Resolve to Read!


This month our literacy blog will feature some of excellent books and resources for parents to read and utilize.  I’ve selected these particular books because I have personally gained new and very useful knowledge from each of them both as an educator and parent. In the spirit of honesty, it’s the knowledge I gained as a parent from these resources that I channel into my work in the classroom with children.

A quick point before I share the list. Equally important as reading books with children is the gift of seeing YOU read. Talk about what YOU are reading. Make predictions about how YOUR novel might end. Suggest the motive in a mystery. Question the steps you are following in a recipe or criticize assembly directions for that new holiday gift you just can’t quite figure out yet. 

Literacy skills needed in the 21st century don’t end with the ability to read, write and report on a book. Our children and students, regardless of occupation or hobby, must be fluent in visual and digital literacy as well. The lens they experience their world from is simply different and more sophisticated than it was 20, 10 even 5 years ago. All of the selections below touch, in some way, upon the responsibility we have to ensure students are competent to use the amazing technological resources at their disposal – responsibly.

Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease   51jLGLMXBhL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

This is the BEST gift you could ever give to a new parent! Trelease speaks to the reader in a way that allows you to not feel bad about all the things you think you don’t or didn’t do to foster a love of reading in your child.  In fact he instills a confidence that it is NEVER too late to implement some of his ideas. He carefully covers the roles mothers, fathers, teachers, families and communities play in developing literate readers. The newest edition of his book addresses the impact our digital world has on reading.

When my oldest son was three I thought all was lost because he didn’t want to sit still next to me on the couch as I read to him. That was it, we had no chance. How would he ever make it kindergarten much less consider college? Jim Trelease taught me that we would survive! My son was getting ALL the benefits of my reading with him while he played with his trucks at my feet — and more than that, it was a MUCH more enjoyable experience for both of us.

The link above offers chapter excerpts and fabulous book lists.


Ted Talks: The Power of Introverts

QUIET, the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

FULL DISCLOSURE…I am an introvert.

Susan Cain does a masterful job of dispelling the image of an introvert as someone who never picks their head up, doesn’t like to talk or ever have fun. She distinguishes being shy from being introverted and articulates the attributes introverts have with humor and intelligence.

There is a lot of buzz around collaboration and teamwork. In the private business sector floor plans are redesigned to create openness and accessibility – constant openness and accessibility. Many classrooms are set up to foster group activities and interaction. This is all great stuff! However, some people and students do their best thinking work independently in their own space with time to process and think, really think, about what they are trying to accomplish. We need to make sure we accommodate those needs.

I have attached the link to her Ted Talk on The Power of Introverts, if you have any free time… EVER, to listen to the talk. I am positive you will take away something for yourself, your child, your workplace and your world.



Mindset by Carol Dweck

MINDSET by Carol Dweck a Psychology Professor at Stanford University, explores the intricacies of motivation and success.  She talks about how we as parents and teachers can talk to and create environments for children that encourage confidence and drive in the face of difficulty.

Do you think you can do it if you work hard enough? (GROWTH MINDSET) OR Do you think your successes are, to some extent, predetermined?(FIXED MINDSET).

Click on the link above to listen to her speak about the concept of “not yet”. I love it! How can we send the message to children (and adults) that instead of not mastering something they just haven’t mastered it…yet?


YouTube’s video: The Gift of Failure

A MUST READ…if you are a parent, a teacher or someone who has the slightest interest in human behavior you will not be disappointed with this book.

When onestatic1.squarespace-1.png of my sons was in second grade he left his school folder on the kitchen counter. I briefly debated about what to do. Of course I should bring it to school! He’s only seven and never forgotten anything before. The school even has a special drop off procedure for items like this.

WRONG answer! After reading this book instead of framing my parenting and teaching thoughts with:

YouTube’s video: The Gift of Failure

“What is going to happen to my child – if I don’t help out, come to their rescue or just simply make it easier for them.” I know frame my thoughts with “What will happen to my child if I do help, if I do come to the rescue or if I do just simply make it easier for them?”  

What will happen if I never give them the opportunity to experience failure?


I just finished listening to this on Audible. First, the book itself is amazing. Stocked with real life examples of grit and what it takes to be gritty in life and in the classroom. Angela Duckworth walks you through her research and explains the “grit factor”. I really enjoyed the quizzes included that allow you to determine your own grit factor. Second, I would listen to this while driving. One day I picked up four fourteen year old boys after a high school sports practice. Normally I would turn the radio on when they got in the car but this one time I unintentionally, let the book continue to play. Not one of the boys asked me to turn it off, or made a funny comment or sarcastic remark. In fact, during the ten minute ride home they listened intently as Duckworth discussed grit and the Seattle Seahawks. Maybe that shouldn’t have surprised me…but it did. Since then I leave whatever I am listening to on in the car – you never know when or how lessons can be learned.




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Educational Technology & Mobile Learning

Click here to learn about 5 great Ebook Libraries for Kids

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Resource for Parent Advocates of Struggling Readers

Take a peek at this newly published book  Smart Kid, Can’t Read: 5 Steps Any Parent Can Take to Get Help   written by Lorna Kaufman and co-authors Sandra Doran and Leigh Leveeen.  Kaufman, Doran, and Leveen have worked together for over 30 years helping struggling readers and have provided advice on how parents can advocate for their children.  Order their book through Amazon or Barnes & Nobles.   Smart Kid, Can’t Read is organized into sections corresponding to these five recommended steps:

  1. Act as soon as you suspect a problem
  2. Understand what your child needs
  3. Learn about the reading process
  4. Know your legal rights
  5. Advocate for your child

Kaufman, Doran, and Leveen have also launched a related website Smart Kid, Can’t Read that includes a list of resources that include professional organizations, parent resources, and lists of reading programs.

Kris Zides, Literacy Specialist


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Happy New Year

Welcome Johnson Jaguars to 2017!  

Stay tuned for new and exciting things to hit the Johnson Literacy Blog this year.  We hope you had a Happy and Healthy New Year!  

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Reading Connection Newsletters

Johnson Elementary School’s Reading Connection Newsletter 

Tips for Reading Success

January 2017 Newsletter  (Plan for creative writing with this month’s Book Picks)

December 2016 Newsletter   (Read between the lines with this month’s Playful Activities

November 2016 Newsletter (Using big words with this month’s Book Pics)

October 2016 Newsletter  (Listen and Understand with this month’s Read Aloud favorites)

September 2016 Newsletter   (Fall into Reading with this month’s Book Pics)





Kris Zides, Literacy Specialist


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This Holiday Season Give the Gift of Reading (and Writing)


By the time December vacation rolls around we’re all in need of a well deserved break from school.  As a mom, I remember school work being the last thing my kids wanted to do over their break.  But learning can be wrapped in many colorful packages that don’t have to feel or look like learning.  Here are a few seasonal ways to get your child to read (and write) over winter break without them even knowing it!

Thank You Notes


Sadly, writing thank you notes by hand is a tradition that has begun to disappear. Receiving a thoughtful handwritten thank you note is still the most wonderful way to express gratitude for a thoughtful gift.  Teach your child how to format a thank you letter.  Help them express, in words, how they feel about their gifts.  Let them create their own cards using original artwork.  This personal gesture will be appreciated and your children will have fun doing it!


Have Your Child Help Plan Holiday Activities!

images-4 If  you are fortunate enough to be traveling during your vacation or just looking for things to do around Boston, let your child help with the planning.  Let them look at maps and tourist books in order to read about your destination. What a great way to plan your itinerary together as a family.

If you are staying local, there are tons of things going on around Natick and the City of Boston.  Have your child read the newspaper’s entertainment section or go onto websites that describe the festivities going on in the area.  Your child is guaranteed to be more engaged if they are a part of the planning.

Is the weather outside frightful?  There is nothing more cozy than staying in your pajamas, snuggling under a warm blanket, drinking a cup of hot cocoa, and diving into a good book.  You can read a loud to your child.  Share some of your childhood favorites by letting them know why you loved them so much.  The love of reading is a wonderful tradition to pass down!

Calendar of Eventsimages-5

The holidays are a busy time and life can be full of to-do lists.  Dictate to your child and let them scribe for you.  It’s a helpful skill to write brief notes and assign due dates to tasks.  It’s also satisfying to cross them off once they are accomplished.

Listen, Laugh and Learn

images-6Understandably you might want your child to ‘un-plug’ from technology over vacation.  However, there are times when technology can actually bring families together.  Listening to audio books while traveling in the car, wrapping gifts, or cooking for the holidays is a wonderful way to share the adventure of reading with the whole family.  Listening to a story together allows you the opportunity to talk about a story, ask each other questions, and make predictions.  It is also a way to give your child exposure to a story that might not be accessible on their own.

Be a Holiday Bookworm

images-1Is the weather outside frightful?  There is nothing more cozy than staying in your pajamas, snuggling under a warm blanket, drinking a cup of hot cocoa, and diving into a good book.  You can read a loud to your child.  Share some of your childhood favorites by letting them know why you loved them so much.  The love of reading is a wonderful tradition to pass down!

Scrapbook Your Memories

images-7Creating lasting memories is both creative and satisfying.  Almost every photo website has the opportunity to make digital scrapbooks (or old fashion paper scrapbooks) with your holiday photos.  Sit with your child as you write captions and stories that go with the photos.  This will allow your child to write about their memories and preserve them forever.

Jenn Dannin, M.Ed – Grade 4 Title One

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Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately, quickly, and with expression.  After your child reads the story, ask him/her to evaluate their fluency.

1.  Did I read smoothly and pronounce words correctly?
2.  Did I read sentences in chunks or phrases?
3.  Did I emphasize bold words?
4.  Did I stop at a period?
5.  Did I pause at a comma?
6.  Did I change my voice to show question?
7.  Did I read with excitement at an exclamation point?
8.  Did I read as if someone was speaking?
9.  Did all the sentences make sense to me?
10.  Did I read at a good speed?

Terri Yee (Title I, Grade 2)


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