Every Child Ready to Read in Michigan - April 2017 Newsletter

every child ready to read

Every Child Ready to Read in Michigan - April 2017

In This Issue:

This Month's Wisdom...

"Experts say when trying to determine if a child is ready, one should not just consider whether or not he or she has mastered specific academic skills. Instead, his or her readiness to learn should be considered. "

~ Sue McCleaf Nespeca 

Family Engagement & Kindergarten Readiness

mom and daughter

Family Engagement is a hot topic in library land. The Public Library Association (ALA) began emphasizing family engagement in 2015, and created a task force charged with helping public libraries learn about and implement successful family engagement practices. PLA defines family engagement as “respectful partnerships that offer the information, guidance, and opportunities for families to be active in their children’s learning and development.” Recently PLA released the report “Ideabook: Libraries for Families.” 

The Every Child Ready to Read Project which supports parents and children by encouraging them to engage in early literacy practices creates an atmosphere which engages families. So, by using ECRR in storytimes or in trainings, you are actually supporting this family engagement movement.

PLA’s research points to the following features as successful family engagement.

1.       Family engagement is about building relationships with families. It gives families an opportunity to design how they would like to promote their children’s learning and development.

2.       Family engagement builds on family strengths. This means that families can learn from librarians and librarians can learn from families. 

3.       Family engagement is not a one-size-fits-all process.

4.       Family engagement invites meaningful participation. It is not about teaching, but about creating family interactions through programs and services.

5.       Family engagement is systemic. Librarians need to reach, serve, and involve families as partners in children’s lifelong learning, and community partnerships are essential.

It is an easy connection to recognize that families and early childhood educators play an important role in helping to prepare children for their entry into kindergarten. Kindergarten readiness is another hot topic, and librarians can help play a role here also.

 There are many charts or indicators of what constitutes kindergarten readiness and many states have their own standards. Here are some general considerations of what parents can do which is issued by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Keep your child healthy
  • Develop routines
  • Encourage the development of basic skills
  • Read, rhyme and play games with your child
  • Expose your child to learning experiences
  • Encourage socialization
  • Talk about kindergarten

 Two documents on kindergarten readiness that are particularly important to consider in the state of Michigan are: 1. Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy Prekindergarten and 2. Early childhood Standards of Quality for Prekindergarten.

I will delve into both these topics, Family Engagement and Kindergarten Readiness, in an upcoming webinar to be hosted by the Library of Michigan on Thursday, May 11 at 2:00 p.m. I hope you will consider registering for this webinar.

New Books of the Month

Dinosaurs cover

Here are a few new song picture books – read them, sing them, do both!

We Are the Dinosaurs. Laurie Berkner. Simon & Schuster, 2017.  
ISBN: 978-1-4814-6463-5. $17.99.

Who does not love this song by the famous children’s musical artist? Recorded on several of her albums, including Whaddaya Think of That and The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band, after reading the book, you need to share it a second time singing it and having the children stand up and march along. There are many animal asides added to each double page spread, which you will need to ignore when sharing in a group. Those will be fine for one-on-one reading or browsing. This is another great choice for a dinosaur storytime. If you can handle two dinosaur song picture books in one storytime, add Groovy Joe Ice Cream and Dinosaurs by Eric Litwin. ISBN: 978-0545883788


Old MacDonald’s Things That Go. Jane Clarke. Nosy Crow, 2017. ISBN: 978-0-7636-9326-8. $15.99.

This Old MacDonald just loves things that go, and he rides them one-by-one. Each double-page spread introduces children to a different type of vehicle, such as a tractor, combine harvester, digger, bike, truck, bus, train, plane and boat. The familiar refrain E-I-E-I-O is replaced with “He loved things that go.” Farm animals ride alongside Old MacDonald in vehicles of their own.  Definitely a possible storytime pick, this would be fun to compare to Old MacDonald Had a Truck, published in 2016. ISBN: 978-1-45213-260-0.

Macdonald cover
Owl cover

The Owl and the Pussy-cat. Edward Lear & Charlotte Voake. Candlewick, 2017. ISBN: 978-0-7636-9080-9. $16.99.

The well-known poem by Edward Lear is illustrated here by a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year winner. The pen and ink and watercolor illustrations should be appealing to young children. Will children enjoy this tale written in the 1800’s? Like nursery rhymes, children will benefit from being exposed to the unusual vocabulary such as runcible spoons, mince, quince and Bong-trees. Most storytellers will just read this, but the tune to sing it to can be found on YouTube, such as the one by Oxbridge Baby

New Websites of the Month

Reading Rockets

Reading Rockets has some wonderful articles related to whether a child is ready for kindergarten, what skills should be expected during kindergarten, and reading tips for kindergarten parents. Here are four of my favorite articles that I like to recommend to parents of children ready to enter kindergarten.

1. Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten? Kindergarten is where most children learn to read and write. Though some kids can do this before entering kindergarten, it is not required or expected. Being ready for kindergarten means having well-developed preschool skills, and being academically, socially, and physically ready for the transition. Here are some signs that your child is ready for kindergarten.”

2. Kindergarten Accomplishments. The Committee for the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children compiled a list of what the typical child can do in kindergarten, such as knowing parts of a book, retelling parts of story, making predictions based on illustrations, and so forth.

3. Goals for Kindergarten: Experimental Reading and Writing. From the National Association for the Education of Young Children: “What children at the kindergarten phase should be able to do, and what teachers and families can do to support their development at this stage.”

4. Reading Tips for Parents of Kindergarteners. Fun ways a parent can help a child become a happy and confident reader.  Reading tips for babies, preschoolers, and more can also be found on the Reading Rockets website, including tip sheets in 11 different languages. 


Girl reading

I entered first grade at age 5. (We had no kindergarten classes in our school district at this time, and there were no rules saying that you had to be a certain age to enter first grade.) I grew up in a rural area, and the only person who lived near me that I had to play with was my female cousin, who was a year older than me. So, when she entered first grade, my Mom thought it would be terrible for me to be alone all day by myself, so off I went to school early. 

That same female cousin became a kindergarten teacher and many times throughout my life she told me how I should never have entered first grade at age 5, and what a terrible mistake that had been. I am not completely clear on how I was damaged, but I think she meant that I was probably not socially and emotionally ready to enter school, and that it affected me in many ways throughout all my school years.

How does one know when a child is ready to start kindergarten? Experts say when trying to determine if a child is ready, one should not just consider whether or not he or she has mastered specific academic skills. Instead, his or her readiness to learn should be considered. How well is the child able to communicate and listen? Is the child able to get along with other children easily? Thus, the child's development and readiness for school is based on other skills besides their academic abilities. Being able to listen and follow directions, certain motor skills, and social and emotional development are all very important.

Some parents choose to delay a child's entrance into kindergarten, believing that the child will have an advantage in academics by being older than average for his or her grade. This is more common among parents who have boys with birthdays near the school’s cutoff date, thinking their child needs more time to mature.

However, research suggests that parents who postpone enrollment for their child who is old enough for kindergarten doesn’t perform any better than a child who enters school at the usual age — particularly if the child remains in an environment where readiness skills aren’t stressed. Some studies show that a child who is old for his or her grade is at higher risk of behavior problems during adolescence.

There is a lot to consider when deciding if a child is ready for kindergarten!