Books: The Perfect Gift

Books: The Perfect Gift - Red Apple ReadingIt can be intimidating trying to find the perfect present for every person on our list. Plus, last-minute shopping can often be chaotic – hitting the stores and surfing online can put a damper on the merriest person’s holiday cheer. Look no further. Red Apple Reading has the perfect gift idea for everyone on your list: BOOKS!

  1. Books Provide an Escape – When you give a book you give a vacation. Books are the perfect way to escape our everyday lives and experience something new and different.
  2. Books Engage the Mind – There’s nothing wrong with some occasional mindless entertainment; but books are not only entertaining, they also engage the mind.
  3. Books Keep on Giving – A book is the gift that keeps on giving. You can go back multiple times to a good book and revisit the characters who have become old friends.
  4. Books are a Good Fit – Books are a good fit for everyone. You can always find a book no matter what the gift recipient’s interests. Biographies, novels, cook books, graphic novels… the possibilities are endless!
  5. Books are Inexpensive – Relatively speaking, books are not an expensive gift. Thrifty shoppers can also take advantage of sites such as which often have new or like new books for discounted prices.
  6. Books Communicate Value – When you give a book as a gift, (especially to your children) it communicates that you value reading. It’s important for our kids to understand that we as parents consider reading to be a gift.
  7. Books are Versatile – Books are available in so many forms these days you can easily find the right version for even the pickiest person. My husband is not a big reader but he’s listened to hundreds of audio books on his commute to work over the years. Maybe a subscription to Audible would suit a similar person on your list. Or, if your loved one doesn’t have the space for books, why not give him a Kindle or Nook gift card?
  8. Books are Simple – No special skills are needed to work a book. Anyone who can read can enjoy one. Even children who aren’t yet readers enjoy looking at picture books!
  9. Books are Easy to Wrap – We all know how demoralizing it can be to attempt to wrap a gift that is weirdly shaped. Books are easy. Books are straightforward. Books are easy to wrap.
  10. Books can be Shared – After you read a book you can pass it on for others to enjoy. In fact, a book is one of the few things you can unashamedly re-gift!

It’s pretty easy to see why a book is the perfect present. We’d love to hear about a meaningful book you received as a gift. Leave us a comment below! Merry Christmas from all of us at Red Apple Reading!

Children’s Books About Kindness and Compassion

If you’re less than thrilled with the way you see people interacting with one another these days, you’re not alone. We could all stand to treat one another with a little more consideration! With that in mind, Red Apple Reading has compiled a list of ten children’s books that focus on kindness and compassion.


A Sick Day for Amos McGee  (Philip C. Stead) – Amos McGhee works hard at his job at the zoo, but he always has time and attention to share with his animal friends. One day when Amos gets sick and can’t go to work, his friends come to visit him and show him a little T.L.C.!  Kindergarten – 2nd grade


How to Heal a Broken Wing  (Bob Graham) – When a pigeon breaks its wing, no one seems to notice except a young boy. Will takes the injured bird home and lovingly nurses it back to health. Preschoolers and young elementary student will like this affirming tale.


Unspoken  (Henry Cole) – This beautifully illustrated, wordless picture book delivers a powerful story about compassion. A young farm girl discovers a runaway slave in her family’s barn and brings her food wrapped in a star patterned cloth. The runaway slave eventually goes, but she leaves behind a doll made from the cloth in which the food was covered.  Grades 2 – 4


The Invisible Boy  (Trudy Ludwig) – Nobody at school takes notice of Brian or bothers to include him in their activities. When the new boy, Justin, arrives at school and the kids make fun of his lunch, Brian befriends him. The two boys team up on a class project and Brian’s artistic abilities shine! Six to nine-year-olds will appreciate this story about inclusion.


Enemy Pie  (Derek Munson) – It was shaping up to be the ideal summer – all until Jeremy moved into the neighborhood and became enemy number one. How’s a young boy supposed to get rid of his enemies? Fortunately, Dad has an ingenious plan for just such a problem! It’s tough and involves spending an entire day playing with Jeremy while Dad makes the enemy pie. Five to eight-year-olds will enjoy seeing how this problem is resolved.


Little Bird  (Germano Zullo) – This lovely picture book will delight children and parents alike. The story of a man and a little bird serves to remind readers that small acts of kindness can change lives. A heartwarming book for preschool and early elementary students.


The Name Jar  (Yangsook Choi) – It’s hard being new and having a name nobody seems to be able to pronounce. Unhei considers choosing a new name, but when a classmate visits her neighborhood and learns her real name, the kids in the class encourage her to keep her Korean name. Early elementary age students will enjoy this one!



Each Kindness  (Jacqueline Woodson) – Chloe and her friends refuse to include the new girl, Maya, when she joins the class in the middle of the year. Maya doesn’t have nice clothes and is called “Never New” because she wears second hand clothing. Maya eventually leaves school. When the teacher has a lesson about the power of small acts of kindness, Chloe regrets her behavior toward Maya. This heartbreaking tale will resonate with 2nd – 5th graders.


How Kind!  (Mary Murphy) – When Hen gives Pig a nice present, Pig decides to do something kind for Rabbit, and Rabbit does something kind for Cow. This simple picture book for preschoolers is a great introduction to kindness.


Wonder  (R.J. Palacio) – If you are looking for a book about kindness and compassion for your reader in middle school, look no further. Auggie Pullman has a facial deformity. He’s been homeschooled all of his life but is about to begin 5th grade in public school. This story is told from several different viewpoints, including Auggie, his sister, his sister’s boyfriend , and his friends. This story captures how cruel as well as how kind people can be.


Thankful for Reading

Thankful for ReadingWith the Thanksgiving season at hand, our thoughts naturally turn toward gratitude. No matter our current circumstances we all have something for which to be grateful. In fact, we often take our most precious gifts for granted. For instance, have you ever considered the advantages that being literate affords? Red Apple Reading would like to take time this holiday season to remind our friends what a privilege it is to read!

  • Reading Broadens Horizons – I’m an underfunded traveler, but that doesn’t mean I can’t experience new places and different cultures. I love to read books about people who live in places I’ll never see. My kids may never visit Afghanistan in person, but they can learn a lot about middle-eastern culture by reading Andrew Clements’ Extra Credit (a touching story about an American girl and Afghan boy who become pen pals).
  • Reading Enlarges Your Vocabulary – The exposure we receive to new words radically increases when we regularly read. Thus, reading is a great way to increase one’s vocabulary. So if you have an expansive vocabulary, chances are you have reading to thank!
  • Reading Increases Your Emotional Intelligence – Nothing quite puts you in someone else’s shoes the way reading does. Stories help us view situations from different perspectives. Learning to empathize with others allows us to see beyond ourselves and think big. When my teenager read The Outsiders in 9th grade, she not only experienced a great work of fiction, but she also learned how people from other socioeconomic backgrounds experience life.
  • Reading Improves Brain Function – In a study conducted at Emory University, researchers discovered that, “becoming engrossed in a novel enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function”. Who doesn’t want a better brain? If you want to improve brain function in your kiddos and stay sharp as an adult, pick up a book!
  • Reading Develops Imagination – If you’ve ever bemoaned your child’s lack of creativity, perhaps you should try reading to her. While reading or listening to others read, kids are imagining what the setting and characters look like; they are picturing the plot as it unfolds in their heads. Simply put, reading can help ripen the imagination.
  • Reading Aids in Navigating Life – Perhaps the most important reason we should be thankful for the ability to read is the convenience it affords us as we navigate life. Imagine for a moment your typical day, but without the ability to read. How would you know if you received an urgent piece of mail or help your child with his homework? Reading greatly impacts our everyday life!

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to pause and take stock of the good gifts in our lives. Chances are you’ve probably never thought about incorporating reading into your inventory. When making your list of things to be thankful for this year, don’t forget to include the ability to read!


Want Your Child to Be Creative? Read a Bedtime Story

I’m sure that most of you understand that a bedtime story is not just a story. It is an opportunity to instill creativity in children, and help them develop their decision-making abilities and skills. Reading to kids can also be treated as an instrument to help build their personality and character.

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Improved problem solving skills & creative thinking
Bedtime stories can easily become an educational tool for parents. Focus on reading interesting, catchy stories to instill creativity and put the minds of your little ones to work. Focus on books with unexpected twists, so that you can grab the attention of your child and make them want to know more. Right before the end, make a pause and invite your child to read too. The task won’t be seen a chore, and little by little they will grow fond of reading in their free time.

Improved communication skills
When reading stories to your kids, you have the chance to make the process fun and interactive. Make sessions enjoyable by discussing the storyline and the characters. Keep in mind that when reading, your kids will stumble upon an array of new words and phrases. Pronounce them together, and then ask your child to make a new sentence with a new word. This improves communication and boosts vocabulary.

Increased attention span
A lot of toddlers and preschoolers enjoy bedtime stories because they’re fun, interesting and at the same time educational. As a parent, the best way to do instill creativity is through the use of hand movements and facial expressions. Both reading and listening to catchy stories on a regular basis improves attention span and helps children become active listeners.

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An inspiration source
Many children’s stories offer good moral advice at the end of the book. This can be extremely helpful for kids because meaningful messages instill life skills such as courage, respect, honesty, generosity, and more. Inspiring stories or circumstances might motivate your child to be an excellent human being, chasing success but also having good morals and choosing the right path in doing so.

Logic and comprehension
When small children are exposed to stories that are attention-grabbing, they may develop a sense of logic and deep comprehension that are fundamental in expanding their communication abilities and development. Kids learn the main components of a bedtime story, as well as how to predict what’s happening and how to recall events in a pre-defined sequence. The more you read to them, the better the chances to teach them how to make sense of real-life circumstances using characters that are entertaining and imaginative.

Reading readiness
Bedtime stories prepare kids for reading. This is particularly true when toddlers are in preschool. Their brains are developing at an insane pace and they develop a hunger for knowledge. They want to see and do things, so expose them to books as much as possible. Reading helps develop their comprehension skills. When reading to them before bedtime, invite them to participate, teach them how to pronounce certain words, and expand their vocabulary. This is essential when attempting to turn your child into a bookworm.Image3 - Want Your Child to be Curious? Read a Bedtime Story - Red Apple Reading

Studies have shown that reading stimulates the brain, particularly when that brain is underdeveloped and hungry for information. Choose top books to read before bedtime and get to know more about annual bestsellers to be sure you are giving them the best possible information in the most entertaining way.

Guest post by Steve Brown

Posted in All

Building Your Child’s Vocabulary

Building Your Child's Vocabulary - Red Apple ReadingA robust vocabulary is a vital part of literacy. While a 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 kids will only reap the full benefits if they understand the text. A large vocabulary improves a child’s reading comprehension. So what can you do to help build a child’s vocabulary? Red Apple Reading has a few suggestions!

  • Read – The single most important thing to grow a child’s vocabulary is read to them. Kids will never use a word if they never hear that word. Simply put, reading to your kiddos will expose them to new words.
  • Model – Children pick up on the behaviors and habits (good and bad) of those around them, and vocabulary usage is no exception. When we have an expansive vocabulary our kids will follow suit.
  • Teach Context – When a child is reading a book and comes across a word he doesn’t know, teach him how to use the sentences around the word to clue into its meaning. When kids learn how to use context clues to determine the gist of a word, their vocabulary and reading comprehension will improve.
  • Make a Word Wall – Using a bulletin board, refrigerator, or door in your home, create a wall of words your child has learned or is currently learning and review them frequently. If you need a template to make attractive word cards, check out this Scholastic resource.
  • Use Flash Cards – Flash cards can be particularly helpful when testing kids for upcoming vocabulary tests. The above link for templates can be used for flashcards as well!
  • Sing – I have to admit that my singing voice is less than pleasant! However, my children never seemed to mind when I was off pitch. Singing with our little ones is fun and it also helps to expand their vocabulary. For example, when you sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to your kiddo, you are exposing him to interesting words like twinkle that you may not otherwise use.

There’s a good chance you are already doing many of the things that naturally build vocabulary in children. By implementing a few, new strategies you can give a child’s vocabulary an extra boost! Remember, a healthy vocabulary is a crucial component of literacy; the extra effort really is worthwhile! For more ideas on helping your kiddos improve vocabulary, try these fun vocabulary activities from the National Capital Resource Center.