By Maya Payne Smart Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston is a lovely picture book biography of a singular literary talent. Author Alicia D. Williams masterfully weaves threads of Hurston’s complicated life story into a tale simple and propulsive enough to maintain the attention of young children, yet complete and nuanced enough to satisfy Hurston’s grownup fans. The book traces the jagged rise of the iconic writer, from a spunky young girl . . .
By Chrysta Naron As a teacher, I love to make a themed activity that goes beyond a simple craft (though I love a good craft too), and an Easter egg hunt is a fun option to mix up our playground time when spring rolls around. But if I gave my four-year-olds a bunch of candy in the middle of the day, I’d have kids bouncing off the walls like pennies in a tin can! So I created this sight-word Easter egg hunt, instead. Why sight words? Well, sight words—also called high-frequency . . .
By Chrysta Naron One March a few years ago I was teaching Pre-K and had hit a teaching wall. I felt like I had exhausted my whole arsenal of reading activities. My students were bored of the same small-group activities as they progressed from learning letters to reading simple words. I didn’t know what to do to spice things up. Cue Cara. Cara, one of my students, showed up one day and proudly showed me a bag of her newest treasure: chocolate gold coins to share with the entire class. . . .
By Karen Williams Award-winning author Toni Morrison is well known for her powerful writing that examines the black experience in America, with a particular focus on women and girls. Both a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winner, she is best remembered for her classic novels The Bluest Eye (1970) and Beloved (1987), which was later adapted into a movie with Oprah Winfrey’s support. Her vast and impressive body of work includes 11 novels, nine non-fiction books, two short stories, and two . . .
By Laila Weir Every year—in non-pandemic times—on an evening in early March, tables overflow with books in the multipurpose room of my kids’ elementary school as pajama-clad children wander among them. Arms wrapped around newly acquired titles, groups of kids browse happily, periodically ducking out on eager slippered feet for story times in various classrooms. This pajama-party-book-exchange is our school’s way of celebrating Read Across America Day, a national event taking place every March . . .
By Karen Williams Of all of the ways we can encourage learning and development in children, reading aloud to them is one of the simplest and most effective. Reading picture books to even the youngest children builds their vocabulary and comprehension. But what it doesn’t do, at least not automatically, is help them connect the lines on the page (which are so much less eye-catching than the illustrations) with the words they’re hearing. To get the most out of story time, we need to . . .
By Laila Weir When you’re raising a young reader, love and literacy are always in the air. This Valentine’s Day, bring both together with these three fun ways to support early reading and writing skills while you celebrate love in all its many forms (and even a little chocolate!). You’ll learn about wonderful picture books to explore—and expand—the concept of love with your child, play a sweet ABC matching game made from a chocolate box, and create words by crafting your own paper version of . . .
By Maya Smart Kelli Mason, a mom of two and the vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Notley, a social impact investment firm, has labored for years in the notoriously reactive workplace diversity space. But her latest project, Ripple Reads, looks upstream to address racism before it takes root in the next generation. The monthly family newsletter she founded aims to get parents and their little ones excited to stand up for racial justice. “If we can reach kids proactively . . .
By Laila Weir Happy Lunar New Year! Whether this celebration is part of your family’s traditions or something you’d like your child to learn about, why not mark the occasion with fun activities that support early literacy at the same time? Below, we walk you step-by-step through four easy activities to do with your young children. You’ll find crafts, simple alphabet- and writing-themed games, and picture book recommendations—even a storytelling puppet who helps kids develop the . . .
By Chrysta Naron “How do I teach my child to read?” This is the number one question I hear from parents. They often feel lost or ill equipped to teach reading. But while there are incredible pre-designed resources out there, the truth is that you can totally do this on your own! Many of the best tools to help children learn to read are simple things you may already have around the house (though you might not associate them with reading). As an added bonus, most of these . . .