Blogs About Reading

Aiming for Access

June Behrmann

June Behrmann is a longtime special education teacher (pre-K to grade 6) who retired for about two seconds, and is now prospecting for accessible instructional resources. Follow June on Twitter @aimnoncat. Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with us.

Surf's Up: New Picture Book to Read Aloud and Inspire Struggling or Reluctant Reader

February 26, 2016

WOWIE KAZOO! Surf's Up, a joyful picture book with two froggie friends at the beach debuted officially for all on February 1. The story unfolds on colorful pages with a unique literacy message that possibly could inspire readers who struggle.

This book combines two big talents — author and Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander and illustrator Daniel Miyares. The publisher, NorthSouth Books, says the story is appropriate for ages 4-7 years; but this tale has value for reluctant or delayed readers of all ages.

Read it aloud

Now that read alouds are touted for students in early as well as upper grades, this story about characters Dude and Bro reveal in very few words exactly why books are not boring. See how the reluctant or reading delayed character gets drawn in when his friend cannot put down a "book about a whale." The excitement suddenly comes alive in a Moby Dick kind of way as both get drawn deeper into the book!

Pushing through

When reading gets tough, teachers and families need tools/strategies to help struggling readers push through to the next level of skills and understanding from phonemic awareness and phonics to decoding, comprehension, or vocabulary. This story does not need much adult interpretation. The message shows that reading can be magical. When other reading supports are in place, this story could validate the reason to push through the hard days of learning to read.

For more insights, here's a podcast about Surf's Up from Publisher's Weekly's children's editor John Sellers on the PW website on Feb. 22:


Here is a list of chosen read alouds from three experts who advocate for reading aloud to older students: Jennifer Estrada, program development and management, LitWorld; Steven Layne, author and professor of literacy education, Judson University; and Pernille Ripp, classroom teacher and founder, Global Read Aloud. Favorite Read-Alouds from the Pros can be found on the website of International Literacy Association's Literacy Daily blog.

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"What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person ..." —

Carl Sagan