Posts Tagged ‘reading aloud’

Make Your Child’s Read Aloud Experience Great

Posted on January 8th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares 7 tips for sharing picture books with children

7 tips to make your child’s read-aloud experience outstanding!

  • We think that your daily read-aloud time with your child or children should be the happiest part of your day. This is an opportunity to forget about work, forget about chores, forget about whatever is distracting you. Make storytime an opportunity to focus just on your child. Read aloud is a time to escape into great picture books or chapter books and create wonderful memories and learning opportunities for your child.
  • Just as you might count down the days ’til you visit a special friend or location, create some excitement about the books you read aloud. “What shall we read tonight?” “I can’t wait for our storytime!”, “Let’s borrow a HUGE pile of books from the library this weekend!”, “What kind of book would you like for your birthday?”, “Which books shall we take on our holiday?”
  • It’s completely fine to read the same book more than once to your child! Each time you read a book aloud, children are learning new vocabulary, they are gaining phonemic awareness and exploring new ideas and new themes. Don’t worry if your child wants to hear the same book over and over again. He is still benefiting from the experience and enjoying the time with you!
  • Beyond simplying reading aloud, have some “performance fun.” Use silly, giggling voices, stern, authoritative voices. Use high-pitched squeaky voices and low-pitched growls. Act out part of the story along with your child! Build a special fort and read inside it! Turn out the lights and read with a flashlight or read while stretched out on a picnic blanket. If your child doesn’t want to sit still for a story, it is completely fine to have your child play with Lego or draw a picture while you read.
  • Interrupt the story occasionally and engage your child in discussion. Encourage your child to make a prediction or tell you which farm animal he likes best or make a comparison to another story. Play I Spy with the illustrations or the text. When children make predictions and comparisons, they are flexing their comprehension muscles!
  • Choose age-appropriate stories for your child, look for books that match your child’s maturity and interests. When she is ready, move past baby or toddler books and discover great picture books and chapter books. Every now and then, be brave and give something challenging a try – don’t be afraid to stretch!
  • Make time for you and your child to enjoy this simple yet rewarding escape every single day. It will be good for both of you, it will instill a love of reading and prepare your child for independent reading!

Don’t stop the readin’…hold on to that read aloud feeling. Sing Along!

Posted on October 23rd, 2014 by Jody

Don't Stop the Readin'  Hold on to that Feeling A Guest Post by @1PrncsSome days I’m more “quirky” than others. This is one of those days. Instead of just telling you that your middle-grade children (grades 4, 5, 6, 7) are not too old for you to keep up that nightly ritual of reading, I’ve made some alterations to a classic Journey song. You can laugh or roll your eyes, but the message will be the same. They’re getting older, but it doesn’t lessen their enthusiasm for books. Nor does it mean they don’t need us there to help them navigate some of the issues that their favourite characters are facing. Bottom line? Take fifteen minutes at the end of the night, curl up on someone’s bed, and keep reading.

Don’t Stop the Readin’ (adapted from Journey’s Don’t stop believin’– hardcore Journey fans…I’m sorry 🙂 (ps: it helps if you listen to the song in the background softly so you can read with the beat)

Just a grade five  girl
Readin’ bout’ a wizard  world
She read the whole series
Loved the characters
Just a grade six boy
Thinks he doesn’t like to read
He found The Outsiders
Thinks he’s Ponyboy

His father comes into the room
The moon is out the day is done
For a while they can read tonight
It goes on and on and on and on

Parents reading
Learnin’ bout the Hunger Games,
Heroes like Percy
Quests and danger
Find out what your kids are lovin’
Read with them every night

Workin’ hard to pay the bills
One on one time is such a thrill
Read a story, talk about your day
It’s worth the time
Picture Book
Doesn’t matter what you read
Graphic novels, Patterson
The list can go on and on and on

They aren’t too old
Even in the middle grades
Let them read to you
Read to them
Make it matter
A great way to stay connected
Just fifteen minutes a night

Don’t stop the readin’
Hold on to that feelin’
With your children
Don’t stop the readin’
Sachar, Judy Blume
They keep you readin’
Keep on reading!

Don’t Stop Believin’ at

Don’t Stop Believin’: the Best of Journey at

Reading with and to your kids every day – Why Bother?

Posted on September 6th, 2013 by Jody

Our guest contributor shares great reasons to read aloud to children

Storytime Standouts’ guest contributor shares her thoughts on reading with your kids and why it matters.

In the summer it is easy to let routines flounder. Well, if you’re exceptionally lucky and both you and your spouse are teachers and therefore have your vacation together as a whole family. We spend our days doing day trips, staying in pajamas, the girls playing while I write; it’s pretty sweet. The kids go to bed a little later, you socialize more so the bedtime routine isn’t always predictable. I’m often tempted to just tell my ten-year-old to go ahead and read on her own. My seven-year-old, with a great deal of warranted pride, always wants to read to us. She reads us her three stories with unique and funny accents and expressions that never fail to make me smile. My ten year old reads her own book, a series with her dad and a series with me. There’s no lack of reading going on in our house. She was given the green light to read the rest of the Harry Potter series this summer (something I was torn about allowing as she is only ten). This made it even more tempting to just say goodnight and get to the quiet time early. We could probably convince our seven year old to read to herself too in exchange for being allowed to stay up later, reading in her room. So why do we bother? Even, or maybe especially, in the summer when we feel lazy and carefree?Why Bother Reading With Your Kids a Guest Post by Jody Holford

  • Because it’s a way to connect with them through something you can both enjoy.
  • Because it gives one on one time.
  • Because it gives a reason and topic for conversation.
  • Because it’s enjoyable for both of you.
  • Because it helps them to be better readers and listeners.
  • Because it engages their mind and imagination.
  • Because there’s nothing better than getting lost in a book with characters you adore and taking someone along for the ride.
  • Because in an age of “go-go-go”, stopping matters. Stop, sit, read with your kids.
  • Because as they get older, they won’t want you to lay on their bed beside them.
  • Because you never get this time back.
  • Because it will matter to them and they will look forward to the daily routine of mom or dad curled up beside them, sharing a story.

So why bother? Some days seem especially long but in reality, time speeds by and we need to do what we can to form strong bonds and relationships with our children. I love the opportunities that present themselves through reading with my girls, particularly the older one because it lets me see how she would problem solve or resolve an issue. “What do you think of the way they treated that girl?” “Have you ever been part of a rumor?” “What would you do if two friends were fighting over you?” We spend so much time figuring out how to teach our kids to be prepared for life and how to handle stress that we forget that some of those very lessons are in the books they’re reading. Rather than fearing what they may face in middle school and high school, I like having the opportunity, through books, to talk to them about things rather than lecture. It’s one more way to be proactive in helping your child be the strongest, most capable person they can be. And that’s our job.


10 Great Reasons to Read Stories Aloud to Your Child

Posted on March 27th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

10 Great Reasons to Read Stories Aloud to Your Child

Storytime Standouts shares ten great reasons to read stories aloud to your child

<5>Reading aloud to my sons has been one of the highlights of being a parent. My boys are both teens now and have pretty much outgrown picture books (Christmas Eve is always an exception) but shared memories of trips to the library and hundreds of great bedtime stories read aloud will remain with us forever. Having said that, reading a couple of bedtime stories aloud, every night for seven or eight years is hard work. There were definitely nights where I would have happily ‘skipped’ and had a little more time to myself. I clearly remember, on more than one occasion, my younger son being wide awake at his bedtime while I was falling asleep as I attempted to read aloud to him. He would say, “Mommy, your voice sounds really strange.” I would rouse myself enough to finish the story and then head off to my own bed.

image of Curious George by H.A. Rey

Curious George written and illustrated by H.A. Rey shows us that bold, uppercase letters mean the words are loud.

Let’s take a look at ten great reasons to read aloud to your child(ren)

When we read aloud to children, they (1) get to know books. They learn that books have front covers and back covers. The covers can be hard or soft/flexible. Books have spines and sometimes they wear jackets.

Sharing stories with children also helps them learn (2) how to hold and manipulate a book. When we read aloud to children, they discover how a book “works.” They come to understand that a book written in English is read from front to back and that we (gently) turn the pages as the story unfolds. They discover that, if we want, we can go back and reread a page, we can also skip a page.

Occasionally running a finger along the printed text will also help children learn that (3) pages are read from top to bottom and the text is read from left to right. With a little help from us, children will discover that bold words are often important to the story and usually we think of bold words or words shown in uppercase letters as LOUD WORDS.

If we read lift the flap books or pop up books, children will learn that (4) sometimes books have flaps or other features that hide the solution to a riddle or some other surprise.

Reading aloud also exposes children to the (5) beauty and richness of our language. Children will also gain (6)phonemic awareness as they discover how to play with words and sounds through rhyming and alliteration.

When hearing books read aloud, children (and adults) learn (7) new words and all sorts of wonderful (8) facts (especially when the children are wild about dinosaurs!)

Hearing a selection of books gives children an understanding of (9) what a story is , how a fairy tale is different from a fable and how tall tales exaggerate.

Hearing picture books read aloud can also enable children to (10) safely explore worrisome or difficult topics like going to the hospital or coping with illness, disability, bullying, or even the death of a loved one while safe in a loving and comfortable environment.

Christmas Picture Books – Jody’s List of Holiday Favourites

Posted on December 8th, 2011 by Jody

Christmas Picture Books - Jody's List of Holiday Favourites Check Them Out!

Christmas picture books are in a class of their own.
At home, we always keep our Christmas picture books separate from the rest of the piles. We pull them out in late November and tuck them away at the end of the season with all of the other decorations. Just like when we unwrap each ornament that has been packed away for a year, pulling out each story is equally exciting. We forget which ones we have over the year or which new ones we may have purchased at the end of the season and stored away. Over the years, we’ve read many different Christmas tales, but some stay with you throughout the season and beyond.

The Night Before Christmas illustration by Christian Birmingham

Storytime Standouts has many free Christmas printables – You will find all of our Christmas and Winter-themed printables grouped together here .

Here are some of my favourite Christmas picture books…

image of cover art for The Night Before Christmas The Night Before Christmas written by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Christian Birmingham
Christmas picture book published by Running Press Kids

The classic tale that we all know; I love reading this every Christmas Eve. It makes me think of my mom, who recites the words along with me as I read because she knows it by heart. I love that the wonderment of Christmas is displayed through an adult’s eyes.

The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Christian Birmingham at

The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Christian Birmingham at

image of cover art for Are You Grumpy Santa!Are you Grumpy Santa? by Gregg & Evan Spiridellis
Christmas Picture Book published by Disney-Hyperion

This is, hands down, one of the cutest Christmas books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Just like anyone else, Santa can only take so much and finally becomes grumpy when nothing goes his way. The rhyme and the pictures are great. It never fails to amuse me, regardless of how many times I read it.

Are You Grumpy Santa? at

Are Your Grumpy Santa? At

image of cover art for Queen of ChristmasQueen of Christmas by Mary Engelbreit
Christmas picture book published by HarperCollins

I have always enjoyed Mary Engelbreit’s illustrations. I often buy calendars with her pictures because they are sweet and have nice phrases on them. I purchased this book a few years ago and the illustrations are beautiful. It’s the story of a young girl who is working hard to finish her incredibly long Christmas list before Christmas Eve. Of course, in the end, she learns it’s not what’s on the list that counts. When I purchased this book, it came with a paper doll and clothes, which my children love as much as the book.

Queen of Christmas at

Queen of Christmas at

image of cover art for Christmas Around the WorldChristmas Around the World by Chuck Fischer
Christmas Pop Up Book published by Little, Brown and Company

My mom gave me this book a couple years ago. You are never too old for a good pop up book. Just this morning, my youngest opened one of the pages and said, “Wow! Mommy, look at this Christmassy page!” Featuring a number of different countries, it includes pull outs, interesting facts, and beautiful images.

Christmas Around the World: A Pop Up Book at

Christmas Around the World: A Pop Up Book at

image of cover art for Snowmen at NightSnowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner
Snowman Picture Book published by Harcourt

The illustrations in this story are very fun. It’s a favourite with my classroom kids, who like to imagine what a snowman could possibly do when no one is looking!

Snowmen at Night at

Snowmen at Night at

image of cover art for Olivia Helps with ChristmasOlivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer
Christmas Picture Book published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

I can’t help but love every Olivia book and pairing her with my favourite holiday is just a bonus. As they wait for Santa to finally arrive, Olivia finds many ways to help her mom. My favourite part is when she makes a special mini Christmas tree “centre piece”.

Olivia Helps with Christmas at

Olivia Helps with Christmas at

image of cover art for How the Grinch Stole ChristmasHow the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Christmas Picture Book published by Random House Books for Young Readers

I love the rhyme, the characters, and I absolutely love when the Grinch’s heart grows! It’s such a cute and fun story. I’m very glad that my kids are no longer scared of it!

Grinch Printables from

How the Grinch Stole Christmas at

How the Grinch Stole Christmas at

Aside from reading to my own children, I love the joy my students get from these picture books. Though we teach differently in the intermediate grades, there is no age, or grade, limit for enjoying these stories.

If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you want to read, thank a parent.

Posted on November 6th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

If we want to engage children in reading and grow great readers, we need to make daily practice with age-appropriate books a priority.

If you can read this thank a teacher.  If you want to read thank a parent. from

I’m just back from a quick trip to the library. I had three books due today and didn’t want to rack up a fine. As I walked from the library, I passed a car with a wise bumper sticker: “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” It reminded me of a lunchtime conversation I had with some friends earlier today. We were talking about kids (actually boys) who read and kids (also boys) who don’t. One of the men at the table remarked that his parents didn’t express any anxiety over whether he would read, it was just assumed that everyone in the house enjoyed reading and so they all read together. One of the women remarked that she has a friend whose kids don’t read at all. Both children are boys and they never pick up a book. Apparently, even TV Guide is a challenge for one of them. As a booklover, I view this as a tragedy, as a teacher, I am suspicious. (Actually, the teacher part of me also sees it as a tragedy.) Becoming a good reader requires at least two things: instruction and practice. Virtually every child receives instruction but I’m not convinced that every child receives adequate practice.

If we want to engage children in reading and grow great readers, we need to make daily practice with age appropriate books a priority. The trick is to find increasingly challenging books that captive and inspire. I will do my best to alert you to my favourites – please “chime in” with your own.

By the way, my rewrite of the bumper sticker would look something like this:

“If you can read, thank a teacher. If you want to read, thank a parent.”

Selecting great stories and the importance of reading aloud to kids

Posted on October 25th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Suggestions for selecting great bedtime stories from Storytime Standouts

When making presentations to parent groups and professional organizations, my goal is always the same: to inspire adults to read good books to children on a frequent basis.

I have two children and I began reading aloud to them when my oldest boy was 6 months. I continued reading two stories a day until the youngest was about 7 years old. (We still enjoy chapter books together.)

Believe it or not, I actually did the calculation:
8.5 years X 2 stories per day X 365 days = 6,205 bedtime stories! Unbelievable!

Choosing Great Bedtime Stories

We know as parents that we are going to read some books over and over again because our children will insist we do. The rest of the time, let’s do our best to find books that are worth reading.

Whether through this website or a Parent Ed session at your preschool, I want to help you discover some new books that will help your child…
• substantially grow his vocabulary. Remember, we tend to use the same words over and over again when we talk with our children. When we read aloud to them, they encounter new vocabulary. Here are some suggestions for picture books with rich language
• gain and awareness of rhyming and alliteration. Also known as ‘Phonemic Awareness,’ discovering that words are made up of sounds will help your child read and spell. Here are some suggestions for you to support your child’s phonemic awareness.
• learn about places and situations. Whether reading about Madeline’s life in Paris or Ping’s home in China, books take us to new and exciting places. They introduce situations that our children do not encounter personnally.
• explore the language and conventions of print. Children learn that English is read from left to right and from top to bottom. They may also learn that exclamation marks and bold print send a message to the reader.
• discover new information and ideas. Books are a great way for your child to learn about topics that interest them: dinosaurs, castles, robots and undersea creatures! Here are some non fiction picture books that we particularly recommend.
• become a good listener. Ah yes, you can be sure that your child’s teacher will be grateful for his attentiveness.

When selecting books for children we should look for
• respected authors and illustrators and their well-reviewed books
• good matches for our child’s interests (in my case it was, ‘Books about trucks!’)
• ways to connect books with life experiences (i.e. an upcoming trip or planting a garden)

Keep reading, I will do my very best to help you with selecting great bedtime stories.

You may also enjoy…
Answers to 10 FAQ About Reading Aloud to Children from Storytime StandoutsStorytime Standouts guest contributor writes about reading aloud to children10 Great Reasons to Read Aloud to Your Child

Beyond Bedtime Stories, early literacy can Include more than reading

Posted on October 21st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

A look at Beyond Bedtime Stories, a valuable resource for young families, daycare, homeschool and preschool and kindergarten settings.Beyond Bedtime Stories by V. Susan Bennett-Armistead, Nell K. Duke and Annie M. Moses

Beyond Bedtime Stories is a very thorough exploration of ways parents can promote early literacy with young children. The authors address dozens of important questions like “What if a book contains words or ideas that I find offensive?” and “Should I teach my child to read before kindergarten?” Beyond Bedtime Stories also includes suggestions of ways to fill your home with books even if you are on a budget, how to improve comprehension and ways to promote literacy inside and outside your home.

This is a very worthwhile resource for young families, daycare and preschool settings.

Beyond Bedtime Stories: A Parent’s Guide to Promoting Reading, Writing, and Other Literacy Skills from Birth to 5

Beyond Bedtime Stories : A Parent’s Guide to Promoting Reading, Writing, and Other Literacy Skills from Birth to 5 at

Tea, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Reading Aloud to Preteens

Posted on September 15th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares ideas about reading aloud to preteens and a great chocolate chip cookie recipe.Summer holidays have come to an end. This morning I am reflecting on how we spent our summers in the past and especially the years we spent reading aloud to preteens.

Often my summer days were filled with work, household chores and trying to keep my two sons reasonably happy. (Somehow the order of that list came out totally backwards!) My eldest boy has always been quite content reading and rereading books like Harry Potter. During the summer, he also enjoys swimming (with some computer time thrown in here and there). He’s an easy-going guy and always enjoys summer vacation. Basically, he is relaxed and happy in almost any situation.

My younger boy prefers activity. In past summers he has done woodworking, painted a birdhouse, worked on a crazy quilt, perfected his slap shot, gone to a basketball camp, gone to soccer camp, taken tennis lessons and played Wii games. He wants to be with his friends and to be kept busy with fun stuff ALL DAY LONG. Some days, it is enough to drive me up the wall. Storytime Standouts bakes chocolate chip books to enjoy while reading aloud to preteens

Anyhow, during our summers, we went to the library every week end exchanged one week’s books for new ones. When choosing books, I often selected books with a movie tie-in. These are perfect for reading aloud to preteens.

Sometimes we were in a situation where each of us was reading a book independently and my husband and I were each reading a book aloud. It doesn’t bother any of us to have so many different books on the go at the same time. As long as the books are engaging, we love it! Books are a huge part of our family life and we often talk about the fun of snuggling into our sleeping bags and sharing a story while in our tent.

Storytime Standouts bakes chocolate chip books to enjoy while reading aloud to preteensIt is wonderful to think back to previous summers and the pleasure of sharing a shaded picnic blanket and a huge stack of picture books or sitting under the stars and listening to spooky ghost stories. We enjoy good books together and the boys still love to hear us read aloud.

Some favorite titles for reading aloud to preteens

  • Michelle Paver‘s series: Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. This is a particularly good series to share with reluctant readers. The chapters are short and exciting. Since sharing this with my own sons, I have recommended to several other moms and some middle grade teachers. Read more about this series here.
  • Wolf Brother at

    Wolf Brother at

    Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel, an excellent read aloud for preteens

  • The Silverwing Trilogy by Kenneth Oppel – simply magical! I will never forget sharing this fantasy-adventure series with our boys. Highly recommended
  • The Silverwing Trilogy (Boxed Set): Silverwing; Sunwing; Firewing at

    The Silverwing Trilogy (Boxed Set): Silverwing; Sunwing; Firewing at

    Artemis Fowl - good fun for preteen readers

  • The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, a science fiction fantasy that has great appeal for this age group.
  • Artemis Fowl at

    Artemis Fowl at

    Do not miss the opportunity to read Harry Potter to your children

  • Do not miss the experience of sharing Harry Potter‘s magic with your children. Both of my sons have read the entire series. My husband and I read the first two or three books to them and they did the rest.
  • Harry Potter at

    Harry Potter at

    Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies

    – makes about four dozen cookies

    1 C softened butter or margarine
    1 C golden sugar
    1/2 C white sugar
    2 eggs
    1 1/2 Tsp vanilla
    2 1/2 C (all purpose) flour
    1/2 Tsp baking soda
    2 C semi sweet (or other) chocolate chips

    Using an electric mixer, cream together (both) sugars, butter, eggs and vanilla. Add the flour and the baking soda. Mix again. Add chocolate chips and stir by hand. Use a large spoon to drop unto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 or 325 (if convection) for about 12 minutes.

    Recommended Chapter Books – What to Read After E.B. White and Roald Dahl

    Posted on September 15th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    What to Read After E.B. White and Roald Dahl Chapter Book Suggestions for Preteens

    When you’ve read all the best-known novels for preteens, here are some lesser-known recommended chapter books

    I work with a grade three girl who is a very good reader. She has read almost all of Roald Dahl’s books (James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The B.F.G., etc.) and also E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan. The question posed Wednesday was, “What shall I read next? What are your recommended chapter books for kids like me?”

    Let’s take a look at some possibilities…

    Tuck Everlasting
    by Natalie Babbitt
    A great pick for summertime reading, this adventure is set in the 1880s and tells the story of a family who has found a source of eternal life. Very difficult decisions lie ahead as one of the boys falls in love with Winnie. She must decide between eternal life with him and a life that will come to an end.

    Tuck Everlasting at

    Tuck Everlasting at

    Frindle (plus The Landry News, The Report Card)
    by Andrew Clements
    Nick has loads of ideas – he’s always trying to liven things up. His grade five teacher, known as The Lone Granger, is all business and unlikely to appreciate Nick’s antics. However, an early assignment to look up word definitions may just have potential: why not call a pen something else? How about using frindle instead?

    Frindle at

    Frindle at

    Owls in the Family
    by Farley Mowat
    I love this depiction of Mr. Mowat’s boyhood. He lived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and had all manner of pets. His parents must have been amazing – imagine managing a household with a dog, gophers, snakes, owls and more. The chapter that describes the new minister’s tumultuous visit is one I will never forget.

    Owl in the Family at

    Owls in the Family at

    The Nose from Jupiter (plus A Nose for Adventure & Noses Are Red)
    by Richard Scrimger
    Leave your scepticism at the door and enjoy the fun. Poor Alan is a mess, there is something not quite right. His nose is stuffy, considerably stuffier than usual. Norbert, an alien from Jupiter, is an unexpected, uninvited guest in Alan’s nose.

    The Nose from Jupiter at

    The Nose from Jupiter at

    The Grade Four Reading Slump – Steps to Avoid It

    Posted on September 8th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Avoiding the Grade 4 Reading Slump Advice from

    The Grade Four Reading Slump – parental awareness and action can have a huge impact

    Children, when they reach about grade four, are vulnerable when it comes to reading. Typically, the books grade four children want to read are longer, the print may be smaller, there are fewer illustrations and readers may encounter tougher and/or altogether unfamiliar words.Amulet is a graphic novel that may appeal to otherwise reluctant readersAll of these factors may deter these children from wanting to read.

    To avoid having middle grade children stop reading (or choose to read books that are meant for younger children), remember that it is best for you to continue reading books aloud even when your child is eight, nine or ten years old. Find an exciting children’s novel to share with your child and either alternate reading with your child or let your child sit back, listen, relax and savor the story. Drawn in by a great book and your enthusiasm for it, your child will be motivated to read increasingly challenging books. Series are especially great choices because children will often decide to read subsequent books independently. To a parent, the choice for a child to pick up book 2, 3 and 4 of a series signals, “Mission Accomplished.”Wolf Brother is the first book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series. It has short, exciting chapters and strong appeal for reluctant readers

    I once shocked a group of parents when I said that if I had a choice of reading to my child or listening to my child read, I would choose reading aloud to him (fortunately, the choice should never be necessary). The fact is, if we read aloud to our children, we will foster an appetite for great books and we will introduce fascinating characters, unusual settings, little-known historical and/or scientific facts and spectacular new vocabulary that will serve our children well. Also remember, the more your children observe you reading, the greater the likelihood that your child will reach for a book when he has an opportunity, successfully avoiding the dreaded Grade Four Reading Slump.

    Inkheart is a very popular series for middle grade readersFor further information on reluctant readers and the grade four reading slump, check out our page about reluctant readers .

    Reading Aloud to Children and Why It is Very Important

    Posted on September 6th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    The importance of reading aloud to children - even once they can read independently

    It is almost impossible to believe that the 2011/12 school year marks the tenth anniversary of Storytime Standouts. Indeed, I have been writing about the importance of reading aloud while introducing wonderful picture books for families for nearly a decade. My first column was dated April 2002 and included a review of Stella, Fairy of the Forest. I love letting parents and teachers know about wonderful children’s books just as much today as I did ten years ago. As well, I remain committed to sharing the importance of reading aloud to children whenever I have an opportunity to do so.

    Given that this is a special anniversary for Storytime Standouts and since it is the start of a new school year, I want to share my suggestions for ensuring that young children mature into young adults who love to read…

    Start ’em young
    Beginning at six months of age, every child should hear at least two picture books read aloud every day. If we begin when a child is still an infant, the baby gets used to the idea of snuggling close and enjoying a story. If we introduce stories when children are older and ‘on the move,’ it may be more difficult to entice them to cuddle with us, enjoy the story and the illustrations.

    Every day, no matter what
    Making time for stories, whether at bedtime or during the day, should be sacred. Even on busy days, when we are on holiday or when a babysitter is involved, enjoying two picture books every day is essential for youngsters. It is for this reason that bedtime stories should never be withdrawn as a form of discipline.

    Help your child learn words, concepts and lessons
    When children hear two stories a day, they will enjoy 730 stories in one year and 3650 stories in five years. Hearing more than three thousand stories in five years will introduce all sorts of delicious vocabulary, fascinating concepts, wonderful artwork and important lessons. If we delay reading aloud to our children, perhaps waiting until they are two years of age, we miss the opportunity to expose them to the vocabulary, concepts, artwork and lessons in more than one thousand picture books. If each story introduces just two new words… that means your child will have missed the opportunity to add more than two thousand words to her vocabulary.The Importance of Reading Aloud to Children - Keep Reading Even Once Children Are Able to Read Independently

    There is something for everyone
    Exploring the vast array of children’s books will be fun and rewarding for both you and your child. Visit your local library or book store and dive into the wealth of fairy tales, fables, tall tales, concept books, alphabet books, nursery rhymes, poetry, humor, lift the flap, wordless, fiction and nonfiction picture books. There is truly a picture book for every occasion.

    Make connections
    Encourage children to make connections with the books they hear read aloud. Whether starting school or visiting a pumpkin patch, dealing with a sibling or learning to ride a bike, there are picture books to match a young child’s experiences. Parents can enrich the read aloud experience by pausing to ask questions, “What do you think Little Red Riding Hood should do?” “Which version of The Three Bears did you like best?” “Which story book character do you like best? Lilly, Wemberly, Olivia…”

    Continue reading aloud
    Even once children have become independent readers, they will benefit from sharing a great book with you. Although it may be tempting to step aside when your child is eight years old and is reading chapter books independently, there are all sorts of wonderful novels for you to enjoy together. You and your children will remember and reference these shared books for years to come.

    For additional information, read our 10 FAQs About Reading Aloud to Children and Why Sharing a Bedtime Story or Two is Not to Be Missed.

    Dads Reading to Boys – Raising Young Men Who Will Want to Read

    Posted on August 29th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Dads Reading to Boys - Raising Young Men Who Will Want to Read

    Dads reading to boys – making the difference between reluctant male readers and voracious readers

    I’d really like to take credit for the fact that both my boys love a good book. My almost-twelve-year-old is a enthusiastic reader. He is currently reading one of the Lord of the Rings books. He is especially fond of history and knows far more about World War II than I do. Most of the information has been gained through reading; fiction, non fiction, magazines and newspapers.

    Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel a great book for Dads reading to boysMy younger boy (9 years) is more of a “doer” than a “reader” but he knows a great story when he hears one and we still make time to share a book or a puzzle at bedtime.

    I read books aloud to the boys from the time they were six months old. We trekked to storytime at the library and were constantly borrowing books “about trucks.” There is little doubt that I was the one who planted the reading seed and carried enough stacks of books back and forth, to and from the library, to nourish it.

    I’ve always had an interest in children’s literature and read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter for myself when the boys were toddlers.

    Harry Potter is a great book for dads to read to boysJust a few years later, reading the first Harry Potter book to the boys was truly magical. We all loved the experience as a family but there was one particular moment I will always remember. My husband was headed out of town for a week and was most concerned that he might miss hearing part of the story read aloud. He cautioned us that we were not “allowed” to read ahead while he was away – he couldn’t bear the thought that he might miss even one minute of the read aloud experience.

    The boys and I solved the problem by rereading four or five chapters of Harry Potter and then we all charged ahead when my husband returned.

    I will always be grateful for the message my husband gave his boys; he has always been eager to enjoy a good book with them (another favorite series was Kenneth Oppel’s Silverwing). But that particular incident was evidence of just how important reading with the boys is to him.Storytime Standouts recommends getting Dad involved in reading to children. #parenting #reluctantreaders

    It is not at all unusual for parents of preteens to be frustrated by their boys’ lack of interest in reading. To those parents, I would say, get Dad involved in reading aloud and find wonderful books you can enjoy together. In some families, mom always reads the bedtime stories from a very young age. It can be very beneficial to change this up and for boys to observe men reading and enjoying great books. After all, we’d like our sons to choose to sit down with a great book from time to time.

    Additional information about Dads Reading to Children from Brigham Young University.

    Jim Trelease has inspired many, many adults to ramp up the read aloud experience for their children and students.

    You may be interested in our page about reluctant readers.

    Harry Potter at

    Harry Potter at

    Silverwing at

    Silverwing at

    Helping someone learn to read? Do you know the five finger rule?

    Posted on August 21st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Deciding if a book is too difficult for a child to read

    If you are helping a child learn to read, this simple trick might be the easiest way to decide if the chapter book is a good match for his or her reading level

    Ask your child to read a page aloud. Each time he struggles with a word, he should raise one finger. If he raises five or more fingers per page, the book is too difficult. However, if he raises fewer than five fingers, the book is probably a good choice.

    Ideally, we would like our children to choose books the same way Goldilocks would; we’d like them to select books that are ‘just right’ rather than ‘too difficult’ or ‘too easy.’ Having said that, ‘easy’ can be relaxing – a bit like browsing through a magazine – something we all enjoy doing from time to time.
    Deciding if a book is too difficult for a child to read including chapter book, The Legend of Spud Murphy
    Remember, if a chapter book is too difficult for your child to read independently, it might be a perfect choice for you to read aloud to your child.

    When your child gets stuck on an unfamiliar word, here are some strategies we’d like her to use…

     Begin by using the first letter(s) as a clue, then move further into the unfamiliar word. Try to “sound out” the word and then blend the sounds together.
     Look at the pictures for clues. Especially in books for early readers, the pictures are intended to help tell the story.
     Look at the “chunks” within the unfamiliar word. Perhaps part of the word is known and can act as a clue.
     Consider what is happening in the story and what decide what might make sense.
     Go back and read the sentence (or even the paragraph) from the beginning. Think about the story and what decide what might fit.
     Listen to the words and decide if they sound ‘right.’

    If you are helping someone learn to read, you may also be interested in our Beginning to Read page

    A Wonderful Read Aloud Chapter Book: The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

    Posted on August 20th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Storytime Standouts Shares a Wonderful Read Aloud Chapter Book: The Tale of DespereauxThe Tale of Despereaux written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
    Chapter book for middle grades published by Candlewick Press

    I first discovered Kate DiCamillo when I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) Because of Winn-Dixie. Very late last night, I closed the cover on The Tale of Despereaux, a great read aloud chapter book. Winner of the John Newbery Medal, this is a wonderful tale. Throughout we are reminded that, ‘nothing is sweeter in this sad world than the sound of someone you love calling your name.‘ A delight from cover to cover, read it yourself or share it with children eight years and older. There are some decidedly dark scenes that could disturb younger children.

    Candlewick Press Teaching Guide (in PDF form)

    National Education Association – “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children”
    School Library Journal “Top 100 Chapter Books” of all time

    The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread at

    The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread at

    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

    15 Tips for Parents and Homeschoolers of Young Readers and Writers

    Posted on April 27th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    15 tips for Parents of Young Readers and Writers from Storytime Standouts

    Raising a child who reads well and loves to pick up a book is a team effort. Parents can support young readers’ and writers’ formal learning by being involved and enthusiastic, providing encouragement and tools.

    Here are some ways you can help set the stage for reading success.

    Download a free, printable PDF of this information

    image of PDF icon  15 Tips for Supporting Young Readers and Writers

    Storytime Standouts shares tips for parents who want to help children with reading and writing.

      Be a reader and a writer – make sure your children see you reading books for pleasure and information as well as writing letters or making lists.

      Read aloud to your children every day – even once they have learned how to read.  Make it a priority to find great articles and engaging books to share with your family.

      Be flexible.  Read when, where and how it suits your child.  If your child won’t sit still, it is okay to play quietly or color a picture while listening.

      Write silly notes to your children.  Print out  riddles and add them to a  lunch bag or hide them under a pillow.

      • Have Grandma or Grandpa send emails, encourage your child to reply.

      • Try a new recipe, read a map, solve a mystery, check out the comics or learn magic tricks together.  Help your child realize the value of being a good reader.

      • Hook your child with wonderful series books or look for more books by a favourite author or illustrator.

      • Encourage your child to notice and read environmental print (stop signs, entrance,  exit, push and pull signs as well as labels on groceries or names of familiar stores).

      Listen to your children when they read (or when they pretend to read).  Offer lots of encouragement to readers and writers of every age.

      • If possible, have a basket of  books, a well-placed reading light and a comfortable chair inviting young readers to curl up and enjoy a story.

      Keep writing implements; coloured pencils, erasers, rulers and paper handy.  A stapler is also great for children who want to make their own books.

      Visit your public library regularly.  Encourage your children to borrow fiction and non fiction books.

      Get to know your child’s school librarian and make sure the librarian knows your child’s ability and interests.

      Explore your community with your child.  Background experiences help readers to understand.  A child who has been to an aquarium or a farm will make connections when reading about sea creatures or baby piglets.

      Ask for recommendations and suggestions.  Most libraries have lists of book recommendations.  Check with friends and teachers and look at our picture book and chapter book recommendations.   If you need help, send an email. We will gladly give you suggestions.

    For further information, check out our page on early literacy.

    Today is World Read Aloud Day

    Posted on March 9th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    According to, nearly 1 billion people entered this century unable to read a book or sign their name.

    World Read Aloud Day is about showing the world that all people should be able to read and write. World Read Aloud Day enlists the support of children, teens and adults in celebrating the power of words. It is intended to create a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education along with access to books and technology.

    We hope that by celebrating this day in communities around the globe, we will convey the message that all children have the right to read and to write and, by exchanging words and ideas, we can change the world.

    Suggested activities for celebrating World Read Aloud Day

    Zero Kisses for Me by Manuela Monari- Not Even a Tiny Bit Bleah

    Posted on March 6th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Storytime Standouts thinks Zero Kisses for Me is GreatZero Kisses for Me written by Manuela Monari and illustrated by Virginie Soumagnac
    Picture book published by Tundra Books

    I have the good fortune to share read alouds with children regularly in my classes. I always look for engaging stories that will hook my students. Sometimes I am lucky enough to find a book that doesn’t just hook the kids – some books have children talking about the story a week later and begging for a reread. Zero Kisses for Me is one of those delightful books that children love to see, listen to and cheer about.

    Life is tough when you’re always being kissed.” When you’re kissed before you go out in the rain and when you’re kissed and called, “Honeybunch” or “Flower Bud.” By the end of the day, you can be “tired of being everybody’s tootsy-wootsy… huggy-bear… kissy-snooks.” You might even demand, “No more mush!” And, you might exclaim, “BLEAH” – the perfect word to make a story memorable and a great word for young children to hear and relish.

    Fun illustrations add to the atmosphere in Zero Kisses for Me and convey the little bear’s determination and frustration beautifully. A great read aloud for boys and girls, aged four to six, especially those who enjoy many, many kisses each and every day. Although not a Valentine’s Day book, this would be a terrific choice to reach for on February 14th.

    Zero Kisses for Me at

    Zero Kisses for Me at

    You will also be interested in our Valentine’s Day printables. Storytime Standouts is on Pinterest – Check out our Valentine’s Day Board

    The Deep Cold River Story Asks How to Get a Flooding River to its Bed

    Posted on February 5th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    The Deep Cold River Story written by Tabatha Southey, illustrated by Sue SavorThe Deep Cold River Story written by Tabatha Southey and illustrated by Sue Savor
    Picture book about a flood and problem solving

    Imagine a deep, cold river running through a small community. One day, for no apparent reason, the river overflows its banks and floods the entire town. Many possible solutions to the unrelenting flooding are proposed but it takes a little girl to solve the problem and save the town.

    The Deep Cold River Story features a positive message about bedtime stories and offers a great opportunity for children to propose their own creative solutions to the flooding problem.

    A charming story featuring a young heroine and appealing illustrations, The Deep Cold River Story is 28 pages and will be enjoyed by children aged 3 to 6.

    Tabatha Southey’s Commentary – The Globe and Mail

    The Deep Cold River Story at

    The Deep Cold River Story at

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