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Everything listed under: Reading Skills

  • Read MOre, Missouri! Helps Prevent Summer Slide


    “Read MOre, Missouri!” is a statewide summer reading challenge to prevent summer slide — a loss of learning that many students experience while they are out of school for the summer. The program is designed to help your son or daughter keep reading skills sharp between school years.

    Reading through the summer minimizes reading-specific summer slide, and Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven says, “Kids who read during the summer are much more likely to retain the skills they gained during the school year.”

    Summer slide is a layman’s term for the academic regression kids have during the summer months when they aren’t in school. Teachers often have to spend several weeks of the new school year reviewing information from the previous grade level before they can begin teaching the current year’s coursework.

    Here’s what the loss looks like in reading for kindergarteners through fourth graders:


    To help prevent summer slide, every school district in Missouri is encouraged to take part in Read MOre, Missouri. Here’s what you should know before your child comes home talking about the challenge:

    · Experts say that reading just six books during the summer can help keep kids from having to play catch-up in the fall.
    · The program uses The Lexile® Framework for Reading to help you pick books out for your kids that match their reading levels.
    · The Read MOre, Missouri website helps you search more than 200,000 books so that you can find the ones that are written at your child’s Lexile® level and are about subjects your child enjoys.
    · The site sorts books by more than 28 categories, including everything from humor & games to sports to animals — and more.
    · Once you build your child’s reading list, you can download it or print it. You can take the list with you to the local library or a bookstore to find your child’s books.
    · Your local library offers print editions as well as digital books for your child to read on the Kindle or tablet.
    · Any reading is better than no reading, so encourage your child to read magazines, news stories, or even recipes in addition to the books on their summer reading list.

    Read MOre, Missouri is a program of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). You can read the DESE press release here, and you can learn more about the Lexile® Measure Framework for reading in this post.

    Learn more about how to help your child succeed in his or her Missouri public school education by bookmarking Missouri Parent News and by connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter.

  • What Should I Know About The Lexile® Framework for Reading?


    You’ve probably heard of Lexile® measures, but do you know why they matter? They’re not just another little trend in public education; they’re an important tool that parents and educators across the country can use to help kids improve reading skills.

    What is a Lexile® Measure?

    The Lexile® Framework is a standard that helps connect readers with texts. Students are assigned a numeric Lexile® measure that functions like a reading score. That number could be in the low 200s for new readers, or it could exceed 1600 for advanced readers. The higher the Lexile® measure, the more advanced the reader. The lower the score, the newer the reader.

    The same scores apply to texts. Books, articles, and websites get Lexile® measures based on the same scale that readers do, helping parents choose books and other reading materials that match their child’s reading comprehension. More than 100 million articles and websites and more than 150,000 books have been assigned a Lexile® measure.

    According to the Lexile® website, for instance, the first Harry Potter book was an 880 Lexile® book. Emerging readers with a 220 Lexile® measure probably not be able to read or understand Harry Potter, but readers with a Lexile® measure range of 780 to 910 can probably read and comprehend the book’s writing without frustration.

    Lexile® Measures Aren’t Based on Grade Level

    Once upon a time, a child’s reading level was based on how other students in the same grade level performed at the same time, on the same test. That meant that the same student’s score would be higher if the rest of the class performed below average.

    It also meant that a student could be identified as reading “below grade level” if he or she happened to be grouped with exceptional readers on test day. Basically, it meant that a child’s reading level was measured on a curve.

    By contrast, a child’s Lexile® measure isn’t based on how other kids in the same grade level did on that year’s test — it’s based on how well a child reads on a Lexile® scale that never changes. This takes pressure off of kids and parents, both, because it allows you to work on improving your child’s reading skills without comparing your child to other kids.

    Why Should I Care About Lexile® Measures?

    Lexile® measures are an international standard that puts the reader and the text on the same developmental scale. Students in more than 180 countries and in all 50 U.S. States use the Lexile® Measure Framework, making the system relatively ubiquitous in libraries, bookstores, and even magazines, news publications, and websites.

    Because the measure is so widespread, you can use it to help find reading materials that will keep your child challenged and happy learning to read. The days of guessing whether a book or news article is the right difficulty for your child are long gone. Now you just need to know your child’s — and the text’s — Lexile® measure, and you’re good to go.

    If you aren’t sure what your child’s Lexile® measure is, talk to his or her teacher or visit the Lexile® Framework for Reading website to learn more.

    Missouri Parent is here to educate you, Missouri’s public school parents, about legislation, funding, and policy issues that affect your child’s education. We’re also here to help provide information that will support you as you guide your child through his or her public school years in preparation for college or career.

    You can learn more about education in Missouri by bookmarking Missouri Parent News, and you can connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for daily education updates from around the state.

  • Missouri Education Advocates: The Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL)


    Name: The Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL)

    About: MASL is the premier professional organization for library media specialists who work in Missouri schools.

    The purpose of MASL is:

    · To advocate for access to school library media center services and resources for Missouri’s children.
    · To develop collaborative relationships with stakeholders in the educational community
    · To enable the use of information technologies in Missouri schools.
    · To provide opportunities for continuing professional education, focusing on exemplary practices in school library media centers.
    · To recognize significant contributions to the profession and to the improvement of school library media programs in Missouri.

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Readers Awards: MASL presents four Readers Awards each year, representing the best current youth literature available to students of different grade levels. MASL creates a preliminary list of titles, and students across the state can vote on which books win a MASL Readers Award. See the 2015-16 Readers Awards Nominees.

    MASL’s Readers Awards are:
    · Show Me Readers Award (grades 1-3)
    · Mark Twain Readers Award (grades 4-6)
    · Truman Readers Award (grades 6-8)
    · Gateway Readers Award (grades 9-12)

    Number of Employees: MASL’s board sets direction and policies for the organization, but a third-party management company runs MASL’s communications, finances, member services, readers award programs, and events, and manages its general office duties.

    President of the Board: Lysha Thompson
    A full list of MASL’s Board of Directors is available on its website.


    Social Media: MASL on Facebook

    Legislation & Advocacy: MASL advocates for intellectual freedom. More information about MASL’s legislative advocacy, including its legislative agenda, is available to members. You can learn more about the American Association of School Librarian’s advocacy efforts here.

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates

  • Reading Lists & Famous Missouri Authors


    Not long ago, we talked about how reading is one of the most important things a student can do to keep his or her learned skills sharp. Even though summer has come to an end, it’s not too late to make the most of summer reading lists.

    The Huffington post recently shared a list of ten summer reading list books that will change your life. Among them were Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and others.

    While these are all excellent suggestions for summer reading, we could easily add ten more books that were written by well-known Missouri authors like Mark Twain, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Maya Angelou.

    Below are six of Missouri’s most famous authors, and at least one recommendation from each for your “After Summer” reading list.

    Maya Angelou
    Did you know that Maya Angelou was a Missourian? Angelou was born in St. Louis, and she was regarded for more than her poetry. Angelou published books of essays, books of poetry, and autobiographies, the most well-known of which was I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

    Langston Hughes
    Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, and was a star of the Harlem Renaissance. He published more than 60 books, including poetry collections, children’s books, and short stories. Though better known for poems like The Negro Speaks of Rivers, he also published a well-known collection of poems for young people called The Dream Keeper.

    Mark Twain
    Samuel Longhorne Clemens, who wrote under the pen name Mark Twain, was born in Hannibal, Missouri. Two of his best-known books are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is often called “the Great American Novel”, but is also one of the most-challenged and most-banned books of all time. Be sure you understand the context of this book before you read it with your son or daughter.

    Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Wilder spent the last 60 years of her life in Mansfield, Missouri, where she penned the children’s book series Little House on the Prairie. The books, later turned into a long-running and family-friendly television series, goes into detail about the day-to-day life of the Ingalls family living on their Kansas homestead in the late 1800s.

    T.S. Eliot
    Like Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes, Eliot was known for his poetry. Eliot’s most famous works include Four Quarters, The Wasteland, and The Hollow Men. Eliot’s works are staples of Modernist poetry.

    Kay Thompson
    You may not recognize Kay Thompson’s name, but chances are good that you recognize the name Eloise, from her series of children’s books about the antics of a six-year-old by the same name: Eloise, Eloise in Paris, Eloise at Christmastime, and Eloise in Moscow. Thompson was born in St. Louis, Missouri.

    Who is your favorite Missouri-born author? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

    Reading is one of the best things students can do to keep their skills sharp. As Summer blends into Fall, MOParent hopes you’ll encourage your kids to continue to read—and maybe even to read a few books by famous Missouri authors—all year long.


  • The Declaration for the Right to School Libraries

    Around the country, school libraries are celebrating National School Library Month this April. As part of that celebration, many libraries are participating in the Declaration for the Right to School Libraries initiative, lead by the American Library Association (ALA) and the American Association of School Libraries (AASL).

    The ALA and the AASL believe that school libraries are integral to literacy and lifelong learning, and that school libraries “level the playing field” for students who don’t have internet access at home.

    The Declaration for the Right to School Libraries helps “raise public and media awareness of the critical importance of a fully-staffed and well funded school library program to parents, teachers, school administrators, and the community at large.” (source)

    The Declaration for the Right to School Libraries was inspired by ALA President Barbara Stripling’s cornerstone campaign, the Declaration for the Right to Libraries. The eleven tenants of the Declaration for the Right to School Libraries are:

    • School Libraries Change Lives
    • School Libraries Empower the Individual
    • School Libraries Support Literacy and Lifelong Learning
    • School Libraries Strengthen Families
    • School Libraries are the Great Equalizer
    • School Libraries Build Communities
    • School Libraries Protect Our Right to Know
    • School Libraries Strengthen Our Nation
    • School Libraries Advance Research and Scholarship
    • School Libraries Help Us to Better Understand Each Other
    • School Libraries Preserve Our Nation’s Cultural Heritage

    To read the full Declaration, visit the ALA website.

  • Happy National Library Week!

    Libraries across Missouri join schools, campuses and communities nationwide as they highlight the value of libraries, librarians and library workers during National Library Week, April 13-19, 2014.

    National Library Week, which was established by the American Library Association (ALA) as a national observance in 1958, includes National Library Workers Day (April 15th), National Bookmobile Day (April 16th), and Celebrate Teen Literature Day (April 17th). (source)

    This year’s National Library Week theme is “Lives change @ your library®.” If the library has changed your life, share your story with the ALA for your chance to win a Kindle Fire. Submit your story:
    · On Twitter using the hashtags #LivesChange and #NLW14
    · To the ALA via
    · Create a photo that tells your story and share it on the Lives change @ your library Flickr group or on the ALA’s Twitter or Facebook pages using the hashtags #LivesChange and #NLW14.

    Follow the American Library Association online:
    · Pinterest
    · Flickr
    · Facebook
    · Twitter

    Missouri libraries celebrating National Library Week Include:

    Daniel Boone Regional Library – Boone & Callaway Counties and Columbia

    Farmington Public Library

    Henry County Library

    Kansas City Public Library

    Kimberling Area Library

    Missouri River Regional Library – Cole and Osage Counties

    Missouri Southern State University

    Neosho-Newton County Library

    Poplar Bluff Public Library

    Pulaski County Library District

    Ray County Library

    Springfield-Greene County Library District (Springfield, MO)

    St. Joseph Public Library

    St. Louis Public Library

    James Memorial Public Library - St. James

    Truman State University – Pickler Memorial Library

    Washington, MO Celebrates National Library Week

    Webster Groves Public Library

  • March 3rd is Read Across America Day

    Celebrate Dr. Suess’s birthday this March with the world’s largest reading party: the 17th annual Read Across America Day.

    Literacy is a critical skill for Missouri’s students, which is why we frequently post booklists, reading tips, and other literacy-oriented information on the Missouri Parent Blog.

    What’s more, parents can play a huge role in children’s reading and literacy development from infancy through adulthood. By reading to or with your child at home, taking your child to the library, and encouraging family reading time, you can help your child excel in school and, later on, in career.

    Read Across America Day is an annual motivation and awareness day that calls communities to celebrate reading in honor of Dr. Suess’s birthday. It’s also a tool used by the NEA to share resources and activities with families and schools to encourage reading all year long.

    Those resources include these tips on raising a reader, and a short list of book recommendations for each state.

    The NEA’s recommended books about Missouri books are:

    Sooner by Patricia Calvert
    George Washington Carver by Lois Nicholson
    On My Way Home by Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Little House on Rocky Ridge by Roger MacBride
    Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

    For the first time this year, the NEA will also offer a tablet and mobile app that connects users to Read Across America’s literacy calendar and program resources. For a full list of reading resources from Read Across America, and to learn more about the program, click here.

  • Wintertime Reading

    Spring sunshine may seem like it’s a world away, so while the temperatures are cold, consider curling up with your son or daughter and a good wintertime book. Here are a few winter reading recommendations from Missouri Parent for three- to eight-year-old readers.

    Owl at Home
    By Arnold Lobel
    4-8 Years
    From the author of the Newbery Medal Award-winning “Frog and Toad” books, Owl at Home is a collection of five tales for kids, including one about the evening he invites Winter to come inside and sit by the fire.

    It’s Winter
    By Linda Glaser
    4 Years & Up
    Filled with beautiful cut-paper artwork by Susan Swan, Glaser’s book conveys the animal life, plant life, weather, clothing, colors and feelings of winter. The book even includes wintertime nature activity suggestions.

    Snowflake Bentley
    By Jacqueline Briggs Martin
    4-8 Years
    Snowflake Bentley is on the true story of snowflake expert Wilson Bentley, whose enthusiasm for snowflakes lead to the discovery that no two snowflakes are alike. The book received a 1999 Caldecott Medal for best illustrations for its woodcut illustrations by Mary Azarian.

    By Uri Shulevitz
    3-7 Years
    This Caldecott Honor book captures the faith of a little boy and his dog who believe that what begins as a few snowflakes will amount to something spectacular. Simple, poetic text is paired with lively watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations in this book for young readers.

    Owl Moon
    By Jane Yolen
    3-8 Years
    A father takes his daughter out owling on a cold winter’s night. This Caldecott-winning book has been translated into more than a dozen languages, and is listed by the School Library Journal Blog as the #16 “Top Picture Books”.

    The Snowy Day
    By Ezra Jack Keats
    3 Years & Up
    This Caldecott Award-winning book has become a classic since it was first published in 1962. Vivid illustrations accompany the tranquil story of a young boy named Peter who experiences the joy of a snowy day.

    White Snow, Bright Snow
    By Alvin Tresselt
    4-8 Years
    While the adults scurry to make practical preparations for a snowstorm, the children laugh and dance, catching snowflakes on their tongues. This Caldecott Medal Winner captures the wonder and delight children feel in snowfall through poetic text and brilliant illustration.

  • Valentine’s Day Books for Your Littlest Readers

    This year on Valentine’s Day, consider giving your son or daughter a special Valentine’s Day book. Missouri Parent has put this special Valentine’s Day book list together especially for your little reader; aged 3-6.

    A few tips for making reading fun for 3-6 year olds (via
    · Remember that the first step in learning to read is the “letter-sound connection”. Help your child make the connection between the first letter of a word and the sound it makes by sounding it out together.
    · Keep your young reader interested in the story you’re reading by asking him or her questions before turning the page. This technique is called “dialogic reading”.
    · Pick books that appeal to your son or daughter’s interests.
    · At this age, your child will need you to read with him or her — don’t expect him or her to be able read all alone.

    Missouri Parent’s Valentine’s Day Book List for Kids Ages 3-6

    Froggy’s First Kiss
    by Jonathan London
    He can't even think straight when she's around. When Frogilina smiles at him through the monkey bars, Froggy falls smack on his head-bonk! So with Valentine's Day just a week away, Froggy gets busy making an extra-special valentine. The fifth book about the irrepressible Froggy, this is sure to keep children giggling with delight. An IRA-CBC Children's Choice Book

    Guess How Much I Love You
    by Sam McBratney
    During a bedtime game, every time Little Nutbrown Hare demonstrates how much he loves his father, Big Nutbrown Hare gently shows him that the love is returned even more.

    I Love You So Much
    by Carl Norac
    Lola the hamster wakes up with something important to say. Special, tender words are on the tip of her tongue. Are the words meant for Mommy and Daddy? Or should she tell her teacher? Or maybe her friend Frankie, the Skateboard King? The day is frustrating indeed as the words puff out impatient Lola’s cheeks. But eventually, her powerful, magical words are sure to burst forth. They’ll be worth the wait!

    Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch
    by Eileen Spinelli
    One wintry day, a postman delivers a mysterious package with a big pink bow to a lonely man named Mr. Hatch.
    "Somebody loves you," the note says.
    "Somebody loves me!" Mr. Hatch sings as he dusts his living room. "Somebody loves me!"
    Mr. Hatch whistles as he does his errands in town. "But who," Mr. Hatch wonders, "could that somebody be?"
    After some time, Mr. Hatch discovers just who his secret admirer is and, in doing so, enjoys the biggest surprise of his life!

    Valentine’s Day
    by Anne and Lizzy Rockwell
    For Valentine's Day everyone is making valentines to send to Michiko in Japan. Eveline decorates her card with gold glitter glue. Pablo draws a picture of a happy fish. Jessica writes a poem. The kids in Mrs. Madoff's class remember all the things they liked to do with their friend Michiko, even though she's thousands of miles away now.

    The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever
    by Brenda A. Ferber
    Even boys will fall in love with this valentine! Leon has a crush. Alet-her-cut-in-line-at-the-water-fountainkind of crush. And he's got the perfect valentine. But this valentine has no intention of getting caught up in any romantic conspiracy. "Love is yucky, kid! Valentine's Day is all about CANDY!" the card yells at Leon, before leaping out the window and running away, leaving Leon to chase it across town, collecting interested kids along the way.

  • Valentine’s Day Booklist for Kids Ages 4-8

    It’s no secret that reading to (or with) your young child is a great way to set him or her up for success in school. But have you thought about either visiting your local library or going shopping for a new book or two to read together with your son or daughter this Valentine’s Day?

    What follows is a list of age-appropriate Valentine’s Day books for kids between 4 and 8 years old. There will be a big difference in reading ability in that age range, so keep these tips in mind as you read with your 4-8 year old:

    · Most 4-5 year olds will need you to read to them.
    · At that age, you can encourage your son or daughter to participate in the story by asking him or her questions before turning the pages of the book.
    · 6-7 year olds will enjoy taking turns having you read to them and reading to you (consider taking turns by paragraph or by page).
    · According to, 6-8 years old is when most kids become “true readers” (source).
    · There can be a large amount of variation in reading ability from old child to the next between 6 and 8 years old.

    Missouri Parent’s Valentine’s Day Book List for Kids Ages 4-8

    The Best Valentine in the World
    by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
    Although Ferdinand has worked on his valentine for Florette since November, he's sure that she's forgotten him on Valentine's Day.

    Bloom!: A Little Book About Finding Love
    by Maria van Lieshout
    Bloom isn’t interested in playing in messy mud puddles with other pigs. She’d rather galavant among pretty flowers. Bloom LOVES flowers and other pretty things. She also likes attention. And when a beautiful butterfly, a “flying flower” wafts by, she falls head over heels in love. But she soon learns that attraction is fleeting, and friendship brings a deeper, more satisfying love.
    A 2008 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year

    Clifford’s Valentines
    Easy words, a funny Valentine's Day story, and everyone's favorite Big Red Dog! It's Valentine's Day, and Clifford receives valentines from so many friends! Then when it snows, Clifford has an idea for how to give everyone a very special valentine!

    The Day It Rained Hearts
    by Felicia Bond
    One day it rains hearts, and Cornelia Augusta catches them. Each heart is special in its own way, and Cornelia Augusta knows exactly who to send them to.

    Happy Valentine’s Day, Curious George
    by H.A. Rey, N. Di Angelo, Mary O’Keefe Young
    George and his friends celebrate Valentine’s Day with decorating, baking, card making and some unexpected hilarity along the way! Just how much mischief can a curious little monkey get into when balloons, frosting, and glitter are involved? Fold-outflaps on each scene reveallively surprises in thishumorous celebration of friendship. Sparkly red foil shines on the cover and throughout the book.

    Happy Valentine’s Day, Dolores
    by Barbara Samuels
    Time and time again Dolores has been told to keep out of her big sister Faye’s room. But when Dolores sees Faye hiding a mysterious heart-shaped box, she can’t resist sneaking in and taking a peek. Join the irrepressible Dolores and her long-suffering cat, Duncan, in this hilarious escapade as Dolores pushes the limits of sisterly love and learns that, in matters of the heart, it’s important to give, as well as take.

    Henry in Love
    by Peter McCarty
    Henry is a bit of a dreamer and not much of a talker. Then there's Chloe, who says what she thinks and knows how to turn a spectacular cartwheel. This is the story of how one blueberry muffin makes all the difference.

    Love, Ruby Valentine
    by Laurie B. Friedman
    Deep in the heart of Heartland live Ruby Valentine and her trusty parrot Lovebird. Ruby's favorite day of the year is Valentine's Day--she loves to say "I love you" and make cards and treats to deliver to everyone in her town. But Ruby is so exhausted that she sleeps right through the holiday. Although Ruby is worried that she'll have to wait a whole year to tell everyone that she loves them, Lovebird convinces her to deliver her treats and messages of love even though they're a day late. To Ruby's surprise, no one minds. In fact, they're thankful for her sweet wishes and kind heart, leaving Ruby with the realization that every day is the best day to say "I love you"!

    Love, Splat
    by Rob Scotton
    (A follow-up to Splat the Cat)
    It’s Valentine’s Day and Splat has a special valentine for a certain someone in his class. Her name is Kitten, and Splat likes her even more than fish sticks and ice cream. But Kitten doesn’t seem to like him at all. And then there’s Splat’s rival, Spike, who also likes Kitten. Will Splat’s heartfelt valentine win Kitten’s paw in the end?

    Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine
    by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
    Nate the Great hates mushy stuff. But when he spies a big red paper heart taped to the outside of Sludge's doghouse, Nate knows he must help out his favorite pooch. Who has left Sludge a secret valentine? It's a mystery until Nate finds out his friend Annie is missing a valentine. The case seems easy. Nate is relieved. No more mushy stuff. That's what he thinks.

    The Great Valentine’s Day Balloon Race
    by Adrienne Adams
    Bonnie and Orson, two young rabbits, build a hot air balloon to enter in a St. Valentine's Day balloon race.

    Ruby Valentine Saves the Day
    by Laurie B. Friedman
    It's Valentine's Day and Ruby won't let anything spoil the celebration! In this follow-up to the popular Love, Ruby Valentine, Ruby's favorite day of the year rolls around again, and she and Lovebird work feverishly to plan the perfect party for everyone in Heartland. But when Valentine's Day arrives, an unexpected snowstorm threatens to ruin all of Ruby's plans. Will Ruby find a way to save the day, or will everyone in Heartland have to wait until next year to celebrate? Another heartwarming tale of a girl who discovers the true meaning of Valentine's Day.

    Snowy Valentine
    by David Petersen
    Step out into a snowy Valentine’s Day with Jasper the bunny as he searches the forest valley for a special gift for his loved one. In his picture-book debut, David Petersen, the Eisner Award–winning creator of Mouse Guard, tells a delightful tale that becomes the perfect way to say “I love you.”

    Where’s My Hug?
    by James Mayhew
    Jake doesn’t want to give his mother a hug when he gets to school. All the other kids will think he’s a baby. But when Jake gets home, he finds that his mom has given his hug to his dad, who’s given it to the cat, who’s given it to a witch, and so on . . . Will Jake ever get his hug back? James Mayhew’s gentle story and Sue Hellard’s charming illustrations make this a perfect bedtime story for parents and children to share.

  • Valentine’s Day Books for Young Readers (Ages 6-10)

    This Valentine’s Day, encourage your child to ready by sharing one of these great Valentine’s-themed books for young (elementary school-ages) readers. For reading resources and tips on reading with your elementary school child, visit Scholastic’s rbog posts on reading to 6-7 year olds and 8-10 year olds.

    The Case of the Secret Valentine
    (Jigsaw Jones Mystery, Book #3)
    By James Preller
    Ages 8-10
    The whole second-grade class enjoys Valentine's Day as much as Halloween. Just before the big day, someone sends Jigsaw a secret valentine. Was it sent by someone in his class? Was it sent by someone who loves him? Jigsaw and Mila are able to piece clues together to figure out who his secret admirer is.

    Cranberry Valentine
    By Harry Devlin
    Ages 5-8
    When Mr. Whiskers receives his first valentine ever, he begins to think he may have a secret admirer. And after the first valentine, several more follow! Who could be after Mr. Whiskers, and what should he do about it?

    Cupid Doesn’t Flip Hamburgers
    (Bailey School Kids, Book #12)
    By Marcia Thornton Jones, Debbie Dadey
    Ages 7-10
    There are some pretty weird grown-ups living in Bailey City. But could the new cook in the school cafeteriareallybe Cupid cooking up love potions for lunches? The third graders from Bailey School go wild with lovesickness shortly after a new cafeteria cook distributes a special batch of Valentine cookies, and Eddie vows to find out if she's been secretly cooking up love potions for lunch.The Bailey School kids are going to find out!

    Everyone Says I Love You: A Pop-Up Trip Around the World
    By Beegee Tolpa
    Ages 6-8
    How do people around the world say “I Love You?” Each spread in this delightful pop-up book features a different country’s way of saying these very special words along with a pop-up of an iconic element from that location. From the Statue of Liberty in America, to a gondola in Italy, to an African safari, everyone will love learning how people around the world express themselves.

    Geronimo’s Valentine (Geronimo Stilton #36)
    By Geronimo Stilton
    Ages 7 & up
    Okay, I'll admit it: I'm a bit of a cheesy mouse from time to time. What can I say? I'm a romantic! That's why Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays. This year I had a date with a very special rodent--Petunia Pretty Paws! But then I got a call from my private investigator friend Hercule Poirat. He had a mystery to solve, and he desperately needed my help. The most beloved, romantic, and famous painting in New Mouse City had been stolen! Now I had to help Hercule AND impress Petunia at the same time. Holey swiss cheese, what was a gentlemouse to do?

    Henry and the Valentine Surprise
    By Nancy Carlson
    Ages 6-8
    Just before Valentine’s Day, Henry and his classmates discover a heart-shaped box on their teacher Mr. McCarthy’s desk. Who’s it for? As the students spy on Mr. McCarthy, they see him talking to the playground monitor, smiling at the lunch lady, and eating with the French teacher! How many girlfriends does Mr. McCarthy have? When Henry finally asks Mr. McCarthy just who that heart-shaped box is for the class gets a big surprise! Nancy Carlson’s humorous text and candy-colored illustrations showcase just how sweet Valentine’s Day can be.

    Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink
    (from the Gilbert and Friends series)
    By Diane deGroat
    Ages 8-10
    Gilbert has 15 blank Valentine cards just waiting for him to fill with nice Valentine poems for his classmates. But how can he write a nice poem for the boy who tweaked his nose or the girl who made fun of his glasses? Laugh as Gilbert's poison pen causes a classroom controversy. This warm and funny book about a favorite holiday also provides a subtle message about forgiveness and being a good friend.

    Slugs in Love
    By Susan Pearson
    Ages 6 & up
    Marylou loves everything about Herbie—how his slime trail glistens in the dark, how he can stretch himself thin to squeeze inside the cellar window, and how he always finds the juiciest tomatoes. But Marylou is a shy slug. How can she get Herbie to notice her? Find out how Marylou woos her beloved in this must-have love story that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day.

    By Carol Carrick
    Ages 5-8
    Paddy Bouma's soft watercolors highlight this unusual Valentine's Day story of a loving grandmother-granddaughter relationship. Heather is disappointed that Mama can't stay home from work to spend the holiday with her. Making cookies with Grandma-including a big, heart-shaped one for Mama-cheers her up. But when Heather and Grandma check on the sheep, they find one of the new lambs cold and still. Young children will identify with Heather's pride in helping care for the lamb and her joyful anticipation of another surprise to share with Mama.

    Valentine’s Day Disaster (Geronimo Stilton #23)
    By Geronimo Stilton
    Ages 7 & up
    It was Valentine's Day in New Mouse City, and I couldn't wait to celebrate! I had sent valentine cards to all my friends and family members.
    But when I opened my mailbox on the morning of February 14th, it was empty! Had everyone forgotten about me? Was I destined to spend Valentine's Day alone in my mousehole, sobbing, with only my pet fish to console me? It was starting to look like a true Valentine's Day disaster!

  • How Not to Contribute to America’s Declining Book Readership

    According to the Pew Research Center, the number of non-book-readers in the United States has increased threefold since 1978.

    In 1978, 92% of Americans read at least one book, 42% of the population read 11 or more books, and 13% of the population read more than 50 books.

    By contrast, in 2013, nearly one quarter of the U.S. population didn’t read a single book.

    The decline in book readership in America isn’t good, but it may be inspiring to know that as a Missouri parent, reading with your kids can — in theory, at least — make a positive difference.

    According to The Atlantic:

    …the number of books an American reads tends to be closely associated with his or her level of education. Even those with just a little bit of college read far more, on average, than men and women who only finished high school. That may be because people who grow up reading are far more likely to enroll in higher education. But it seems at least somewhat likely that reading books in class conditions people to read books later in life.

    The logic is pretty straightforward:

    Kids who grow up reading are more like to enroll in higher education, and the more educated the individual, the more likely they are to read more books. The average American read 5 books in 2013, the high-school educated American read 9, the American who had some college under his or her belt read 13, and the college graduate read 16.

    What will you do in 2014 to inspire reading in your home? Here are just a few ideas:
    · Lead by example: Read books of your own in front of your kids at home.
    · Read together: Read with your young children. ( has some great reading resources available online for parents of kids ages 3-5, 6-7, 8-10, and 11-13.)
    · Pick books for your child that fit his or her interests.
    · Take your son or daughter to the library or a book store, and let him or her explore (and, hopefully, choose a new book or two to take home).
    · Read a bedtime story to your child at night.

  • Protecting Your Kids Against Eye Strain

    Eye strain can occur after too much time on a computer, tablet, video games, or too much time watching TV.

    Don’t think you or your child could suffer from eye strain? According to the Vision Council, neither does 70% of the rest of the population, but it takes as little as two hours a day of looking at a screen to strain your eyes.

    Tips for Preventing Eye Strain:
    · Turn down the brightness on your child’s monitor(s)
    · Keep the screen clean
    · Be conscious of your child’s computer ergonomics (Check out this post from Apple to learn how)
    · Make sure your child takes frequent breaks from the screen
    · Use the 20-20-20 Rule: Every 20 minutes, your child should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds
    · Set computer screens up 20-26 inches from your eyes and a little bit below eye level
    · Avoid glare on screens from competing light sources (windows, desk lamps, bright overhead lights, etc.)
    · Encourage your kids to spend time playing away from their devices
    · Limit screen time: Kids shouldn’t spend more than 2 hours or so each day, combined, on screens
    · Take your son or daughter for regular eye exams

    Have you or your child experienced eye strain first hand? What suggestions would you offer to other Missouri parents? Leave a comment today on the Missouri Parent Blog or on our Facebook Page.

  • Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day: Saturday, December 7, 2013

    December 7th is the 4th annual “Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day”, and hundreds of bookstores in the US, Canada, Australia, England and Germany are expected to participate.

    Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day was founded by author and mom of two, Jenny Milchman with the goal of sharing bookstores with kids.

    “Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day…is really about the fact that there is a physical immersion to reading a book and there is a physical immersion to choosing that book, or there can be, and when there is it becomes almost a completely different experience. It says something to a child in a way he'll never get if he just sees mom order a book online." (source)

    Here are just a few of the benefits of taking your child to a bookstore:

    · Sharing the excitement of books – and of an intellectually stimulating environment — with your kids.
    · Empowering your kids with decisions about which book or books to bring home.
    · Giving your kids literary role models like bookstore owners, workers, authors, and other readers.
    · Sharing the social side of reading with your kids. Reading isn’t always a solitary activity; sharing favorite books and exchanging reading recommendations is part of the fun of being a reader!

    “My hope,” says Milchman, “is that by drawing awareness to the pleasures of time spent in a bookstore at a young age, kids who take part will grow up to value and support bookstores in the communities of the future.” (source)

    · Do you and your family still visit brick-and-mortar bookstores, or do you shop for your reading material exclusively online?
    · Does your community have a local bookstore? Share the link with our readers to help promote local business!
    · Do your kids have digital readers (Kindles, iPads, etc.), or do they read traditional paper books?

    Leave a comment here or join the conversation on our Facebook Page.

  • Halloween Books That Aren’t About Halloween

    These books might sound like Halloween reads, but in fact, they’re not about Halloween at all. These books are fun Halloween alternatives for families who prefer fun, silly, or imaginative books in the Halloween season.

    Creepy Carrots!
    by Aaron Reynolds
    Creepy Carrots! is a clever and funny Caldecott Honors picture book written for readers ages 4-8. Teaching the lesson that greediness isn’t good, Creepy Carrots is just a little bit scary and is a whole lot of fun.

    According to the School Library Journal, “This age-appropriate horror story takes children’s fears seriously and then offers them an escape through genuine comic relief.”

    The Monstore
    by Tara Lazar
    This funny children’s book about a young boy and his pesky little sister is filled with silly monsters for sale in a monster store. Zany and colorful illustrations make this imaginative book even more fun for 4-7 year-old readers.

    The Graveyard Book
    by Neil Gaiman
    Neil Gaiman reinvents The Jungle Book in his graphic novel, The Graveyard Book. Written for 9-11 year-old readers, Gaiman spins the tale of a boy named “Nobody” who’s raised from infancy by ghosts, ghouls, and other residents of a cemetery.

    The Graveyard Book was a #1 New York Times bestseller, a 2009 Newbury Award winner, a Hugo Award winner, and a Locus Award winner.

    The Princess Academy
    by Shannon Hale
    For all the little who wanted to dress up as a princess on Halloween, The Princess Academy is a more grown-up, young adult fairy tale of a prince, a young lady, adventure, strength, and friendship.

    The Princess Academy is written for 9-11 year-olds, and was a 2006 Newbery Honors book.

    The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root
    by Christopher Pennell
    This quirky and magical book is illustrated in pen-and-ink drawings. Written for kids ages 9-12, The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root is a good book for your son or daughter to try reading aloud to you.

    Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt says that Pennel, “casts a spell with his irresistible adventure”, and Booklist calls the book, “An enchanting, fast-paced fantasy in the vein of E. B. White.”

    Come back to Missouri Parent often for more ideas on books you can read, activities you can do with your kids at home, and ways you can advocate for your child’s public school education.

    Sign up today for Missouri Parent email updates, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

  • 3 Great Sites for Web-Based English Language Arts Instruction

    Computer-based learning tools have come a long way since the Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail games of the 80s and early 90s. Today, students and teachers have access to highly developed online tools — some of them completely free — for everything from arithmetic practice to customized grammar lessons.

    Here are just of few of those highly innovative tools that can be used by students and teachers to supplement classroom English language arts instruction:
    This free, web-based learning platform helps kids improve grammar and writing skills by customizing lessons to each student’s individual interests. Kids tell what they’re interested in (hobbies, for example), and it generates unlimited grammar practice around those subjects.

    The site also adapts instruction to questions that students get right and wrong. Teachers can give online quizzes and assignments through the site, and a progress-tracking feature helps them to monitor their students’ improvement over time.

    Just for fun: has a language bloopers page. Visit it with your your son or daughter and see how many of these real-life errors you can identify.

    SAS Curriculum Pathways
    SAS Curriculum Pathways is another free online tool for students and teachers. Although the user interface is a little clunkier than, the site offers a tremendous variety of English language arts instructional tools.

    SAS Curriculum Pathways is flexible, offering apps, audio tutorials, and web lessons.
    Subject areas include reading strategies, a variety of literature, punctuation, grammar, and even a writing tutorial program, and its services include online instruction and quizzes. offers free, personalized vocabulary solutions. Its predictive technology sends new vocabulary words to your son or daughter based on what words it thinks your son or daughter might not yet know.

    Students can also choose from specific vocabulary lists that range from SAT word lists to current events-based lists like, “President Obama’s Speech at the United Nations”. Some, like “Martin Scorsese on Cinema,” are even pop culture-centered. is more functional than it is cool, but its fun factor is stronger thanks to leaderboards that track high scores for individual uses and for entire schools.

    Has your child used web-based tutorials or other digital learning tools that you’d like to share? Leave a comment here or on our Facebook Page!

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  • Halloween Books for Children 7 & Under

    Get into the Halloween spirit with your younger kids by reading fun and silly Halloween stories together. Each of these books comes recommended by other parents, schools, and literary publications specifically for kids ages 7 and under.

    It’s no secret that reading with your kids is one of the best things you can do for their early education. Take time to read together with your son or daughter before Halloween is here.

    by Samantha Berger
    1-6 years

    “The most important learning to read period for any child is 2 through to 7 years old, a key part of this is developing verbal skills through hearing spoken language from birth (crucial brain pathway development occurs during the period 0 to 7 years).” –

    "Will the creature ever turn from "MEHHRRRR!" to merry? Youngsters will roar along with Crankenstein through this silly and sympathetic story of grumpy-grouchies." – the School Library Journal

    Who Will Haunt My House on Halloween?
    by Jerry Pallotta
    Pre-K-3rd grades

    Three Little Ghosties
    by Pippa Goodhart
    K-2nd grades

    “My kids loved the rhyming words in this book and the artwork is engaging. Of course, there's a "surprise" ending, sure to make kids unafraid of ghosties, witches and beasties.” – Parent Review,

    The Monsters’ Monster
    by Patrick McDonnell
    3-6 years

    "The story charms, but it is the overall thoughtful design that makes this a frightfully amazing book to read. Make time to share with young monsters everywhere." -Kirkus Reviews

    The Mosters’ Monster is a New York TimesBestseller, an Indiebound Bestseller, a National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Silver Winner, and a Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2012

    Ghost in the House
    by Ammi-Joan Paquette
    3-7 years

    “One child I read this to actually squealed and clapper her hands in anticipation at some of the page-turns — can you ask for a better endorsement than that?” – Biblio Links review

    Filbert the Good Little Fiend
    by Hiawyn Oram
    (a fiend who refuses to be bad)
    3-7 years

    Pop-Up Novelty Books

    I’m Looking for a Monster!
    by Timothy Young
    3-7 years

    Little Monsters
    by Jan Peinkowski
    3-7 years

    For regular updates on your child’s education, subscribe today to MOParent email updates at the top of this page.

    Do you have favorite Halloween books for younger kids? Leave a comment here, or share your book recommendations on ourFacebook Page. You can also follow MOParent on Twitter.

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