Don’t Stop Reading Aloud to Them!

Overheard in the bookstore today:

Mom <to bookseller>: Can you show me where you keep your early chapter books?

Bookseller: Sure, ma’am, right over here . . .

Mom: My daughter – who is in kindergarten – is really starting to read! My son is already reading by himself at night, and now? That she is getting there? Pretty soon, my days of spending so much of my evening reading endless books and all those silly stories will be over!

Me: mouth agog, heart breaking inside my chest.

I almost said something, but I didn’t. Mostly because I just didn’t even know where to begin. And since my thoughts on the matter are still scattered, well, have fun getting through this post . . .


  1. Just because your child can read independently doesn’t mean that you should stop reading to her. Oh, Lordhavemercy, this literally crushes my soul. Here’s the thing: if your daughter is reading on her own, she can still listen on a much, much higher level than she can currently decode and read for herself. And when you listen to books, you pick up so, so much: complex characters, rich, descriptive settings, interesting sentence structures, more specific vocabulary – the very things that transform a child into a better speaker, reader, and writer, herself!
  2. Piggybacking along with Number 1 (above), many times a child’s reading time is in the evening, after a long day. Sometimes, she might not have the mental energy to do much reading (or do it well), but she does have the mental capacity to listen. Use that sweet time to engage her mind and fill it with quality literature!
  3. Reading aloud to your child = spending time with your child = love. I can’t break it down any more than this. If you’ve read any of my previous posts about being a parent and reading to your child, you’re likely tired of hearing me say it, but say it again I will: you cannot multi-task when you read aloud. This means, your child has your full attention. That is a special, beautiful, rare thing, indeed. Further, it reinforces that your home embraces a culture of reading. It’s everything.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if you could only choose one single form of reading for your child at home – between them reading independently to themselves, them reading out loud to you, or you reading aloud to them? You reading aloud to them is the most powerful, the most inspiring, the most engaging way to reinforce language, literature, and love. Please don’t wish it away.

In other news, yes, I’m blogging again! You may have noticed my recent Book-A-Day posts, but weirdly, they’re not quite every day. What gives? Well, I just thought calling it “A Book Almost Every Day” didn’t have the same ring, so even though it isn’t 100% accurate, I’m being bold and calling it close enough.

I’ve got a tall stack of books that I plan to read in the coming days – the ones that shine will be featured here – stay tuned!

And, please. I beg of you. Keep Reading,

Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

Book A Day: One Potato, Two Potato

I dunno about you, but one of my greatest delights is finding a book to read to children that is a wonderful, rich, interesting story and lends itself to a quality conversation, piece of inspired writing, or, even – dare I suggest it – some math.

Enter One Potato, Two Potato by Cynthia DeFelice, illustrated by Andrea U’Ren. Mr. and Mrs. O’Grady are so poor they share a coat, a bed, a chair, and a blanket. They even share their single potato they allot themselves to eat each day. One day, Mr. O’Grady, as he digs for their daily potato, unearths a large pot; one thing leads to another, and the O’Gradys soon discover it is a magic pot: if you put something into it (say, a potato), you’ll get another exactly like it.

Throw in two hairpins, and you’ll find four in the pot! They wind up duplicating quite a few items – and in the end, quite by accident, they replicate themselves!

Read this aloud to a group of children, and just watch their imaginations run wild! Inevitably, they start questioning the O’Grady’s final choices, and they also will – I promise you – let you know exactly what they would throw into such a magic pot! It’s a longer story book, but worth the time, as it is such a thought-provoking, imaginative tale.

Go find a copy in the library and keep reading,

Possible Extensions:

~ Children will likely be all too excited to dream up what they would place into the magic pot – go ahead, have that conversation! Then, ask them to draw or write what they would like to see doubled – make them explain why.

~ Want an easy way to spring into a little math with some buy-in from your peeps? This story is perfect for that! If you throw 6 flowers into the magic pot, how many will you get? So many possibilities for an extended lesson (or practice) in some multiplication!

~ (Spoiler Alert) At the end of the story, the O’Gradys decide to bury the pot for someone else to find. If ever there was a perfect writing prompt! Write your own story of you digging up the pot! Or, a cast of characters you create to uncover the magic pot – tons of wonderful possibilities!

Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

Book A Day: The Starry Giraffe

Sometimes a storybook just makes you smile. In this case, The Starry Giraffe by Andy Bergmann not only made me smile but also every member of my immediate family (yes, I made them all read it, including my in-a-hurry-18-year-old-son, who, sure ‘nuff, smiled when he finished it – he may have also let out a little giggle) and a handful of children for whom I recently read it aloud.

Giraffe finds an apple tree, full of gorgeous, tasty, red apples. As he plucks one apple after another off the tree, various animals happen by, all in the mood for a delicious apple, themselves. What’s a friendly giraffe to do but give these apples away?

Give them away he does until he realizes the apple tree no longer has any more apples, which makes him a “little sad” (I admit it: it made me sad, too!) . . .  until you turn the page and just smile (it’s all you can do) at the very satisfying conclusion.

Keep Reading,

Possible Extensions:

~ Another book that begs to be acted out! Assign children in a classroom to be various characters in the story, read the book aloud, and have them act it out!

~ How many apples, total, did giraffe give away? Technically not a “math” book, you could still creatively come up with different ways to count, add, and subtract, should you want to!

Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

Book A Day: Yaks Yak

Random question: ever wondered how many animal names are not only nouns but also verbs? (You were just thinking about this, weren’t you?)


Bats = flying mammals

Bats = the act of swinging a bat

Or how about

Kids = human children

Kids = joking

So, marinate on this for a while. And, if you’re anything like me, once you start paying attention, you’ll start to notice there are bunches of such homonyms out there.

And guess who loves homonyms (besides me)? Children! They do! They get a bang out of them. So, when you next would like to engage in a little word play with your peeps, pick up a copy of Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park, pictures by Jennifer Black Reinhardt.

Your audience may learn a few new words (while they may know badger as an animal, they may be less familiar with badger as a verb – the little glossary in the back of the book is just right), and they’ll definitely have a bit of fun with the sheer number of ways the English language keeps us on our toes!

Keep Reading,

Possible Extensions:

~ Keep a running list of homonyms in your classroom or house that you and your kiddos run across! This will increase their vocabularies as well as their familiarity with various spellings and nuances in our language! Use the list to create your own book of homonyms!

Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

Book A Day: The Perfect Siesta

YAWN. I dunno about you, but the holiday season (and cooler temps) allow for lots of satisfying naps.

Jaguar, however, wants to take just a 10-minute siesta, so he asks the coati to wake him up in 10. Naturally, a siesta sounds good to coati, too, so he enlists the help of cockatiel. You see where this is going, surely. Animal after jungle animal is asked to wake up the next…

The best part, though, is the very funny, very loud, very silly way in which the animals all eventually wake up. Get your best snore prepared when reading The Perfect Siesta by Pato Mena aloud.

Keep napping and reading,

Possible Extensions:

~ This is an excellent act-out book! Assign roles, read the book aloud, have children act out the story! Oh, how much fun they’ll have to pretend to be asleep – and to be awakened.

~ Jungle animals! Do a little research on these animals – see if you can dream up other jungle animals who might also be friends with the ones in this story.

Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

Book A Day: Spunky Little Monkey

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s back to school we go. The holidays were fun, but reality awaits. Reality being the return to school and, in many cases, indoor recess. It’s COLD out there, y’all!

Check out my latest find to entice the wee ones to release some energy:

Spunky Little Monkey by Bill Martin, Jr. and Brian Sampson and illustrated by Brian Won is the latest book to help out teachers, parents, or anyone with energetic young children in their care. Shake, stomp, clap, and move your body so you can concentrate for morning classroom work, wiggle in lieu of recess, or just chant and soar for the fun of it all.

It may be a quick read, but it calls for repeat readings (and wiggles). The bright illustrations will rouse listeners right along with the peppy rhyme.

Keep shaking and reading,


Possible Extensions:

~ Perhaps you could create your own sing-songs that ellicit movement? Clap them, stomp them, sing them out – loud and proud!

~ Though this book is aimed more for the pre-school set, it would be a fantastic book for an older sibling/student to share with younger friends! Have some older peeps find some little peeps to share this rhyme with – their parents or teachers would likely love the diversion!

Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

Book A Day: The Five-Dog Night

Is there a better time to snuggle under a giant, soft blanket and read, as cold weather grips much of the nation over the next few days?

I didn’t think so.

Might I suggest an oldie but goodie to get you through these downright frigid days:

The Five-Dog Night by Eileen Christelow makes for a perfect cold-weather read-aloud (actually, it is a solid read-aloud any time of year, but especially as our teeth chatter). Ezra and Betty are neighbors; Ezra does not appreciate Betty’s nosiness, and Betty thinks Ezra is stubborn (and sure to become ill with his refusal to bundle up in the cold weather).

Of course, Ezra discovers he undervalues Betty’s concern (and cookies), and Betty realizes Ezra’s method of staying warm is really quite effective. Dog lovers in particular will find this an exceptionally snuggly read.

Stay warm and keep reading,


Possible Extensions:

~ What kind of cookies do you think Betty bakes? And do you know of anyone who could use some homemade cookies? Maybe baking up a batch of a family favorite and sharing them with a neighbor and/or nearby first responders (police and fire) is a swell way to spend a winter’s afternoon?

~ Even though Ezra has his dogs to keep him warm, it is still so thoughtful of Betty to check on her neighbor and offer a blanket. Do you have any neighbors you can do even a small something for? Now or throughout the year? Make a list of various acts of kindness you can perform for anyone in your neighborhood who can use a little extra TLC.

Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

Happy Read Aloud Day!

That moment when you bite into your bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado sandwich – on toasted bread, no less – and that incredible flavor combination assaults your taste buds. For just a flash of a second, your sense of taste consumes your body. And it is heavenly. I know. I had this sandwich for lunch today. It was everything and more, after a morning of cleaning the kitchen and swimming laps at the pool. Plus, I was with a good friend.

But wait, there’s more!

Tomorrow morning, I will wake up as the first light of the morning enters my bedroom window. In my morning fog, I know exactly what will happen: I’ll roll over and start thinking through my day, only to realize that my children don’t have school. Nobody in my house will need the usual early start, and I’ll have that moment. That wonderfully indulgent sensation that I can linger a second, even snooze a little longer, and not rush into the start of my morning. Bliss.

Here’s another one:

Everything. Everything got crossed off on my to-do list today. A compulsive list-maker, there is nothing I like better than a list to keep me on track for the day, except, perhaps, a completely crossed off list before the day’s end. This is serious satisfaction.

What are your moments? Those that leave you fulfilled, take your breath away, and/or make other concerns, troubles, and worries simply vanish, even if only for an instant?

I’m betting that for most children, they feel overwhelmed with love and gratitude and extravagance when they’re read aloud to. A good book and a willing reader can transform an afternoon.

We know, however, reading aloud boosts all kinds of scores. And, of course, this makes tons of sense, doesn’t it? The average 1st grader might not be able to decode and read the word fortunate or enraged or impractical, but in the context of a story, could construe their meanings, broadening their vocabularies.

Children who are exposed to complex sentence structure, richly described settings, and cleverly crafted characters are more likely to write similarly, and, they’re more likely to expect quality literature moving forward.

While learning how to read is crucial, the ability to listen is, as well. Creating a world inside your head from the words you hear makes all kinds of connections in your brain. The luxury of listening to a story being read aloud affords you the ability to really grasp a story, to see the beginning, middle, climax, and conclusion.

Reading is hard work! Children understand literature at a much higher level than they are able to read themselves. Thus, they can accumulate all kinds of world knowledge, empathy, vocabulary, facts, and meaning from texts that are read aloud to them, while they take a break from the decoding and work of reading to themselves.

Yes, yes, we should read aloud to our peeps. It makes them smarter, wiser, more knowledgeable, worldlier, better writers, and better test-takers.

But, for me? It comes down to that bite of my bacon-lettuce-tomato-avocado sandwich. It is that feeling. That moment when you can forget about the birthday party you didn’t get invited to or how much you hate studying for spelling tests. You stop thinking about which one of your friends you’ll invite to a sleepover this weekend and why doesn’t Mrs. Jones call on you as much as you think she should.

Adults who read aloud to their children are giving them so much more than a boost educationally. They are essentially saying: You are important. So important that I’m going to stop what I’m doing and read to you. We will create this memory together – and we can talk about what happens in this book later, if we want to, or just soak in the words quietly together.

Have you ever tried to read aloud and fold the laundry? Or read aloud and text your aunt in Mississippi? Or read aloud and prepare for that meeting at work? Impossible. Reading aloud to a child means you are not multi-tasking. You are giving them your full attention.

And chances are? You’re reading aloud while snuggled on the couch or under that big fuzzy blanket. More than likely, you’re in close proximity, and anyone who believes in the 20-second hug will tell you that this nearness is both intimate and powerful.

Today is National Read Aloud Day. Read aloud to your children, please. These are the bursts, the moments, the instants you’ll never get back but will be loved and remembered.  Sure, you can do it so they further shine and excel in school. So they can someday be a great novelist or explain how the Slinky was invented. Or, so the two of you can laugh about that silly mouse who is just too loud. Or, because the dishes can wait. But, really, read to them because you love ‘em.

Keep Reading (aloud!),

Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

Delicious Thursday – The Kid from Diamond Street

When I was sitting in that big, swivel chair getting a haircut yesterday, the woman next to me was talking about the movie Hidden Figures. How, she wondered aloud to anyone willing to listen, had she, a well-educated woman who majored in history, never heard of these women before?

The simple answer? History tends to focus on men, not women.

Know what? Same is true for children’s books. Before you get all upset, know that I’m talking in general terms. Yes, I know there are a host of biographies available to me about Clara Barton. And yes, I know that we’re starting to see a shift in what is being written, published, and purchased for children.

A good thing, too. The audiences out there are wildly diverse, and we want them all to be readers, don’t we?

We want them to relate to characters (historical or fictional) and feel known, part of this complex world, and represented. Further, we want our young readers to learn from and empathize with characters the likes of whom they may not have encountered in their own lives.

So, along these lines, today’s Delicious Thursday pick is about a rather unusual (especially for the time) baseball player, Edith Haughton. Detailed in The Kid from Diamond Street by Audrey Vernick, Edith was born in 1912 when Little League – and girls playing baseball – didn’t exist. But by 10 years old, she was playing for the Philadelphia Bobbies, a professional woman’s team that took her around the world.

Can you imagine allowing your child sail to Japan to play baseball against men’s teams in an age before cell phones? But off Edith went in this celebratory story of a little girl who always made the claim that she was born with a baseball in her hand.

Are the odds stacked up against you? Have you ever been the youngest? The “wrong” gender to do something? Ever had a passion that wouldn’t abate? It is easy to relate to and be in awe of Edith’s story. Steven Salerno’s jaunty illustrations fit the story to a T.

Kids really respond to non-fiction that reads like fiction. This is a true story, you can tell them. This really happened. I love that moment! WHAT? REALLY? They love a good incredible against-the-odds story! Give it a try!

Keep Reading,


Possible Extensions:

~ Do a mini-research project on the history of baseball! Or create a timeline – when did Little Leagues form? When did women play baseball professionally? When were minorities allowed to play?

~ Find out more about Japan! Locate it on a map. Research that country’s love of baseball!

~ Engage in conversations with your kiddos. Ask them (or have them write about) what it feels like to be an underdog.

Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

Library Field Trip – Golden Gate Bridge!

While it might still be January, we’re starting to think about Spring Break. I should clarify: it feels like spring in Houston – we’re hitting 80 degrees almost daily. This year, we tolerated exactly two days of winter, and now we’re back to the usual combo: heat and humidity. So, of course our mindset is springtime! That, and, as we all know, we need to think about booking our flight, making hotel reservations sooner rather than later.WP_20150316_011

A couple of spring breaks ago, the family spent a few days out in San Francisco. The hubs had meetings in Seattle for a few days following our spring break, and the kids had never been to San Fran, so off we went! We ate, we walked, we saw plenty of sights: Alcatraz, the Cartoon Art Museum, Twin Peaks, Muir Woods.

And, of course, we admired the Golden Gate Bridge while we were there. What a marvel – things like bridges and giant skyscrapers san franalways fascinate me. That we can construct such massive, sturdy objects onto the ground. . . mind-boggling. So wondrous that Dave Eggers recently penned a conversational non-fiction book, This Bridge Will Not Be Gray, about the construction — and ultimately the color choice — of this most awesome landmark.

I truly dig this different kind of book. For one, it is illustrated. How I love stretching the minds of young children and reminding them that just because a book has pictures (and not photographs) does not mean it is fiction. If the words are true, the book is non-fiction. The narrator is chatty, often addressing the reader, and the pictures are bold yet simple.

If you happen to be heading out to the Bay Area, see if your local library has a copy of this gem, and read up on what you’ll certainly spot on your travels. While you’re at it, pull up a map online or in an atlas so you can see the bay and the reason for the bridge in the first place! Your kiddos likely will get an absolute bang out of seeing the Golden Gate in person after reading about it. Maybe when you’re there, you might spot someone painting it – a fact mentioned in the book that is incredible: the bridge is always being painted. To the tune of 10,000 gallons of paint a year!

No matter what your Spring Break plans may be, see if there are any children’s books about your destination! What the kiddos might sigh and roll their eyes over could become pretty interesting if they have some previous knowledge in form of an interesting book!

Keep Reading,


Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com