Every Child Ready to Read in Michigan - March 2017 Newsletter

every child ready to read

Every Child Ready to Read in Michigan  -  March 2017

In This Issue:

This Month's Wisdom...

"Any program that you hold that includes music or singing songs will be helpful for phonological awareness."   

~Sue McCleaf Nespeca 

Early Literacy Programs for Preschoolers (that are not storytimes)


In previous newsletters storytimes for different ages (babies, toddlers and preschoolers) have been covered along with ideas for early literacy tips. But what about other programs that can be held for preschoolers or a mixed age group of children that may be literature-based, but are not specifically storytimes per se?  Can they have benefits for early literacy skills?

Any program that you hold that includes music or singing songs will be helpful for phonological awareness. Creative dramatics allows many opportunities for narrative skills; art projects help children develop small motor skills which are needed when they learn to write letters, and STEAM projects are helpful for vocabulary and narrative skills. So almost any program that you do that includes any of these elements is beneficial for early literacy. But again, for these programs to be of value for early literacy, the parents should also be in attendance – just like they are in storytime programs.

So what types of activities do you include in a non-storytime program? Always include books in some way --- if you are not sharing a story or stories, then at least have a related book display. Always try to include singing and music, as that is important for so many early literacy skills.

Here are just a few examples of programs you could do.

  1. Music Program (share song picture books, play musical instruments, make simple instruments)
  2. Folk Tale Fun (share folk tales and then have children act out stories with simple puppets OR props)
  3. Open-Ended Art Program (share some books first by a certain well-known  author/illustrator [Eric Carle, Denise Fleming, etc.] and then have children create open-ended art similar to the illustrator’s art )
  4. Nursery Rhyme Time (share rhymes, songs based on nursery rhymes, picture book versions of rhymes, games related to nursery rhyme characters)
  5. STEM Programs with different simple science activities
  6. How to Make My Garden Grow  (share picture book stories on gardens/gardening, plant seeds, make seed pictures)
  7. Pets (share stories on pets, bring in a speaker on how to take care of pets etc., have stuffed animal pet show; also, Pet Buddy Program)
  8. Let’s Build (share books on construction equipment and have children build things with Lincoln Logs, Duplo’s, Legos etc. 

New Books of the Month

Scoop book

Here are three books from 2016 and 2017 that would be great for a preschool program related to construction:

Push! Dig! Scoop! A Construction Counting Rhyme. Rhonda Gowler Greene. Bloomsbury, 2016. ISBN: 978-0-8027-3506-5. $16.99.

The text follows the cadence of the song “Over in the meadow, in a pond in the sun, lived an old mother turtle and her little turtle one…” Here we have “Over by the dirt pile in the sizzling summer sun, works a mama bulldozer with her little dozer one. ‘Push!’ says the mama. ‘I push!’ says the one. So they push oosh oosh in the sizzling summer sun.” So of course, you could sing this book the whole way through. Other equipment includes an excavator, a wheel loader, a dump truck, a pipe layer, a cement mixer, a crane, a grader, an asphalt paver, and a steam roller. This is a good counting book for fans of construction trucks. It is an obvious companion to the book below, and also a good match with Old MacDonald Had a Truck by Steve Goetz (ISBN: 978-1452132600; reviewed previously in previous newsletter.)

Mighty Book

Might, Mighty Construction Site.  Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld. Chronicle, 2017. ISBN: 978-1-4521-5216-5. $16.99.

This is a companion book to the New York Times Notable Children’s Book Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by the same author and illustrator. “Down in the big construction site, five trucks wake to morning light. It’s time to s-t-r-e-t-c-h, roll out of bed, and gear up for the day ahead!” At the end of the day we find that “Cooperation got it done; teamwork made it fast – and fun!” This rhyming sequel is sure to please fans of the first book. A definite hit! 

And here is a new dinosaur book from the wonderful series by Jane Yolen that centers on pets and can be used for a program on pets:

How Do Dinosaurs Choose Their Pets? Jane Yolen & Mark Teague. Blue Sky Press, 2017. ISBN: 978-1-338-03278-9. $16.99.

Another New York Times bestselling series where every entry is a winner! As with the other titles in this series, the text is in rhyme with only one or two sentences per page which makes it appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers. Also, like in the other entries, the dinosaur’s name is hidden somewhere on each page. Here the dinosaur at first tries to bring home inappropriate pets such as a boa constrictor, a kangaroo, or a manatee, until he settles on more appropriate pets such as a kitten, hamster or pup. This is a perfect book to add to a storytime or program about pets.


Dinosaur book

Websites of the Month


Want some ideas on programs to plan for preschoolers that are not necessarily storytimes? You might consider consulting some sites from the preschool education world. All of the below could be useful when planning thematic non-storytime programs.

The Show Me Librarian site by Amy Koester lists 11 program ideas for preschoolers. Particularly helpful is the “All Things STEAM” section. If you “click” on it, you will find numerous different STEAM programs for preschoolers.

Tons of themes on the Everything Preschool site are presented in an alphabetical listing. Under each theme are programming ideas. For example, if you wanted to have a summer beach time party, you could “click” on the beach theme and find: songs; art projects; book suggestions; games; science ideas; coloring pages and more.

The Activity Idea Place has tons of preschool lesson plans which may give ideas for planning a program. For example, under “Dinosaurs,” there are ideas for: art projects; math/science/game ideas; and songs.

Preschool Express has 16 different theme ideas for these types of parties: farm; dinosaur; hat; “things that go;” gingerbread; fishing; camping and teddy bears and more.


Grand Hotel

This is going to be a personal reflection rather than anything related to early literacy. This is the second year of the Library of Michigan’s grant for early literacy, funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and I just concluded my last travel to your great state. I will be doing newsletters the rest of the year and webinars, but my travel is done. I really had not been to Michigan much before this – once, many, many years ago I spoke at Flint and another time at Jackson. But I traveled to those spots and did not see any sites or really any scenery. Now, because of this grant, last year I was in Southfield, Grand Rapids, Traverse City and Mackinac Island.  This year, Grand Rapids, Plymouth, Bay City and Marquette. 

I discovered that Michigan is really two states, not one. I learned that in the Upper Peninsula, when they say “this road/rest stop/etc. is closed until spring,” that they are lying, because they are still closed during spring! Or otherwise, folks in the Upper Peninsula have a different calendar and a different time zone, because to them, spring starts in May, not in March like in the other 49 states in the Union. I also now know what a "Yooper" is, and who "trolls" are. I found that one of the most beautiful views anywhere in the state is from the lake side rooms at the Holiday Inn Express in Munising. I learned that I [personally] cannot cross the Mackinac Bridge without getting bridge assistance to drive my car. I can still see the horses in the streets on Mackinac Island, and I can say that I got to stay at the Grand Hotel [photo credit to Cathy Lancaster]. I found out that I love Traverse City (maybe because I love cherries) and I know that the Grand Traverse Pie Company makes the second best pies in the world! (My Mom’s is still number one.) I discovered what a pasty is, and I think I can remember in the future to pronounce it as “pas-tē,” though that was a hard lesson to learn. 

I often saw billboards in Ohio for Bronner’s and always wanted to go there, since Christmas is so important to me and I put up a minimum of three to four trees each year. The first year in Michigan, I bought many beautiful bulbs, and that Christmas, one of my cats knocked over the tree they were on and broke all but one of the beautiful bulbs I had purchased. So I went back this year, and bought all the same bulbs again, plus some more. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the same cat, or any of my other seven, do not do that again. I missed seeing the Sleeping Dunes, which is the one thing everyone said I needed to see. Unfortunately, the scenic roads were not open yet, (it was one of those spring things again) and the day I had to go there, it was pouring rain. That just gives me another excuse to go back to Michigan. Thank you for welcoming me to your state. I learned from many of you, and enjoyed meeting you all. I will remember these two years and all my Michigan travel fondly.