Rachel has always been a reader – in fact, her first job was in a library! Growing up surrounded by books ignited her passion for literacy and her history volunteering with Special Olympics Indiana and local community organizations solidified her need to improve communities, especially for kids. She graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with her bachelor’s in Homeland Security and Emergency Management in 2014, and her Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Community Development in 2017. She joined the Kids Read Now team in 2018 and manages our social media, Latest in Literacy blog, and helps involve communities in their schools’ reading initiatives. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son, tending to her garden, chilling with her chickens, working out, playing piano, coaching baseball, and reading.
At first glance nonfiction books can seem intimidating – facts, numbers, research, real-world stuff, EEK! – but nonfiction doesn’t have to intimidating or overwhelming. In fact, it can be quite fun with several benefits that kids may not even realize they’re gaining! Embracing nonfiction is one of the best things any kid can do.
Here are some of the top reasons every kid should embrace nonfiction.
Develop Critical Thinking Skills
Reading nonfiction materials help children develop important critical thinking skills. Nonfiction texts allow kids to ask a specific question that they are interested in, such as “What do horses eat?”, and then go on the hunt for the answer. Fostering this investigative drive will undoubtedly develop some serious critical thinking skills. It will also allow kids to think about where they can find the information.
Gain Knowledge of the World
Nonfiction texts can help kids learn more about other towns or cities, parts of the world, cultures, planets, species, or even more about their own history. Nonfiction gives kids opportunities to see how the world works and lets them safely explore from their favorite reading spot. Developing this knowledge of the world, with its similarities and differences to what they experience every day, reinforces critical thinking skills, and will give them a boost as school textbooks become more content focused.
Learn Complex Tasks
Nonfiction texts present the opportunity for children to read about different skills and real-life activities. Reading and following detailed instructions are the first parts of completing complex tasks. These activities can be super fun for kids as they build Lego sets or make cookies from scratch! Plus, learning how to complete complex tasks at an earlier age with help them tremendously as they get older.
Nonfiction materials can help expand kids’ vocabularies. Many nonfiction texts introduce kids to more difficult words, so it’s important to keep your dictionary handy! New and more difficult words can also be accompanied by an image, and some nonfiction books have a glossary to help kids understand new definitions.
The Kids Read Now Wishlist always includes a wide variety of nonfiction books for kids to enjoy, such as National Geographic Kids and the Who Was/What Was series. Nonfiction books can help reluctant readers build a passion for learning about dinosaurs, the first airplane, the galaxy, or even about how to make homemade slime!
The Kids Read Now 2021 summer reading program was our best reading program to date! We mailed over 690,000 books to over 77,000 students all over the country. That’s pretty awesome, right? Here are the top 10 books requested this year.
#10 – Stone Fox
By: John Reynolds Gardiner
Illustrated by Marcia Sewell
Little Willie and his grandfather live on a farm. Grandfather owes back taxes, and becomes ill. Willie is determined to save the farm. Can Willie and his dog, Searchlight, do it?
#9 – Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt (A Narwhal and Jelly Book #2)
By: Ben Clanton
Illustrated by Ben Clanton
Narwhal and Jelly want to become superheroes. Find out what their super powers are.
#8 – Flying High
By: Nick Eliopulos
Illustrated by DC
Something strange is happening. The birds are going crazy! Who can help?
#7 – Big Shark, Little Shark
By: Anna Membrino
Illustrated by Tim Budgen
Are you afraid of sharks? No need to be afraid of these two! They will have you laughing! And smiling. And splashing about!
#6 – DK Readers: Amazing Dogs
By: Laura Buller
Meet the many types of dogs that use their super senses, strength, and friendship to help people!
#5 – The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto
By: Natalie Standiford
Illustrated by Donald Cook
The children of Nome, Alaska are very sick. They need medicine. Balto, and the sled dog team, are their only hope. But will they get there in time?
#4 – National Geographic Kids: Storms
By: Miriam Busch Goin
Thunder and lightning! Monsoons! Hurricanes! Tornadoes! The facts and photos in this book will blow you away!
#3 – National Geographic Kids: Dive Dolphin
By: Shira Evans
Dolphins live in oceans and rivers around the world. Learn more about these fantastic animals.
#2 – National Geographic Kids: Hop, Bunny!
By: Susan B. Neuman
What do bunnies do all day? Where do they go? What do they see? This book will tell you.
#1 – National Geographic Kids: Go, Cub!
By: Susan B. Neuman
Baby cubs like to cuddle and sleep. What do they learn to do? Read this and find out!
Learning to read opens different worlds to children – fantasy, mystery, funny, history – but it can also help them understand the things around them in everyday life that maybe they never thought to notice before. Here are four fun ways to incorporate reading into everyday activities!
Cereal boxes, labels, and cooking instructions
Whether you’re sitting down for breakfast in the morning with the cereal box on the table, preparing dinner with lots of different ingredients, or baking a delicious dessert from a scratch, ask your child to identify words on the boxes, labels, and in cookbooks. Sure, some ingredients are difficult for even the most proficient adult to pronounce, but most packaged foods have easy-to-read packaging and recipes help teach new words while sequencing different steps together.
Kids so often know how to get to their favorite places (school, grandma’s house, the park), but may not be paying attention to the signs on the way there. Ask them to and help them read the street and informational signs on the way to your next destination. Instead of turning left at the big tree, soon you’ll be turning left at the stop sign on Maple Street. This is also a great way for kids to learn short abbreviations such as Rd for road, St for street, and Blvd for boulevard. You can also take time to talk about the meaning of potentially new words like yield, U-turn, roundabout, and dead end. These contextual clues help kids remember the words by building on schematic theory.
Especially on longer trips, ask children to look out the window and choose any object they see. They can then say, “I spy something that starts with the letter ‘C’!”. Start naming things around you that begin with the letter they choose. In this case, “corn”, “cow”, and “clouds” could be what they’re spying! Who knows, maybe they’ve spied something that you’ve never noticed! Take turns spying and guessing. Not only is this a fun game to increase family engagement, phonetic understanding, to pass time during car rides, but it helps kids identify the first letter of familiar sights!
Many enjoy a little screen time every day, so turn screen time into reading time by simply turning on the closed captioning. There are many benefits to closed captioning, and your kids may not even realize they’re learning while enjoying the show. Closed captioning is completely free and oftentimes comes in several different languages if you’re wanting to really spice up screen time. With technological advances, there’s never been an easier time to enjoy and practice reading every day!
If you have any questions about reading every day, please contact us for more information.
Emotions. We all have them. We’ve felt the good, the bad, and the ugly. Happiness, sadness, anger, disappointment, guilt, love. Even though kids are small they can feel some huge emotions, and they should be normalized and discussed.
Building a Support System
Your child should feel safe to discuss emotions and feelings with family, friends, teachers, and other trusted adults like coaches and mentors. This forms your child’s support system. Sharing positive feelings can reinforce good behavior and help your child celebrate accomplishments. Sharing negative feelings can help take some of the burden from your child to allow him or her to be able to process and form a deeper understanding of him or herself.
Emotions are NORMAL
Having emotions is completely normal! It’s important to understand why we’re feeling what we’re feeling so we know how to move forward positively. Have you ever been angry? Did you ask yourself why you’re angry? Did you acknowledge your emotion as valid and real? How did you move forward and release that anger in a healthy way? You can ask and answer these same questions with joy and sadness, too. Girls and boys have big emotions, so don’t let society tell them their feelings are invalid. Girls can be tough warriors and boys can cry, so forget any societal norms that limit or stunt your child’s emotional growth.
Celebration and disappointment
Celebration and disappointment can be two of the hardest emotions to process. Celebration, you say? Yes! So often we don’t take time to celebrate achievements and small victories and go right on to setting the next goal. Take time to celebrate your child’s accomplishments and acknowledge his or her hard work! Celebrations, whether a huge family party or a mini dance party in the car to a great song, reinforce goal setting, hard work, and discipline. On the other hand, if you have a sensitive child, feelings of disappointment can feel all-consuming and overwhelming. It’s important to let your child know that as unpleasant as disappointment is, it’s a normal emotion to feel and it will pass. Disappointment doesn’t have to ruin everything.
Don’t repress emotions
What happens when you shake a pop bottle? The carbonation fizzes and if shaken hard enough, it could explode. There is a time to hold it together and a time to let it go— a time to be strong and a time to be vulnerable. Many adults have trouble knowing the difference, so our children absolutely deserve our support when dealing with big emotions. As adults we know that it’s not always appropriate to have our big feelings in public places, so reinforce your child’s emotions and set expectations for how to deal with those big feelings.
Positive ways to express and release emotions
Reading – read books with your child and discuss how the characters handle emotion, diversity, and conflict
Art – have your child draw, paint, collage, or sketch how he or she is feeling
Writing – have your child start a journal and write down how he or she felt throughout the day
Music – have your child pick a song that describes how he or she feels and turn the volume up
Talk – create a safe space at home where your child can tell you exactly how he or she is feeling, ask questions, and help him or her feel in control by coming up with a plan
Take a break – sometimes it’s best just to take a break and let your child’s mind calm down so you can have a thoughtful discussion when the time is right
As your fairly typical “boy mom”, I can tell you I’ve seen just about every kind of graphic novel for kids. Long before my son discovered Marvel and DC superheroes, he found Captain Underpants, The Adventures of Dogman, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, to name a few. Perhaps at first glance, graphic novels or comic books can appear silly, without substance, or unlikely to help your child read.
Those preconceptions couldn’t be farther from the truth. Don’t make the mistake of thinking graphic novels aren’t “real books”. Graphic novels can be the picture book for the middle generation of reader – the platform between easy beginner picture books and long chapter books. If your kids are anything like mine, silliness and goofiness are one surefire way to get and hold their attention. This is one of the most important stages in encouraging reluctant or emerging readers. Let them choose, watch the graphic novel grab their attention, and watch their imaginations soar to new heights!
Graphic novels are an excellent way to inspire your child to get excited about reading. The flow of the graphical storytelling, the fun and quirky characters, and the use of onomatopoeia are sure to form a lasting – KAPOW! – impression on your child’s imagination. If your child struggles with following a printed storyline, the pictures and flow of a graphic novel can help bring the story to life right before his or her eyes.
Graphic novels also help develop analytical readers. Your child will focus on the visual storytelling, looking for graphical plot clues, scenery insight, or to interpret character behavior and body language. Your child may not realize it, but graphic novels get the brain’s neurons firing – ZAP! – forming new creative and analytical pathways to decode the story. Decoding and processing the story through words and visual clues enable children to start thinking abstractly about their reading material.
Graphic novels can also inspire kids to create their own stories through drawing. Use this as an opportunity to encourage your child to recreate his or her own fantastical graphic world where protagonists can wear their underpants on the outside, be empowered by a radioactive spider, or even be a reflection of your child’s inner superhero. Allow your child to imagine a world where anything is possible!
Kids Read Now is proud to offer several graphic novels each year on our Wish List. We want kids to get excited to read, not just because they think the book is cool, but because we’re helping build their superhuman brain power – BOOM! If you have any questions about the Kids Read Now in-home reading programs, please contact us.
Being a kid can be rough sometimes. Sure, as adults we look back at all the snack times recesses and naptimes that we took for granted, but kids oftentimes don’t have much of a voice when it comes to curricula, learning plans, and homework. Ask just about any kid and recess = YAY!, and homework = BOO!
So how can we merge something fun with something structured? What is the bottom line and why does it matter?
We can start by treating kids as individuals and genuinely hearing what they find appealing.
No two kids are alike, and the same is true about books! Books can lead a journey to nearly any destination. A talking cat? Time travel? True stories? Uncontrollable giggle-fits? Mind-blowing facts? They’re all in books. Kids want to open a book and see themselves in the pages and to read stories about kids just like themselves. Acknowledging children’s individualism is just one step to ensure reading is fun and is not viewed as a chore. Celebrate your children’s reading choices from monster trucks, to pretty princesses, to wild animals, to spooky mysteries. Give kids a voice by simply listening to and supporting their book choices!
We can empower children to make choices.
Giving kids the ability to choose is an enormous, empowering gift that can help them feel heard, seen, and appreciated. As adults, we may rely on best-selling lists, recommendations from friends and family, or a book club to influence our book selections. Kids, on the other hand, can find that choosing their own book to be exciting! A good example of this would be to take kids to the library or a bookstore and let them browse for a while. Let them choose books with interesting titles or silly, colorful covers. Give children options when it comes to where and when they would like to read.
Partner with Kids Read Now for a groundbreaking, in-home reading program.
Kids Read Now offers student choice during our comprehensive summer reading program. All students get to choose 8 books from our Wish List of more than 100 titles. Kids get to choose from a variety of fiction, nonfiction, bilingual, multicultural, multiethnic, series, and award-winning books that are easily color-coded by reading level. We have also found that students who choose their books are much more likely to read them! In fact, Kids Read Now students across the country reported reading more than 145,000 books during the 2020 summer reading program! If you have any questions about student choice or the Kids Read Now in-home reading programs, contact us today!
Finding your children’s perfect reading range may seem like a daunting task at first. On one hand you want to challenge them but on the other, you don’t want them to get discouraged. So how do you find that fine line where reading is both fun and beneficial? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!
What Books Do Children Choose?
It’s not uncommon to assume most children read at grade level; however, here at Kids Read Now we have found that many students select books from outside their grade level. According to our 2020 book selection, 53.5% of all books selected were of reading levels outside a student’s grade level. Just because a student is in a specific grade doesn’t mean that he or she will enjoy or benefit from reading books specifically for that grade!
The Five Finger Rule
An easy way to judge if a book is in your child’s “just right” range at home is the Five Finger Rule. Let your child pick any book and open the book to any page. Put up one finger for each word your child is unsure of or doesn’t know.
0 – 1 fingers: Too Easy
2 – 3 fingers: Just Right
4 – 5 fingers: Too Hard
If books are “Too Easy”, children may get easily distracted or bored. If books are “Too Hard”, children may feel discouraged and frustrated. Try to find books in their “Just Right” range and encourage them to read and ask questions about words they may not know. Also, consider reading “Too Hard” books together so you can discuss difficult words or passages.
Finding the Right Books with the Right Program
Kids Read Now has a wide variety of books that students can choose based on their “just right” reading range and individual interests. Each year our Wish List includes multicultural, bilingual, series, fiction, nonfiction, multiethnic, and award-winning books sure to spark creativity and a love of reading in all K-3 students. Contact us if you have any questions about finding your child’s “Just Right” reading range or for more information on our proven, in-home reading program.
Exciting innovations in technology have wildly evolved over the last decade. You can hold the universe in the palm of your hand, view high-definition videos with lightning speed, and connect with people all over the world with a simple tap on a screen. Pretty cool, right?
But what do these technological innovations mean for old-fashioned reading? Is technology taking over?
The answer is yes, but the benefits of reading do not decrease as technology booms. In fact, the benefits of reading become more important than ever before.
Screen time use by children, tweens, and teens has doubled in the last five years and continues to grow. Teens are connected to screens for videos, TV shows, movies, social media, video games, and more. Phones, tablets, laptops, and televisions are a huge part of their daily lives—so let’s use them for good, and fun.
Technology + Reading = Win
Did you know that 8 to 12-year-olds use around five hours of screen time per day while teens average around 7.5 hours per day? These averages don’t account for homework or learning time. Reading for fun decreases the older a child gets, especially if reading isn’t established as a daily habit.
Technology is an excellent way to enhance learning by increasing the brain’s ability to assimilate and decode information. This juxtaposition between increases in screen time and decreases in reading time is cited as one reason for the literacy crisis in America, where less than 35% of students are proficient readers.
There is a way to reverse both disparate trends. Make screen time reading time by simply turning on the closed captions. Every 30 minutes of screen time equals reading 30 pages of a book!
So how does Kids Read Now help?
When most people think of summer, they easily envision backyard barbecues, swimming pools, vacation, and long lazy days in the sun. When we think about summer, we think about the dreaded summer slide and how it disproportionately affects disadvantaged students.
Over summer, a divide plagues those from lower income families and places them at a sharp disadvantage in obtaining books or accessing online learning tools. Our reading programs are the easiest way to deliver high-quality, reading-range-ready books to kids at their home address—no technology needed! So, crack open that book to create a healthy, lifelong habit and turn on closed captions whenever you can!
Transform your summer reading program
Kids Read Now is proven to effectively reverse the summer reading slide and start students on a journey to better grades and a lifelong love of reading.
About Our Team
We work hard every day to give our customers the best programs to keep kids growing during the summer to keep them from falling victim to the summer slide.