Reading Rockets News
The Reading Rockets newsletter is chock-full of great resources about reading. Browse the current issue below, or dig into the newsletter archive.
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- In Focus: Summer is for reading, talking, exploring
- Books & Authors: Big summer book stack | Our interview with Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan | A sea of books
- Ideas for Teachers and Librarians: 8 apps for digital portfolios | Interactive field trips | Take a story walk | Read! Build! Play! toolkit for librarians | Watch & Learn podcasts
- Ideas for Parents: New reading adventure pack: robots | Children and digital media: rethinking parent roles | Goodbye preschool. Hello kindergarten!
- Research & News: Why teachers should present new material as stories | What's so important about 3rd grade? | Common Core practice tests unveiled
In Focus: Read. Talk. Explore — All Summer Long
Help your child learn to think like a scientist — making predictions, keeping a nature journal, seeing patterns, understanding cause and effect and more. Dig into our collection of science tip sheets (in English and Spanish) designed to inspire scientific exploration!
See science resources >
- Geocaching 101: The Best Scavenger Hunt Ever!
- Kids Gardening
- The Book of Stuff to Do Outside
- Make a Moon Watch Flip Book
Summer is for exploring, reading, listening and — writing. Give kids a chance to exercise different writing muscles — from poetry to nature journals persuasive writing. Here are four kid-tested writing activities perfect for at home or as a group activity with friends and neighbors.
See activities >
Summer is a great time to practice fluency skills while having fun. Try "buddy" reading with your child, or round up some neighborhood kids and stage a Reader's Theater event. And don't forget the audio books — a great way to expose kids to beautifully fluent reading. We even have a few ideas for how to create your own audio books.
Fluent kids >
Find more summer resources for teachers, librarians, and families in our Summer Reading section
Books & Authors
Ahhh....summer! The perfect season for cool drinks, fresh-air reading, and a towering stack of books inviting kids to visit new worlds, real and imagined Our children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, carefully chose each book to keep your child reading (and listening) all summer long. The age-leveled lists are ready to print and take to your local library or bookstore.
See Big Summer Booklist >
Since the 1990s, Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan have been researching and writing books together about art and artists for young readers — filling the "hole in the bookshelf." They have published books about painters, potters, installation artists, architects, sculptors, dancers and musicians. In their gorgeous picture book, Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring, they explore the vibrant collaboration between Noguchi (sculpture), Graham (dance) and Aaron Copeland (music).
Watch Greenberg and Jordan interview >
Explore the ocean ecosystem, the magical qualities of water, and the fantastic variety of sea creatures in the pages of these picture books. Dive into stories about sea monsters, a family day at the beach, creatures that call the ocean "home" and more.
See booklist >
June 8th is World Oceans Day. Find an event in your community!
Learn more >
Ideas for Teachers & Librarians
Digital portfolios allow students and teachers to collect student work in all kinds of media — text, photos, slideshows, audio and video. These new tools give kids a chance to express what they've learned in different ways, and make it easy to add comments and share the work with peers and parents.
Browse apps >
Get ready for a new generation of field trips that use "augmented reality" to make traditional museum or zoo tours more interactive — or even create a field trip in a neighborhood or empty lot. Augmented reality uses mobile phones and tablets with Internet, GPS and camera capabilities to overlay information in any setting. One example: a program called EcoMOBILE created a field trip and supporting lessons around a city pond in Boston. An application on their phones allowed students to take and compare water samples at different parts of the pond, sketch animals in the habitat, and answer quizzes on the role of different organisms in the ecosystem.
Learn more >
Here's a terrific idea for combining family time, outdoor rambles and reading: a "picture book walk." Find out how children's librarian Amy Koester (The Show Me Librarian) partnered with her county parks department to envision and build a fun, family-friendly experience for the community. Full-page spreads of Peter Brown's beautiful book The Curious Garden are posted along an accessible one-mile trail that skirts a picturesque lake in the town's public park. Kids can count the walk towards their summer reading goal — brilliant!
Learn more (and see photos of the walk) >
This toolkit — designed to help librarians develop storytime programs for PreK children — connects picture books with creative building and play. (Developed by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and LEGOŽ DUPLOŽ.)
Download toolkit >
Related resources for parents
Teachers: This summer, refresh your knowledge about reading instruction anywhere, anytime with our Watch & Learn podcasts. The video podcasts feature 'best-of' excerpts from our award-winning PBS Launching Young Readers series, covering a wide range of topics: print awareness, spelling patterns, fluency, comprehension, writing, and more.
Download podcasts from iTunes >
Ideas for Parents
Calling all inventors! Check out our newest reading adventure pack, all about robots. We've paired themed fiction and nonfiction books with hands-on activities that stretch your child's imagination and problem-solving skills. Build a rubber band-powered drawing contraption, experiment with a human robot obstacle course or brainstorm a robot for your home. (In English and Spanish)
Our newest reading adventure pack: Robots >
Smartphones and tablets are everywhere, and even our youngest children interact with technology every day. Technology may provide a good literacy boost by exposing children to new words and ideas, and helping kids learn more about topics they're interested in exploring. Find out what you as a parent can do to help your young learner navigate the digital world. (From our Growing Readers series, in English and Spanish)
See tip sheet >
How many of you are in your very last days of preschool drop-off? It's hard to believe that those years are behind you and that your little one will be heading off to kindergarten in the fall! This is an exciting time for all, but it can also be a scary one, too. Our teacher-researcher-mom blogger, Joanne Meier, has gathered up some of her favorite resources to help ease the preschool-to-kindergarten transition.
See blog post >
Research & News
Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham shares fresh evidence that teaching to-be-learned material in a story format improves learning outcomes. A new study tested middle school students on texts about the discoveries of Galileo and Marie Curie. The texts were developed to be similar in syntax, vocabulary, and other measures, and varied only in whether the information was presented in a typical expository fashion or as a personal story of the scientist.
Read article >
Being at grade level is meaningful at any age, but third grade is the crucial year when students make the leap from learning to read to reading to learn. It's an academic hurdle that, if missed, can leave struggling through letter sounds as their more fluent peers gain new knowledge at what seems like lightning speed. Once this type of learning lag exists, it's difficult for kids to catch up. Find out how one PreK-5 Brooklyn public school with high-needs students has "cracked the code" to help all their kids succeed.
Read story >
Students, parents, and teachers who are anxious or merely curious about the coming online assessments matched to the Common Core State Standards will now have the opportunity to go through a test run of sorts. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two major coalitions of states designing the tests, has released sets of online sample test questions for grades 3-8 and 11 in English language arts and math, the first two subjects to be tested. The tests will be delivered online in participating states during the 2014-15 academic year.
Read more >
In daddy's arms i am tall/
and close to the sun & warm/
in daddy's arms
— Folami Abiade (excerpted from In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall by Javaka Steptoe)