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<<March 2024>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Family Engagement, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 21 of 21
1. Changing Communities with Books: The Citizen Power Project


In November, First Book and its partners the American Federation of Teachers and the Albert Shanker Institute presented the Citizen Power Project; a challenge to educators nationwide to identify, plan, and implement a civic engagement project important to their students, school or community.

Fifteen projects received grants to help turn big plans into big impact.

The projects represent a wide range of civic engagement – from teaching empathy and healthy habits to supporting student voices and helping the environment.

So far, the civic impact of these projects has been phenomenal.

In Framingham, Massachusetts, middle school English teacher Lori DiGisi knows her students don’t always feel empowered. “They feel like the adults rule everything and that they don’t really have choices,” she explains. “The issue I’m trying to solve is for a diverse group of students to believe that they can make a difference in their community.”

Using the First Book Marketplace, Lori and her class chose to read books about young people who did something to change the world — books with diverse characters that each student could identify with. Through stories, Lori’s students have begun to understand that they too can make a difference.

From here, Lori plans to narrow the focus onto the issue of improving working conditions. Students will interview custodians, secretaries, and cafeteria workers in their school to understand what their working conditions are like and ask the all-important question: what can we, as middle schoolers, do to make your working conditions better?

claudine-quote_editMeanwhile in Malvern, Arkansas, middle school English teacher Claudine James has used the Citizen Power Project to improve upon an already successful program. In 2011, Claudine visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC and wanted to bring that experience back to her students.

That year her class studied the Holocaust and put together their own Holocaust Museum in their school and opened it to the public.

The reaction to the museum was something Claudine never expected.

“It was very well received by the community and in fact, we had an opening day reception on a Sunday afternoon and there was no room to even stand.”

Claudine has organized project-based learning initiatives like this every year since. The Malvern community has embraced them, and even come to expect them.

This year, powered by the  Citizen Power Project, Claudine and her class are planning an exhibit called, ‘Writers from Around the World’. They are reading books by authors from all over the globe. Her goal is to promote tolerance and understanding among her students and for them to promote those ideas to the community.

“When my students are presented with problems that other people from other cultures have to overcome, they see the world in a new light,” explains Claudine, “then they go home and spread the word.”


Artwork by one student in Racheal’s class depicting the negative impacts of climate change.

In Newark, New Jersey, kindergarten teacher Racheal Safier has her young students thinking globally. “We wanted to figure out what climate change is,” she explains, “they took a really big interest in how global warming affects animals.”

Racheal has been amazed by her student’s enthusiasm for this topic and the project, but she knows where it comes from. “Books have been the launching point for so many of the ideas generated in my classroom.”

Now that ideas are being launched, Racheal wants to show her class the next step: what actions do we take?

And they have many planned. There will be brochures distributed to parents, a table at the school’s social justice fair, maybe a video, and even letters to the President.

“I want it to be their project — and some of the things they come up with, I am really blown away.”

These three projects are just a snapshot of all the important work educators are doing around the country for the Citizen Power Project. Lori, Claudine, and Racheal are shining examples of the impact that educators can have on their students and their communities.

For educators to create change though students they need access to educational resources. First Book is proud to help provide that access for the Citizen Power Project.

When these 15 projects are completed in early 2017 be sure to check the First Book blog to see videos and pictures, and read more impact stories of impact from across the United States.


If you’re an educator serving kids in need, please visit the First Book Marketplace to register and browse our collection of educational resources. Click here to learn more about the Citizen Power Project.

The post Changing Communities with Books: The Citizen Power Project appeared first on First Book Blog.

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2. All Roads Lead to Learning with Pathway to K

With a waiting list of more than 400 students, Vanessa Osbourne knew she needed to offer another option for the kids who weren’t going to be able to participate in the pre-kindergarten program.

Daniel Dominguez-Carmona shows the actions of a dragonfly to WSFCS Ready Schools Coordinator Eva Phillips in his “Pathway to K” classroom. Image via Winston-Salem Journal.

“We wanted to make sure that if those kids didn’t get a Pre-K experience that we offer something for them before school started,” said Osbourne, program coordinator for Winston-Salem, Forsyth County Schools.

Osbourne developed Pathway to K, a three-week course at the end of the summer designed to prepare kids who wouldn’t otherwise participate in Pre-K for kindergarten and introduce them to the kinds of activities they’ll be doing in school.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Pathway to K is able to access the First Book Marketplace and all that it has to offer. Each classroom has multiple sets of diverse books that aim to reach each and every child. When the program has parent engagement nights, kids and their guardians receive a brand new, high-quality book to take home.

Some of the parents or guardians participating in Pathway to K work multiple jobs and are striving every day to provide opportunities for their children, and it’s not always easy. The opportunity to participate in a kindergarten readiness program is huge for many families.

“We had a grandmother who was so excited when her grandson got in to Pathway to K,” Vanessa said. “She acted like it was a college application. When we told her, ‘Of course he got in,’ she ran around shouting, ‘He got in! He got in!’”

A program like Pathway to K is worth getting excited about. Vanessa uses her 30 years of experience in education to make sure each child is getting a well-rounded experience. During the three-week program children are introduced to books, practice counting and sorting and learn social and emotional skills.

But there is one thing that Vanessa hopes Pathway to K can instill in its tiny participants.

“Building that love of reading.”

Pathway to K was able to receive books through First Book’s partnership with Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. If you work with children in need, you can access books and resources for your organization through the First Book Marketplace.

The post All Roads Lead to Learning with Pathway to K appeared first on First Book Blog.

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3. Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow

Attendance Works

September is National Attendance Awareness Month, a time when schools and programs across the country emphasize the connection between satisfactory school attendance and academic achievement.

Researchers and social scientists are always trying to figure out the secret to academic success for students. Public schools or charter schools? Is standardized testing effective? What role should technology play in schools? For every answer, more questions emerge.attendance-works

One thing the leading minds in education do know is that attendance works. If a teacher is looking for a way to help improve their students’ academic outcomes, attendance works.

Our friends at Attendance Works, a national and state initiative that promotes better policy and practice around school attendance, have developed FREE resources in English and Spanish that help reinforce the importance of attendance for caregivers of young children.

Why Attendance Matters:

  • Early attendance helps children read and succeed later in school
  • Children from low-income families are more likely to be affected by lost school time
  • Chronic absenteeism starts early, so encourage good attendance habits now

These resources are a great way for teachers to engage with their students’ caregivers and highlight the importance of good school attendance. Teachers can use the strategies and tactics found in these downloadable materials to help caregivers ensure attendance is a priority for their young students now and in the future.

Because after all, attendance works.

If you serve kids in need, please visit the Attendance Works section of the First Book Marketplace to download FREE resources that can be used to engage caregivers and convey the importance of satisfactory school attendance.

The post Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow appeared first on First Book Blog.

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4. Sneak Peek: Resources For Social & Emotional Development

kids with disney books_web

Books are not only a great resource for developing reading skills, they are also a fantastic way to help kids develop healthy feelings and relationships. In the coming weeks, the First Book Marketplace will feature a collection of hand-picked books that address key aspects of social and emotional development.

In addition to the books, First Book has partnered with Molina Healthcare to provide helpful resources that teachers and parents can use to tie these engaging stories to healthy living. Teaching kids how to interact with others and manage their own emotions is an essential part of their development, just as important as their intellectual or physical development. These carefully curated books and resources are designed to do just that.

Here’s a sneak peek of the kinds of books and tips you can expect in the collection!

ICanHelpI Can Help by David Hyde Costello

A little duck gets lost until a helpful monkey comes along to lend a hand.

Brainstorm a number of situations that children may find themselves experiencing in which they need to ask for help. Next, identify who are the appropriate people in their family, school or community to ask for help in those situations. Examples could include calling 911 for firefighters in the case of a fire, talking with a teacher or parent for homework help, and visiting a doctor or school nurse if they are sick. This activity can be extended by role-playing. For example, one child can pretend to see a fire and call a firefighter for help. Then another group of children can pretend to be firefighters who come and put out the fire.


My Friend Maggie by Hannah E. Harrison

Paula knows Maggie is a great friend, but when Veronica says mean things about Maggie, Paula doesn’t stand up for her.

Letter writing, even when one doesn’t plan to give the letter to the addressee, can be a great tool for processing feelings and thinking through how to handle a conflict. Have the children write a letter from one of this story’s characters to another (such as from Maggie to Paula), explaining how that character’s actions made her feel. Encourage students to try letter writing (even without giving the letters) when they face conflicts with their friends to help them express their feelings and think through how they would like the situation to be resolved.

For more books and resources from First Book and Molina Healthcare, please visit the health and wellness section on the First Book Marketplace.

The post Sneak Peek: Resources For Social & Emotional Development appeared first on First Book Blog.

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5. Educators and Families: A Powerful Partnership


Looking for ways to get families more involved with your classroom or program? Or for resources to send home with them? The First Book Marketplace is the place to go!

Visit us for great family read alouds, resource collections for kids ages 0-12 and tips to arm caregivers with the skills they need. When educators and families are on the same page and pulling in the same direction it gives kids the confidence they need to keep building skills.


The family book

Build Strong Families with Stories

The books in this section model habits that families can adopt to grow stronger together. Each title is paired with a FREE downloadable reading guide designed for parents and caregivers. It includes activities, discussion prompts, and key ideas to take away from the story.

Tools to Get Families Involved

First Book proudly partners with content experts to provide easy-to-use tools to help you engage with families around subjects like healthy living, developing early literacy skills and building strong character. Our Family Engagement section includes 12 unique categories of books paired with free downloadable tip sheets, many in both English and Spanish.


The post Educators and Families: A Powerful Partnership appeared first on First Book Blog.

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6. Find Free Educational Resources on the First Book Marketplace

free resources

Where can you find free educational resources?

On the First Book Marketplace, of course!

You’ll find tips to encourage family engagement, resources for early childhood education, free subscriptions to online tools and programs and much more. For access, you’ll first need to sign up and log in.

Watch the video below to learn how to access, download and use these great free resources:


The post Find Free Educational Resources on the First Book Marketplace appeared first on First Book Blog.

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7. Happy National Reading Month!

Lifelong love of reading graphic FINALMarch is National Reading Month, and the educators and programs leaders we serve hope their kids will develop a love of reading that lasts a lifetime.

93 percent of respondents in a recent First Book survey* hope their kids will gain a lifelong love of reading from the books they access through First Book.

*n = 977

The post Happy National Reading Month! appeared first on First Book Blog.

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8. Disney Imagicademy App Available for Free!

Do you work with kids in need? We’ve got great news for you!

Disney Imagicademy Launch

© Disney

Our friends at Disney recently launched an innovative learning experience that encourages kids to learn by interacting with their favorite Disney characters and stories – inspiring a lifelong love of learning and creativity. The app and tools are available now to program leaders and educators serving children in need for free through the First Book Marketplace.

For some time, we’ve heard from our network of 150,000 educators and program leaders that web-based tools and interactive learning programs are incredibly important to helping the children they serve read, learn and achieve. We’ve worked hard to meet this need. And today, thanks to Disney, the programs and classrooms we serve have greater access to innovative learning apps and tools at the same time it is available to the general public.

To further support learning for kids ages 3 to 8, Disney will provide a three-year, $55 million product donation to First Book. This donation over the next three years is First Book’s largest gift targeting early childhood programs.  Specifically, the commitment will provide $5 million in Disney Imagicademy apps and tools to First Book and other non-profit organizations.  Disney announced its commitment on December 10 at the White House Summit on Early Education.

Teachers and educators will be able to receive free download codes from the First Book Marketplace to use the new Disney Imagicademy math app.  As parents are an ever-important part of successful learning, educators will also have the opportunity to share these download codes with the families of the children they serve, allowing families to bring lessons home and be even more involved and engaged in their child’s learning.

mickeys_magical_math_worldThe first app available through the First Book Marketplace is Mickey’s Magical Math World, which includes five app-based experiences in one large app that immerses children in key math-focused activities and games, including count along, sorting, add and subtract, shapes and problem solving.

Parents AppThe companion app for parents, Disney Imagicademy Parents, which is free on the App StoreSM, enables them to see what their children create through the apps, send digital high-fives back to their kids, ask questions to spur conversations about their child’s work and get ideas for more activities to reinforce and encourage their child’s learning.

Do you work with children in need?  Sign up with First Book today to gain access to Disney Imagicademy apps and tools, along with many other books and resources!

In-App Purchases  may be sold separately. Terms and conditions apply. This offer must be redeemed on an iPad, and, if and when available, an iPhone or iPod Touch. 
This is a promotional code and is not for resale, has no cash value, and will not be replaced if lost or stolen. Valid only on United States iTunes Store. Requires iTunes account. Must be 13+ and in the United States. Terms and Apple Privacy Policy apply, see http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/us/terms.html. Compatible products and services required. Apple, the Apple logo, iTunes, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are registered trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. iTunes Store is a trademark of Apple Inc. App Store is a registered service mark of Apple Inc. Apple is not a participant or sponsor of this promotion. Content is free for a limited time only and subject to availability.     

The post Disney Imagicademy App Available for Free! appeared first on First Book Blog.

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9. Thanks To You, I’m More Motivated Than Ever

Today’s guest blogger is Andrea Brunk, a physical therapist at the National Children’s Center Early Learning Center in Washington, DC.

brunch bunchI work with children with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism and other disabilities. The children in my program range from infants to five year olds.

Our families do their best to meet their child’s unique needs, but it can be a challenge. Many are single or foster parents. Others are grandparents or teens. They face balancing their own schooling and long hours at work with supporting their children. They also have few, if any, books at home.

Knowing how critical it is that kids have books at an early age, I created Brunch Bunch. Here families come together to enjoy catered breakfasts and one another’s company. They read with their kids, build attention spans and play an active role in their child’s learning. Each family gets brand new books to take home and read together.

Brunch Bunch has been extremely successful.  Parents stay after our sessions to ask questions about how to work with their child. They are excited to help their children learn.

Thanks to incredible support from First Book, I’m more motivated than ever to grow Brunch Bunch and share our success with other early childhood educators and families in our community.

Please consider making a gift to First Book today to help more children and their families read, learn and grow together. Your gift today will be TRIPLED thanks to Disney.

The post Thanks To You, I’m More Motivated Than Ever appeared first on First Book Blog.

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10. Four Ways to Encourage the Spirit of Giving

iStock_000011073366SmallThe holidays are fast approaching.  You and your family can make them a bit brighter for kids in need. Choose from four great ways to get your family excited and engaged in helping others.

1.  Read eBooks for free as a family on www.wegivebooks.org. For every book you read online, a brand new book will be provided to a child in need.

2.  Encourage your kids to donate their allowance in November and December to First Book or a cause of their choice. Help them understand that not all kids will have presents to open this holiday season.

3.  Host a Virtual Book Drive and invite others to join you. Every $2.50 raised can provide a book to a child in need.

4.  Together with your kids, select an item from the First Book Gift Catalog to give to a loved one for the holidays.

The post Four Ways to Encourage the Spirit of Giving appeared first on First Book Blog.

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11. Celebrating International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day is September 8.

First Book and our friends at the International Reading Association are challenging students and teachers to spend 60 seconds each day for the next 60 days to doing small activities that enhance literacy skills.

Celebrate our love for reading on International Literacy Day with some of these out-of-this-world activities:

Activities for ages 4-8

  • Talk Show.
    After reading a book, ask students  to write a question that they would ask the main character. Each day ask for a volunteer to pretend to be the main character, and give the volunteer 60 seconds to answer one or two questions.
  • Take My Advice.
    Project a picture from a familiar book, such as Little Red Riding Hood walking through the forest. Have students talk to the characters in the book, and give them advice, such as “Little Red Riding Hood, don’t talk to the Wolf. He’s going to try to trick you!”


Activities for ages 9-11

  • Vocabulary Space Ticket.
    Provide students with a vocabulary ticket to leave space. Have pairs or trios of students draw an image for each vocabulary word and write a definition so their ticket can be stamped for lift-off.
  • Galactic Mural.
    Make a large mural of space with outlines of the planets. Each day a student brings in one space fact and adds the information to the mural. Once finished, sit back and enjoy your view of our corner of the galaxy.


Activities for ages 12-14

  • Word of the Day.
    Take 60 seconds to learn a new word of the day. Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day is a great resource. If you have an extra two minutes, check out the podcast that accompanies each Word of the Day. Challenge kids to try to use the new word during the day in conversations in class or with their friends. Create a friendly competition, and see who can use the word the most or the best.
  • Done in 60 Days.
    Get the whole class writing a collaborative story in 60-second bursts. Come up with a first-line story starter. On Day 1, have students write the sentence on the top of a blank sheet of paper. Then, give them 60 seconds to write the next line. Each day, have students rotate the sheets of paper so that in the 60 seconds, they are (a) reading what others have written and (b) writing the next line of the story. At the end of the 60 days, spend some time seeing the different directions taken by stories starting with same first line.

Visit the IRA website and download their International Literacy Day Activity Kit for more fun things to do to celebrate & promote literacy in the classroom and at home!


The post Celebrating International Literacy Day appeared first on First Book Blog.

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12. Books Strengthen Family Bonds

DSC00616Lydia sat with her two children in the waiting room. Her eldest read aloud from his new book, pausing every now and again to teach his mother and younger sister how to say the words in English. His little sister beamed with pride when he let her turn the page.

Andrea Gatewood of the Nassau County (NY) Department of Health knows that providing new books to families like Lydia’s leads to priceless interactions. For the past ten years, she and her colleagues at the Nassau County Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program have been giving books from First Book to the local low-income women and children they serve.

Traditionally, WIC programs supply women who are pregnant or recently gave birth and children up to age five found to be at nutritional risk with supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education. But at five WIC sites in Nassau County, families also receive colorful new books.

teen parenting program 3“The books from First Book teach children how to count, the alphabet, the importance of family, other languages, colors, different foods and incentives to promote physical activity,” said Andrea. “They strengthen family bonds, promote diversity and improve literacy.”

Andrea takes great care in selecting books that are both engaging and culturally relevant as nearly 100 percent of the children she serves come from minority households.

“We have distributed books at Christmas, Halloween and to kick off the school year. Our goal is to reach as many children as possible,” Andrea shared. “The partnership between First Book and WIC has allowed thousands of children to receive brand new books and will have a lasting impact on an individual and community level.”

Over the past ten years, the Nassau WIC Program has received approximately 20,000 books from First Book, thanks to grant funding made possible by members of the First Book – Long Island volunteer chapter and the Guru Krupa Foundation. The Foundation, based in Jericho, New York, funds initiatives related to education, health and basic sustenance of underprivileged children in India and the United States, and has helped First Book provide more than 51,000 books to children in need in the greater New York and Los Angeles areas in the past two years.

DSC00612“We at Guru Krupa Foundation believe that education is a cornerstone for future success in life,” said Mukund Padmanabhan, president of the Guru Krupa Foundation. “Supporting initiatives that bring the benefits of education to underprivileged children can lead to enormous future dividends, not only for the children but to society.”

Join the Guru Krupa Foundation in supporting program leaders like Andrea by making a gift to First Book. Just $2.50 provides a brand-new book to a child in need.

The post Books Strengthen Family Bonds appeared first on First Book Blog.

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13. Healthy Minds Mean Healthy Lives

SONY DSCGuest Blogger Chris Dobbins became Director of the Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services on July 1 2013. Dobbins is a 20-year veteran of the US Air Force and is the former Health Director of the Gaston County Health Department.


teen parenting program 3Health departments throughout the country work diligently to help communities live healthful lives.  The Gaston County Department of Health in North Carolina is no exception.  Promoting fitness, encouraging healthy nutritional practices, preventing teen pregnancy and helping women during and after pregnancy are just some of the services we provide to promote overall well-being.

But, rarely do we have an opportunity to engage in primary prevention, activities that prevent the onset of poor health, that people both need and want.

Books3Research shows children who do well in school are likely to achieve good lifelong health so we teamed up with First Book under the banner of Literacy is Health, in partnership with Gaston County Schools.

Earlier this year, we distributed a 40,000 books from First Book to nearly 2,000 public school teachers, recreation specialists, volunteers at church-based after-school programs, staff at day care centers, and our own employees.  Each of the books given to these individuals made its way into the hands of a child in need.  While getting books into the hands of children and seeing the smiles on their faces is its own reward, we were also able to provide primary prevention to our community.

Child with bookNow, we’re working with community groups to prepare low-income parents to read to their children so they enter school ready and excited to learn.  We believe this will improve our county’s graduation rates, our residents’ prospects for employment and the health of our community. This is an opportunity our health department simply could not pass up – and one that many smiling children love.

If you serve kids in need in your community be sure to sign up with First Book today—I’m sure glad we did!

The post Healthy Minds Mean Healthy Lives appeared first on First Book Blog.

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14. Five Tips for Summer-Long Learning

tchovanecGuest blogger Tina Chovanec is the director of Reading Rockets: the authoritative online source for comprehensive and accessible information about teaching young children to read and helping those who struggle.Reading Rockets is one of five education websites created by Learning Media, a division of WETA, the PBS affiliate in the Washington DC area.

Summer_ReadingWith the call of the swimming pool and the playground, getting kids of all ages to stay interested in learning and reading during the long, hot summer can be a challenge to parents and summer program leaders.  Keeping kids’ minds active during the summer means they’ll be ready for the challenges of the new school year. So, how to rev up the summer learning? Picking one learning activity a week can be a fun way to switch up the normal summer routine.

Try some of these tips and great resources to get kids excited about learning – all are designed to help kids look at some of their favorite subjects in a new way and keep their brains lighting up with new knowledge all summer long. 

Kids in a libraryInvestigate your public library’s summer reading program. Most libraries offer a special program or two during the summer, including lively read-alouds, visits from children’s authors and storytellers, “maker fairs” and science-themed activities. Most are free – plus your child can take home a stack of books to extend the learning!

Listen up! Audiobooks are a great way to engage sometimes-reluctant readers and introduce kids to books above their reading level – helping to build vocabulary and background knowledge. Many libraries have audiobooks available for check out, and an Internet search can turn up several sites, including Speakaboos.com, that offer free audiobooks for children. Learn more about the benefits of audiobooks for all readers.

boy in chairWhere do all the summer thunderstorms come from?  How do fireflies light up?  Summer can lead to all kinds of interesting questions to investigate together.  Pick a question and find an answer!  Visit the library to find fiction and non-fiction books relating to kids’ questions.  Do some Internet research – you can find resources at the American Library Association’s Great Website for Kids.

Go on a learning adventure!  Is your child interested in bugs? Dinosaurs? The Night Sky? Music? Do you have a young detective, explorer or superhero at home? Reading Rockets’ Start with a Book offers 24 kid-friendly themes, with theme-related books, hands-on activities, and awesome apps and website to jumpstart your summer learning adventures.

Write it down. Encourage your child to keep a simple journal or summer diary. Track interesting things like the number of fireflies seen in one minute, the number of mosquito bites on a leg or the different types of food that can go on the grill. Each entry is a chance to be creative.  Your child can record everyday adventures in your local community with Reading Rockets’ Adventure Tracker and log summer reading favorites with Reading Rockets’ Book Tracker!

Sign up to receive more summer learning tips, reading facts and inspiring stories this summer!

The post Five Tips for Summer-Long Learning appeared first on First Book Blog.

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15. Keep Resources Flowing This Summer

Keep Resources Flowing This Summer

Keep resources flowing this summer!  Whether you serve kids in need, want to encourage summer reading in your own children or are concerned about the issue of summer slide, there are many great ways to keep kids reading and learning all summer long.

  • Work with kids in need?  Sign up with First Book to get access to low-cost books and resources for your summer program or to prepare for the school year to come.
  • Want tips to get your kids reading all summer?  Sign up to receive books lists, learning tips and inspiring stories from First Book.
  • Want to help get books and resources to kids in need?  Give to First Book today.  Each gift of $2.50 brings a new book into the hands of a child in need

Click on the graphic to see a larger version.

The post Keep Resources Flowing This Summer appeared first on First Book Blog.

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16. Three Big Ways to Celebrate National Summer Learning Day

Summer_ReadingMark your calendars for June 20th! It’s National Summer Learning Day – an annual celebration dedicated to promoting the importance of summer learning for all children and helping close the achievement gap.

This year, we’ve teamed up with our friends at the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) to share three BIG ways to celebrate with the kids you serve or your kids at home! You can get involved by organizing your own activities or by joining an event nearby.

Already have something planned? Find local summer learning events on the Summer Learning Day Event Map or add your event to the map to join the fun.

Check out three BIG ways to celebrate National Summer Learning Day.

  • Host a family literacy celebration. Invite the caring adults in your kids’ lives to attend an event focused on the importance of families reading together.

_MG_0131Have kids prepare a performance or a piece of art based on one of their favorite books, or organize fun activities like a healthy cooking demonstrations or a visit from a local storyteller. Consider inviting a local library representative to share information on services the library provides and how parents and kids can get library cards. And be sure to check out First Book’s Best of Summer Book Lists for great summer reading suggestions for kids of all ages.

  • childreExplore new activities, places and cultures. Summer is great time for kids to explore new subjects and develop new skills.

kids in crisisRead a story about gardening and then work with your kids to plant a garden. Research which plants grow best with each other, map out a plan, visit your local nursery and dig in the dirt!

Explore new cultures through the books featured in our Stories for All Project. Make the stories come alive by seeing a play, cooking a dish or visiting a museum exhibit connected to that culture.

  • Truckload of booksBring more books to your community. What better way to share the importance of summer learning than by bringing books to your community?

Set up a Virtual Book Drive to raise funds for your program or programs in your community serving children in need. Simply set up your page, set a fundraising goal and share the page with your community.  A $10 gift brings about four books from the First Book Marketplace to local kids.

For even more ways to celebrate, visit NSLA’s National Summer Learning Day page!



The post Three Big Ways to Celebrate National Summer Learning Day appeared first on First Book Blog.

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17. 5 Tips to Engage Latino Families and Students

Welcome to First Book’s celebrity blog series. Each month we will be connecting with influential voices who share a belief in the power of literacy, and who have worked with First Book to curate a unique collection that inspires a love of reading and learning. All recommended books are available at deeply discounted prices on the First Book Marketplace to educators and programs serving children in need.

This month we hear from Peggy McCloud, Ed. D. the Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) on engaging Latino families and children in reading and learning.

Violetta Markelou Photography 2011Any student who has parents that understand the journey from preschool to college is better equipped to navigate the road to long-term student success. While parent engagement is critical to increasing educational attainment for all children, engaging Latino parents in their children’s schooling has typically been challenging – often for linguistic and cultural reasons.

The National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR) parent engagement program is designed to eliminate these challenges and create strong connections between schools, parents, and their children. A bilingual curriculum designed to be administered by school staff, the Padres Comprometidos program empowers Latino parents who haven’t typically been connected to their children’s school. Many of the parents the program reaches are low-income, Spanish-speaking, first and second generation immigrants. Through Padres Comprometidos, these parents gain a deeper understanding of what the journey to academic success will be like, and how they can play a role in preparing their children for higher education. Prior to participating in the program, not all parents expected their children to attend college. After the program, 100% of parents indicated that they expected their children to attend college.

Much of Padres Comprometidos success rests on the program’s ability to address language and culture as assets, rather than as obstacles to be overcome. This asset building strategy extends to NCLR’s partnership with First Book. Together, we’re working to ensure Latino children of all ages have access to books that are culturally and linguistically relevant, books they need to become enthusiastic readers inside and outside of the classroom. Click here to access the three parent engagement curricula developed by NCLR—tailored to parents of preschool, elementary and secondary school students.

Below you will find a few tips and titles that can help you engage families and get children – and their parents and caregivers – reading and learning.

la_llorona_weeping1. Find ways to connect stories that parents know about to help them engage in reading and conversation with their children. This Mexican folktale can open that door:
La Llorona: http://www.fbmarketplace.org/weeping-woman-la-llorona-bilingual-english-spanish.html


websters_yellow_cover_spanish_english2. Keep an English/Spanish dictionary handy to use when you have a parent visiting or to give away to a parent or caregiver who needs it. It will show them that you’re making an effort to engage in their language of comfort.
Webster’s Everyday Spanish-English Dictionary: http://www.fbmarketplace.org/websters-everyday-spanish-english-dictionary.html

storytellers_candle_delacre3. Learn about the children you serve and their heritage, and identify books that will affirm them. This Pura Belpré award winner is actually about Pura Belpré, the first Latina (Puerto Rican) to head a public library system.
La Velita de los Cuentos: http://www.fbmarketplace.org/the-storytellers-candle-la-velita-de-los-cuentos.html


grandma and me4. Share books that include some of the everyday experiences of the children and neighborhoods you serve, like this story highlighting the value of community and family.
Grandma and Me at the Flea: http://www.fbmarketplace.org/grandma-and-me-at-the-flea-los-meros-meros-remateros.html


my_colors_my_world5. Bilingual books provide family members and caregivers the opportunity to read the same books their children are reading, but in their language of comfort. Families will love reading about all the colors of the rainbow in English and Spanish.
My Colors My World: http://www.fbmarketplace.org/my-colors-my-world-mis-colores-mi-mundo.html

Sign up with First Book to access these and other great titles on the First Book Marketplace.

Peggy McCloud, Ed. D. is Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).

The post 5 Tips to Engage Latino Families and Students appeared first on First Book Blog.

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18. Oh, the Places You’ll Go

bookCoverShannon Bowers’ son Alex loves Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go.

Shannon gets teary-eyed when they read it together. Someday Alex will grow up, go to college and live out his dreams. Alex gets teary-eyed when Shannon reads too many of the pages. He’s five now. That’s his job.

Recently, Alex and his classmates, students from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, all picked out brand-new books from First Book to take home. They chose stories about history, princesses and sharks. Their excitement was overflowing; many of them had no books at home.

Shannon Bowers family 2014Books have always been an important part of Shannon’s life. Her parents read to her as a child, and she and her husband Paul entered parenthood sharing the belief that education creates opportunities. They have always made an effort to fill their home with books.

Since Alex was born, Shannon and Paul have made reading as a family part of their nightly routine. Alex picks out a book; they all pile into his bed and share the story together. These days, Alex really likes to read to one-year-old Michael. He gets frustrated if mom or dad interrupts.

Shannon hopes reading will help take Alex and Michael all the places they want to go – in their imaginations and in life. She hopes financial issues won’t stand in their way. She hopes the same can be true for all kids.

“Our kids, they’re five years old,” she said. “None of them are thinking about [the future] right now. But we are. We think about that kind of thing… I want all of these kids to know if they make good enough grades, and they do what they need to do, then it’s there. They can do whatever they want.”

Together we can prepare kids for brighter future. Please consider making a gift to First Book today.

The post Oh, the Places You’ll Go appeared first on First Book Blog.

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19. After Too Long An Absence . . .

Greetings from sunny Tampa and the National Title I Conference!

I'm pleased to say that family engagement is a hot topic this year at this conference and so it should be.  In addition to my session, Families and Educators:  A Joint Book Club Concept, there are at least five other presenters who are helping Title I teachers and other Title I staff attending to understand best practices and get a handle on this idea of authentically partnering with parents.


What I see happen too many times:

1) Educators and parents "in charge" (such as PTA/PTO leadership) don't take the time to talk to your average, every-day parent (the involved and the not involved).  Making them a part of the solution is essential!

2) Professional educators trying to teach families how to do the "academic stuff" that those teachers are teaching children in the classroom (and that those teachers went to school multiple years to master).  You may have some families interested in that, but I guarantee you are limiting your family engagement if you take that approach.  Use your curriculum mapping to look for complementary practical "real-life" activities you can involve families in, rather than duplication of academic practice.  You'll engage many more moms, dads, grandmas, uncles and community members AND children will hear the important message that LEARNING HAPPENS EVERYWHERE, NOT JUST AT SCHOOL.

Get Involved in the Conversation!

I'd love to hear from all of you out there (both attendees at this important conference and those who are "holding down the forts") on these questions:

1) What is the MOST EFFECTIVE family engagement activity/strategy you EVER saw work at your school?  What made it successful?

2) Why do you think parents aren't involved with their children's learning? 

You can add more insight by responding to a brief survey online.  Its findings will be the beginning of a new book on this important subject . . .

1 Comments on After Too Long An Absence . . ., last added: 1/31/2011
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20. After Too Long An Absence . . .

Thank you to all of you who continue to follow this blog.  I have been absent, struggling a bit as all of us do from time to time, with squeezing everything we want to do into the time and energy we have.  I know that parents can relate to that. 


With this post, I'd like to draw us back together and begin again the discussions about parents and kids reading together.  This post is for parents of 2 year olds and parents of 22 year olds.

Please share this new post with your friends and tap them into an important resource.


This is a view out my hotel window tonight.  I am in lovely (and warm) Tampa, Florida for the
National Title I Conference and am so excited to tell you that family engagement in children's learning is on the FRONT burner!  

Not only does my session, Families and Educators: A Joint Book Club Concept, address this topic but there are at least five other presenters talking about this same issue.  With educators talking more about how to involve families (some how to "follow the letter of the federal law in Title I schools but others, happily, who are genuinely interested in partnering with parents).

I'd love to hear the viewpoint from anyone reading this post on the following questions:

  1. Do you feel welcome at your child's school?  Why or why not? 
  2. Do you see your child's teacher as "friend" or "foe"?  Why or why not?
  3. If you could stand in front of the Title I teachers from all other the country this week, what would you say to them?

I look forward to your comments!

P.S.  Need some reading for yourself?  Check out reviews from me and my fellow book reviewers at http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/reviewer/cathy-puett-miller.



For 6 months now I've been working on a project with the Region IV Head Start Association's Executive Director, Myra Ingram.  Talk about inspiring!  I've visited Head Start classrooms, talked with parents and teachers and children and today we have a chance to make a bigger dream real.

My company, TLA, Inc., and Region IV Head Start Association are teaming up now for the Pepsi Refresh Project,  

Parents everywhere can relate to the idea that moms and dads want the very best for their child.  And in Head Starts across the SE, we have a chance to build upon what is already happening with family engagement to bring a new level of partnership between home and school.Learn more by visiting the Pepsi Refresh Pages for this project, watching the video and then voting.  Take a few minutes to then help us spread the word as broadly as possible (I'm telling EVERYONE on the earth that I know!)

There are several ways you can participate and make this dream possible:

to vote personally for the project (a quick registration is all you need).  Then bookmark the site and put a reminder on your phone or calendar to vote daily (30 votes are possible for this one project per person - one a day.  

2) Share this blog or the link through social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and others.  Your connections plus ours make for great numbers.  Encourage as many of your friends as possible to vote daily as well. When you see someone else Tweeting this voting, retweet them too!

3) Offer voting by texting  (all regular texting fees apply):  Text* 102675 to Pepsi (73774).
 Again, daily votes prompted by a calendar reminder are great.  If you'd like an email remainder, request same by emailing TLA

4)  Reach your best friends, collagues and the nonprofit agencies (including Head Starts) throughout the SE states of AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN - they'll be learning about this opportunity to impacts them directly soon if they haven't already gotten the word.  Let's get everyone on the bandwagon to vote daily.  
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