Great Start News: Little Bookworms

Holiday Edition 2020

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.

Best Types of Books to Read During Pregnancy

Even though your baby can't understand the real meaning behind the words they hear, they can pick up the rhythm and tone of the sentences and will respond to how you respond to whatever you read. Keep it lighthearted, soothing, and fun - whatever reading makes you feel good will also make your baby feel good. While pregnant, your baby will also benefit from hearing your voice, creating a bond with you even before born.

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.

Thankful Pumpkin

What a crazy time we are living in! This activity is a great way for all people (big and small) to focus on the things that matter most and give thanks! All you need is a pumpkin, a black sharpie marker, and ideas.

Starting at the stem, ask each family member what they are thankful for and begin writing down answers on the pumpkin. Pick a special time with your family to add thanks to the pumpkin each day. It will fill up quickly and be a wonderful outdoor display for Thanksgiving.

Visit Amy Latta Creations for more information.

Need a Book? You Can Still Borrow From the Library!

Electronic books are great, but sometimes we just want a real book to read! Here is news for you - although our Jackson District Libraries remain closed for browsing, you are still able to borrow books during this time.

  1. First - you must have a library card. If you don't, visit here and sign up for one - they are FREE!
  2. Place books on hold online or over the phone by calling (517) 788-4087. You can also call (517) 905-1350 to talk to someone who will help pick out books for you!
  3. Visit your local branch and text or call the number on the yard sign in front of the library.
  4. Follow the instructions and have your library card handy.
  5. Library staff will work on getting your order ready and place them just inside the building for you.
  6. Staff will send you a message when your materials are ready.
  7. Put on a mask, come inside, and pick up your items.
  8. Return your materials at any of the several library drop boxes.

Have fun and keep reading!

Building Your Child's Vocabulary

When introducing new words to your young learner, keep the following four helpful hints in mind:

  1. First, provide a simple, kid-friendly definition for the new word: Enormous means that something is really, really big.
  2. Second, provide a simple, kid-friendly example: Remember that really big watermelon we got at the grocery store? That was an enormous watermelon!
  3. Third, encourage your child to develop their own example: What enormous thing can you think of? Can you think of something really big that you saw today?
  4. Last, keep your new words active within your house. Over the next few days and weeks, find ways to bring new vocabulary into everyday conversation.

For more resources, visit Reading Rockets.

Books for Toddlers

Children at this age begin experimenting with writing, as they do everything, out of curiosity. They grasp crayons and markers in various ways and in a wide range of motions - fast and furious to slow and steady. Most people call these beginning marks "scribbling." Instead, try calling children's first scribbles "magic marks" and see how proud they are.

Below, you will find three tried-and-true books that are loved by children of this age.

Homemade Cards Make Great Gifts

This holiday season, we may not be getting together with family as we have done during "normal" years. Sending mail to loved ones is not only a great way to stay connected but also a heart-warming way to send a gift to those we may miss this holiday season.

This is a simple activity that only requires paper and whatever writing tools you have on hand. Young children can draw pictures and older children can write a short letter. Whatever they would like to do!

To make this time a little more creative, use finger paints on your child's hand to create a "handprint card." This will surely be a wonderful gift for whoever receives it. Who doesn't love getting a surprise in the mailbox?

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Increase Your Child's Vocabulary During Story Time

Before you begin reading with your child, introduce the book to him/her. Look at the cover of the book and ask your child what they think the book will be about. As you read through the book, pause on occasion, and ask your child what they think will happen next.

During the reading, point to pictures and describe them. Use gestures to dramatize what is happening and ask what your child thinks the characters are feeling. Run your fingers below the words as you read. Notice letters that your child may already know.

After the reading, ask your child to tell you what happened. If he/she were part of the story, what would they do differently? What would they do the same?

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 and feelings.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

You will need:

1 3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt together.
  3. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy.
  4. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  5. Add dry ingredients until mixed well.
  6. Take batter and roll between your hands to make 1 inch balls. Place onto a cookie sheet.
  7. Press a thumbprint into the center of each ball.
  8. Drop a small spoonful of jam into each thumbprint.
  9. Bake for 12-14 minutes.

Tip - use different types of jam for a variety of colors! These make great holiday gifts!

Books for Early Grades

There has been so much on the news this year surrounding social change and politics. Many children this age are drawn to understanding more about these topics and to helping others. Interests could be anything from raising money for a cause or having a passion for issues impacting their community. Books can help children understand the big picture of social justice and community engagement. Below are a few examples of books that will be great for a child of this age.

Cookbooks Make Great Gifts!

Are you looking for a gift for a little one in your life? Cookbooks are a fantastic idea and there are several available for children that are just beginning to learn their way around the kitchen. Children are naturally curious and proud of themselves when accomplishing new things (like baking something you like). Add in a measuring cup and spoon set and you have not only a keepsake gift but something that is educational and fun too!

Visit here for a long list of best-selling children's cookbooks.

Holiday Candied Nuts

You will need:

6 cups pecan halves (or any nuts you prefer - you can also mix different kinds)

2 egg whites

2 Tablespoons water

2 cups of sugar

2 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons salt


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Place nuts in a large bowl.
  4. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and water in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form.
  5. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Gently fold in with a spatula or spoon.
  6. Pour mixture over nuts and stir to coat.
  7. Spread nuts onto the baking sheets.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring nuts every 15.
  9. Cool for 15 minutes.
  10. Keep them all for yourself or package and send out as gifts!

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

How to Read Out Loud With Your Preschooler
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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