Friday, April 29, 2011

5 Great Picture Books To Inspire Little Gardeners

Spring has sprung, and a season of warm weather, outdoor activities, and fresh produce is upon us. For many, weekends are now devoted to the garden: raking, weeding, planting and pruning in hopes of a bumper crop of tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. For others, Saturdays and Sundays are a time to browse local farmers markets or gambol in city parks filled with blooming cherry trees and dogwoods. For everyone, Spring is the perfect time to introduce young children to the wonders of nature and the delights of gardening. Enjoy this list of 5 great picture books to share with your budding gardener.

    One day, while exploring his dreary town, a little boy makes the amazing discovery of an abandoned railway. With a bit of patience, some ingenuity, and a lot of hard work, Liam transforms the unsightly railway (and the town) into something special.

  • THE GARDENER, Sarah Stewart
    During the Depression, Lydia Grace is sent to the city to live with her Uncle Jim. Far from her beloved gardens, she spends her time helping in the bakery, working on her "secret place," and trying to get her uncle to smile. Will her big surprise finally result in that coveted smile?
  • MISS RUMPHIUS, Barbara Cooney
  • Encouraged by a promise to her grandfather to "make the world a better place," Alice walks fields, highways and country lanes with pockets full of seeds. Is she really a "Crazy Old Lady" as some people think? Or, does she have a plan to make good on her promise?
    • MY GARDEN, Kevin Henkes
      A little girl dreams of a garden with chocolate rabbits running wild, tomatoes as big as beach balls, and flowers that grow back again as soon as they are picked. What would your dream garden look like?
    • THE TINY SEED, Eric Carle
      Prolific children's book author, Eric Carle, follows a tiny seed on it's journey through the four seasons. Follow along as it narrowly escapes the dangers of the hot sun, unmelting ice, and the dry desert. Watch from safety as the tiny seed avoids mice, birds and playing children to grow into a giant flower. What do you think will happen when Autumn returns?

    Additional links:
    *To view our collections featuring these books
    *For information on our monthly contest featuring these books

    Connect with us:
    *Find us on Facebook
    *Follow us on Twitter
    *Sign up for our newsletter

    To learn more and to start encouraging the little readers in your life visit:

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    What Can I Do With Duplicate Copies of a Book?

    Here are 8 great suggestions for utilizing duplicate copies of favorite books-
    • Keep a copy in your purse or diaper bag for doctors visits (waiting room books are full of germs!), restaurants, or other times when you need to wait quietly.
    • Car trip will be much more enjoyable with a copy of a favorite book within reach. Keep extra copies in the seat pockets, or in a bag set aside for that purpose.
    • Make use of wasted time- keep a selection of books by the potty.
    • Enforce the idea that reading is an enjoyable pastime. Store a selection of books among your child's other toys for easy play time access.
    • Cut down on sibling squabbles by providing each child with a copy of the same book.
    • Don't let a business trip get in the way of your bedtime routine. Pack an extra copy of a book in their suitcase, and travelling parents can read a nighttime story over the phone.
    • Send a copy to grandma and grandpa, or another long-distance relative. Children can follow along as they hear the story over the phone or via Skype.
    • Encourage independent reading! Parent and child can each read a copy of the book on their own, sharing comments and insights as they arise.

    Do you have any other great ideas for extra copies of books? Send us an e-mail, we would love to hear from you!

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    5 Simple Steps to Encourage Your Child to Read

    Children who are reluctant readers typically struggle for two reasons; either they experience difficulty with one or more of the technical aspects of reading (decoding, fluency, comprehension etc.) or they find it boring. While each can seem daunting for parents and children to overcome, with a little planning, creativity and perseverance, you can help jump start your child’s interest. 

    5 Simple Suggestion to Get Your Child Reading (Yes, your child!):
    Allow your child to base reading choices on what captures his/her interest- whether it is a friend’s recommendation, an interesting topic, colorful cover or catchy title. Getting caught up in reading levels will only succeed in squeezing the fun out of reading! And, consider non-traditional reading sources. Magazines, cookbooks, comics, books on tape and television with the closed-captioning feature activated and the volume off are great ways to build interest in reading.

    Books should be prominent throughout your house! Keep a well stocked bookcase in your child’s room, their play area, near the living room armchair, and beside the potty. Keep a stack of books by your bedside table to entertain early-risers while you try for a few more minutes of shuteye. Stuff the backseat of your car with books for road trips and errands and your purse for trips to the doctor’s office or restaurants.

    Allow your child’s interests to inform their book choice. Do you have a daughter who loves Disney’s Cinderella? Use that as a springboard to explore Cinderella stories from other cultures and fractured fairy tales based on Cinderella, as well as other classic fairy tales. Encourage your budding reader to explore books in a way that is comfortable for them. Do they choose to ask “why” at every opportunity, flip through pages in random order, focus solely on the illustrations, or move around while you are reading? Let them! 

    Give books and books become desirable! Take every opportunity to alter your child’s mindset so that they begin to view books as a welcome and coveted commodity. Subscribe to a monthly magazine, join a Book-of-the-Month Club, and take regular trips to the library and book store. Use books as a reward or bribe! Allow children to stay up a little later as long as they are reading. Build an association between reading and coveted time with a parent. 

    Let your children see you enjoying books! Read aloud to them at night, giggle with the absurd rhymes of Dr. Seuss, bring to life the voice of Eloise, and revel in the magic of Harry Potter. Build a fort of pillows to curl up in, read under the sheets with a flashlight or in a tent outside.  And, be sure to let children see you enjoying reading. Curl up with a novel in the evening or flip through the newspaper after breakfast. Enjoy a magazine article about your favorite sports team, share books with your friends, and discuss favorite stories with anyone who will listen! Children who see their parents derive enjoyment from reading are more likely to pursue reading themselves. 

    If you try all of these strategies and are still faced with a reluctant reader, don’t disparage. Growing lifelong readers is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep at it and your child will eventually come around. Happy reading!