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

Monday, August 25, 2014

Maryland program expansion

We are excited to announce a new partnership with the National Center for Children and Families (NCCF) to launch a Read-Aloud program at the Greentree Shelter in Bethesda, Md. In conjunction with our 25th anniversary, we are expanding our programming into a new jurisdiction and a new state. We’re pleased to be able to reach a new population of kids in need.

The Greentree Shelter is located in Bethesda, Md, near the National Institutes of Health and just a few minutes drive from Bethesda's central business district. The shelter has 46 beds for homeless families and serves as a transitional home for homeless families, primarily single mothers and their children. The shelter provides a wealth of support services for its clients including life and financial skills training, education and employment development and child-care services.

The Read-Aloud program at Greentree is held on Tuesdays from 7 to 8 p.m. and kicked off in mid-August, 2014. 

To celebrate our expansion, TRC will be holding a Community Reading Festival in Montgomery County on Saturday, September 13 from 2 to 4 p.m.  The festival will be held at the Ivymount School at 11614 Seven Locks Rd. in Rockville, Md.  

Guest readers, including authors Mary Quattlebaum and Erica Perl and children’s librarian Susan Modak, will share some of their favorite stories with the kids in attendance. The festival will also include crafts for kids and families to complete together, face painting and snacks. The festival is free and open to the public and is geared toward children aged 4 to 8 years old.  If you're planning on attending, please RSVP here.  Please email Stephanie Berman if you are interested in volunteering at the event.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hello Ocean

Hello Ocean, by Pam Muñoz Ryan, translated by Yanitzia Canetti and illustrated by Mark Astrell, is one of TRC's favorites for reading aloud. The lyric language, rhyming text and rich description of a child's day at the beach engage readers and listeners of all ages. The book's lush and vibrant acrylic illustrations capture the sun, wind and water's movement and strength.

As an ode to a summer day, it is delightful, but as an exploration of the five senses, it is masterful. Ryan moves carefully through each of the senses as the young beach-goer describes her experience.  

Each of the senses is treated to several pages of evocative text and beautiful illustrations, and a concluding section repeats each of the senses, anticipating a return trip to the beach in the future.

The author emphasizes words relating to each sense by using bold font, and includes different forms of the verb for each (see/looks, hear/sounds, touch/feels, smell/smells, taste/tastes), ensuring that kids notice the sense being showcased. You might think that with this framework the language would sound stilted, but it doesn't.  The story and rhyme flow beautifully. 

This aspect of the story, along with rhyme and repetitive structure, helps the reader engage the listeners and builds anticipation about what the girl will experience next. Available in a Spanish/English bilingual format, the book makes this beach trip widely accessible.

When you read Hello Ocean aloud, encourage kids to point to their eyes, ears, hands, noses and mouths as the story works its way through the senses. Ask the kids to brainstorm more words describing the wind, sun, sand, salt water and all things beachy.

Many kids TRC serves may have never been to the beach. You can provide an actual sensory experience by bringing sand and shells to look at and touch (TRC has some in the office for your use), salt water and seaweed for the kids to taste, sunscreen to smell and audio recordings of ocean sound for kids to listen to. Round out the experience with towels and beach balls to play with, or set up a deep sea fishing expedition like this one at a Read-Aloud. 

Whether you are reading books about beaches and oceans, summer adventure or the five senses, Hello Ocean will be a hit with the kids.

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