Thursday, September 24, 2015

How to Read Nonfiction Text

Many kids love to read about science and nature as well as real people, places, and events. Nonfiction books present information in engaging and interesting ways. Find out how you can help your child learn to navigate all the parts of a nonfiction book — from the table of contents to the diagrams, captions, glossary, and index.

Kids love to read about real people, places, and events. Nonfiction books present real information in engaging and interesting ways. However, most kids read a lot more fiction than nonfiction, so spend some extra time helping your reader learn how to navigate a nonfiction book.

Talk about nonfiction

Begin by explaining that the book you're about to share is nonfiction. That means that the book will give us information that is true. The book will be organized around a specific topic or idea, and we may learn new facts through reading. Some kids even enjoy sorting their home libraries into fiction and nonfiction books. This simple categorization task helps your child understand the difference between fiction and nonfiction.

Look at the parts

Most good nonfiction books will have helpful features that are not a part of most fiction books. These parts include a table of contents, an index, a glossary, photographs and charts with captions, and a list of sources. Share the purpose of the features with your reader.

Table of Contents
Located at the front of a book, the table of contents displays a list of the big ideas within the book and where to find them.

An index is an alphabetical list of almost everything covered within the book, with page numbers. Readers can use the index to look up specific terms or concepts and go right to the specific information they're looking for.

Located at the back of the book, a glossary contains key words that are related to the topic and their definitions. These definitions provide more information about new vocabulary words.

Captions are usually right under photographs, figures, maps, and charts. Captions give a quick summary of what information is presented in the graphic.

A lot of information can be found by "reading" the charts and photos found within nonfiction text. Readers will first need to figure out what information is presented. Then they'll need to discover how to navigate the information. Some charts use clear labels, others require more careful examination. Help your reader learn more about the different ways information can be displayed.

Be the reading boss

Nonfiction books do not have to be read from cover to cover. Readers can use the table of contents and index to jump right to the information they are most interested in. In that way, they are the "reading boss" of that book! However, if your reader wants to read from cover to cover, encourage him to use the table of contents to understand how the book is organized. "First we will learn about the different types of frogs. Then we'll learn where they can live, what they eat, and how they survive." Passages from the book can be reread as often as necessary until your child understands what is written. You can refer to pictures, charts and tables over and over again as well.

As natural learners, young readers are drawn to books that give information about something or explain something they've always wondered about. With a little help and guidance about reading nonfiction, you can feel good about introducing your child to a new world of information.

Recommended Children's Books

First Human Body Encyclopedia
By DK Publishing
This beginner's encyclopedia shows what's inside the human body and how things fit and work together — through fascinating facts and close-up photographs. Everything from major body systems to individual cells are explored, using language that is easy for young kids to understand. Here's a great way to help your child learn about and "read" different parts of a non-fiction book: table of contents, captions, maps, photos, illustrations, glossary, and an index. (Age level: 6 and up)

By Nic Bishop
Stunning color photographs of frogs as well interesting and quirky facts show how these beautiful, creatures survive in the wild. The photos vividly illustrate the amazing diversity of these creatures, from tiny poison dart frogs to mammoth bullfrogs. A glossary and index are included. Browse many more beautiful science and nature books by award-winning photographer Bishop.

Nat Geo Wild Animal Atlas: Earth's Astonishing Animals and Where They Live
By National Geographic Kids
In this child-friendly atlas, beautiful animal photos combine with colorful easy-to-read maps to teach young kids about geography through the wild creatures that live in different regions around the world. Thematic spreads present facts about habitats, endangered species, and more. A great example to introduce your child to the many elements of a nonfiction book: table of contents, captions, maps, photos, illustrations, chart & graphs, and an index. See also National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Animals. (Age level: 5 and up)

Our Solar System
By Seymour Simon
Go on a fascinating tour of the sun, the eight planets, and their moons, plus asteroids, comets, and meteoroids. This beginner's guide to our solar system is filled with facts, engaging text, diagrams and charts, maps, and remarkable photographs. Find many more excellent science and nature books by Simon. (Age level: 6-9)

By Sneed Collard
This large-size picture book combines friendly text with clear, full-color illustrations to tell amazing facts about animal parts and how they work. Watercolor illustrations and graphics range from a huge close-up of a hippo's mouth to a picture of the hollow fangs of a venomous snake. A bibliography of books and websites as well as a generous glossary are included at the end. Your child might also like the companion book, Wings. (Age level: 6-8)


Friday, September 18, 2015

5 Classic Children’s Stories With Great Life Lessons

There are many reasons why fictional children’s books are a great resource for learning. First, the cute and funny characters pictured in these books are relatable and keep students’ attention. This helps teachers teach the skill of reading more easily than with the bland textbooks that college professors use. Second, reading a fictional book and extracting the morals and lessons show students that there are lessons to be learned just about everywhere, whether made up stories or in other events. This is a strong skill to learn that will help students in the future.

Here we have compiled a list of 10 of the best classic children’s books that teach important lessons that will prepare students for the future.

1. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
Lesson: Believe in yourself and anything is achievable.
This is a timeless story about a long train that is stranded at the bottom of a large mountain and needs an engine that can pull it over the top to the other side. Various engines are asked and all of them refuse except for one. While pulling the train up the mountain, the Little Engine repeats a mantra throughout, which is, “I think I can, I think I can…”. Eventually, the Little Engine does pull the train successfully over the mountain. This teaches students the important lesson that if you think you can and keep pushing yourself, you can do things that you never thought were possible.

2. Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
Lesson: If you do not like where you are, pick a route and keep going.
Dr. Seuss had a unique and creative way of putting together rhyming words thatsomehow matched perfectly with his wildly imaginative illustrations. While he always had fun with the stories he wrote, he also had hidden gems that are still motivating to read even as an adult to this day. One of the best ones that he wrote was Oh, the Places You’ll Go about a boy who heads out into the world on his own. As the boy goes through his ups and downs, Dr. Seuss’s rhymes offer encouragement and advice on how to handle each situation. The author seamlessly weaves motivational empowerment with a fun and engaging story, summarized in this line:

You’re on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

The story teaches us that no matter what happens or where you are, you should always keep moving, because progression is the most important thing. Combining the story and illustration with his classic rhyming style, Dr. Seuss creates stories that children will remember for years to come.

3. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Lesson: The imagination is a powerful tool.
There are many lessons that students can learn from this book, but one of the biggest ones is that your imagination is a powerful tool for not only escaping from reality, but also for learning life lessons. After being sent to his room for being too wild, the main character Max imagines a whole world filled with big, scary monsters. In his pursuit within his imagination, he arrives at an understanding about himself that he would not have otherwise learned. He learns that monsters are not as scary as they seem, that his wild behavior was not quite acceptable, but that even if his behavior was too wild, he could still come home to a hot supper.

4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Lesson: Keep going and you will be surprised how you grow.
This is a beautiful short story about a caterpillar that is born, eats a lot, gets sick, and then becomes a beautiful butterfly. In this book, the author illustrates the struggles that the caterpillar goes through, seeking to fill his needs by eating as much as possible. This leads to a stomach ache, which drives the caterpillar to builda cocoon that he lives in for two weeks. The lesson here is that sometimes the most life changing moments come after moments of friction.

5. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Lesson: Be generous and consider how your actions may affect someone else.
This classic story written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein is about a growing boy and his relationship with the Giving Tree. It is a wonderfully simple story with depth and many lessons. The story is about the progression of the boy’s relationship with the Giving Tree, a generous being that does everything it can to make the boy happy. In the beginning, the Tree is happy because the boy had fun and played games with the tree. As the boy gets older, his visits to the tree become less and less frequent, which makes the Tree sad. Each time the boy comes back, he is older and older. As he gets older, he becomes more self-centered and focused on his own needs. All the while, the Tree still gives everything it has, from its apples, to its branches, and finally its trunk. And all the while, the Tree remains happy because it has been able to help the boy.

By personifying the tree, giving it feelings of sadness and happiness, the author creates a very complex story about generosity. The reader sympathizes with the tree’s unconditional generosity and love and comes to view the boy as selfish. Many have interpreted this story as a message about human-nature relationship or about the parent-child relationship. These may be true, but the most important lesson from this book is that it is important to be generous, as well as consider how one’s selfish actions may hurt another person.

The Moral of the Story
Children’s stories in any capacity are a great way for children to learn simple life lessons. Using illustrated stories helps children stay interested, learn lessons, and ultimately learn that a great lesson can be learned in any situation whether in real life or from a fantasy story.


Finding Innovative Ways to Teach the World's Children to Read

My 10-year-old son Gavin has a variety of intense interests, some of which have made their way into his desk at school. One of his recent fascinations was creating Star Wars characters out of origami paper. (The amazing book series which inspired him is called Origami Yoda, if you're interested!)

Gavin's paper-folding during school hours created a whole galaxy of challenges. He fiddled with the fine points of Jabba the Hutt when he was supposed to be doing math, and generated numerous Darth Vaders during spelling. The unfinished schoolwork Gavin brought home each night sent his Dad and me into hyperspace.

Canada vs. the world

I spoke to Gavin's teacher, who kept a closer eye on our son, redirecting him to the task at hand. She found ways to harness his passion by incorporating origami into a lesson or two. And she looked to broaden his interests, with other books from the school's vast library.

All this was possible because, to state what's obvious here in Canada, the teacher had been trained in the best ways to help children learn. Also, she had just 24 students to shepherd, and a whole school library full children's books at her disposal.

On International Literacy Day, I find myself thinking about classrooms where the challenges go far beyond paper folding. I think of children in the world's poorest, most remote regions, who walk for hours every day to reach the nearest school. I think of kids who are trying to retain new information while struggling against exhaustion, illness, or constant hunger. And that's just the beginning.

Large class sizes

Class sizes in the world's poorest regions are often so large that teachers can't possibly focus on individual children. "Classrooms with 50 or 70 students and just one teacher are common," says World Vision Canada's education specialist, Nancy Del Col.

The children in these classrooms had all learned to sit perfectly still and quiet so as to hear the lesson, Nancy explains. It sounds amazing until you consider what's missing. "There was absolutely no chance for interactive learning, children asking questions, offering comments, or reading out loud for the teacher," says Nancy.

Enrollment is up

These large classes are the result of some great news on the global education front. At the primary level, 91 per cent of the world's children are now enrolled in school. Governments, development organizations and individual donors around the world have worked hard to improve access to education -- and it's working. The doors are opening, and students are coming inside.

But the resources needed to educate all of these learners are sorely lacking: books, for example, and other learning materials, written in local dialects that children can understand. And then there's another resource that's in short supply: trained, paid teachers who actually speak the same local language as the children in their care.

This tiny village in a remote, mountainous area of China is days' walk from the nearest town, yet children attend school here. World Vision photo.

"Teachers are being sent to places where they don't know the children's mother tongue," says Nancy Del Col. "It's great that we're starting to reach children in more remote locations, or areas where war and conflict have turned life upside down. But if the teacher that's dispatched there can't communicate with the children, then no one learns. Such teachers are often so disheartened that they leave."

Poor marks for quality

The result is that nearly 250 million of the world's children are not learning the most basic literacy and number skills, even though half have attended school for at least four years of their lives. This group includes many of the most vulnerable kids, those who need every chance they can get.

"In some regions, we're seeing grade 7 and 8 students who are functionally illiterate," says Nancy. "It's a real learning crisis."

It's painful to picture a child walking for hours under the beating sun every day, only to find no teacher in the classroom. It's heartbreaking to imagine a child, desperate to read, waiting for days just to have a turn with one of the school's precious books. And it's distressing to hear of children trekking to school for four whole years, only to remain unable to read and write.

Creative solutions bring hope

I asked Nancy about some of World Vision's programs to help support children in the school system. Innovative solutions like our mobile libraries travel between villages to bring children a variety of books to borrow and enjoy.

World Vision Indonesia has long operated mobile libraries and thousands of children have reaped the benefits. This motorcycle library visits children in a crowded area of urban Jakarta that can't be accessed by car. World Vision photo.

Then there's the amazing Literacy Boost concept, being introduced in several African countries, through a partnership between World Vision and Save the Children. It's a supplementary literacy program (conducted outside of school) which significantly improves children's reading skills and reading comprehension.

Since 2014, World Vision has built a total of 40 reading clubs in Ethiopia alone, creating 151 new story book titles, and training 120 reading camp volunteers. The clubs now serve 3,792 children in just one district of the country.

Children attend the clubs on weekends and school breaks, where they read to one another, tell stories, draw pictures that represent letters, playing letter-matching games, and most wonderfully of all -- borrow books.

In Ethiopia, 10-year-old Addisu (centre, with book) loves coming to reading club, where he enjoys reading aloud to his friends to show what he's learned. "When I first came here, I only knew names of very few letters," he says. "But now I can read fluently."

In India, Literacy Boost helped Poonam learned to read, so she can continue to progress in school. World Vision photo.

It's a blessing to live in Canada, where one of my biggest challenges is getting my kids to actually stop reading at bedtime. The challenge ahead of us is to use innovative solutions like these to help more of the world's children to start.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

What Administrators Can Do to Promote a Reading Culture

Dear administrators,

I have been pleading with teachers for a few years to please help students become passionate readers.  I have given as many ideas as I could and directed toward the great minds that inspire me as well.  I have begged at times, sharing the words of my students as proof that we teachers have an immense power when it comes to either nurturing a love of reading or killing it.  There are so many things we teachers can do that will have a lasting effect.

And yet, it is not just the teachers that have an immense power over  whether children will read or not.  It turns out that much of that power also lies within the realm of administration.  In fact, many of you that are doing incredible things to create schools that are seen as literacy communities that cherish the act of reading and becoming readers.  What  are they doing?  What can you do to foster a love of reading school-wide?

You can believe in choice for all.  That means protecting the rights of students to read the books they choose.  To help staff support this as well by speaking about choice, and making sure not to put restrictive policies in place that will hinder a child from developing their own reading identity.  That will stop a child from choosing a book they want to read.  Teachers should not be the only ones choosing books for students, please don’t put them in that position.  Instead, they should be working with students to learn how to self-select great books based on many things, not just their levels!

You can buy books.  Research shows again and again how vital having not only a well-stocked school library, but also a full classroom library, is to students becoming better readers.  Students need books at their finger tips, not far away, and they need high quality, high interest books.  That takes money, please help out in any way you can.

You can fight to have a librarian full-time in your building.  Everywhere we are seeing libraries that have no librarians, yet a knowledgeable librarian can be the lifeblood of a reading community.  I know budgets are being slashed, but the librarian should be seen as a necessity in schools, not as an unnecessary privilege.

You can celebrate books read.  Not the number of minutes logged or the points gained in computer based reading programs.  How about keeping a running tally of how many books students self-selected to read and then finished?  How about you keep a display board of all of the picture books being shared in your school, yes, even in middle school and high school?  Celebrate the right things, not the ones that can kill a love of reading.

You can protect the read aloud.  When schedules are made there should be time placed for reading aloud.  This should not be seen as a frill, nor as something that would be nice to fit in if only we had more time. All students at every age should encounter an adult that reads fluently with expression aloud to them every day.  It develops their minds as readers and creates community.  This should not just be reserved for special times in elementary school but should be protected throughout a child’s reading experience in school.

You can promote independent reading time.  Students reading silently is not time wasted, it is one of the most important investments we can make in our school day for any child, any age.  If you want children to become better readers, then give them the time to read.

You can hire teachers that love reading.  I am amazed that there are teachers who teach literacy in any capacity that do not identify themselves as readers.  This should not be happening.  Years of experience shows that students will read more if we read as well and are able to create a book community where our love of reading is a cornerstone of what we do.  Even when I taught non-literacy subjects, even when I taught science, the fact that I read for my own pleasure meant that our conversations were deeper, more engaging, and the students trusted me as a reading role model.

You can use levels for books and not for children.  Too often the levels that a child reads at becomes their entire reading identity.  Yet, that level is meant to be a teacher’s tool and not a child’s label to quote Fountas and Pinnell.  That level should be a part of that child’s reading identity but not the thing that defines them.  We should not have policies in place where students can only choose books that are at their levels, but instead have policies that promote exploration of texts so that students have a natural chance to figure out who they are as readers.  Confining them, even if meant to be helpful, will hurt them in the long run.

You can have tough conversations.  Part of my job as a teacher is to grow and learn and while I think that most of my ideas are solid, I wish an administrator would have questioned me when I had students do reading logs and forced book reports a few years back.  While the push-back may be hard to swallow, it certainly would have made me think.  However, within those tough conversations, please do listen to the teacher as well.  What are they basing their decisions on?  Perhaps they are the ones who are right, perhaps not, but ask the questions and keep the bigger goal in mind; students who like to read!

What else can you do to create a school where the love of reading flourishes?

You can be a guest read alouder.

You can have books in your office for students to read.

You can share your own reading life by displaying your titles outside your office.

You can make assemblies and other fun events celebrate literacy.

You can bring in authors.

You can promote reading literacy projects like The Global Read Aloud or Dot Day.

You can ask students what they are reading whenever you see them.

You can institute school-wide independent reading time.

You can stand up for poor literacy decisions being made within your district.

You can ask your teachers for ideas.  You can ask your students what they need and then implement their wishes when possible.

You can send your teachers to professional development with the likes of Kylene Beers, Donalyn Miller, Penny Kittle, Kelly Gallagher and any other of the incredibly talented literacy experts that inspire us all.

There are so many things that fall within your realm, please help us teachers (like my principal Shannon Anderson does) protect the love of reading that students have and nurture it as we teach.  You can choose to create passionate reading environments or you can support decisions that smother them.  The choice is yours.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Spreading The Love of Literacy: Books More Widely Available Thanks to Mini-libraries in Bemidji

BEMIDJI -- At first glance, they can appear to be a yard decoration or a birdhouse. Upon closer inspection, though, passersby can see these little buildings that have popped up across Bemidji are filled with books of all types.

The tiny structures visible in front of homes and in Bemidji parks are called Little Free Libraries and are part of a national movement to get more people reading and sharing.

"Basically the concept is take a book and leave a book," Bemidji Parks and Recreation Director Marcia Larson said. "It encourages people to start reading and exchange books, too. So if you have books that you've finished reading, you can put them in the library."

Because of the popularity of the free libraries on personal property around town, the city decided to add them to the parks as well.

"It's a super fun thing and we as the parks department, over the winter when we had some downtime, decided to create different free libraries that match the look of where they were set up," Larson said. "Sometimes it will get down to one book and the next day it will spike back up and be full. So people are really good about sharing the books."

Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht and her husband Mike have gotten involved in the movement, too, helping to bring a little free library to their church, United Methodist Church.

"I was aware of it and had seen them around and thought it was a really good idea," Albrecht said. "Another member of our church suggested that my husband make one since he's a woodworker, so we ended up putting that one up. Subsequent to that, he's constructed more and has given them away and sold them."

Albrecht said once the mini-library was set up, she received positive feedback on Facebook from people commenting that it was a good idea and that others were appearing across town.

"It's a good way to make books accessible. Our church is in the urban core so there's a lot of pedestrian traffic so there's a lot of people who walk by and it's a good opportunity to provide a service," Albrecht said. "Other people that aren't members of the church know that it is there and still bring in books, so it's become a community effort and a way to reach out."

One of the best features of the small libraries is none of them look the same, the mayor said.

"The unique part of it is how different they can look. The website for Little Free Libraries wants you to register and get an official number and plaque, but they don't have any design standards," Albrecht said. "I've seen a lot of really creative ones that are shaped like birdhouses or shaped circular rather than rectangular. There's just been a lot of fun ideas."

The Little Free Libraries movement that has come to Bemidji and other cities across the United States started in 2009 by Todd Bol, a resident of Hudson, Wis. Bol created the first little library in his front yard as a tribute to his mother and the project spread throughout the neighborhood.

According to the official website for the Little Free Library program, Rick Brooks, an educator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, saw the project and helped Bol promote it to encourage reading across the globe.

The website states that by the end of 2011 there were 400 libraries across the country and by 2012, the program was established as a Wisconsin nonprofit corporation. This past January, the total number of free libraries in the world was estimated at 25,000.

For more information on the nonprofit and to find little free libraries in Bemidji, visit


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Learners as Critical Thinkers

Critical thinking can be defined in various ways. Dr. Richard Paul briefly explains critical thinking as: “thinking about your thinking while you’re thinking in order to make your thinking better.”(Paul 2012). Paul emphasis the self-improvement (in thinking) through intellectual standards (that assess thinking). Dr. Paul and Linda Elder define critical thinking as: “That mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem – in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them”(Paul & Elder 2010). Warnick and Inch (1994), define critical thinking as “involving the ability to explore a problem, question, or situation; integrate all the available information about it; arrive a solution or hypothesis; and justify one’s position

Educational systems goal is to prepare student with learning skills that they can utilize for a life span. Education systems are profoundly challenged as never been before to develop the ability of learners to think efficiently and to make decisions in a rapidly changing world that is accelerated by the flood of data around. With the big data emerging and dominating economies it is essential to prepare learners to survive and to adapt to change. Developing Critical Thinking skills of learners will prepare them to function as productive citizens in the contemporary world. They should be prepared for the unpredictable by developing their potential to dynamically adjust and grow.

Critical thinker, as demonstrated by the illustration above, is mainly inquisitive, truth-seeker, with systematic and analytic thinking. His thinking has a pattern that leads to genuine evaluation of data received leaving unfair judgments and biases behind. Critical thinker is reflective, open-minded, mature and persistent in seeking the truth upon a reasonable intellectual criteria.

Educators play a key role in developing critical thinking of the learners. A role which entails them to be more of a guide on the side than a sage on the stage.  In order to engage students in critical thinking, the educator needs to be a facilitator and to urge independent learning that is provoked by questioning and exploration. “In order to engage students in critical thinking, the educator needs to act as a facilitator to allow for discussion and encourage a freer thought process … “(GDT, 2015)

How can we enable critical thinking in teaching?

It is vital that we don’t assume that all teachers are prepared to teach using critical thinking techniques. Professional development and professional learning communities play a key role in preparing teachers for such methods before holding them accountable of developing similar skills for learners. Districts should develop long term professional development programs in parallel with curriculum and assessment redesign. Curriculum time line should embrace activities such as in-class and online discussions, debates and reviews. Assessment of such skills need to be profoundly deliberated.

“The evaluation of thinking skills is a challenge. Accurate evaluation of a thinking skill — or even defining precisely what the “skill” is, and how we can observe and measure it — is much more difficult than evaluating knowledge. “(Paul 2012).

Critical thinking can be infused in lessons throughout all disciplines by utilizing in depth questioning and evaluation of both data and sources (McCollister & Sayler, 2010). Critical thinking focal point is to examine the elements of thought.The thought cannot be fully understood before putting it in its context that could be hidden and unclear. Each thought has Its background information. To reach a thought you need to seek concepts, direction, frame, questions, inferences and conclusions that shaped it. Inquiry and questioning should be the drivers of learners’ thinking and not obtaining answers. Students should be intellectually incited by questions. The teacher should target higher order skills by his questions. By raising and answering different questions, learners should acquire analysis, synthesis and evaluation skills. Critical thinking could be fostered by:

  • Classroom discussion
  • Classroom debates
  • Online discussion forums
  • Evaluation and observation among groups
  • Review and analysis of different related resources
  • Research
  • Constant practice of different Critical Thinking strategies

While learners who have the critical thinking dispositions mentioned earlier will enjoy critical thinking learning others who lack such dispositions will need the teachers support to nurture and foster these dispositions. Teachers should keep in mind that this will take time but eagerly important to be started as earlier possible. Teachers should start with creating higher order skills learning objectives, techniques could vary to aim to developing these skills that will grow over time.

While this seems a challenging role for the teachers, and while this would require deep changes in curriculum, assessment design and will require more professional development it is the call of duty that enforce us to embrace the change for the sake of the learners. “Critical thinking is the heart of well-conceived educational reform and restructuring, because it is at the heart of the changes of the 21st Century. Let us hope that enough of us will have the fortitude and vision to grasp this reality and transform our lives and our schools accordingly. “(Paul 2012).


Monday, September 14, 2015

21 Books Children Must Read: Letter A

Are you doing  letter of the week preschool crafts with your little one this school year?  They are so much fun, aren’t they? I love the idea of taking our craft one step further with a song and a rhyme at the end of each craft. (Check out our letter of the week crafts and you’ll see what I mean.) I also love the idea of adding the books children must read that coordinates with each letter tying everything together.

Here is a list of 21 children’s books that are perfect to read while you’re focusing on the letter A. I pulled together a great collection of books boys and girls both will enjoy. Some of these are classics from our childhood. The next time you head out to the library, take this list with you! (You can click through the links below for author information.).

If you see a book I missed that is your favorite, leave it in the comments.
Not covering the letter A yet? No worries, pin this and save it for later!

  1. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
  2. Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday
  3. Alligator Shoes
  4. Amazing Airplanes
  5. Amelia Bedelia
  6. Angel Child Dragon Child
  7. Animal Cafe
  8. Apple Pie for the 4th of July
  9. Apples Apples Apples
  10. Are You an Ant
  11. Arther’s Eyes
  12. Autumn Leaves
  13. Hey Little Ant
  14. How Do Apples Grow?
  15. Johnny Appleseed
  16. One Hundred Hungry Ants
  17. Richard Scarry’s A Day at the Airport
  18. Ten Apples Up on Top
  19. The Biggest Apple Ever
  20. The Icky Sticky Anteater
  21. There is an Alligator Under my Bed

Here is our A is for Alligator preschool craft and A is for Airplane preschool snack.
Have an awesome week full of learning and fun!


Friday, September 11, 2015

What 16 Successful People Read In The Morning

Staying informed is a constant struggle for most of us, let alone people with high-profile, high-pressure jobs. There's usually not    time to leisurely read a favorite paper over coffee. Yet catching up on news is an important part of what's often a very early morning   for many of the world's most successful people.Now we would like everyone to read Business Insider in the morning (or the afternoon), but it turns out some very important people have their own favorite sources of news.

Warren Buffett starts his days with an assortment of national and local news.

The billionaire investor tells CNBC he reads the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the New York Times, USA Today, the Omaha World-Herald, and the American Banker in the mornings. That's a hefty list to get through.

David Cush reads five newspapers and listens to sports radio on a bike at the gym.

The Virgin America CEO told the AP that he wakes up at 4:15 a.m. on the West Coast to send emails and call people on the East Coast. Then he heads to the gym, hops on an exercise bike, listens to Dallas sports radio, and reads his daily papers, which include the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, and Financial Times.

Bill Gates reads the national papers and gets a daily news digest.

The Microsoft co-founder gets a daily news digest with a wide array of topics, and he gets alerts for stories on Berkshire Hathaway, where he sits on the board of directors. Gates also reads the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Economist cover-to-cover, according to an interview with Fox Business.

Dave Girouard reads the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on his Nexus 7, and mixes in some Winston Churchill.

Girouard, CEO of Upstart and former president of Google Enterprise, told Business Insider that he's a big fan of Winston Churchill's speeches. He's currently reading "Never Give In! The Best of Winston Churchill's Speeches." For news, he scrolls through the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

David Heinemeier Hansson flicks through tech blogs.

The Danish programmer and creator of the programming language Ruby on Rails consumes a tech-filled fare each morning. He tells Business Insider that his daily round consists of Reddit, Hacker News, Engadget, the Economist, Boing Boing, and Twitter.

Jeffrey Immelt reads his papers in a very particular fashion.

"I typically read the Wall Street Journal, from the center section out," the General Electric CEO told Fast Company. "Then I'll go to the Financial Times and scan the FTIndex and the second section. I'll read the New York Times business page and throw the rest away. I look at USA Today, the sports section first, business page second, and life third. I'll turn to Page Six of the New York Post and then a little bit on business."

Charlie Munger is devoted to the Economist.

When Fox Business asked the Berkshire Hathaway vice-chairman and right-hand man to Warren Buffett what he likes to read in the morning, Munger kept it simple. "The Economist," he said.

Gavin Newsom starts with Politico's Playbook email, and then reads each of California's major papers.

The California Lieutenant Governor told The Wire that he starts by rotating through the morning shows at 7 a.m., then moves to his iPad to read Playbook, the Sacramento Bee, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Los Angeles Times. Finally, he moves on to the news app Flipboard, through which he checks sites like Mashable and AllThingsD.

Barack Obama reads the national papers, a blog or two, and some magazines.

The President of the United States told Rolling Stone he begins his day with the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. He's a devoted reader of the Times' columnists, and also likes Andrew Sullivan, the New Yorker, and The Atlantic.

Jonah Peretti pulls out the business or sports section from the New York Times for the subway ride; his wife keeps the rest.

The Buzzfeed founder and CEO wakes up around 8:30 a.m. and heads into the office with the sports or business section of the New York Times, he tells The Wire. He also takes New York magazine; subscriptions to the New Yorker and Economist fell by the wayside after he had twins. Still, like many younger leaders, the principle way he discovers information is through Twitter and Facebook.

Steve Reinemund reads the Dallas Morning News and several national dailies.

The former PepsiCo CEO gets up promptly at 5:30 a.m. and heads downstairs with a stack of newspapers, reports. He goes through the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times, as well as the Dallas Morning News.

Howard Schultz has kept his morning reading routine intact for 25 years.

In 2006, the Starbucks CEO told CNNMoney that he gets up between 5 and 5:30 a.m., makes coffee, and then picks up three newspapers: the Seattle Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. The habit must work, because he's stuck with it for more than two decades.

Nate Silver checks Twitter, Memeorandum, and Real Clear Politics pre-coffee in election years.

The FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief shared his election-year reading habits with The Wire. He starts with Twitter, Memeorandum, and Real Clear Politics before his coffee. He might hit the snooze button if nothing is breaking. Later come blogs like The Atlantic, Marginal Revolution, and Andrew Sullivan.

Shepard Smith works on TV, but relies on the websites of the New York Post and New York Times.

The Fox News host tells AdWeek that he starts his day with the websites of The New York Post or New York Times. After that comes The Daily Beast, SportsGrid, and sometimes Buzzfeed. Then comes sites relevant to whatever is being covered that day, including lots of local newspapers.

It's a constant struggle to keep from being overwhelmed, he says. "If media were food, I would be obese," Smith says.

Chuck Todd catches up with at least one major newspaper from each state on Twitter.

Todd, NBC's Chief White House Correspondent, is up between 4:30 and 5 every morning, he tells AdWeek, and after catching up with dispatches and email updates, goes on Twitter to catch major news stories from local newspapers.

"Twitter is the 21st century wire," Todd says. "I remember the first time I got access to the [Associated Press] 50-state wire in 1992, and at that time, there was nothing like it. Now Twitter is the same way. I’ve made my own powerful, worldwide newswire on politics and international affairs."

He also reads the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times on his iPad.

Gary Whitehill supplements the Wall Street Journal with dozens of RSS feeds.

Sixty-three, to be precise. The Huffington Post reports that Whitehill, the founder of Entrepreneur Week, spends the first part of his day reading 40 pages in whatever his current book is, scanning through 63 RSS feeds, and perusing the Wall Street Journal.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Better Reading Presents Australia’s Top 100 Books

Around 5000 people responded to Better Reading’s quest to find out Australia’s Top 100 novels, in the first survey of its kind.

See more about the list here: Better Reading Presents Australia’s Top 100 Books