies is because they are easy to make and the perfect way for kids to learn important skills.

Boxed brownies are a perfect way to introduce young children to cooking. Following the directions for making brownies is easy for readers and non readers because some of the directions are usually shown in pictures. Your child will learn math skills when they measure and time the baking process. Measuring, pouring and stirring work on hand-eye coordination, fine motor and large motor skills. The most important skill your child will learn is life skill. Everyone should know how to make a delicious pan of brownies!

Cooking with Kids

Download our activity calendar here.

How to Make Your Kids Not Love Books

5 Nov

I hated to read as a kid and I’m not really sure why. I’d go to the library all of the time but the selection of books didn’t seem all that great. And even though I’d come home with books, the only ones I vividly remember reading were from the Encyclopedia Brown series.

As a mother, and teacher, I was determined to make my kids love reading and I wanted them to learn to read early in their lives. I read to them often as infants and toddlers but when they got to preschool, I was sure I could teach my kids to read before they got to kindergarten. Surely, I thought, that would make them fantastic readers.


My two oldest kids learned to read when they were around four. I was so proud they could read above their age level, sound out long words, they must be BRILLIANT! When they finally went to school, other moms asked how they learned to read before kindergarten. I thought this was my crowning glory.

Unfortunately, by the time my kids were in third grade, most of they other kids caught up and surpassed them in reading. Yes, my kids were reading. Yes, they were sounding out long words, but they didn’t understand a thing they were reading! When my kids were busy reading long words in chapter books, other kids were reading books they could understand and building their comprehension. Instead of creating book lovers, I created kids who disliked reading.

However, when our third child came along, I read to her, let her play with books and allowed her learn to read at her own pace. (I do admit, that I was a little concerned in Kindergarten when she was having trouble with her letter sounds.) Now, she’s ten and her worst punishment is to have her books taken away! She has at least four books going at a time, she reads when she’s supposed to be getting ready for school and she giggles or laughs out loud because she understands the author’s humor. That’s a book lover.

So, I didn’t make my oldest kids passionate readers. They are passionate about other things. But, one day, I know they will pick up a book and discover that they are also passionate book lovers, too.

Tips for teaching your kids to love reading

Download our November Activity Calendar for kids.

The Prescription for Brain Drain

3 Aug

Now that summer’s almost over, it’s time to make sure your kids haven’t contracted the dreaded summer disease – BRAIN DRAIN!

If you didn’t get a chance to read my pre-summer blog on brain drain, here’s my end-of-summer blog on brain drain. This blog is not meant to imply any guilt, because I  admit that my kids have caught a slight case of the disease this summer, too. But, it’s not too late to cure them before school starts.

“Brain drain” is the trendy phrase that means your kids suffer a learning loss that usually occurs during the summer months. And, although the term is cute and rhymes, brain drain is a real issue. Johns Hopkins University Center for Summer Learning researched the topic and found that all children experience some form of learning loss during the summer, and that some kids lose up to 2.6 months of learning! Basically, this means that teachers spend the first two months of a new school year reviewing, and children don’t begin learning new academic material until November. Yikes!

So what can you do? If your child’s been reading, exploring, discovering, visiting museums, talking with you, counting money or items, then you’re off to a great start and you need to keep it up. On the other hand, if your child hasn’t had many of these experiences, it’s time to wipe away the cobwebs and start revving up for school.

Here are some teacher prescribed activities to cure your child of brain drain.

  • Read to, with and next to your kids, even if it’s the comics. Reading is reading.
  • Cook something together. Cooking works on time, temperature, measurement, fractions, pouring and many other skills.
  • Visit a museum, especially a hands-on museum. While your there ask your child open-ended questions about what they are doing.
  • Get outside and explore nature. Let your kids dig, climb, observe.
  • Have your child write a list of all the things he did this summer and things he’d wished he’d done.
The activity doesn’t have to be long or intensive; just fun. It’s also important to give your child the opportunity to lead you in activities or discussions. If you start treating brain drain now, your child will be cured and ready to start a successful, new school year.
For additional activities to encourage learning, visit our campus and search “back-to-school”. 
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