Ready, Set, Read!

The ABC's of being a children's Librarian

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 

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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.

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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.
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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.

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Nonfiction Review: Kids During the Industrial Revolution

Kids During the Industrial Revolution…


Kids During the Industrial Revolution by Lisa A. Wroble (Kids Throughout History Series)

Grades 3-5

Genre: History, Child Labor, Industrial Revolution

This is an informative and terse book providing a brief overview of the industrial revolution and how it effected children primarily. I liked that there is a glossary in the back as well as pronunciation guides for the polysyllabic words. Those are also highlighted in bold font and a definition is provided right away.

This book provides little snapshots into life during the industrial revolution. Each page covers a different aspect from the machines, the rise of the industrial city, to food and clothing as well as changes for the better. Its 24 pages total with lots of black and white photos and illustrations to better depict life in those times. Although the book is about kids during the industrial revolution, the book focused more on life during the industrial revolution, not so much on the kids. The industrial revolution began in England from about 1650 to 1890. Although most industrial revolutions start during times of war, this one was spurred by technology innovations and the creations of machines and factory mills. Cities developed, tenements and row houses blossomed, making for cramped quarters and large city life. A broad opposite to the calmer life on farms. Many children worked 12 hours days from 5a to dusk, with no time for school or even play. Sundays were reserved for church, but most people worked 6 days a week, often not even earning enough money to purchase the goods they produce.

This book is a great introduction to history for young children. Although I would recommend it more for early grades. I feel that the writing is too simple for fifth grade.

I would also tie it in with these historical fiction books about the Industrial Revolution:

The Bobbin Girl by Emily Arnold McCully The Bobbin Girl by Emily Arnold McCully

The Blue Door by Anne Rinaldi


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Board Book Review: I Love You Through and Through


I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rosetti-Shustak

Board Book

Genre: babies

Find this book at your local library

This is a wonderful little board book with padded covers for new parents to read to their children. It covers so many different elements, all through 2 to 5 words per page. The illustrations are in warm tones of pinks, and purples with a pudgy little baby at the center of each page. The pages are in full color and highlight all the different and funny things toddlers do throughout the day. The book covers a number of concepts from body parts, to opposites, to emotions.

I love your happy side, your sad side

your silly side, your made side.

I love your fingers and toes,

Your ears and nose.

The book is written in a soothing little rhyme, which makes this book perfect for bedtime as your cuddle your little one into bed. Kids can point to the different objects on the page while reading along. They can point to their ears and toes. They can point to a teddy bear, they can show a smile to be happy and frown to be sad. There is a lot of use with this one, very simple little book. What I like most of all, is that the parent is neither the mom or dad. Too many of these types of books are geared towards moms, leaving dads out in the cold. Now, with more and more fathers actively engaged in their child’s early years, a book like this, a book that lets anybody really (aunt, grandparent, babysitter) read and discuss all the ways in child they love their child.

Primary Reading Skills

New Vocabulary Use this book to introduce new vocabulary to your child by explaining and pointing to body parts and illustrating different ranges of emotion.

Love Books A book like this will reinforce a safe and loving environment for the child. They can refer to this book when they feel upset, they can learn that parents love them, even when they make a mess or get in trouble.

How to use this book

For Parents

Read this with your newborn, infant, or toddler. Point to and explain the different actions on the page. Have your child point out different images. Have them express and emotion they are feeling (happy, sad, etc).

For Librarians

A book like this is great for intimate lap-sit programs and baby storytimes. Although the book is small, it might not go over well for larger crowds. I’d put this out on display near the picture books and parenting books.

Similar Books

How Do I Love You?  Guess how much I love you Love you forever

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

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5 Finger Test – Is this book right for you?

The 5 Finger Test of Choosing a Book to Read

 I stumbled across this awesome little handout at my work today.  What an awesome way to decide if a book is the right book for your child’s reading level. That is a question I am asked daily. Particularly for kids who read book at a higher level than their grade. It’s very difficult to match a specific age to a specific reading level. This 5 Finger Tip chart is exactly what I need to help parents select the right books for their kids. Well, really in helping the child choose the right book for themselves.

There are numerous variations of this chart all over the Internet. A simple Google image search brought up a plethora of bookmarks, handouts, and posters. I like this one for the simplicity, but there are other, more colorful options out there for libraries and classrooms to print and display.


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Picture Book Review: Cows in the Kitchen by June Crebbin

Cows in the kitchen

Cows in the Kitchen by June Crebbin

Picture Book

Genre: Cows, farm animals

Find this book at your local library

While Tom Farmer sleeps, the cows, ducks and the rest of the farm animals find themselves in the most peculiar places, making quite a mess in the farmhouse.

This is one, fun picture book. I’ve already decided to read it at my next storytime. The book itself is quite large, which is ideal for my large crowds. The words are sparse, repetitive and written in a sing-song manner. Its read to the tune of Skip to My Lou.

Cows in the kitchen, moo, moo, moo

Cows in the kitchen, moo, moo, moo

Cows in the kitchen, moo, moo, moo

That’s what we do, Tom Farmer!

The illustrations are absolutely wonderful. There is so much detail, but so much simplicity at the same time. Its a book that kids can peruse looking to see what each duck or pig is doing on the page. But at a general viewing at storytime, it’s very easy to see the chaos and the mess that each animal group is creating.

Primary Reading Skills

Make Sounds (Phonological Awareness): The fun rhyme and song will help kids pick up on the different animal noises.

See Letters (Letter Knowledge):

For Parents

  • This is a great book to read before taking a trip to a local farm, or petting zoo. Mix and match with other farm animal books for a fun reading day.
  • Help your child point out all the words that begin with “f” -Fuh (ie Farm, furnace, foot)
  • Have your child point out what they see on each page. Have them elaborate on the story.

For Librarians

  • I imagine this book can be easily transformed into a felt story.
  • Great for a baby/toddler storytime
  • Songs for storytime (Skip to my Lou, Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Baa Baa Black Sheep)

Similar Books

The Cow buzzed Cock-a-doodle-moo! Moo, baa, la la la!

Sheep don't count sheep The farmer in the dell

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

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Early Literacy Tip: See-Show-Say

When your toddler finds a book that they love, chances are, they will want you to read that book over and over and over again. Plus, once more after that. How do you beat the fatigue?

Try the See-Show-Say method as devised by Joseph Sparling:

  • See: Direct the child’s attention to a picture or detail and name or descrive what you see.
  • Show: Ask the child to show you an object, detail or action on the page.
  • Say: Ask the child to name the picture, object or detail or to say something about it.

Try these three tricks to making the time you spend reading together more meaningful with your child’s.  This type of interacting reading will help strengthen your child’s developmental skills over time. They’ll be able to pull out more information from the story than what is merely presented to them. Try this trick with your child’s favorite book the next time you sit down to read.

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Parent-Child Reading Club: Same Author, Different books

Did you know that many of your favorite authors of adult fiction also write children’s books? Why not start a family book club, and introduce your favorite authors to your children. Here are a few to get you started.

George R. R. Martin

For Adults – The Game of Thrones: A Song of Fire and Ice Saga (Fiction Martin)

For Kids – The Ice Dragon (J Fiction martin)

Neil Gaiman

For Adults – The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Fiction Gaiman)

For Kids – Coraline (J Fiction Gaiman)

James Patterson

For Adults – Toys: A Novel (Fiction Patterson)

For Teens – Game Over (YA Fiction Patterson)

For Kids  – Treasure Hunters (J Fiction Patterson)

JK Rowling

For Adults – The Casual Vacancy (Fiction Rowling)

For Kids – The Harry Potter Series (J Fiction Rowling)

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