ARI Holiday Family Newsletter

Alabama Reading Initiative

Our Mission

The Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI) is a statewide K-3 initiative committed to supporting the development of high-quality instruction that will prepare all students with the literacy skills needed to meet or exceed grade-level standards. The goal of the ARI is to significantly improve reading instruction and ultimately achieve 100% literacy among public school students.

Holiday Activities

We hope that you find the holiday-filled literacy activities below fun during this season!
The Gingerbread Man | Full Story | Animated Fairy Tales For Children | 4K UHD

Retelling Hand - Comprehension

Read a story together. Then use the retelling hand to retell the story according to the pictures on each finger. You can use the animated story above if you do not have a book available.

Thumb: Who were the characters in the story?

Index Finger: When and where did the story take place?

Middle Finger: What is the problem in the story?

Ring Finger: What events happened in the story; What happened first, second, next?

Pinkie Finger: How was the problem fixed? What is the end of the story?

Palm of the Hand: Theme: What is the message the author wanted to send?

How to Use

Have your child use the retelling hand to tell you and others the story by answering the questions for each finger. As your child gives you ideas for each finger, put the finger down toward the palm of the hand. When all the fingers are down, then we have told the “heart” or idea of the story.

Retelling Hand Questions

WHO: Who is the main character in the story? Name some other characters in the story. Tell me about one of the characters.

WHERE: Where does the story take place? Where do the characters live?

WHAT: What is the problem in the story? What happened in the story?

EVENTS: Retell the events in order: beginning, middle & end. What happened first, second, next? Tell me about a specific event. (This is a great place to ask “why” questions.)

ENDING: Tell me about the end of the story. Were you surprised at the way the story ended? Tell me another way the story could have ended.

Snowball Alphabet Game

This winter-themed game is a fun and active way to practice letter names and sounds with your child. Your child will enjoy throwing pretend snowballs while practicing literacy skills!

Big picture


If your family celebrates Christmas, instead of just asking your child what he or she may want for Christmas, encourage him or her to write a letter to Santa. Depending on the age and developmental stage of your child's writing, this could range from drawing pictures with simple words to writing a paragraph. You can find a variety of letterhead for this activity at the link below, or you can have your child use notebook paper. Be sure to put your child's letter in an addressed envelope and "mail" the letter to Santa.

21+ FREE Printable Letter to Santa Templates - Realia Project

Holiday Writing:Letters and Thank-You Notes

Help your child write letters or e-mails to relatives and friends. Show your child how to write thank-you notes for holiday gifts.

Fun Template for Letters

Template for Thank You Cards

Letter Writing for Kids

Reindeer Food Writing Tray

Reindeer Food Writing Tray | Still Playing School

Make magical reindeer food and work on literacy by creating this Christmas writing tray for kids! This fun project is perfect for preschoolers and kindergarteners.

Suggested Books When Visiting the Library

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss

Your kids already love the movie adaptions, so introduce them to the book that started it all. When the Grinch sets out to ruin Christmas for the citizens of Whoville, he is surprised when the spirit of the season affects him. Will he get away with stealing their holiday, or will the true meaning of Christmas warm his cold, black heart?

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

While the snow falls on Christmas Eve, a mysterious train heads from door to door, bringing children to see Santa so they may tell him their Christmas wishes. This classic picture book, published in 1985, inspired the 2004 movie of the same name and is read to millions of children each holiday.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Keats received the 1963 Caldecott Medal for this gorgeously illustrated winter children's book. In the story, a young boy named Peter ventures out to explore his city after the first snowfall of the season. This sweet book will bring back fond memories of snow days past for parents.

Additional Resources

"My Child Can" Resources

ARI is excited to share this resource in the form of QR Codes with parents. Simply click on the link below and use your cellphone's camera to access a wealth of videos, articles, and games to help your child at home.

My Child Can Resources (English) QR Code Flyer

My Child Can Resources (Spanish) QR Code Flyer

Family and Community Resources (English) QR Code Flyer

Family and Community Resources (Spanish) QR Code Flyer

Parental Engagement Month 2022

October was Parental Engagement Month. ARI supported Family and Community with parenting sessions across the state. These sessions were presented with a wealth of reading strategies and resources for families to use at home to support literacy.
Big picture

Southside Primary School Selma, Alabama- Literacy Night

Parents and students at Southside Primary School were gifted with a special guest "Short the Squirrel" accompanied with a read aloud from District 5 - State Board of Education, Dr. Tonya Chestnut.

Family and Community Resources

Feed Me Words

Feed Me Words is a program of the Alabama Partnership for Children (APC). It stands by the principle that all children in Alabama should benefit from language-rich activities provided through everyday moments with adults around them. Engaging in activities such as talking, playing, reading, and singing enhances healthy language and brain development.

To accomplish this, Feed Me Words' mission is to support the language and literacy development of Alabama's youngest children (from birth to age 5) by providing the adults in their lives with access to and awareness of early language and literacy resources.

Help Me Grow Alabama

Help Me Grow (HMG) connects families to health and developmental resources so children (birth to age eight) can start school healthy and ready to succeed. With this proven model, HMG helps to ensure all children have the best possible start in life.

HMG provides a free, confidential, centralized telephone access point that links every family in Alabama to a care coordinator who will answer questions, discuss concerns about their child’s development, connect them with services in their community, and follow-up to ensure a connection is made.

Big picture


"About Us - Feed Me Words." Accessed 12 Oct. 2022.

"Alabama Course of Study English Language Arts." Accessed 16 October. 2022.

"Help Me Grow Alabama: Home." Accessed 12 Oct. 2022.

"Snowball Throw Alphabet Game - Fun Learning for Kids." Accessed 31 Oct. 2022.

"The Gingerbread Man | Fairy Tales | Gigglebox - YouTube." 21 Jan. 2018, Accessed 11 Oct. 2022

"21+ FREE Printable Letter to Santa Templates - Realia Project." Accessed 31 Oct. 2022.