Saturday, February 27, 2010

Put On Your Birthday Suess

Tuesday is Read Across America Day. It takes place each year on the birthday of Dr. Seuss, and encourages schools and families across the USA to celebrate books and reading.

For the week, our local elementary school has children dressing up each day for a different Seuss book:

Monday, March 1st: Oh the Places You'll Go
Wear something from a place you've visited.

Tuesday: The Cat in the Hat
Wear red and white clothing.

Wednesday: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Wear red and blue clothing.

Thursday: Green Eggs and Ham
Wear as much green as you can.

Friday: Socks on Fox
Wear the craziest, most-colorful socks you own.

Let us know about celebrations and observations your kids have in store for the week.

Viva la Seuss!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Read Across America Day Is March 2nd

The National Education Association’s Read Across America Day is an annual reading program established to encourage children to celebrate reading on March 2nd, the birthday of children’s author Dr. Seuss. For more information, go to the NEA’s website,, and check back here for more Read Across America posts and activities.

As a pre-celebration to Dr. Seuss’s birthday, watch the ‘Cat in the Hat’ video below!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Jim Dandy Book

We're happy to spread the word that one of our favorite artists, Bryan Langdo, has just illustrated a new picture book.

Diamond Jim Dandy and the Sheriff
by Sarah Burell tells the story of the day a giant rattlesnake arrived in the town of Dustpan, Texas. Now, Dustpan is a quiet and peaceful place where nothing exciting ever happens. The people who live there like it that way... or do they?

This upbeat book is a lot of fun, and we're all big fans of Bryan's gentle and humorous style. (He set the initial style for the kid characters in our Hooked on Phonics workbooks.)
You should check it out when it slithers your way.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Barnyard Fun!

One way children learn vocabulary is when they are explicitly taught new words and their meaning. Review vocabulary words with your child that he doesn’t yet know. Ask him questions such as “Do you know what gallop means? It means to run fast.”

This activity will not only help your child learn new vocabulary, but also animal facts and reading left to right.
1. Watch the video below.
2. Print out the Learn to Read Pre-K Barnyard Animals worksheets by clicking on this link: Barnyard Animals.
3. Read the sentence to your child, following with your finger from left to right.
4. Have your child color the animals.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Reading in a Winter Wonderland

Being snowed in is a perfect time to read with your kids! (Easy to say from the woman who has no children.)

We’re based in Baltimore, so all of us here at Hooked on Phonics are snowed in! We got hit pretty hard over the weekend, and here we go again with more blizzard conditions.

If you are looking for some good snow-themed children’s books to read with your children as you snuggle under the covers, take a look at this list of kids’ favorites suggested by my friend Erin T. Baker, a former first-grade teacher and now the director of a daycare center.

Here’s her top five, in no particular order:

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Lisa and the Snowman by Coby Hol
Chaucer’s First Winter by Stephen Krensky
The Happy Day by Ruth Krauss
The Little Polar Bear by Hans de Beer

And of course, no snow storm is complete without my favorite as a child,
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

We hope all of you are warm and safe and still have power. And for those of you who have been trapped in the house for days, we hope you still have sanity.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What Can I Do to Help My Child Learn to Read? Vocabulary

Vocabulary development is a very important part of becoming a good reader. Children can’t understand what they are reading if they don’t know what the words mean when they hear (oral vocabulary) or see them in print (reading vocabulary).

How can I help my child learn more vocabulary?

You can do this by incorporating new words into everyday conversations. They’ll learn by hearing you use new and interesting words. Ask them if they know the meaning of a word you just used. If they don’t, define the word and give them examples, “Lions are ferocious. Do you know what ferocious means? Scary and really mean.” Read to them and pause to define words that are unfamiliar to them. Have them read as often as possible. The more children read, the more words they’ll encounter, and the more meanings they’ll learn.

Activity: In just a few minutes, your child can learn animal names and fun facts, all while expanding his vocabulary.

  • Watch our Learn to Read video with your child (click on the video below).
  • Print out our activity worksheets by clicking on this link: Pets Activity. You can print the pages in full color or black and white.
  • Read the instructions and help your child complete the activities.

  • At the end of this activity your child’s vocabulary will have increased, and he’ll be one step closer to becoming a great reader.

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    Sunday's Story Surprise

    As a parent, you want only the best for your children, and in this mom’s opinion, reading to your children is one of the most important things you can do from an early age. It’s right up there with keeping them safe from harm and providing for their basic needs such as food and water, clothing and shelter. Since they were infants, I have tried to read to my kids (ages 2 and 3) as often as I can. And they both love books, whether its looking at the pictures, chewing on the corners, or the time spent sitting on mom’s lap and enjoying a good story. It’s always a rewarding experience for me as a mom, but this weekend I was treated to an even bigger reward.

    After breakfast on Sunday, I was in the usual tug-of-war with my 3 year old son over watching
    television, and I suggested that maybe instead of watching “Cars” for the hundredth time perhaps he could select one of his favorite books and we could read together. He reluctantly agreed and went to the book shelf. He came back with “Do Plants Eat Meat?” As we began to read, I took the usual approach of reading the text aloud and pointing to the pictures on the page as he identified the objects in the pictures and asked a ton of questions, many over and over again.

    My son has a huge vocabulary and has long been good at identifying pictures in the books that we read together. This time it was different though. He began to point to the words on the page and ask, “Mommy, what is this word?” and, “What does this word say?” I was shocked and surprised. It was as if something in him just clicked and he now understood that the words on the page had meaning and weren’t just a jumble of letters. Then, he pointed to the word plant (next to a picture of a plant) and said, “Mommy, does this word say plant?” I was totally excited and I said, “Yes, honey, you’re absolutely right! That does say plant!” In that moment, I was filled with so much pride and joy at what I had just witnessed.
    The rewards for reading to your children are many—the bonding experience, helping them to develop a lifelong love of reading and learning, putting them on the path to future success—but on this Sunday, the reward for me was much smaller, and it was all I needed to keep it going!

    *Do Plants Eat Meat? is part of the ASK ME series from The Southwestern Company.