Best Books for Beginning to Read

Biscuit Beginning to Read bookA common assumption I’ve come across during my time in libraries is that picture books are for children to read. As a matter of fact, I think I probably made this same assumption before I started planning story times and the like. But here’s the thing: children’s picture books are really designed to be read aloud to children by adults. I know, I just blew your mind. Obviously there are some exceptions, like certain Dr. Seuss titles. (“Hop on Pop“, anyone?) But many picture books are actually too advanced for your average beginning reader to effectively tackle on his or her own.

If starting with traditional picture books is not ideal, then what in the world is? The answer varies. At DBRL, we call this collection “Beginning to Read.” These are also children’s books, and they also have a lot of pictures. They are different from most picture books in that their sentences are short, and the words are short, simple and do as much to help the reader figure them out contextually as possible. The words are big and few so they are not nearly as intimidating. You also won’t find any artsy typographies that, while charming in children’s books that are being read to them, can be daunting to new readers. Continue reading

Shhh! Stop Saying Libraries Are Dying!

Photo of scolding librarian

There are many, many things that I dearly love about working in a library, about providing children’s services and that absolutely thrill me about my decision to pursue my post-graduate education in library science. But people telling me…

“That’s what Google is for.”

“Nothing relevant is even in print form anymore; even books can be digital.”

“Once everyone owns a Kindle no one will even go to the library.”

“You chose, like, the Latin of professions.”

…are DEFINITELY NOT among those many, many things. (Don’t even get me started on, “You need a degree for that?”)

Because the truth is, libraries are not just giant warehouses full of musty, dated books, just like librarians are not brittle, grumpy ladies who wear ugly cardigans and cat-eye glasses on chains and shush you from on high through lipstick-stained teeth. (We are really more ChapStick people.) Continue reading

Once Upon a Time…

picture of a Lego princess and queenWith rare exceptions like Kate Middleton or Grace Kelly, most little girls with royal professional aims will need a back-up to an “I’m gonna be a princess when I grow up!” career plan. But until that need arises, DBRL has beefed up its Disney Princess Collection by popular request for your little prince or princess to peruse.

While the celebrated Disney Princesses themselves are big attention-grabbers and can easily be enjoyed in their own right, they also have the potential to serve as the (often less gruesome) introduction to the original tales by Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen or even from history itself. These stories can be the doorway to exploring the concept of very old stories, their purposes, different interpretations in different cultures and even how they have changed over time from the original versions.

Wait – fairy tales were originally SCARY? Continue reading

Tutoring At The Columbia Public Library

A Way With Words & Numbers offers free tutoring at the Columbia Public Library in the children’s area on a first-come, first-served basis. Tutoring is available during most of MU’s fall and winter semesters (September through early December and late January through early May).

Ages Served: Students in kindergarten through 7th grade
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 3:30-7:30 p.m (tutoring not available on Saturdays at this time)

A Way With Words & Numbers is a tutoring program that utilizes the skills and resources of graduate and undergraduate students at Mizzou to help local elementary and middle school students master the basic skills of literacy and math. Teams of tutors consist of volunteers, service learning, work study and grant-funded students.

Reading and Playing Are Better Together

Peanut butter and jelly. Green eggs and ham. Bert and Ernie. Some things just work naturally as pairs, including reading and playing. Reading is a fun activity by itself, but adding play can reinforce the reading and create a more enjoyable overall experience between parent and child.

Book cover for Dreaming Up by Christy HaleLet’s look at the book, “Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building” by Christy Hale. This fun book uses rhymes and side-to-side comparisons to show how child creations compare with famous architecture. For instance, a girl building a unique structure out of blocks on a left page is right across from a similar looking structure designed by the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. A fun poem and picture of kids using toothpicks and gumballs to create a colorful dome is across from an image of a giant biosphere structure located in Canada.

The rhymes and pictures make for an enjoyable read, but why stop there? Use Duplo bricks or other building blocks to make some of the structures the kids are building. Try some of the other fun activities shown in the book, such as making pillow forts, creating sandcastles or building with common household materials like playing cards and cardboard tubes. Talk with your child about meanings of words read in the book, such as “wall,” “roof,” “hideaway,” “arc” and “interlock.” Practice the fun rhymes together to develop language skills. Continue reading