Book Bags Using Children's Literature To Its Best Advantage Just what is a book bag?

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Contents of Book Bags and Beyond: 1) Book bags 2) 10 literacy tips for parents 3) ideas for successful read-aloud times, 4) Honey, I shrunk the alphabet

If you have questions, just contact me. Beckey Thompson,

Book Bags & Beyond

Book Bags

Using Children's Literature To Its Best Advantage
Just what is a book bag?

• A book bag consists of a book with a related activity suggestion sheet, paired together in a bag for convenience.

• A book bag may also contain props such as puppets or other simple items that can be used in the activities.

• The book bag may be used at home, in childcare, or in schools.

Why use children's literature and related activities?

1. Children are more enthusiastic about books that have activities with them.

2. Children who enjoy books are motivated to read books on their own.

3. Children who are read to are more likely to become good readers.

4. Children's ability to read often determines success in school.

5. Children's ability to read may affect the way they feel about learning in general and may also affect how they feel about themselves.

What's in it for the children?

1. Book-related activities should emphasize the interactive process of speaking, listening, reading, and writing, and should involve the children in music, art, language, cooking, geography, and poetry.

2. Children who are exposed to these activities will hopefully develop habits of reading that will carry over into their adult lives.

3. Through carefully-selected books and activities, young children will be exposed to a variety of points of view, different cultures, varying levels of physical abilities, different kinds of families, and in general, should gain a healthy perspective on the world they live in.

Usborne Goes Beyond the Boundaries

Book-related activities are educational ideas based on the stories and text in children's favorite books. Usborne books are purposely designed to stimulate children’s interest in books and to motivate them to go beyond the pages into other exciting learning activities. The magic of Usborne books is that they make both reading and learning fun!

(Omit this part if your audience is parents, and not childcare providers or teachers)

How can you present books and activities?

One possible method of presentation:

1. Present the book during group time.

2. Provide one or more related activities for children to choose.

Remember: Most of these activities should be available if the child chooses to do them; they do not necessarily have to be done by every child. There are other activities that can be done in small groups or with the entire group as a whole.
NOTE to consultants: These 2 books will give you examples of activities for non-Usborne books. Maybe some consultants in your group could put together some ideas related to our books. If so, you’ll have a unique and very valuable resource to use and share with fellow consultants, parents, and teachers!

1. Story Stretchers: Activities to Expand Children's Favorite Books, by Shirley C. Raines and Robert J. Canady

2. Read It Again: Pre-K, Introducing Literature to Young Children, by Libby Miller and Liz Rothlein
Another good resource will be your own imagination and creativity, as well as ideas from co-workers, parents, and the children themselves. You should also feel free to modify and expand ideas you find elsewhere, to make them your own.

10 Ways To Make Reading A Fun & Exciting Part Of Your Everyday Life!

  1. Put a few labels on things in your home, such as door, TV, wall, chair, table, mirror, sink, tub, bed, rug, etc. (Some labels may be written in your native language or in another language.)

  2. One-word wonder: use a booklet with one word/one picture.
  3. Environmental print: make a booklet with common logos from businesses or products (cut out of newspapers or magazines, or printed from the Internet) Examples: Arby’s, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Coca-Cola, M&Ms, Milk, Pepsi, Barney, Blue’s Clues, Sesame Street, NBC, Tarzan, Wal-Mart, Martin’s, your bank, your school, your church

  4. Personal book: make a booklet with your child’s name, address, city, school, the words Mom, Dad, Gramma, Grampa, names of other family members, names of friends, your address, your city, where you work, etc. Your child may draw the pictures to illustrate this booklet; then he or she will be able to “read” a book they helped to make.

  5. Not too old! Read to your children for as many years as they are interested! Even older children enjoy chapter books when read out loud, one chapter at a time. Be brave enough to be an entertainer when you read aloud; use dramatic vocal expression, gestures, different voices, facial expressions! (See handout: Earning the Oscar for “Best Performance by a Grown-Up Reader”) 

  6. Fill your home with books, and they don’t have to be new ones. Borrow from the library, buy used books, borrow from friends, offer to take books off the hands of your co-workers or neighbors whose children have outgrown them, etc! Always have the books where the children can get to them on their own and explore the wonder of print. (Earn free books by working with your friendly neighborhood Usborne consultant! Get the best books in the world for your family to enjoy for a lifetime.)

  7. Teach by example: When children see you reading, they will see how important it is to read–newspapers, magazines, novels, etc.

  8. Borrow book bags from the library: books, props, activities, tapes ~ all on the same theme. Or make it a project to do with your own child: create your own book bags!
  9. The alphabet has very little to do with learning to read! Research shows that children who aren’t afraid to take risks become better readers. This must begin at the earliest age possible, and the illusion of risk works just as well. By “risk,” we don’t mean danger, but having the courage to try new things and to try again when you fail. (See handout: Honey, I Shrunk the Alphabet)

  10. Refuse to accept the guilt that you would put on yourself when you think you’re not doing as many things as often as you should for your child! Whatever you do is better than not doing anything. Just pat yourself on the back and make tomorrow another day.

Earning the Oscar for

Best Performance by a Grown-Up Reader”

General advice on how to read all stories in a more entertaining manner

  1. Read a book in exactly the same way every time (and read the same book over and over again).

  2. Eyes: the story ought to be in the eyes as much as it’s in the mouth.

  3. Expressive voice: don’t be absurd or embarrassing, but be highly interesting; not cutesy, sugary, or patronizing–never talk down to children! Voice: (a) loud and soft, (b) fast and slow, (c) high and low, p-a-u-s-e.

  4. In your mind’s eye, really see what you’re reading about!

  5. The first line should be sensational! Grab the audience and don’t let them go.

  6. The ending: badly read endings are the tragic ruin of many an excellent story. Make it mesmerizing. A rapid finish feels oddly wrong. D-r-a-g o-u-t t-h-a-t l-a-s-t l-i-n-e; the more slowly you say it, the more satisfied the listeners will be.

From Reading Magic by Mem Fox
Honey, I Shrunk the Alphabet
Little children soak up knowledge like mini-sponges.

They MUST learn how to read, but earlier is not better.

Proceed with caution – A rosebud would be damaged if forced to open its blossom before it is ready.
Children who are pushed too hard to read and write too early

  1. Can develop a permanent dislike for books and for reading.

  2. May lose their enthusiasm for all learning.

  3. Often exhibit low self-esteem and confidence, along with a feeling that they just can’t learn.

ABCs are okay, but reading aloud to children is more important because it builds excitement and an eagerness to learn to read independently.


Take advantage of all the valuable daily reading opportunities – bedtime, bath time, play time, quiet time, waiting for the washer & drier cycles to finish…

Studies show that when children have heard 1,000 stories, only then will they want to learn to read! 3 stories a day for a year, or even 1 a day for 3 years, will do the trick!

Some of the Many Benefits of Reading Aloud to Children

  • Feelings of warmth and security

  • Expands their vocabularies

  • Creates an appreciation of the value of print

  • Promotes knowledge of the mechanics of reading left to right & top to bottom

  • Helps understanding of a sequence of events

  • Teaches basic grammar and story structure

  • Teaches new vocabulary words

  • Shows how to associate the words with the pictures on the page

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