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Do you let your children help out with big jobs such as
doing the laundry or caring for pets? If so, then they are learning important
skills that can assist them in all areas of life! Although it may seem easier
to do a task yourself, The National Association for the Education of Young
Children (NAEYC) explains in its
article Big Jobs at Home that asking
your child to help you gives them the opportunity to learn to “work with other
people, solve problems, compromise, and contribute to their family.”
Big Jobs at home can teach your child important skills.
Learn more about the benefits of asking your child to help
out - visit NAEYC for Families’ article Big Jobs at Home. http://ht.ly/pdgEq
As the leaves begin to turn beautiful shades of orange, red,
and yellow, and the days get a little cooler, you may begin looking for more
things to do at home. If your children are learning their alphabets, this is a
great list to help entertain and teach your children on rainy afternoons!
Indoor alphabet activities for rainy days!
1. A is for Alphabet Soup - Bob Books Blog
Not quite soup, but definitely filled with
alphabets – this Alphabet Soup will help your kids start to learn their ABC’s
faster than you can cool off your cocoa! An activity you can do with older
preschool-age kids, the soup is made from everyday items and objects you have
around your house! This blog post has a few more alphabet games to play. Take a
Mr. Shark Alphabet Chomper Game - I Heart Crafty Things
Shark week may be over, but that doesn’t
mean a shark can’t enjoy an alphabet or two. This educational activity will
have your kids giggling and learning in no time – alphabets beware!
3. Alphabet Mail Activity - No Time for Flashcards
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE
receiving mail. It’s a lost art now that we have email, but it is oh so fun to
receive a package or a letter. Experience the magic of mail again through
pretend playing the Alphabet Mail Activity with your child.
4. Alphabet Swat - Hands On As We Grow
My child has a lot of energy, and she loves
to swat things. When I found this activity by Hands On As We Grow, I was very
excited. Why not take all that energy she has and help her learn her
alphabets? Join the fun! Swat those alphabets!
5. Alphabet Rocks - I Am Momma – Hear Me Roar
At our house, we love rocks. My daughter can’t walk outside without grabbing a rock or two. If you’re like me, you may have a few rocks sitting around your house, too. Why not use the rocks and place alphabets on them? Check out Alphabet Rocks by I Am Momma – Hear Me Roar to find out how you can help your child learn their alphabets by playing with rocks!
children need more help with their alphabets, we recommend My First Bob Books
– Alphabet. My First Bob Books – Alphabet guides children progressively
introduces the 26 letters of the alphabet through engaging, read-aloud stories.
With Bob Books, your child can learn to read while enjoying a story.
As parents, we are so excited when our child (or children) learn to read, because we know we are setting them on the path to success in life. We know how critical reading is for progress in school, and beyond. Reading is also a pleasure, and learning to read opens the door to fantasy, imagination, and all the world’s information. That may not mean much to a young child.
The beauty of Bob Books is that they help your child learn to read, while telling a funny, entertaining, satisfying story right here and now. Your child will laugh at Mat sitting on Sam and be amused by Cat’s funny hat. Bob Books not only helps your child learn to read, they tell a real story, with a real plot and characters your child will like.
Ask your child to share with you the discoveries she makes while reading. What happens? Why? Can your child tell you? I bet she can! So, enjoy knowing that while your child is enjoying reading a fun book, they’re also making strides along the path to success.
For more tips on how you can help your child learn to read, visit our YouTube Channel: Tips for Learning to Read with Bob Books
Resources to prepare your child for preschool.
It's that time again. Back to school time. For some parents, it may be preschool time -- a potentially difficult and emotional experience for both parent and child. Preschool is a child's first step on their academic journey and a parent's first step towards letting go. In preparation for this big day, here are four great resources on how to prepare yourself and your toddler for preschool:
1. Preschool Prep: How to Prepare Your Toddler for Preschool by Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families
According to Zero to Three, you should keep your getting ready efforts "low key." They suggest keeping the experience fun and educational by using "pretend play to explore the idea of preschool," reading books about preschool, making a game out of practicing self-help skills, and taking your child for a visit at their new preschool so you can play together and tour the school before they start.
In addition to "Fun Ways to Get Ready for Preschool," the Zero to Three article covers "Responding to your Child's Worries," "The Preschool Countdown: What to do and When," and "Saying a Good Good-Bye."
2. Preparing for Preschool by Parents.com
In Parents.com's Preparing for Preschool, parents are given helpful hints and ideas on "how to prepare your toddler for his time away and how to ease the adjustment." There are five informational articles:
3. How to Prepare Your Child for Preschool by BabyCenter.com
BabyCenter's Preschool section is another excellent place to start learning how to prepare your child for preschool. This section includes: "Finding a Great Preschool," "Preschool Readiness," and "Working with Preschool Teachers." After you read through the site, you can also reach out and talk to other moms sending their children to school on their community forum.
4. Preparing for Preschool by Scholastic.com
Scholastic.com has an extensive Preschool page filled with articles that help parents make their child's transition easy. The Preschool page includes: "Preparing for Preschool," "Getting Involved," "What to Expect," and "Books and Reading."
We hope these resources are helpful as you prepare for your child's first day of school! If you have any ideas, suggestions, or experiences that you would like to share, please email us at email@example.com.
P.S. Reading with your child is a great way to prepare your child for preschool! We have a great selection of books for your future (or current) preschooler! Take our BookFinder quiz to find out which books are good for you and your child!
Raising kids can be a lot of work – and a lot of fun. Each day we get to make the choice whether we’re going to find the play in our day and laugh with our kids; or whether it will be a struggle.
My desire for myself, and my commitment to our Bob Books readers, is to make your child’s first steps into reading as playful as possible, full of humor, tenderness, bonding, and success.
With a few cheerful, funny rhymes, you are helping your child build the basics of reading, especially phonemic or phonologic awareness. Your child’s ability to hear the sounds in a word is important to beginning reading. Children who have well-developed phonologic awareness when they come to school have a head start making sense of
how sounds and letters operate in print.
So have fun, enjoy your day and your family, play rhyming games with your kids, and share Bob Books Rhyming Words to give your kids a great start in reading.
Ask your kids for a word,
It can be absurd,
Funny is preferred!
What’s the best one you’ve heard?
Your kids will shout “Yay!”
So don’t delay
It will brighten their day,
What a great way to play.
Adding a rhyme,
Sharing your time,
Can make your heart chime.
You will find it sublime!
In celebration of the Bob Books Rhyming Words release, we are excited to share a Rhyming Words Game with you!
This is a rhyming card from rhyming game "Rhyme Fish." Click the picture to go to Rhyme Fish cards.
"Rhyme Fish" is a game based on, and has the same rules as, the popular game "Go Fish." It will help your child learn to match rhyming words while learning to read and having fun!
Download Bob Books Rhyme Fish Cards here.
Print onto card stock, cut cards apart.
Shuffle the cards, or at least mix them up.
Four cards are dealt to each player if there are three to four players. With two players, five cards are dealt to each. (NOTE: Cards can be awkward for small hands. To make the game easier, the child lay the cards flat, but hidden from partners. )
Place all remaining cards face down in a pile.
Everyone looks at their cards (make sure each person has the right amount of cards).
Choose a player to go first.
The player going first will request a word that matches the rhyming word in their hand. For instance, if they have the word "men" they will say, "Dad, please give me your cards that rhyme with "Hen.”
DAD HAS A CARD THAT RHYMES
If dad has a card that rhymes with "Hen", he must give all his card to the player.
The player who received the rhyming word card gets another turn.
DAD DOES NOT HAVE A CARD THAT RHYMES
If Dad does not have a rhyming word card that matches, then dad says "Rhyme Fish."
The player requesting the rhyming word must choose a card from the top of the pile.
WHO GOES NEXT
Rotate turns around the circle.
WHEN A PLAYER COLLECTS A SET OF TWO RHYMING WORDS
When a player collects a pair of rhyming words, they should show the set to the other players and place the cards down in front of them. If a player is dealt a pair of rhyming words in their starting hand, they show the pair and place the cards in front of them.
A player will win when a player has no cards let in their hand or there are no cards left in the pile. The winner is the player who has the most rhyming pairs.
Expect to coach your child when you start. Rhyming out of context can be confusing. Initially, ask "What rhymes with 'hen?'" Talk about any rhymes. Then ask if your child has a rhyming card in their hand.
Especially when kids are getting started, the point is to HAVE FUN! Don't worry about winning until your child feels very comfortable with finding rhymes. This game is terrific for building phonemic awareness, and it's fun to watch your child learn!
Have fun, and happy rhyming!
P.S. If you have a fun rhyming game you’d like to share, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Enter our Rhyming Words Giveaway for a chance to win Bob Books Rhyming Words!
Bob Books Rhyming Words
Who: 2 lucky winners will win a set of Bob Books Rhyming Words!
What: Bob Books Rhyming Words features ten little books, with one word family per book. It contains one syllable, easy-to-sound-out words, fun and cheerful illustrations, plus forty word family puzzle cards. Rhyming Words is great for a child who has read Bob Books Set 1 and needs more practice with very simple stories with short (C-V-C) words and limited vocabulary.
When: August 19 to August 25, 11:59 PM EST
Why: To celebrate our new addition Rhyming Words and our lovely readers!
Where: If the giveaway below does not appear, please click here to enter: Rhyming Words Giveaway Rhyming Words Giveaway
Please note: Giveaway is for US Residents only. Giveaway ends August 25, 11:59 PM EST. Winners will be notified within 48 hours of giveaway completion.
The time is here
to spread some cheer.
Rhyming week is finally near.
Let's have some fun
with every one.
We have great plans
for lucky fans!
Bob Books Rhyming Words for beginning readers
Hello, Bob Books Blog Readers! We are so pleased to announce Rhyming Week! Next week, we will be celebrating the launch of our new book Bob Books Rhyming Words by writing in rhyme all week long on all of our social media channels, giving away Rhyming Words Books to 2 lucky winners, and posting a fabulously, fun rhyming words card game on our blog!
Want to win Bob Books Rhyming Words? Come back to our blog on Monday, August 19, to enter into our Rhyming Words Giveaway!
Want to rhyme with us? Let us know! Join in the Rhyming fun by posting rhymes and pictures using the hashtag #RhymingWeek!
The Maslens, authors of Bob Books, believe that reading should be an engaging and enjoyable experience for children and parents. “Children want to please you, and they want to be successful,” Lynn explains. “They just need the right tools.” Bob Books are terrific tools. They are a first reader series designed to make learning to read easy and fun.
Many moms use Bob Books in conjunction with activities to spark an interest in reading. In addition to the beginning reader activities we have listed on our activities page, here are some examples from moms in the blogosphere:
Bob Books Fishing Game by Teaching Mama
1. Fishing for Bob Books
Teaching Mama created a fun Bob Books fishing game for her beginning readers. She made a fishing pole out of a stick and added string and a magnet. They reviewed their letters, turned them over and started to fish for them! For more information on this game visit: Fishing for Bob Books
2. Bob Books and Dry Erase Pockets
Montessori Messy had an amazing idea when she placed Bob Books Printables inside dry erase pockets and had her child trace them – an easy way to make learning fun! To learn more, visit Montessori Messy’s post: Bob Books and Dry Erase Pockets by Montessori Messy
3. Fun with Playdough
We loved Cube2Farm’s Playdough letter tracing idea. Cube2Farm had her daughter spell words from Bob Books Printables with playdough “snakes.” It was a creative way to engage her child and encourage her to read. Although Cube2Farm is no longer blogging, you can find the printables to letter trace with playdough at In Lieu of Preschool's Blog: In Lieu of Preschool's Bob Book's Printables
For more Bob Books Activities, visit our activities page!
Do you have any fun projects with Bob Books? We’d love to hear about them!
How do you know when your child is ready to start using Bob Books? We jokingly answer, “When they stop eating them.” My daughter, a reader in training, loves to devour knowledge. Literally. She will grab her Bob Books, scatter them on the floor, and shove one (or two) into her drooly, happy mouth. If I’m lucky, I can grab the books away, but teeth marks are in abundance on our copies.
We are currently reading the My First Bob Books - Pre-Reading Skills set together. These books are for parents to read to their kids. (When she’s ready, my daughter will read Set 1 to me – but we’re not there yet.) Bob Books Pre-Reading Skills teaches children early literacy skills such as recognizing shapes, sorting, patterns and sequencing . My daughter loves them. Her eyes light up, then she reaches her little arms up and out, grabs a hold of the box, opens it, and scatters the books around the room.
My daughter’s favorite pre-reading activity was scattering the books around the room until we learned to choose one book and read it together.
I’ve learned, in order to not overwhelm my daughter (and myself!), I show her the books one by one, instead of giving her the whole box. If we have just one, it is easier for her to focus.
We now have a routine. We take out one book, find a cozy place to sit, and read together. Because she is still very young, I read to her and point out the various shapes on the page. When I’m finished with the page, I stop, name a shape, and ask her to point it out to me. I’m happy to report that she can find a circle, a square, and a triangle with increasing accuracy! I’ve supplemented the hints at the front of each book with my own games that are just right for my daughter.
Have you used My First Bob Books (either Pre-Reading Skills or Alphabet) with your child? If not, now is a great time to start!
Flashcards are a terrific way to help your beginning reader learn sight words – words that appear frequently in the English language and should be read “on sight” to improve fluency, such as was, saw, he, she and is.
Flashcard activities work best when you do them together. This helps
with learning and also builds a warm connection between you and your
child. An important thought when teaching reading is that you want your
child to love to learn. Flashcards should be an enjoyable game and
learning tool, not a testing device that stresses out your child.
Start out by encouraging your child to feel ownership of the flashcards by letting him (or her) hold and play with the cards. If you are
worried about your child looking at them too much or memorizing them all
by themselves – rejoice. That is the point!
Once your child is ready to share, spend some time together looking at both sides of the cards. The flashcards in Bob Books Sight Words
have a sight word on one side, and a sentence in which the word is used
on the reverse. You can read the sentence together to learn the sight
word, then flip the card over to review it.
One of my favorites activities is writing a story together. Start out
with several subjects for your story. Let your child draw or cut out
several pictures – cat, dog, dragon, dinosaur or princess. Now spread
out the flashcards. There are enough flashcards in Bob Books Sight
Words-Kindergarten to write a simple story.
Let your child pick out the pictures he wants in the story. Lay out the
pictures, then add sight words cards to construct a sentence. Your
sentence will be noticeably basic (possibly two or three words), but
that’s just fine. Write down this sentence on a separate piece of paper,
and put all the words back in the pile. Pick out pictures for the
second sentence, add sight words and continue.
Many children are happy with a story of three or four sentences.
Don’t worry if there isn’t much of a plot. Write down each sentence as
it is constructed. Remember, the effort is what is important. The story
may not have a beginning, middle and end, but if your child is
satisfied, then the story is a success.
A nice reward for your child is to let him illustrate the story, giving
you both a project to be proud of. We’d love to post a few of your
tales. Please send them (send a picture too) to Lynn@BobBooks.com!
Rachel at Quirky Momma came up with the idea of story cubes as a fun learning activity to help her child learn to read.
The story cubes are somewhere between Rory’s Story Cubes (a product featured in her last Toy Guide) and our Bob Books. Now, over to Quirky Momma to explain the activity.
The Story Cube Activity
“We use a mixture of Bob Books, Progressive
Phonics and the free printables at Hubbard’s Cupboard for our reading
curriculum. I am looking for a way to extend the reading lessons as we
are waiting for the next stage of Bob Books to arrive. Hence, extra
reading practice with story cubes.”
What you need to make your own Story Cubes:
- 5-6 Blocks
- Painter’s tape (so you can remove the tape and replace the words at whim)
- Permanent marker
- Bob’s Books (or Progressive Phonics, both have repetitive words)
“Pick six names, write them on one block, pick 6 sight words and
write them on two additional blocks, write 6 different action words on
another block and on the final block write 6 nouns. Once we created
our blocks, my younger preschooler would roll the blocks and my older
preschooler would put the sentence in order (with my help) and read it
Words I put on my sentence blocks:
Block 1 -
Blocks 2 & 3 -
Block 4 -
Block 5 -
“Hope you and your kids enjoy making new sentences with their word blocks.”
Thanks Rachel! We’re sure you will all enjoy this with your little ones.
My son Wilson, Bob Books’ reader in training
is 3 and a half and not quite ready for reading. While he loves being
read to, he is still learning his alphabet and the sounds that the
letters make. Today I noticed that he was very interested in pointing
out the shapes in our Bob Books: Pre-Reading Skills books. So I put together a simple activity.
First, I got out the Bob Books that explore shapes. Books 1 – 3 focus on
learning simple shapes, matching shapes and finding hidden shapes.
According to the teaching guide on the inside cover of Book 1, “Learning
to identify shapes trains your child’s eye to later identify letters
and words,” so I knew this was a worthwhile pursuit. With my son
watching, I took some paper and cut out some simple shapes: square,
triangle, rectangle and oval.
Next, I put the books on the floor and asked him to place the cut out shapes on top of the corresponding shapes on the page.
Bob Books Pre-Reading Skills Activity from Allison Ellis on Vimeo.
Finally, we read the books together, talked more about shapes and
letters, took a tickle break and then we were off to the next activity.
All in all, we spent about 15 minutes cutting out the shapes, talking
about the shapes, matching shapes and reading the Bob Books. As a mom to
an extremely short-attention-spanned young boy, I have to say this was
the perfect amount of time!
by Allison Ellis
By Rachel M. (Quirky Momma)
We have begun using the Bob Books learning to read curriculum
and I love how repetitive and easy the books are for new readers. My
daughter is flying through the first four books! The first book covers
the short a sound along with the consonants m, s, and t. To help reinforce her learning we used our sticky sticks to trace the letters “at” and “am.”
I had written the endings of the words on a sheet and we’d form the
additional letter to make the word we were reviewing. In the first book
the words we covered were: Sam, Mat and sat.
As my gal is really kinetic we traced the letters after we made them .
. . and then we did silly things like make the sticks into “wands” to
point at the words.
A tip for encouraging word blending:
My friend Kristen gave me some terrific advice. For a while, my daughter was stuck at the “s-a-t”
stage, where she would sound out the letters individually but had a
hard time realizing they formed a word. Rather than sounding out each
letter independently, sound them out in blends. “s-a-t” becomes, “sa”+”at.” My daughter totally “got it” the after a round of sounding out our words with this new method!
– Rachel M. is a mom to three preschoolers blogging at Quirky Momma.
Got a young one heading to the “big school” this fall? It’s an
exciting time! There’s so much to do this month in preparation, from
shopping to paperwork to getting a vaccine or two. But then there’s that
other looming question: is my child really ready? Given the
national attention on school readiness and the achievement gap, you
might worry that your child might fall behind before they’ve even
started. But here’s the deal: teachers are hoping your child will show
up on day one not being able to read or recite the entire alphabet,
but to have developed strong social and emotional skills, like the
ability to share and listen. Scholastic, in interviewing teachers around
the country, gives parents the real scoop in Ready for Kindergarten? Five teachers tell you what preschoolers really need for next year.
It’s chock full of great info on what kindergarten teachers are
really looking for. Here is a list of the top readiness skills; to find
out more about each one, be sure to read the entire article.
- Enthusiasm Toward Learning
- Solid Oral-Language Skills
- The Ability to Listen
- The Desire to Be Independent
- The Ability to Play Well with Others
- Strong Fine-Motor Skills
- Basic Letter and Number Recognition
How about you? Got a back-to-school tip you’d like to share? Just let us know.
The best thing for teaching preschool literacy skills is to have
the “lessons” be part of every day activities, such as riding in the
car, eating, reading, or playing with alphabet puzzles. Also, simply
talking about letters, words and sounds in everyday conversation makes
words and letters part of your world. This way reading becomes a natural
extension of other play and the many different ways kids learn is
respected; whether by imitation, puzzling out letter or word clues, or
as a way to share loving attention with a parent.
We’ve come up with activities, below, that are geared towards
children ages 3-6. Have a game or idea you’d like to share? Let us know.
This is a fun activity that you can do with older preschool-age kids.
The “soup” is made from everyday items and objects you have around the
What you’ll need:
Magazines, newspapers, junk mail
Bits of yarn or string (for “noodles”)
Miscellaneous objects (non choking hazard-size)
Large spoon or ladle
What you’ll do (part 1):
Instruct your child(ren) to find all the letters of the alphabet within
the magazines and newspapers. Larger print is best, although not
necessary. Cut out each letter (smaller children will need assistance)
and place inside the bowl. Your cut out letters can also be used for
labeling household items, finding a match in a particular book you might
be reading or spelling new words.
What you’ll do (part 2):
Next, spend some time going through the papers in search of food items
they would like to include in the “soup.” Cut those out as well, and
place in the bowl. Now add the “noodles” by cutting up medium-sized
pieces of yarn or string, and add anything else (miscellaneous household
objects) your children would like to add to the soup. Mix everything
together and stir. Now the soup is ready to serve! You can either move
onto part 3 or save the “soup” for a rainy day.
What you’ll do (part 3):
Give each child a large spoon or ladle and ask them questions about each
spoonful: What are the letters in your spoon? What sound does each
letter make? What else is in the soup? What letter does it start with?
R is for Road Trip: Are We There Yet?
This activity is great for would-be backseat drivers and/or bored kids in the back of the car.
What you’ll need:
Popsicle sticks (washed)
Crayons or pens
Glue or heavy-duty stapler
What you’ll do:
Prior to your trip, work with your kids to make the “road signs.” Using
construction paper and crayons or markers, create the correct shape and
size for popular signs such as “stop,” “yield,” “merge,” etc.
Alternatively, each child could make a sign using a few of their
favorite letter(s) of the alphabet. Glue or staple the signs onto the
Popsicle sticks. While on the road, instruct your children to wave their
signs every time they see a matching road sign, and have them say the
name of the sign. For the next few miles, ask them to look for other
signs that contain words with the same letter, i.e. Look for all of the
signs with the letter S in them, such as State Park, Rest Stop, Museum,
etc. Repeat the words back and talk about what sound the letter makes in
each word. Don’t have time to make signs? Simply make a game out of
looking for different letters on road signs or pointing out the words on
signs that they know.
P is for Pool
Teach the alphabet and rhythmic breathing at the same time.
What you’ll need:
Access to swimming pool or other body of water
What you’ll do:
Learning how to blow bubbles and hold one’s breath under water is a
critical water safety skill. Swimming instructors will frequently have
kids “bob up and down” in the water as a way to teach rhythmic breathing
(and get their heads wet- also an important swimming skill.) Make it a
game by adding in the alphabet. Every time your child comes up for air,
have them say a letter of the alphabet. Older kids/advanced swimmers can
recite the entire alphabet (in order) or spell out simple words, such
as C-A-T, D-O-G or S-W-I-M.
It’s a term that’s got a nice, friendly ring to it. Perhaps
you’ve heard it before but may not know exactly what it means: word
Word families, sometimes also referred to as phonograms
are letter patterns that are more consistent than individual vowel
sounds. They stick together and form words that rhyme with each other.
For instance, Mat, cat, fat, sat and bat are all part of the -at word
family. Net, bet, wet, set and get are part of the –et word family. If
your early reader is able to identify the pattern, it becomes easier to
sound out related words that are part of the same word family.
Here are some other common word families:
at: bat, mat, rat, hat
ack: sack, back, Jack, Zack
am: Sam, Pam, ram
ail: bail, sail, pail
et: bet, pet, wet set, get
en: Ben, hen, men, pen, ten
it: bit, hit, sit, fit
ill: Bill, fill, hill, will
op: flop, mop, cop, hop, stop, top, pop, plop
ot: hot, rot, dot, got, not, pot
uck: muck, yuck, luck
ug: hug, rug, bug, mug, tug
Bob Books Set 3: Word Families
uses many word families that are easy for children to recognize and
sound out (“Polly was a jolly bird. ‘Hello, Polly,’ said Dolly”)
including various combinations (“Mop was a floppy dog. Mop was Tom’s
pal”) which will help make longer stories more manageable for your
Once your child gets the hang of various patterns, both visually and
audibly, spelling and writing skills will be enhanced as well. You can
make it a game: “What are all the words you can think of that end in
–ack? How about –ug? Or –og?”
If you are interested in obtaining a comprehensive list of word families and rhymes this word list is a great resource as well.
It’s a question we’re often asked by parents of emerging
readers. “What’s next after Bob Books Set 5?” There are so many
wonderful places to go and books to explore upon “graduation” from the
Bob Books series, we thought we’d share a few of them with you.
Progressively, any of the books in Scholastic’s Ready to Read branded
series or Random House Kids’ Step into Reading (level 1 or 2) will be
Some of our particular favorites include series classics like Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel or Little Bear by Elsa Holmelund Minarik.
Your local library is a wonderful place to obtain beginning reading
lists according to topic, level and age category recommendations. Here
are just a few:
Bullit County Library
Kent District Library
Pierce County Library
St Charles Public Library
Amazon.com is also wealth of resources; customer recommendations in the early reader and beginning reading communities are quite helpful.
Blogs and online communities such as GoodReads.com
in the children’s book category can be a great place to obtain
information and also join like-minded individuals in various discussions
regarding children’s literature, books and reading levels.
And last but not least, our very own Bob Books
website contains many tips and helpful resources, including a number of
great ideas from readers. Here are one parent’s suggestions on what to
read after Set 5:
1. Books written by Syd Hoff (I Can Read series)
2. Curious George series
3. Clifford the Big Red Dog series
4. Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter books
5. Dr. Seuss books (ranges from very easy-to-read to 2nd or 3rd grade reading level)
6. Amelia Bedelia books (some are easier than others)
7. Books written by Audrey Wood
8. Books written by Martin Waddell
Get ‘em while you can – you will not be able to find Bob Books Collections at Barnes and Noble, Amazon or your favorite bookstore. They’re only available at Costco, arriving in stores this week and available nationwide by 4/23. These special edition sets are just $9.99 and don’t stay in stock long, so be sure to get them before they’re gone.
The five Special Collection boxes contain the original Bob Books materials boxed and reprinted in beautiful, oversized, 8 x 8 inch format. Many customers enjoy the large format for small hands, and they love the terrific price offered by Costco.
- Collection 1 has 18 books, including all the stories from Set 1, and half of Set 2.
- Collection 2 has 16 books, including stories from half of Set 2, and all of Set 3.
- Collection 3 has 16 books, and includes all the stories from Sets 4 and 5.
- The My First Bob Books Collection has 24 books, including all stories from My First Bob Books: Alphabet and My First Bob Books: Pre-Reading Skills.
- NEW! Bob Books Sight Words has 20 books and 16 flash cards, including all stories from Bob Books Sight Words-Kindergarten and Bob Books Sight Words – First Grade.
Each box also contains bonus stickers, bookmark and door hanger.
Have you ever seen the look of true pride in a child’s eyes as he or she triumphantly grasps a difficult new concept?
Reading is one of the best lifelong gifts you can bestow upon a child, and we at Bob Books fully appreciate those “aha” moments. It’s what we’re all about: breaking down the process of learning to read into progressive, easily digestible steps so that both you and your child can celebrate the victories (both small and large) along the way.
If you’re a parent, you’ve probably already figured out that learning to read does not happen overnight. The magic occurs when the child “gets it,” yet there’s so much that happens behind the scenes. Reading foundation skills such as speaking in full sentences, knowing the alphabet, shape recognition, understanding the sounds that letters make, sequencing and phonemic awareness are all key for reading readiness.
You have already been developing these skills by playing games and interacting with your child in your everyday life. Alphabet magnets on the fridge, drawing letters in sand or modeling them in clay, various arts and crafts projects; all of them have been developing reading readiness in various ways. Reading to your child and talking about the story helps build awareness of sequencing. Playing sound games, singing, rhyming – these all build phonemic awareness.
So, enjoy your time with your child and know that the minutes and hours you invest helping them learn about their world can be both fun and will build important reading and life skills along the way.
Do you have a magical Bob Books moment you’d like to share? Let us know.
This week we bring you part 2 of our interview with John Maslen, Bob Books illustrator and award-winning watercolor painter.
Q: How did you become interested in art and painting?
A: Art has always been
something I’ve been interested in. I think my earliest paintings began
in 4th grade after my aunt bought me an oil painting set. I
used it to paint scenes of German and Japanese planes crashing into
each other and pilots with blood dripping from their mouths. Typical 4th
grade boy kind of stuff, I suppose.
Then I attended Rhode Island School of Design
for college. While at RISD I didn’t take any painting classes but
instead studied women’s clothing design. I never did use that degree
professionally—in hindsight I figure the only purpose of that coursework
was to find a wife (this is how I met my wife, Bobby [Bobby Lynn Maslen, Bob Books author.])
While at college, I needed to make a little
money and I got a job painting Italian-style furniture. Bobby would
visit me in this tiny studio and we would hang out and talk—I didn’t
have much money at the time so we didn’t go out on many real dates. I
remember that I got in the habit of wiping my paintbrush off on my blue
jeans to clean off the paint; after a while, those jeans were so thick
with paint and gold leaf that they stood up by themselves!
After college I joined the Armed Services and
served as a PIO (Public Information Officer) right around the time that
the Korean War was winding down. Because of my art background, I was
charged with the task of creating troop education posters.
Then I returned to RISD for my degree in
architecture. Bobby and I married, moved to Portland, Oregon and I spent
20 years as an architect. I felt the urge to paint during my
architecture career but it was difficult to find the time while there
were four kids living at home. We were also busy with the Bob Books.
Q: How did you go from being a full-time architect to a full-time artist?
saw some tough economic times in the early 1980s, not unlike what we’re
seeing now. Architecture clients were hard to come by and I wasn’t
getting paid much for the work. The kids were getting ready to leave the
nest and I thought it was time to pursue something different, like
Q: What did you paint?
A: Well, I thought that
perhaps I wanted to be an oil painter so I put visqueen on my living
room floor and started on a big oil painting… oh, it was a huge mess–-
and resulted in an outrageously bad painting. After that, I decided to
paint in watercolors; it was much less messy. And I could throw my
clothes in the wash afterward.
Q: What kind of paintings do you do now?
A: Exclusively watercolors. I started out with a marine focus and then moved to non-objective art.
Q: What do you mean by non-objective art? Is it like abstract art?
A: No, abstract art still
contains shapes and forms that are recognizable. In non-objective art,
no figures or objects are recognizable.
Q: What is the process like, how long does it take you to create a painting?
A: (chuckles) Oh, as Winslow
Homer once famously said… “about 3 hours and 40 years.” It can be a long
process. First I sketch my painting out on paper. I did a lot of
sketching for Bob Books so this comes naturally. For my non-objective and abstract art, I keep sketching and putting color on the paper until things start to evolve.
Q: Have you won any awards?
A: While practicing architecture, I won an American Institute of Architects award for design of the solar community where my family lived.
Currently I’m a signature (juried) member of several arts organizations: the National Watercolor Society, the Transparent Watercolor Society, the Watercolor Society of Oregon, and the American Society of Marine Artists. Recently I received Master Watercolor Artist status in the Transparent Watercolor Society,
which means that my art was accepted into a juried show ten years in a
row. Only about 1 in 10 artists get accepted into these shows so it’s a
Another award I received recently is the Diamond
Award from the American Art Society of Oregon. It’s based on a point
system; every time your art gets into a show or you win an award you win
points. Once you’ve reached a certain number of points, you win the
Q: Where can we see your art?
A: The Portland Art Museum Rental Gallery has several of my paintings, and there are also paintings at The Attic Gallery in Portland (although I’m not currently on their web site).
Q: And you also teach workshops?
There is a beautiful facility on the Oregon coast, Sitka Center for Arts and Ecology,
where I teach a watercolor art class once per year. It’s a week-long
course and it’s terrific. A number of my students return year after
year. One of my students has attended the class all eleven times I
For more information on John Maslen’s architecture and watercolor artist career, please see:
Watercolor Society of Oregon
Hellenic-American Cultural Center and Museum
This week we bring you our interview with John Maslen, Bob Books illustrator. John and Bobby Lynn Maslen are currently retired and living in Portland, Oregon. We spoke to him via phone last week.
Q: How did you get started illustrating the Bob Books?
A: It wasn’t until Bobby had already written 12
of the Bob Books that I was asked to do the illustrations. Things were
busy in the house. We were raising 4 children. I was working as an
architect. Bobby was teaching and creating the Bob Books. One day I came
home and Lynn, our eldest (and now author of the My First Bob Books
series) was doing the lettering on one of the books. I think she must
have been in high school at the time. I saw the book “Ten Men Went to
the End of the Land” and the pictures just started popping up in my
head, so I did a few drawings. Bobby saw my illustrations and she was so
pleased with them, she asked me to redraw all of the illustrations.
Q: What direction were you given?
A: Bobby was very specific about the drawings
being line art without color. That way the children could color their
own books. The style and approach was to be very simple,
non-intimidating and non-distracting for the reader. We added color in
2006, but we wanted to keep that simple feeling so we only added one
color per book.
Q: What was the process like?
A: Well, Bobby was and still is my wife, so the
process was not without a few discussions. But I always thought of Bob
Books as her project so I took her direction. The illustration process
was fun. Bobby would write the stories. In the beginning I demanded that
I have the freedom to illustrate any way I wanted. She could then
accept or reject my art and I would listen to her reasons.
Q: How often did she reject your work?
A: Not very often; maybe not ever. If she
didn’t like something, it was usually very subtle. Like the way the eyes
or noses were drawn. We can still look back at parts of Set 1 and tell
who drew the eyes, nose or mouth on a particular character in a
Q: How did you develop your style?
A: I think I intuitively knew that I wanted to
do the illustrations loose, fast and sketchy. Not drawn too carefully –
not as if I were doing an architecture drawing. I used a Sharpie pen and
computer paper. I couldn’t slow down—otherwise the lines would get too
fat in some places. When I was ready to create the final drawings, I’d
put the paper on a light table and create the illustrations there until I
achieved the right effect.
Q: Of all the Bob Books illustrations, which ones are your favorites?
I think my favorite is still Ten Men Went to
the End of the Land. And I’ve always liked Mat, Sam and Dot – those are
the original characters that I really enjoy. Peg and Ted as well– they
really have an ability to catch kids’ eyes.
Next week: Learn more about John’s architecture, illustration and watercolor painting career in part 2 of our interview.
It’s the mother who sings to her infant. The baby who chews on the
board book! The toddler who asks for his favorite stories to be read to
him over and over again. Sound familiar? Early literacy is what children
learn and know about reading and writing before they actually read and
As you’re most likely already aware, early literacy skills develop in the first 5 years of life. According to recent brain development research,
children are born with 100 billion brain cells. By the time a child is
three, his or her brain circuitry is basically developed, which is why
it is important to form positive learning experiences and attachments as
early as possible.
You make such a
difference to your child’s early learning successes. When you read, talk
or play with your child, you’re stimulating the growth of their brain.
It’s that simple! Even if a child or baby doesn’t appear to be learning,
they are. Hearing stories, handling books, playing with blocks—it all
adds up to early literacy. With each interaction, your child is learning important pre-reading skills such as vocabulary development, sound awareness, reading comprehension and letter recognition.
Here are a few tips to engage your child in early literacy activities:
Read to your child every day. Even if it’s just for a few minutes. Even if your toddler forces you to skip pages or chews on the corner of the book.
Talk about the pictures. Ask: what’s happening and why?
Talk about the story. See if your child can tell you what happens next.
Point to words. Run your finger along the words as you read them.
Make it a game.
Ask your child to point to certain objects. Use funny voices or make
sound effects when telling the story. End story time with tickle time.
Let us know if you have any tips you’d like to share!
Wilson, our reader-in-training, read the newspaper
to me yesterday morning. Okay, maybe not quite… “read” is a relative
term when you’re talking about a 2.5 year old who can point out a few
letters on a page. Still, I was pleased by the progress he’s making with
alphabet recognition. Letters that he didn’t know a few weeks (or even a
few days ago) are now in his vocabulary. We started with the weather.
“Hey Wilson, I asked, “what’s this letter?” “W!” he shouted. “And this
one?” “e!” and how about this one? “Um, I don’t know.” Or
this one? “Number one!” Overall he knew four out of the seven letters in
“weather.” I went through the letters once more one by one, slowly
pointing to each letter, saying the name and giving him time to repeat
back each one. Then we looked at the word weather again. This time he
was able to get six of the seven letters right before the weather
suddenly changed—our dear student dumped over his cup of milk all over
the paper. Time for a new activity!
One of Wilson’s favorite books is Chica Chica ABC by
Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. He loves the rhythm and repetition
in this book, and for some reason—perhaps because of the “chicka chicka
BOOM BOOM” reference, he has begun calling his owies “chicky boom
booms.” As in, “I fell and I got a chicky boom boom on my knee.” It’s become part of our family vernacular. The
fact that the book has an ABC theme had not been of much interest to
Wilson but I did ask him to point out a few of the letters to me when we
read it most recently. He gets letters like e, r, s and v correct
nearly all of the time whereas lowercase letters with round shapes (like
a, c, q, n and m) are harder for him to separate.
Later in the day we spent some time with My First Bob Books: Alphabet. Wilson happily sat on my lap on the carpet as I read the books “EF,” “GH,” “VW”
and “XYZ” (not in any particular order – these were the books that he
personally selected after dumping them out on the floor.) For some
reason he was fixated on the illustration of the vacuum in the VW book.
That and the watermelons on page 6. “Watomelwon, I like watomelwon!” He started to get wiggly so I stood him up in preparation to put the books away. In
his socks, Wilson jumped onto one of the books and started to slide. I
got an idea. “Put your foot on the letter A,” I instructed, and he did.
“Now, put your hand on the letter H”… and he did. We both started giggling. “Now… put your nose on the letter I” and we were both in hysterics. Who knew alphabet games could be so fun?
Let us know if you have any fun alphabet games to share.
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This week we’re
delighted to bring you a Q & A with children’s book author and
illustrator Sue Hendra. Sue is the illustrator of the My First Bob Books
series and lives in Brighton, England with her partner, Paul and young
daughter, Wanda. She has illustrated over 90 children’s books; to see a
partial list of titles please visit her JacketFlap profile.
Q. How did you get started? Why did you choose illustration as a career?
A. I’ve always
loved drawing and telling stories with pictures. Art was definitely my
favorite subject at school and I went on to receive a degree studying
illustration at The University of Brighton in the south of England. I’d always had a fascination with children’s books and so that’s what I decided to specialize in.
Q. How many books have you illustrated?
A. I think it’s about ninety something now. Some that stand out include: Scary Party, which I wrote and illustrated (Walker Books, 1998) and Monsters don’t eat Broccoli by
Barbara Jean Hicks (Knopf, 2009). I think monsters and aliens and
dinosaurs are my favorite subject matter so I’m always happy when I’m
drawing them. A surprising big success in the UK has been a book I wrote and illustrated a called Barry the Fish with Fingers
(Knopf, 2009). A slightly different version of it is going to be
published by Random House in the U.S. next year. The book I’m most
excited about is Wanda and the Alien (Random House, 2011). I
wrote it when I was expecting my little girl who is also named Wanda.
In the story Wanda is a little rabbit who befriends an alien. I really
enjoyed illustrating that one because it’s for my daughter who is very
lovely. It will be out in May 2011 which will give her time to learn to
read it . . . with a bit of luck.
Q. Tell us about the process of illustrating My First Bob Books. What was it like to work with the Maslens?
A. The process is that author Lynn Maslen Kertell
draws totally amazing pictures of how she wants the spreads to look.
Scholastic has comments, and eventually I get the go ahead to do a
finished version. I felt extremely honored to be given the job of
illustrating Bob Books. Initially it was very daunting as John Maslen’s
drawings are so fantastic, what a tough act to follow! John helped me a
lot at the beginning with the drawing style; he was very patient. I’ve
tried to draw like him but inevitably my drawings are bound to look
different. All I can hope is that my illustrations have a little bit of
that special Bob Books humor that makes them so much fun for parents and
children to read.
Q. What do you like best about illustrating? Describe your creative process.
A. I get to
draw monsters and dinosaurs and aliens! I get to be immature for a
living– who wouldn’t love that? It’s really great fun. My partner Paul
is also an illustrator so together we come up with funny ideas, work out
page layouts and have heated discussions about how the illustrations
should look. I think the fact that we brainstorm about storylines and
visuals makes the end product much better. We have a lot of fun making
Q. What are you working on now?
publishers that I work for like me to keep the details under my hat but I
can say that one is about a little slug called Norman and the other is
about a very unusual farm. The farm book is one that’s been knocking
about in my head for years so I’m very excited about it.
Q. How are you balancing your career and motherhood?
It’s a bit hectic, I did try and work during the day when Wanda was
awake but I just couldn’t get anything done. Now Paul and I start work
at 8 o’clock after Wanda has gone to bed. This way we get
lots done and dance around to silly music at two in the morning feeling a
bit bonkers due to lack of sleep. We feel very lucky to be able to set
our own schedule and do a job that we love.
Q. Anything else you’d like to share?
A. I think Bob Books are fantastic and I’m so glad they came into our lives. They will definitely be part of Wanda’s education.