Great Start News: Little Bookworms

March 2021

Our Children, Our Community, Our Future

The purpose of the Jackson Great Start Collaborative is to form a countywide network with diverse representation from all sectors of the community including, education and childcare, health and human services, businesses, faith-based organizations, and families. Together we work to ensure Jackson County children are born healthy, developmentally on track, ready to succeed when entering school, and are reading proficiently by the end of third grade.
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We are excited to announce that we have teamed up with Bright by Text, a national parent texting program, to put expert tips, games, and child development information directly into the hands of parents and caregivers. Bright by Text provides research-based content on child development and learning from trusted experts like PBS, Vroom, Sesame Street, and the CDC, beginning in the second trimester of pregnancy up to age 8. 2-4 simple texts are sent out per week that include links leading to additional information, such as a video or website. In addition, texts will include resources and family-friendly activities being offered right here in Jackson County. Bright by Text messages are offered in both English and Spanish and are specific to the age of your child.

It is easy to sign up for Bright by Text - simply text GREATSTART to 274448 or follow this link to get started!!

Books for Babies

Adding to or starting a library of books for your baby is a great way to start a successful path toward strong reading skills. For babies, choose books that are colorful, simple, and indestructible. All the better, find books that include objects that babies can touch and feel. Below are a few good examples to get you started.

1000 Books Before Kindergarten

The Jackson District Library is excited to bring back the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program to encourage early literacy! The goal of this program is to read 1,000 books to your child by age 5. Why? Reading exposes children to new words and stories, helping them to create lifelong readers before they even start kindergarten. In addition to the many literacy benefits, participating in this program gives you the chance to earn prizes, so sign up today at or in the Beanstack app. (Please note, you will need to create an account for your child in order to register, as this challenge is only visible in accounts with the age of the reader listed as 0-5 years).

Click here for more information. Have fun and keep reading!

Haystack Cookies

You will need:

1 package chow mein noodles

2 packages of butterscotch chips

wax paper

cookie sheet

large spoon


  1. Place wax paper on cookie sheet.
  2. Melt butterscotch chips in a large stockpot over low heat.
  3. Pour chow mein noodles into the stockpot and mix together with melted butterscotch chips.
  4. Use the spoon to scoop up the cookie mixture and drop it onto wax paper.
  5. Let sit for 3 hours or overnight.

Read this recipe with your child and make it together!

Books for Toddlers

Children at this age will enjoy turning pages as you read to them, naming familiar pictures, such as a cup, dog, or cow, and will begin to answer questions about what they see in books. You may find your child pretending to read by turning pages in books and making up stories as they play. Below, you will find three tried-and-true books that are loved by children of this age.
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Fluffy Sheep Craft

March is the time when farmers begin shearing the wool from their sheep as the weather begins turning to spring. Here is a cute and easy project you can do with the little ones in your life, using simple materials.

You will need:

toilet paper rolls

cotton balls



black construction paper

white paper

white crayon

black crayon


  1. Glue four Q-Tips onto the toilet paper roll to make legs.
  2. Glue cotton balls to the toilet paper roll to make a fluffy sheep body.
  3. Cut out a black sheep face.
  4. Cut out 2 white sheep eyes.
  5. Glue the eyes onto the sheep's face.
  6. Use a black crayon to draw the eyes.
  7. Use a white crayon to draw a sheep smile.
  8. Glue the sheep face to the toilet paper roll.

Help your child read the directions and make it together!

Help Your Child Build a Love of Words

Michigan State University Extension recommends talking and reading to children as much as possible in order to expand their vocabulary. One way to do this is to describe the colors and features of things you see throughout the day. For example, point out the yellow banana and the green color of the grass. If you have a pet, mention how their fur is soft and an ice cube is cold.

The more words a child hears, the more words they will learn and use. The experience should be fun and engaging to keep your child's attention. Try playing I Spy. Start off with an easy word, then try a more difficult word, such as soft then bumpy. Have fun!

Books for Preschool and Kindergarteners

Children this age still love picture books, with short amounts of text on each page. The difference in the earlier picture books is that now books should start introducing more complex vocabulary. Now is a good time to introduce fairy tales as well as books about real people, animals, and feelings.

Pigs in a Blanket

You will need:

1 package of Little Smokies

1 can refrigerated crescent rolls

pizza cutter

baking sheet


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Open can of crescent roll dough and lie flat.
  3. Use a pizza cutter to cut dough into strips.
  4. Open package of Little Smokies.
  5. Wrap dough strips around each Little Smokie and place them on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.

Help your child read the recipe and make it together. Enjoy!

Books for Early Grades

A child's sense of language develops now as they are introduced to different types of books ranging from poetry to non-fiction and silly stories that use repeated sounds. Children can see themselves in different situations as they read about places and characters. Below are a few great examples of books that children of this age enjoy.

Reading Tips for Parents of Second Graders

Find ways to read, write, and tell stories together with your child. Always applaud your young reader and beginning story writer! Below are a few tips.

  1. Tell family tales. Children love to hear stories about their families. Share a funny story of yourself when you were a child.
  2. Do storytelling on the go. Take turns adding to a story the two of you make up while riding in a car or bus. Try making the story funny or spooky!
  3. Create a book together. Fold pieces of paper in half and staple them to make a book. Ask your child to write sentences on each page and add his or her own pictures.
  4. Grab a dictionary. Have your child pick a letter, then look through the dictionary together to find new words that start with that letter. Ask your child what new words they like. Try to make up a story that goes along with the new words.
  5. Play Hang-Man. This is always a fun, classic game to play and your child will love when they win!

For more resources, visit Reading Rockets.

Read-Aloud Books

Children love being read to, even as they begin the middle elementary years. Why not try a longer chapter book that you can read at bedtime? The books below are tried-and-true examples of stories that both you and your child will love and remember for years to come.

Graham Cracker Sheep

You will need:

graham crackers squares

white frosting

mini marshmallows


candy eyes


  1. Spread frosting on a graham cracker.
  2. Place mini marshmallows onto the frosting for the wool.
  3. Place an oreo onto frosting for a sheep face.
  4. Spread frosting on the back of the candy eyes and place them on top of the Oreo.

Read this recipe with your child and make it together!

Tips For Reading To Babies & Toddlers
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Contact Us

Kelly Sheppard: Great Start Coordinator

Chrissy Blackwell: Great Start Co-Coordinator

Jennifer Ganzel: Great Start Families Parent Liasion

Kelly Friedland: Early Childhood Grant Support and Data Specialist

Resha Willis: Great Start Playgroups Coordinator