Creating *Life-time* Readers

MaiStoryBook objective: create *life-time* readers.

Did you know: The single most important activity for building knowledge for reading success is *reading aloud to children.* In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Education Commission on Reading, reading aloud is a practice that should be continued throughout ALL grades. That’s right — story time in high school just became a thing. *well actually, it should’ve already been a thing.* But I digress.

The brain’s first exposure to vocabulary and words: the ears. Yes, conversation with your child is beneficial *Warning: beware baby talk— no new vocabulary will spring from that* but reading aloud goes beyond conversation. (!Bonus fact – A good children’s book is 3x richer in vocabulary than conversation- woah! In fact, the average adult uses a common-word vocabulary of only about 10,000 words. Words found in more complicated ideas and print are left out. How to give children access to these *rare* words? Read Aloud Books ).

Back to the story time in High School idea. So why is it helpful to read aloud to children who can already read? Wouldn’t that discourage them from reading on their own? Well first, a child’s reading level and listening level are not the same. For example, children who may be reading on a first-grade level, can listen to and comprehend stories on a 4th grade level or higher. That’s right, your 5 year old may not be able to read Harry Potter, but that doesn’t mean they should miss out on the magic and mayhem. Clear your throat, grab a blanket and a bowl of popcorn, maybe some cocoa for that sweet and salty combo, and huddle together for a read aloud journey into the magical wizarding world with your little one.

Most importantly, in order to create life-time readers, we have to develop the *want-to* aspect of reading, not just the *how-to.* How reading aloud builds the want-to muscle:

  • It conditions the child to associate reading with pleasure
  • Creates background knowledge
  • Build’s book vocabulary
  • Provides a reading role model

An Early Childhood Longitudinal Study found that kindergarten children who had been read to at least 3x a week had significantly greater phonemic awareness (word and letter sound awareness~a necessary component to reading) than children who were read to less often, and were twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading readiness. The most essential factor: a shared reading experience~~ meaning its not just enough to set your child up next to a story time tablet app. What makes reading aloud  a successful reading development tool is the discussion with your child before and after the book, and the questions and conversation throughout the reading.

So how to do this effective shared reading? The MaiStoryBook Library collection offers video examples of guided, shared-reading read alouds, along with resources and activities to enrich you and your child’s reading experience. Check out the collection, featuring a new book every Friday. Welcome your child into the wonders and world of reading. Together, we can create a new generation of *life-time readers*

*This post sums up information that can be found in further depth in this article by Jim Release, author of the Read-Aloud Handbook*

*~Until next time, Happy reading~*

Building Your Own *Cost-effective* Library

An important factor in children’s reading development is their exposure to books, especially in their home environment. Not only is it important that they read books, or hear books being read to them, but it is also crucial that they see books as well–and not just see them while they are being read to, but to see them around the home,  on shelves and bedside tables, on the counter or in stacks by the door– so that books become familiar objects that they internalize as parts of their daily lives. Having a book nearby to reach for becomes a habit.

Goal: Create your very own home-library for your children.

Now, Books Are Expensive. Trust me, I know. I too have been sticker-shocked by those Barnes and Nobles prices. So buying books to have around the house- not even to mention enough of them to build a decent library or bookshelf- is not an easy thing to do, or something that all families can afford to do.

BUT- when you know where to go- books don’t have to be expensive. There are many resources and locations in your own community where you can find quality, cheap children’s books.

The biggest children’s book pot’o gold: Your local library bookstore.

Ask your librarian if your local library has a bookstore. There, they sell used, quality books for low prices – most children’s books should average about $3 or less. I have had several book hauls from my local library, spending from a range of $15-35 for stacks of books.

In addition, most libraries have recurring book sales, most often monthly, during which they will bring out boxes of books from their storage that haven’t been showcased in the store yet, and hold a large book sale teaming with great finds. Usually on weekends, I make sure to arrive early when they start, around 9-10 am, to get first pick of their children’s books. A librarian gave me the tip to come early, as usually the children’s books are the first be sorted through and to go.

Another cost-effective way to build your library: garage sales. I’ve seen quality books sell for $1.00, even 50 cents! Plus, all books are meant to be read more than once, so help give these books a new home! Also, going through garage sales guarantees a wide range of books, as people have diverse and varying tastes. Bring your child along with you and have them help you sift through the piles to find their new, perfect storybook.

In this Local Finds and Book Hauls Collection, I’ll be sharing some of the awesome book hauls from my local libraries and neighborhood garage sales to show you what treasures you can find that are *quality* and *cheap* ~ the perfect combo!

~Book by book, let’s build your new reader a library of their very own~

Illustrations Spotlight: Papa, Please Get the Moon For Me by Eric Carle

Featuring the first book in the Illustrations Spotlight Collection:

Papa, Please Get the Moon For Me by Eric Carle

About the Illustrator: Eric Carle is one of my favorite illustrators: I love the textures of colors you can see in his broad paintbrush strokes. Each streak of his brush is a kaleidoscope of shades of color and pattern. His art is easily recognizable with his collage-style of layered, painted, paper-cutouts coming to gather to form colorful and cheerful illustrations.

Born in New York in 1929, Eric Carle moved to Germany when he was six years old. There, he grew up, and graduated from a prestigious art school, the Akademie der bildenden Künste, before returning to New York to become a graphic designer for The New York Time. His foray into children’s literature began with his collaboration with author Bill Martin Jr., on the famous book  Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Since then, he has illustrated over 70 books, most of which he also wrote.

You may be familiar with his more well-known books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Grouchy Ladybug. 

In this featured book, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, the moon takes center stage.

Book Synopsis: Monica, the daughter, looks longingly out her window at glowing moon in the night sky, and wishes that she could play with the moon. Her father, wanting happiness for his daughter, climbs his ladder up to the full moon to implore her to come down and play. The full moon tells him to wait until she is smaller, a mere sliver, and then she will be small enough to play with his daughter. And thus begins the progression of the full moon into its crescent form.

What’s exciting about Eric Carle’s illustrations is that he often includes an added dimension to his pictures, making his books interactive and giving them a toy-like, playful quality. For example, in this book, fold out flaps help exaggerate story elements and increase children’s understanding and engagement with the story.

One fun flap is the horizontal ladder flap- emphasizing for the reader how long Papa’s ladder needed to be in order to reach the moon.

There are also flaps folding up, emphasizing length as well as helping the child imagine the great heights of climbing up into the sky.

My favorite illustration element is the giant, full-moon fold out. The page folds out like a blossoming accordion flower, the folds peeling out from the middle to reveal the gorgeous glowing moon at the center. The large portrayal exaggerates the grandness and massive size of a full moon, a moon too large for a young girl to play with.

Eric Carle’s comprehensive knowledge and love for nature shine through in his illustrations and books.  His books often offer the reader an opportunity to learn something new about nature and how the world around them works. In this book, children learn about the phases of the moon .  

Eric Carle picks up on children’s inquisitiveness and strokes their curiosity through his entertaining and beautiful books. From the words of Eric Carle himself:  “I believe that children are naturally creative and eager to learn. I want to show them that learning is really both fascinating and fun.”

And I believe he has been quite successful in doing so! For a copy of this beautiful book: Check your local bookstore or ask your local librarian to help you find a copy. Also, please comment and share on your own delve into Eric Carle’s magical realms of learning, color, and fun!

*~Until next time, Happy Reading~*

MaiStoryBook Library: The Secret Shortcut + Performance Art Activity

Featuring the very first children’s illustrated book in the MaiStoryBook Library Collection:

“The Secret Shortcut” by Mark Teague

Book Synopsis + Review

Wendell and Floyd have one more chance to make it to school on time. No matter how hard they try, they are always late! Wendell’s solution: Take the Secret Shortcut! What begins as a simple march along a hidden pathway, quickly devolves into a wild trek through the tropical jungle. Follow these two daring adventurers as they skirt crocodiles and quicksand, soar on vines through the trees, and slick through pools of mud, all on their mission to make it to school on time! Will they make it through the classroom door before the last bell rings??

Mark Teague is a highly original author whose stories often involve children garnering glimpses into alternate realities, or using their creativity to take them beyond the normal boundaries and into the unexpected.  With lush illustrations that cover the pages edge-to-edge, the Secret Shortcut is the perfect book to stir-up the inner adventurer and spark the imagination. Children will delight in pointing out the numerous animals hidden among the trees and scattered across the pages. For them, exploring the backyard just became 10,000x more exciting.

Vocabulary List

  • Preposterous (p.5) – That’s unbelievable!
  • Culvert (p.10) – open water drain on the street
  • Meandered (p.14) – twisted and curved
  • Gorge (p.16) – big, deep opening between rocky mountains
  • Scurried (p.26) – ran quickly

Themes/Main Ideas

  • Magical worlds can be found in the most mundane, ordinary places.
  • With a little imagination, anything is possible.
  • *Theme from the kids when I read this story to a 3rd grade class*- Don’t be late for school!

YouTube Video: Guided Shared-Reading Read Aloud Example

Example of a shared-reading Read Aloud of The Secret Shortcut – how to subtly introduce the vocabulary list words within the text, ask guided questions, and spark conversation!

*~Check it Out~*

Subscribe: MaiStoryBook Channel for additional read aloud videos!

Performance Art Activity: One-Minute Plays

Introducing your child to the world of theater ~ One Minute Play retelling of the story: The Secret Shortcut.

This activity is actually adapted from a classroom lesson plan and so includes several introductory activities leading up to the final one-minute play production. For children younger than 5, I recommend skipping straight into the 1-minute play retelling of the story. For children 5+, below is the step-by-step guide through the activities. The activity can also be done with groups of children, so round up those siblings, or establish a new play-date hit! If it’s just you an your little one, be prepared for the adventure of a lifetime!

Introducing Acting:

Acting is made of 2 parts: speech and movement

  • Speech: How should you speak when performing a play?
    • Practice different silly voices with your child~ super high voices, super low voices
    • Ex) *in a squeaky high pitched voice* “We’re never going to make it to school!” Is this how we should speak? Nooo, if we use a super squeaky voice, no one will want to listen
    • Ex) *in a super low voice* “Aw man, are we lost again?” Is this how we should speak? Nooo, if we use a super low voice, people will get bored and fall asleep
    • Ex) *in a clear, projecting voice* “Follow me! I found a secret shortcut!” Is this how we should speak? Yes! When we use our loud and clear voice, people want to listen.
  • Movement: You can use your body and movements to tell a story
    • Target different areas to move through different animal characters. With your child, act out:
    • Eagle ~ Targeting the arms, shoulders, and upper body movement
    • Tornado ~ Targeting the hips and middle body
    • Tiger ~ Targeting legs and lower body movement
    • Snake ~ Targeting full body

Introducing Theatre and One-Minute Plays

  • The 5Ws of Theatre: Reviewing these 5Ws will also help review the story and  check for comprehension. Ask the following
    • Who: Who are the main characters? Animals can be characters too
    • What: What happened in the book? Focus on beginning, middle, end.
    • Where: Where does the story take place?
    • When: When does the story take place? Past/Present/Future?
    • Why: What is the main idea/theme? The reason for the story?
  • Answers:
    • Who: Wendell, Floyd, Important animals: monkeys, crocodiles, hippo
    • What: To keep the play short, focus on 3 main parts:
      • Beginning- Need to find a shortcut to get to school on time
      • Middle – Get lost in the jungle and saved by the swinging monkeys
      • End- Make it back to school on time
    • Where: The jungle
    • When: Present day
    • Why: Imagination can take you anywhere


  1. Final play must be no more than 1 minute long. Use a sand timer or phone timers to make sure the play is under the time limit. The time limit keeps the children focused and concise in the retelling.
  2. Play must include the beginning, middle, and end
  3. Everyone must have atleast 1 speech line:  Can animals sometimes talk in stories? Yes! What are some things the animals in this story could say?
  4. Characters:
  • If there are 2 of you:  1 adventurer + 1 monkey to save the day
  • 3+ = 2 adventurers (stress that even though Wendell and Floyd are boys, it doesn’t matter to the story if the adventurers are boys or girls)  + animal characters (1 must be the monkey)

Take about 10 minutes to rehearse.

One Minute Play Performance

  • If at home, transform your living room into the jungle.
  • Add props. Ex) toilet paper rolls for telescopes to look beyond the trees, paper towel rolls for walking sticks, string for the vines etc.
  • Encourage dress up in an adventure outfit or animal costume.
  • Film the final production ~ Or invite the family for an evening performance!

*~Overall, Have FUN with this active and engaging activity! Please comment below  – tag me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary  – or post on FaceBook to share your photos of your play and let me know how it went! I’d love to hear about your secret shortcuts and jungle adventures ~*

*Teachers +Educators: Message me for the classroom lesson plan, including step-by-step instruction and a scripted guide to the classroom lesson*

*~Until next time, Happy Reading~*


Coming Saturday!

Illustrations Spotlight

Check Back in This Saturday, August 26th, for the first Illustrations Spotlight Post!

 As an artist, naturally I’m drawn to the brilliant illustrations of books. This collection will focus on recommendations of books with illustrations that will catch your child’s eye and charm their imagination!

Coming Soon- September!

Theme of the Month Book Collection

Check back early September, for the first Theme of the Month Book Collection.

Monthly Themed Book Collections will be released on the first of every month. (with exception of the first of the month falling on a Friday *Friday= MaiStoryBook Library day*). Each Theme post contains an initial Recommended Reading List of Books related to the month’s theme- it will be updated and added to as the month progresses.

If you have any suggestions to add to the reading list for any of the months, or a suggested theme or reading list you’d like to see, please comment below the posts or contact me ! There are so many amazing books, I’ll need your help to spotlight them all!

Coming Sunday!

Local Finds and Book Hauls

Check Back in This Sunday, August 27th, for the First Local Finds and Book Hauls Post!

The best discoveries can be made right at your local library, aka, the public university.  I’ll be sharing some great finds with you that you can look out for at your own local library or bookstore. Also, I’ll be highlighting some cost-effective ways to build you own library~ sharing quality and cheap book hauls through videos and posts!

New Post Every Friday!

First MaiStoryBook Library Post: Tomorrow, Friday August 25!

Check Back in Every Friday for the MaiStoryBook Library featured Book of the Week Post!

Every Friday I will be posting a new book in the MaiStoryBook Library Collection. Each book post provides:

An in-depth focus on the featured book including:

  • A brief synopsis and review of the book/ illustrations
  • A vocabulary list of 5 words from the book + easy-to-learn definitions for children
  • 2 major themes from the story to highlight and discuss
  • A YouTube video Read Aloud
    • Featuring an example of an active, guided-learning read aloud of the featured book, including how to subtly include vocabulary from the vocabulary list and ask guided questions throughout — a strategy to increase the child’s engagement + comprehension, and provide a conversational vocabulary extension
    • While in-person reading aloud is recommended to encourage conversation throughout the book, video read aloud can also be played for the child if an adult is unavailable
  • And the Fun Part: an original craft/activity inpsired by the story

Through MaiStoryBook Bookshelf, children get a hands-on creative way to engage with the book and the story after the book is “done.” The craft extends the story to beyond the book. Children learn that “reading” doesn’t just end with the closing of the cover, but that the ideas, characters, and imagination can continue beyond the pages. The stories can be taken with them in their actions and imaginations.

Reading opens up boundaries beyond the pages. *Teach a child this, and reading won’t be a one-time stationery chore, but a gateway into realms of infinite possibilities.*

MaiStoryBook: How to Get Your Child to Fall in Love with The World of Reading

With my passions for art-making, working with children, and teaching, it’s only natural that I find children’s illustrated books to be the Best kinda books out there- I mean, a thrilling story AND pictures?? Reading doesn’t get much better than that. As a child, (honestly, as an adult now too), I was always drawn to the imaginative illustrations illuminating the storybook pages. I soaked up the clever details, delighting in whenever I discovered a new piece to the picture I never noticed before. With illustrations, I could *read* the storybook without even knowing how to read~~ words were the sidekick, the understudies ready to jump in only after my eyes and imagination had exhausted the pictures and were willing to settle for the written version. Every child deserves to soak in this world of wonder of children’s books~~ of imagined universes and captivating adventure.

But a love for reading doesn’t come naturally; reading is an accrued skill. So how to get your child to fall in love with the world of reading?

**Join me on a journey to a lifetime of reading for you and your little ones ***

I am excited to announce the launch of this new blog series: MaiStoryBook! 


The goal of MaiStoryBook is to spotlight children’s illustrated books, as well as provide resources for parents, families, and teachers to inspire in children a love for books and a curiosity for the world of reading- all through a series of MaiStoryBook collections.

 So you want your child to love to read?

The way to get children reading is to get them excited about books. Children need to develop the *want-to* muscle of reading, not just the *how-to.* The best thing to do: start them young. Read Aloud. Reading to children is not only a great source of bonding, its also a chance to teach and expose children to new vocabulary, and to use the themes in the stories to discuss real life scenarios or questions of right and wrong with them. Most importantly, reading to children encourages them to develop their own creative thinking skills and imagination.

 Head over to the About Maistorybook page for everything MaiStoryBook has to offer to welcome your child into the world of reading!

*~Until next time, Happy Reading, Friends~*