PUP Blog

There's lots to say about learning to read, how parents can support babies and children, and the world of early education and schools. Tap into our years of experience working with educators and parents by keeping up with the PUP blog below -- and stay tuned as we use the blog to answer your questions and show what parents are doing to support their children's reading development!

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More reasons to encourage empathy: setting up reading and school success

April 21st, 2018

When we talk about the 3 buckets of skills children need to read well, it’s the Everyday Learning Skills (ELS) that people wonder about the most: how do ELS impact reading and academic skills?  

There are lots of skills that make up ELS, but today’s blog looks at one type of ELS in particular:empathy, a combination of perspective-taking and compassion. We know that empathy is crucial to health and well-being  because it helps a child build strong relationships, be caring toward others, and make ethical decisions– but empathy also promotes reading and school success. In fact, studies from years past have linked high scores on measures of empathy to higher grade point averages. Read the article  

NAEP test results confirm that parent input is essential

April 12th, 2018

This week, scores came out for the only nationwide test that lets us compare results from one state to another. That test is called the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP, and if you are wondering whether your own child took it or will take it in the years to come, Read the article  

It’s all about the buckets

April 6th, 2018

This past week I had the pleasure of presenting to some local mothers who, like parents everywhere, are eager to make sure their children are on a path to reading success. I told them about the science around reading development, and I explained that there are 3 types of skills children need to be strong readers, and that those skills accumulate over time, from birth. Then they started asking questions.

Read the article  

Too tired to read to your kids? It happens.

March 30th, 2018


At the end of a long day, do you ever just feel like skipping a night of reading with your kids?  You’re not alone. Read the article  

Have rich conversation while reading simple books

March 23rd, 2018

I recently had a conversation about conversation. A parent reached out after reading the last few blogs. Here’s what he asked:

When I’m reading with my child, how can I have the kinds of “rich conversations” you talk about that build language skills?

 So here’s an example of how you can use rich conversation during story time to build your child’s language skills. I used the well-loved children’s book, The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, with suggestions for your child from ages 6 months to 5 years. Read the article  

The Vocabulary-Reading Together Relationship: A Building Block for Life

March 15th, 2018

As we talked about in last week’s blog, there is a long line of research that tells us that a child’s early language skills relate to high school reading levels. We specifically called out the memorable data point that a child’s vocabulary knowledge at age 3 is one of the strongest predictors of 10th grade reading scores, and we promised to describe how to build up children’s vocabulary. That’s why today’s blog is about the best thing parents can do to build children’s vocabulary knowledge—read with them.


Why is it that reading to little ones is the best way to build their early language skills? Read the article  

Laying the foundation for high school reading with 3 year-olds

March 7th, 2018

When we give presentations, parents are always surprised by this information:

A child’s vocabulary at age 3 is one of the strongest predictors of 10th grade reading comprehension.

 Why does this research make sense? Because a strong early foundation in vocabulary sets children up to learn a lot about the world—and that’s what helps them understand high school books and materials. In other words, it’s a statistic that captures what we think of as the vocabulary-knowledge-reading connection.  Read the article  

PUP Book Club: Language at the Speed of Sight

February 27th, 2018

As we discussed in a recent post, only a third of U.S. schoolchildren read at grade level. For our PUP partners in Canada, it’s estimated that at least 30 percent of third graders lack basic literacy skills. For our partners in Latin America, it’s at least 25% who don’t reach a minimum proficiency in reading skills. And in all of these places, many more readers struggle to get to advanced levels.

There are all kinds of reasons why children don’t reach their potential as readers, but one major reason, and one we worry a lot about, is the focus of a recent book, Language at the Speed of Sight, by cognitive scientist Mark Seidenberg. What reason does he focus on? The way many children are taught to read words, an essential skill, doesn’t actually reflect what research tells us about how that teaching should be done to match children’s developing brains. Read the article  

New brain research shows it’s about talking with kids, not talking to kids

February 20th, 2018

For decades, the evidence and the guidance about raising strong readers was all about increasing the quantity of talk in households—the amount of talk between parents and children. But over the last ten years or so, new research methods and larger studies have painted a different picture—that actually the quality of talk is more important than the quantity.  Read the article  

My child hates to read. Now what?

February 15th, 2018

At a recent PUP presentation, a parent asked the following question: My second grader doesn’t like to read and I am not sure what to do. Any ideas?


There are lots of reasons why a young child might not like to read, but the most likely reason (and the one we worry most about) is that the child is struggling as a reader.

Think of it this way – nobody likes to do things that are too hard; it makes us feel frustrated and often feel bad about ourselves. This is as true for reading as it is for anything else. And it can lead to a vicious cycle—getting good at reading, like anything, takes practice.

So what should the parent of a child who doesn’t like to read do? We recommend the following: Read the article