The Importance of Vocabulary

Importance of VocabularyBeginning in first grade, my kiddos have all had a vocabulary test once a week all the way through elementary school. I would like to have you believe that I’m the world’s greatest mom and relish these opportunities to quiz my little geniuses! But in all honesty, some nights I just don’t want to go through the vocabulary list again. After all, we’ve already tackled spelling and multiplication facts – do we really need vocabulary too? The answer to my own question is a resounding “Yes!” Increasing vocabulary is an essential skill for young readers. Red Apple Reading has some helpful information about the importance of vocabulary and how you can help your little one boost her language skills.

What’s the Big Deal?

You might be wondering what all the vocabulary fuss is about. Does your child really need to know the meaning of all kinds of words?

  • Dictionaries Are Not Always Available  – While dictionaries are wonderful tools (every household should have one) they are not in themselves sufficient for helping our kids develop their language. After all, we do not always have quick access to this resource. And even when a dictionary is available, children may not always take advantage of this luxury.
  • Improved Reading Comprehension – While your child may be able to read a word, it doesn’t necessarily mean she understands the meaning of the word. Reading is an important life skill and your kid will only reap the full benefits if she comprehends the text. A large vocabulary will help to improve your child’s reading comprehension.
  • Self-expression – Vocabulary not only helps our kids academically, it also benefits them socially. When children have a large vocabulary, they are better able to express themselves and be understood by others. In an article for Scholastic, Francie Alexander says, “How many times have you asked your students or your own children to ‘use your words’? When children and adolescents improve their vocabulary, their academic and social confidence and competence improve, too.” A broad vocabulary is a great tool for helping children succeed in social situations.

How Can I Help?

There are several ways that you can help your little one increase his vocabulary!

  • Be a Vocabulary Model – Most of us could never make it in the fashion industry, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be models! Modeling a good vocabulary is a great way to help your kid increase her language skills. Conversing with our children is a natural part of our day. By being intentional in using new words and explaining the meaning of words, we will help our kids boost their vocabulary! Check out this mom’s fun way of modeling vocabulary in What Do We Do All Day.
  • Read – When you read to your child, you are not only spending some great quality time together, but you are also helping her build vocabulary. Regular exposure to the written word is an ideal method for boosting language; and with mom or dad there to explain new words it makes reading that much more meaningful.
  • Teach Context – Teaching our kids how to use context to figure out the meaning of words is an important skill in growing their vocabulary. When your child comes to you with his book asking for the meaning of a word, resist the urge to automatically reply. Instead, teach him to look at the text around the word to find clues to the word’s meaning. This is an invaluable skill for readers of any age and comes in particularly handy when a dictionary is not readily available!

How do you help your kiddo expand his vocabulary? Leave us a comment below – we love to hear your ideas!

What’s New in Children’s Books

Has it been a while since you picked up a new book for your kiddo? While there is certainly nothing wrong with a good classic, sometimes it’s fun to explore recent publications. If you’re wondering what’s new and popular in the children’s book industry, then look no further! Red Apple Reading has been perusing the new releases in children’s books and there’s a lot of good material out there! Take a look at these 10 recently released books for kids – you’re sure to find a story that your child will fall in love with.

Flashlight-680 Flashlight  (Lizi Boyd) – Join a little boy as he explores what’s going on outside in the dark with his flashlight. Young children will love this wordless picture book as they follow the flashlight’s beam to see what the creatures and plants are doing in the dark!



otis and the scarecrowOtis and the Scarecrow (Loren Long) – Otis the lovable tractor is back and this time there’s someone new on the farm – a scarecrow. The other creatures aren’t sure about this new addition to the farm (he never smiles!). See how Otis handles the newcomer with his good natured compassion. A nice read for preschool and early elementary students.



Quest Quest (Aaron Becker) – If your kiddos enjoyed Becker’s book Journey, they are sure to love this second wordless picture book in the series. Two children, taking shelter during a rain shower, are given something from a king who emerges from a secret door. Go on an exciting adventure with this pair in the beautifully illustrated, Quest.



Little owl's day

Little Owl’s Day (Divya Srinivasan) – Preschoolers will enjoy watching Little Owl explore the exciting daytime world that is so different from the night with which he is familiar. A great picture book for parents to enjoy with their little ones!




The smallest girl in the smallest gradeThe Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade (Justin Roberts) – Preschoolers and kindergarten students will like this book with an important message. Sally may be the smallest girl in the smallest grade, but when she stands up to some playground bullies she finds that her big spirit helps to save the day!



jedi-academy-return-of-the-padawanStarWars: Jedi Academy, Return of the Padawan (Book 2) (Jeffrey Brown) – Roan is beginning his second year of Jedi Academy but things aren’t going as smoothly as he had hoped. The older elementary crowd will enjoy this latest installment in the funny Jedi Academy series of books.



DerekJeterTheContract071214The Contract (Derek Jeter) – Fans of New York Yankee great Derek Jeter will want to pick up this book inspired by Jeter’s Little League days. Third grader Jeter has a dream of becoming a shortstop for the New York Yankees. Jeter’s parents make a contract with their son in order to help keep him focused on important things such as school, sportsmanship, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. 8-12 year olds will enjoy this inspiring read!


Greek gods Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods (Rick Riordan) – Best-selling author, Rick Riordan, presents readers with tales from Greek mythology using his own humorous spin. Fans of Riordan’s Percy Jackson series will love this beautifully illustrated book as Mr. Jackson himself is the narrator!



Counting-by-7s Counting By 7’s (Holly Goldberg Sloan) – Recently released in paperback, this Amazon Best Book of the Year 2013 is a great choice for middle school readers. Willow is an unusually intelligent 12-year-old girl who has many obsessions (the number 7 being one of them!). When Willow’s life takes a tragic turn she heals through relationship with a cast of memorable characters.


Rule-of-Thoughts-Cover-Image   The Rule of Thoughts (Mortality Doctrine Book 2) (James Dashner) The famous writer of The Maze Runner has a new series out and book 2 is now available. This exciting sequel to The Eye of Minds will captivate teenagers of the digital generation.

Fall in Love with Reading

Fall in Love With Reading

Fall is here once again! A new school year, changing leaves, football games, and pumpkin pie are just a few of the good things we associate with the change of season. This year why not add reading to your list of fall favorites? If your little ones have lost their love of reading, autumn is the perfect time to rekindle a reading romance. Get ready – It’s time to “fall” in love with reading!


  1. Shade Tree Reading – One of the best things about the fall season is the reds, yellows, and oranges of the changing leaves. Enjoy nature’s beauty and a good book this autumn. Grab a blanket and book and settle in under the prettiest tree in the park. By the way, I hear a shade tree is also a great place to grab a nap as well!
  2. Football-Themed Books – Nothing signals the commencement of fall like the beginning of football season. If your little one is a football fan encourage his interest with a football-themed book. Check out this list of fun books about football from Fantastic Fun and Learning.
  3. Cocoa and a Book- Sometimes a cold snap accompanies the autumn season. If your neck of the woods experiences an unseasonably chilly day, have some indoor fun at your local bookstore. Peruse the bookshelves with your kiddo then enjoy a hot cup of cocoa together afterwards! An occasional visit to the bookstore (along with some special time with mom and dad) will go a long way in encouraging your kiddo to read.
  4. Reading in the Woods – Would your child rather ramble around outside instead of reading a book? Then sneak a little reading into her day! Pick up a field guide from the local library and head out into the woods. Have your child identify the leaves and read descriptions from the guide aloud to you. She’ll be having so much fun she won’t realize she’s met her daily reading quota!
  5. Camp Fire and a Spooky Story! – Nothing beats roasting marshmallows over a camp fire in the fall. Campfires also make the perfect backdrop for a spooky story. Check out a scary story from the library and read it aloud to the kiddos while sitting around the fire. If your little ones don’t enjoy a good scare, then choose a fall-themed book to read instead. The fire will warm their bodies and the book will warm their heart!

Red Apple Reading wishes you and your family a wonderful autumn! Be sure to make the most of your fall and add a hardy dose of reading to your child’s plate. Once they’ve developed a taste for the written word they will be reading all year long!

Reading: It’s Never Too Early!

If you are a parent of young children, you may be wondering about the role reading should play in your child’s daily routine. After all, most kids don’t become independent readers until they reach elementary school. However, that doesn’t mean that parents should wait until their children are school-age to emphasize the importance of literacy. It is never too early to teach your child the value of reading! Red Apple Reading has some helpful hints for developing literacy skills in each stage of early childhood development.


  • Start Reading Day One! – Don’t feel silly reading aloud to your newborn. He may not understand what you are saying, but he is enjoying hearing your voice and having a cuddle. Eventually he will begin to associate reading with these things and consequently develop positive feelings about books!
  • Buy Baby-Friendly Books – Does it seem like your baby spends more time chewing on her book than looking at it? This is completely normal! Babies learn about their world by exploring it orally -“What does this taste like?”, “This is soft”, “This is hard!”, “This is cold”, etc. At this stage, books should be made of durable material (think board, plastic, or cloth) and easy to clean. When reading material is baby-friendly, mom doesn’t have to worry about her little one tearing pages or ruining the book with drool!


  • Model Reading – It’s important for little Reading: It's Never Too Early!ones to not only be read to, but to also see the adults in their lives reading! If Mommy and Daddy are sitting down and reading a book, newspaper, or magazine, it must be a good thing to do!
  • Bedtime Reading – Make sure to continue reading aloud to your older baby. Even if you don’t get to read every word because your toddler insists on turning the page, she will still get the benefit of being exposed to books. Reading before bedtime is a wonderful ritual. Listening to a book will help your toddler settle down for the evening and give Mom and Dad the opportunity to sneak in a snuggle!


  • Play With Letters – When your child reaches the preschool stage, it’s time to begin learning letters. However, this doesn’t mean it’s time for mom to break out the flash cards and start quizzing junior! Preschoolers learn best through play. Fortunately, letter manipulatives for children are easy to find. Letter magnets for the refrigerator can be found at most any dollar store. Cookie cutters in the shape of letters can be used with PlayDough. Letters cut from old magazines can be used to make collages. As your kiddo plays with letters he will become familiar with them and learn to identify them.
  • Choose Educational Shows – The amount of screen time for preschoolers should be limited. When they are allowed to watch television, choose programs that are engaging and have educational value. For instance, PBS offers a variety of programs that encourage children to read. WordGirl, Super WHY!, and Sesame Street are just a few shows that teach while entertaining.
  • Read Aloud – So by now you’ve noticed that every stage of development has included being read aloud to. That’s not a mistake! When reading time is a priority in the daily schedule, kids will understand that reading is worthwhile! By the way, even when your kids start school and become independent readers, they will still enjoy being read to and you will still enjoy it too!

Red Apple Reading is dedicated to improving childhood literacy. Learning to value reading at a young age is a big part of developing that skill. Why not visit our website and learn more about our awesome on-line reading program? Even if your child is currently too young to enjoy its benefits, you can file it away for future reference!

Celebrate National Literacy Month!

Celebrate National Literacy Month - Red Apple Reading

September is National Literacy Month. Webster’s Dictionary defines literacy as “the ability to read and write”. Unfortunately, most of us take this important skill for granted! According to Unesco Institute for Statistics, 781 million adults – 2/3 of whom are women – cannot read or write. So if you know how to read and write, you really have a reason to celebrate!

How can you encourage your kids to commemorate National Literacy Month? Red Apple Reading has 10 suggestions to make September a fun month-long tribute to the written word!

  1. Write a Story – Encourage your children to get their creative juices flowing by penning their own story. If your kiddo is too young to write, let them dictate their tale and then add their own pictures.
  2. Visit the Library – What better way to celebrate National Literacy Month than with a trip to the library? Your kids don’t have a library card? No problem! September is also National Library Card Sign-Up month. Hit your local library and check out a good book.
  3. Work a Crossword – Reading is not the only way to interact with words. Buy a crossword or word search book for your little one. Better yet – create your own! Visit the Discovery Education website to make your own puzzle for free.
  4. Read to Your Child – If you think reading aloud is something you only do for little kids, think again! Children of all ages enjoy being read to. Pick a book that the whole family will enjoy and take turns reading to one another each night of September.
  5. Learn About an Author – Pay tribute to an author this National Literacy Month. Have your child research one of their favorite writers. You never know – learning about an author’s background may inspire your kid to become a writer as well.
  6. Find a Pen Pal – Writing letters may seem a bit old-fashioned, but it’s actually a great way for your little one to practice her writing skills. Check into finding a pen-pal for your child – her writing will improve and she will make a new friend in the process.
  7. Help an Emerging/Struggling Reader – Helping a struggling or emerging reader is a great way to give back to the community. Encourage your children to help younger siblings or friends at school with their reading. Parents can contact their local library or community E.S.L. (English as a Second Language) program to see if they are looking for reading tutors.
  8. Create a Writing/Reading Center – Creating a special place in your home for reading and writing shows your kids that you value literacy. Set up a family literacy center for your household. Magazines, books, colorful pens, paper, and markers set strategically in a room invite children to practice their reading and writing skills (but they’ll just think they’re having fun!)
  9. Play Word Games – Boggle, Scrabble, and Bananagrams are just a few fun games that encourage literacy. Visit a store near you and see what literacy promoting games are available. Your kids can sharpen their literacy skills while having a good time!
  10. Hold a Family Poetry Reading – Spend a Saturday night in September reading poetry together. Have everyone pick a favorite poem or two and read it aloud to the family. This will not only help children improve their fluency but may also spark a passion for poetry!