You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2009.

Yes, there is more to life than chapter books! They are only a stepping stone on the way to fluent reading. Certainly, none of us would want children to “get stuck” in chapter book land and never move on.

But what can we do to encourage that movement onward?Stock Photo of Children Discovering Reading

First, as adults, we need to relax a bit. If a child is reading chapter books and is enjoying them and wants more of the same, find them! Even if they are “on the same level.” Developing reading fluency is hard work. Kids need to spend some “down time” with books. If they pick it a book  and they are enjoying it, life is good. Their reading will develop. At this stage, it’s the number of words read that’s the critical factor, not the level. And never, never, never forget how important the enjoyment factor is.

(As an aside, since I can’t remember the source,  a study was done that showed that older gifted students who were extremely proficient readers had pretty consistently all read some “fluff” stuff extensively in elementary grades–Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, comic books, etc.).

Second, during this stage it’s an immeasurable help to read aloud. Great stories are extremely motivating. Yet most great stories cannot be written in simple early reader language. You fill that critical gap by reading aloud those great, marvelous, fun, engaging stories to your child. They hear what awaits them. They want to keep working so they too can one day read those stories. But they have to hear them to know what lies ahead.

So what can you read aloud during this in-between stage? Here’s a few ideas:

  • The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander (The Books of Three is the first)
  • Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (my teacher read this aloud to us in 5th grade)
  • Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (yes, the same Little House author but boys love this story)
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  • Frindle by Andrew Clements
  • Clementine by Sarah Pennypacker
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum
  • The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Banks
  • Redwall by Brian Jacques

And finally here are a few series other than The Magic Tree House:

  • Time Spies by Candace Ransom
  • Encyclopedia Brown by Donald Sobol
  • Soup by Robert Newton Peck (these are hysterical!)
  • Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew
  • Chet Gecko by Bruce Hale
  • Calvin & Hobbes (yes, the comic, I know many a child who developed fluency, and a great vocabulary, reading these)

Finally, if you have an older elementary aged child, you might want to read about the differences between middle grade and young adult fiction.

Let me know what I’ve missed or if you need more!


FLU has been on my to-read list for a very long time. I’ve always had a deep fluabiding interest in all things medical and health related and had read Kolata in the NYT for years (she is also a microbiologist). I also had a great-grandfather who died in the 1918 pandemic and another great-grandfather who was an undertaker during it.

FLU happened to be on the shelf here at the library on Saturday when I first heard the news from Mexico. It has been an invaluable read for me in the days since. Kolata is an excellent writer, the story has the twists of a thriller, and the info contained has helped me understand better what we as a world are dealing with right now, what our decision-makers are going to have to deal with, and how to grasp what we may likely be dealing with come fall.

It is a hopeful book but realistic, very balanced in its look at what medical science can and cannot do. We are a society which does not like to be limited in any way, especially by nature. But in our post-modern world, we are beginning to learn our limits and how to live with and within them.

I highly recommend FLU. You will enjoy it. You will be better informed. You can become a much needed voice for what is and isn’t possible in the days and months ahead.

Good reading!


OK now folks, I’m thrilled you’re so excited about summer reading coming up–but isn’t it a little early to be asking for details? It’s still only April! 😉 (Actually, I got my first call in March!) I promise I won’t let you miss anything!catrow-spot-1

But here’s the basic gory details for those who just can’t wait to hear:

  • Program dates are June 1 through July 31.
  • Flyers with program info will be available no later than May 15th. They will also be provided to Alamosa schools for teachers to send home.
  • Registration is encouraged but optional and will be available online. There is no registration deadline. (You’ve got enough going on; I don’t need to put a deadline on you too).
  • All programs will be on Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m.; most (but not all) will be held by the train. More info later.
  • Toddler Time (ages birth to 3-ish) will continue, date and times to be announced. Other storytimes will be on hold until September.
  • Reading goals will encourage reading a minimum of 15 minutes a day. Why? Because 15 minutes a day maintains kids’ reading levels until they are back in school.

And THAT is the most important thing about summer reading! 😉

Much, much more here later. Keep checking back.


I honestly don’t know which I like better–the You Tube of President Obama reading Where the Wild Things Are at the White House egg hunt–or Tegan Tigani’s thoughtful article on how to read a story well, using Obama’s reading as a case study.

Both are well worth ten minutes of your time; click here!



We’ve been too long without a comic. Here’s one from Penny Arcade.

Here’s a passel of farm animals and counting to boot on The Farmbarn (or should it be a herd? :-)).

You can do this “as is,” holding up fingers as you count through the animals.

Or you can hold up (or place on a flannel board) pictures of the animals to help kids remember the order and think of the sounds.

Or I think it would be really cool to have the picture you placed up be the number that corresponded with the animal. For instance on “One is the cat that says meow,” you’d put up a picture of one cat. But on “Two is the dog that says bow-wow,” you’d put up a picture of two dogs. And so on through the rhyme. (I’m still searching for a good picture collection that will let me do this; all my pics are too big :-().

Books to go along? Any version of Old MacDonald (I’ve been using Amy Schwartz; the first verse is even the rooster!), A Chick Call Saturday by Joyce Dunbar (although I have to retell this one a bit rather than stick to the words or the kids get antsy), and Daisy and the Beastie by Jane Simmons (add some drama to this one and the kids love it; it’s just a wee bit scary! And it’s a great one for dialogic reading, vocabulary, and using contextual skills to figure new words out).

Have fun!

Tomorrow, April 23, is Shakespeare’s 445th birthday–and in honor of it, I’d encourage you to check out a great website: Talk Like Shakespeareshakespeare.

Check out words Shakespeare “invented,” or you can Twitter Like Shakespeare. There’s hip-hop and a great selection of You Tube links.

If you’ve never read or watched any Shakespeare, or are ready to introduce your kids to him, let me recommend either Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet. The stories are “easy to get” because they are such timeless tales about human nature–and the sword play is great!

Also watch West Side Story (based on R&J) and Prokofiev’s ballet version if possible.

easter-egg1Come one, come all to Boyd Park for a huge Easter Egg Hunt. Snowed out on Easter Sunday, it will be held this Sunday, April 19, at 1:30 p.m. at Boyd Park. I’ve heard that there will be 5,000 eggs to hunt! The hunt will be divided into age groups. Bring your kiddos and their baskets and have a great time. Snow rabbits last week, the eggs this week!

jumping-girlReady to burn off some energy AND build sequencing skills? Check out these two circle games, “Jumping Beans” and “Boom!” Remember, jumping (and other) directions follow at the end.

Check back to Rhymes and Fingerplays Pages for the words; I’ll get them up as soon as possible.

I’ve been prepping for teaching at a Colorado Libraries Consortium conference this week on improving communication (and thereby understanding and hopefully services) between libraries and homeschoolers.

In the process I found some fun YouTube videos about homeschooling. Most are tongue in cheek or poke fun at many of the misconceptions about homeschoolers; all are put together by homeschoolers. All but one are of excellent quality and easy on the eyes and ears (the one that is not is just too funny to pass up).

The 14 Days of Homeschooling

What I Like

Beware the Homeschoolers

I Will Survive (for the newbies!)

Enjoy! 🙂

calendar1Remember–no Toddler Time this Friday, April 17. Babette will be at the state library conference in Pueblo.

For those with older kids, gifted kids, homeschool kids, this looks like a shmoop_logo4marvelous site! It covers topics in history, literature, poetry, and even has book clubs.

There’s analyses, essay questions, how-to’s on writing, audio, video, fast facts, and hot topics. I just read sections on To Kill A Mockingbird and was quite impressed. I wish I’d had Shmoop as a resource when my son and I were reading the book.

Check it out!

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Contact Info for Babette

email babette(dot)reeves(at)gmail(dot)com
snail mail
73 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101

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