June 10th, 2011 | posted by: Lynette

Encourage summer reading – and prevent summer reading loss

It is called “summer slide,” “summer reading gap,” “summer learning loss,”  and “summer setback.” Unfortunately, each year, summer learning loss accentuates the reading gap that exists between students from low–socioeconomic and high–socioeconomic families. One way to combat the summer slide is to get books into kids’ hands and encourage them to actually read them. Linda B. Gambrell, Professor of Education at Clemson University, and former president of the International Reading Association has some very practical tips for connecting kids and books. These suggestions were first published in her 2008 article “Closing the Summer Reading Gap: You Can Make a Difference!”

Ways you can make a difference

by Linda B. Gambrell

There are a number of things that individual classroom teachers can do to encourage summer reading. In a study conducted with elementary–age students, Jimmy Kim found that reading four to five books during the summer was potentially enough to prevent a decline in reading achievement from spring to fall.

The key to overcoming summer reading loss is finding novel ways to get books into students’ hands during the summer break. Here are four suggestions for classroom teachers:

  1. During “teacher read–aloud time,” share information about a variety of books. Students are more likely to read books they know something about. During the 15 to 20 minutes that you would read aloud from a single book, give a brief overview of multiple books instead, making sure you share a balance of narrative and informational texts reflecting a range of reading levels. Encourage students to make a list of the books they want to read over the summer. If a teacher shares 12 to 15 books a week during the final four weeks of school, students will be introduced to 50 or 60 books for potential summer reading.
  2. Share “3–a–day.” If you can’t devote 15 to 20 minutes at a time to book sharing, try taking 5 minutes each day during the last month of school to share “3–a–day,” quickly sharing a narrative text, an informational text, and something else, such as a book of poetry. Using this approach, you could share up to 60 books with your students.
  3. Distribute older books to students to take home for summer reading. When I was a classroom teacher, I carefully guarded my own library, making sure I could account for every book. As a consequence, the number of books in my classroom library grew substantially each year. I’ve since come to realize that students, like adults, gravitate toward newer titles. While there are some classics we will want to retain in our classroom libraries, perhaps it is time to weed out some of the older or never–touched books and give them to students for summer reading. If the books in your classroom library have been purchased with school funds, first obtain permission from your principal.Giving students books to take home on the last day of class is a powerful way to increase the likelihood of summer reading. You might want to duplicate a book plate that students can paste inside the front cover of the books they select. This book plate might say something like “Happy summer reading from your 5th–grade teacher, Mrs. Brown.” Books given to students by the teacher often become favorites and are highly likely to be read over the summer.
  4. Explore other ways you and your school can promote access to books, particularly for students from low–socioeconomic families. Suggestions include keeping the school library open during the summer months, taking a class trip to the local library during the last month of school to ensure that every student has a library card, and working with local businesses to sponsor the purchase of books for each student to take home on the last day of class.

December 15th, 2010 | posted by: Lynette

Read Early, Read Aloud, and Read Often!

Reading opens doors to new worlds!

Read early, read aloud and read often – PicPocket Books always encourages children and families to follow this advice – whether you’re reading print books or books on mobile devices like the iPad or iPhone. Other proponents of literacy and reading also echo these recommendations to read early, read aloud and to read often.

The well-established Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) book distribution and reading motivation program has given over 300 million new books to children who might not otherwise have books to call their own.

Read Early, Read Aloud is also the goal of a new campaign sponsored by the First 5 Commissions of Southern California.

The Family Child Care Language and Literacy Project targets child care centers to promote more early reading opportunities in day-care type settings. Specialists modeled ways that care providers can work with children; they offered tips for reading to infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers; they encouraged providers to set up dramatic play areas where they can engage children in conversation; and they demonstrated ways to build youngsters’ comprehension skills and vocabulary. The 15-month project brought about a 20 percent increase in the number of times a day child-care providers read to children; and a 29 percent decrease in the number of hours the TV was on.

Let’s keep reading!

September 26th, 2010 | posted by: Lynette

Top 5 reading tips for early childhood from PicPocket Books

Reading can be one of the great pleasures of childhood that continues throughout a lifetime

  1. Read with your child every day, whether it is from a print book or digital bookapp version!
  2. Let your child choose the book – even if it is the same one over and over.
  3. Set an example of reading – let your child see you reading for pleasure.
  4. Go to the public library often.
  5. When your child is older and has longer books assigned for school, read the same books yourself so you can discuss them together with your child.

May 28th, 2010 | posted by: Lynette

Where Fun Meets Educational

Daily reading time together with your kids is a great way to boost their reading skills and build the foundation for a life-long love of reading. Stories at bedtime are often the most obvious times to get that precious reading time with your child. How nice it is to cozy up on the sofa, or in bed, and share a story!

Books aren’t the only vehicles for practicing reading skills. Board games and card games are another favorite way of mine when it comes to getting some reading practice in. Have you tried games like Apples to Apples,

A card and party game that's especially designed for beginning readers.

Clue or Pictionary with your kids? All of those games come with “Junior” versions especially designed for the younger set. Out of the Box games has a great selection of fun and educational games, including a lot of party games. In Letter Roll, players race to list words containing the three letters shown on the dice.

Letter Roll, published by Out Of The Box Games

Do you have any favorite family games that are both fun and educational? I’d love to hear about them!

March 12th, 2010 | posted by: Lynette

Kids’ Books on the iPhone

We love books. We love the feel, the smell, the sound of the gentle crack of the binding as we open a new book for the first time. Printed books have been treasured and cherished for hundreds of years, and they work just fine. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”… does the simple, straight forward, classic printed book really need updating and improvements?

One way to choose a picture book...

More and more, literature is being consumed on electronic devices like the Kindle, iPhones, and the soon-to-be-released iPad. How do we, as readers, authors and publishers preserve a love for reading and literature, and encourage more reading, engagement, and exposure to books in the face of these developments?

Kids grow up surrounded by digital media and technology. From a young age, kids are very curious about electronic gadgets. Why not capitalize on that fascination to grab their initial interest? Whether we’re talking print or digital books, reading is an active mental process: something to encourage at every opportunity.

Another way to choose a story...

I am, have always been, and expect that I always will be a huge fan of books. I think we are a long way off from digital books actually replacing print books, but I do believe that digital books will become more and more visible and popular as the tech savvy generations accept them as obvious options at home, in schools, libraries, in businesses and on the go. I believe it is important to make quality literature available on electronic devices because the fact is that they will find their way into kids’ hands.

What are some considerations in producing kids’ books for mobile devices? Because of the crucial marriage of text and illustrations in children’s books, the artistic rendering of a book in mobile format is particularly important.

Fidelity to original print version: PicPocket Books places a priority on fidelity to the original picture book. The beauty of many classic and contemporary picture books lies in their simplicity.
Interactivity: PicPocket Books has added some interactive audio hot spots to selected PicPocket Book titles like Oh, Crumps, Peterkin Meets a Star, Monster Trucks, Tractors, Rescue Vehicles, and Round Is A Mooncake.

"Peterkin Meets A Star," by Emilie Boon

Animations: The animations in PicPocket Books are subtle, like snow falling or stars twinkling. The intent is to encourage curiosity by adding elements of interactive discovery to some books. We are consciously NOT creating video games, but hope that PicPocket Books can offer a gentle alternative to games for parents who want to offer their children mobile digital books.

Reading a story book on a screen is a very different experience from playing a repetitive video game on the same screen. It has the same educational, mind-opening benefits as reading a traditional print book: it increases vocabulary, improves concentration and focus, and expands horizons. Reading helps children become engaged, rather than passive learners because books demand that kids to use their imagination to paint living mental pictures, rather than having images passively communicated to them through the picture on a television screen.

The technologies that are new to us are very intuitive to kids and will unquestioningly be a significant part of their lives for years to come. It’s important to introduce our children to quality and age-appropriate content on the screen, whether we’re talking mobile digital technology, desktop computers or other media.  Above all, digital books should not be viewed as a replacement for the valuable time parents can spend reading to their children, but as educational and culturally valuable alternatives to video games or movies, especially for families on-the-go.

January 11th, 2010 | posted by: Lynette

Age Appropriate and Educational Screen Time for Kids

Some people complain that their kids already get lots of screen time. What is PicPocket Books’ stand on this issue?

Why do kids get a lot of screen time? Because they are really drawn to this kind of media. The technologies that are new to us are very intuitive to them and will be a significant part of their lives for years to come. I don’t see PicPocket Books as replacements for print books or the valuable time parents can spend reading to their children, but as educational and culturally valuable alternatives to video games or movies, especially for families on-the-go.

Many families are short on time and e-books can be read any time, any place. I believe that if reading picture books on the iPhone means that more families are reading together and more kids have more exposure to storybooks, then they are a great option for tech-savvy families of today.

October 25th, 2009 | posted by: Lynette

Picture books for Halloween

If your kids are like mine, they are counting off the days ’til Halloween and can hardly wait for the big night to arrive. Here are some great Halloween-themed picture books for the 4-8 year-old crowd to help you get in the Halloween mood. This list includes mildly spooky tales, familiar classics, and some new-found treasures, but none are too scary. Enjoy! And of course, if you have a favorite you’d like to share, please comment and let us know!

Halloween Kittens

The Halloween Kittens

The Halloween Kittens

Written & illustrated by Maggie Kneen

Lift the flaps and discover all sorts of sneaky fun with the mischievous kitten brothers Trick and Treat as they prepare for Halloween.
– from the Publisher

For more information, see Chronicle Books

Ivy + Bean

Ivy + Bean

Ivy and Bean and the Ghost That Had to Go

By Annie Barrows

This book for beginning readers is another entertaining installment of the popular Ivy and Bean series, with a spooky twist.

For more information, see Chronicle Books

Ghosts In The House

Ghosts In The House

Ghosts in the House

By Kazuno Kohara

This relatively new book (published just last year) is masterful in design. The optical illusion of the effervescient ghosts on black and electric orange pages will have you reaching out to touch them to check if they are actually textured.

It is also a great story, with a no-nonsense approach, and not scary at all. I mean if you had ghosts in your house you’d catch them and put them in the washing machine, right?

For more information, see Amazon.com

The Very Busy Spider

The Very Busy Spider

The Very Busy Spider

By Eric Carle

A simple, yet delightful story by classic author and illustrator Eric Carle. This books describes the day of an industious spider as she spins her web. The embossed details combined with Carle’s trademark collages make for an engaging tactile experience.

For more information, see Amazon.com.

Where The Wild Things Are

Where The Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are

By Maurice Sendak

Be sure to revisit this popular, classic picture book this Halloween. Get in the mood and roar your terrible roar, roll your terrible eyes, gnash your terrible teeth and show your terrible claws.

For more information, see Amazon.com

Too Many Pumpkins

Too Many Pumpkins

Too Many Pumpkins

By Linda White

Pumpkins remind Rebecca, the elderly woman in this book of the Great Depression, when she and her family had nothing to eat but pumpkins. When a pumpkin smashes in her front yard, Rebecca covers it up and forgets it. However, the seeds from that forgotten pumpkin turn her yard into a pumpkin patch, and Rebecca is once again surrounded by pumpkins.

For more information, see Amazon.com

Child Of Faerie

Child Of Faerie

Child of Faerie

By Jane Yolen

According to certain tales, faeries leave the underworld once a year to join in a faerie ring beneath the moonlight. On this magical night, a faerie boy meets a child of the earth and the two become friends forever. Luminous full-color paintings by award-winning artist Jane Dyer add to the magic.

Age Range: 5 to 8 years old

For more information, see Amazon.com



Moonlight: The Halloween Cat

By Cynthia Rylant

Softly padding through the darkness, Moonlight explores the world on her favorite night, Halloween. The town and countryside glow with shining stars. The wide yellow moon lights pumpkins, racoons, and children out having fun. . . . Told in eloquently simple, lyrical words, with dazzling, luminous paintings, Moonlight evokes not just the excitement of Halloween, but something more — the reassuring warmth and friendliness that is a special part of this special night.

For more information, see Amazon.com

October 23rd, 2009 | posted by: Eva

Ten Tips for Meaningful Reading with Kids


Reading with friends is fun, too!

1) Read aloud to your children every day.

2) Introduce children to books that are a bit above their reading level.

Challenge your children with bigger themes and topics. Introduce them to educational books like Wordly Wise 3000 that contain riddles, crossword puzzles, etc. to enhance their vocabulary skills.

3) Encourage your children to read – to you, a sibling, the family pet, even a stuffed animal!

It is great practice for children learning to read. Often they feel more comfortable reading a story they’ve heard a few times before. Help them with difficult words if they ask, or just let them puzzle it out! It is also great practice for children who can’t read yet. Making up their own stories to go along with pictures is a fun and imaginative exercise.

4) Allow your children to interrupt the story.

If they question or comment, that’s great! Children make connections constantly. Defining new words and explaining illustrations helps children make sense of the word around them. However, constant interruptions can upset the flow of the story. Maybe ask your child save all questions for the end of each page.

5) Give children time to look at the pictures.

You may be impatient to get on with the story, but your child isn’t! Let them take as long as they want to look at pictures and figure them out. Visuals play a huge role in helping children learn and understand. Pictures will also show your children different life styles and cultures that s/he may be unfamiliar with.

6) Take children to the library!

As a child, I loved going to the library. I always bee-lined for the children’s corner and chose new books based on pretty pictures and colors. Set up library trips where a few hours can be spent browsing the shelves or just sitting on cushions, looking at new stories.

7) Choose books that you want to read.

Often children want to hear the same stories over and over, or are hooked on one series in particular (I always loved The Magic Schoolbus). Don’t feel bad suggesting different titles or picking out books you like at the library and bookstore. It’s great to let children choose, but it’s good to take turns too.

8 ) Choose books that are meaningful.

Let your child know when books are special to you. Your five-year old may not care today, but when s/he is older, remembering that “The Crystal Mountain” was Mom’s favorite book and “Horton Hears a Who” was Uncle’s will mean a lot.

9) Read with your children together, and separately.

It’s great to read to your children together, and to make family time out of reading. It’s also important to read to children separately. Make time for your three year-old, and six year-old. Different books are suitable for different ages, and each child will love to have special time with just you.

10) Take children to reading nights.

If your local library or community center has reading nights for children, try to go! Group reading gives children ground for starting friendships, sharing fun stories, and learning patience and tolerance. Besides, what fun memories!

October 4th, 2009 | posted by: ela

Get a Head Start on Reading While on the Road!

bookbabyIs it unrealistic to expect your baby or toddler to sit still unoccupied?  Probably.  But is it unrealistic to expect your child to sit while you read to him or her?  Of course not!  In her article “Give Your Baby a Head Start on Reading” Francisca Ortega makes suggestions for giving your baby a head start in school by reading to him or her at a young age.  One of the most important suggestions that Ortega gives is to “take books and writing materials with you wherever you go”.  Sometimes, however, this simple task of bringing along a big bag of books can become excessive.  Most children’s books are hardcover, making them bulky and heavy; not to mention the amount of other travel supplies you have to bring for your child just to make a simple errand.

But don’t fret, parents!  The simple solution to the clutter and extra bags while you’re on the road is only a click away!  Downloading a PicPocket book from iTunes onto your iPhone can make your time spent away from home more enjoyable and just as educational for your child.  Just like a traditional book, PicPocket storybooks include vibrant illustrations and the original text of some of your favorite children’s books.  A benefit of PicPocket Books is the “read aloud” feature that you can activate to let your child listen to the story as it is being read to him or her.  Each word of the story is highlighted to correspond with the audio track.

The early childhood benefits of reading are tremendous!  As Ortega writes, exposing your child to books and reading starting at 6 months is a great way to prepare him or her for school.  PicPocket Books is just one way to make your life easier and your child’s future a little brighter.

June 3rd, 2009 | posted by: Eva

What Jalongo has to say

I came across references to Mary Renck Jalongo’s Young Children and Picture Books during my Internet searches on the “importance of children’s picture books.”  When I realized it was an actual book I immediately checked 2nd favorite research spot: the public library :-) I love the public library! I clicked on the library catalogue bookmark and lo, the system had Jalongo’s book!

I have been going through her book for several days now. It is largely geared towards teachers.  There is a lot of information about reading in the classroom, involvement of parents, acquisition of literacy and comprehension, culture, and resources. However, this slant does not detract from the book’s appeal to a general audience. It is very interesting: I had no idea of the depth of facets to children’s picture books! 

For example, here is some of the table of contents: 
1) The Importance of Picture Books
2) Quality of Picture Books
4) Young Children’s Responses to Picture Books
5) Acquiring Literacy through Picture Books
7) Linking Picture Books with Curriculum 

Jalongo covers many aspects of picture books in her work, which is under 200 pages in length. Additionally, she includes recommendation of “quality” picture books for children of all different age groups. 

She  uses examples from classrooms, quoting real children and analyzing their experiences, to illustrate the chapters. I enjoyed reading the children’s words. They provide a nice contrast to Jalongo’s academic tone (though she is quite readable), and are cute!

These quotes particularly stood out to me:

“Engagement with picture books while we are young forms the basis for becoming a literate adult, one who not only decodes words accurately but also enjoys reading and takes the time to read” (1). 

“To realize the full potential of children’s literature, adults must accept two complementary guiding principles: that the purpose of picture books is to engage children with literature, and that the picture book is a major resource in children’s acquisition of literacy” (2). 

“Although children certainly do achieve important learning goals through picture books, the process must begin with enjoyment, rather than with a dreary, adult-directed lesson” (2).

“Picture books embody at least three stories: ‘the one told by the words, the one implied by the pictures, and the one that results from the combination of the other two’ (Nodelman & Reimer 2003, 295)” (12). 

Would I recommend this book? Yes, at least to flip through. In it’s entirety it is probably most appealing to teachers of young children with picture books in their classrooms. However, Jalongo makes interesting points about the importance of picture books beyond the classroom setting as well. It benefits all of us to be aware of the integral part picture books play in our children’s growth and development.