Raising a strong reader: job description and example (Yertle the Turtle)

October 17th, 2018

What are the job requirements when it comes to the role of raising strong readers? In other words, what are schools counting on parents to do early, and what does that look like during reading time at home? Read the article  

Reading levels: quick answers to parents’ top questions

October 1st, 2018

In many schools, children are tested to determine their reading levels, and teachers use that reading-level information to design classroom instruction. Last week, we wrote about the important things that parents need to know about reading levels, but there have been lots of other parent questions, too. Here’s our attempt at brief and accessible answers to your reading level questions!

Read the article  

Reading levels: What do parents of 1st-3rd graders need to know?

September 21st, 2018

The new school year has begun, and for many parents of early readers (grades 1-3), that means there will be a reading level assigned. It’s not the case in every school, but in lots of districts reading levels are used to group children for guided reading and overall support (sometimes even starting in kindergarten).

The reading level process creates a lot of questions for parents (see next week’s blog for an FAQ!). But most importantly, parents need to know WHY a child is at a certain level. That’s because until you know your child’s specific strengths, and the bucket(s) of skills your child needs to work on, it will be harder to support reading growth at home and to make sure that there is enough time spent in school working on your child’s reading needs. Read the article  

August checklist for parents of early readers

August 2nd, 2018

It’s August, and that means there’s only about a month left before school starts. How did that happen?

At this point, you might be wondering if you are doing all you need to do to get your young reader prepped for school. If you can answer YES to these five questions, then you’ll know that there is skill building going on at your house in all three buckets of skills. If not, you have a plan for what you could do over the next few weeks. Regardless of your answers, remember that there’s still time to help your child build reading skills this summer and enter the academic year feeling more confident about reading!

Read the article  

Meet a PUP dad: Find out how this family supports “readers” at very different stages

June 9th, 2018

Today’s blog highlights a PUP dad, Pavan P. We will be featuring Pavan in a series of blogs over the next few months, as we talk about common family questions around raising successful readers. Thanks in advance to Pavan and his family for sharing their learning-to-read stories!

Pavan and his wife have a 5-year old boy, and an 8-month old girl. Their 5-year old is a skilled reader for his age, but as Pavan explains today and in upcoming posts, that success brings its own challenges. And then there are the 8-month old’s reading-related skill needs, which are also always on Pavan’s mind, and which we will hear more about in other blogs. When we asked Pavan to talk about the readers in his house, he told us about their 5-year old, and that called to mind some things we thought other parents might want to know, too. Read the article  

Storytelling options & brain activity — new research

May 28th, 2018

If you had a 3-5-year old and he wanted to hear a story, which do you think would be best for him?

  • Putting on an audio tape,
  • letting him watch it on a screen, or
  • giving him a digital book to look at, with a recording that reads the words at the same time?

Read the article  

Meet a PUP mom: Hear what’s working and what’s challenging about raising readers

May 18th, 2018

Today’s interview is with Alysia P., the mom of two young readers (5 and 7), and a marketing expert in the Greater Boston area.


1. Tell us about the readers in your house.

My first grader is an avid reader. This is the first year where I have to ask her if we can read together, since she would generally prefer to lose herself in a book on her own. She loves all kinds of books, especially, fiction about animals (it’s amazing how many books there are written from the viewpoint of a hamster!), and non-fiction about the natural world.  My 5-year old is really into funny stories, like Mo Willems and Fly Guy books, and pretty much anything that rhymes.  Read the article  

Why is there all this talk about proficient reading at 3rd grade?

May 5th, 2018

Research shows that children who are strong readers by the end of third grade are more likely to be successful throughout their school years. Most of the children who are struggling readers at this point in elementary school, however, will probably not catch up — not because it’s impossible, but because they would need intensive and appropriate regular instruction by trained specialists, and the motivation  to keep working hard despite feeling not-so-good about reading.

In other words, a negative cycle can occur for children who struggle: 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  

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