As we wait for the snow to melt

and SPRING to arrive, it’s a great time to enjoy READING!

I usually highlight story books, but today I’d like to celebrate
some fun research sites.

DK Publishing has a free online encyclopedia: FIND OUT
The site is for simple searches on a variety of science-related
topics. Results provide a colorful illustrated page with brief
explanations and related topics. Of course, if one of the topics interests you, check at your local library for a corresponding DK book on the subject.

Another free online site, available through public and school libraries, is EBSCO Kids Search. This is a more in-depth database of magazines, encyclopedias, dictionaries, web articles, biographies, books, newspapers, and photos. A handy tool to have at your fingertips.

Kids Info Bits from Gale/Cengage Learning is search resource available through some libraries as well. It’s a more simplified database of sources, including magazines, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and maps. It includes advanced search capabilities and is geared toward elementary school students.

So during this month focused on READ ALOUD time, choose a topic of interest (I know my grandson would pick Monster Trucks); use one of these kid-friendly sites or a book and read together for 15 minutes.

Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter–every season is just right for READING!

Thursday Morning Interview

I had a fun start to the morning today with an interview for the local St. Louis Suburban Journal. It’s great to be able to share my love for literacy–reading, writing, creating. That’s why I write–for the kids. To excite them about the world of literature.

The PET GRAMMAR PARADE SERIES shows them that grammar can be fun. When students learn the basic tools–like the parts of speech, they become empowered. They can create their own stories, write their own research articles, share their ideas and information with the world.
I’ll keep you posted on the article. It’s slated for next Wednesday’s edition.
In the meantime, I know that school has started for many. Help your child succeed by setting aside reading time. I’ve included some ideas on ways to do this at my website. Here’s a few of the links:


As promised, here are some additional notes from Mem Fox’s book, READING MAGIC.

  • When reading be expressive—have fun! (As I like to say, feel the words.) Voice variations can be loud/soft; fast/slow; high/low; and pause.

  • Playing games with the words/letters in a story is encouraged also sometimes. As is using word magnets on the refrigerator, etc. And scribbling (writing) for the child. This helps him learn to read—associating the symbols with the sounds/words.
  • Mem suggests telling the child an unknown word if it is taking much time for the child to sound the word out—encourage the child to recognize words at sight. While she still acknowledges the need for phonics in reading, the author warns that many children will become discouraged when words are difficult to decipher with only these clues. Too many words in the English language do not follow the norm and must be learned as sight words.
  • Mem also encourages the reading of rhyming books/poems/songs. “Rhymers are readers,” according to Ms. Fox. Studies have shown that students who know 8 nursery rhymes by the time they are four-years-old are usually among the best readers by eight-years-old.
    The use of rhythmic, rhyming, and repetitive readings encourages the child to learn how to SKIM by guessing from clues in the patterns of the reading. This is a great advantage in mastering reading. When Einstein was asked by a mother how to help make her son more intelligent, he told her to read Fairy Tale stories to him.

Following is a list of additional titles on the subject of reading aloud:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Reading with Your Child by Helen Coronato.

Baby Read-Aloud Basics: Fun and Interactive Ways to Help Your Little One Discover the World of Words by Caroline J. Blakemore and Barbara Weston Ramirez.

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.


If you don’t know by now, I am passionate about instilling a love for reading in children. Apparently Australian author and Literary Studies professor, Mem Fox, and I share the same passion. She is the author of several nonfiction books for adults–as well as many wonderful children’s picture books. I’d like to share some of her insights offered in READING MAGIC: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever.

  • The secret to fostering reading (and the love for literature) is quite simple: reading aloud to children from birth onward. Experts suggest 1,000 stories read aloud before the child begins to read.
  • Only 25% of a child’s brain is developed at birth, but within the first year, a child learns all the sounds in her native language.
  • Passive sounds/words (such as those heard from a television) don’t work as well as conversation to help foster language development. To encourage language and reading skills “for life,” children need to “talk back” to someone.
  • The day a baby is born is the time to start reading aloud to him. Try to have a routine for reading aloud built into the child’s day—but also make books & reading available whenever the opportunity arises. The more a child has access to books, magazines, newspapers, etc. and sees his parents using them the more likely he will become a good reader.

That’s enough reading secrets for today. I’ll share some more tomorrow. But I’d encourage you to visit Mem’s online site as well. Here’s a link to her “Ten Read Aloud Commandments:

Super Saturday

On Saturday, I had the privilege to hear Allyn Johnston, Editor-in-Chief at Harcourt, and Marla Frazee, children’s author and illustrator, give a presentation on picture books in Washington, Missouri.

Ms. Johnston spoke of “the power of picture books.” She said she believes good ones have “the ability to affect lives.” She also referred to a picture book as “a piece of theater on a 32-page stage.” She looks for the rhythm and repetition in a well-written picture book. “Perfect words in perfect places.” She said the last line of the story should resonate and the story should come full circle. To find out more about Allyn Johnston, here’s a link to an interview with her:

Ms. Frazee spoke of the physical structure of a picture book–the 32-page format. She said it is the combination of words and pictures that tell the complete story in a picture book. She emphasized her respect for children as her audience–how well they “read” her pictures. She stressed that picture books need to have an emotional component–even humorous ones. For more information on Marla Frazee, you may visit her website at

What a great opportunity this was to hear these special insights from two such knowledgeable women in children’s literature.

The other excitement I was a part of on Saturday was Jody Feldman‘s premeir of her first children’s book, THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES, at Left Bank Books in St. Louis. Jody’s idea for THE GOLLYWHOOPER GAMES began many years ago when she was volunteering in a school library and witnessed a boy unable to satisfy his book thirst after finishing CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Jody wanted to write a book that would be similiar to Roald Dahl’s masterpiece. Her love for word games and puzzles led her to create this story featuring the Golly Toy & Game Company. For a read filled with interactive adventures, be sure to find a copy of Jody’s new middle grade novel. The official release of THE GOOLYWHOPPER GAMES is tomorrow, March 3. And to read more about Jody, you may visit her website at