Lit Kits Are Back!

From our Head of Children’s Services, Ali:

Have you ever wanted to do your own library-style Storytime at home? Well now you can! We’ve revamped our Lit Kits and they are better than ever! These Lit Kits are a great way to take storytime and learning home with you, and help support success in school by providing families with hands-on strategies for building pre-reading and literacy skills while having fun and bonding with your child. They can also help children hit important developmental milestones. Our Lit-Kits are designed for children 3-5 years old, but they can be adapted or modified for use with almost any age group!

Stop by the Children’s Room to see the new and improved backpacks that are available for checkout. Each kit contains 3-4 books on a theme, toys or manipulatives, and a caregiver guide with suggested songs and activities. The following kits are available: Alphabet, All About Me, Numbers, Ocean, Zoo, Dogs, Things That Go, and Dinosaurs. There will be more Lit Kit topics coming soon, and be sure to be on the lookout for upcoming STEM Kits (ages 5 & up), and Early Literacy Kits (ages 0-3)!




Helping Your Young Child Become a Successful Reader

Today’s post comes to us from Ali, Head of Children’s Services.


Many people assume that there isn’t much they can do to help their child learn to read until they are of a certain age. Believe it or not, you should start at birth.  The five core practices to help prepare children for reading are Reading, Writing, Talking, Singing, and Playing.  These practices are taken from the Every Child Ready to Read Initiative. You may already be nurturing these pre-reading skills at home, but it is important to use these techniques everywhere you go with your child. To learn more about these practices, you can ask any children’s librarian for suggestions or attend an early literacy program or storytime at the Cheshire Public Library.

Early literacy programs at public libraries have changed significantly over the years. Early literacy is everything a child knows about reading and writing before he or she can read or write, typically between the ages of 0-5. Traditionally, children’s library programs focused on the education of children.  Today, these programs focus on the education of the parent or caregiver.  If you attend storytimes at the public library, you may hear the children’s librarian state an early literacy tip or model a specific behavior during their programs.  This is done intentionally to encourage caregivers to use these tools at a later point.

Here are some ideas on using each of the 5 best practices in your everyday life.

  • TALKING is the most critical early literacy skill because it helps children learn oral language. You can talk to your child about things you see or ask them open-ended questions to encourage a response from them.
  • SINGING develops language skills by slowing down syllables and sounds that make up a word. You can sing in the car whenever you’re traveling and you never have to worry about other people hearing your singing voice.
  • READING together not only develops vocabulary and comprehension, but it fosters a love of reading.  Try to pick a time to read when you are both in a good mood and never force it. It is a good idea to establish a reading routine at bedtime when your child is most relaxed.
  • You can start to practice WRITING as soon as your child can grip anything. Even if they are only making scribbles, they are getting those small hand muscles ready to hold a pencil.
  • Children also learn language and literacy skills through PLAY by helping them put thoughts into words as they talk about what they are doing.

Caregivers have the most important role in developing a child’s reading skills, so it is important that you practice these techniques as often as possible. I encourage you to visit the library and check out some of the early literacy programs and resources that we have.  To see our full events calendar, you can go to

Check out  our Parenting section for more on early literacy and school readiness:


And don’t forget to sign up for our summer reading program for kids and adults : Summer Adventure! The program runs from June 21 through August 17. Raffles, prizes, and giveaways will be available to those who complete the activities. Who will take home the crown for the most minutes read? Will it be the kids, or will it be the adults?


Guiding Reading What? (What Kind of Reader is my Child, Part Deux)

So, if you read What Kind of Reader is my Child? you will have a  understanding of the general terminology about reading development and where your child might be in the process.  But what about all those crazy level letters and numbers at the end of each definition? Well, here is some of the basic information and resources that can help you get a handle on that part as well. I am going to toss in an extra one, which I know some local schools are assigning to advanced readers.Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 4.49.43 PMWhich systems you need to pay the most attention to will vary by school. Most schools do use the DRA testing system. However I know that Cheshire, Southington, and Wallingford also use the Fountas & Pinnell Guided Reading Leveling (GRL) system for classroom use. You can use this chart on the Scholastic website to help understand how the levels correspond. You will note that there are even more leveling systems included on the chart, but I am going to focus on the most used systems in our area.

Fountas & Pinnell Guided Reading Leveling system (GRL) starts with level A, being the easiest, and goes up to Z. These levels are based on benchmark assessments or other systematic observations are used to determine the instructional reading level of each student.  Our library offers a variety of fiction and non fiction books from level A through G labeled and sorted by level for check out. Feel free to browse the collection or help finding books, but if you would like help, please stop by the children’s desk for assistance.

Developmental Reading Assessment system (DRA) also starts with level A for the easiest books, but  switches to numeric levels which run from 1 to 80. A child’s DRA reading level is based on is a standardized reading test.  During the test students read a selection (or selections) and then retell what they have read to the examiner. Most of our area schools use this standardized testing system to help gauge reading skills and comprehension, but many combine the information they get from this system with the GRL system.

A Lexile text measure is based on the semantic and syntactic elements of a text. A Lexile reader measure can range from below 200L for emergent readers to above 1600L for advanced readers.  This system tends to be the hardest translate from skill level and rating to book recommendations, at least for me. Most of the focus on these numbers come into play after children are fluent readers. For charts that break down which Lexile ratings are average by grade and further details, I highly recommend exploring their website. The site offers a search tool that allows you to find books based on Lexile level and then limit by age and interests so that you can find reading material for just about any fluent reader.

For more information on the stages of reading development and encouraging reading check out: Early Literacy by Joan Brooks McLane, Gillian Dowley McNamee, Straight Talk about Reading: How Parents Can Make a Difference During the Early Years by Susan L. Hall and Louisa C. Moats,  Matching Books to Readers: Using Leveled Books in Guided Reading, K-3 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell (reference book that cannot leave the library), The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller, Games With Books: 28 of the Best Children’s Books and How to Use Them to Help your Child Learn  by Peggy Kaye, Raising a Reader: Make Your Child a Reader for Life by Paul Kropp, and The Between the Lions Book for Parents: Everything you Need to Know to Help your Child Learn to Read by Linda K. Rath and Louise Kennedy.