Ready, Set, Read!

The ABC's of being a children's Librarian

Ready to Read Skills

  1. Love Books (Print Motivation): Being interested in and enjoying books.
  2. Use Books (Print Awareness): Noticing print, knowing how to handle a book and how to follow the words on a page.
  3. See Letters (Letter Knowledge): Knowing that letters look different from each other and have different names and sounds.
  4. Tell a Story (Narrative Skills): The ability to describe things and events and tell stories.
  5. Make Sounds (Phonological Awareness): Being able to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words.
  6. New Words (Vocabulary): Knowing the names of things.

Via (

© 2014 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me@TheNovelWorld.

Leave a comment »

Perfectly Pastel

A perfectly pastel booklist to get through the dreary, gray days of winter.

Bark, George Perfectly Percy In my garden : a counting book

  1. Bark George by Jules Feiffer
  2. Perfectly Percy by Schmid
  3. In My Garden by Ward Schumaker


Leave a comment »

Picture Book Review: Someone’s Sleepy by Deborah Lee Rose

Someone's sleepy

Someone’s Sleepy by Deborah Lee Rose

Format: Picture Book

Age: 2-5

Genre: Bedtime, Sleep

This beautifully illustrated picture book is another one to file away for bedtime books. Short rhymes on each fully illustrated page take us though a young child’s bedtime routine. From the yawn on the floor and the first eye-rub to the final goodnight kiss for all the stuffed animals, this book is a wonderful way to end the night.

What I enjoyed most about this book is all the details on the page. One the first page, where the little girl first yawns, you can identify all the other creatures yawning with her. Her dog, a portrait of a cat, her toys. The colors in the book are so vibrant too, especially for using the same color scheme on each page. Strong tones of green and yellow with splashes of purple and pink. The rhyming text that accompanies the book is catchy too.

Sleepy shoulders

Sleepy knees

Sleepy through-the-window-breeze

This is a mommy-daughter book. There is no dad involved in this bedtime routine. I would use it for a bedtime storytime. Although there is never any shortage of bedtime picture books for kids. Another criticism is that I think the book went one page too long. I liked how neatly it ended on the penultimate page. The last page seems to jar with the flow of the book. But its a great bedtime book in general. It lends itself to many pre-bedtime literacy activities.

Primary Reading Skills

Tell a Story (Narrative Skills) This book is a great way to encourage your child’s narrative skills. Have them describe their bedtime routine to you. Talk about the differences and similarities between their routine and what they read about in the book.

Make Sounds (Phonological Awareness) The rhyming text in this book is a great way to introduce your child to different sounds such as vowels. Point out the words that rhyme, come up with your own rhymes. Ask them to identify the body parts mentioned in the book. 

How to Use This book

For the parents

Read this book at bedtime, or just before bedtime. Use it as an opportunity to discuss/review your child’s bedtime routine. Talk about the different activities the child does before getting ready for bed. Point out familiar objects on each page. Depending on your child’s age, I would pair this with Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama Nighty-Night, which also has a single mother putting her child to sleep. Nighty-Night also goes into detail of little Llama’s bedtime routine.

For the librarians

This is another title to add to the growing list of bedtime books. I like it more for storytime because the book itself is quite large, which makes it great for large crowds. Plus, the pages aren’t too cluttered with objects, so people sitting in the back of the room will be able to make out the illustrations.

Related Titles

Goodnight moon; Llama Llama, nighty-night Sleepy me

Leave a comment »

Rainy Day Wiggles and Giggles

We’re being drenched by rainstorms in the Bay Area this month. I think we’ve gotten more rain in the past few weeks that we’ve had in the last 2 years.

Needless to say, lots of time is being spent indoors with an overactive toddler. I’m sure I’m not the only one in this boat. We have our options, watch lots of TV, crash the toy trucks into each other, or, stay active indoors in a healthy and productive way.

I opt for the latter. These are some books that have been a great success for indoor fun at my house and at storytime at the library, hopefully they’ll work for you.

Llama Llama hoppity-hop

Llama Llama Hoppity-Hop is a great board book for toddlers. They hop, jump, thump, clap, tap, stretch, bow and end it all with a big hug now. My little one has learned how to stretch his arms wide and take a bow from this book. He’s still learning how to jump, and this book is a good at prompting him to try.

Bounce & Stretch & Wiggle

Bounce, Stretch & Wiggle by Doreen Cronin are also fantastic books to keep the kids active inside the house. Written in a fun, rhyming text, these books give toddlers plenty of stretch and bounce activities to keep them from going stir crazy indoors.

You are a lion! : and other fun yoga poses

You Are a Lion and Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo. This is a great way to get your kids moving, and staying entertained by simple yoga postures made fun and kid-friendly. Kids pretend to be different animals by acting out different poses.

Leave a comment »

Early Literacy in Everyday Locations

early lit

I’m rather obviously borrowing this series idea from Storytime Secrets. I wish I had thought of it first. It’s a great concept to discuss how to make ordinary situations fun and educational. Plus, having a toddler, I know that certain situations can be frustrating with a squirmy little body that doesn’t want to stay still. Some of the tips in this series are just good reminders to stay engaged with your child, talk, read and sing to them anywhere and everywhere. These are just as much reminders for me as for anyone else.

To kick off my rendition of this series, I’ll start with Early Literacy with one of the most dreaded places to be when your child is rambunctious.

Public Transportation

Counting objects – You can work on basic concepts like counting, colors and shapes by having your children describe, list or name objects they see outside their window. Have your child count all the red cars they pass on the ride. Before getting aboard, ask them to guess how many stop lights they pass on the trip, then have count during the ride. Teach them about opposites by asking them to count how many people onboard are wearing hats and how many aren’t wearing hats.

Make Up Stories – Storytelling is vital for a young children’s literacy development. Let them get creative with their wishful thinking. Pretend the bus is taking you away to magical location. Have your child describe what their dream trip would be. Pretend the bus is really a spaceship going to outer space, what do you see floating among the stars?

Talk About Your Day – Another great way to build a child’s vocabulary and develop comprehension skill is to discuss what activities you’ve completed that day or what you have planned. As you board the bus or train, talk about where you were and what you were doing. Ask your child to narrate your day so far. Tell them where you are going next, or what you will be doing next. Or ask your child to guess what your next destination will be, and see how creative they get with this guessing game. Knowing what is going to happen next gives young children a strong sense of security. It also replicates a story by having a beginning, a middle and an end. Being able to recognize and narrate in this order will be a great resource when they begin to read novels in school.

Review transportation terminology – Whether you are taking the bus or the train, review the relevant terminology that goes with the trip. Point out the name of the vehicle (train, light rail), if it rides along tracks or the ground, if it requires a ticket or just a small payment, or if you use a pass to get onboard. Not only does this build vocabulary, but it also gives your child the information they’ll need later on in life when its time to board that bus on their own for the first time.

Read On The Bus – See if your child can read the signs posted within the bus or light rail. Ask them to describe what they see in the pictures if they can’t read yet.

Sing songs – The Wheels on the Bus is always a fun song to sing. Make up verses based on what you see happening the bus. For example:

“The people on the bus,

play on their phones, play on their phones, play on their phones,

the people on the bus,

play on their phones, all through the town.”

Suggested Reading

 My Bus by Byron Barton      School Bus by Donald Crews

 Train by Elisha Cooper         I Love Trains by Philemon Sturges

Leave a comment »

Swamped by Work: A Never Ending Saga

I’ve been ridiculously swamped at both work and my home life, which is why my posts have been so sporadic as of late. I finally feel like I have a handle on life though and can start regularly blogging again. You wouldn’t think it, but even the shortest book review for a picture book can take a bit of time.

What we’re reading at home:

Trucks, trucks and more trucks and also trains, lots of trains. We’re reading everything and anything to do with trucks and trains.

Just yesterday, A wanted me to read both I Love Trucks (Philemon Struges) and Big Train (Adria Kline) at the same exact time. He become quite upset when I couldn’t read the book simultaneously. I tried reading one page from one book and one page from another, but no. He wanted both, at the same time.

He’s been going crazy with the Train Time series lately. Big Train being the first of the series. There’s also City Train, Circus Train and Freight Train. I have yet to get my hands on Freight Train, although I was finally able to place a hold through my library system. I should have it by next week. I don’t think I would have ever thought to check out easy readers for a toddler if I wasn’t a mother. The sentences are short and simple, and the illustrations are wonderfully cartoonish in the Train Time books. A loves I Love Trucks because both the garbage truck and the fire truck in the book look exactly like his toy garbage and fire trucks. He jumps up to point, or pat his trucks when we get their counterparts in the book. He started this when we read The Construction Crew by Lynn Meltzer. A has an entire fleet of construction vehicles. I’m not even sure how they all made their way into our home. I’ve only purchased 2 for him. But alas, the majority of the construction vehicles in the book are ones we have at home. He’ll lead off our lap to grab the toy, then line them as we continue reading through the book.

I love that he’s making this connections. I love that he knows the names of all of these trucks. I love that he has a passion for something like this. That I know exactly what to look for when I browse the stacks at the library. Although, it is fun seeing what books he picks out for himself when we go together. Surprisingly, it’s usually not truck or train books. Which is why it’s always important to let kids pick out their own books. He may love what I bring home, but when he chooses the books himself, he’s broadening the topics he’s exposed to. Kids are awesome like that.


Leave a comment »

Tea With Grandpa by Barney Saltzberg

Tea with Grandpa

Title: Tea With Grandpa by Barney Saltzberg

Format: Picture Book

Age: 2-5

Genre: Tea party, grandparents

Every day at half past three, a little girl shares a tea-party with her Grandpa in this delightful little book.

This book is a wonderful treat for grandfathers and young girls. Every day at half past three, Grandpa comes over for a tea party. The sing, they laugh, they eat and drink tea before Grandpa goes home. But he always returns the next day. The text is very minimal, about 6 words per page. The font is large, and is on a separate page from the illustration. I like the pastel shading behind the font, varying from pink to yellow to blue and green.

Primary Reading Skills

Tell A Story (Narrative Skills) – children can describe what they see in the illustrations throughout the book. They can expand on the story and talk about their playdates with their grandparents.

Love Books (Print Motivation) – Reading about shared experiences helps children develop a sense of empathy for the characters in a book. A story like this that has the potential to replicate a child’s playdate with their grandfather will be fun to read over and over again, especially with the grandfather.

How to Use This Book

For the parents

Talk about the elements of a tea party (the cups, saucers, tea, cookies, table setting, etc). Take this moment to teach your child table manners and how to set the table for company. Have your child watch or help as you brew a cup of tea. Talk about each step in the process (First we boil the water, then we steep the tea bag, etc).

For the librarians

This book is perfect for a tea-party storytime. It’s perfect for a grandparents theme storytime. It’s perfect for a windy day/hot drinks storytime theme. There is one song, 2 For Tea, that will pair wonderfully with this book.

Related titles


Leave a comment »

Easy Reader Publisher Spotlight – Stone Arch Books

I’ve been bringing home more easy readers than picture books lately. Picture books, while wonderful in their own way, don’t really hold A’s attention the way easy reader books do. Since he’s been handling books from day one, he’s careful about turning the pages. I don’t have to worry about him manhandling these books. I usually bring home easy reader non-fiction for the photographs. Lately, my 21-month-old has been obsessed with trains. Trains and construction trucks mostly. While we were at the library last week, I stumbled upon a new easy reader set published by Stone Arch Books.

Big trainThe first book we read was Big Train by Adria Klein. This book is now in constant rotation in our household. And not just for one read, but we read it up to 5 times in a row. Big Train is the story of a lonely little Engine who goes looking for his friends. The repetition in the book is what I really enjoy. The sentences are very short, making it appropriate for toddlers, despite being an easy reader. The illustrations are cartoonish and wonderfully colorful. The full color pages are well detailed, with lots of little aspects to point to. A learned how to say “squirrel” during one of our reading sessions with big train. One by one, Engine finds his friends, who are all hiding in different places. Once they are all together, he becomes a big train. This is a great book for new readers, but I prefer it more toddlers and preschoolers. What I like about the repetition is that its easy for young children to memorize the entire book and be able to “read” it aloud, even if they can’t quite make sense of the letters on the page yet.



Circus Train At the end of each book, there is a snapshot of the other train books in this set. The one A kept happily pointing to at the end of Big Train, is Circus Train. Although it took him a day to really get into this book, it’s now replaced Big Train as his weekly favorite. While I appreciate Big Train for its repetition and simplicity, I like Circus Train for its subtle handling of concepts such as colors, animals, and number. The circus train is coming to town, and each car if filled with a different set animals. The lions are in the yellow car, the tigers are in the orange car, etc. I like that the cars and animals are color-coordinated to match exactly. We go through and make the different animal noise on each page. I point out the color of the color, and sometimes we count the number of animals in each car. There is so much to do on each page, that can make it a very interactive read. It has the same cartoony illustrations as Big Train (thanks to illustrator Craig Cameron)! This one doesn’t really tell a story the way that Big Train does, but it does cover a lot of information. It’s also very age appropriate for young toddlers.

Other books in the set are:

City Train by Adria F Klein   Freight Train by Adria F Klein 

Leave a comment »

Book Review: Uh-Oh! I’m Sorry (Little Scholastic)

Uh-oh!, I'm sorry

Title: Uh-oh! I’m Sorry by Jill Ackerman; Michelle Berg

Format: Board book, lift the flaps

Age: 0-2

Genre: Manners

Find this book at your local library

In a series of daily mishaps, toddlers learn to say I’m sorry after a spill or accident.

This is a really cute book, and one that my toddler really loves reading. We’ve been reading it at home at least 5x a day for a week now. There are all sorts of incidents from knocking down blocks, to spilling food to splashing water out of the tub. I love that all the mishaps are things that toddlers do quite regularly. They can see that mistakes happen, and that they can be resolved. There is also quite a bit of diversity in this book. There is a good mix of boys and girls with different backgrounds. My only real complaint is that it’s the moms who come to the rescue, while it’s the dad who makes a mistake making dinner. My husband read this book to our son, and that was his very first comment. “Hey, why is it the dad who messes up in the parents make mistakes example?”

The book is great for talking about making mistakes, realizing the mistakes, apologizing for the mistake and helping to fix it in a way that is developmentally appropriate for toddlers. There is a start and end to each page which helps children understand the process of conflict resolution as they get older. Its helping set the foundation of accountability and looking for help. This will be a key skill to have as toddlers grow up and have their mistakes and problems evolve into more serious ones as they get older.

Leave a comment »

Links, News and More

There are so many items on the Internet lately that I can’t recap every single one, or even praise every single for their contribution to early literacy and parental well-being. I can, however, link to them all in a post to my blog. If not for the readers, then at least for me to refer back to as a librarian and a mother.

On Reading

  • 10 Alternatives to Forcing Your Kids to Learn to Read (What We Do All Day) – Wonderful suggestions for when you fall into the book rut.
  • 10+ Kids Books Illustrated by Marc Brown (Storytime Secrets) I LOVE Marc Brown. His books are always a hit at storytimes, class visits and book talks.
  • The Joys of Rereading (A Striped Armchair) A wonderful tribute to rereading old favorites. Every time I feel an urge to reread a book, I somehow feel an equal urge to read something completely new. I’m not one for rereading, and sadly that’s something I regret. I wish I could plug through my favorites books a second time through, but they somehow lose their magic for me.
  • The New York Times Unveils the Best Illustrated Picture Books (NY Times) In such a beautiful little slideshow too! This also doubles as a great list for diverse and multicultural books.

On Parenting

  • Awesome Idioms from Around the World (Cup of Jo) I love posts like this. Its always so interesting to get these insights in other cultures. My favorite Armenian idiom is “he/she is a broken spoon” which translates into “always butting in when not needed.”
  • 8 Science Backed Reasons Why Dads are Important (Huffington Post) Can’t we just accept the fact that dads are important? Why does their involvement with children constantly need to be justified?

On Libraries

  • A Book to Match Your Costume (ALSC.Org) A wonderful collection of books that tie into seemingly ordinary Halloween costumes. I haven’t had this question at my library yet, but its giving me great ideas for A for next year’s Halloween.

On Books/Publishing/Authors

  • HarperCollins Presents: A Podcast series (Galley Cat) Podcasts will feature major authors like Neil Gaiman, and Veronica Roth among others discussing books and all things literature.
  • Kobo adds 250+ Marvel Comics to its Digital Reader (Galley Cat) Very fun news for comic fans!
  • Neil Gaiman Explains Why You Should Give Books on Halloween (Harper Collins) I’m all for this, but the question is, how do I afford all these books to give away? I guess that’s where libraries can step in and give away books just like we do at Summer Reading and December Holiday programs.
Leave a comment »

Podcast Series: Little Kids, Big Questions

Zero To Three has an amazing podcast series called Little Kids, Big Questions. There are a number of issues tackled in this series, from the child’s emotional development, to the role of society and media in their lives.

One I listened to recently is titled: Daddy, Papi, Papa or Baba: The Influence of Father’s on Young
Children’s Development Featuring Kyle Pruett, M.D.

I found this one to be particularly insightful for parents with children under a year of age. Host Annie Pleshette Murphy speaks with Dr. Kyle Pruett on the role of fathers in their infants lives, from the physiological bonds to how they differ from mother’s in their reactive thought process to tantrums, melt-downs and everyday situations with infants and toddlers.

Here are some of the interesting take aways from the interview. I’m copy and pasting from the transcript which you can find at the Zero to Three website. My comments are in the parentheses following the statements.

  • But they father. And what that means is, umm, in general fathers are more likely to be physically activating of their children, uh, than mothers, umm, to whom they—they would be compared. (Women are more nurturing, holding the babies in a protective hold, whereas men hold their babies facing out.)
  • Mothers also tend to work with their children to avoid frustration. You’ll hear dads, uh, doing that a little less often in the service of helping their children manage frustration. (dad’s tend to step back and let the child figure out the frustration on their own, whereas moms are quick to jump in with solutions).
  • We have evidence that—that babies as young as six weeks of age are already responding to paternal versus maternal styles differently. (This I found particularly interesting. As early as 6 weeks, babies automatically relax when mom picks them up, but when dad picks them up, they perk up ready to play.)
  • And so what real co-parenting is—not about 50/50; You have to be led by what the child needs. (This is a very important distinction. Although we as parents try to split the responsibilities down the line, it’s not always so cut and dry. The child’s needs vary and its the parents job to communicate with each other as well as the child to figure out who needs to respond and how.)
  • what matters it seems is that they are engaged in a supportive parenting collaboration with the mother, and, umm, that they carry their children’s needs in them as an obligation. And when that happens, we watch children benefit, umm, behaviorally, educationally, and emotionally. (Pruett is referring to any father-figure (uncle, grandfather, etc). The last effects are children who are better problem solvers, more successful in school, put off having sex, are more emotional stable, stay in school longer and are more academically successful.)
  • but we are aware that the father’s vocabulary is a better predictor of verbal competence in young children than the mother’s.
    (I bolded this for emphasis. What a crazy finding. What an important finding.)

This quick podcast, only 26 minutes long, offers some insight into the role father’s play in helping shape their child’s life, often instinctively, not really aware of what is going on. I know much of this seemed so new and amazing to me, but when I sit back and think about my son’s relationship with my husband, so much of it rings true. Its good to be reminded of these little differences between moms and dads. Especially under the warning that dads are not employees. They are there to be a parent, not a sub-parent, which is a role many men are cast into because women seem to take the lead with dictating parenting methods and rules. Communication is a key component to everything for a happy marriage and happy family.

Pruett discusses more of this in-depth in his book, Partnership Parenting.

Partnership parenting : how men and women parent differently-- why it helps your kids and can strengthen your marriageWorldcat Summary: Men and women not only have naturally different communication styles, but unique approaches to parenting as well. While mothers tend to overprotect their kids, fathers tend to push them toward independence. And whereas many experts tend to advocate “a united front,” Drs. Kyle and Marsha Pruett reveal how Mom and Dad not always being on exactly the same page–which, initially, may seem to cause conflict–can actually strengthen the whole family. Informed by the Pruetts’ research and extensive experience with parents and children, Partnership Parenting offers a new outlook.

Leave a comment »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 163 other followers