Falling Into Literacy

Family Resources

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”- Emilie Buchwald

National Family Literacy Month

National Family Literacy Month is an annual designation observed in November. This month, get the whole family snuggled up on the couch and open up a good book. Studies show that reading aloud with mom or dad is the most important activity when it comes to preparing children to read on their own.


Whether it’s your toddler mesmerized by the pictures and activities of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” or his Grandpa getting lost in the mysteries of a John Grisham novel, a love for books is timeless and shared across all generations. Nothing beats curling up with a good book and exploring the countless possibilities of worlds both real and imagined.


For many, the love for books starts at an early age in the stories our parents read to us. Providing your children with plentiful opportunities to listen to stories will help them learn to read and comprehend stories on their own. They also begin to think more actively as they listen to stories and picture the scenes described, wondering how the story will develop. When read to frequently, children can grow to love reading and will take the initiative to read more on their own.

Encouraging Reading at Home:

  1. Get Older Siblings Reading to Their Younger Siblings. It’s great practice for big bro or big sis to explain big words or summarize the story, and it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate a love of reading to little bro or sis.
  2. Practice Reading “Popcorn” Style. Each family member can read a page or two and then “popcorn pass” to the family member of their choice.
  3. Take Turns choosing the book or the book reading location of the night.
  4. Plan Themed Reading Nights. Pitch a tent in the living room and “camp out” while you read, or build a “bear cave” fort and read books about bears. Let your imagination take your themes to the next level.
  5. Incorporate Fun Accessories. Make your own bookmarks or sand timers. Invest in kid-friendly reading lights.
  6. Involve Distant Family and Friends. Books can be read aloud over FaceTime or Skype. Record your child reading their favorite book and send the video to loved ones.
  7. Read and Watch. Choose a book that has been turned into a movie. Read the book first and then schedule a family movie night to see the book come to life on the screen.
  8. Schedule It. Reading should be an activity as important as our kids’ various practices, lessons and play dates. If it’s on the calendar, it will become a higher priority.
  9. Book Swap. Get other families involved in a periodic book swap where kids can lend and borrow books from friends in the neighborhood or other social circles.
  10. Dinner Talk. Books can be a topic of discussion at family dinner. Ask family members to share about the latest books they’ve enjoyed, or how the plot is twisting in their latest chapter book.
  1. Get Older Siblings Reading to Their Younger Siblings. It’s great practice for big bro or big sis to explain big words or summarize the story, and it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate a love of reading to little bro or sis.
  2. Practice Reading “Popcorn” Style. Each family member can read a page or two and then “popcorn pass” to the family member of their choice.
  3. Take Turns choosing the book or the book reading location of the night.
  4. Plan Themed Reading Nights. Pitch a tent in the living room and “camp out” while you read, or build a “bear cave” fort and read books about bears. Let your imagination take your themes to the next level.
  5. Incorporate Fun Accessories. Make your own bookmarks or sand timers. Invest in kid-friendly reading lights.
  6. Involve Distant Family and Friends. Books can be read aloud over FaceTime or Skype. Record your child reading their favorite book and send the video to loved ones.
  7. Read and Watch. Choose a book that has been turned into a movie. Read the book first and then schedule a family movie night to see the book come to life on the screen.
  8. Schedule It. Reading should be an activity as important as our kids’ various practices, lessons and play dates. If it’s on the calendar, it will become a higher priority.
  9. Book Swap. Get other families involved in a periodic book swap where kids can lend and borrow books from friends in the neighborhood or other social circles.
  10. Dinner Talk. Books can be a topic of discussion at family dinner. Ask family members to share about the latest books they’ve enjoyed, or how the plot is twisting in their latest chapter book.

Texas Primary Reading Inventory (TPRI)

All Kinder through 3rd grade students at STEM have finished talking the Beginning of the Year TPRI. Your students teacher will be providing you a copy of the report. Students will be tested again at int Middle of the Year in January and at the end of the year in April/May.

Below you will find Parent resources (in English and Spanish) explaining the areas tested in each grade level and how you can help prepare you student at home.

Celebrate Thanksgiving with These Literacy Activities

As we prepare to go on Thanksgiving break in 3 weeks, it can be difficult to keep children busy amidst the excitement. The break presents a perfect opportunity to think about values such as gratitude, charity, friendship, and community. Below are a few ways to celebrate the holiday while improving literacy skills!

  • Have children make an “I Am Thankful for…” book, where they write and illustrate what they are most thankful for. This encourages kids to demonstrate gratitude while also strengthening their reading and writing skills.
  • Create your own Feed the Turkey game to help tone reading skills. Using an interactive game keeps students interested and constantly learning throughout.
  • Construct felt depictions of traditional Thanksgiving characters, such as turkeys and vegetables. These can be used to retell fun Thanksgiving stories or to invent your own!
  • See how many different words your child can build by rearranging the letters in Thanksgiving-themed words, such as “thankful,” “turkey,” and “pilgrim.”
  • Play the Gobble Gobble Game. This is a fun, competitive way to practice the alphabet.
  • Help students create Thanksgiving dinner menus. This will give them a chance to show off their writing skills to dinner guests!
  • Challenge students to The New York TimesThanksgiving-themed crossword puzzle.
  • Learn about the language and culture of the Wampanoag tribe.

The Easiest Ever Thanksgiving Craft


Thanksgiving is coming soon! It might be a little different this year, but enjoy a long weekend of fun, food, and lots of family time! Here’s an easy and fun craft for the whole family:

LET’S GO!


Thanksgiving is coming soon! It might be a little different this year, but enjoy a long weekend of fun, food, and lots of family time! Here’s an easy and fun craft for the whole family:

LET’S GO!

What you need:


  • Paper
  • Crayons
  • Optional: felt tip marker

What to do:

  1. Trace your hand or your child’s with a marker or crayon
  2. Use crayons or markers to draw in and colour a turkey
  3. Have fun with it!

You and your child can make just one, or make a turkey for each person at Thanksgiving dinner! Place them on each plate, not only for decoration but for conversation too!

WHY?

Making crafts together is a good way to bond with your child, and the talking that comes from working together is building an important literacy skill. A bonus is the hand coordination that comes from drawing, which will help with writing skills in the future.

The Best Thanksgiving Books- Picks for grades K–12

1. Thank You, Bees by Toni Yuly (K–1)

Simple and sweet, the narrator thanks nature for all it provides. This one begs to be followed by making a class thank-you book with the same text pattern.

2. Around the Table that Grandad Built by Melanie Heuiser Hill (Pre-K–1)

A diverse group of family and friends gathers for a meal, and each person brings a contribution with special meaning. It’s not specifically a Thanksgiving gathering, but this tale captures the spirit of the holiday in a lovely way.

3. Giving Thanks: More Than 100 Ways to Say Thank You by Ellen Surrey ( K–1)

This ode to the many people, things, and experiences for which a young boy is grateful is a perfect way to kick off conversations about gratitude. It includes directions for creating a gratitude jar and creative ideas for writing thank-you notes.

4. Thanksgiving in the Woods by Phyllis Alsdurf (K–2)

Demonstrate how holiday traditions come in all shapes and sizes with this true story of a group of family and friends who treks into the woods every year to set up an outdoor Thanksgiving. It’s also a perfect holiday-themed mentor text for writing personal narratives.

5. The Great Thanksgiving Escape by Mark Fearing (K–2)

Whether or not your students celebrate Thanksgiving, they’ll likely relate to this hilarious look at what it means to be a kid at a large family gathering. The underlying message is, if you can make it through the kissing, cheek-pinching “Hall of Aunts,” there is fun to be had.

6. Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell (K–2)

Step outside the Thanksgiving box with this story of a bountiful harvest and a family soup-making day. Catchy rhyming text and joyful illustrations make this a great read aloud.

7. Over the River and Through the Wood: The New England Boy’s Song About Thanksgiving Day by L. Maria Child (K–3)

There are many book versions of this classic song. Choose this one, illustrated by Matt Tavares, for its lush illustrations that portray a family of color enjoying Thanksgiving.

8. Yum! MMMM! Que Rico! by Pat Mora (K–5)

America harvests cranberries, pumpkins, and potatoes, but also so much more, according to this creatively illustrated collection of haiku about different crops. Each poem has an accompanying informational blurb.

9. We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell (K–5)

Thanksgiving is a particularly great time to share books written by indigenous authors and about indigenous people. This reflection on the Cherokee tradition of gratitude is both fascinating and moving.

10. Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (K–5)

This story sparks relevant conversations about the relationship between food, family, tradition, and culture. A modern-day family prepares a food that’s steeped in Native American history.

11. Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Thanksgiving With Turkey, Family, and Counting Blessings by Deborah Heiligman (Grades K–5)

Use this one-stop-shopping text to introduce an accurate history of the holiday, its connection to the National Day of Mourning, and how families celebrate today.

12. Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic by Ginnie Lo (2–5)

Present a different look at typical Thanksgiving elements, like a family road trip; a gaggle of aunts, uncles, and cousins; and a big family meal. Talk about how new traditions can be created, even if they go against the norms of mainstream culture.

13. Not This Turkey! by Jessica Steinberg (2–5)

When a Jewish immigrant wins a turkey in a raffle at work, his family dreams of having an “American Thanksgiving” like all their neighbors. The prize doesn’t turn out as expected, but they end up creating their own traditions instead.

14. 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving
by Catherine O’Neill Grace (2–8)

Published over a decade ago, it’s no longer “new,” but it’s still the best picture book out there for discussing the first Thanksgiving in a comprehensive and accurate way. Check out the many additional resources Plimoth Plantation offers for even more curriculum ideas.

15. The Boy Who Fell off the Mayflower, or John Howland’s Good Fortune by P.J. Lynch (3–8)

Use this first-person narrative to help your students imagine what it would have been like to be a teenage indentured servant aboard the Mayflower and during the Pilgrims’ first year in Plymouth.

16. Native American History for Kids
by Karen Bush Gibson (5–8)

Use the whole book over the course of the month—November is also Native American Heritage Month, after all—or focus on the sections related to New England, the first Thanksgiving, and what followed.

17. Thanksgiving at the Inn by Tim Whitney (5–8)

Moving to a country inn complicates Heath’s already-difficult relationship with his alcoholic father, but also introduces him to a cast of unlikely new characters. As Thanksgiving rolls around, Heath has a lot on which to reflect.

18. Refugee by Alan Gratz (5–8)

Refugees are often referred to as modern-day pilgrims. Connect the Pilgrims’ departure from England with Gratz’s stories of a German Jewish boy during World War II, a Cuban girl in 1994, and a Syrian boy in 2015.

19. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick (9–12)

This historical account of the Pilgrims’ arrival tells the good, bad, and ugly that followed. Painstakingly researched and told, this one goes far beyond questioning whether the first Thanksgiving meal actually included turkey.

20. They Came for Freedom: The Forgotten, Epic Adventure of the Pilgrims by Jay Milbrandt (9–12)

This detailed historical account chronicles the Pilgrims’ experiences, beginning with their fleeing from religious persecution in England. Invite classroom discussion with this decidedly pro-Pilgrim viewpoint.

21. Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience by Melanie Kirkpatrick (9–12)

Bonnie Villarreal

Reading Coach

Reading Specialist

Dyslexia Interventist