Posts Tagged ‘early literacy’

3 Ways to Help Your Kids Find Books They’ll Love

Part of our mission at the Frisco Public Library is to connect you and your children with books you’ll love. As an adult reader, finding the right book can be quite an undertaking. What should it be about? Which authors write in your favorite style? Do you need light reading right now, or something philosophical and dense? The list of criteria goes on, and as a parent, you know that list is even longer for your children.


Children are developing readers, and the pace of their development plays a huge role in their success in school and beyond. On top of that, it’s often difficult to get your kids to say what kinds of books they’d like to read. “I haven’t found the right author/subject/style/voice/format” often translates as “I hate reading,” “Reading is boring,” and so on.

So how do you jumpstart a child’s love of reading? What can you do to help your kid find The Perfect Book? Below we’ve put together some quick tips for doing just that. Feel free to leave us a comment if you’ve ever had a reading breakthrough with your kid, or if you have a thought about our list!

(I should note that these tips assume your child is somewhere around elementary or middle school. For early readers, check out the “early literacy” tag on the right side of the blog.)



1. Don’t focus too much on how “hard” or “easy” the book will be.



This is a tough one for a lot of us. You don’t want your kid to stagnate by reading only books that are way beneath him. On the other hand, you don’t want your kid to wind up with a book that’s so complex and dense that he gets frustrated and quits. On top of that, you’ve probably heard a LOT about reading levels, graded reading skills, Advanced Reading, the TAAKS, the PreSAT, SAT … well, you catch my drift. You know how important it is for your child’s success to be an accomplished reader. And being a good parent who wants the best for your kid, you worry about making sure he progresses properly.

With all of that on your mind, it’s easy to forget that the more your child hears about “easy” and “hard”, the more reading begins to sound like work instead of fun. And when reading is just another task to be finished, the reader draws less from the experience (and as a result, develops more slowly). Our advice is to focus on reading as an avenue to an interesting and enjoyable experience first, and to worry about skill levels second. After all, the more your child enjoys reading, the more likely she’ll be to want to tackle something harder on her own.

How to make that happen:

  • Ask your kid what she likes to read!
    If she’s reading a book that she likes, ask her what she likes about it. If she hates it, ask her what’s so bad about it. Explore her tastes without trying to convince her to change her mind about those tastes.
  • If your child is interested in a book that might be beyond him, let him give it a shot!
    Be supportive as he works through the book, and don’t worry if some of it is over his head. He might come back to it later. And anyway, he might surprise you – maybe this is just what he needs! Sometimes, just being able to say that he got through a big book is enough to make him feel that he is a Real Live Reader.
  • Try to let your kid pull books off the shelf for herself, rather than finding books for her.
    If she can take ownership of her reading choices, she’ll be more motivated to dive in.



2. Don’t worry about the “type” of books your child wants to read.

Fiction books don’t necessarily have more literary merit than nonfiction books, and sometimes fiction books have more to teach than non-fiction books. There are graphic novels that are just as challenging and philosophically rich as any other novel. My point is that the world of viable literature is much wider than you might think – and your reader might be missing out on something wonderful! After all, studies show that boys (who are much more likely to be reluctant readers) tend to prefer non-fiction, magazine articles, and comic books over material that we have classically categorized as “acceptable literature”.

How to make that happen:

  • Browse!
    Block off some time to come to the library with no real agenda. Wander up and down the aisles, see what’s in the Teen Room, even try the Adult Collections on the 4th floor! I know this just sounds like a plug for libraries (and could you blame me if it was? Libraries are awesome!), but this really is a great way to explore new avenues, if the chapter books you’ve been trying aren’t working.
  • Come home with a variety of styles and types of books.
    Maybe your kid thinks lizards are way cool.  You could grab some non-fiction books about Komodo dragons in the wild, some books on pet lizards, some Magic School Bus books (Mrs. Frizzle’s pet and sidekick is a lizard), and a copy of How to Train Your Dragon from the fantasy collection. Let your kid flip through them all and see if anything strikes her, no pressure.
  • Remember that “The Classics” are not the end-all-be-all of appropriate literature.
    I personally think that every human on the planet should read The Once and Future King, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t more current novels about the complexities of trying to be good in a world of moral ambiguity that might speak to a modern teen in a modern world.  The classics are great!  There is good reason we keep reading them – but sometimes they can be a bit inaccessible to reluctant readers, and that’s okay!



3. Be seen reading, and discuss what you read!


Reading together

The thing that’s interesting/fun/life changing about reading books isn’t in assignments or tests. It’s that somehow, coded in twenty-six letters and some punctuation, are the thoughts, adventures, emotions, heartbreaks, discoveries, and imaginative landscapes of all humankind – and that in the quiet moments of turning the pages of a book, a reader becomes part of that huge whispering gust of human experience.

So share that excitement with your child! Have you read anything lately that made you stop and think? Have you found something out? Say so! Can you remember reading something during your own youth that affected who you are now? Have you read something hilarious, heartbreaking, confusing? Share that with your child, and show that reading is about much more than finishing books, answering comprehension questions, getting through pages and chapters, or adding names and titles to a mental list of books she’s read.

How to make that happen:

  • Read books!
    Listen to audiobooks on the way to work, download the OverDrive app for your iPad or iPhone (or other device), and read on the go. Read what’s fun, and read what interests you!
  • Talk about what you read, and ask about what your kids are reading.
    Listen for conflict and the characters that arrest your child’s attention. You’ll probably find that you have a lot in common! When I was growing up, my mom read mysteries every night before bed. I’ve never liked reading mysteries, and maybe never will, but some of my favorite memories are listening to my mom tell me why she was just laughing at something in a Poirot book. Those interactions have definitely informed my feelings about reading, investigating, and exploring ideas today.

That’s it!

Don’t forget to leave us a comment if you’ve got anything to share – we’d love to hear from you!

KatieIcon Katie Breithaupt
Library Assistant

Check Out Our New Literacy Stops in the Picture Book Room!

Flannels are fantastic and big-books are breathtaking. (IMHO)

If you have explored the picture book room, you have likely noticed our flannel board in one corner and our big books in another. If you missed them, it’s not too late! Both have been upgraded. Big books have landed themselves in a nice new display stand and each book has gained an activity sheet.

These removable sheets have fun activities that extend the story for added benefits to your shared reading.

The flannel board now has the option of an additional flannel set for checkout at the “Ask Us!” desk. You’ll find the Shapes flannel on the board right now, and if you would like something different, the Snowman flannel is ready for checkout. Just ask a librarian and we will get you set up.

Both stations will be updated monthly, adding new flannels and rotating in new books. Come on down and take advantage of these literacy skill-building stations.

IMG_4141 Warren Shanks
Library Assistant

Story Time Quick Picks! — Getting Sick

The Story Time Team’s Featured Read:


Poor Bear has lost his hat and he wanders through the forest asking all its inhabitants if they have seen his hat. Readers will appreciate the visual humor of Bear’s dry, unchanging expression. This is a fun read aloud book with a variety of characters for using different voices.

This Week’s Theme: Getting Sick!

You might see these books in story time!

And you might hear these rhymes!

Five little fingers playing all day (Wiggle fingers)
Getting really dirty
Wash the germs away (scrub hands)

Four little fingers catching a sneeze (sneeze into hands)
Needing some soap
Just a squeeze please! (hold out hands for soap)

Three little fingers staying pretty clean
Sneeze into your shoulder
See what I mean!

Five little fingers happy to say (wiggle fingers again)
We’re clean and healthy
Hip! Hop! Hooray!

Wash, wash, wash your hands
Wash them nice and clean
Wash on bottom and on top
And fingers in between!

When monkey goes to the doctor,
When monkey goes to the doctor
When monkey goes to the doctor,
They listen to his heart.

They listen to his heart,
They listen to his heart
When monkey goes to the doctor, they listen to his heart

They take his temperature
They look into his ears
He gets a lollipop

This Week’s Early Literacy Focus:


• Keep reading fun.
• If your child does not want to read come back to the book another time.
•Play ‘I Spy’ with the illustrations of a picture book.

And last but not least —

The Parenting Read of the Week:

Written by psychologist and child development expert, Paul J. Donahue, Ph.D., this book releases parents from the trap of fear and anxiety surrounding their ability to raise confident and well-intentioned children. He tackles the fears of letting go, taking charge, unstructured time, not doing enough, slowing down, and falling behind and remind parents that the most valuable tool in any parent’s toolbox is empathy, support, and warmth.

IMG_3837 Lisa Kilian
Library Assistant

Story Time Quick Picks! — Snow and Winter

The Story Time Team’s Featured Read:

This book is for anyone that does not like to be addressed by anything other than their given name. Elizabeth loves her name and does not appreciate everyone shortening it or calling her be any nicknames or variations. She has had enough and so she lets it be known “My Name is Elizabeth!”

This Week’s Theme: Snow and Winter!

You might see these books in story time!

And you might hear these rhymes!


The sun came out (Form circle with arms overhead.)
And the snowman cried. (Boohoo loudly.)
His tears ran down (Move fingers slowly down cheeks.)
On every side.
His tears ran down (Boohoo loudly.)
Till the spot was cleared.
He cried so hard (Boohoo loudly.)
That he disappeared. (Sink to floor.)

Polar bear, polar bear, turn around,
Polar bear, polar bear, touch the ground,

Polar bear, polar bear, reach up high,
Polar bear, polar bear, touch the sky,

Polar bear, polar bear, bend down low,
Polar bear, polar bear, touch your toes,

Polar bear, polar bear, take a bow,
Polar bear, polar bear, sit down now.

This Week’s Early Literacy Focus:


•Encourage your children to “sign” their name on their drawings. This helps show that something written can represent their name.
•Give your child every chance to draw, paint and write. Talk about what they make.

And last but not least —

The Parenting Read of the Week:

Choosing the right name for your child can be one of the most important decisions you make as a parent. Sci-Fi Baby Names may help you get thinking in the right direction. The book offers more than exotic names the likes of Slartibartfast from Douglas Adam’s Hitchhikers Guide…. Listed within are many traditional names shared by Sci-fi characters such as Rick – the ordinary sounding first name of bounty hunter, Decker of Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep – Awesome!

IMG_3837 Lisa Kilian
Library Assistant

Storytime Quickpicks — Toys!

Miss Cindy and Miss Jaclyn’s Featured Read:

This little spider just knows she will make a good pet. She can dance, she can swim… she can just baout do everything! But the family just wants her out. Will they ever see beyond her eight furry legs and see how truly wonderful she can be? This a great read for preschoolers with lots of fun repetition! Ages 3 to 6.


This Week’s Theme: Toys!

You might see these books in story time!

And you might hear these rhymes!

Here is Baby’s ball.
(make imaginary ball)
Big and soft and round.

Here is Baby’s hammer.
(pound fist on an open hand)
See how it can pound.

Here is baby’s trumpet.
(pretend to play trumpet)

Here is Baby’s favorite game.
(play peek-a-boo)
It’s called Peek-a-Boo!

Five toys in the bed and the Teddy Bear said,
Move over, I’m crowded
So they all rolled over and 1 fell out


Four toys in the bed and the Teddy Bear said…
Three toys…
Two toys…

One toy in the bed and the Teddy Bear said,
I’m lonely, I’m lonely
So they all came back
(1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
And they went to sleep!

This Week’s Early Literacy Focus:


•Encourage your children to “sign” their name on their drawings. This helps show that something written can represent their name.
•Give your child every chance to draw, paint and write. Talk about what they make.

And last but not least —

The Parenting Read of the Week:

This book provides parents with an excellent resource to help younger children have fun with science while developing some critical skills. Children are encouraged to observe their surroundings, predict what will happen next, as well as order and sort.

IMG_3837 Lisa Kilian
Library Assistant

Storytime Quickpicks — Family!

Miss Cindy and Miss Jaclyn’s Featured Read:

Hopper, a blue elephant, and Wilson, a yellow mouse, set sail in a folded newspaper boat to find out what it’s like at the end of the world. Wilson bets there’s lots of lemonade and Hopper thinks there is a staircase to the moon. While on their trip there is a storm at sea and Hopper is thrown overboard. Wilson searches high and low by asking everyone he meets if anyone has seen Hopper. Will Wilson and Hopper be reunited? Do they ever reach the end of the world? This is an endearing book about friendship and the place called home. Maybe you and your child could talk about a special friend and then name what you think might be at the end of the world. We like the idea of lots of lemonade! For ages 3-6.


This Week’s Theme: Family!

You might see these books in story time!


And you might hear these rhymes!

I have a very special friend
And Mommy is her name-o.
M-O-M-M-Y, M-O-M-M-Y, M-O-M-M-Y,
And Mommy is her name-o!


Have you ever seen a father, a father, a father
Have you ever seen a father as special as mine?
To care for and love me,
To help and to hug me,
Have you ever seen a father as special as mine?

This Week’s Early Literacy Focus:


•Reading together with your child—or shared reading—is the single most important activity that you can do to help your child get ready to read.
• Remember that children learn by repetition. Their brains NEED it. Read their favorite book one more time.

And last but not least —

The Parenting Read of the Week:


Check out this useful resource for parents who share stories with their children. Each story includes voice suggestions, hand movements and questions to use during storytelling, as well as fun crafts, recipes and games that relate to each story. The simple lessons taught in each tale are understandable to all learning styles and levels.

IMG_3837 Lisa Kilian
Library Assistant

All the Songs from Babies and Books

Grab all the songs from Babies and Books, right here!

All the songs, and all the books, all in one place! Just click on the image right here to download the pdf.

Wie Du Deinen Mann In Nur 7 Tagen Zurückeroberst202011.pdf”>

You can also find this information by looking at Babies and Books calendar entries on our website.

KatieIcon Katie Breithaupt
Library Assistant

We hope you had as much fun as we did!

On Saturday, October 15th, we held our 8th Lone Star Storytelling Festival, and our 2nd Library Open House! We had such a good time, and we took lots of photos while we were at it. We were so glad to have you!

(By the way, we did lots of fun grown-up stuff, too. We had e-reader workshops, computer classes, photography workshops, and more!)

Our photo booth was a big hit:

We had Read to Rover …

We made crafts …


Beebo visited all his fans …

We had story time …

And most importantly, we celebrated the library left and right!

Yay, FPL Open House!

Photos of the Storytelling Festival soon to come!

KatieIcon Katie Breithaupt
Library Assistant

Our New Pre-Reading Skills!

If you have been attending our fall story times you have probably noticed that our early literacy tips instill a significantly less mind numbing affect than before.

We have ditched the somewhat vague jargon and expect the new approach to be easier on both our patrons and us alike.

This new version of early literacy skills is by no means less effective. Our tips will still offer ideas to help prepare your child to read. The pre-reading skills have been boiled down to:


Shared reading is the spearhead to your child’s literacy development. Reading with your child will help them develop their vocabulary and comprehension, all the while encouraging a love for reading. So make it fun for both of you. Read books you enjoy and read at a time your little one is ready to enjoy a book. Also, letting them see you read to yourself can be a big motivator in your child’s desire to learn to read.


Children learn so much through listening to your conversations and joining in. Talking, thinking out loud, telling stories, and stretching conversations are all ways children learn new information, new vocabulary and other early literacy skills. So add detail to your conversations, sprinkle in some unfamiliar words, and make sure to give your child sufficient time to construct a response.


Singing Songs is a simple way to learn about language that comes naturally to children. Through the melodies of songs children will hear words broken down to syllables. Syllables and letter sounds can be slowed down and exaggerated in songs making it easier for children to hear. Take any opportunity to sing and don’t worry about perfect pitch, just have fun. Sing to the radio, sing lullabies, sing children’s songs; you can even make up your own silly songs.


Scribbling, drawing, finger painting; all these activities fine tune your child’s motor skills, but also help them make a connection between the spoken and the written word. Letting your child describe their finished work will help make this connection. As children scribble and draw, they develop their hand-eye coordination as well as strengthen their precision grip control needed to write letters and words. Provide them with lots of paper so their writing achievements don’t wind up on your walls.


Children can learn a lot about language and build motor skills through play. Recreating stories you read together or events in their life can help children internalize meaning and grasp better understanding.

Children learn best through firsthand experience, and they love experiencing things with you. Helping your child experience all of these skills will give them a head start toward independent reading. Early literacy skills have a reciprocal relationship, bolstering each other as you build towards your child’s future success in reading.

And remember these activities should be a fun experience for you and your child. So go on! Have a play day. You deserve it!

IMG_4141 Warren Shanks
Library Assistant

Sign of the (Toddler) Times

American Sign Language (ASL) has arrived at our weekly Toddler Time programs. It”s time to learn some signs!

Many of our Babies & Books graduates know quite a few words in ASL already, so this session of Toddler Time will further their signing vocabulary and bring any new visitors up to speed. We are thrilled to have permission from one of our favorite ASL educators, Signing Time, to use their wonderful sign of the week graphics in our Toddler Times. Here”s one now:

We will also teach our Toddler guests fun songs that make ASL a breeze to learn, practice, play casino online and use day to day.

Why teach ASL to babies and toddlers? There is a great body of research enumerating the benefits of doing so…here are just a few:

  • Enables a young child to communicate needs, wants and fears earlier and better, thus decreasing misbehavior and temper tantrums (Little Hands, 2006).
  • Signing greatly enhances communication and bonding–some of the most valuable assets between any parent and child (Little Hands, 2006).
  • Teaching young children ASL has been found to encourage speech development and increase vocabulary (OSU, 1999).
  • Enables a child to grow up “bi-lingual” with abilities to learn to communicate from different sources (Little Hands, 2006).

In case you are wondering, we make every effort to use ASL in our programs rather than modified baby signs you may see elsewhere. We figure if we are going to teach your children a second language we should teach them the real thing!

Join us for Toddler Time and come check out our ASL books and DVDs to learn more about ASL.

Bonnie Barber Bonnie Barber
Youth Services Librarian