Tag Archives: reading

StoryMob Fun

The kids and I recently did a recorded read-aloud for World Read Aloud Day and StoryMob’s Mini-Mob Mania. So.Much.Fun.

Click over to our videos on YouTube below—one French read-aloud and one English read-aloud. We invited a friend to join us in the making of our read aloud videos. We had a ton of fun doing this. The kids came up with so many great ideas for how to act things out and what to use for props. It was imaginaction at its best.

Don’t forget to share your videos and send them to StoryMob at storymobs@gmail.com by February 19 to be included in their World Read Aloud Day Mini-Mob Mania!

DjabouNDawDjabou N’Daw – Un conte d’Afrique en Français: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rFlunNu8Cs




BedtimeIsCanceledBedtime is Canceled – A fun bedtime story in English: https://youtu.be/tmjqruE-p3o




For the Love of Reading

So, I’ve been busy. I went back to work at the beginning of January and my blog has been left alone and lonely.

We’ve been up to plenty of things (around the house mostly, because I still can’t drive), but I haven’t had time to post our fun.

But I couldn’t stay away today, no matter how busy I am. It’s Family Literacy Day and we’re all about reading (and writing) in this house.

Little Brother finished another Reading Road last night (way past his bedtime, but hey, who am I to say turn out your reading light when I’m snuggled in my bed way past my bedtime reading just one more chapter?)

Big Sister is working on writing chapter 5 of her first French story. And she won’t go to sleep at bedtime unless I read her a chapter from one of her Beverly Cleary books and then she reads a chapter from her Judy Blume book. (We really need to start the bedtime process at 5:30pm to get everyone in bed and read to by 9pm.)

Husband has picked up the reading bug big time. (He’s always been a reader, but since my surgery, he’s spending more time de-stressing with a good book before lights out.)

And me, well, I read constantly, and everything I can get my hands on.

So, while taking a break from some reading for work, I stumbled on a site shared on FB by a friend of my mother’s…StoryMobs…and I’m totally stoked for their upcoming events!

One of the events StoryMobs is doing is going to coincide with World Read Aloud Day on February 24th this year. To join in the fun for World Read Aloud Day, all you have to do is pick a favourite story, use your imagination and a smart phone (or other video recording device), then add costumes and actions (if you want), and get your family and friends to join in the fun and read with you (pick a character each to read aloud and bring the story to life!)

You can make it as elaborate of a production as you want, or you can keep it simple with a straight read-aloud from the book. You can do a whole story book or just a few pages. Anything goes!

Make a video of you and your friends and family (whoever you invite) doing your mini-mob and then send it to StoryMobs at storymobs@gmail.com by Friday, February 19.

They ask that you please try to keep your video clips/files small so that they can include everyone who submits a video. StoryMob will then share their final collection of mini-mobs with their subscribers, via social media (FB, Twitter), and on their YouTube channel as part of Read-Aloud Day festivities on Feb 24!

Isn’t that cool?!

So we’re gonna cuddle up this weekend and make our mini-mob video. I’ll come back here and post it when its done and I have a free minute. I’d love to see your read-loud mini-mob videos, too! You can post your links in the comments!

And keep reading!

The Reading Road

Last year, I started a game with my kids called the Book Can Contest. It was an incentive to read. They both love books, but our busy life and technology always seemed to get in the way of a good book.

I admit, that although I consider myself to be an avid reader, I wasn’t exactly setting the right example for my kids. We read bedtime stories every night and sometimes even sit down with a book mid-afternoon, but I wasn’t doing much reading of my own. My kids rarely, if ever, saw me reading my own books. (I tend to read in bed before going to sleep.)

In this age of technology, screens, too many toys, and way too much distraction, the way to raise a reader is to read to them, with them, and on your own in front of them.

It was probably a lot easier to establish a reading habit—and therefore a love of books—when I was a kid because my parents had less to contend with. There were fewer things competing for my attention.

This generation of kids needs a very clear example and lots of guidance to get them to the same state of book loving.

Enter the Book Can Contest.

When we did this last year, every time my kids read a book, they got to fill out a ballot to put in the Book Can—a can I decorated with pictures of books and sayings from our favourite books. I’m a book geek. What can I say?

On the ballot, they would record the name of the book, their name and the date they read the book. For Big Sister who is into reading novels, she would also record the chapter that she had read. (One full chapter qualified for a ballot. The objective was to get them to read of their own accord, so small successes were celebrated. We worked our way up from there.)

On Friday mornings, we would draw a ballot from the can and the winner would get a prize. The more you read, the more ballots you had in the can and the more chances you had at winning the prize. My husband and I got involved, too, which made the competition a little more interesting.

Prizes included a new book, 30 minutes with Mommy to do whatever the winner wanted, same deal with Daddy, winner’s choice for dinner, 30 minutes of TV during the week, a chocolate bar, free pass on a chore, a trip to the dollar store with $2 to spend, dessert during the week, staying up late one day on the weekend, a lollipop, among other things.

We tried to come up with prizes that didn’t add more “stuff” to our lives. Experiences, free passes on chores and screen time (my kids get very little to begin with), decisions they weren’t usually in charge of making; these were the things we wanted to encourage them with. Your imagination is the limit when it comes to these kinds of prizes and the possibilities are endless.

To make the prize fair, I also wrote all the prize options on ballots and put them in a separate bag. Whoever won the Book Can Contest that week would then get to draw the prize for next week’s contest. We posted all this on the wall above our kitchen table so that it was visible all the time (a great reminder).

We had fun reading and winning for about five months, but then contest fatigue set in and we missed the draw a couple of weeks in a row. Then summer came and life became less routine and more relaxed. And that was the end of the Book Can Contest.

I was sad to see it go, but sometimes we have to move onto the next best thing.

For a while, we didn’t have a reading incentive—and that’s not a bad thing. Both my kids love books. One’s a reader already and the other one is in the phase of grasping reading concepts like letter combinations and decoding and that words represent visuals and are used to tell a story. He’s doing really great at it. No sense rushing him through this phase.

It can be such a fun phase if you allow the time for it. He loves to tell me about the stories he has “read” and though he describes them mostly the same every time, his powers of observation are slightly more improved or different each day and sometimes the story he tells from the book he has “read” is more elaborate and detailed because he has noticed some new thing in its pages. But generally speaking, he’s telling the story that is actually depicted in the pages of his book. Actually reading the words will follow closely on the heals of this step. But I’ll miss this phase once he can read. We are having so much fun telling stories from the pictures!

With his new-found appreciation of books and stories, he recently suggested that we revive the Book Can Contest to track how much we were reading. I thought maybe we should try a new incentive game or chart. So, I came up with the Reading Road chart.

The Reading Road is a picture I drew (very crudely in Microsoft Paint) that looks like a road, and along the road there are lines on which to record the titles of the books one is reading. The reader starts at the beginning of the road and works his or her way to the end of the road. Once there, the reader is entitled to a prize set out at the beginning of the reading journey. Because my kids love books so much, they usually choose a new book as their prize.

It has really taken off. I also plan to use the Reading Road charts to encourage reading on specific topics. We’re big into our local library and visit a couple times a week at least. Often, a particular topic catches Big Sister or Little Brother’s interest and we’ll stock up on books that feed that interest.

What sometimes happens, though, is the books will come home and get put in our library pile and only a few will be read (the ones they like the most). Despite encouragement from me, the other books will languish in the pile until their return date. By using the Reading Road chart, there is an incentive to read all of the books they picked out on that particular topic at the library. I know it’s not a big deal if a book is borrowed from the library and not devoured voraciously, but to me it’s akin to buying food and letting it rot in the fridge. Why would you do that? My motto is: if you’re not going to use it, don’t take it.

So here’s what we use to track our reading (and practice our penmanship for those of us still in the early learning stages):

reading road chart

Here’s the PDF of the Reading Road Chart. Feel free to use it for your kids. If you do use it, let me know how it goes in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter. Use the hashtag #LTOReadingRoad.

Happy reading!

four pictures of a bookq

A Colourful Review

In the recent past, I received a beautiful book for review.

It’s called The Colour Book and it’s by Sophie Benini Pietromarchi (her name has such a lovely ring to it, don’t you think?)

Like with all reviews, I started out by sitting with the book and just taking in its cover and artwork. This is a hardcover book, and so the weight and feel of it was very nice in my hands.

The cover artwork drew me in. As I sat with it, Little Brother came by to see what I was doing (it’s not often my kids see their mother sitting down, looking unoccupied).

Fotor_144560724599084Little Brother was instantly intrigued by the ants that ran across the cover, dipping themselves into what looked like pots of different coloured paints and changing their colours.

The cover is a wonderful indication of what is to come in the pages that follow:

Colour, alive and moving around the pages and taking the reader on a journey.

We opened the book together and followed the path set out by the author through colours and words.

The Colours

Each page is bursting with colour and description and beauty. Colour in nature and colour in faces and in feelings. The author talks about smiling colours and naming colours and personal colours, and then she covers the basics of colours like primary and complementary.

Fotor_144560735037992She talks about shades of colours and yellows and reds and blues and making colours from scratch.

She then invites you to collect and arrange your colours, whatever they may be: crayons, paints, markers; asking you to dive further in and make colour personal.

Fotor_144560729653292The Words

I’ve touched on the beauty of the colours and illustrations. But the words. Oh the words.

Never have I encountered such a wonderful story about colour. The life Sophie brings to the colours and the light that she brings to your imagination as you read…pure joy.

Let me show you:

“Hmmm…don’t colours in a box seem like birds shut up in a cage? The poor creatures don’t know where to go, they know nothing outside their cage. So let’s free them, and see where they go.”

“Beauty is very fleeting. It is there for one moment, and then it glides away swiftly, like a cat.”

She carries this narrative of colour having its own life throughout the book; moving and reflecting and changing.


She describes emotions in colours and even lays out some basic instruction for the new artist to become acquainted with colours and to bring them to life.

She teaches us to look for colour in everything, because everything is full of colour or shades of colour.

Little Brother and I poured over this book for over an hour, talking about the pictures, the colours, the author’s collection (or shrine, as she calls it) of colour.

She ends her beautiful book and the story of colour with this simple instruction…

“…keep looking!”

A more beautiful book in every sense I have not had the pleasure of reading.

Should the desire to make some space for a little calm and beauty in your life take hold, find yourself a copy of The Colour Book, pour yourself a cup of something warm, break off a small piece of that dark chocolate you’ve been hiding at the back of your cupboard and…indulge.


I received a copy of The Colour Book on review. I was not compensated in any other way. The opinions stated in this post are my own.

‘Tis the season for family learning!

I’m a book worm. I have always loved reading. I wish I had more time for reading in my life. But I have two young kids, so the reading I do involves them. I would read all the time if I could. I’m terrible at getting my kids to put their books away at the dinner table because I’d be just as happy to sit there and eat and read along with them. But someone has to teach them that it’s rude to read at the table. So I sacrifice.

With the Christmas holidays upon us, we’ll have more time to snuggle up and read. I can’t wait!

This article from ABC Life Literacy Canada pretty much outlines how I’d like to spend our holidays:

The winter holidays are here—kids off school plus adults off work adds up to family time for learning new things and practicing literacy skills together. ABC Life Literacy Canada offers these holly jolly holiday family literacy tips to make your season “bright!”

  • Family book snuggle: Gather the family together with a favourite holiday book. Get the fire going if you’ve got a fireplace. Then snuggle in and take turns reading aloud to one another. A little hot chocolate is always welcome!
  • Come a-carolling! Invite family and friends for an evening of singing carols—or singing other songs. Singing encourages learning patterns of words, rhymes and rhythms.
  • Bake-off: Get the whole family involved in baking—cookies are a perfect choice because everyone can participate. Following a recipe is a great way to practice reading and comprehension skills. Measuring ingredients and following baking times are practical (and delicious!) applications of math skills.
  • Out on the town: Take in a holiday musical or visit a museum. Family outings offer fun learning opportunities—and make sure to read the theatre program and the exhibit descriptions.
  • Make a list and check it twice: Grocery shopping is easily adaptable for family literacy activities. Your child can write the holiday food shopping list, read signs and labels as you make your way through the aisles, and count items as they go into the shopping cart.
  • Choose your own ABC: For each letter of the alphabet, take turns thinking of holiday things that begin with that letter. Things beginning with C could include candles, cookies and cousins. No need to keep score – just move on to the next letter when no one can think of anything else.
  • Looking for a gift idea? Encourage reading by giving books, magazine subscriptions and bookstore gift cards—gifts they’ll keep opening throughout the year!

When you include fun learning activities in your family’s holiday time, everyone stays sharp and ready for the New Year. For more family literacy tips and activities, visit www.FamilyLiteracyDay.ca.

Canadian author aims to break world record

Spreading some good news today! I had a chance to meet Miriam Laundry last summer and wrote about it here. My kids and I also had a chance to read her book and feed Shreddy some of our CAN’TS. Well, now she’s going to try to break a world record! Read on to find out how you can get involved!

Best-selling writer Miriam Laundry hopes to raise awareness about children’s mental health

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. – Her first children’s book has already landed on the best-sellers list and now St. Catharines author Miriam Laundry has set her sights on hitting a new milestone.

Laundry, author of the recently released I Can … Believe in Myself, is aiming to set a new Guinness World RecordTM for “Most Children Reading With An Adult (multiple locations)” — but she’s going to need a lot of readers to join her in the attempt.

The record is currently held by Jumpstart, which broke the record with 238,620 children on September 20, 2007. Laundry’s record attempt will take place on May 7, 2014 over a 24-hour period, with a goal of 300,000 children reading I Can … Believe in Myself, with an adult.

“My hope is to raise awareness to the issues of children’s mental health and the power of positive children’s books. Not only is this attempt a fun way to do this, but it’s also a way to reach people around the world,” says Mrs. Laundry.

In addition to the record breaking attempt, Laundry is also using the event as opportunity to launch her ‘Healthy Minds’ campaign, which focuses on helping children understand the power of their thoughts while bringing awareness to children’s mental health.

I Can … Believe in Myself  is Laundry’s first book and comes directly from lessons she wanted to teach her children after her 17-year-old niece who was living with a mental illness took her own life.

Laundry, whose youngest child was just days old at the time, turned to writing to help deal with her family’s emotional loss and set her sights on writing books that promote positive self-esteem.

“We need to do more as a society to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health disorders so that we can improve care for people living with them,” Mrs. Laundry says. “I’m hoping my books and this world record attempt will help get young people thinking and talking about these issues in a positive way.”

Laundry Books is a proud supporter of mental health awareness, with a portion of every book sale being donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Here are a few quick stats about mental health in Canada:

  • 70% of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence. (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)
  • Mental illness is increasingly threatening the lives of our children; with Canada’s youth suicide rate the third highest in the industrialized world. (Canadian Mental Health Association)
  • In Canada, only 1 out of 5 children who need mental health services receives them. (Canadian Mental Health Association)
  • At least 1 in 3 Canadians experience problems with their mental health each year. (Canadian Mental Health Association)

To register for the Laundry Books Guinness World RecordTM Attempt, click here.

About the Author:

Miriam Laundry writes books that empower children to make choices that promote confidence, happiness an responsibility. She lives in St. Catharines, Ont. with her husband, Mark Laundry, and their four children.

Fill a Sparkle Box this Christmas

Christmas is coming! Faster than we may want.

Don’t take that the wrong way. I love Christmas. I love the season, the music, the decorations, the giving, the visiting, the food, the family get-togethers, the commercialization, the screaming spoiled kids…OK, maybe not the last two.

But that’s the thing, right? It’s November 21; a little over a month to Christmas and it has already started. The stores have been decorated since November 12th (officially, decorating the day after Remembrance Day is the respectful thing to do). The commercials for kids toys, games, gadgets, you name it have been on the air since the beginning of November. And all that gives us is the “gimmies”.

At one time, December 1st was the acceptable beginning to decorating, Christmas music, advertising, etc. Every year, I swear, it gets earlier. Continue reading