By Chrysta Naron Let’s face it, letter names and letter sounds don’t always match up in a way that makes sense. Judging by their names, C should sound like /s/ and G should sound like /j/. Meanwhile, when X starts a word, it makes the same /z/ sound as the letter Z. This can be very confusing for early readers. They need constant reinforcement to internalize these nuances. Rather than sitting down and drilling letters every day—endlessly drawing lines from the letter C to a clip-art . . .
By Chrysta Naron Word families, sets of rhyming words that share the same ending spelling and pronunciation, are great tools for helping kids recognize patterns and build awareness of the sound structure of words. For example, the “at” word family includes words like “cat,” “hat,” “sat,” and so on. Word families are wonderful because they teach two skills at once. First, children learn to connect certain letter combinations with particular ending sound chunks or rimes. This can help them . . .
By Chrysta Naron Sandpaper letters are a popular Montessori material and a wonderful tool for helping young children master their ABCs. These letters cut from sandpaper and mounted on solid backgrounds allow children to experience the alphabet in multiple ways—before they have the fine motor skills to write the letters themselves. They can see how the letters are formed, and feel them as they trace their shapes. This sensory element can help them retain the names, shapes, and sounds of . . .
As lovers of literature, tossing books into the recycling bin can feel almost sacrilegious (even that dog-eared paperback that’s lost half its pages). And the nature-lovers in us rebel at the idea of crafting and decorating with brand-new paper when stacks of books and magazines are tossed every day. That’s why we celebrate the idea of giving unsalvageable and obsolete books a second life by upcycling them into book-page crafts. Creating decorative and useful objects out of old book . . .
By Chrysta Naron If your little ones are anything like those I teach as an early child educator, they probably get very bored very quickly sitting still, especially when workbooks are involved. Alphabet Hopscotch provides important alphabet knowledge and letter sound practice—all while reinforcing gross motor skills and getting kids some much-needed exercise and fresh air. But most of all, this easy alphabet game is a fun way to bolster literacy while on the move with wriggly kids. . . .
By Kelsey Nickerson With just a little help, kids can craft these handmade book page pinwheels. This is a fun activity in its own right, plus they’ll get a new toy to boot! You can make them to keep or to gift—this is a great present for older children to make for younger siblings or friends. Like many of our DIY book crafts, you can really make this project your own. Keep your pinwheel simple or have some fun coloring and decorating it! Younger kids may enjoy adding stickers and glitter . . .
At any writers’ conference you’ll hear about how important a captivating book proposal is for wooing agents. But there’s one proposal section that’s seldom discussed and little understood—yet which warrants more attention if you want to succeed. That’s the section listing “comps” for your book. The name alone invites confusion. Ask three agents what it means and you could get as many responses. Competitive books, one might say, while the others suggest comparative or complementary titles. And, . . .
I’m a sucker for debut novelists, so if I could break away from my desk midday, I would hustle over to Holy Grounds Coffee, located inside St. David’s Episcopal Church, to hear from Mary Helen Specht, author of Migratory Animals. The moving, if melancholy, story grapples with notions of home, family and belonging. See event details here. Christina Soontornvat, author of The Changelings (Sept. 10 at 3 pm at BookPeople Local author Christina Soontornvat is a generous . . .
June is a big month in this literary town. Austin’s African American Book Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary on the 25th. Swing by the Carver Museum and Library (1161 and 1165 Angelina St, 78702) between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to take part in the program, which promotes literature by and about African Americans. The festival features young adult author Sharon Flake and also provides a platform for new, emerging and self-published authors to pitch and sell their work. I produced a short . . .
This month, I’m giving away 8 new and notable novels, inspired by the Austin Public Library’s New Fiction Confab: . . .