Go Back

Books That Teach Kids about Kindness

By: Beth Werrell

books for kids that teach and inspire kindnessSelecting books that show positive character traits is a great way to teach your child about your family’s values. Reading a good story together will not only reinforce reading skills, but also open the door to talk about the characters and their actions. In recognition of National Bullying Awareness Month, we suggest that you begin by discussing bullying and the importance of being kind and compassionate toward others.

One easy way to start is by participating in Jumpstart and Pearson Foundation’s Read for the Record campaign on October 3 at 12:00 noon ET. This year’s featured book, Otis, by Loren Long, is a timeless story of friendship and kindness. The book and activity guides will be available to you online—for free!—when you complete the pledge to read.

Afterward, you can keep your kids reading and thinking about kindness by selecting age-appropriate books from the list we’ve compiled below.

Ages 4 to 6
A Sick Day for Amos McGee
by Philip Stead
Hey, Little Ant
by Philip and Hannah Hoose
How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? by Jane Yolen
How Kind by Mary Murphy
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
The Mine-O-Saur by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Stone Soup by Jon J. Muth
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
Toot & Puddle by Holly Hobbie

Ages 7 to 8
All Families Are Special
by Norma Simon
The Ant Bully
by John Nickle
Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud
Horace and Morris But Mostly ...

Owning Books: Literacy and the Home Library

By: Tracy Ostwald-Kowald
Owning Books Affects Children's Literacy

When my son Paul was three, he brought home a book from his preschool’s tiny library. The book was Dr. Seuss’s ABC, and he liked it so much that we read it over and over. In fact, Paul would return this book on library day only to bring it home again. We took the hint and bought him a copy of his own, along with a computer program that read the story and provided fun learning activities.

It wasn’t a fascination with the alphabet or my interest in Dr. Seuss that led us to get Paul his own copy. We knew if Dr. Seuss’s ABC was available in our home, we would read it together again and again without having to send it back.

Having their own books will encourage children to read more often. They internalize the feeling that “I am a reader” and apply that confidence to their academic and leisure reading. Owning books increases language development and provides practice in reading skills that lead to improved comprehension.

Children who grow up surrounded by books and other reading resources have an advantage in school regardless of their family income or their parents’ educations. According to some studies, it may even increase the odds of a child’s eventually graduating from college.

A home library creates opportunities for parents to read aloud. Having books available makes rereading favorites convenient and simple. Starting a collection of books at home also establishes the philosophy that reading is important. This idea can ...

7 Great Online Reading Resources for Parents and Learning Coaches

By: Beth Werrell
online reading resources for parents

Why is reading so important?

Because once you learn to read, you read to learn!

Reading is a lifelong skill you never stop working on, and that’s why it’s a core subject throughout your child’s K–12 education.

Until students become fluent, independent readers in middle or high school, there are four major ways Learning Coaches and parents can offer reading support:

  • Prevent students from getting discouraged.
  • Help them with reading mechanics such as phonics, grammar, and spelling.
  • Choose books that interest them and fit their reading level.
  • Encourage students to read, and make reading fun for them.

Online reading resources make it easy and convenient to help students. Here is a list of websites that offer reading tools, activities, and ideas to help you address any of your child’s needs while you promote summer reading.

  1. AdLit.org
    AdLit.org, or All About Adolescent Literacy, supports parents and teachers of students in grades 4–12. Take a look at this site if you have older children, because it offers information on college readiness and awareness. Another highlight is the “Ask the Experts” page, which allows you to submit questions about students and reading so a team of experts can help you find answers.

  2. K12 Reader
    This site offers free reading instruction resources for teachers and parents. If you’re looking for practice materials for your child, you can find worksheets and detailed program supplements for reading, spelling, sight words, grammar, phonics, comprehension, writing, and more.

  3. Oxford Owl
    This is a ...

18 Ways to Enrich Summer Reading at the Library

By: Beth Werrell
18 Ways to Enrich Summer Reading

It’s time for summer! And that can mean fun activities, including reading.

In the next couple of months, children have more time to explore their interests, enhance their knowledge, and broaden their perspective by catching up on reading. If you need books or ideas to encourage young readers, visiting your local library can help you get started.

Besides offering a vast number of books, magazines, movies, and other resources to explore, libraries often give your child the chance to make a craft, listen to a story, join a book club, attend an event, and more.

But your child isn’t limited to reading library books at home and attending the occasional library event. Consider creating your own fun reading activities that utilize the library. These can empower children with more creative freedom and motivate them to plan reading activities that fit their interests.

Library Summer Reading Activities

Below are 18 ways your child can enrich summer reading at the library on his or her own or with your help.

  1. Plan a picnic and peruse a cookbook or food magazine at the library for recipes.
  2. Start a Picnic Book Club. Visit the library with friends to pick out some books to read and discuss during an outdoor picnic. Consider poetry or short stories if you want to read anything aloud.
  3. Before you check out more books at the library, do some summer cleaning by collecting old books and DVDs and taking them along to donate.
  4. Ask your librarian to recommend ...

Get Ready to BLAST OFF with Summer Learning

By: Beth Werrell

Blast Off — Tips for Summer LearningAdmit it, Mom (or Dad)! When warm weather and longer days arrive, it’s easy to let your mind drift away from education. While you may be tempted to “let kids be kids” this summer, this practice can result in significant learning loss. Most students forget two months of math skills, and many slip in their reading achievement as well. Fortunately, if you start planning now, you can prevent this learning loss by integrating learning into your child’s activities!

Here are some simple steps you can take now to get ready to BLAST OFF into a summer of learning and avoid the “summer slump”!

B is for Brainstorming. Ask your kids to put on their thinking caps and brainstorm about what they’d like to learn! Were there any subjects during the school year that captured their interest? Do they want to delve deeper into a topic related to their hobbies?

L is for Learning opportunities. Learning opportunities are everywhere! Can you work an educational side trip into your family vacation? Are there any historical sites, museums, nature preserves, factories, or other interesting places you can tour? Be sure to also look in your immediate area for any cool educational day trip ideas.

A is for Active! Don’t let your kids become summer couch potatoes! Start collecting exercise ideas and ways to combine fitness and learning, and your family will stay healthier for your efforts!

S is for Suggestions. While your virtual school is still in session, ask your ...

The Power of Rereading with Kids of All Ages

By: Tracy Ostwald-Kowald

The Power of RereadingIf you’re a parent, the sound of little voices saying, “Read it again!” is undoubtedly something you’ve heard often. The desire to reread a story is very common among young children. And their favorite books always seem to be at the top of the stack. While adults may find rereading children's books a bit monotonous, young readers and pre-readers savor the repetition of the language and the familiarity of stories, as well as the cozy feeling of sitting close to a loved one with a book. Rereading not only makes children happy, it also builds confidence and enhances reading comprehension.

Familiarity leads to understanding.

Each time a student reads a passage of text, his or her comprehension increases. When reading a classic for the second time, a young reader might realize, “Oh, that’s what it meant when it said, ‘He lived under the name of Sanders.’” These “instant replays” can reinforce new vocabulary, too. Reading books in a series also builds understanding, because the child recognizes familiar characters and gains new insights from seeing similar situations unfold.

Rereading builds confidence.

For young readers, rereading helps build a track record of reading success that results in increased confidence. As they read a well-known story, children may tell themselves, “I can read this. I know this. I think I can, I think I can.” And how many times have you heard your child say, “Oh, I love this part!”? By revisiting their favorite books, kids gain more of the predictability and comfort ...

6 Simple Tips to Encourage Young Readers

By: Tracy Ostwald-Kowald
Young boy reading a book under the covers at night.

One of the best ways parents can help develop young children’s reading skills is to read to and with them. With this in mind, we encourage you to support Jumpstart’s Read for the Record® campaign, which promotes early childhood education. We hope you and your family will participate by reading Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad on October 4, as we strive to break the record for the world’s largest shared reading experience.

Here are some great tips to help you enhance your children’s learning while reading together on October 4 and throughout the year.

  1. Involve children in choosing books.
    If you let your kids select titles that interest them, they will be more likely to focus fully, understand, and ask questions—in other words, engage completely in the learning process. Many children also enjoy hearing classic stories that were their parents’ childhood favorites.

  2. Reread favorite stories while introducing new titles.
    Parents often find themselves reading the same story over and over at their children’s request. This is actually a good habit! Rereading supports numerous literacy skills, so continue doing it, while also adding new books. Repetition helps children begin to identify sight words and remember new vocabulary. Book series that feature the same characters in similar plots also build on this familiarity. Young readers gain a sense of accomplishment and comfort from knowing the outcome of familiar tales.

  3. Ask open-ended questions about the story.
    Questions are a great way to promote reading comprehension. Open-ended questions ...

Rally Your Kids to Read for the Record

By: Dan Reiner

Celebrate reading with your kids and join us in setting a record for the world’s largest shared reading experience on October 4! In support of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record® campaign, which highlights the need for high-quality early childhood education in America, Pearson, our parent company, has made this year’s featured book, Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad, available online to read for free through its foundation.

Research shows that one in three children enters school without the skills he or she needs to be successful. Children in low-income neighborhoods start kindergarten 60% behind their peers from more affluent communities—and many never catch up. Since 2006, Jumpstart's Read for the Record® has raised awareness of America's achievement gap and enlisted citizens to be a voice for these children.

In 2011, almost 2.2 million people participated, raising more than $7 million to support work in preschools in low-income neighborhoods. This year, Read for the Record® will take place over a full week—September 27 to October 4—giving record breakers across the country even more opportunity to read and to support this worthy cause. We invite you to join us and to use the following resources to enhance the reading experiences you share with your child:

How to Choose the Right Book for Your Child

By: Tracy Ostwald-Kowald
Mother and daughter selecting books in a library.

In case you missed the announcement, the research is in: students who do not read between June and September suffer learning loss, aka brain drain, aka summer slide. Summer is a great time to emphasize that reading for pleasure is important. Reading should also be easy and enjoyable—pick a book, settle in, and be transported to new places. Just in case you don’t find it quite so simple, here are a few tips to help you and your child select wonderful books that will both entertain and keep that learning loss at bay.

  • Ask for suggestions. Whenever a student recommends a book, I always read it! I’ve discovered Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer and Cynthia Kadohata’s Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam through student reviews. If you can’t ask a teacher, try asking the parents of your child’s friends about the books their kids have liked. Or, find a book your child has enjoyed previously, and ask a librarian to recommend something similar.

  • Look at the lists. Each year, the American Library Association publishes a list of Notable Children’s Books, which has been gathered by its Association for Library Service to Children division. Both the current list and the previous lists are excellent sources of high-quality reading recommendations.

  • Keep it in sequence. I enjoyed Christopher Paolini’s Eragon, another student suggestion, so I continued to read the rest of the series. If your children enjoyed Magic Tree House, look for additional books in the series. If Little House ...

Fitness and Learning: A Great Combo

By: Dan Reiner

young boy holding a soccer ball and a book

Did you know that children who exercise before learning outperform their couch potato counterparts? It’s true! Scientists theorize that because it stimulates blood flow, physical activity sends more oxygen to the brain, making it a lean, mean thinking machine! So why not integrate some learning activities into your kids’ outdoor fun? Here are some ideas and resources for keeping both mind and body in tip-top shape.

  • Play multiplication catch. Have kids pair up to lob balls back and forth, along with math facts! If your children are too young for multiplication, practice addition or subtraction facts instead. For variety, switch partners, speed up the pace, or increase the distance between players.

  • Be a bird brain. Equip your students with small notebooks, pencils, sturdy shoes, thick socks, and water bottles—and set off on a bird-watching hike. Pack a field guide and binoculars to help you identify our feathered friends, and be sure to have kids record all the varieties you see. For more nature-inspired activities and ideas, visit Nature Rocks.

  • Leap for measurement. Stage a competition to discover who can jump the farthest in a standing broad jump. (Be sure to mark a clear starting point and review the rules first, for fairness!) Have your kids measure and record each contestant’s leap. After each jumper jumps three times, have each contestant add up his or her total distance jumped. For more advanced mathematicians, let them average the measurements. Don’t forget to award prizes!

  • Learn to hat dance...

Next page