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October 12, 2015

The Six Best Ways to Get Kids Excited About Reading!

By Nora Gaydos, Creator of Now I’m Reading

  1. Make Books Accessible and Organized!
  • Place books where they can be seen and reached.
  • This will motivate your child to want to read.
  • Develop a system for organizing your books.
  • Group books by category.  (theme, level, genre, author)
  • Put out a few at a time and then rotate, too many can be overwhelming. Rotating allows for fresh new choices – your readers will look at your old books like they are “new”.

Making books accessible and organized allows children to choose books independently and increases their desire to READ!

  1. Encourage your child to read “just right” books!
  • It is so important to understand young readers’ reading level/ability, so that we can give them the books that will turn them on to reading
  • What is a “just right book?
    • Provides the context for successful reading and enable readers to strengthen their processing power.
    • Readers use knowledge of what makes sense, sounds right, and looks right.
    • Readers know or solve most of the words with a high level of accuracy (above 90%)
    • Readers read at a good rate with phrasing and intonation, but also slow down occasionally to engage in successful problem solving.
    • “Just right” Books both support and challenge your readers because – like adults – children learn best when the task is well within their control.
  • Celebrate students’ reading by listening to them read and commenting on their books and their successes.
  • Give your undivided attention!  This will make them feel like what they are doing is really important.
  1. Make YOUR OWN books for your students to read!
  • Focus on high interest topics (specific to your students).
  • Consider your “goals” in making each book.
  • What do you want your students to learn?  (sight words, specific punctuation marks, concepts such as colors, numbers, days of week)
    kids cards

4. Give your students an audience!

  • Readers will develop self confidence and fluency. Students will develop a “reading voice” and overall increase their pride as a reader.
  1. Create a Word Wall
  • A word wall is a dedicated space for displaying words that you want your students to learn. The purpose of a word wall is to help children recognize and read words.
  • Include high frequency words that a reader may instantly recognize without having to “figure them out”
  • Decide on the best space in the optimal place.  Make it accessible and visible! (wall, magnetic board, bulletin board)
  • Focus on a few words at a time.
  • Try to link the words on your wall with the books you are reading.
  • Look for mastery before adding new words.
  • Integrate practice into your daily routine!
  • Transfer words from the wall to a word ring for continued practice.

word wall

  1. Introduce your students to different types of books
  • This helps capture the attention and interest of children.
  • Books can differ in size and shape and of course in content…yet we sometimes forget to highlight these exciting differences and engage students in discovering and celebrating them!
  • Examples:
    • Books with interactive features:  flaps, pop-ups, pull tabs, touch and feel textures.  These allow your students to read and play and learn at the same time!
    • Books with different illustration styles:  photographs, paintings, black and white, collage.
    • Remember the importance of illustrations, especially for young readers.  Highlight the artist’s style and begin a discussion about the impact of the illustrations in the books you read.
    • Books that use repetition and rhyme
    • Books about fundamental learning concepts
    • Non-fiction books
    • Multicultural books
    • Poetry books

Nora Gaydos is the creator of the Now I’m Reading early childhood literacy program. Learn more about using Now I’m Reading in your classroom.

Stay out of this blog, or you might get CHOMPED!
August 04, 2015

Stay out of this blog, or you might get CHOMPED!

We wouldn’t want to spoil the delightful end of Jory John and Bob Shea’s first picture book collaboration, but you already know it features a Chomp monster, who definitely doesn’t want you to turn the page.

This little monster has a sweet tooth, and no inclination towards sharing. Sounds like a few picture book readers we might know.

There are a few times during the school day where sharing may become important. Free play time, trips to the water fountain, snack time, choosing the kickball with the most bounce.

Our little Chomp monster isn’t quite the exemplar for teaching young readers to share, but I WILL CHOMP YOU is a great jumping off point for talking about this important social skill.

EXAMPLE (spoiler alert!):

Chomp doesn’t want to share the cakes at the end of the book because he wants to chomp them all to himself.

While young readers have a good concept of “mine” vs “yours” this book is a great way to introduce the pleasure of giving. Chomp learns his lesson when he gets a tummy ache from too many cakes. Opportunities in class where it might be better to share than to keep to yourself might include independent reading. Two students can share a picture book, holding it together, and helping each other with difficult words. In fact, we have the perfect recommendation…

Add I WILL CHOMP YOU by Jory John and Bob Shea to your collection. This is one book we can’t wait to share.

June 23, 2015

Using The Wonder Journal in your Classroom

Appearing on 30 state award lists, Wonder by R.J. Palacio has inspired countless readers to reflect on their actions and to Choose Kind. The Wonder Journal is filled with quotes from Wonder and 365 Days of Wonder, to further the spirit of the novel in a personal treasure for your readers to fill with their own precepts, stories, and thoughts.

Use these writing prompts to encourage and inspire journaling in your classroom and to go along with reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

In Wonder, Jack Will learns that the quality of friendship is more important than how many friends you have. Explain why someone you care about is important to you.

Summer and Auggie decide that people whose names have something to do with the season summer should be able to sit at their lunch table. Does your lunch group have something that brings them altogether? What do you like about the students you usually sit with?

Integrity is often defined by what we do when no one is watching. What would you do if you were invisible?

Have you ever made a mistake, or hurt a friend, whether on purpose or by accident? How do you relate to Jack Will? Write about an experience where you had to be humble or apologize to someone you care about. How did that affect your friendship?

A role model is a person you look up to. Before you begin writing, think about someone you look up to. Why do you admire this person? Write about the traits about this person that inspire you.


Wee lads and lassies will go mad for Bruce Coville’s DIARY OF A MAD BROWNIE
June 11, 2015

Wee lads and lassies will go mad for Bruce Coville’s DIARY OF A MAD BROWNIE

This brownie is a treat for young listeners—but not the kind you eat! DIARY OF A MAD BROWNIE is the first book in Bruce Coville’s hilarious new series, The Enchanted Files, about ancient magical creatures who befriend modern-day kids with hysterical consequences.

Bruce Coville is the popular author of over 100 books for children, including the bestselling My Teacher is an Alien series, and his new series is sure to delight a whole new generation of listeners. The master of funny fantasies has delivered a tale packed with Scottish lore and laughs galore! Told through a series of diary entries and other documents, DIARY OF A MAD BROWNIE is the story of one very messy girl named Alex, and a tiny magical brownie named Angus, who must work together to break a curse.

Dan Zitt, VP of Content Production at Penguin Random House Audio talked about his experience working on the audiobook:    

“I’ve known Bruce Coville for over fifteen years, so when Diary of a Mad Brownie hit my desk, I couldn’t have been more excited to work with him again.  After reading it, I knew what I had suspected all along, Bruce is a mad genius with a pen. Only Bruce could write a book from the perspective of a young girl and a figure from Scottish folklore, and make it sound realistic. As always, he takes us on a fantastical journey with distinct characters and dialogue that just screams to be transformed into an audiobook.

The real challenge with casting this audiobook was trying to find someone who can sound authentic as the tiny Scottish troublemaker Angus.   Luckily we found Euan Morton who is not a big troublemaker, but an amazing stage and audiobook actor.  Euan can morph his voice to sound like a character that is a foot tall, or a hundred feet tall, and we took full advantage of that with Angus.”


Listen to the Diary of a Mad Brownie Great Oath now!


FUN FACT: If you listen closely, you’ll hear special cameos throughout the recording from members of the Penguin Random House Audio team including Dan Zitt, Senior Vice President and Publisher Amanda D’Acierno, Marketing Manager Jennifer Rubins, Producer Karen Dziekonski, and Senior Marketing Manager of Random House Publishing Group, Joe Scalora!

June 11, 2015

School’s out, but summer reading is in high gear!


Have your readers already begun strumming the shelves in search of
the next great summer read? They will stop short once they 
come upon these YA favorites!



All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

A New York Times bestseller
Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Nominee

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might die. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

Fall in love with both of them when they meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school and it’s unclear who saves whom.

All the Bright Places

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

A New York Times bestseller
YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults
ILA Young Adults’ Choices Reading List
Texas Library Association Tayshas Reading List
Nominated for 9 State Award Lists
Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Nominee

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

We Were Liars

Every Day by David Levithan

A New York Times bestseller
YALSA Teens Top Ten
YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Winner
Nominated for 10 State Award Lists

In his New York Times bestselling novel, David Levithan introduces readers to what Entertainment Weekly calls a “wise, wildly unique” love story about A, a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life.

Every day a different body. Every day a different life.
Every day in love with the same girl.

Every Day

Another Day by David Levithan

If you’ve already fallen in love with A, see the story from Rhiannon’s point of view with Another Day by David Levithan, available this August.

June 10, 2015

Duncan (and your readers!) will love this storytime craft!

Duncan the Dragon loves to read. When he reads a story, his imagination catches fire! Unfortunately . . . so does his book.

Fire breath is great for roasting marshmallows, but it’s not so great for reading. Duncan just wants to get to those two wonderful words, like the last sip of a chocolate milk shake: The End. Will he ever find out how the story ends?

This bright, warm tale champions determination, friendship, and a love for books. And milk shakes!
Create a dragon to catch fire during your story times.

What you’ll need:
Toilet paper or paper towel roll
pom poms
googly eyes
red/orange/yellow tissue paper or streamers

1)     Paint your toilet paper or papertowl roll the color of your dragon. Use green to match Duncan!

2)     Glue googly eyes to two pom poms and set aside to dry

3)     Glue your fire-colored streamers or tissue paper to one end of the paper roll

4)     Add the pom pom eyes, and two beads for nostrils

5)     Blow through the opposite end of your dragon to make imaginations catch fire with Duncan