Posts Tagged ‘emergent readers’

Unlimited Squirrels in I Lost My Tooth!

Posted on October 22nd, 2018 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts writes about Unlimited Squirrels in I Lost My ToothUnlimited Squirrels in I Lost My Tooth! written and illustrated by Mo Willems
Generously illustrated book for beginning readers published by Hyperion Books for Children

I have hosted a Little Free Library (LFL) outside my home for the past four years. My LFL is limited to children’s books. Recently, one of my neighbors has been adding brand new books(!) to it fairly often. Recently, he or she left a copy of hot-off-the-press Unlimited Squirrels in I Lost My Tooth!

A terrific follow-up to Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie series, this is a book that will have great appeal for new readers. Bright, bold, graphic illustrations and fun, expressive text combine to tell the story of a search for a squirrel’s missing tooth.

When a team of enthusiastic squirrels needs to fact-check, Research Rodent adds background information about teeth to an otherwise silly story. Boys and girls who are at about a grade 1 or 2 level will enjoy the “inside” joke about a tooth that has been lost. The Table of Contents, irreverent endpapers that identify each of the squirrels by name and the antics of the furry-tailed characters make for a great fun.

Follow this link to our free Squirrel Theme printables and picture book suggestions.

I Lost My Tooth! (Unlimited Squirrels) at

I Lost My Tooth! (Unlimited Squirrels) at

Children’s Books about Anger, Grumpiness and Bad Moods

Posted on October 13th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares picture books about anger and bad moods

Picture books to help a child understand and cope with anger

When my youngest son was very young, he was frequently impacted by the negative effects of artificial food dyes. Sadly, we did not realize what was happening with him for quite some time. For years, we were puzzled by apparently random bouts of anger that were, in fact, a result of eating or drinking a trigger food, beverage or even medication.

Thankfully, we did eventually figure out what was happening and the instances of uncontrolled anger pretty much disappeared. Along the way, we used picture books to help our children understand anger and give them words to describe their feelings and techniques for managing frustration and bad moods.

Please leave a comment and let me know about your favorite books for exploring this theme.

Children's book about anger and being in a bad mood

Bad Mood Bear written by John Richardson
Small format picture book about feeling angry published by Red Fox a division of Random House

When my children were young, we had a wonderful collection of Red Fox Mini Treasures. These were small-format picture books from many well-known, accomplished children’s book authors and illustrators. One of our favorite Red Fox Mini Treasure books was Bad Mood Bear. If one of my sons had a rough day, reading this story was one way to help him understand and learn to manage strong emotions, including anger. In addition to depicting a tough day, Bad Mood Bear also shows that the opportunity to feel and behave better may be just a short nap away.

You may not be able to find a new copy of this picture book but I did not want to leave it off my list of children’s books about anger.

Bear mooched around, kicking stones and growling. A fly buzzed around his nose
‘Buzz off!’ screamed Bear, flapping his arms around in a temper.

Bad Mood Bear (Mini Treasure)

Bad Mood Bear (Mini Treasure) at

Picture books about anger and bad moods including Finn Throws a Fit

Finn Throws a Fit! written by David Elliott and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
Picture book about a child’s temper tantrum published by Candlewick Press

Usually, Finn is happy and loving but when Finn is upset, everybody in the household suffers. Using thunder, lightning, flooding, hurricane winds, blizzard conditions and an earthquake to describe Finn’s outburst, Finn Throws a Fit! will delight young readers and their parents.

With no explanation given for the upset, there is a good opportunity for an adult to ask probing questions such as,
Why do you think Finn was upset?”
“How did Finn’s parents and his dog feel when Finn was upset?”
“What could Finn do next time he is upset?”

Finn Throws a Fit! at

Finn Throws a Fit! at

Children's Book About Anger and Feeling Grumpy

Grumpy Bird written and illustrated by Jeremy Tankard
Children’s Book About Anger and Feeling Grumpy published by Scholastic

This is a picture book about anger and grumpiness that I have read dozens, if not hundreds of times. It is a book that I shared over and over again with a child that I helped to overcome a speech delay. The delightful, repetitious text was exactly what I needed to prompt dialogic reading

He was too grumpy to eat.
He was too grumpy to play.
In fact, he was too grumpy to fly.
“Looks like I’m walking today,” said Bird.

I arrived for each appointment with a briefcase filled with picture books, puzzles, games and other activities. More often than not, Grumpy Bird was selected by my student and we enjoyed reading about Grumpy Bird spending time with friends (even if he was not enthusiastic about their company) and, eventually finding himself transformed into a happy, social creature.

Grumpy Bird at

Grumpy Bird at

Picture book about being angry How Do Dinosaurs Say I'M MAD?

How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague
Picture book about expressing anger and frustration published by Blue Sky Press an imprint of Scholastic

Part of the How Do Dinosaurs series of picture books, this story not only describes behaviours that might happen when a child is angry, it also suggests ways for a child (or dinosaur) to deal with angry feelings.

he counts up to ten,
then after a time out,
breathes calmly…
and then…
he cleans up his mess

Dinosaur fans will love the detailed endpapers and the notations within the book that identify the species of each of the dinosaurs.

Some readers have commented that it is unfortunate that the dinosaurs do begin by behaving badly. Their behavior includes ripping books, throwing a mug, kicking and defiance. We agree with these observations but, unlike several books about anger, grumpiness and bad moods, this book did include suggestions for managing strong emotions.

How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? at

How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? at

Childrens books about anger, The Day Leo Said I Hate You

The Day Leo Said I Hate You written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Molly Bang
Picture book about emotions and anger published by Little, Brown and Company

When young children feel anger, it can be a frightening experience for them. They may be completely overcome by frustration and may be unable to control their words.

Here we meet Leo, a little boy who has been told, “No” more times than he can count. His mommy doesn’t want him to roll tomatoes across the floor and she doesn’t want him to drop string beans into the fishbowl.

Leo announces that he hates “No.” Mommy calmly says that she understands his feelings but, “There are some things you just should not do.” Leo decides that his bedroom is the best place to be but, when he begins drawing on the wall, his mommy is certain to be annoyed and it is not long until he cannot contain his emotions any longer. He shouts, “I HATE YOU.”

Strong, bold Photoshop illustrations are sure to resonate with children who have felt overpowering emotions.

A valuable resource for families, The Day Leo Said I Hate You! is a reassuring story of enduring love – even when it has been a very long and extremely emotional day.

The Day Leo Said I Hate You! at

The Day Leo Said I Hate You! at

I'm So Grumpy written and illustrated by Hans Wilhelm

I’m So Grumpy! written and illustrated by Hans Wilhelm
Beginning Reader Story About Being in a Bad Mood published by Scholastic

Beginning readers are sure to enjoy this simple story about Noodles’ bad mood. He doesn’t like his food, he doesn’t want to go for a walk. He wishes that everyone would leave him alone. Repetitive text and appealing illustrations will support young readers as they enjoy this fun story and the thrill of reading independently.

There are a total of 32 books about Noodles that are perfect for new readers. Check out this page of resources, including posters and a teacher’s guide.

I’m So Grumpy at

I’m So Grumpy at

A children's book about bad moods Stop Bugging Me! written and illustrated by Daniel Cleary

Stop Bugging Me! A Smudge Book written and illustrated by Daniel Cleary

Picture book about grumpiness and needing time alone published by Blue Apple Books

Smudge needs some time alone and his friends just don’t understand. He is reluctant to tell Piggie where he is going and soon Mouse is curious too. It is not long ’til he has an entire parade of friends following and annoying him.

Someone apparently awoke on the wrong side of his bed this morning, is therefore in a foul mood, and would rather not be escorted to the store where he plans to make a mysterious purchase.

An exasperated Smudge finally tells his friends that he is on his way to buy underwear!! A fun twist that young children will enjoy, this is an uncomplicated story that will remind readers that alone time and privacy are completely acceptable.

We liked the artwork – it appears that the story has been written and illustrated in a notebook. Illustrations appear to be created with pencils and erasers. Could be very inspiring to young authors and illustrators!

Stop Bugging Me: That’s What Friends Are For (A Smudge Book) at

Stop Bugging Me: That’s What Friends Are For at

Children's books about bad moods and emotions including The Very Cranky Bear

The Very Cranky Bear written and illustrated by Nick Bland
Picture book about friends and friendship published by Scholastic

What a delight! Four young animal friends decide a dry but dark cave is the perfect place to take shelter from a downpour. They have just settled into a sociable game of cards when a weary, bad-tempered bear chases them out of the cave and into the rain. Three of the pals decide that the bear’s misery must be due to his rather nondescript appearance. When their ill-advised makeover does nothing to improve the bear’s mood, it is left to a plain but thoughtful sheep to make the cantankerous bear comfortable. Teaching guide for The Very Cranky Bear

The Very Cranky Bear at

The Very Cranky Bear at

Our Pinterest Board About Children’s Emotions, including Anger and Bad Moods

Anti bullying story for beginning readers – Justin and the Bully

Posted on December 5th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

cover art for Justin and the BullyJustin and the Bully written by Tony and Lauren Dungy, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton
Anti bullying story for beginning readers published by Simon Spotlight

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Justin loves to play soccer and he is very excited when his mom agrees to sign him up for a team. His family shares his excitement and all is well until he goes to his first practice. When he gets to practice, he likes his coach and most of his teammates. He is disappointed when one of his teammates, Taylor calls him “Shorty” and criticizes his playing ability.

After practice, Justin is quiet and at dinnertime he announces that he doesn’t want to continue playing soccer. After a family discussion, Justin explains that Taylor told him he was too short to play.

At bedtime, Justin’s parents encourage him to try again. The following day, Justin’s mom accompanies him to practice and she speaks with the coach about the situation.

The coach called the team together. “We are a team,” he said. “Right?”
Everyone said, “Right, Coach!”
“And on a good team there are no bullies. Right?”
“Right, Coach!” everybody said.

Coach Harris goes on to ask “What is a bully?” and the children provide examples of bullying behavior.

The next weekend, the team plays its first game. The children work together and are successful until an unpleasant comment is made by Taylor. One of Justin’s teammates speaks up and tells Taylor that she is behaving like a bully.

Justin and the Bully is part of Simon Spotlight’s Ready to Read series. It is rated Level Two and includes both sight words and words that children will sound out. The story itself is compelling and the solution is realistic. It is noteable that the child who is being bullied is assisted by his parents and his coach. The situation is resolved when a bystander notices the bullying and speaks up about the bullying behavior.

Add this anti bullying book for beginning readers to your bookshelf –

Justin and the Bully (Ready-to-Read. Level 2) at

Justin and the Bully (Ready-to-Read, Level 2) at

Storytelling Around the World

Posted on November 2nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Three versions of a familiar story written for newly independent readers3 more traditional tales for newly independent readersStorytelling Around the World

This five-book series is written is written by Veronika Martenova Charles‘ and illustrated by David Parkins. Generously illustrated, each book includes three versions of a familiar story and was written with newly independent readers in mind. The books are each 56 pages and contain five chapters. Suited to readers aged five to eight, the series could be used effectively in a classroom with children exploring similarities and differences the ways Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Red Riding Hood and other stories are told.

It’s Not about the Apple!: Easy-to-Read Wonder Tales at

It’s Not about the Apple!: Easy-to-Read Wonder Tales at

It’s Not about the Crumbs!: Easy-to-Read Wonder Tales at

It’s Not about the Crumbs!: Easy-to-Read Wonder Tales at

It’s Not about the Hunter!: Easy-to-Read Wonder Tales at

It’s Not about the Hunter!: Easy-to-Read Wonder Tales at

A Special Gem – Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time

Posted on October 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

A Special Gem for Newly Independent Readers Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet TimeHoundsley and Catina and the Quiet Time written by James Howe and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Chapter book series for kindergarten – grade three published by Candlewick Press

When Houndsley and Catina are unexpectedly snowed in, Houndsley is quite happy to relax and enjoy The Quiet Time. Catina is not nearly as content. She has things to do and places to go. Eventually the two settle in and spend an enjoyable day playing board games, baking cookies and writing poetry. In the evening, they join their friends for a snowy outdoor concert. The musicians

began to play so softly that the notes fell on the listening ears like snowflakes on waiting tongues, gently, softly, there for a flicker before melting away.

Beautiful language and equally special illustrations are terrific for newly independent readers, the Houndsley and Catina books are also a very good choice for younger children who are ready to enjoy a longer read-aloud book.

Highly recommended.

Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time at

Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time on

Environmental Print – Great for Beginning Readers

Posted on September 25th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Environmental Print is great for children who are beginning to read

I’ve been having some fun this week. I grabbed my camera and headed out on a hunt for words in my community.

Environmental print is print that is all around us. In our homes, it is on food packaging and on other products we use. In a public building it is on door handles (PUSH, PULL) and above doorways (EXIT), when we go for a drive, it is on road signs (STOP), vehicles (POLICE, AMBULANCE), buildings (DRUG STORE) and in other public places (PARK, GARBAGE, RECYCLE).

Environmental Print - Storytime Standouts shares a Smile

For a preschool or kindergarten-age child, who is anxious to read his first word, environmental print may be “just the ticket.” Head out for a walk and see how many words your child can “read.” In all likelihood, he will already know how to read “McDonalds” or “Starbucks.”

Can he use context clues to correctly “read” more of the words around him? Can he “read” a situation and use the information he sees to make a correct guess about the letters and words he sees? Can he figure out the word used to label a garbage can or the word on the side of an emergency vehicle?

City Signs by Zoran Milich
Environmental Print picture book published by Kids Can Press

City Signs is a great book to share with four and five year olds, particularly youngsters who are anxious to read. City Signs is a series of photographs that each include at least one word. The word is shown in context so young “readers” can use their detective skills to make an educated guess about the word. Some of the words are unmistakable: ambulance, ice cream, life guard, horses. Other words are somewhat trickier: litter and supermarket could be mistaken for garbage or grocery store.

For children who are desperate for reading success, looking for words in the world and encouraging them to read “EXIT,” “PUSH,” “BUS STOP” and “LIFEGUARD” can be a real confidence builder.

City Signs at

City Signs at

An example of environmental print used by a bookstore

When you go out with your child, take pictures of environmental print. When you get home, help your child to make a book to read. You can be sure he will be excited to show off his ‘new words’ to Grandma or Grandpa.

Food packaging and pictures from advertisements are also great sources of words to read. Work with your child to put together a collage or scrapbook to read and enjoy.

Environmental Print - Great for Beginning Readers - Storytime Standouts shares Toys

Our free Environmental Print printables for young children

image of PDF icon  Environmental Print 1

image of PDF icon  Environmental Print 2

There are some fabulous environmental print resources online, here are some of our favourites

Read Write Think – From Stop Signs to the Golden Arches: Environmental Print

Logos from

Candy Bar Wrapper Image Archive

We invite you to follow Storytime Standouts’ Environmental Print Board on Pinterest

Follow Storytime Standouts’ board Environmental Print for New Readers on Pinterest.

Using Word Families With Beginning Readers

Posted on September 14th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Learning about word families can help young readers as they learn to decode words

When working with children who are just beginning to sound out words, I have had great success using word families.

image of cover art for Fat Cat, a book for beginning readersFat Cat written by Sue Graves and illustrated by Jan Smith
A Fun With Phonics book published by Cartwheel Books, an imprint of Scholastic Books

Shortly after a child discovers that C -A -T spells cat, it can be enormously rewarding to introduce B-A-T and M-A-T. Often a child’s eyes grow as big as saucers as he realizes the relationship between the three words. He makes a connection and sounding out BAT, CAT, FAT, HAT, MAT, PAT, RAT and SAT is not nearly as difficult as he originally thought. Soon he has eight new words to be proud of (rather than just one).

image of cover art for Dog in the Fog, a book for beginning readersThere have been many, many books written that focus on word families. A search of “Fat Cat” might produce a dozen or more results. I’m delighted to let you know about a series that combines word families, spinning word wheels, picture clues and early reader books. The word wheels are sturdy and easy to spin. They each create eight words: the wheel for
image of cover art for Bug in a Rug, a book for beginning readers Bug in a Rug produces bug, hug, dug, jug, mug, pug, tug and rug.

Beginning readers will need some help decoding the story but will find the illustrations helpful and will soon notice that the word family words are printed using red ink. if ‘reading’ with an older family member, the child could be asked to ‘read just the red words’ until familiar with the vocabulary. Good fun and a helpful resource for those who are just learning about word families and beginning to read.

image of cover art for Jen the Hen, a book for beginning readers

Fat Cat at | Fat Cat at

Jen The Hen at | Jen the Hen at

Dog In The Fog at | Dog in the Fog at

Bug In A Rug at | Bug in a Rug at

image of How to Make Word Family Flip BooksOn the Storytime Standouts Word Families page we include Word Family Flip Books for short vowel word families. Print the pages and cut out the individual letters. Cut out the larger rectangle along the lines. Make a pile of letters (check that they are all the right way up) and staple them to the left of the word ending. Encourage your beginning reader to ‘build’ on her knowledge that C-A-T spells CAT by flipping the letters and substituting the consonant. She’ll create many more words and feel a thrill of success.

Our Word Families page also has several word family printables that show the words with pictures. These are great for beginning readers in Kindergarten and Grade One.

Our early learning printables, including our word family printables are in PDF format, if you don’t already use Adobe Reader, you will need to download it to access the word family printables.

You will find our selection of free printable alphabets here and all of our early learning printables here.

Canadian Flyer Adventures Time Travel Series for Grade Two

Posted on September 13th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts recommends the Canadian Flyer Adentures series including Beware, Pirates

The exciting Canadian Flyer Adventures time travel series for grade two has all the elements needed for success – action, adventure and fun. Generously illustrated, readers will be captivated while learning history

Canadian Flyer Adventures series written by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Dean Griffiths
Time Travel Series published by Owlkids Books

When young friends Emily and Matt climb a rickety spiral staircase, they discover an intriguing room filled with wonderful treasures. They are excited to imagine where and when each originated. When they sit on an old red Canadian Flyer sled, their time travel adventures begin.

In Book One of the Canadian Flyer Adventure series, they are transported to the Far North circa 1577. They find themselves aboard Martin Frobisher’s pirate ship and later help to rescue an Inuit man.

In Book Two, they face dangers during the time of dinosaurs.

Storytime Standouts recommends the Canadian Flyer Adentures series including Danger, DinorsaursI read and enjoyed both books. Likely intended for children who are reading at about a grade two to three level, the series is generously illustrated and quite exciting. Extra features include additional facts, an interview with the author and a preview of the next book in the series for grade two. It is great to see a series like this. The Canadian Flyer Adventure series will be enjoyed by young readers everywhere but will have a special appeal for Canadian children and those who gravitate toward history or time travel.

OwlKids Books’ Canadian Flyer Adventures website includes teacher resources and a map

Beware, Pirates! at

Danger, Dinosaurs! at

Beware, Pirates! at

Danger, Dinosaurs! at

Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride – Delightful Reading for 6 to 8 Year olds

Posted on September 4th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride - Delightful Reading for 6 to 8 Year oldsMercy Watson Goes for a Ride written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Chapter Book Series for Kindergarten to Grade 3 published by Candlewick Press

What could be better than expertly buttered toast? Not much, especially if you are Mercy Watson. She loves hot buttered toast almost as much as she enjoys adventure.

Author, Kate DiCamillo and illustrator, Chris Van Dusen have teamed up to create a delightful series of blue ribbon pig tales. Perfect for boys and girls, aged 6 to 8, each book is generously illustrated with bold and humorous depictions of Mercy’s hilarious escapades.

Whether attempting to drive a car or capturing a thief, Mercy is one very special pig. Read aloud or independently, this series is definitely one you’ll ‘toast.’

The delightful Mercy Watson website

Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride was a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book in 2007

Ms. DiCamillo has written several notable chapter books for older readers Because of Winn-Dixie (a Newbery Honor book), The Tiger Rising (a National Book Award finalist), and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. She won The Newbery Award for The Tale of Despereaux. I can’t pick a favorite, I’ll just look forward to the next.

Picture Book A Camping Spree With Mr. MageeMr. Van Dusen wrote and illustrated two picture books I frequently recommend; A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee and Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee.

Chris Van Dusen’s website

Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride at

Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride at

A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee at

A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee at

Grade One Chapter Book: Being friends is better than being famous

Posted on August 31st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

When my boys first ventured into reading grade one chapter books, they were delighted to discover Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel. Featuring a wonderful friendship and many happy adventures, the Frog and Toad series has been a favorite with young readers for decades.

James Howe’s latest book, Houndlsey and Catina is very reminiscent of the Frog and Toad series. Howe is famous for Bunnicula (Today Vegetables… Tomorrow the World). Houndlsey and Catina will appeal to younger readers who prefer shorter, generously illustrated chapters and less text. It will likely suit a child reading at a mid to late grade one level.

Grade One Chapter Book: Being friends is better than being famous Houndsley and CatinaHoundlsey and Catina written by James Howe and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Chapter book series for kindergarten – grade three published by Candlewick Press

Illustrated beautifully by Marie-Louis Gay, Houndlsey and Catina tells of Catina’s desire to write a prize-winning book and Houndleys’ wish to win a cooking contest. Together, they help us see that being friends “is better than being famous.” This is a lovely tribute to friendship.

Houndsley and Catina at

Houndsley and Catina at

The Frog and Toad Collection Box Set (I Can Read Book 2) at

The Frog and Toad Collection Box Set at

Really reading – Effective Reading Strategies for Your Child

Posted on August 30th, 2011 by Jody

What Does Reading Involve - Effective Reading Strategies for Your Child

Looking at effective reading strategies for your child

Being able to read encompasses more than you think. With your child getting ready to go back to school, it’s good for parents to know exactly what it means to be a ‘good reader’

The benefit of being a ‘good reader’ is that you don’t even think about all of the actual strategies and tools you are employing to make sense of the words on the page.

No Pets Allowed and Effective Reading Strategies for Your Child When I ask my students “What do good readers do?” they can state any or all of the following: Read ahead, Read back, Look at the pictures, Ask questions, Make Predictions, Summarize, and Re-Read. All of these are powerful strategies that ‘good readers’ use naturally. For a student that doesn’t naturally use these tools, reading is more difficult.

The Loser List and Effective Reading Strategies for Your ChildEach of these strategies is taught both independently and with the other strategies until students don’t even realize they are using them. You can reinforce your child’s reading by supporting these tools at home. Reading is the ultimate example of multitasking. For the child that is missing certain tools however, they will feel overwhelmed. Obviously, this is addressed at the classroom level, but at home, reading every day is essential to helping your child become a solid, fluent reader. Ask your child to summarize what is happening, pose questions of your own about what you are wondering, and make guesses with your child about what could happen and why you think that.

The Lemonade War and Effective Reading Strategies for Your ChildYou can make these book talks fun and brief; basically just a check in that your child understands what they have read. These strategies can be applied at any reading level, including pre-kindergarten books with no words. When looking at books like these, I’ll ask my youngest daughter what she thinks is happening or if the character seems happy or sad. Start these talks young so your child feels comfortable talking about what they are reading. Oral language is a huge part of reading successfully.

You should be able to tell if your child has picked a book within their reading range by asking them to read aloud to you. Can they read the words without getting stuck on more than five on a page? Do they self-correct when they make mistakes? Do they seem engaged and curious about what they are reading? Do they want to know more? Do they ask questions and make predictions?

Reading is more than identifying words on a page. Books are meant to be read, enjoyed, and understood. Working with your child’s teacher, you can make reading more than acquiring information; you can make it a journey, an adventure, an escape and a lifelong pleasure.

Grade Two Chapter Books – Why Nate is Really Great

Posted on August 28th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

When looking for a special grade two chapter book, you can’t go wrong with Nate the Great

Storytime Standouts Looks at a Grade Two Chapter Book Series – Why Nate is Really GreatNate the Great written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and illustrated by Marc Simont
Published by Yearling

Nate likes pancakes and syrup almost as much as he enjoys solving a perplexing mystery. Nate and his canine sidekick, Sludge, are called upon to solve all sorts of cases; locating lost paintings, disappearing dogs and, in one case, a missing key.

With an appearance that is often reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, Nate is all business – except if pancakes are on the menu. Along with Annie and Rosamond, our hero cracks each case with solid detective work.

Nate the Great is a series that has been delighting young readers for more than thirty years. Suitable for children who are reading at about a grade two level, some of the stories are divided into chapters. Generously illustrated, the text is perfect for young readers who are ready to take on a meatier story (than typically found in easy readers).

Series like these are great because beginning readers often decide they want to read every single one of the Nate the Great books. This is just what we want, a child who is motivated to read by fun stories and a delightful cast of characters.

Nate the Great at Random House includes printable activities plus author information.

TeacherVision Nate the Great summarizing activity

Nate the Great at

Nate the Great at

Take a Look at Using Rebus Chants With New Readers

Posted on August 26th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Rebus chants for children who are beginning to read

Learning to Read Fun with Rebus Chants!

Have you tried rebus chants in your early literacy programs? I present programs for 4, 5 and 6-year-old children. I use a variety of materials and have had considerable success with rebus chants. I print off multiple copies of the chants, I handcolor them using pencil crayons, mount them on card stock and then laminate them.

The rebus chants are usually poems where several words are replaced with hand-drawn pictures. They are great for emergent readers because they usually include frequently repeated, predictable text AND rhyming words. The young child does not have to decode all the words – the rebus pictures fill-in-the-blanks.

In addition to giving children the satisfaction of “reading” (both text and illustrations), the poems will also support the development of phonemic awareness.

Storytime Standouts shares a snowman rebus poem for beginning readersThere are many sources of rebus chants. This is one that I created for you to download for free

image of PDF icon  Counting Snowmen Rebus

My favourites are created by Vera Trembach and published by Rainbow Horizons Publishing. Ms. Trembach offers seasonal and theme-related chants – there is truly something for everyone!

Whether you checkout the Canadian Rainbow Horizons Publishing website or the American website, you’ll find free teaching units and detailed information including previews of the chant books.

Emergent Readers Captivated by Drama and Mystery

Posted on August 24th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

A fun book series for beginning readers: Read at Home

Check out this series for emergent readers

I spent a fair amount of time in a dentist’s chair today and was reflecting on my recent experience with a grade one student. I’ve been working with him for a while. His older brothers have had some difficulty with reading so I spend half an hour, once a week with this youngster. Yesterday he read from the Oxford University Press Read at Home series. He is familiar with these books and knows the characters; Floppy, Chip, Kipper and Biff.

During our session, I suggested he try one of the Level 4 stories. He eagerly selected, Trapped! text by Cynthia Rider, illustrations by Alex Brychta. It was delightful to hear him read confidently but what was even more special was his reaction to the book. Clearly, he saw this story as different from others he has read independently. There was more text – about three sentences per page. There were letters and hidden keys to locate within the illustrations. But, most surprising, there was drama – when Grandma was briefly trapped in a castle – and mystery – why was there face at the castle window?

My emergent reader was thrilled to read Trapped – he likened it to the kind of books his older brothers read. He felt competent, confident and intrigued. If only all books for young readers could replicate this winning combination.

The Oxford University Press Read at Home series is excellent from beginning to end and includes dozens of great titles for emergent readers.

Read at Home: More Level 4c: Trapped! at

Read at Home: More Level 4c Trapped! at

Read at Home: Level 4, Pack of 6 at

What is your favorite series for readers at this level? Please share your ideas and suggestions.

5 Ways to Support a Beginning Reader – Helpful Tips for Moms and Dads

Posted on May 13th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

5 Ways to Support a Beginning Reader from

Following these steps when your child is a beginning reader will help him to become fluent and will enable you and your child to enjoy the learning to read experience together.

Click on the book covers for our post about using word families with a beginning reader.

Bug in a Rug, a good book for a beginning reader1. Make reading part of every day. Without exception. Committing to share this special time with your child each and every day will help your child to see reading as valuable. Have your child read to you and make sure that you continue to read aloud to your child.

Remember: becoming a great reader requires practice and some children need more practice than others do. Don’t despair when reading doesn’t happen quickly or easily, learning to read is like learning to ride a bike or becoming a swimmer. If you choose to make reading a priority, your efforts will be rewarded.

2. Keep the read aloud experience happy, relaxed and comfortable. Cozy up near a good light and enjoy a snuggle. If your child is too tired to read aloud, let it go (for one day) and spend a couple of extra minutes reading aloud to her.
Dog in the Fog, a good book for a beginning reader
3. Help your child to find appealing books to read. Be sure to check out the selection at your public library or stop by your child’s classroom for suggestions. Do your best to find books that are “just right” for your child. You will be better at evaluating books than your child is so take an active role in assessing the level of difficulty.

In my experience, some of the “best” books are the ones that other children recommend. Positive “word of mouth” advertising can be a great motivator for a young reader.

4. Celebrate your child’s success with reading. Being able to read twenty words or a chapter book is a big deal! How about celebrating with a book worm cupcake or a trip to the library or a special bookmark or a new bookshelf? Perhaps the readers in your household are allowed to stay up fifteen minutes later than the non readers…
Fat Cat, a good book for a beginning reader

5. Remain patient and supportive. When your child encounters a tricky word, help with some strategies. If your child can’t manage the word, tell her the word and move on.

You will also be interested in our page about beginning to read

Some of our Favourite Posts About Supporting Beginning Readers

Hover over the picture to read the post title. Click on the picture to read the entire post

Learning games for beginning readers6 Ways to help a child read an unfamiliar word from Storytime StandoutsBeginning Readers should use these strategies to read difficult words15 tips for Parents of Young Readers and Writers from Storytime StandoutsStorytime Standouts Explains How to Help a Child Read Unfamiliar Words9 Ways to Help a Beginning Reader Succeed from

5 Ways to Help Your Child with Print Awareness –

Posted on May 5th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Print Awareness - 5 Ways to Help Your Child with Printed Language

Here are five ways to help your child gain familiarity with printed language

1. Encourage your child to be the page turner when you read aloud to her.

2. Ask your child to hold the book while you enjoy it together.

Print Awareness includes reading words like ABRACADABRA!3. When reading aloud, point to some of the words or trace from left to right as your read. Watch for books that use interesting fonts to express emotion – encourage your child to read exciting words (like ABRACADABRA or FEE FI FO FUM) with you. Print Awareness includes FEE FI FO FUM

4. Explore the world of environmental print. Encourage your child to notice lists, labels, packaging, signs, menus, mail, newspapers and magazines. Help your child to notice the many ways you use print: checking instructions for medication, reading a recipe, laughing at a comic in the newspaper, assembling a toy or learning a new game.

5. Make a mistake and see if your child corrects you. Hold a book upside down or try to read it from back to front.

Picture books that promote print awareness

Exclamation Mark outstanding 2013 picture bookExclamation Mark written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Picture Book that promotes print awareness published by Scholastic Press

Exclamation Mark is just not like anyone else. As much as he’d like to look the same, he’s always a standout in a crowd.

He was confused, flummoxed, and deflated.
He even thought about running away.

Clever wordplay and fun, expressive illustrations will captivate children old enough to understand punctuation and the important role it plays in our language. Older readers will enjoy the double entendre and will celebrate Exclamation Mark’s voyage of self discovery.

Why oh why is he different? He wants nothing more than to look just like the periods around him. It is only when Question Mark arrives on the scene that Exclamation Mark discovers something deep within – he discovers why and how he has an important role to play – despite his rather unique upright appearance.

An outstanding 2013 picture book, Exclamation Mark is highly recommended for readers aged five years and up.

Exclamation Mark at

Exclamation Mark at

Storytime Standouts Looks at Click Clack Moo Cows That TypeClick, Clack, Moo Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
Picture Book that promotes print awareness published by Simon and Schuster

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type is a fun story that does a great job of introducing print awareness. The story draws the reader’s attention to letters and words and one way of conveying messages. As well, Farmer Brown’s body language is great to watch. The illustrations in the story encourage children to “read between the lines.”

A 2001 Caldecott Honor Book, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type is a terrific book for children aged three years and up.

2001 Charlotte Zolotow Award Nominee for Highly Commended Title
2002 Vermont’s Picture Book Awards: Red Clover
A 2001 ALA Notable Children’s Book for Younger Readers
2002 Charlotte Award (New York State Reading Association)
2001 Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award for Picture Book
2001 Book Sense Book of the Year Honor Book for Children’s Illustrated

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type at

Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type at

Links to four posts we think you’ll find interesting

Using Environmental Print with Beginning Readers15 tips for Parents of Young Readers and Writers from Storytime StandoutsStorytime Standouts Explains How to Help a Child Read Unfamiliar Words9 Ways to Help a Beginning Reader Succeed from

5 Reading Comprehension Tips for Parents and Homeschoolers

Posted on April 8th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Reading comprehension – ensuring that readers understand

5 Reading Comprehension Tips for Parents

We help our children to learn letters and then letter sounds. We sit with them while they read their first words and we share their excitement as they become readers. Caps for SaleAs this amazing transformation takes place, we should remember the goal of reading: comprehension. It is not enough to be able to read words, readers must be able to understand the words they are reading.

You may be interested in Storytime Standouts’ page about comprehension.

With very young children, we can take steps to support reading comprehension by asking

• for predictions and guesses: “How do you think this story will end?” or “What will the bears do when they discover Goldilocks?”

• about the story problem: “What problem did the peddler solve in Caps for Sale ?”

• how a problem was solved: “How did the Prince find his dancing partner in Cinderella?”

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

• what happened in the beginning, the middle and the end: “What did Goldilocks do first in Goldilocks and the Three Bears ?”

• your child’s opinion: “Which version of The Three Billy Goats Gruff
do you like best?”

Our posts about learning to read

Using Word Families With Beginning Readers6 Ways to help a child read an unfamiliar word from Storytime StandoutsBeginning Readers should use these strategies to read difficult words15 tips for Parents of Young Readers and Writers from Storytime StandoutsStorytime Standouts Explains How to Help a Child Read Unfamiliar Words9 Ways to Help a Beginning Reader Succeed from

9 Ways to Help a Beginning Reader – We Can Help You Make a Plan

Posted on April 5th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

9 Ways to Help a Beginning Reader Succeed from

If you are helping a beginning reader, these ideas will be of assistance to you and your child.

Often with beginning readers, there is alot of emphasis on having the child read aloud to an adult. Sometimes teachers will even assign “Home Reading (aloud)” homework. The fact is that some children don’t want to read aloud to an adult. They may worry about making mistakes and feeling “exposed.” If your child doesn’t want to read aloud to you, suggest that she read aloud to a favourite doll or teddy bear or even the family dog. There was a study, not long ago, that found reading aloud to a dog was effective in improving reading skills.

9 Ways to Help a Beginning Reader Succeed including Jen the Hen, a good book for a beginning readerI also want to mention that parents should continue to read aloud to children long after they learn to read for themselves. So, don’t stop reading aloud just because your child has started to read. Hearing you read more challenging stories will encourage them to improve their own reading skills. We want them to have an appetite for more difficult books and an appreciation for the amazing stories that are available to good readers.

Click on the book covers for more information about each book and follow this link for more information about Beginning to Read.

Anyhow, back to the “plan” for helping a beginning reader…

  • Choosing a book is alot like tasting porridge. We don’t want a book that is too difficult and we want to move past the ones that are too easy. We want a book that is “just right.” Some people suggest using The Rule of Five. If your child has difficulty with five or more words on a page, have your child choose a different, easier book to read. Then, offer to read the “too tough” book aloud so your child has the opportunity to enjoy it.

  • 9 Ways to Help a Beginning Reader Succeed including reading books like Nate the Great

  • Keep in mind that just because a book is labelled “level 3,” does not mean that the level of difficulty is consistent with other books with the same label. Take time to check out the text.
  • Once your child has selected a book, talk about the cover. What sort of story will it be? Does this cover remind you of anything else we’ve read? Who wrote the book? Who illustrated it? Previewing a book can help boost comprehension and critical thinking.
  • If the book is non fiction (a fact book), ask your child what he hopes to learn and what he already knows about the subject. Warm up the book.
  • Decide how best to share the book… does your child want to read it silently and then aloud? would your child like you to read together with him? will you alternate pages or paragraphs? or will your child read the passage and then listen while you reread it? Please keep in mind that some memorizing and guessing is “normal.”If your child makes a mistake or gets mixed up, pause and give him a chance to self correct. If he can’t solve the problem, suggest that he try to read it again or read to the end of the sentence and decide which word would make sense.
  • 9 Ways to Help a Beginning Reader Succeed including Mercy Watson, a good series for a beginning reader

  • If your child makes a mistake that does not make sense, ask him, “Did that make sense? Did it sound right?” If he tries twice but can’t decode the word, tell him the correct word.
  • If possible, as you are reading together, pause to discuss what is happening, what might happen next, how the story might end.
  • Remember, your praise is incredibly important to your child. There are all sorts of things you can say to a beginning reader

    “I loved your expression when you read that story.”
    “I’m so glad you are checking out the pictures for clues about this story.”
    “I like the way you figured out that tough word.”
    “I’m glad you asked me to help you read that tricky word.”
    “I am so proud of your reading!”

  • 9 Ways to Help a Beginning Reader Succeed including Houndsley and Catina, a popular book for a beginning reader

  • Keep in mind that your child does not have to read perfectly. If she substitutes a word and the sentence still makes sense, ignore the mistake and let her continue. If she makes a mistake and the sentence does not make sense, wait for the sentence to end and then ask, “Does that make sense?” Encourage her to correct her own mistakes.

  • My advice is to relax. Learning to read is not a race and becoming an early reader does not ensure a love of books. Reading is like so many other milestones in childhood. Some children become readers quickly and almost effortlessly, while others require encouragement and lots of extra help. Your child will become a reader – I am sure of it – and, if you can keep the experience positive, relaxed and happy, I believe you will be playing a critically important part in raising your child to love to books and reading.

    Please share your ideas, questions and suggestions about helping a beginning reader.

    How to Help a Beginning Reader Decode Unfamiliar Words

    Posted on November 20th, 2010 by Carolyn Hart

    Storytime Standouts Explains How to Help a Child Read Unfamiliar Words

    There are all sorts of ways we can help children to read unfamiliar words. When children struggle to decode an unfamiliar words, here are some strategies to suggest.

  • Picture Clues – Almost all books for beginning and emergent readers are generously illustrated. We want children to “read” the pictures and use what they see in the illustrations to help them read the text. Encourage your child to look at the illustrations and see if there are clues in the illustrations that can help.   Remember, even before children start reading independently, we can pause to discuss and investigate illustrations for story clues.  We can encourage children to think about the relationship between the illustrations and the text. Wordless picture books are a great resource for pre-readers and children who are beginning to read. They offer opportunities to practice reading and interpreting illustrations.
  • Blending Letter Sounds – Many of the words that children encounter in books for beginning readers can be decoded by “sounding out.”  Encourage your child to begin with the sound made by the first letter in the word. Continue with subsequent letters and sounds.  Finally, mush the sounds together until they blend.  Note:  we can help children to learn this skill (before they start reading or once they have begun to read) by giving them sounds to mush or blend together.  For example, “Blend these three sounds and tell me what word they make /c/  /a/  /t/.”
  • Using Word Chunks – Some words that beginning readers encounter will have familiar parts or chunks.  A child may be able to use his knowledge of other words to identify chunks within a new word.  If your child can read “dog,” he should be better able to decode “hog.”  Familiarity with word families and rhyming words supports this approach.
  • Context Clues -Some sentences and paragraphs provide clues about words that might make sense.  For example, if a child encounters this sentence:  The brown dog jumped up and _______.  If the first letter in the unknown word is “b,”  what might be a logical guess? Keep in mind that sometimes a child uses clues and makes a logical guess that is not correct. For example and child might substitute “house” for “home.” When a child makes a guess that is logical (given the clues) but incorrect, we usually would not interrupt his reading to correct the mistake.
  • Some more of our posts about reading and learning to read…

    5 Reading Comprehension Tips for Parents15 tips for Parents of Young Readers and Writers from Storytime StandoutsGetting Ready to Read While in the Car10 Great Reasons to Read Aloud to Your Child

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