Posted in professional development

Good for Parents & Professional Development: How to Raise a Reader

How to Raise a Reader, by Pamela Paul & Maria Russo/Illustrations by Vera Brosgol, Lisk Feng, Monica Garwood, & Dan Yaccarino, (Sept. 2019, Workman), $19.95, ISBN: 978-1523505302

I like finding good books to recommend to parents and to add to my own professional development, so I picked up How to Raise a Reader. Written by two editors of The New York Times Book Review, How to Raise a Reader is all about inspiring parents, caregivers, and educators to promote a lifetime love of reading. Organized into four parts – Born to Read, Growing a Reader, Your Middle-Grade Reader, and A Reader for Life, with a fifth section providing book suggestions by themes and reading levels (not A-Z, more like age and grade) – this is a handy Readers’ Advisory volume to have at your fingertips, and a good suggestion to hand parents who want to work toward growing their own readers. There’s advice, tips and facts about early childhood learning, and booklists, booklists, booklists. Illustrated in full-color by popular children’s book illustrators, this is a book that will make you fall in love with reading again, too. It’s easy to read; easily skimmed if you need to look for one specific section or booklist; and filled with an upbeat, positive attitude: you can do this! You can get kids to love books!

Never overwhelming, the information is presented in easily digestible sections and fact boxes. Get yourself a desk copy to keep on hand, and consider adding this to your parenting sections. And encourage those parents when they come in, looking scared and lost. Remind them that reading kids’ books is fun, and tell them that they should never feel bad about reading along with their kids, too! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a parent confide that they “aren’t really readers”, or “haven’t picked up a book in SO long”. Kids’ books are the best way to get back into reading – let this book and your expertise be the pep talk bewildered or just plain tired caregivers need.

Posted in professional development

Professional Development Reading: Time for a Story

Time for a Story: Sharing Books with Infants and Toddlers, by Amy Brooks Read & Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting, (Nov. 2015, Gryphon House), $19.95, ISBN: 9780876596586

I’m always looking for new ways to learn within my profession and expand on that knowledge. And since the family finances are like, “Nuh-uh” when it comes to getting another grad degree, I’ve turned to books. There is some great stuff out there! Since I’m always in search of strengthening my storytimes, especially to babies and toddlers, I started with Time for a Story. Saroj Ghoting spoke at an in-service at my library one time, and I really liked the way she talked about storytelling and how to apply learning to storytime, so I jumped at the chance to read a book she had a hand in.

Time for a Story is a good start to digging into storytime and how to incorporate singing, play, talking, reading, and writing into any and every book you pick up. Amy Brooks Read and Saroj Ghoting have tips and reading lists ready for babies and toddlers, concentrating on the early childhood literacy and the best ways to introduce a lifelong love of reading in kids. Reading, you say? Yes, reading! Kids start making connections early – print awareness is wonderful, we all know that. Keep books all over the place for kids to develop that print awareness. Let them chew on those board books (not library books, though, PLEASE), let them hold books and turn pages. I hand out books for kids to hold onto and explore during my storytimes, so it was gratifying to read that here. I was also relieved to discover that it is okay for my kiddos to wander during storytime, and for me to keep reading – they’re still paying attention while they explore. Family Literacy Tips are great to post around your libraries and classrooms, and talk through with parents during storytime.

There are book lists and samples of ways to read different books. I appreciated the advice on reading wordless or sparsely worded books, like Peggy Rathmann’s Good Night Gorilla, because I feel like it’s an untapped resource for my storytimes.

This was a nice start to my professional development reading, with information that I will come back to. Saroj Ghoting has a very useful website where you can find resources in a multitude of languages, including Spanish and Chinese. Gryphon House has a video of Amy Brooks Read discussing storytime strategies on their website.

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March is Read Aloud Month!

Remember, everyone – reading time is cuddle time, so get your snuggles in and read to the little ones in your life. Just 15 minutes a day makes a tremendous difference. Want a scary statistic? By 3 years of age, there is a 30 million word gap between children from the wealthiest and poorest families. 30. MILLION. WORDS. (Reading is Fundamental, 2014)


Grab those Pigeon books, the Sandra Boynton books (my little Gozer is currently a huge fan of But Not the Hippopotamus), anything by Karen Katz: just grab a book, snuggle that little one in your lap or wherever you’re most comfy, and read. Just 15 minutes a day makes all the difference in the world.

Got older kids? Read to them, too! Explore Narnia or Hogwarts, join Johnny Tremain or Phoebe the Spy. Make your kid the Mockingjay. Just read and be together.

The Read Aloud campaign has great, bilingual posters and handouts for the 15 Minutes literacy initiative here. Download them, print them, post them, hand them out!