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.

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Easy Reader Review: Best Friends

Best Friends

Title: Best Friends by Anna Michaels
Green Light Readers, 1997
Level 1: Buckle Up! Getting Ready to Read
Genre: Friendship

Zack and Dan are best friends who share a few experiences in this short collection of stories. They pick apples for a snack and play a guessing game.

Green Light Readers are quickly becoming one of my favorite easy reader publishers. Although the books tend to be much older than the publications, they are just as relevant and somewhat better in many ways. Although the text is simple and repetitive, there is a lot of diversity with the vocabulary throughout the book. What I really enjoy is the series of reading comprehension questions at the end of the each chapter. Parents and teachers can ask their children these open-ended questions to reinforce and expand on what the child read and learned from the story. There are also a few activities related to the stories at the end of the book. I like interactive books like this because there is so much more to the book than a single-use read. The book can be referred to multiple times.

Pick this.
Pick that.
One in my cap.
Two in your hat.

The two activities in the back are very simple and can be done with regular household craft supplies. Making a small book and drawing a mural of a favorite activity. I also appreciate the diversity of the two boys in this book, and their wonder and amusement at such simple activities as snacking on apples from an apple tree and looking for a snail in the garden. These are the little things that preschoolers and kindergarteners find so much joy in and I like to see books that reflect that same level of contentedness in the books.

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Interesting Links of the Week (4/17/2015)

bookmarks final

This week will have double the links as I didn’t get to post it last Friday.


Book news


Raising a Reader

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Easy Reader Review: Muddy, Mud, Bud by Patricia Lakin

Muddy, Mud, BudMuddy, Mud, Bud by Patricia Lakin
Penguin Young Readers, 2014
Level 1: Emergent Reader
Ages: PreK to 2nd Grade
Genre: cars, mud, cleanliness

Bud is muddy. He loves to roll around and play in the mud. One day, he decides that he must have more mud and comes across a strange looking building. Believing it must have more mud, Bud goes through the doors and soon spick-and-span clean as he goes through the car-wash! Can he find a way to be muddy again?

I found this book to be an incredibly cute story. One that young kids who like to get messy will greatly appreciate. As a level 1 book, the text is repetitive, but not dull. The illustrations are vibrant, and the expressions on Bud’s face are priceless. His determination at wanting more mud and his surprise at coming out clean got an audible chuckle out of me. There are so many scientific activities that be incorporated with the reading of this book. You can discuss the differences between being clean and dirty, and how water differs from mud. You can talk about emotions and expectations based on Bud’s experiences in the book. Ask your child to tell you how they feel when getting dirty when playing outside. Take it one step further and let your child play with water and mud and talk about the differences in consistency, color, weight, etc. You can teach kids how to make mud, just like Bud. Add water to dirt and viola. You are all set for an afternoon of fun in the yard or at the park. You can explain to kids that mud-water-mud is the never ending cycle to life and that yes, baths are a necessary part of the cycle. So, there is always the hope getting dirty again after a cleanse. I like that the full-color illustrations focus mostly on Bud and his expressions. Although there are a lot of little details in the background, for the most part, its kept simple and the attention is on Bud.

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Easy Reader Review: Huff and Puff Have Too Much Stuff

Huff and Puff Have Too Much Stuff!Huff and Puff Have Too Much Stuff by Tish Rabe
Harper Collins, 2013
I Can Read: My First
Series: Huff and Puff
Ages: Pre-K to K
Genre: Farm animals, trains, friendship
Source: Library Copy

Train duo Huff and Puff (front and back) like to carry a lot of stuff. One day, they decide to add even more to their load. But can they carry it all up the hill? I’ve taken this book home to my toddler and he adores it. The rhymes are absolutely wonderful and the illustration are endearing and do a good job of carrying the story.

Puff got a kite, a bike, and a boat.
“Take me!” said a goat in a pretty pink coat.

The illustrations, I can only describe as warm and fuzzy. They are so colorful, slightly cartoonish, but very endearing. Designed for a pre-reader, there is a lot of repetition, large font, and very short sentences. My only complaint is the word “stuff” is very overused at the end of the book. I felt like there could have been another word pairing used instead. For a pre-schooler, the storyline is a bit simplistic, although it does teach some kind of lesson about not being a hoarder and sharing the excess. I like this book for toddlers because of its simplicity and the vibrant illustrations.

There are a few other books in the Huff and Puff series.

Huff and Puff [NookBook] Huff and Puff and the New Train Huff and Puff Sing Along: My First I Can Read

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Baby Bookwork Booklists: Donald Crews

I’ve noticed that reading time with A seems to be going to phases of themes. He’ll attach himself to a particular author or topic. Most noticeable, he’s been devouring anything by Donald Crews that I bring home from the library.

If the name sounds familiar, then you’re probably thinking of his highly notable and award-winning book Freight Train. This book we actually own. The rest have been library copies and have been in steady rotation during our readings times throughout the day.

What we’ve read

 This is the book that started it all. It is simple, concise and so much fun to read. I especially love learning about the different cars on a freight train. The illustrations look like watercolor and Crews does a wonderful job of blending it all together to portray the whoosh of a train speeding along its track.

 This has been on the bedtime reading list for the past 4 days. We read it when he wakes up in the morning, when he wakes up from naps and before he goes to bed. I don’t remember the last book he was this excited to see on a daily basis. This one is much different from Freight Train. Its wordier and the images are much more detailed. In fact, the one detail A loves to point out is the garbage truck on the street.

 This has been another popular one we’ve been reading at home. A will flip very quickly to one specific page to see the “rain truck.” This is the red truck caught in a rainstorm. There are no words in this book, so he rarely brings it to us to read to him. Instead, he’ll flip through the pages on his own and point out objects of images that stand out to him. Like the rain.

  &  So far, we’ve read Sail Away and Flying once or twice. A hasn’t been too impressed with these two books, although he prefers the latter book. He’s been in planes and loves watching planes fly overhead, so it makes sense. He hasn’t seen a proper boat in real life yet. I appreciate these two books for older toddlers. There seems to be more a story developing that in the previous books.

About the author

 Donald Crews is an American illustrator of numerous children’s books. His background and training in graphic design explain his vibrant, colorful illustrations. He has been awarded Caldecott Honor Book award for both Freight Train and Truck.

For more information about the artist, please visit:

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Early Chapter Book Review: Recipe for Adventure: Paris (Giada De Laurentiis)

Paris! (Recipe for Adventure, #2)Title: Recipe for Adventure: Paris (Adventure #2)
Author: Giada De Laurentiis
Series: Recipe for Adventure
Age: 6-10
Source: Library copy
Format: Early Chapter Book
Genre: Magic, Cooking, Paris, Siblings

Giada De Laurentiis perhaps best known for her Food Channel cooking show, as well as her numerous cookbooks and restaurants around the nation. I just recently stumbled upon this series while looking up books on Paris, so I’ve read this book out of order. I would suggest reading the books in order as there are a number of references to the first book. I would think the entire premise of the series is explained in the first book. I was a bit confused by the magical travelling the siblings experienced in this book. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

Alfie (Alfredo) is a soccer star, but with one problem. His teamwork skills are lacking as he strives to the star on the field. When his coach benches him for the upcoming Saturday game, Alfie is put into a funk that only his aunt Zia’s homecooked meals can cure. During one of her special treats, hot chocolate, Zia talks about her time in Paris, shopping the markets and exploring the neighbors. Through a mysterious dizzying feeling, Alfie and his sister are transported to Paris, accidentally enrolled into a culinary academy for children and soon embark on a new adventure of cooking as they face a number of challenges from the instructors.

I found the concept of the book to be really enjoying. I think its a great way to introduce and wedge in a love of cooking into young children’s lives. I just felt like this book had so much more potential than it actually produced. The writing was very predictable and lacked in any clear voice. The challenges the children met in Paris were incredibly implausible, nevermind the magical teleportation via food and memory. How and when the siblings are sent back home felt incredibly rushed. It literally happened in the last 2 pages. Everything leading up to it was just over the top. In a Paris cooking school, they are living in dorms. There is no real cooking instruction explained in the books. The kids are then divided into two groups are given an enormous task to plan, purchase and cook for a famous chef coming to visit. It felt like a kid’s version of one of those high stakes cooking shows on the Food Network. Alfie does learn a valuable lesson about being a team player in the end, but it didn’t feel natural. The book is written for early readers (2nd grade) so there is a good mix of illustrations throughout the book that do a good job of complimenting the text. The text wasn’t very challenging, although I did like reading about the different cooking terminologies.

I really do like the premise and I like the emphasis of cooking at home and the importance and value of eating meals with family members. Food, particularly the smell, can invoke some vivid memories in people. Just think of Proust and his madeleines. It is a great option for both boys and girls, especially those who are interested in food. The plus of this series is thats actually about food, not sure cupcakes. Those can be rare to find. This book also shares the magical hints of the Magic Tree House series, with a similar brother/sister relationship going on magical adventures. Its a great alternative to those who’ve read The Magic Tree House and are looking for a similar theme of books. The first two books take place in Europe, then there’s a trip to China, to New Orleans and finally Brazil. I love the diversity of travel in the series. Its great for kids wanting to brush up before a trip or when learning about one of these regions in school. Since I had a library copy, the two promised recipe cards in the back were already torn out. I have to make a mental note to make photocopy of recipe inserts to keep at the front desk for the other series in case other inspired chefs decided to try the recipes at home. I do want to read the first book, just to better acquaint myself with the series premise. Hopefully that copy will have the recipe cards.

Other titles in the series:

Naples! (Recipe for Adventure, #1) Paris! (Recipe for Adventure, #2)

Hong Kong! (Recipe for Adventure, #3) New Orleans! (Recipe for Adventure, #4)

Rio de Janeiro! #5

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Historical Fiction Family Booklist: The Tudors

all in the family

If you’ve been following me on my other blog, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been a bit obsessed with the Tudors and Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Using that as my inspiration, I’ve created this family friendly booklist of the Tudors and their sagas and scandalous behavior. There is a book on the topic for nearly every age group. Its a great way to start a family discussion, learn about history and introduce your interests to your child’s while still maintain age-appropriate reading materials for everyone.

For adults

Jean Plaidy – The Tudor Saga

1.  2. Katharine, the Virgin Widow... 3. The Shadow of the Pomegrana...4. The King's Secret Matter (T... 5. 6.

7. The Sixth Wife (Tudor Saga,... 8. The Thistle and the Rose (T...9.Mary, Queen of France (Tudo... 10.The Spanish Bridegroom (Tud... 11. Gay Lord Robert (Tudor Saga...

  1. To Hold the Crown
  2. Katharine, the Virgin Widow
  3. The Shadow of the Pomegranate
  4. The King’s Secret Matter
  5. Murder Most Royal
  6. The King’s Confidante
  7. The Sixth Wife
  8. The Thistle and the Rose
  9. Mary, Queen of France
  10. The Spanish Bridegroom
  11. Lord Robert

Carolly Erickson


  • The Spanish Queen
  • The Favored Queen
  • The Unfaithful Queen
  • The Last Wife of Henry VIII
  • Rival to the Queen

For teens


  • VIII by HM Castor
  • Nine Days a Queen: The Short Life of Lady Jane Grey by Ann Rinaldi
  • The King’s Rose by Alissa Libby
  • Mary Bloody Mary / Patience, Princess Catherine / Beware Princess Elizabeth by Carolyn Meyer

For kids


  • Doomed Queen Anne by Carolyn Meyer
  • The Redheaded Princess by Ann Rinaldi
  • The Royal Diaries – Elizabeth the First: Red Rose of the House of Tudor by Kathryn Lasky

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Professional Development – “Early Literacy in the Digital World: A Silicon Valley Discussion”

photo 4

As one of the early education committee members for my library, my work life has seen an uptick with early education information. Most recently, I went to a wonderfully educational seminar held at the Microsoft Conference Center in Mountain View. The conference was titled: Early Learning in the Digital World: A Silicon Valley Discussion. The discussion was moderated by Lisa Guernsey, author of two very popular books regarding screen time and young children.


Guest speakers included Michael H. Levine of the Joan Gantz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, Seeta Pai of Common Sense Media, Karen Lien of Imagine K12, Phil Vahey of SRI International Center for Technology and Learning and Rafael Lopez, Senior Policy Advisor at the White House.

panelTo say that this was an enlightening experience would be an understatement. The discussion was educational and motivational. It confirmed for me that my library system is going down the right path with trying to figure out how to incorporate technology learning in the children’s space at the library. It motivated me as a children’s librarian, for the work that I do with children and although I play a rather small role in their lives, the role I do play is just as important as any other interaction they have in their lives.


I would sum up the entire presentation with these key points:

    • Much has changed in the technological world. We can no longer make blanket statements about all screen time being bad for children.
    • Focus on the whole child (0 to8 years old)
    • Focus on the 3 C’s when engaging your young child in media

Content – what is on the screen?
Context – How is it being used? Is it background noise, is it a co-viewing experience?
Individual Child – Each child is different and has different needs.

  • The use of educational media in a young child’s life is ubiquitous across incomes. Everyone wants to educate and give their child an advantage.
  • There is a digital gap. The wealthy can afford these digital advantages. Even something as basic as wi-fi can be a hindrance for some families.
  • Most educational apps are marketed for preschools and the largest volume focus on alphabet sounds and letter recognition. We know that there is so much more to literacy and learning beyond the alphabet. Phonics tend to be a big issue for new readers.
  • We need to look at the whole child, and from a birth to 8-year old span. If a child isn’t reading at grade level by 3rd grade, the educational gap will only get larger. This increase the risks for dropping out, for decreased literacy skills and for a less successful future. Prison space in the United States is based on the number of young boys who are not at reading level by 3rd grade.

Michael Levine made a point that most teachers know that they should be doing something more with technology in their classrooms. The biggest hesitation comes with not knowing what to do with these tools. There is also very little transparency into the expertise that went into these app creations. It’s a very frustrating and daunting process for parents and teachers when looking for educational resources for their young children. All of the presenters made it a point to push for librarians as allies, as partners for this digital literacy and mentoring. As a librarian, I’m still trying to figure out our role in this dynamic. Although we should be, and relatively are, aware of the technology out there, how do we incorporate that into library programming and collections? Is it as simple as having pre-loaded tables for families to check out? Is that not enough? Where do we go and how far can we go with this? So much of what we do relies on what is done or needed at our locals and community centers. That teacher-librarian feedback and communication is so key towards fixing this gap, but its a gap that remains because of the lack of communication between these two entities in districts around the state.

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Baby Bookwork Milestones

 I guess he’s not a baby bookwork anymore at 25 months. Toddling Bookworm? Squirming Bookworm? He’s actually a sit-still-in-my-lap-when-we-read worm. Although I haven’t really been chronicling his literacy skills as well as I should, we’ve hit some pretty huge reading milestones over the past month though. He’s gotten to the point now where we can pause in the middle of a sentence and he’ll fill in the missing word.

My husband is in charge of the bathtime/bedtime routine. He’s instituted a 4 stories rule. (1 book read 4 times, or 4 books read 1 time). We’re still in the short picture books/short easy readers stage of books, so its a good half hour of reading and bonding time for them. We have a rather large bookshelf in the toddler’s bedroom filled with books of all ranges. Board books to the Harry Potter series. Anything J fiction, I have on those shelves in his room. We let him go and pick out whatever books he wants us to read from that shelf. He, went and picked out Mercy Watson to the Rescue and sat still, listening for all but the last two chapters of the book, when sleepiness finally took over.

He then carried that book around with him rather proudly for the next three days, asking us to read “Mercy Pig” any moment we could. I’m still in shock that he could sit still for such a lengthy book. I think the biggest  contributing factor has been the illustrations in the book. He adores Mercy. We’ve also been reading mostly easy reader books with him. We sort of skipped right over the picture books. Working at the library, I found so many more easy readers that aligned with his interested than picture books. Easy readers also have that preset storyline, whereas picture books mostly list noises and objects for the early toddlers. I think introducing easy readers definitely develop his attention span for lengthier books. We read mostly Level 1 books, as varied as they are by the publishers. Its a wonder more hasn’t been written about easy readers and toddlers. Some of these books are just made for their little hands. Large, repetitive font, fun illustrations, plenty of pages to practice turning, and real storylines to follow. I highly recommend looking for some at your left library trip. You’ll be surprised at the plethora of genres and topics out there in the easy reader collection.

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Early Literacy in Everyday Locations: The Mall (pt. 1)


early literacy

Early Literacy in Everyday Places: The Mall – Part One

The mall has a wealth of early literacy potential. From the basic concepts of counting, shapes and sizes to more detailed concepts of basic arithmetic, spelling and reading.

In the car

Point out all the print you can see from the car; on signs, buildings, inside the car, etc. This activity builds print awareness and can help develop vocabulary. Talk about what you see outside of the window. Discuss shapes, sizes, colors. Ask them to point out cars that are their favorite color (count the blue cars!) Ask them to narrate what activities they see going on outside of the window. This activity will help foster narrative skills. You can recruit older children to help with spelling games. Ask them to spell STOP when you are at a stop sign. Talk about the difference between STOP and YIELD.

Other options: Listen to audiobooks, or a children’s nursery rhyme CD.


Humpty Who? A Crash Course in 80 Nursery Rhymes for Clueless moms and dads.

100 Favorite Nursery Rhymes

In the parking lot

While you are driving around looking for a space to park, ask your child what they notice about the parking spot. Are the spots straight or diagonal? Is where you parked near or away from your destination? Count the floors as you go up the ramp in a parking garage. 


Cars by Anne Rockwell 

Caillou: The Shopping Trip by Nicole Nadeau

Walking to your destination

After you’ve parked, talk about the road safety in the parking lot. Ask them to gauge if other cars are driving quickly or slowly down the lanes. Have your child guess how many steps it will take to arrive to your location. Have them count their steps or recite the alphabet to see where they end up when you arrive. Talk about your day. What stores are you going to, what do you plan on buying, who is this item for? Are you shopping for clothes, shoes, kitchen appliances?


Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathon Franklin

Curious George Saves His Pennies by H.A. Rey

I just want to make a point that when looking for picture books about shopping, it was very difficult to find anything about shopping that wasn’t in a grocery store. It was even harder still to find a book about shopping with the father instead of the mother. Is this the only shopping that takes place in our lives? Moms at the grocery store? We all know that is not the case. I’ll be on the look-out for books that deal with shopping in other locations. If you know of any titles, I’m all ears! Please let me know what I’m missing.

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me on Twitter @TheNovelWorld.



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