How Dr. Seuss Can Help Your Early Reader

If you have a school age child, there’s a good chance he celebrated Read Across America last week at school. This yearly reading initiative also includes the observance of Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2. Beloved author, Theodor Seuss Geisel, was born in 1904 and wrote 44 children’s books in his lifetime. Most of us grew up reading these wacky tales and have at least a few Dr. Seuss books in our own home libraries for our children. Parents know how much fun these books are, but many don’t realize their value as early readers for their kids. So what makes Dr. Seuss books such a great choice for early readers?

We all love those wonderful rhymes that Dr. Seuss was such a master at creating. Did you know those simple rhyming texts are actually more than entertaining? Before a child learns to read, she must understand that words are made up of different sounds and the manipulation of these sounds creates words. Hearing rhymes helps our little ones develop an ear for words with similar sounds.

Appreciation for Poetry
An exposure to rhyming texts early in a child’s life may spark an interest in poetry. While there’s no guarantee that reading rhyming stories will develop an appreciation for poetry, it does stand to reason that there’s a better chance it will if they are regularly presented with the opportunity.

It can be challenging to get some kids interested in reading because they consider it tedious or too much like work. Dr. Seuss books are a great choice for reluctant emergent readers because they are anything but boring. The wild and wacky tales that unfold when children open a book by Dr. Seuss captures their imagination right away, helping them to stay engaged. Another perk of Seuss stories is their colorful and crazy illustrations!

Easily Committed to Memory
When my children were very young, I would read Dr. Seuss’s ABC book to them. After all these years I can still recall parts of that book, “Big A, little a. What begins with A? Aunt Annie’s Alligator, A A A”.  Children also easily recall these short rhythmic passages. Once committed to memory, children feel they know these stories and can “read” them for themselves while turning pages. This type of practicing instills a love of literacy at a young age.

Sight Words
Sight words are words that are used commonly throughout texts we read every day. You’ve probably practiced these words with your early elementary aged child during homework time. Many of Dr. Seuss’s books contain a prolific amount of sight words. The Cat in the Hat, for example, is full of common words that children need to readily recognize.

Nonsense Words
Dr. Seuss books are also full of funny, nonsense words. These made-up words will make your kid giggle as well as aid her reading development. Unlike sight words, nonsense words aren’t immediately recognizable and must be sounded out. This “sounding out” practice helps children learn how to put letters together to form words.

If you have an early reader in your home, then these books are (ahem…) just what the doctor ordered. Not only are they great reading tools, but they are also great fun! Take a copy off of your shelf today and enjoy a little wacky reading with your kiddo!


Children’s Biographies of African Americans

February has been a busy month. We celebrated Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, and even Library Lovers Month! We would be amiss if we failed to give Black History Month its due as well. As Black History Month is coming to a close, we would like to share ten biographies regarding some well-known, as well as a few lesser-known, African Americans. We think both you and your children will find them inspiring.

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist (Cynthia Levinson)
Although Audrey Faye Hendricks was just a little girl, she knew she could do her part to further civil rights for African Americans in the South. Hendricks was one of the many kids to participate in the Children’s March in Birmingham, Alabama. She was only 9 years old when she was arrested for taking part in the protest. (Elementary School)


Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe (Deborah Blumenthal)
Ann grew up sewing with her mother and grandmother and eventually took over the family business at the age of sixteen. Pursuing her passion for fashion wasn’t easy. She had to study alone when she attended a segregated design school in New York. Ann would go on to design beautiful gowns for scores of women, including Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress! (Elementary School)

Strong Inside (Young Readers Edition): The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line (Andrew Maraniss)
Sports fans will enjoy this inspirational story about Perry Wallace – the first African American to play college basketball in the Southeastern Conference. Kids will discover the many hardships and fearful events that Perry endured in the deeply segregated south in order to play basketball for Vanderbilt University. (Middle and High School)

With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School (Suzanne Slade)
Booker T. Washington is a familiar name in black history. This story recounts an important aspect of Washington’s life that is not as well-known as other portions. Children will learn how Washington actually built his own school for students in Tuskegee who were eager to receive an education. (Elementary School)

Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson (Sue Stauffacher)
Althea Gibson was the first African American to both participate in and win the Wimbledon, but when she was a young girl, many thought she was just trouble. Spirited children will enjoy seeing this young girl reach her full potential. (Elementary School)

Who Was Frederick Douglass? (April Jones Prince)
Kids will enjoy learning about famous 19th century abolitionist Frederick Douglass. This book details important moments in Douglass’ life while he was in slavery and after he escaped to the North and gained his freedom. (Upper Elementary and Middle School)

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills (Renee Watson)
Singer Florence Mills may not be very well-known today, but she was an important part of the Harlem Renaissance. This famous Broadway entertainer was dedicated to supporting fellow black performers and their civil rights. Children will love the beautiful illustrations that accompany this inspiring story. (Early Elementary School)

Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop: Slave-Explorer (Heather Henson)
Stephen Bishop was an expert on Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. He was a tour guide who knew the intricacies of the world’s largest cave system. Yet this intelligent man was a slave who gave tours for his master’s profit. While not a lot is known about Bishop, this biography gives children a glimpse of his intellect and resilience. (Early Elementary School)

Trombone Shorty (Troy Andrews)
Kids will enjoy this autobiography about trombone prodigy Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. Born in New Orleans, Andrews loved music and taught himself how to play trombone with a discarded, beat up instrument that was twice as long as he was tall. (Elementary School)

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (Chris Barton)
Children will receive an in-depth look at the Reconstruction era in this biography about John Roy Lynch. Lynch went from being a slave to a state representative all within ten years. A great book about a remarkable man! (Elementary School)

We hope you enjoy these titles African-American biographies. Interested in other books for children? Visit our Pinterest board, Nothing But Books for Kids, for more book selections for children.


Library Themed Books for Kids

You may not realize it, but February is Library Lovers’ Month. We can’t think of a better time to celebrate the love of libraries than in the month that is already associated with love – thanks to Valentine’s Day! If your child’s love for the library has grown a little cold as of late, we suggest picking up one of these books to help renew her affection for this beloved institution. We have a feeling your kid will love these stories about libraries!

Library Mouse (Daniel Kirk)

Sam is a mouse who lives in the library. He sleeps during the day and comes out in the evening to read the books. Sam eventually pens his own stories and becomes rather popular among the library patrons. Find out how this little mouse inspires all kids to be writers. (Preschool-4th grade)




Stella Louella’s Runaway Book (Lisa Campbell Ernst)

Stella Louella is frantic. She can’t find her library book and it’s due at 5:00. Anyone who has ever desperately searched for a library book can relate to this tale about a little girl who finally locates her missing volume (with a little help from the people in town). (Preschool-3rd grade)



Homer the Library Cat (Reeve Lindbergh)

Homer is a quiet cat who lives in a quiet house with a quiet lady. When he goes in search of his owner one day, he finds that she works in the perfect quiet place – the library! (Preschool-3rd grade)




Library Lion (Michelle Knudsen)

Miss Merriweather is a librarian who is a stickler for following the rules. However, when a lion strolls into the library one day, no one knows quite what to do – there are no rules about lions in the library! It turns out that this lion is a pretty good library patron, but what happens when helping someone requires him to a break a rule? (Preschool-3rd grade)



Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library (Barb Rosenstock)

Thomas Jefferson loved to read. In fact, he collected three major libraries in his lifetime! Children will learn all about Jefferson’s passion for books in this very interesting true story which contains several interesting facts and quotes about Jefferson’s life. (1st-5th grade)



Biblioburro (Jeanette Winter)

This heartwarming tale from Columbia about a traveling library is based on a true story. Luis has too many books in his house! He decides to share his books with others and creates a traveling library using his two burros, Alfa and Beto, for help! (1st-4th grade)



The Lonely Book (Kate Bernheimer)

Once upon a time, there was a new book that was checked out often and loved by many children. Over time, the book faded and the children were no longer as enamored with it as they once were. Will this lonely book find someone to cherish it again? This is a sweet read kids are sure to love! (Preschool – 3rd grade)



The Midnight Library (Kazuno Kohara)

Young children will love this story about a special library that is only open from midnight until dawn. The little girl librarian has three helpful owl assistants who help her serve the many needs of her animal library patrons! (Preschool-1st grade)



Librarian on the Roof! (M.G. King)

RoseAleta is determined to show the children in Lockhart, Texas that the Dr. Eugene Clark Library isn’t just for adults. In this true story kids will learn how RoseAleta raised money to add a children’s section to the library. (1st-3rd grade)




The Librarian from the Black Lagoon (Mike Thaler)

Mrs. Beamster is the school librarian but she’s known by the pupils at school as “The Laminator”.  When students are scheduled to visit the library one day, will all the horror stories about their librarian be realized? This funny book is a good reminder that we shouldn’t always believe everything we hear! (2nd-5th grade)



Don’t miss your chance this month to celebrate libraries with one of these great books!


Fun Ways to Celebrate Presidents’ Day

Many of us are enjoying a long weekend since Presidents’ Day is this Monday.  While our federal government officially calls this American holiday “Washington’s Birthday”, it has come to be recognized as a time to pay tribute to both past and present presidents. How is your family spending this holiday? Red Apple Reading has some ideas for celebrating Presidents’ Day with your family.

Read – Reading is always a good way to celebrate a special occasion! Take a look at this list we compiled a few years ago: Perfect Reads for Presidents’ Day.

Presidential Fun Facts – Check out this video from with fun presidential facts. Who knew Calvin Coolidge had a pygmy hippo?

Dinner Discussion – If your family is like mine, dinner is one of the few times that everyone is together. Take advantage of this time by steering the discussion toward presidential issues. For instance, have everyone complete this statement: “If I were President, I would…”

List the Presidents – Most people know that Washington was our first president and Lincoln was our 16th, but what about the others? Take time this weekend to learn all the presidents in order! Need a little help? Check out this song!

Presidential Word Search – See which family member can complete this presidential word search the fastest!

Patriotic Snack Time – Create this yummy flag fruit dessert from Family Fresh Meals. Be sure to take a picture of your completed creation before the kids devour it. Snacks this delicious don’t last long!

Scrambled President – You might as well sneak a little word work into the holiday! Have your children compete to see who can make the most words from the letters in the word, President.

Get Crafty – Get a little crafty this Presidents’ Day with this cute presidential creation from Eberhart’s Explorers. Your kiddo will enjoy constructing their very own George Washington portrait using minimal crafting materials.

Write a Letter – Children can write their very own letter to the President. Follow the directions on this website.

Perhaps you’ve never considered how you could celebrate Presidents’ Day with the family. By simply planning a few small activities you can make the holiday a special time for the entire family! Happy Presidents’ Day from Red Apple Reading!


Literacy Crafts for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that just begs you to break out the glue, construction paper, and scissors and get crafty. Here at Red Apple Reading we think the only thing better is mixing in a little literacy with the craft! After all, you might as well sneak a bit of learning into the fun. This year why not try out one of these literacy friendly Valentine crafts with your kiddo?


Beaded Name Hearts
This Valentine craft from Fun-A-Day encourages literacy as well as fine motor skills. Kids arrange pony beads into fun patterns and thread their name into this cute creation. All parents need to provide are multi-colored beads, letter beads, and pipe cleaners.

Conversation Heart Letters
What’s Valentine’s Day without those sweet conversation hearts? Small children will get a kick out of practicing their letters with this classic candy. Kids place the candy hearts onto the letters to create a yummy alphabet. Visit TotSchooling to download their free conversation heart Valentine’s printables today!

Write a Valentine Letter
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to pen a letter to someone you love. Encourage your child to write a letter to a special person in his life listing all the things they love about him or her. Afterwards, supply your kiddo with markers, stickers, glitter, etc. to decorate their note.

Jar of Hearts
Your child will create her very own jar of hearts with this special Valentine’s Day writing activity.  Whether she chooses to write down the things she appreciates or people she loves, she will end feeling grateful for all the good stored up in her jar. This free download is available from Inspired Elementary.

The Sweetest Thing Writing Activity
This Valentine’s Day inspired writing activity comes from The Applicious Teacher. Children write about their sweet acts then display them on a homemade heart or chocolate kiss. Visit the website for instructions on how to assemble this craft and to purchase additional printables to expand the writing project.

Valentine’s Card Sentence Scramble
Who doesn’t like to receive cards on Valentine’s Day? Your child can create this adorable folding caterpillar card for someone special in his life. Have him unscramble the words to discover the message, then place each word on a different section of the caterpillar. When the card is unfolded this message appears: “Valentine, I’m buggy for you”. Visit Scholastic for instructions.

Valentine Book Marks
Let your little one create a Valentine-themed book mark. Simply provide cardstock, markers, stickers, and ribbon. After she completes her creation, present her with a new Valentine-themed book to go with the bookmark.

K is for Kiss
If your child is currently learning her letters, she will enjoy making this “K is for Kiss” craft. The end result (a googly eyed chocolate kiss) is adorable! Visit Our Crafts-N-Things to view this cute project.

The Day it Rained Hearts Craft
This craft is based on the book, The Day it Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond. Your kiddo will love the finished creation with red felt hearts falling from tissue paper clouds and blue yarn rain woven through gray cardstock. Of course, you’ll also want to read the book that inspired this craft! Check out the instructions at I Heart Crafty Things.

Love Monster Paper Bag Puppet
Here’s another goody from I Heart Crafty Things! If your child is familiar with the book Love Monster by Rachel Bright, he’s sure to enjoy this fun art project. This simple craft only requires a paper bag, red construction paper, glue, and a little cardstock. When he’s finished he’ll have his very own Love Monster puppet! Read Love Monster today!

Get crafty this Valentine’s Day with an art project that combines the two great L’s – Literacy and Love. When you make one of these crafts with your kids, we have a feeling that you will be speaking their love language!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Red Apple Reading.