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Here’s a good 2 minute summary of the problem from NPR.

Out of 8 million children starting school, a third do not have the basic vocabulary or familiarity with the alphabet to begin learning about reading.

Educational TV is “better than nothing,” states Richard Long of the International Reading Association.

What’s the solution? It’s hinted at in the story, but I’ll be more direct: Reading and having conversations with children for years before they begin school.

With reading and conversations with live human beings who care, children acquire all six skills they need to be ready to learn to read when they begin school.



ArchitectsAs many Alamosa folks know, the City is working hard on options for building a new library (as well as police and fire departments).

Can’t build, though, until you know where you want to do it! 🙂

Two locations have been proposed: One directly behind the current location, using the space running from the library’s back parking lot, over eastward to the train, back through the parking lot on the south side of the park, and over to Hunt Avenue.

That’s roughly speaking, of course. (The important point is that it doesn’t run into the park).

The other location is the old Kmart building out west of town towards the Walmart.

Wednesday, September 2, 7 p.m., City Council would like to hear the public’s views on the possible site locations. If would like to speak, you are allowed up to 3 minutes. If you’d like to simply stand with others at the appropriate time to silently express your preference, there will likely be time for that as well.

Here’s a great chance to truly make a difference in the future of not just Alamosa but the entire Valley (we may be a city library but we do serve the whole Valley).

If you need to know more, feel free to email me with questions or see several issues of this week’s Valley Courier for articles.

Mark your calendars!


Here’s 12 tips  from James Patterson’s site Read Kiddo Read. If you visit Patterson’s site, each tip is clickable for further helps (scroll down midway)


If one tip doesn’t work, just try another!


What's Next

It slices! It dices! It makes julienne fries!

Well, not really. But if you’ve got a kid that’s found a series they love and you’re pulling your hair out trying to figure out what comes next, you’ll love this site even more than Ronco’s slicer-dicer!

It’s one of my favorite sites, and I use it almost daily to figure out questions concerning series. It’s What’s Next by Kent County Library District in Michigan.

It searches by title, author, OR series name; quite handy if you only have one piece of info. But it will tell you ALL the series by the author and put each in order so you know which title to get next.

It works for adult and kids’ series (but unfortunately not for graphic novels. I hope I can say “yet” on that one).

Give it a spin. Add a bookmark.


As children move past the preschool picture book and chapter book stages, Skateboardertheir book choices broaden. While in grades 1-4, those choices feel fairly “safe” to most of us parents.

But somewhere around grades 5-8 a shift begins to take place on the shelves. And librarians like myself start to ask, “Does this book go into the Juvenile Fiction or the Young Adult fiction?” Sometimes the line gets blurry.

Debbie Ohi’s blog post MG vs. YA compiles helpful answers from several sources.

I would push an answer just a bit more, though, into the developmental arena.

I believe the Young Adult categorization fits best those books that deal with the developmental issues of adolescence.

What are those? One is the search for identity. Young Adult novels have protagonists who are trying to figure out who they are as an individual. They try on this and then that, not sure what really fits them. Middle grade novel protagonists are developmentally more into the concreteness of life–friends, siblings, the mean teacher, the lost dog,  fairly ordinary (to an adult eye) daily difficulties. Discrete episodes are strung together to form the whole.

Another major adolescent issue is that of finding a set of values one can call one’s own. It’s a time of questioning the family’s and especially parent’s values–just because. It’s a time of pushing the boundaries and going against–just because. Combine the values search with the identity push, and the two make for an “I gotta be me” mentality that shapes choices for years. Middle graders, on the other hand, generally want to please, and they worry about being wrong or doing it wrong.

Those broad developmental ideas help me to sort out the books between Juvenile and Young Adult sections. It’s not foolproof, there are exceptions, but it works most of the time. And the closer the book matches a child’s developmental level, the more they will enjoy the book!

Other factors that can influence or determine the placement: If I find a book has explicit sex, drugs, or foul language, though, it goes into young adult. Larger print books usually go into Juvenile. And Juvenile books generally are shorter with shorter chapters.

I also “start” my Young Adult section at about grade 9 or 13-15 years old because that’s when adolescence begins. I run mine a little further up as well, up to about age 20 to cover more of the “edgy” stuff. This is a bit unorthodox but my stats support the approach; it works for our community.

Parents, be aware though, as your child hits about sixth grade, your involvement in what they read is critical. It is a mixed bag between sixth and ninth grade, varying between authors, publishers, schools, and libraries. My 8th grader, now and for the last year, has read between the two sections, but if it comes home from the YA section, I look it over first. You, too, need to evaluate what’s appropriate for your child at each stage. There are bazillions of books out there and librarians who would love to help you find the right ones for your child.

So read on!


This one’s about as traditional as it gets.

from NJ Digital Highway collection

from NJ Digital Highway collection

But have you ever heard a 2nd verse for it? Me, neither. And I love it ’cause it gets the kids back up off the floor and standing again. 🙂

Click here to listen and click here for the words (or scroll down on the left).


If you scroll down the left column, you’ll see that the listing of pages for Homeschooling Helps has been cleaned up. I hope you’ll find it clearer and easier to use. (Rhymes & Fingerplays got a makeover too!)

If you have questions or need a suggested resource, drop me an email ( and I’ll do my best to come up with something helpful! And what you have a question about, someone else probably does too!

Here’s to great school years at home!


I love a good story, a well written story, a story that stays with me. And I old bookslove find such stories to give to kids, knowing that a good story, a well written story, a story with staying power stands a good chance of helping a kid fall in love with books and reading.

But I take exception with folks who think that books must be old and “classic” in order to fulfill such a role in a child’s or teen’s life. That’s what I’m reading here from Lesley M.M. Blume at NPR. (I have to admit, however, that it’s not so much what I hear from the interview).

Sure, if it’s a book we loved (and probably still love), our excitement can be the turning point for a kid. And it’s more likely to be so if we read it aloud to them (remember, reading aloud is good at ALL ages).

But there are many excellent stories being written today. And there’s nothing magical about an older book versus a newer book for getting kids hooked on reading. The most important point is that they read.

Here’s more in posts Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe–How to Choose Children’s Books and What Makes a Lasting Children’s Story.

What have you found with your kids?


“Little Green Frog” almost sounds like a frog with its series of “g” sounds–glack, glack, gloon!

“Five Plump Peas” is good for practicing the “p” sound but also for celebrating gardens and harvests.

Just click on the above links to hear them on podcast.

And click here to see the words for Frog and here for Peas.

eating apple

It’s that time of year–apple time!

Click here to learn to “The Apple Tree” fingerplay as well as “Criss Cross Applesauce.”

And scroll down on the left for the words or click here.

Have fun!


Click here to listen to a new song on my rhyme & fingerplay podcast page. teapotYou and the kids can be either a teapot (with a surprise 2nd verse) or you can be a pumpkin!

If you’d like a copy of the words, scroll down the left-hand column and click on the rhyme’s name or click here.

Have fun!


I taught a class recently and when I mentioned this fact, I was met with some first readingskepticism: “…[In] its 1985 report, Becoming a Nation of Readers, reading aloud to children was singled out as the single most important activity to ensure future classroom success for children” (from Jim Trelease in Peak with Books). And this research has been repeated–and the results are the same.

It sounds soooo simple–and it is.

It perplexes me. We want our children to learn and to have a good education. But we expect it to be way more difficult to achieve than it is. We want a fancy, complicated, technological answer.

Reading a book a day to a child just seems too easy. It is.

It is hard in today’s world to make the time. But the task itself is easy. When children are read to from birth through age 5, they all* are able to learn to read when they begin school. It doesn’t matter what their socioeconomic level is. It doesn’t matter what their parents educational level is. It doesn’t matter, period.

Human brains are made from birth to learn language in all its forms and uses (did you know when babies learn to babble, they make every sound from every language?). Just like with walking, we are geared to language–spoken, read, and written. Give a child what they need and it will happen. Read to them.


(*all children with exceptions such as injuries, congenital problems, etc. that prevent reading)

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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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