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Reading Rockets News

May 2015 Newsletter

  • In Focus: Summer learning | Start with a Book | Every Hero Has a Story
  • Books & Authors: Books for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month | Video interview with Linda Sue Park | Visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum
  • Ideas for Educators: Comprehension strategies: story maps, summarizing | Should we teach spelling? | 11 essentials for excellent ePortfolios
  • Ideas for Parents: Reading adventure pack: Archaeology | Active read alouds | Top spelling apps | Summer program checklist
  • Research & News: Why kids lose interest in reading as they get older | Can reading comprehension be taught? | Boosting Education for Babies and Their Parents | Brain scans show dyslexia, dysgraphia require different kinds of treatment

In Focus: Summer Learning

Start with a Book

Read. Talk. Explore. With 24 kid-tested themes to choose from (heroes and superheroes, dinosaurs, detectives, the night sky, music…) you'll find something for every child to dive into. Each theme includes dozens of carefully chosen fiction and nonfiction books, hands-on activities, writing ideas, apps and websites to deepen the learning. You'll also find simple, practical ideas on how to improve your child's fluency during the summer months.
Visit Start with a Book >

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Teachers: Download and print this Start with a Book flyer to share with your families, for a summer full of discovery and learning.
Download flyer >

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Parents: Sign up now for our 2015 summer learning tips, in English or Spanish. A fresh season of mobile tips will begin arriving in mid-May!
Sign up for text messages >

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Get Ready for Summer

Launch a summer full of active and enriching learning experiences for your students! We've put together a wealth of resources to share with parents: ideas for encouraging everyday reading and writing, and links to information about how to start a neighborhood book club, reading incentive programs, volunteering and active citizenship, kid-friendly gardening projects, great science-focused websites, and much more.
See summer resources >

Here's a sampling of tip sheets (in English and Spanish) to print and share with families:

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Every Hero Has a Story

Find out if your public library is part of the Collaborative Summer Library Program, a grassroots effort to provide high-quality summer reading programs for kids. This year's theme: Every Hero Has a Story.

Explore Heroes and Superheroes on our Start with a Book summer site. You'll discover dozens of themed fiction and nonfiction books, hands-on activities (jet packs, capes, trading cards and more), apps for learning, and great websites for kids (plus an intriguing writing prompt — create a 13th labor for Hercules).

Find many more awesome summer resources for teachers, librarians and families in our Summer Reading section

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Books & Authors

Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage!

A good book can open a child's eyes to new places, new customs. From family stories (Grandfather's Journey) to folktales (Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story) to feeling connected to a new culture (The Name Jar): discover the rich culture, humor, and traditions of Japan, Korea, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Hawaii in this collection of picture books for kids 3-9 years old.
Browse booklist >

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Our sister site, Colorin Colorado, offers many more booklists in their APA Heritage Month resource section.

Tap Dancing on the Roof: Our Interview with Linda Sue Park Video icon

Park brings Korean history and culture vividly to life through her richly imagined stories for young readers. She creates unforgettable characters that cross centuries and continents, yet still feel fresh and relevant — like the 12th century orphan, Tree Ear, from her Newbery winning novel A Single Shard. We also love her lively, clever sijo poems from Tap Dancing on the Roof:

Pockets

What's in your pockets right now? I hope they're not empty:
Empty pockets, unread books, lunches left on the bus — all a waste.
In mine: One horse chestnut. One gum wrapper. One dime. One hamster.

Watch interview >

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"Little House" Treasures

In our guest blog series, children's literacy advocate Rachael Walker and her family visit some of the places where the Ingalls family lived. Travel with the family as they explore the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum in Mansfield, Missouri — searching for Pa's fiddle, "whose melodious tones provided the glue that continuously held the Ingalls family together through their worst times." Ever wonder how Pa got that fiddle? Find out!
See blog post >

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Ideas for Educators

Two Comprehension Strategies

Story Maps help kids identify story characters, plot, setting, problem, and solution. Download templates and see examples of story maps in ELA, math, and social studies.
Learn more about story maps >

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Summarizing helps kids identify the main ideas in a text and identify key supporting details. Download templates and explore lots of simple summarizing activities you can try in your classroom.
Learn more about summarizing >

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See all comprehension strategies >

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Should We Teach Spelling?

How can you integrate spelling instruction into your already-stuffed ELA block? In two new blog posts, literacy expert Tim Shanahan talks about why it is important to teach spelling, what the research says about explicit instruction (it works!), shares some effective classroom strategies, and encourages teachers to share "word work" with their content area colleagues.
Teaching Spelling, Part 1 >

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Teaching Spelling, Part 2 >

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11 Essentials for Excellent ePortfolios

Use electronic portfolios to help students reflect on their learning, organize and share their products, and maintain a record of their accomplishments. You'll face 11 essential decisions in your pursuit of portfolio excellence. Edutopia guides you through the process.
See article >

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Ideas for Parents

The Big Dig: Our Archaeology Reading Adventure Pack

Go on an archaeological reading adventure! Draw sandpaper petroglyphs, excavate a homemade "archaeological site" to uncover beads, buttons, coins, jewels and gems, or create an Egyptian scroll filled with hieroglyphics (we provide the alphabet). A list of recommended fiction and nonfiction books is also included. (In English or Spanish)
Get your archaeology pack >

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See all of our Reading Adventure Packs >

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Active Read Alouds Video icon

The best story times are very interactive: You are reading the story and asking questions, your child is talking and there is lots of conversation between the two of you. In this video, kids and volunteers come together around books in an Alexandria, VA reading program. Watch how one reading volunteer engages kids in active conversation about vegetables, and how an outdoor "milking station" turns into a memorable way to learn new vocabulary words like "pasteurizing." (To set up your own farm station, download our Farms reading adventure pack).
Watch video and browse tip sheets >

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Top Spelling Apps

Chickens, frogs, and aliens, oh my! These critters and other delightful characters star in these fun interactive apps developed to help young kids practice spelling and vocabulary. You'll find crosswords, a spelling bee, Boggle-style games, word builders, and more.
See spelling apps >

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What a Good Summer Program Looks Like

How can parents be smart consumers when shopping for summer programs? Here's a helpful checklist from the National Summer Learning Association.
See summer program checklist >

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"Books erase bias, they make the uncommon everyday, and the mundane exotic. A book makes all cultures universal."

Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon)

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Our Literacy Blogs

Dr. Joanne Meier
Dr. Joanne Meier
February 14, 2014
Maria Salvadore
Maria Salvadore
Start with a Book: Read. Talk. Explore.
"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb