To Read or Not to Read…

A friend asked this question on a group post,”Any recommendations for good books at the 4th/5th grade level (additional ones, not in MBtP sets). My daughter loves the Magic Treehouse & Magic School Bus series, but they are now very easy for her.”

I replied,”I am really picky on books E should read, we basically stick with non-fiction, love biographies, child encyclopedia sets, children’s bible. I try to fill E’s mind with truth more than anything else. A good history book like E.H. Gombrich can’t be beat ūüôā Perhaps even transition to Chronicles of Narnia but I haven’t decided yet.”

Reading with children is always an enjoyable activity for our family but are all books equal? I am personally displeased with the multitude of water downed versions of children’s stories at the library. Most authors have pretty illustrations while their books lack information, unlike great authors like Anna Milbourne, Eric Carle, Patricia Hubble, and others that managed to combine both.

Yes, my son loves to read comic books on every super heroe but I make effort to include lots of other “living books” as Charlotte Mason calls them.

Happy Reading!


My 4 yr. Old’s Favorite Books

My son enjoys reading I Spy, Star Wars, Art, Marvel Heroes books. All of the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science books are awesome. He is very attached to Bible stories and enjoys listening to music.

1. Land Of Big Dreamers “Voices of Courage in America” by Neil Waldman

2. On the Seashore (Picture Books) by Anna Milbourne

3. On the Moon (First Reading Level 1) by Anna Milbourne

4. Dinosaur (Picture Books) by Rosie Dickins

5. Under the Sea (Picture Storybooks) by Anna Milbourne

6. In the Pond (Picture Books) by Anna Milbourne

7. Wild About Books (Irma S and James H Black Honor for Excellence in Children’s Literature (Awards)) by Judy Sierra

8. ZooZical by Judy Sierra

9. Born to Read by Judy Sierra

10. My Daddy Is a Pretzel: Yoga for Parents and Kids by Baron Baptiste

11. What Is Science? by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

12. Ready Set Grow!: Quick and Easy Gardening Projects by DK Publishing

13. How People Learned to Fly (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Fran Hodgkins

14. The Kids’ Yoga Book of Feelings by Mary Humphrey

15. Kingfisher Knowledge: Wonders of the World by Philip Steele

16. Astronaut Handbook by Meghan McCarthy

17. My Light by Molly Bang

18. So You Want to Be an Explorer? by Judith St. George

19. What’s So Bad About Gasoline?: Fossil Fuels and What They Do (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Anne Rockwell

20. Take Your Hat Off When the Flag Goes


Fantastic Book for Homeschoolers

I have been using “Peak with Books An Early Childhood Resource for Balanced Literacy” for the past couple weeks and love it. I love the layout and the literature-based approach while incorporating different subjects like Math and Science. After using this book with “Blueberries for Sal” and “Ask Mr. Bear”, we’re hooked! This is so much fun and educational at the same time. My very young son really enjoys all the enrichment activities.

I pick one story a week and really “dig” into it with “Peak Books” balanced approach. You will find everything you need for Language Arts in early ed., music, poetry, involvement, reproductions and retelling, innovations and caption books, writing process, print-rich environment, parent involvement, online resources, etc. Overall, I wish I found this resource sooner but am grateful that I have it now and not later!


Reading Effectively & Critical Thinking

Sharing the information I’ve gathered from online resources. Hope this helps you to create a better dialog with your child. I write these questions on a notecard, sticky pad or homemade bookmark ¬†to ask while reading to or with my son.¬†Discussion and critical thinking questioning strategy lead to deeper analysis of content. This makes the learning process more about absorbing and reflecting on all facets of the material in a natural and curious state. Here are a few examples of questions that invoke informal reasoning: ‚ÄúWhy did you select that one?‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúHow are these different?‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúWhat happened when you?‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúWhat would happen if you?‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúWhat can you do to make‚Ķ happen?‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúHow do you think s/he feels about what happened?‚ÄĚ These types of questions develop critical thinking skills and stimulate verbal development as the children try to communicate their reasoning.

When reading aloud, you can stop from time to time and orally complete  sentences like these:

  • So far, I’ve learned…
  • This made me think of…
  • That didn’t make sense.
  • I think ___ will happen next.
  • I reread that part because…
  • I was confused by…
  • I think the most important part was…
  • That is interesting because…
  • I wonder why…
  • I just thought of…

To help readers learn to ask questions before, during, and after reading, think  aloud the next time you are reading a book, article, or set of directions. Write  each question on a post-it note and stick it on the text you have the question  about.

Ask questions such as:

“What clues does the title give me about the story?”
“Is this a¬† real or imaginary story?”
“Why am I reading this?”
“What do I already¬† know about___?”
“What predictions can I make?”

Start reading the text, and ask yourself questions while reading:

“What do I understand from what I just read?”
“What is the main¬† idea?”
“What picture is the author painting in my head?”
“Do I need to¬† reread so that I understand?”

Then reread the text, asking the following questions when you are finished:

“Which of my predictions were right? What information from the text¬† tells me that I am correct?”
“What were the main ideas?”
“What¬† connections can I make to the text? How do I feel about it?”

After students become aware of the best times to ask questions during the  reading process, be sure to ask them a variety of questions that:

  • Can be used to gain a deeper understanding of the text
  • Have answers that might be different for everyone
  • Have answers that can be found in the text
  • Clarify the author’s intent
  • Can help clarify meaning
  • Help them make inferences
  • Help them make predictions
  • Help them make connections to other texts or prior¬† knowledge

Some of the most challenging questions are “Why?” questions about the¬† author’s intentions and the design of the text. For example:

“Why do you think the author chose this particular setting?”
“Why do you think the author ended the story in this way?”
“Why do you think¬† the author chose to tell the story from the point of view of the daughter?”
“What does the author seem to be assuming about the reader’s political¬† beliefs?”

Another way to challenge readers is to ask them open-ended question that  require evidence from the text to answer. For example:

“What does Huck think about girls? What is your evidence?”
“Which character in the story is most unlike Anna? Explain your reasons,¬† based on evidence from the novel?”
“What is the author’s opinion about¬† affirmative action in higher education? How do you know?”

Read more on TeacherVision:  http://www.teachervision.fen.com/skill-builder/reading-comprehension/48617.html?page=2&detoured=1


Dialogic Reading

I need to establish more “dialogic reading”, based on the recommendation of “Testing for Kindergarten” by karen Quinn. There are some videos on youtube and here is some information from sources I’ve gathered that I plan on implementing while reading together. Hope this post helps to improve the quality of reading outloud with your child.

Three steps of dialogic reading
1.Ask “what” questions. Point to an item in a book and say, “what’s this?” or “what’s this called?” Repeat what your child says. Let your child know his or her answer is correct by repeating it back, “Yes, that’s a snake.”

2.Expand what your child says. Keep the expansions short and simple. Make sure to build on your child’s phrases just a little so that your child is able to imitate what you’ve said. Add, “Yes, you’re right! That’s a truck, a yellow dump truck.” The conversation can continue, “What is that truck doing?” “Yes, it looks like he is dumping dirt into the hole.”v

3.Ask open-ended questions. After your child is comfortable answering “what” questions, begin asking “open-ended” questions. Open-ended questions require more thought to answer and encourage children to use their imaginations. Open-ended questions do not have right or wrong answers and send the message, “I want to know what you think.”

Other questions could be, “What else do you see?” “Tell me about.” and “What if.” and “I wonder how.” or “How did that happen?” or “What do you think?” If a child doesn’t know what to say about a picture, you may need to help by answering the question yourself, “I think he may be..” Parents should be sure to praise and encourage, and always follow his interests.

The fundamental reading technique in dialogic reading is the PEER sequence. This is a short interaction between a child and the adult. The adult:

Prompts the child to say something about the book,
Evaluates the child’s response,
Expands the child’s response by rephrasing and adding information to it, and
Repeats the prompt to make sure the child has learned from the expansion.
Imagine that the parent and the child are looking at the page of a book that has a picture of a fire engine on it. The parent says, “What is this?” (the prompt) while pointing to the fire truck. The child says, truck, and the parent follows with “That’s right (the evaluation); it’s a red fire truck (the expansion); can you say fire truck?” (the repetition).

Except for the first reading of a book to children, PEER sequences should occur on nearly every page. Sometimes you can read the written words on the page and then prompt the child to say something. For many books, you should do less and less reading of the written words in the book each time you read it. Leave more to the child.

How to prompt children
There are five types of prompts that are used in dialogic reading to begin PEER sequences. You can remember these prompts with the word CROWD.

Completion prompts
You leave a blank at the end of a sentence and get the child to fill it in. These are typically used in books with rhyme or books with repetitive phases. For example, you might say, “I think I’d be a glossy cat. A little plump but not too ____,” letting the child fill in the blank with the word fat. Completion prompts provide children with information about the structure of language that is critical to later reading.

Recall prompts
These are questions about what happened in a book a child has already read. Recall prompts work for nearly everything except alphabet books. For example, you might say, “Can you tell me what happened to the little blue engine in this story?” Recall prompts help children in understanding story plot and in describing sequences of events. Recall prompts can be used not only at the end of a book, but also at the beginning of a book when a child has been read that book before.

Open-ended prompts
These prompts focus on the pictures in books. They work best for books that have rich, detailed illustrations. For example, while looking at a page in a book that the child is familiar with, you might say, “Tell me what’s happening in this picture.” Open-ended prompts help children increase their expressive fluency and attend to detail.

Wh- prompts
These prompts usually begin with what, where, when, why, and how questions. Like open-ended prompts, wh- prompts focus on the pictures in books. For example, you might say, “What’s the name of this?” while pointing to an object in the book. Wh- questions teach children new vocabulary.

Distancing prompts
These ask children to relate the pictures or words in the book they are reading to experiences outside the book. For example, while looking at a book with a picture of animals on a farm, you might say something like, “Remember when we went to the animal park last week. Which of these animals did we see there?” Distancing prompts help children form a bridge between books and the real world, as well as helping with verbal fluency, conversational abilities, and narrative skills.

If you have time, read a book twice. The first time, just read the book as you normally would. The second time, ask questions while you are reading and let your child direct you through the book. Remember to praise and encourage your child as you explore the book together.


My 2 1/2 year old’s favorite books!

The Water Hole
1.  The Water Hole by Graeme Base
¬† “Fantastic way to teach about geography, wild animals, habitats, migration. The illusrations hidden within pictures are beautiful. Just love this book!”
Buzzy the Bumblebee - (Softcover)
2.  Buzzy the Bumblebee Р(Softcover) by Denise Brennan-Nelson
¬† “Good lesson on believing in yourself and not listening to other’s criticism.”
Tell Time with The Very Busy Spider (The World of Eric Carle)
3.  Tell Time with The Very Busy Spider (The World of Eric Carle) by Eric Carle
¬† “A good way for a toddler to learn how to adjust/tell time.”
The Toughest Cowboy: or How the Wild West Was Tamed (Bccb Blue Ribbon Picture Book Awards (Awards))
4.  The Toughest Cowboy: or How the Wild West Was Tamed (Bccb Blue Ribbon Picture Book Awards (Awards)) by John Frank
¬† “This is funny and goes well with a wild west lesson. The audio version is great with this book!”
M Is for Majestic: A National Parks Alphabet (Alphabet Books)
5.  M Is for Majestic: A National Parks Alphabet (Alphabet Books) by David Domeniconi
P is for Passport: A World Alphabet (Discover the World)
6.  P is for Passport: A World Alphabet (Discover the World) by Devin Scillian
$13.57   Used & New from: $8.99
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews) //



Airplanes!: Soaring! Diving! Turning! (Things That Go!)
7.  Airplanes!: Soaring! Diving! Turning! (Things That Go!) by Patricia Hubbell
¬† “I enjoy many of Patricia Hubbell’s books likes “Cars”, Trains”, misc.”
$12.81   Used & New from: $2.59
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews) //



“The Curious Garden”, “Karate Hour”, “Whose garden is it?”, Franklin series of stories, “This Land is Your Land”, “See inside your Body” Usbourne, any book from author Anna Milbourne, Disney stories. There are sooo many more, I don’t think I have the patience to write them all down ūüôā we usually have around 30-50 books that gets rotated every 2 months.


My 24m-2 1/2 year old Favorite Children‚Äôs Books

These are mostly non-fiction or classic stories. My son especially enjoys anything with lots of illustrations and books with audio versions. I also keep an eye out for quality easy readers and math books. He often requests books be read to him throughout the day.

  On the Seashore (Picture Books) by Anna Milbourne
$9.99   Used & New from: $2.01

  On the Moon by Anna Milbourne
$9.99   Used & New from: $1.97
  The Dinosaur by Anna Milbourne
$9.99   Used & New from: $0.92
  Under the Sea (Picture Books) by Anna Milbourne
$9.99   Used & New from: $4.95
  In the Castle (Picture Books) by Anna Milbourne
$9.99   Used & New from: $5.60
  Under the Ground (Picture Books) by Anna Milbourne
$9.99   Used & New from: $5.63
¬† My Hands (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science)¬†by Aliki
$5.99   Used & New from: $0.01
  In a Nutshell (Sharing Nature With Children Book) by Joseph Anthony
$8.95   Used & New from: $3.84

  Good Morning, Digger by Anne Rockwell
Used & New from: $3.52

  Which Way to the Revolution?: A Book About Maps by Bob Barner
Used & New from: $2.81

¬† Walt Disney’s Pinocchio (A First little golden book)¬†by Nikki Grimes
Used & New from: $0.01

  What Is an Amphibian? (Animal Kingdom) by Lola M. Schaefer
$5.95   Used & New from: $0.01

  The Three Bears by Paul Galdone
$6.95   Used & New from: $0.01

  The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall
$11.53   Used & New from: $5.88
  Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme by Marianne Collins Berkes
$8.95¬†¬†¬†Used & New from: $4.33″Over in the Ocean” is also very fun to read.
  Museum ABC by The (NY) Metropolitan Museum of Art
$11.55   Used & New from: $2.37

  Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin (Aladdin Picture Books) by Lloyd Moss
$6.99   Used & New from: $0.84

  We All Go Traveling By (Barefoot Paperback) by Sheena Roberts
$6.99   Used & New from: $4.65

  Bees, Snails, & Peacock Tails: Patterns & Shapes . . . Naturally by Betsy Franco
$13.25   Used & New from: $7.96