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Barbara, Evergreen Library

Hi! I'm Barbara, and I have been asked to fill some VERY big shoes, here at JCPL, and continue the ongoing blog series entitled, Ready to Read Reminder.

Ready to Read Reminder, will focus on ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read), which has 5 practices designed to help you and your child build a life long love of reading: READ, TALK, SING, WRITE, and PLAY.

Each month I will highlight one of the 5 practices and share fun activities with you that you and your child can enjoy doing together. This month I will be exploring WRITING and the importance it plays in early literacy. 

How does writing with children help them get ready to read? The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL) states that,

By letting your child explore their world by coloring, drawing, and writing you are encouraging them to develop print motivation, expand narrative skills, vocabulary, phonological awareness, and letter knowledge. 

Print Motivation

We know that print motivation includes being excited about books and stories, wanting to read and be read to, and being interested in learning to read yourself. When children have a chance to do their own writing, whether it is a scribbled “list,” random letters on a label, or the initial of their first name, they have a chance to feel connected to print in an active, very different way than when they are listening to a story. It’s always powerful for children to have the opportunity to do things for themselves! Being an active participant in writing and telling stories helps keep children excited about reading stories, too.

Narrative Skills & Print Awareness

The very first writing that children do is connected to narrative skills: The first stage of writing development is when children draw pictures, then tell the stories that the pictures represent. When children do this, they have made the leap to understanding that marks on the page can carry meaning. When a child completes a drawing, caregivers can encourage the child's narrative skills by saying, “Tell me about this picture!” or “What's happening in this picture?” In addition, children's narrative skills can be expanded by providing them with opportunities to explore writing as a part of their dramatic play, such as creating menus while playing restaurant, or writing traffic tickets while playing police officers.


We know that children whose caregivers talk with them more have larger vocabularies than children whose caregivers speak with them less often. Parents and caregivers can prompt discussions by modeling writing for their children, and then discussion what they are writing and why. Talking about grocery lists before and during shopping trips, or the content of family emails while sitting at the computer, or to-do lists when putting a sticky note on the refrigerator, all provide more opportunities for the child to hear new words in meaningful contexts.

Phonological Awareness

As preschool children begin to learn their letters and are able to make intentional marks on the page, writing “messages” as part of their play is one way they practice their knowledge of what sounds go with what letters. “Invented spelling” is what happens when children try to spell a word that they don’t yet know how to spell. The resulting “misspelled” words don’t mean that children aren’t learning well, instead it means children ARE learning—they are thinking very carefully about the sounds that they hear and the letters that they know.

Letter Knowledge

Even before children have the fine motor skills that allow them to draw or write letters on purpose, their growing understanding of the shapes of letters allows them to recognize these letters when they see them—on buildings, in books, and even in their own scribbles. As children practice making the lines and curves and circles they will later use to write letters, they sometimes will make marks or a scribble, look at it, and then identify letters that they see. “Look, I made a T!”

Every day is special with your little one but, who knew celebrating YOU, and the wonderful job you do every day, could also become an early literacy skill builder? Make Mother's Day cards for all the special "moms" in their lives and help your child create memories that you both will cherish for a lifetime. 



Marcy, Arvada

It's time to get out of the house! Spring has sprung and there is a whole lot of concrete out there in need of beautification. Sidewalk chalk has unlimited potential and you can even make your own.

What to do with this rainbow of possibilities?
Play a game! Here are 30 of the best ideas I've found:

Twister anyone?

Use chalk as a photography prop.

Chalk can even keep those literacy skills fresh over Summer break!

Cheap, easy, washable...what more could you ask for? In fact I think I will try some of these ideas here at the Arvada Library this summer so keep an eye out!

Get creative and let the Spring showers clear your canvas (or driveway.) 

Barbara, Evergreen Library

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...the Jedi Council decreed, that May the 4th, would forever be known as, Star Wars Day. For one day, Wookies will embrace Hutts, Sith will lay down their light sabers and embrace their Jedi brethren, and Yoda and the Emperor will meet for tea, at the local cantina, and all will be right with the universe.

What is a young Padawan to do to honor such a glorious day? READ!!! 

What, you may ask yourself, is a young Padawan to read...let Yoda and the gang share some of their favorites with you.

YODA - "Read you must!"

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Tom Angleberger 


 DARTH VADER - "The Force is strong with this one."

Darth Paper Strikes Back, Tom Angleberger


 CHEWBACCA - "Gggggggaaaaaaaahhhhhhhrrrrrrr"

The Secret of the Fortune Wooki, Tom Angleberger


 JABBA THE HUTT - "Boonowa tweepi ha, ha"

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet, Tom Angleberger

 PRINCESS LEIA - "I'd just as soon kiss a wookie."

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue, Tom Angleberger

R2-D2 - "Beep, Bloop, Blop, Bleep, Boop."

Art2-D2's Guide to Folding and Doodling, Tom Angleberger

LUKE SKYWALKER - "The Force runs strong in my family."

Darth Vader and Son, Jeffrey Brown


HANS SOLO - "Laugh it up, fuzzball." 

Vader's Little Princess, Jeffrey Brown                       


"Much to learn you still have, my old Padawan. This is just the beginning!" - YODA

Jennifer, Lakewood Library

What do the scouts, robotic shoes ruling the world, and Percy Jackson have in common? They are all in short stories in Guys Read: Other Worlds. This volume in the popular Guys Read series focuses on science fiction and fantasy stories. It contains several funny, thrilling, and adventurous tales written by several popular authors. Each story is very different and each one is guaranteed to entertain.

If you're having a tough time finding a book that interests your reluctant reader, definitely check this one out!


Jennifer, Lakewood Library

Graphic novels are great tool to get reluctant readers hooked on reading. Often graphic novels have the power to be "gateway books": They can give reluctant readers the illusion that they aren't really reading, but in fact, they are. There is more text inside than one might think and lots of critical thinking is required between frames.

Publishers have become savvy to the popularity and useful nature of graphic novels. Now a days you can find graphic novels for kids about anything. States of matter, Pearl Harbor, and even math topics. Many classic and contemporary fiction titles now have a graphic novel cousin. If a novel intimidates your child, see if they will read the graphic novel. It might inspire them to give the original a try. Visit your local library today to grab an arm full.

On a related note, Free Comic Book day is May 3rd! Why not be a Superhero to your child and get them a FREE comic book!  Comic book stores across the country will be giving away comic books to people of all ages. These comic books have been specifically created for this annual event. Many local comic book stores in the metro area will be participating. To find one near you try the Free Comic Book Day store locator. Still not convinced? Perhaps you will listen to the man, Stan Lee.


Barbara, Evergreen Library

It's that time of year again...when your house is filled with eggs, eggs, and more eggs. What do you do with all those eggs?

Here are some fun ideas that your whole family will enjoy: Make a yearly tradition of dying eggs for your Easter egg hunt. Your kids are never too young or too old to enjoy making that special egg! Get creative, the sky's the limit. What do you do with the leftover egg cartons? Take a nature hike and let your child fill the individual holders with "treasures" found along the way. It's a great way to keep everything together and organized.

After the candy has been eaten and the plastic eggs have lost their appeal...fill them with rice or beans...and now you have musical shakers. Music promotes language acquisition, listening skills, memory, and motor skills. Plus, music is an essential Every Child Ready to Read practice! And if you still need more ideas...there's always scrambled or over easy!

Jennifer, Lakewood Library

I just finished a great book: How to Catch a Bogel by Catherine Jinks. It's perfect for kids 4th grade and up who like scary stories. 

Birdie’s work as an apprentice to Alfred saves her from being a poor orphan in London. Alfred is a Bogler, which means he traps and kills monsters who like to eat children, and Birdie is his bait. She is fast on her feet but will she be fast enough every time? Check out the book trailer if you dare!


Sarah, Golden Library

Now that spring has finally arrived, I'm looking forward to this year's planting season and growing some container tomatoes on my balcony. I think I'll do an experimental planting as well this year as well, and find out if kale can grow in a container pot!

Why not introduce your kids to the joys of planting and growing this spring?


Catch kids' attention with this cute little rhyme:

A little sun, 
(make a sun overhead with arms)
A little rain, 
(wiggle fingers in the air in a downward motion)
Now pull up all the weeds. 
(gesture pulling weeds up with the hands)
Our flowers grow all in a row,
(hold up forearms and extend fingers to make flowers and stems)
From tiny little seeds
(pinch imaginary seed between thumb and forefinger and show to the kids)


Explain how seeds grow into plants and flowers by reading one of these great books together:

Seeds Go, Seeds Grow by Mark Weakland

How A Seed Grows by Helene J. Jordan


Next, get those little hands dirty! :)

You might want to create a paper flower and label parts of the plant, and/or germinate seeds at home using household supplies!

Happy Spring!

Marcy, Arvada Library

They say that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.

Make this fun loop craft and say, "Hello Spring!" Play with fluffy wooly cotton balls instead of snow. You may want to make a whole flock!

White Card Stock
Cotton Balls

Cut a 2" strip of card stock. Glue in a loop.
Cut ears out of card stock. Glue behind loop sticking out as shown in picture above.
Draw on a face.
Glue four cotton balls to the bottom for feet.
Break cotton up into 1/2" balls. Glue the little balls to the top of the head and down the back of the lamb completely covering the the paper loop except the face of the lamb.
If you are looking for a little playmate for this little creature, make a Paper Loop Chick to keep him company.

Try some fun sheep/lamb books to go along with this great craft!

Jennifer, Lakewood Library

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my mom reading aloud to me. Not just as a little kid but through middle school. Reading aloud to kids drops off dramatically after third grade and so does a child's interest in reading. Reading aloud to older kids has many benefits especially for those kids who are reluctant to read on their own.


 -When you read aloud to kids you are modeling positive adults behavior towards reading. Kids just can't wait to grow up so why not show them that adults enjoy reading too.

-Reading aloud transforms reading from a solitary activity into a shared social experience. This creates positive and fulfilling reading experiences.

-Hearing words read aloud can increase confidence with sounding out words in print. Many kids are reluctant to read because they struggle with sounding out words. The more words a child hears the greater their success will be when they encounter words in print.

So find a warm spot and share a good book together. You can read anything you want and it can be any length. A classic fiction story, a non-fiction book, or today's comics section. Need some suggestions to get you started? Here are a few of my favorites for reading aloud to older kids.


Stand Straight, Ella Kate: The True Story of a Real Giant by Kate klise and M. Sarah Klise



 Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs by Michaela Muntean



Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman



The Scarecrow and His Servant by Pilip Pullman

For more great suggestions see our Great Family Read-Aloud book list.


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