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Barbara, Evergreen Library

READ: look at and comprehend the meaning of (written or printed matter) by mentally interpreting the characters or symbols of which it is composed.

I had a WOOHOO moment last week! Not an Oprah A-HA moment but, an Early Literacy Librarian WOOHOO moment! They come few and far between but, when they hit, the stars align, the angels sing and all is right with the world!

Last week I attended the CLEL Annual Conference (Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy) here in Denver, with the hope that I would find inspiration for my Ready to Read Reminders. I use CLEL's website, as my bible, when it comes to finding information to share with parents and caregivers about ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read). I thought I knew it ALL, had done it ALL, and therefore had shared it ALL with my readers. I WAS WRONG!

I discovered that the tireless volunteers at CLEL have been very busy putting together Early literacy activity ideas for each of their past CLEL Silver Bell Book Winners.  Each Silver Bell has been placed in a category based on their contribution to ECRR's Five Early Literacy Practices, READ, WRITE, TALK, SING, PLAY.

This month I want to share with you the CLEL Silver Bells for READ and their activity suggestions. This is just one of the five titles you can find on CLEL.org for strengthening your child's use of READ as an early literacy skill.

Backseat A-B-See  - A CLEL Silver Bell Award Book for READ by Maria Van Lieshout

From the backseat, what do you see? Backseat A-B-See showcases a different road sign for each letter of the alphabet as a parent and a child drive in a car. Recognizing and reading road signs is one of the first ways children begin to understand that print is all around us, and that it carries meaning.

Activity Ideas for Backseat A-B-See:

  • Share other books about cars or trucks with the children, both nonfiction and fiction. Are there road signs in the pictures? What do the signs mean? What facts do they learn about cars or trucks from the books? Talking about objects like signs and books lets children know that we read for many different purposes (for directions from signs, for information from nonfiction books, for stories from picture books), and gives them many reasons to learn to read themselves.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt in your house, classroom, or library with the children. Where can they recognize letters, numbers, or words? On labels, books, computers, containers, T-shirts, advertisements? Talk about why all these different objects have print on them. Before they can learn to read, children need to be able to see that print is different than pictures and be able to recognize it wherever it appears.
  • Sing the “ABC Song” slowly as you turn the pages of the book. Point to each letter as you sing it, or have the children point to it. Pointing to the letter as you sing or say its name helps children realize that each sound in the “ABC Song” corresponds to a specific letter, and that each letter has a different shape. Knowing that letters have names, and shapes, and sounds is a first step to learning to read.

Have fun!


Photo credit: carnagenyc on Flickr

Karen, Kids and Families Outreach Librarian

With the Rae Pica Movin' and Groovin event coming up on October 14 at the Lakewood Cultural Center, I just had to write about movement. Moving our bodies strengthens our brain and reading skills.  Did you know the simple act of touching your left foot with your right hand and vice versa (or crossing the midline) activates each side of your brain?  Crossing the midline powerfully impacts reading, writing and physical development.  

  • Read this article from North Shore Pediatrics.  It gives detailed information about the importance of 'crossing the midline' as it pertains to brain development and future learning. There are activity suggestions like 'Pop bubbles with only one hand' and 'Reach for a bean bag across the midline and throw it' to get you and your child started.

The video from Clamber Club shows children participating in different activities that encourage 'bilateral intergration' or using both sides of the brain.  

Have you ever moved to familiar songs like 'Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes' or 'We're Goin' on a Bear Hunt'?  These songs use TPR or Total Physical Response.  TPR is fantastic for first and second language learning.  Like showing a picture to represent a word, the meaning becomes clear when one sees it in action (ie. moving your arms like the wheels on the bus). Matching actions to words helps children (and adults;) see, feel and hear the meaning.  Did you know you were already an expert in such a sophisticated concept?! 


You will notice we move a lot in Storytime. Try Storytime songs and movement at home! 


Image credit: Flickr

Anna, Kids & Families Outreach


Did you know singing with your child is one way to prepare your child to read? How does singing help with reading?

- Songs introduce new words. Song lyrics often use different vocabulary than our everyday spoken language.

-Also, the different musical notes couple with the different syllables of a word. Singing and listening to you sing will help your child understand the structure and sounds of a word.

-Reading books that can be sung is a great way to show children that words are everywhere, even in songs. Words are not just in books! 

Children learn about the world around them when you talk to them. Honestly, I run out of things to talk about with my three year old and five year old. So when I can't think of a thing to say to my boys, I sing. I don't have a great singing voice, but my children don't care! Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy has some fantastic rhyming and singing videos in a few different languages. I turn to these videos when I need new songs to sing to my boys or in my Storytimes. If you haven't visited the library for a Storytime, you should come! We sing, dance, read picture books, and sometimes we do a craft. We offer bilingual Storytimes too! Spanish and English storytimes at the Belmar and Wheat Ridge Libraries and American Sign Language and English Storytimes at the Belmar Library. 

 Check out some of these music and book suggestions. 

The Wheels on the Bus

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Fun Music

Stinky Cake

Latin Playground by Putumayo

Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy Video "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush"



Photo Credit: Henti Smith


Barbara, Evergreen Library

It's that time of year again, that little nip of Fall is in the air and school children everywhere are asking:

"What did you bring?"

"PB&J and an apple, wanna trade?"


Don't let this happen again. Check out some of these fun and inovative books, with creative and delicious lunch box ideas, and take your kid's lunch from drab to fab!

Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsch

Weelicious Lunches by Catherine McCord


 Best Lunch Box Ever by Kate Sullivan Morford

Your kids will thank you!!!

Anna, Kids and Families Outreach Librarian

I have a three year old and a five year old. It has been such a beautiful experience watching them learn to recognize letters and their sounds. My boys are so proud of themselves when they can point to a letter and make the sound. When they do this, they are practicing an early literacy skill called Letter Knowledge.

What is Letter Knowledge? It is simply knowing that letters are everywhere. That each letter makes a different sound, has a different shape and when you stick a few letters together, you get a word!  I discovered a website that has a great variety of early literacy games including some in English, Spanish, French, and German! I particularly like the Uppercase Game because it shows how different shapes construct a letter. This game shows that three straight lines in two different lengths will form the uppercase "A". When your child puts all the pieces or shapes together, they will see the Uppercase Letter. 

Here are a few ways to practice Letter Knowldege with your child: 

  • Talk about how different shapes make up our letters (Three straight lines make letter "A")
  • Write the letters of your child's name and talk about the sounds in his or her name.
  • Point out the differences between Uppercase and Lowercase letters 

Books suggestions that will encourage talking about letters:

Shiver me Letters: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel 

Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham

G is for Goat by Patricia Polacco 


Photo Credit: Steven Depolo  

Karen, Kids and Families Outreach Librarian

As a kid, there was always a cetain feeling of dread combined with excitement when the summer came to a close and my mom and I would go 'back to school' shopping. Whether heading to the first day of preschool or the first day of second grade, I always had butterflies in my stomach and trouble sleeping the night before. Reflecting on my experiences as a child and as a teacher, I thought I would share some books to help prepare your little one for the first day in a classroom or daycare.  I also included a few titles to make your elementary or middle school bound child laugh or feel a sense of ease about the upcoming school year.  

A cute board book for toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners.  

See how Dino wins each "match".  


Daddy doesn't stick to the list in this funny story.  

A new book about overcoming elementary school bullies with a great attitude. 

Number 7 in James Patterson's popular middle school series.  This book will have boys and girls ages 9 and up laughing!


Image credit: Flickr


Barbara, Evergreen Library


Dear Duncan,

Esteban the Magnificent here...formerly known as PEA GREEN CRAYON...we don't talk about that though, such an unfortunate color name!

I mean really, PEA GREEN?

Kids hate peas!

Who wants to color with their least favorite food?

Oh...and poor MAROON CRAYON, lost beneath the sofa cushions, just tragic!

And BURNT SIENNA CRAYON...chewed up and spit out by the dog...EWWWWW!

Not to mention TURQUOISE CRAYON...tumbled dry, low!!! The horror!

I recently heard that the Original 12, and you know who you are, almost QUIT!

Can you imagine, crayons quitting? It's back to school time!

Well, they did, and you, Duncan, listened.

I hear the Original 12 have it better than ever now.

Well, we're special too, we're the CRAYON CLASSIC COLOR PACK - 64 COUNT, with sharpener in the back!

There might be a lot of us, but that doesn't mean you can do with us as you please, we have feelings too you know, and we want to come home.

The world can be a cold hard place for a lone crayon.

So Duncan, if you're reading this, remember there's more to life than RED, BLUE and GREEN, we're here for you too, buddy.

We just want to come home (AUGUST 18th, if you'll have us),

Esteban the Magnificent (aka PEA GREEN)


The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt


Karen, Kids and Families Outreach Librarian

Having nine nieces and nephews as well as knowing a lot of friends with children, I have been invited to countless babyshowers.  My favorite gift items?  Bath toys!!  You can never go wrong with bathtime books, foam letters or rubber duckies.  Bathtime is a wonderful opportunity to engage your baby, toddler or preschooler in the Five Early Literacy Practices: Talk, Sing, Read, Write and Play.  

On pbs.org, they describe many ways you can encourage language and literacy development during bathtime; from naming body parts to asking your child what are they going to need for bathtime.  There are even suggestions for first graders. My favorite one was to make up stories about the different bath toys.  Once upon a time, there was a Pirate Duck named Orange Beak.  He was on a mission to locate the treasure stolen by Princess Barbie and her Little Pony friends...

Ideas that incorporate the Five Early Literacy Practices into bathtime:

TALK- Use different words to describe how toys move in the water: splash, dip, sink, float, rock, glide, etc...

SING- Sing to baby about body parts (ie. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes).  Make up or learn new bathtime songs like the one about the turtle, Tiny Tim, on Jbrary (I LOVE JBRARY!!!)

READ- Read bathtime books to your baby or point out words on your child's bubble bath or shampoo bottle

WRITE- Use bathtime crayons to write baby's name on the tile or use foam letters to spell out words

PLAY- Mix in science and math concepts by adding measuring cups and spoons to your bathtub toy collection

Read a good book before or after bathtime:


A board book. Great for babies and toddlers!

A cute story about an elephant reluctant to take a bath.

One of my favorite characters, the Pigeon!  Mo Willems' books make me laugh!

Rub-a-dub!  Now get those kiddos into the tub!  And keep logging Summer Reading minutes!

Barbara, Evergreen Library

STORYTIME: a regular time at which a story is read aloud to children. 

Wanna get jazzed for the day? Just come to a storytime at your local library!

I do a weekly toddler storytime at the Evergreen Library and I look forward to it all week! It is my time to shine...use silly voices, see lots of smiling faces, Shake My Sillies Out, and end with a grand finale of the Hokey Pokey...this is not your mother's storytime! Gone are the days of hushed voices and long stories. Instead today's storytimes are interactive and most of all fun!!! Filled with well illustrated and age appropriate books, songs, fingerplays, felt board and interactive activities there is something for everyone at your libraries weekly storytimes.

According to The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL), ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read) highlights EARLY LITERACY STORYTIMES as one of the crucial activities designed to promote early literacy in young children.

Why it's Important:

Literacy-based storytimes offer libraries a way to be partners in education with parents and caregivers. Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL) supports the definition of a literacy-based storytime as one that contains the following components:

  • Parents and caregivers are invited to attend storytimes with their children
  • At least one early literacy practice is highlighted during each storytime
  • Storytime leaders model activities that build early literacy skills
  • Books and activities promote the use of early literacy skills and practices
  • Information about early literacy skills and practices and/or tips for building skills are provided to parents and caregivers during storytime, either verbally, via a handout, or both

At the library we LOVE storytime and we want you and your child to LOVE it too! So, drop on by and give us a try, we can't wait to see you!!! 

Jenny, Golden Library

I have a confession to make. I've had the Monkey Preschool Lunchbox app ($1.99 Apple/Android) on every device I've owned since I first discovered it several years ago. It's so simple, so fun, and so rewarding that even though my kids first started playing with it when they were each about 18 months old, they still play at 5 and 3. Here's why:

It's varied: there are 7 different mini tasks - counting, letter recognition, matching, colors, puzzles, shapes and sizes. A sweaty-palmed 2 year old may have trouble with the puzzles at first, but that same child in a few short months will be waving your expensive phone/tablet around in triumph. 

It's repetitive: yes, this is also one of its drawbacks, but young children thrive on repetition. It provides opportunity to both practice emerging skills, and gain mastery of the concepts presented in the game. Before she'd perfected the art of the swipe, my daughter would simply hand me the phone when she reached a task she couldn't complete. I would help her do what was asked, and she would take over again. We both win.

It's fun: I mean, it has a little Memory game in it. The monkey does flips when you pack its lunch! Flips! And then you get to choose stickers that dance around because they're so excited that you're such an amazing genius. Or your kid is. Whomever. I also sort of like the calypso/calliope music...for a little while. 

Since they've discovered YouTube, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox is no longer the go-to app on any of our family devices anymore. But if we're out at a restaurant, or stuck in a doctor's office, or really anywhere there might be a long wait and no wifi, we are playing this game and loving it. I downloaded the app when it was featured for free, but if you have young kids and smartphones, this may be the best $1.99 you ever spend.  

If your kids, like mine, have pretty much mastered these skills, you may want to try Monkey MathSchool Sunshine. It's got 9 more mini-games that teach sequencing, patterning, counting, adding and subtracting. My 5 year old son loves the connect-the-dots to help the baby turtle find the ocean.

I didn't know until right now that they'd also developed a reading game. I'll bet you can guess what I'll be using our next app store credit for...



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