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Anna, Kids and Families

Colorado summers are so beautiful and children enjoy being outside. So, let's take our books outside and read under the shade of a tree. What if we enhanced this outdoor reading by adding an activity that will help our early readers retell the story?

Retelling a story is an early literacy skill that builds their reading comprehension confidence. This confidence will keep kids excited and motivated to keep reading. This outdoor storytime won't require much.

Here is what you will need:

  1. A blanket to sit on
  2. A book of your choice
  3. Some crayons or a set of paints, brushes, and cup of water
  4. Something hard to color on such as a piece of cardboard, and;
  5. A few sheets of blank paper.

Once you've found the perfect shady spot in your yard, explain to your children that they can draw the story as you read it. They may need 3-5 sheets of paper in order to continue drawing throughout the entire story.

After you finish reading the book, ask your child this question: "Tell me about your picture". Asking them to tell you about their picture will encourage them to retell the story in their own words.

Stay away from questions like "What is that?" or "Is that a dog?". These questions can be limiting. You could ask: "Who is in this story?","Where did this story take place?","What happened next?", or "How did the story end?" Your child might end up drawing the butterfly that flew over you as you read. That is okay. The idea here is to create a positive experience with you and a book.

Here are a few suggestions of picture books and chapter books that are great for this reading comprehension skill: 

Remember to log those minutes!

The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone 

If You Give a Moose a Muffin  by Laura Numeroff 

 Otis by Loren Long

 I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen 


Do you want more than picture books? Check out these chapter books. 

Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo 

 Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne 

Image Credit: Jeff Golden

Barbara, Evergreen Library

Tips for Choosing Books

Look for books with some of these attributes:

For Storytime


  • Large, bright images pictures as babies vision isn't great yet

  • Books that you can sing

  • Books that rhyme

  • Concept books; ABC's, 1,2,3's

  • Books with animal noise

1,2,3 To The Zoo, Eric Carle


  • High contrast images

  • Very simple stories

  • One to two sentences per page

  • Interactive stories; movement, animal noises, etc.

  • Books you can sing and move to

  • Books with repeated phrases

The Seals on the Bus, Lenny Hort


  • ​Humorous books without sarcasm, especially about underwear

  • Books with simple plots

  • Books with predictive plots

  • Fiction and non-fiction books

The Book With No Pictures, B.J. Novak


Buenas Noches Gorila, Peggy Rathman

For Parents 


  • Books with real baby faces

  • Sturdy books that babies can chew on

  • Lift-the-flap and other interactive elements, like textures

  • First word books

  • Nursery Rhymes

  • Concept books; ABC's, 1,2,3's

Baby Faces!, Dawn Sirett


  • Books about your child's favorite interests

  • Books with large fun pictures

  • Favorite characters

  • Books you loved as a kid

  • Concept books; ABC's 1,2,3's

  • Wordless Books

  • Books you and your child enjoy (you will have to read them a million times)

Happy, Mie van Hout


  • Books that relate to your child's life

  • Wordless books

  • Longer books with more in depth stories

  • Search and Find books

  • Favorite characters

  • Non-fiction

Peanut Butter & Cupcake, Terry Border


Un Amigo de Veras Maravilloso, Suzanne Bloom


Karen, Kids and Families Outreach Librarian

Bubbles! Fun to chase, fun to catch, fun to POP!  I love bubbles!  When I was a teacher, one of my favorite field trips was to the Children's Museum in Denver.  The year the "bubble room" was added, I was esctatic! The kids, families, and teachers had SO much fun doing bubble experiments, making giant bubbles and trapping each other inside of a bubble.  

Some people may see bubbles only as entertainment, but did you know playing with bubbles actually can help build hand/eye coordination in babies and small children? Catching and popping bubbles encourages concentration and physical movement as well as strengthens our eyes ability to track motion.  Here is a list activities and benefits associated with bubble play:

  • Sing songs to baby or play music while you blow bubbles.  Music engages the brain. Bubbles provide amusement AND eye tracking practice.
  • Ask you child questions like "Where did the bubble go after it popped?" or "Why is the bubble colored like a rainbow?" to stimulate scientific thinking.
  • Challenge your child to pop 5 bubbles, 10 bubbles, 20 bubbles...and count out loud along with your child.
  • Let your child blow the bubbles.  This helps strengthen mouth muscles and concentration skills.  

Storytime Katie is a great resource for children's book and activity ideas.  I love these BUBBLE activity suggestions!

  • Bubble Bounce- a different kind of bubble. Throw balloons into the air and have your child keep the “bubbles” afloat.
  • Bubble Art. Add 2 teaspoons of paint to bubble solution.  Have your child blow the paint bubbles onto white construction paper. You can provide lots of different kinds of tools to make bubbles. Try straws, bubbles wands, bubble pipes, etc... 

I can't leave out a good bubble themed book!

Go to the website Preschool Express by Jean Warren to find bubble themed songs and rhymes. This one is great for rhyming and math skills.


Five big bubbles floating all around.

Until one popped when it landed on the ground.

Four big bubbles floating high and free.

Until one popped when it landed in a tree.

Three big bubbles floating quiet as a mouse.

Until one popped when it landed on the house.

Two big bubbles floating down to land.

Until one popped when it landed in my hand.

One big bubble still floating in the air.

Until it popped when it landed in my hair.

Remember to log singing, rhyming and bubble play as Summer Reading minutes for your 0-5 year olds! 


Image credit:flickr


Anna Weyeneth Kids and Families Outreach Librarian

School is over. Now what can we do to help our little pre-readers and readers to keep from getting bored? How about putting together a Story Telling Basket?

1) Choose a familiar story your child enjoys. I'll use Goldilocks and the Three Bears  for my example. 

2) Collect a few items from around the house that relate to the story. Three stuffed animals to represent the three bears and a doll or action figure to play the role of Goldilocks. Three plastic bowls, spoons, and three various size "blankets". These blankets could be easily substituted for washcloths. Keep in mind kids really don't care if the objects match the story. Your objects don't even have to be the right scale or size. (Goldilocks could be bigger than Papa Bear.)

3) Lastly, add the correspondingbook from your local library or your home library. Toss these items into a basket (or box) and you've got your very own Story Telling Basket! Quick-and-easy, right? Yet you'll soon be tapping into a couple of important pre-literacy skills and practices: talking and playing

Use this Story Telling Basket to TALK and PLAY with your child and watch as their imagination takes them away. Listen how they create and retell their own story. Interacting with the Story Telling Basket will give them a chance to practice their new vocabulary. You might even get some insight to things they are experiencing, curious about, or interested in. Let it be their story no matter how far it strays from the actual story in the book. Have fun and don't forget to log those minutes and get your chance to win prizes in our summer reading program

Photo Credit: Daniel Rocal 


Karen, Kids and Families Outreach Librarian

Ever feel rushed?  I have a bad back, which constantly reminds me to stop and take care of myself.  If only I got a text before the twinge of pain!  But wait!  Texts and tweets for healthy living are out there.  And, there are texts and tweets for fun things to do with your child to help stimulate their brains.  Perfect for those days when you are not feeling creative or are just plain rushed.

I love this tag line from the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Baby Coalition: "Your baby has you. You have text4baby."  Text BABY to 511411 and get free messages during pregnancy and your baby's first year.   

A local organization, Bright By Three, sends weekly texts in English or Spanish about ways to support healthy development in babies and toddlers.  Just text 'BRIGHT' for English or 'BRILLANTE' for Spanish to 444999.  

Does Jeffco Public Library offer Early Literacy tips?  Oh yes!  Follow us on Twitter: #EarlyLiteracyTips or follow us on Facebook. To access our past Early Literacy posts, click on this link.  Some are simple like, "Sing along with your favorite song" or "Snuggle up with a good book".  Here is one I really love to share: 

My Early Literacy tip for this summer?  Register you, your family and your baby for Summer Reading '15! It's for all ages, 0 to 100 and beyond. Doing learning activities with baby counts as brain exercise and reading minutes.  When you read books, magazines, whatever you fancy, in front of baby, you are modeling that reading is important as well as enjoyable to your baby. Help us reach 1,000,001 minutes in Jefferson County!  You can register online or at the library starting May 29.  Log minutes online weekly and win prizes!  

It may sound silly to have to remind ourselves to sing a song or snuggle up with a book. But, let's face it.  We are busy people!  A little nudge to take 5 minutes to stretch my back saves me lots of time (not to mention money;) that I would otherwise spend at the chiropractor's office.  Happy texting and tweeting!!!  

Image credit: Flickr

Barbara, Evergreen Library

VOCABULARY: knowing all kinds of words

Did you know?

That the average 1 to 1 1/2 year old child has a vocabulary consisting of around 20 words.

Fast forward one year to age 2, and this same child will have a 200–300-word vocabulary.

Add one more year and by the time they reach the age of 3, their vocabulary has grown to be about 900–1,000 words!!!

This means that by the age of 3, the average child's vocabulary is 50 times larger than it was just two years before...that's astounding!

According to The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL), that's why ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read) highlights VOCABULARY as one of their 6 early literacy skills designed to promote early literacy in young children.

Why Is It Important?

It's much easier to read a word when it's a word you already know. Children with bigger vocabularies have an easier time when they start to read, since it's much easier for them to make sense of what they're sounding out.

What Can You Do to Help Build This Skill?

Encourage children to learn their native or home language first; this makes learning another language (speaking and reading) easier later.

  • Talk with children in positive and conversational ways; commands and “no’s” do not encourage language development.

  • Carry on lots of conversations with children.

  • Explain the meanings of new words.

  • Read books! Picture books use a different vocabulary than casual spoken conversation.

Think your toddler isn't listening to what you say? THINK AGAIN!


Anna Weyeneth, Kids & Families Outreach Librarian

I'm an advocate for children with learning disabilities and children who aren't comfortable in front of a book. According to a National Institutes of Health study, one in seven people struggle with some kind of learning disability.

Learning disabilities are difficult to discover in young children. However, it is important for us as parents to be aware of the early warning sign of a learning disability. If you are not sure what these warning signs are read this article by Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities.

I was diagnosed with dyslexia in the second grade. I learned to overcome it and your child can too. I'm convinced reading humorous books will help children who have learning disabilities and children who don't learn to love reading! 

Have you ever had the chance to read the book Moo! with your kids? My 3 year old, 5 year old, and I love it! The illustrations are amusing, brightly colored, and that cow is just adorable! In two turns of the page, you and your children will relate to the cow and farmer as their interactions parallel that of a parent-child relationship.

Surprisingly, "moo" is the only word in the book, so you'll have to use your voice to distinguish and describe the story. I enjoy asking my boys their interpretation of the story. It's a book they can read. The word "moo" turns into a sight word; which means they see the word, remember what it looks like, and read it. To encourage your child to learn how to read the word moo, or any word, pass your finger under the word as you read it out loud. This book has won a CLEL Bell award for its focus on Early Child Literacy. You and your children are guaranteed to enjoy it.


Peanut Butter and Cupcake  is another book my boys and I enjoy! The characters in this book are food. They are photographs of actual, tasty-looking food! One time, after reading this book with my boys, they immediately asked for a snack after we closed the book. That is how appetizing the pictures are in this book.

The story is about a piece of peanut butter toast who is trying to make a new friend. Peanut Butter has to be brave and invite other "kids" to play with him. Not all of the "kids" want to play, but Peanut Butter doesn't give up. Terry Border, the author, chose a nice use of repetition in the story. Soon your child will be reading it along with you. There are a couple of jokes for parents too! I love it when authors do that for the adults! I hope you LOL with your children when you read! Enjoy!


 Image credit a4gpa 

Barbara, Evergreen Library

NARRATIVE SKILLS: describing things and events, telling stories, knowing the order of events, and making predictions

Once Upon a Time...in a far away land, there lived a beautiful princess and her toad, Fred. Fred was no ordinary toad...no, Fred was a magical toad!!! Fred could sing showtunes, and not just one showtune but, any showtune ever sung, and when he sang he danced, and when he danced he wore a tiny tophat upon his head. People would travel far and wide to gaze upon Fred, the magical and musical toad, for just one glimpse of Fred, in his tophat, would bring great joy and happiness. One day an evil witch visited the kingdom to see this magical and musical toad for herself and...

That's how the magic of stories begin, with four little words. It's these four little words along with a multitude of others that encourage our children to explore their creatvity and foster their love of reading.

According to The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL), that's why ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read) highlights NARRATIVE SKILLS as one of their 6 early literacy skills designed to promote early literacy in young children.

Why Is It Important? 

When children can describe something or retell stories, it shows that they are comprehending what they are reading. Understanding what they're reading is crucial to helping them stay motivated to keep reading.

What Can You Do to Help Build This Skill?

  • Ask open-ended questions that encourage conversations rather than yes/no or right/wrong answers.

  • Talk about your day and its series of events.

  • Mix up the events in a story; make it silly!

  • Guess what comes next—or come up with a different ending.

  • Read stories without words; they really help focus on this skill.

  • Name objects, feelings, and events.

Now it's your turn to have fun, be creative and start your own story.

Once Upon a Time...

Karen, Kids and Families Outreach Librarian

This month, we are celebrating One Book 4 Colorado (OB4CO).  The winning title, "How do Dinosaurs get well soon?" or "¿Cómo se curan los dinosaurios?" by Jane Yolen (with awesome illustrations by Mark Teague) was announced on April 13.  Have a four year old?  Bring your child to the library to pick up a free copy and add the book to your collection at home!  

In the spirit of the dino themed book series, I thought it would be fun to share how I have been incorporating dinosaurs into my bilingual storytimes. Reading about dinosaurs is a fabulous way to introduce new vocabulary in English and Spanish.  

First off, my puppet, Tommy T-Rex, gets the kids excited.  We talk about his sharp teeth or 'dientes afilados' and how they are used to only eat meat or 'carne'.  Tommy cracks the kids up as he adamantly describes himself as a meat-eating CAR-NI-VORE or 'carnívoro' and not a plant-eating HER-BI-VORE or 'herbívoro'.  Nope, no herbivores here, just a meat loving carnivore.  Then, we read the book by Jane Yolen. What is so great about the series is that many of her books have been translated into Spanish, including the more recent title "How do dinosaurs stay safe?" or "¿Cómo se cuidan los dinosaurios?".  

I came across a series of bilingual books at the library like this in the 'Español Reader' section:

And I found a Spanish version of a 'Harry and the dinosaurs' book!  His name is 'Dani' in the Spanish editions.

Moving and singing are great for learning new words!  I came up with 'T-Rex, T-Rex turn around' (instead of Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear) and translated it into Spanish.

T-Rex, T-Rex turn around (da una vuelta)

T-Rex, T-Rex, touch the ground (toca la tierra)

T-Rex, T-Rex, stomp your feet (pisan los pies)

T-Rex, T-Rex, eat some meat (come la carne)

T-Rex, T-Rex, roar with all your might (ruge con todas tus fuerzas)

T-Rex, T-Rex, say goodnight (di buenas noches)! 

It can be tough to engage children in learning new things.  Ask what they are interested in and go with it.  Remember, when it stops being fun, try something else or try again later!  



Photo credit: flickr

Anna, Kids and Families Outreach Librarian

In my last couple of posts, I’ve mentioned the importance of knowing your child’s learning style. Understanding how your child learns will help them gain confidence in their ability to tackle a new idea they are introduced to at school or home. If you’ve read my posts before, you know I’m always thinking about those of us with learning disabilities like dyslexia. If your child has a learning disability, they could use a confidence boost more than anyone!  So, if you don’t know your child’s learning style take this test to find a brief description of each learning style. Let’s focus on the visual learner. 

Visual learners can see or imagine what they are learning. They like to listen to descriptive stories. I thought this next one was interesting. Visual learners might have trouble with spoken directions. Maybe that’s why I have to tell my four year old to brush his teeth 8 times before he actually gets the toothbrush out! Tonight, when it’s time to brush teeth, I’ll just give him a visual. I’ll brush my teeth with my index finger. That’s a good visual for teeth brushing, right?

Anyway, back to other characteristics of a visual learner. Their mind creates illustrations or "movies" if you will. They like color. Use a color system to learn how to read or write. What’s an example of a color system? When your child learns the alphabet, have him/her write uppercase letters blue and lower case letters red. Let’s turn reading into a craft time. Grab a magazine, glue, and scissors. Choose a letter, for example “T”. Together, with your child, cut out words that begin with “T” like "table" or "trampoline" Next, cut out a picture of a table or trampolie. Glue the picture of the table or trampline next to the letter "T".  Later, when you child sees the letter “T”, they will also visualize a table or trampoline. I wonder if their minds will even imagine a person jumping on the trampoline.

You Tube is the visual learner's best friend. It has great flash cards. Below is one I like that focuses on the letter “B”.

You Tube also has sight words or high frequency words flash cards. I liked this video because of the use of color.


So, what are some book suggestions for a visual learner? Comic books or fantasy books might be a hit with your visual learner! 

Robot, go Bot! a comic reader


Calvin and Hobbes are always great! 

Journey by Aaron Becker

Photo Credit: Cheryl Colan


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