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Taking Literacy on The Road

gh_14010Add a Dash of Literacy for a Big Dose of Fun!

From the Emmy Award-winning PBS Kids Series Between the Lions comes What Does a Lion Say? (Gryphon House, Inc. $14.95) an ideal book for parents to share with their kids this summer and year-round. Here’s an easy way to promote literacy, active listening skills, vocabulary, comparative language and so much more. Kids will be inspired by their favorite Between the Lions characters as they take on new adventures in learning. I wish I’d had this book when my children were younger, but when flipping through the different sections I noticed that these playful language games are suitable for either ages 3-93, 4-94 or 5-95, in other words, I can still play along! Portable and affordable, What Does a Lion Say? is a must for parents to include in their pack list for upcoming travel, dining out, long waits at the doctor’s office or simply to tuck in their beach bag for a day out.

lion1Families will never be bored with the educational and entertaining selection of over 50 games where you don’t have to worry about losing any pieces because most of the time you need nothing more than your imagination though occasionally some games do call for a pad of paper, some type of writing implement (I don’t recommend sharp pencils for a car ride) and a sense of humor. There’s a comprehensive introduction to help parents use the book to its greatest advantage, a More Ideas! section, book recommendations, an Index of Games by Age and one of the most useful, an Index of Literacy Skills so whether you see to work on letter recognition with child, descriptive language or or rhyming, the info’s at your fingertips.

lion2I remember when my daughter first began to read and the fun we all had deciphering billboards, but I was often hard-pressed to come up with other creative ideas to foster her love of reading. The variety of wonderfully inventive games found in the pages of What Does a Lion Say? means I’d never be wanting. Here’s an example of a super storytelling idea that would have been just up my daughter’s alley.

Fantastic Pets
Fantastic Pets make for some fantastic stories:. To play this game, make up a story about a silly or unusual animal that comes to live with you.

What if a bear, an eagle, or a kangaroo moved into your home? What would you name it? What would you do with your new pet? Would you keep it in your room? What would it eat for breakfast

If all these great games weren’t enough, available soon are LION LETTER cards from Between the Lions—a set of Alphabet Cards and a set of Rhyming Cards. For more information about these great educational tools click below:

LION LETTERS Alphabet Cards

LION LETTERS Rhyming Cards

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Summer Classes for Young Bookworms


Visit Storyopolis today to find out more about book club classes for kids:

• An all new, fun, interactive book club just for kids!

• Innovative games and crafts!

• Kids learn comprehension, storytelling and critical thinking – and build their vocabulary!

Summer Classes Start Soon!

For Ages 4 and 5

@ Storyopolis
14945 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks
(310) 933-5833

Tuesdays at 4pm (July 6 – August 24)

Sundays at 11am (July 11 – August 29)

Wednesdays at 10am (July 7 – August 25)

Cost: $150 per Bookworm

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Get on Board with a Good Book on National Train Day May 8th

A Is for “All Aboard!” is one of those books both my son and daughter would have loved when they were younger and big-time into all things
T R A I N!! We had our turn with Thomas and Brio, even Lionel for a while, but there’s nothing like the real thing. I have to admit we are all tremendous train fans in our family. Having lived in both Frankfurt and London, we frequently travelled by train throughout the Continent and the U.K. taking the Eurostar and the I.C.E.  I was even hoping we’d get a chance on the TGV in France or better yet, the fabled Orient Express, but there’s still time.

516fonxryhl_sl500_aa300_Reading through this lively new book has brought all our exciting train journeys back to the fore and will definitely get youngsters eager to have an experience of their own. My husband still takes my son, Coleman, down to Union Station now and then and frankly I wonder if it’s really more for him than for Coleman!

Written by Paula Kluth, Ph.D. and Victoria Kluth, the  daughters of a Green Bay & Western Railroad worker, this ABC book  for train lovers is both educational and entertaining. When I delved a little deeper I also discovered the book was conceived with autistic children in mind, and the publisher’s Web site says the authors even incorporated feedback from children with autism. The bright bold artwork by Brad Littlejohn will capture kids’ attention and the information is sure to spark their imagination. The language used is clear and concise and many new concepts are introduced creating great learning opportunities.  I liked the teaching tips included at the end pages since ABC books are a great vehicle for engaging children and promoting literacy. At $16.95 this book is worth every penny.

The following is an example that is a particular favorite of mine. O is for Orient Express: The Orient Express is the name of a long-distance passenger train. The route has changed many times. Paris and Istanbul were its original end points.

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Borders Summer Reading Challenge for Kids

ATTENTION PARENTS: An offer from Borders that’ll flip your pages!

borders_2xdogdareresizedThe Borders “Double Dog Dare Reading Challenge for kids kicked off yesterday, May 4th, in stores nationwide. To participate, children age 12 and under can read any 10 books they want and they’ll get one book free from Borders. For their free book, they can choose from a number of great titles including Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary and My Weird School #1: Ms. Daisy is Crazy! by Dan Gutman, Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, Hoot by Carl Hiaasen among many others.

200px-ramonathebrave_dockrayTo obtain their book, kids need only note the titles they’ve read on the Summer Reading form and have a parent sign it. (The form is available in-store and online, but can only be redeemed in-store.) The Reading Challenge ends Aug. 30.

9780060507008Editor’s note: kids do not have to buy the 10 books from Borders – they can get them from anywhere. Also, there is no limit on the number of times they can do the Challenge!

Rules: Free books available in-store only. No purchase necessary. Form must be completed and brought to any Borders, Borders Express, or Waldenbooks store by 8/26/10 to redeem coupon. Offer valid in-store only. Valid only on selected titles. See forms for complete details.

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Target is On Target

As their name implies, Target is definitely On Target when it comes to promoting reading.  Let me tell you briefly about some of the literary luminaries and other amazing kids’ entertainers I laid eyes on and/or interviewed at the Target Children’s Stage during the L.A. Times Festival of Books this past weekend. I will write more about these authors’ books in another post, but couldn’t wait to share this info with you:

I saw Carl Reiner, Todd Parr, Nickelodeon’s The Fresh Beat Band, Caitlin Sanchez (the voice of Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer), Hip Hop Harry, Jade-Lianna Peters (the voice of Kai-lain from Nickelodeon’s Ni Hao, Kai-lan), Bernadette Peters, David Soman & Jacky Davis “Ladybug Girl at the Beach,” Peter Yarrow, Jimmy Gownley, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, Megan McDonald, Shawn and Marlon Wayans, Carolyn Cohagan, Matthew Reinhart, and Justin Roberts & the Not Ready for Naptime Players. Phew! And that was just on Saturday …

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Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) Needs Your Support


Let’s Keep Everyone Reading!

The government’s 2011 proposed budget will cut funding for Reading is Fundamental. As you probably know, RIF is a longtime kids’ program that provides free books to millions of kids. RIF receives 80% of its funding from the government.

rif-kids-at-distributio2The deadline for Senators to sign RIF’s Dear Colleague letter is this Friday, April 9th!

Currently, the organization is rallying parents, educators and the community with a ‘write your politician campaign’ on the internet – already thousands have offered their support. You can just click here and sign your name – that’s it!

rif-kids-at-distributio1Without federal funding, more than 4.4 million children and families will not receive free books or reading encouragement from RIF programs. Let’s keep giving books to those who yearn to read and learn! Thanks for your help.

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Oh, The Fun You Can Have!

event_detailread-across-america-logoLooking for something fun and free to do this weekend? Well if you and your kids are fans of books and love to read, head over to your nearest Target. Oh all the places you’ll go!

This Saturday, February 27, 9 – 11 a.m., all Target stores nationwide will host free in-store events including readings by volunteers and local notables, reading activities and giveaways.

imagesTarget has partnered with the National Education Association to support the Read Across America program. Click here for more information on the Read Across America program at Target. Just in case you were wondering, the Dr. Seuss theme honors the birthday of beloved author Theodor Geisel, (aka Dr. Seuss) born on March 2, 1904.

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Come Hear and Watch A Story!

vis_smcovHave you heard of Booksicals? Well I had not, but I am so glad I can now share this info with you.

Susie Chodakiewitz, author of Too Many Visitors for One Little House is founder of Booksicals, encouraging reading through the arts

WHAT: Booksicals is currently performing the picture book Too Many Visitors for One Little House.

WHEN: They will be having their B & N debut this Sunday, October 25 at 1p.m.

WHERE: Barnes & Noble, The Grove

Booksicals performs for schools, libraries and special events. They also partner with individual and corporate sponsors to bring Booksicals programs to underpriviliged kids and kids in hospitals. Come out and support this wonderful literacy program.

You can see all the fun things they are doing and even hear the musical of the book at


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Kohl’s Cares For Kids and Keeps Kids Reading


Learn why lizards break off their tails … and how $5 helps kids in your community!

Did you know? 100% of the net profit from the sale of Kohl’s Cares for Kids merchandise will be donated to support children’s health and educational initiatives nationwide.


1. What is the world’s fastest animal?

2. What insects have ears on its knees?

3. How do you keep kids reading all summer long?

The answers to all of these questions can be found within the pages of three books by award-winning children’s author Steve Jenkins.

plush-and-book-tailKohl’s is featuring, Biggest, Strongest, Fastest! and What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? along with coordinating plush toys for only $5 each at all Kohl’s stores and online at as part of the Kohl’s Cares for Kids program. The books are available now through September 26 in Kohl’s stores and at

Through the Kohl’s Cares for Kids program, 100 percent of the net profit from sales of the Steve Jenkins books and plush toys will benefit children’s health and education initiatives nationwide. Since the Kohl’s Cares for Kids program’s inception in 2000, Kohl’s has turned $5 merchandise into more than $126 million that has made a positive impact on the lives of children across the country.

More info on Kohl’s Cares for Kids is available at:


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Book A Brighter Future Supports Literacy

Back-to-school Savings Offered to Macy’s Shoppers Who Give to Support Literacy
38848-hi-imagea2This summer Reading Is Fundamental and Macy’s have teamed up to launch Book A Brighter Future, a national partnership to raise awareness and support of children’s literacy. The Book A Brighter Future campaign is an annual promotion held at Macy’s stores during the back-to-school season to help raise money for local RIF programs and to provide reading resources to the children who need them most.

38848-lo-bookmarkThis campaign provides an opportunity for Macy’s customers to join the effort and have an impact on literacy in their community. From July 1 through August 31, 2009, Macy’s customers can give $3 and receive a coupon for $10 off a $50 in-store purchase at any Macy’s nationwide. Macy’s will donate 100 percent of every $3 to RIF.

“Giving back to the communities where we work and live is a long-standing priority at Macy’s,” said Terry Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO of Macy’s, Inc. “We are proud that, last year alone, more than a million Macy’s customers participated in Book A Brighter Future helping to raise more than $3 million dollars for children who lack access to books. It is a great way for our customers to support the education of children in their own community while enjoying special savings for their back-to-school shopping at Macy’s.”

For every $3, $1 will support local RIF programs near the Macy’s store; $1 will support RIF’s Multicultural Literacy Campaign; and $1 will help RIF’s ongoing efforts to provide reading resources to millions of underserved children across the country.

“RIF’s vision is a literate America in which children have access to books and discover the joy and value of reading,” said RIF President and CEO, Carol H. Rasco. “Nearly two-thirds of low-income families do not own any books for their children. This campaign with Macy’s allows RIF to provide free books and literacy resources to the children at greatest risk for developing reading difficulties.”

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SUPERWHY EVENT! Calling all super readers!

imagesYou know the Super WHY show, now check out the new toy line.  Spend another sunny day in L.A. at this fun and FREE event for the family this coming Saturday, June 13. Yes, Super WHY, the award-winning preschool PBS show invites Los Angeles-area kids and families to enjoy a not-to-be-missed day of reading-powered fun with a “super” special event celebrating the series’ anticipated toy launch at Toys”R”US!

This exciting day of activities includes a storybook reading, an interactive bingo game, Super WHY-inspired coloring activities and more! Be the FIRST to enjoy exclusive “hands on” play with the new toys based on the hit Emmy nominated PBS KIDS TV Series. Plus, you won’t want to miss all the great giveaways and coupons that will be distributed as well.

sw_vertical_loge280a6finalWho: Super WHY fans of all ages and Toys“R”Us!

What: Kids from coast-to-coast will hold the “power to read” in their hands – literally! – as the highly-anticipated Super WHY toy line from Learning Curve, based on the hit series seen daily on PBS KIDS (check local listings), makes its retail debut at Toys“R”Us stores nationwide!

Why: To celebrate the arrival of Super WHY toys, on Saturday, June 13, kids can be among the first to experience the new toys based on the Emmy nominated Super WHY preschool show!

Guests of the celebration also will have the opportunity to receive Super WHY-themed temporary tattoos, stickers, masks, coloring and activity sheets, while supplies last.

When: Saturday, June 13
12 noon – 2 p.m.

Where: All Toys“R”Us stores nationwide!
click here to find a location

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Literally Healing at CHLA


chla-logo-clr-2My colleague, Terresa Burgess, asked us in the editorial department if we had any spare books we’d like to donate to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles since she was heading over with a donation. The response at L.A. Parent was a resounding, “YES!” Once we review books we frequently find ourselves giving them away to charities around Los Angeles. When we learned about the Literally Healing Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, we jumped to be involved, dropped everything and got a box together that day for Terresa to bring over.

lhSeveral months after Terresa’s request, Carolyn Graham and I made it over to CHLA to meet with Claire Austin, the program’s awe-inspiring Director and this is what I learned. A Children’s Bibliotherapist, Austin runs the Literally Healing Program at CHLA with her heart and soul. Faces light up when they see her strolling a corridor. And rightly so because what she does for children and their families is truly a blessing.

Literally Healing
has both a therapeutic and a literacy arm.

Austin created a ‘Therapeutic Library’ comprising a collection of over 1,000 titles that ‘speak directly’ to patients, and their siblings, to help them better understand and master the sensitive issues they face on a day to day basis. The wide assortment of therapeutic books they have on hand addresses the key challenges that may result from specific medical conditions. These therapeutic books for children provide a comforting, non-threatening way to discuss difficult topics such as adjusting to hospitalization; overcoming ridicule or exclusion because of a medical condition; and, coping with disability or death.

moobile-2009As part of Literally Healing’s commitment to literacy promotion, the program created a ‘Gifting Library.’ Each day that a patient is hospitalized they, and their siblings, are eligible for a free book. The program gifts over 17,000 children’s books annually.

Literally Healing has been around 8 years and continues to grow under the caring, committed and watchful eyes of Austin and her dedicated assistant and volunteers.

lobbyIf you’ve ever been to the lobby of the hospital, you might have seen a Story Time in session in the Saban Story Corner or perhaps you caught fleeting glimpse of the Book Moo-bile. Both are initiatives to promote literacy and lift the spirits of children at the hospital. Highly trained volunteers, Bedside Readers, use these cow colored carts to deliver books to patients.

The Literally Healing program welcomes donations of children’s books from the public. A wish list of needed titles is posted on the hospital’s website under the ‘Giving’ tab. However, the hospital’s infection control standards require that all gifted books must be new. Space in the hospital to store these much needed books is now at a premium, so they suggest you consider donating “Gift Cards” instead of actual books. Gift Cards also allow the program to be more flexible. The program can make “on-demand” purchases to better meet patient requests as well as therapeutic books that may be integral to the child’s healing. The program welcomes Gift Cards from Barnes & Noble, Borders, Children’s Book World (310.559.2665) and Vroman’s (626.449.5320).

For further queries please e-mail Ms. Austin at:

I’m also excited to share the news that Claire Austin will contribute reviews to
‘Good Reads With Ronna’ so readers can learn more about the diverse and
often sensitive subjects Literally Healing handles with children’s best
interests at heart. If her reviews are even half as dynamic and passionate
as the woman herself, you will not want to miss a single one.

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Reading is Fundamental and Rewarding!

image001Soar to Great New Heights Today …

by joining the exciting online challenge from US Airways and RIF. It’s as easy as a click here to add yourself to the growing list of readers (including celebrities like Al Roker, Billy Crystal and Jerry Seinfeld), and make your minutes count. As I write this there have been over 2.2 million minutes registered since the campaign’s April 1 launch. And the good news is this challenge continues on through June 30 so there’s not a moment (or a book) to waste!

images1In the 2008 Read With Kids Challenge more than 16,000 participants nationwide logged over 3.8 milllion minutes of reading and this year the goal is a collective 5 million minutes. New for the 2009 campaign is the ability to create a team of three or more adults if preferable to joining individually. Everyone who gets on board this high flying contest is entered to win a grand prize drawing of a Walt Disney World Resort vacation package from US Airways Vacations, US Airways gift cards, and other great prizes.

Consider also supporting children’s literacy by making a donation to RIF and donors can receive a special edition of Off You Go, Maisy! by best-selling author Lucy Cousins and also be eligible to get up to 5,000 US Airways Dividend Miles.

I don’t know about you, but I am so ready to embark. So pull your kids away from their game consoles, computers or TV shows and get reading now. My comfy chair’s calling.

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RAISING READERS: A Literacy Festival

Get Lit at the Raising Readers Festival

(From our May Calendar section edited by Michael Berick)

imagesSanta Monica College will be the place to be for book lovers old and young (but especially the young ones) May 9 during the annual Raising Readers: A Literacy Festival. Since 2001, the nonprofit child care resource and referral agency Connections for Children (in collaboration with Santa Monica College and Association for the Education of Young Children/North Bay Chapter) has been presenting this special day that celebrates reading and literacy in a number of ways. There will be storytellers, theater groups, musicians and, of course, books. This free event is particularly aimed at children in preschool and the primary grades, where establishing a strong foundation in reading and literacy is so important.

Raising Readers: A Literacy Festival, noon-4 p.m. May 9, Santa Monica College, 1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. Free. 310-452-3325,

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