Here’s a fun and engaging ‘book titles’ game to play with your kids on long car trips
Looking back at my childhood, I remember taking road trips with my family (this is well before there were DVDs, let alone CDs or other entertainment systems in cars) and we had to find ways to pass the time as the corn stalks and rolling hills rushed past the windows. Reading books in the car never worked for me as it would as I had car sickness, but we would play games about books.
My mom, dad, sister, and I would each take turns going around the car naming book titles, but the last letter of the title had to be the first letter for the next person. “Fox in Socks” would then queue “Sneetches”. Since that one started and ended with an “S”, the order reversed. It was a great game to help pass the time, but after a while, we would end up always going through the same 30 books or so. So we needed a way to expand and get into more titles (since there is rarely a word that ends in “I” so I was never able to play my favorite book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”.)
My sister suggested that instead of using the ending letter to start the new title, and since we were working on the orders of our alphabet, she suggested that we take however many letters are in the last word, and add it to the last letter and that becomes the starting letter. For instance; “Where the Wild Things Are” the last letter is “E” and there are three letters in “Are”, so from “E” you go three letters forward to get “H” and that is the next starting letter. This method really helped expand the game, and we could keep it going for hours and almost never repeating a title.
Now that I have children of my own, and take them on road trips, my wife and I have picked up these same past-time games. It really encourages them to read more, learn more titles, and has improved their overall reading abilities. I have seen their vocabulary grow just by them picking up a new book once a week. For every new book they pick up, there will undoubtedly be a new word in there that my kiddos will read, absorb, and use in conversation. But their knowledge of titles continues to grow.
Kids Read Now can help every child build his or her very own home library with popular and diverse titles for years to come! For more information about the Kids Read Now in-home reading programs and how we can help make reading fun for children, please reach out to us.
I’ve always been able to create “pleasant contrast” by escaping through the magic of a great book. But what if you’re a second-grader living in a two-bedroom apartment on the sixth floor of a housing project in Philadelphia with your mom, 2 siblings and another family of three. There’s a TV but mom’s boyfriend is in charge of that. You’ve got the basics: food (sort of), air, water, and shelter but where are the books? There ARE no books. Nothing to read or feed your imagination. Nothing for your mind to dream about. No “refuge, relief or pleasant contrast” to your current situation. You’re surviving in a Book Desert.
The Global Book Desert Map sponsored by Unite for Literacy is a grim depiction of our current situation. It also may offer an explanation as to why 79% of low income fourth graders are not proficient in reading. (Annie E. Casey Foundation – 2020) Seventy nine percent. Let that sink in. Whose fault is this, anyway? Let’s pass a law that requires kids to read by third grade. That’ll work, right? It hasn’t yet and this idea continues. Let’s encourage mom to take them to the library and give her a robust (and costly) summer school option; we’ll even send the book bus to the housing project on Thursdays from 9 to 10. Oh, wait… we’ve been doing all of this for decades and still: 79%.
Maybe it’s time to dig deeper into why our kids are struggling. Could access and opportunity possibly have anything to do with it? Mom is working two jobs and relies on public transportation. What if access and opportunity arrived in the mailbox every 10 days? Can a mailbox really be an oasis?
Kids Read Now is committed to making this a reality. Kids create “refuge and relief” by choosing the books that will arrive each week. Mom receives a text (in her native language) with four key comprehension questions to ask. Everyone wins. Join us as we focus on rain not blame. Let’s rain books on to these Book Deserts turning them into an oasis of opportunity and possibility for every child in America, not just the lucky ones.
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!
How to encourage kids to learn to love reading now, for a lifetime’s worth of benefits
Learning to read is arguably one of the most fundamental lessons learned as a child. Helping your children to learn to love reading is one of the most valuable gifts they can receive.
Reading doesn’t have to be chore or an assignment and some children may be reluctant to read if it’s presented as such. Allow your child to find the magic and adventure waiting just behind every book cover and soon reading will be an imagination destination that your child craves!
Encourage Your Child to Enjoy Reading
At Kids Read Now, we know that the readers today are the leaders of tomorrow. Students reading at grade level by third grade are less likely to struggle as they move forward through life. Here are some ways you can spark your child’s interest in reading.
Give them choices
Kids love choices because it puts them in charge and gives them a sense of empowerment. Giving kids the choice of what to read is one of the first step in creating a lifelong reader. Our summer reading program allows students to select which books they want to read, and we’ve found that students who select their own books are much more likely to read them!
Reading together encourages your child’s reading habits and creates time for family bonding! This is the time to use silly character voices, so let your imaginations run wild together! Children of all ages can benefit from bedtime stories, so read to your child or encourage him or her to read to you. If your child is passed the “reading aloud” phase, pick a chapter book or novel you can read together.
This option will give older readers a sense of independence and responsibility in preparing to discuss the book with you. You may find that some of their choices are just as entertaining and interesting to you as they are to your kids. Select a chapter each night to compare your thoughts about what occurred and what might happen the next day.
Encourage daily reading
The best way to make reading a habit is to encourage it daily! Try to set a specific time aside each day when the whole family participates in reading. During this time, try to eliminate distractions like TV, music, or other household chores, and focus only on reading. Set a timer for 15 minutes and relax with a good book!
Discuss the books they read
Invite your children to tell you about the books they’ve read. Ask them if they can relate to the book and how they might act as the main character. This is a great time to help your children relate the book to themselves, their world, other books, and really get creative with the details! Every Kids Read Now book includes a Discovery Sheet, which is a great tool for sparking an active discussion.
Offer praise for completing books
When your child completes a book, celebrate! Tell your child how proud you are of him or her and do something fun, such as having a mini dance party at home or visiting the library to get the next adventure. Excitement is contagious and reinforces reading as fun and positive behavior. If you are interested in learning more about our program, please reach out to us for more information.
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.
What are the priorities in your school district? Although sometimes we get lost in athletics and safety, especially during this unprecedented time with the COVID-19 pandemic, improving reading skills across the district is the most important priority for the success of all students. Often money gets in the way of purchasing research-based programs that work, like Kids Read Now. Funding is available through millions of dollars in state, federal, local, and corporate grants. Let us examine some ideas to help you meet your goal of improving reading skills for students.
Title I Funding
Title I funding is typically the best source and where districts receive the majority of their grant money; however, it is not the only source, and can be combined with other federal and state grants. Although it’s not the only source, it’s the best place to begin due to the size of the dollar allocations. It is important to check data and make changes where this funding is not making an impact.
Are you continuing to do the same thing year after year and getting the same results?
Is your summer school providing data that shows reading improvement for students?
Are you providing summer help for all students to improve reading skills?
If not, stop now and reallocate this funding. Providing a turn-key solution that makes connections with families and extends the school year through the summer for K – 3 students has benefited many students through the Kids Read Now program. The results are proven through independent research.
Other Important Sources
Beyond Title I grants, there are many Federal, State and Local additional grants available and especially currently. These funding opportunities include Federal grants: IDEA to support students with disabilities, Title 3A to support Limited English Proficient (LEP) students, Title 4A to improve student academic achievement, and Title 5B for rural school districts. States also allocate funds to school districts through grants for the Coronavirus and Health and Wellness; these can be used to extend the school year and make up time lost in the spring of 2020 due to the shutdown of schools.
Community and local funds are additional funding sources. These include Rotary, Optimist, Kiwanis, United Way, PTA, PTO, Elks, Eagles, Moose, Veterans organizations, and local foundations and businesses. All of these are good sources to provide funding and volunteer assistance in literacy instruction; especially for Kids Read Now, a nonprofit organization. When organizations and community members know that Kids Read Now extends the school year to close the learning gap that exists for students living in poverty, engages parents and family with a result proven strategy, they are willing to give. It is usually as simple as asking and providing a budget or statistics; both of which are provided by Kids Read Now. It is a great choice with proven results through independent research!
There has never been a better time to engage students through the summer, while limiting in person contact, using summer downtime to provide literacy support that is turnkey, data-driven and offers real time student analytics.
How are Title I funds spent in your school district? This is a question that should be revisited and examined each year. Often educators are overwhelmed with the many requirements of spending Title I funds and the never-ending sales pitches for programs that can best utilize the money. The easiest decision is to continue to spend the grant money the same way that it has been spent in the past.
When revisiting the purpose of Title I, Part A – Improving basic Programs, the money is provided as supplemental funding to state and Local Education Agencies (LEA’s). The funding specifically provides resources to LEAs and schools with high percentages of students from low-income families. Title I resources are intended to improve education quality and help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards with a focus on students that are most at risk of failing.
If you continue to spend Title I funds the same each year, please stop and reflect on these questions: Is there research to support that decision? Are there results or improvements in student’s literacy skills that are documented with data? Are students better prepared to succeed in high school and beyond? It’s also the year that you should ask if a change in spending Title I funds should occur due to the many changes that have taken place in educating students during the pandemic.
Title I funding offers substantial assistance in providing best practices in literacy instruction and improvement. Educators know that improvement of students’ reading skills is at the core of reaching the desired outcomes and improvements for at risk students. Teacher and student days are packed full, especially with remote and hybrid learning options that educators are now facing with the pandemic.
A proven way to gain time is to engage students throughout the summer. Kids Read Now extends the school year to close the learning gap that exists for students living in poverty, engages parents and family with a result proven strategy. Kids Read Now is eligible for use of Title I funds. In fact, it’s a great choice with proven results through independent research. Now is the perfect time to engage students through the summer, while limiting in person contact, using summer downtime to provide literacy support that is turnkey, data-driven and offers real time student analytics.
Do you think you know what kind of reader you are? We are certain your personality and reading style go hand in hand!
This ten-question quiz will score your answer and name you a Weekend Warrior, An Intellectual, A Book Juggler, a Re-Reader, or a Series Lover.
Take the Quiz
You have an hour to spend at the bookstore, where do you start?
c. Browse all of the genres
d. In the middle of all my favorites
Choose the word that best connects to you or describes you the best.
b. Curious, always learning
You have to read one book from cover to cover, today. Which will it be?
a. A fun, uplifting title
b. Tale of Two Cities
c. I have to choose one?
d. A classic I’ve read at least 10 times
What’s your favorite kind of book?
a. A quick and easy title
b. One that’s entertaining and enlightening
c. One that keeps me sucked in
d. An easy one to read over and over again
Which would you like to do at recess?
a. Get ahead on reading my new book
b. Dive into learning something new from a challenging title
c. Run around to burn off all of the extra energy
d. Discuss what I’ve discovered in my most recent book re-read
What do you look for when choosing a book?
a. A page-turner that keeps me interested
b. A challenge and something to learn from
c. A book that keeps my attention
d. One that begs to take me back again and again
How many classics have you read?
a. All of them – usually in one sitting
b. Too many to count
c. I’m in between many
d. Many of them are still on repeat
What your favorite way to read a book?
a. Old-fashioned book
c. E-reader, so I can take all the books wherever I go
d. All of the above
Your favorite author comes out with a new book, you:
a. Run to the bookstore and never put the book down until you are done
b. Brew a cup of tea and dive in
c. I don’t have a favorite author. I love all of them!
d. Race to the bookstore
What’s your bookmark of choice?
a. What bookmark? I never put a book down long enough to mark a page.
b. An old tattered bookmark that’s seen as many books as you!
c. I have many
d. Anything from my favorite series
A Weekend Warrior
If you answered mostly “A”, you are a Weekend Warrior! Those big chapter books are no match for your weekend binge sesh. You enjoy diving in and not coming up for air until the very last word! Extra challenging chapter books are your jam!
If you answered mostly “B”, you are an Intellectual Reader! You enjoy pushing yourself to learn about literature, history, poetry, science, and more. You stretch your imagination and reading comprehension skills and can’t wait to share what you’ve learned with your fellow intellectuals.
A Book Juggler
If you answered mostly “C”, you are a Book Juggler! There are stacks of books on your nightstand ranging across all different genres – everything from adventures to history. You never can make up your mind about which to pick up or put down, so you taste test all of them!
A Series Lover
If you answered mostly “D”, you are a Series Lover! The continuation of stories keeps you sucked in and dying for more. The only thing you don’t like about books is having to wait for the next book in the series to be released!
If you answered a mix of all choices, you are a Re-Reader. You love all kinds of books and keep them on a steady rotation. You find books relatable and comfortable, and some of your best friends reside in the book universe!
We call it the “achievement gap” – but isn’t it really an opportunity gap? A closer look at socioeconomic reading disparities — and how we can help your child to close the gap
For decades, efforts to reduce the racial divide on test scores has relied on federal funding to supplement efforts to boost scores among minority students, and this has seen results.
However, regardless of race, the fact is that rich and poor Americans are living, learning, and raising children in increasingly separate and unequal worlds. The income gap is huge, has not narrowed in 50 years, and leads to a large gap in test scores. For high school children, this gap averages four years between students from the highest 10% and lowest 10% income levels.
Students in poverty generally have fewer opportunities to succeed. They are less likely to have two parents at home; their parents are less likely to have a higher education. Children living in poverty generally attend schools with less experienced teachers, are less likely to have books in the home, and are more likely to have food insecurity and home life disruptions. Every one of these opportunity gaps have been shown to hurt learning progress and outcomes.
Two other situations slow down learning progress.
Ubiquitous learning loss experienced by low-income students over the summer
Recent analysis of reading tests given to most low-income students finds that learning loss over the summer varies dramatically. Our experience at Kids Read Now confirms this. Kids, regardless of race, income, or English language proficiency at home, can and do achieve markedly higher learning gains over the summer when parents are engaged, ensure kids read the books that they choose and we provide, and set time to discuss those books.
Talking about books, using the Discovery Sheets inside every book we mail boosts skills significantly. Each Discovery Sheet has questions and activities specifically written for the book. They ask kids to compare what they read with other knowledge they have and different characters they know (text-to-text and text-to-world), to discuss their feelings and experiences (text-to-self), and to go beyond the covers to write and draw stories that spring from the book to the world beyond (imagination/creativity).
Independent research shows that for less than 10 cents a day, kids in our program increase reading scores by 1-2 months over summer. The COVID-19 extended out-of-school time and difficulties with remote learning make this type of mailed reading intervention even more critical.
Rapidly growing dependency on screen time replacing reading time
Tweens spend 5-6 hours a day on screens and teens 7 hours or more on screens. We endorse a simple helper here: #ClickCaptionsON! is a great way for students in 4th grade and beyond to continue reading via captions while absorbing screen content. A dozen studies have shown this will build their reading abilities. Watching a show with captions on for just 30 minutes is the equivalent of reading 30 pages of a 5th grade book.
Closing the opportunity gap begins by having schools using parents as viable, valuable learning resources. Building and focusing on parental engagement processes are proven to work. These “parent training interventions” cost far less than traditional intervention programs that have not narrowed the gap in 50 years.