Book Review: Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke

How Can I Read It If I Can’t Pronounce It?


As a parent and librarian, there were many books that had words or names that I simply couldn’t figure out how to pronounce. I didn’t let that stop me, though, I would pick a way to say the word and say it with confidence. That is all that matters to our children, really. We all mispronounce words, especially when you learn a new word through reading. So, don’t shy away from books because you are afraid to look foolish! Your child will never know.

Although, those Star Wars books my kids love, can’t there be a page of a normal name like Jim, Kim or Bob?

We want to encourage exploration not hide from it because we are worried about our own ignorance.

Parents often shy away from books from other cultures. The names and places and items are unfamiliar, but it is a great opportunity to practice sounding out words in front of our kids, and it is a good starting point for conversation about all the different societies and customs and languages in our world. We want to encourage exploration not hide from it because we are worried about our own ignorance.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the link it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale)


Buy on Amazon!

Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke. Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank. Candlewick Press: Somerville, 2017.

In Baby Goes to Market, author Atinuke writes a story that any parent taking a child to a store can relate to. How many times have you gone to the store and ended up at checkout with more items than you remember putting in? You think to yourself, “Did I really get that big bag of marshmallows. Especially with a tear in it. Then you look at your child with a smudge of white puff across her lips and realize you need to pay more attention to what goes into the cart than what is on your list.

Children in early preschool love to hear books about everyday life and routines.

market pictureWhat sets this book apart from others is that the daily routine takes place in South West Nigeria. So the market is open air with multiple sellers and foods different from our own. Not only will your child be familiar with the normal family outing, but she will learn new words and culture in the process.

Literacy isn’t just about words. This book introduces math literacy in a non-obtrusive way. The baby takes away one banana and puts the rest in. Your child may not be ready to think about subtraction, but reading about numbers builds the stepping stones to early math concepts.

Not only will your child learn a lot in the book, but he will have a lot of fun listening. He can see what the mother doesn’t. Make sure you stop and ask what you think the mother will say when she discovers what baby has done. You may also need to point out why it is funny the mom thinks the baby is starving. Remind him that the baby snacked the whole shopping trip!

Reading multicultural books builds more empathetic children and adults.

It is becoming easier to find multicultural books that everyone can relate to. This is not only important in helping our kids learn, but it will make them more empathetic students, citizens and friends.


Try this recipe

In the book, the baby is given four chin chin from the biscuit seller. Chin Chin is a popular snack in Nigeria and can be made crunchy or soft. Try this recipe with your child from 9jaFoodie



What to read next

Find these other great books at your local bookstore or online at Amazon following the links.

What books do you suggest to help your child understand the similarities between families of all cultures?

Happy Reading

Book Review: On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna

Smartphones, tablets, computers are a part of our lives and the lives of our families whether we embrace it or not. The American Academy of Pediatricsdeveloped guidelines to help parents make decisions about how and when to incorporate screen time into a child’s life. Under the age of 18 months, they do not recommend having screen time other than video chatting with family. Any age over that parents need to engage in a family media plan that will set boundaries on when, where and how media and screens will be consumed.

Although, technology is here to stay, it doesn’t mean we as parents have to give in to it. Our children still need time to play outside in mud puddles, be bored, and read.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate, the links to the pictures take you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)

On a Magical Do-Nothing Day, the author Beatrice Alemagna explores the complicated relationship parents, families and children have with screens. On a rainy day a mother and daughter go to a cabin in the woods while the father stays in the city. The mother works and the daughter mindlessly plays a videogame which irritates her mother. Who tells her, “Is this another day where you do nothing.” She takes the game and hides it, but the daughter finds it and goes outside. What she discovers is a world she couldn’t find in her video game.

smart phone and kids

Alemagna’s book reminds me of my youth spent exploring the woods and creek outside my front door. We weren’t allowed to watch TV during the day and at that age I wouldn’t want to. Boredom isn’t lethal, but sometimes as parents we act as it is. My kids are forever asking me to watch T.V. or play on the tablet or have “screen time” because they are bored. We set strict limits that works for our family but even with the limits it doesn’t stop the kids from asking to cure their boredom with so easy to digest media.

natural world

The book doesn’t just provide rich discussion about how to combat boredom it also has rich, lyrical vocabulary filled with imagery using metaphors and similes. The book uses a lot of directional/positional language which is great for young preschoolers beginning to understand the concept of over, under, top, bottom and etc. But the book can also be used with older preschoolers/kindergarten aged children with its sophisticated vocabulary.

As you read this book with your child you will notice that the narrative skills are developed strongly throughout the text. It focuses on imagination, discovery of the natural world, parent relationships, and yes screen time. This will help foster a conversation between you and your child and even family about how to handle the balance between t.v., games and quiet times without those screens. After reading the story talk about how you find quiet time in your day without screens. And if that isn’t something you do, maybe as a family you can learn to incorporate media free times together.

Kid painting Santa on a paper plate

Our kids need space to explore the world independently in a safe and unstructured way. They need time that isn’t scheduled with activities. They need time to be bored so they can create, develop and grow. Play is one of the most important times in our child’s day. It is where the most learning takes place. On a Magical Do-Nothing Day will take the story of a boring, rainy, dreary day and encourage our children to go explore a fascinating and ever changing world.

After Reading the Book

Go outside. Even if the weather is terrible. Dress appropriately and go explore.

As you walk with your child, ask her what she notices? How is today different than other days? What is the same? And if it is age appropriate, go to the backyard or a park and allow them some free range time to look around and play on their own.

For Parents

A good picture book is one that not only makes kids think and learn, but parents as well. There is a lot in this book to make us think about how we spend our time. The work/family balance, our relationship with phones and screens, and how we include time for ourselves to explore, create and dream. Use this book as a starting point for discussion about how your family will handle screens. Each family is different, so do what works best for you. We have decided that screens are limited to weekends, but during the week we will watch movies or a T.V. show together. And during school breaks, the rules are relaxed. But if the kids have screen limits, it is only fair to see how grown ups should too.

Articles on Screen Time

Common Sense Media

Consumer Reports

What do we do all day

Becoming Minimalist

Books on Wonder, imagination and exploration

Do you have a favorite book about play, imagination or boredom? Share in the comments at the end of the post.

Happy Reading

Finland loves to Read and How We Can Be More Like Them


Finland, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden have the highest literacy rates in the world. It is no surprise that book culture is celebrated in these countries and there is less focus on compulsory education and more focus on play, reading and family time.

Why Finland Ranks Number 1 for Literacy?

  1. They place a high value on reading.
  2. They focus in the preschool years on having children tell stories and hear stories.
  3. Most homes subscribe to a newspaper.
  4. They have one of the best library systems in the world.

Finnish quote


How are Their Numbers Different?

Finland, Where Reading is a Superpower

  1. 77 % of the population buys at least one book a year.
  2. 75% of parents read aloud to kids every day.
  3. Writing is one of the most respected professions.

How Much Do They Read?

Finland Reads

  1. There are 20 million books sold every year in the country which is an average of 4 books a person (including kids) in a country of 5.5 million people.
  2. 1 in every 6 people between the ages of 15-79 buys at least 10 books a year
  3. Book gifts are huge and about half of books purchased as gifts are given to family.
  4. There is at least one library in every municipality, 300 central libraries, 500 branch libraries, mobile libraries and one library boat.
  5. 40% of citizens are active patrons visiting a library at least twice a month.
  6. Each book is read about 2.5 times a year and there are about 7 books for ever Finn in the libraries.

christmas gift

What Can We Learn?

Creating a culture of readers starts at home. If mothers and fathers read and make it a priority, kids will read. If the US focused less on outcomes and more on creating storytellers and story hearers, our school success rate would improve. Making books a priority in schools, communities and as gifts, promote a culture of literacy and reading.


Don’t forget to enter the Building Future Readers Giveaway! Open until 12/23

We are hosting a holiday giveaway!

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Bear Stays Up for Christmas (The Bear Books). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Dec 23, 2017 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules


What is one step you will do today to create a culture of reading in your family? What can we do to promote reading in our communities? Comment below!

Happy Reading

10 Ways to Ruin Reading for Your Kids


  1. Make them sit while you share a story. Kids bodies are meant to move and even if it doesn’t look like they are listening, they hear and are learning. Toddlers are more apt to run around, but keep reading.
  2. Keep books where they can’t reach them. One of Raganathan’s Five Rules of Library Science is books are for use. If kids can’t reach the books, they can’t use them! Have books on low shelves, baskets around the house, in the car and anywhere else they fit. And don’t worry if the books are destroyed. It doesn’t mean the kids aren’t ready for them, but that the books are well loved.
  3. Use books as punishment. Please, promise me right now, you will never use reading as a punishment. We want kids to associate reading with positive thoughts and memories, but if you use reading as a way to punish, they will hate reading.
  4. Read books like it is a punishment for you. We all have books that elicit a groan from our lips as soon as we see our child pick it off the shelf. It has no plot, it is longer than a George RR Martin book, or the stereotypes make you cringe. Still read the book like it is the most exciting piece of literature you ever read. Change the speed of your reading. Use lots of expressions and voices. Make it as fun to listen to as their favorite T.V. show.

mem fox quote

  1. Tell them to read while you watch T.V. or scroll through your phone. Our kids copy what we do, so if we want to build readers we need to be readers. And this means a physical book. Our kids can’t tell if we are using an e-reader app on a phone or tablet. Pick up a book and read.
  2. Reward your kids for reading. I am not a huge fan of Summer Reading Clubs and I get that it is a controversial statement. The intent is wonderful, but reward based behavior usually backfires and makes kids relate reading to something they have to be forced to do. Make reading a routine and skip the rewards.
  3. Don’t leave time in the day to read together. Many kids, even at a preschool age, are overscheduled. We don’t want them to fall behind in sports, music or technology, but think nothing of putting off reading time for another day. Reading should be a non-negotiable. Not only will it encourage a love of reading, it gives you and your family uninterrupted time together.
  4. Choose all the books for them. Did you like your summer reading list from school? Take your family to the library or bookstore and let them pick books. Slip in a couple of classics they might not choose on their own, but let them drive the selection and they will be excited to read.
  5. Don’t give them a place to read. Make reading special. Make sure there is a special spot for reading. It doesn’t take much. A couple of pillows, a blanket and a basket of books. You can get creative if you have the time or desire. Tents, blanket forts are all great places to snuggle up and read.
  6. Focus on the results not act itself. Don’t make story time together learning time. It will happen all on its own through the book choices and the discussions you have as you share the time together. The more books kids hear from the earliest age, the better they will do in school. It will happen. Don’t force it.

No substitute for books


Don’t forget to enter the Building Future Readers Giveaway! Open until 12/23

We are hosting a holiday giveaway!

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Bear Stays Up for Christmas (The Bear Books). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Dec 23, 2017 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules

What do you believe helps create kids who love to read? Share ideas in the comments.

Happy Reading


Book Review: When’s My Birthday by Julie Fogliano

Written by Julie Fogliano and Illustrated by Christian Robinson

Roaring Books Press: New York, 2017

Good for any age but particularly Ages 18 months to 3.

What the Book is About

Every child can’t wait until their birthday and this book shares the excitement and joy of waiting for a day that never seems to arrive.

What I Like About the Book

The illustrations have the whimsy of childhood and use mixed media for a fresh approach. The illustrator, Christian Robinson is a Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honor artist. You may have seen his other collaborations with Mac Bennett, Cynthia Rylant, Adam Rex, Kelly DiPuccio, Margaret Wise Brown and so many others. His illustrations engage the youngest readers through their simplicity and childlike whimsy. I adore the books he illustrates and so excited to see another great writing partnership in this book.

The book, while simple in text, carries a lot of vocabulary to enrich your child’s speech throughout the pages. The pictures will spark conversation and help your reader learn new words.

A lot of opportunities to practice counting appear throughout the book. Who doesn’t love to count candles! And food! And snowflakes. Build math literacy while having fun.

Books that have repeating phrases are great books to use to highlight print awareness. Anytime you get to the refrain, follow along with your finger and have your child say the phrase. While they are not yet reading the words, this connects the words on the page to the words they hear you reading. In addition the text appears in different ways and offers different ways to point out how books are read.

The text reminds me of a child’s excited wonder. All kids are excited about birthdays and the cadence of the story fits our kids natural speech patterns making this a perfect read.

The author obviously has experience with young children because it hit exactly how my kids talk about their birthdays as if they are always just around the corner. Birthdays are a great way to talk about how time passes and to look at calendars. Not only will it build math skills it also is a great way to beef up narrative descriptions and reading comprehension.

when’s my birthday, explores the excitement and wonder of childhood in an accessible and familiar way to our young readers. The illustrations by award winning Christian Robinson and the lyrical text of Julie Fogliano work together to create an engaging read that your child will come to over and over again.

Take It Further

The learning doesn’t have to end with the closing of the book. Try these activities at home to continue the learning and fun of the book.


Develop a home calendar!

The passage of time is difficult for our kids to understand. This post has a lot of great ideas to adapt for your home to help your child learn to become familiar with calendars. The one I like in particular is a list of the days of the week and then pictures for the different activities that will happen during the week. You could do this in a variety of ways: morning routine, bedtime routine, lunch/naptime. It will not only help your kids understand what will be happening during the day, but it will help them begin to connect to calendars. Don’t worry if they don’t seem to get the concept of today, yesterday and tomorrow, all you need to do is provide the access and as they age the understanding will develop.


Throw a birthday party for a favorite stuffed animal!

It may be months until your child’s birthday, so recreate the fun of a party for a favorite toy or animal. Gather art supplies and make banners and pictures to decorate the room, building scissors skills and strengthening writing skills. Bake cupcakes, cookies or a cake. The recipe is a good way to demonstrate print awareness by following along with your finger as you read the recipe and the measurements, not only show numbers, but exhibit measuring skills. Young kids love to pour, so give them an opportunity to help dump in the ingredients. Set a table and have fun!

kid writing

Practice writing!

Make lists! Of guests, of food for the party, of party games or more. Have your child dictate and write down what they say. This is a great brainstorming activity so there are no wrong answers. It is a way to introduce them to sequencing by adding numbers to each item listed. Also it connects the words they say to the written words. You can continue by creating your own invitations. If your child is older preschool, let them create the invitations. Spelling will be creative but it is a great way to encourage writing.

What to read next

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. I am not paid to suggest or review books, but if you click on a link it takes you to facebook and if you make any purchases I receive a portion of the sale.)

Gerald and Piggie never disappoint! This book will provide a fun conversation starter with your child about how hard it is to wait.



Kids really have no concept of time. This will help them explore the feelings they have about excitement and waiting.



A different way to talk about daily routines through the sounds we hear.



What books do you enjoy with your child about birthdays, routines, or waiting? Share in comments.



Happy Reading

Building Future Writers

Play Matters to reading success

Rock Wall

We’ve talked a lot about reading in this blog and I was reminded at a work training this week that not only do we prepare our kids to become future readers, but we prepare them to become future writers as well.

I was under the misconception that writing was all about fine motor skills. I did a lot with my kids to strengthen their pincer grasp, but I didn’t know how important shoulder, back and forearm strength was for future handwriting success.

This workshop opened my eyes to a whole new level of early literacy success.

Some of the ideas I share below came from the workshop and others came from a great website called Your Therapy Source: Gross Motor Skills and Handwriting. I’ve put it in a graphic format so you can print it out and remind yourself to add play into your day to help your child develop the muscles he needs to become a strong handwriter.

Develop Future Writers

This afternoon go find a park and try out some of the activities, not only will you and your child spend some quality time together, the play will actually build the arm and hand strength needed to be a successful student.Hanging

There are also great blog posts about how handwriting develops.

Developmental Progression of Handwriting Skills at Mama OT

Activities to Practice Handwriting Skills at Home at Growing Hands on Kids

What other gross motor skills have you used to build shoulder, back, and arm muscles for writing?

Reading aloud should never stop

When my kids were toddlers and preschoolers we literally spent hours a day reading. First thing in the morning, right after lunch, after naps, before dinner, and as a getting ready for bed routine. We were a read aloud family.

As the kids get older it is harder to keep up with the routine. First my oldest started reading independently and then soon after her brother followed and my youngest will still hand us books to read but as she becomes a more confident reader the read aloud routine is sporadic at best.

I know the research that shows reading aloud benefits all ages. Babies, toddlers, preschoolers, school age kids, tweens, teens and yes, even adults.

“The first reason to read aloud to older kids is to consider the fact that a child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to his listening level until about the eighth grade,” said Trelease, referring to a 1984 study performed by Dr. Thomas G. Sticht showing that kids can understand books that are too hard to decode themselves if they are read aloud. “You have to hear it before you can speak it, and you have to speak it before you can read it. Reading at this level happens through the ear.”

Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook.

Retrieved on 10-11-17 from

Read aloud tips for older kids:

  • A level or two above their own reading level. This helps mature reading comprehension and vocabulary.
  • Give them something to do with their hands while you read. Coloring books, Legos, knitting, drawing, it doesn’t matter what, as long as their hands stay busy their minds and ears stay open.
  • Make it a family event. Turn off phones and the TV. Make it part of the bedtime routine or after dinner routine or even in the morning. Find a time that works for your family.

It does become challenging the older our kids get to find time to read together. Sports, homework and extracurricular activities overtake the evenings and weekends, but there isn’t a better gift you can give your children then reading together as a family.

Copy of Building Future Reader's Read Aloud List for Big Kids


More Resources

Check out the Read Aloud Revival podcast for read aloud tips

Look for the read aloud classic and find book lists at  Jim Trelease’s Website

Common Sense Media: 10 Amazing Books to Read Aloud to Big Kids

Common Sense Media: 10 Reasons You Should Read Aloud to Big Kids Too

What are your favorite chapter books to read with older children? Post in the comments section to share ideas.


Happy Reading!

Book Review: Wet by Carey Sookocheff

Ages: Toddler-Early Preschool

Wet. Carey Sookocheff, Godwin Books: New York, 2017.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a percentage of the sale)

About this Book

A book all about the different ways we can feel wet. Either a day at the pool, rain, our goldfish, mopping floors, this book is a child-like exploration of the world of water.


The text in this book is very simple but there are plenty of opportunities to build vocabulary through the pictures. The author deepened the text on the page through the contextual pictures. Take a picture tour of the book before you begin reading. Look at the pages and point out different objects and name them. For example on the first page the boy is at a pool. Talk about the pool deck, the bench, the tile on the walls and the life preserver etc. Talking about the pictures in the book is as helpful as reading the text when we teach our children new words.

Phonological Awareness

Although this isn’t a rhyming or lyrical book, there are ways to help play with the sounds of the words so a child can hear the different syllables. For example in the line:

Sometimes I get wet

Very Slowly

Try drawing out the syllables for Ve rrryy Sloowwlly. Not only do you demonstrate the meaning through how you say it, reading at different speeds helps liven up a book.

Also there are a lot of great songs that would be a great supplement to the story.

Letter Knowledge and Narrative Skills

On each page help your child match the main idea of the picture with the text. For example as the boy goes down the slide. Point out the word slide. Talk about the letters you see that make up the word and then point out the slide. This also helps build reading comprehension by connecting the words on the page with the pictures that take the story a little further.

Print Awareness

Take time to show the different parts of the book. Using your finger highlight the title. How many letters are in the title? Who do you think the boy on the cover is hiding from? Show the end pages and the title page and as you flip through the pages ask questions about what you see. Have your child make predictions about what the book is about and what might happen.

Print Motivation

Many picture books have a story question and answer but this book explores a topic that your child is naturally curious about. Rain, pools, fish, cleaning all of these are connected through water! Your child’s natural curiosity will drive the interest in the book and help them think about a topic, like water, differently.

Experience the Book

Make a list of all the different ways a person can get wet. Write down what your child says in a list. This will not only build letter knowledge but also sequencing.

Take a favorite action figure that can get wet and a glass of water. Submerge the figure different ways like the boy in the book. How do you put the toy in water quickly or slowly. Is there an in between speed? Have fun with water play either in a bath or filling up the kitchen sink with water and some dish soap and let your child explore water with measuring cups, spoons, bowls, cups, funnels and whatever else you can find!

More Books about Exploration

Is anyone more curious than Curious George?


Happy Reading!

Book Review: As Time Went By By Jose Sanabria

Ages 3-5

As Time Went By. Jose Sanabria. Translated by Audrey Hall. North South Books Inc. New York: 2016.


(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase, I receive a portion of the sale. )

What the Book is About

The changing life of a steamboat and the changing faces of who inhabits and uses the boat.

How to Use this Book

Below are suggestions broken down by literacy skill to help you engage your young listener. You will not use each activity or skill in one sitting, but choose one or two to focus on each reading.

Print Awareness

It is always important to orient the child to the story and book before you begin a reading. This particular book’s cover illustration goes from front cover to back cover. Open up the book, so both front and back cover show. Start at the left of the picture and ask questions about what the child sees. Ask about the people, the colors, the different types of transportation shown before you even open the book.

Next, underline with your finger the title and author. Point out the author and illustrator and then mention that the author is from another country and this book was written in Spanish and translated into English.

Flip through the book and show how it is structured into part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Simply describe that books are put together or assembled in different ways. This one has two stories that become one story.


Research shows that the more unique words a child hears in everyday conversation, the more prepared she is when it comes time to read. Face to face conversation is critical because not only are the children listening to the words, but they watch how the mouth moves when the words are formed. Tablets, TV and smartphones do not provide the same benefit. (see Talking with Young Children)

Try to find unique words that are in the story or words you might use while talking about the story. For example:

  1. Translate
  2. Rebuilt
  3. Assembled
  4. Abandoned
  5. Company
  6. Luxury
  7. Village
  8. Harbor
  9. Steamship
  10. Sea
  11. Sail

Pick a few words each day and find ways to incorporate them into conversation. With repetition these words will become a part of your child’s vocabulary. Some words are hard to find ways to use naturally! So find a game or activity that would allow you to use them. And don’t forget, that is why we read books! The more we read, the more kids hear, the bigger vocabularies they build.

The more we read, the more kids hear, the bigger vocabularies they build.

Activities to use:

Categorize words. For example: From the list above, categorize words into nouns: People, places or things; Adjectives or describing words; Verbs or moving words. Write lists or make drawings in each of the categories. This will help the child connect with the words on a deeper level.

Find the words in the book: Abandoned, luxury and homeless. The illustrator uses different colors on pages that these words appear. Talk about happy and sad emotions (and remind them that emotions are feelings) Then look at the pictures and have the child say whether the people on that page feel happy or sad or a different emotion. This not only builds vocabulary but helps the child reinforce reading comprehension and narrative skills. You could even make paper faces and draw the face and label happy or sad and have the child hold up how the picture makes him or her feel.

Phonological Awareness

Alliteration is a big word and concept that can be simplified for kids by pointing out the beginning sounds of words. For example:

Ship that sailed beside the sun.

Ship. Sailed. Sun.

See if you and your child can write your own alliterative phrases.

The sun shines severely.

The board barely broke.

Write out and underline the similar starting sounds. This also encourages letter awareness/knowledge along with phonological awareness which is hearing the smaller sounds that make up the whole word.

Sing Row Row Row your boat. Singing is a great way to build Phonological Awareness. Add in motions to make it a whole body experience.

Narrative Skills (Building Reading Comprehension)

Connect the book to other ideas the child might know. For example, discuss what a steamship is and then talk about other types of boats. If you search for images online you can print out the pictures of different types of boats and then create labels for each type. Play a matching game. This also builds letter awareness and vocabulary.

Boat Color Sheets

Britannica Kids: Motorboat

Kidzsearch: Steamship


Ask questions about the story as you read. Not every page, but every few pages. It is also a good way to see if the child is understanding the story or if it is still a little too hard comprehension wise. At the end of the book, go back through and pick out main points of the story and discuss them. It may take a few readings before the child can tell you the story on his or her own.

Print Motivation

Repeated phrases are a great way to engage listeners in the book. Reading should never be a passive event! A repeated phrase in the book is, as time went by. When you get to that line, make sure to follow with your finger and encourage your child to say it with you. After a few times he or she may say it with you with little prompting.

After the Story

Do your own As Time Went By story. Take a loved toy, or hand me down clothing or some other repurposed object and write its story. Use the story as a guide, but have your child dictate what you are to write. Have him illustrate and put it together like a book.

Take a field trip. Find a repurposed building in your city to visit. Talk about what it had been and how it is used now. Was it ever abandoned like in the story? It is a good way to not only practice vocabulary, but to connect the story with the real world, a stepping stone to critical thinking.

Write in the comments section what skills and activities you tried. How did they work? What did you try different?

Try these books:

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Trees by Lemniscates

I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you make a purchase by clicking the link, I receive a portion of the sales.

Ages 2-5

Written and Illustrated by Lemniscates. Candlewick Studio: Somerville, 2015

What the Book is About

Mixed media illustrations all about trees. How they change, where they grow, how they communicate and who benefits from having them around. A great way to encourage young children to explore the world.

About this post

Below I have highlighted different ways to incorporate pre-literacy skills to engage the listener and build reading skills. You won’t use each skill in every reading, but with each reading, pick a few different skills to highlight and use those suggestions.

Print Awareness and Print Motivation

When you read the book point out the title. Have the listener trace the letters with his finger. Ask what he thinks the book is about. What else does he see on the front cover? Point out the different tree shapes and sizes and have the child show you the tallest or most round tree.

Open the book and use your finger to underline the title and author. Remind the listener that the author writes the words and the illustrator draws the pictures. Sometimes, like this book the author and the illustrator are the same person.

This encourages Print Awareness and Print Motivation which orients the child to the parts of the book as well as leads the child to think about reading before it happens, deepening reading comprehension.

Narrative Skills

Build a dialog with the book. In the opening pages, ask the child what season it looks like outside your own windows. Are there leaves on the trees? Do you see the grass? What is the temperature, hot or cold?

As you read the story, stop and talk about the illustrations. For example, in the story text, the roots are referred to as feet. Talk about how this is a metaphor because roots are like the feet of the tree. Another page says the trees talk to each other and this is called communication. Ask how she believes trees communicate? What do you think trees talk about? If you were a tree, where would you live? By the river, in the wilderness or in the city?

Letter Knowledge

Using the title page, what letters do you see? Are any of them in your name?

Phonological Awareness

This isn’t a rhyming book, but there are ways to incorporate this important skill as a follow up to a reading. Come up with a rhyming tree. Ask the listener, what rhymes with tree? Draw a picture of a tree and for each rhyming word make a branch on the tree. The leaves can be silly words that rhyme but aren’t real words.

There are a lot of great finger plays, poems, songs and rhymes available online.

Apple Tree from

Apple tree, apple tree,

Will your apple fall on me?

I won’t cry, I won’t shout,

If your apple knocks me out!

You can also make up your own rhyme to a familiar song like this one sung to the tune The Wheels on the Bus:

The branches on the tree go up and down

up and down, up and down

The branches on the tree go up and down

In the breeze.

The leaves on the tree swing to and fro

To and fro, To and fro

The leaves on the tree swing to and fro

In the breeze.

The birds in the tree flap their wings

Flap their wings, Flap their wings

The birds in the tree flap their wings

In the breeze.

Take it Further

Go on a tree scavenger hunt. Look for different trees in your neighborhood or at a local park. Collect leaves, take notes on how the bark feels, how the branches grow, does the tree have fruit, etc. When home, make rubbings of the leaves with crayons and make a leaf book. Write the name of the tree and its characteristics.

The book’s illustrations are in mixed media, which means a variety of art techniques are used to make the pictures. Make your own mixed media pictures experimenting with texture, paint, paper, crayons, colored pencils and more to draw your own wilderness scene.

Don’t forget to post pictures in the comments below to share your child’s creativity!

Happy Reading!