Category Archives: Reading Aloud

Are You Ready to Play Outside?

Written and Illustrated by Mo Willems.

Hyperion Press, 2008.  64 pages.  Tr.  $8.99.  ISBN 978-1-4231-1347-8.

Mo Willems’ beloved Piggie and Gerald are back and eager to play outside.  Except that it is raining.  Disappointed, Piggie frets about what to do.  When Gerald timidly suggests a way that they can still have fun, the day is saved, proving “elephants make the best friends!”

This Elephant and Piggie Book is perfect for beginning readers who are building confidence in their new skills.  The pair is delightfully expressive in the tradition of emergent reader texts from Dr. Seuss and P.D. Eastman.

Other Information:

Awards won by this item

Author/Illustrator website

Author/Illustrator biography and interviews

Subjects/themes that could be used in programming

  • Friendship
  • Rainy day
  • Emergent reader titles

Series Information

Programming Ideas and/or lesson plans


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Filed under Picture Books, Reading Aloud

Just Read

As I mentioned recently, my daughter is celebrating her fifth birthday very soon.  Though she is only in her second year of preschool, her reading skills are on par with those of seven-year-old nearing the end of first grade.  When she reads aloud (even a story she has never seen before), she reads with inflections and sounds words out in her head. 
We didn’t use Hooked on Phonics or any other program, though we have spent time (perhaps 15-20 minutes, once a week or so) at since she was two and a half.  When she was four and a half, I taught her to sound out words from this set of phonics readers.   (“Dad Can Help” was her favorite.)

Less than six months later, my daughter is reading Level 2–and even some Level 3–books from the  Step into Reading series with little to no help.

The only things my husband and I have done to develop our daughter’s reading skills have been (1) to read to her every day, and (2) to read ourselves.

These may seem like no-brainers, but in fact they require discipline and enthusiasm on the part of the reader.  So my advice when reading aloud is to find a balance between stories the child wants to hear and stories you enjoy reading.  I do not allow reading aloud to feel like a chore, but this also means that my daughter doesn’t always get to pick the book for storytime.  It really is okay to refuse to read a given book for the fifteenth—or fiftieth—time.  

 Also, don’t feel stories ought only be read at bedtime.  True, reading aloud has traditionally occurred before lights out as a way of winding down.  But reading aloud can take place between putting dinner in the oven and setting the table, during afternoon snack, upon waking up from a nap, or even over breakfast.  It’s a bit like exercise—it doesn’t matter so much when you do it; what matters is that you do it.  So build storytime into your routine wherever it works best for you.

As for your own reading, remember that all reading counts, not just the classics or bestsellers.  These days our lives are saturated with text, so make sure you call it what it is—reading email, reading articles on news websites, reading updates on Twitter.  Let your child know that when you’re in front of the computer, you’re reading!  And reading print magazines and newspapers counts just as much as reading books.    

The point is, just read and your little one will too.

(You might also like reading this post on taking reading aloud to the next level.)

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Filed under Reading Aloud, Reflections

Celebrate Seuss!

I’ve complied a number of “Seuss-gestions” for celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday and Read Across America.  Click on the Lorax for my favorite of all the activities.

Learn:  Who was the man behind the books?  There are innumerable bios of Theodor Geisel, but for brevity and quality, this site is great and also contains information about the sculpture garden which serves as a national memorial to Seuss in the town of his birth.

Discover:  Geisel,  the artist.  Though Dr. Seuss is generally thought of as a writer and illustrator of children’s books, Geisel’s art offers something for all ages.  For those interested in art beyond the books, explore this site.  History buffs will enjoy this splendid catalog of political cartoons.

Play:   For kids, this official site has fun Seuss games featuring favorite characters.  Not all games require reading.  Parents and professional educators can find activity ideas here.

Plan:  As an alternative to Disney, wouldn’t it be fun to plan a family trip to Seuss Landing in Orlando?  (where the Harry Potter theme park will soon be open…but don’t let me get distracted.)

Read (of course!): Make time this week to read your favorite Dr. Seuss book  (and share your selection here).

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Filed under Reading Activities, Reading Aloud

The Junior Novelization

I am a fan of the junior novelization, at least of two Pixar movies.  These provided my four-year-old with an introduction to chapter books, and vastly improved bedtime stories at our house.  I recommend trying something like this to preK-K parents who need to take reading aloud to the next level. 

Several months ago, my husband gave our four-year-old daughter the movie Up, along with the junior novelization.   We watched the movie together for a family movie night, and afterward, my husband began reading the junior novel to her, one chapter at a time.  Most of the dialogue is exactly the same, and my daughter’s vocabulary has grown from listening to descriptions of actions she has observed.

It was a spectacular success.  Our daughter enjoyed acting out scenes she remembered from the film, and we enjoyed a break from the monotony of reading her favorite picture books night after night (we still read picture books daily, just not at bedtime).

Once we finished Up, we decided to continue our experiment with the junior novelization of Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, the movie of which our daughter has already seen.  Another hit!

While we were still reading Tinker Bell, my daughter found my copy of The Wonderful Wizard of OZ on the bookshelf and requested that we read it after we finished Tinker Bell.  Over this past weekend we finished OZ, and our next family movie night will be the Judy Garland film (though I wish this new version was already available as well).

Now we’re moving on to Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl.  I’ll let you know how it goes.    

Later this week:  A booklist for young cat lovers.

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Filed under Chapter Books, Reading Aloud