TRC Read to Kids

Welcome to The Reading Connection’s blog, where you’ll find the best guidance on reading aloud to kids. Whether you are a TRC Read-Aloud volunteer, parent or student, the book themes and crafts ideas, child development guidelines and recommended websites will expand your world. For 25 years, The Reading Connection has worked to improve the lives of at-risk kids by linking the magic of reading to fun experiences that inspire a passion for learning. Visit our website at

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Read Across America

Read Across America Day 2014 is right around the corner! Grab your favorite Seuss tale and get set for some ridiculous, rhyming fun!

Read Across America, normally celebrated on March 2 in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday, is a reading awareness program that calls for every child in every community around the country to celebrate reading. This year, Read Across America Day is Monday, March 3, 2014.

Many of Dr. Seuss' books are text heavy, so be sure to pick a book that will keep your crowd engaged until the end. Take advantage of Dr. Seuss' rollicking, zany style when reading aloud: whisper and shout, speed up and slow down and emphasize rhyme and rhythm.

If your audience ranges from three to eight years old, try these Seuss books:

Green Eggs and Ham

Trying something new can be a little scary. Ask the kids what they think makes Sam-I-Am change his mind. For a snack, green hard-boiled eggs are always a winner!

If I Ran the Zoo 
What weird animals can the kids come up with? Encourage them draw pictures, make up names and introduce their animal creation to everyone else.

Fox in Socks 
Be sure to practice reading this collection of rhymes and tongue twisters before your Read-Aloud. As you are reading, get the kids into the act by encouraging them to say the rhymes and tongue twisters with you. This one is especially fun:
"When a fox is in the bottle where the tweetle beetles battle with their paddles in a puddle on a noodle-eating poodle, THIS is what they call...a tweetle beetle noodle poodle bottled paddled muddled duddled fuddled wuddled fox in socks, sir!"
If THAT won't get them to laugh, then NOTHING will!

If the group at your Read-Aloud trends older (say eight years old and up) try learning about the man who was Dr. Seuss. Read The Boy on Fairfield Street to see how Theodor Geisel became Dr. Seuss. 

For the more advanced readers in your group, you could try reading one of Seuss' more complex books like The Lorax or The Sneetches. After reading, discuss the undertones of social change in the stories.

The Seussville website's Read Across America page has fun activities and printable props to help you plan your event. If you want more interactive activities, try these carnival-style Seuss games from the obSEUSSed blog. Check out these Seuss-related blog posts on Belle of the Book for even more ideas.

The fact that Read Across America Day is a national effort to celebrate reading may appeal to kids--so make sure they know about it, and know that they're part of something BIG. 

To receive credit for this online training, please fill out the form here.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Get up and dance!

When dealing with squirmy kids, sometimes the best move is just to get up and move with them! A dance-themed Read-Aloud is a wonderful choice -- dancing is a healthy, fun activity and there are great books available about dance, music and movement with which to create a dance-themed Read-Aloud. 

Teams at ARHA Ruby Tucker Center and Virginia Gardens recently held dance-themed Read-Alouds. Each team brought in special guests to introduce new dance styles to the kids.

At ARHA, Team 4 began its dance day with a participatory song about Miss Susie. The singing and hand movements grabbed the children’s attention right away and led into a successful reading time. Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae and Elephants Cannot Dance! by Mo Willems set the stage by presenting two characters (both, oddly, named Gerald!) who believed they could not dance, but discovered they really could. 

ARHA was lucky to have Katy Baytosh, a guest dance instructor, who led everyone through several African- and Caribbean-style dances. The children were excited, engaged and excellent dancers. And the volunteers got a bit of a workout too!

Virginia Gardens volunteers invited special guests from Tobas Dinastía, a local dance group. “Tobas” is an energetic dance that originates from Bolivia and represents the victory of the hunt. The dancers wear colorful, exotic costumes – including feathered headdresses and spears. The volunteers talked with the kids about the importance of dance in different cultures and gave examples of ways it can be used to honor cultural heritage. The team also   read books that highlighted culturally significant dances. The guests performed Tobas for the children and then taught them some steps. A highlight of the night was when the kids were allowed to touch the dancers’ spears (fake, of course!) and  wear their headdresses. 

Dance is universal. As a theme, it offers opportunities to express emotions, social interaction and cultural pride – and even get the squirmies out! 

Here is a list of books that would work well for a Read-Aloud about dance.  
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
Kitchen Dance by Maurie J. Manning
Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman
Brothers of the Knight by Debbie Allen
Dance! by Elisha Cooper
Rosie’s Ballet Slippers by Susan Hampshire
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
Cats’ Night Out by Caroline Stutson
Dumpy La Rue by Elizabeth Winthrop

To receive credit for this online training, please fill out the form here.