Boston Teachers Union Parent 2 Parent: Literacy Materials for Families

I was asked by the Boston Teachers Union to create this list of literacy resources for Boston Public Schools families attending the BTU’s Parent 2 Parent Conference tomorrow at Madison Park High School. Please click here to download a printable PDF of this list.

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1,000 Books Before Kindergarten (Age 0-5)

This website helps you to accomplish a goal of reading 1,000 books before your child begins Kindergarten. This is only 1 book per night for a little less than three years! Your child will gain vocabulary and sit and focus ability, not to mention a love of books and a special bond with family members over book sharing.

*Parent 2 Parent Tip: I have three children under age 2, and we share our books when my children are in high chairs for meals or when they are in their cribs before naptime and bedtime.

AdLit.Org:Ready for College Resources – Books for the College Bound (Grades 4-12)

AdLit stands for Adolescent Literacy. This website has a wealth of information about teaching and learning for students in gr. 4-12. The “Books for the College Bound” booklists are wonderful for finding challenging books that will prepare your child for college-level reading in various subject areas.

Boston Public Library

Visit the local branch of your public library to browse for books with your children (and yourself!). Ask the librarians for recommendations. Each branch has a bulletin board with a list of events for children and families.

*Parent 2 Parent Tip: When it is especially hot weather, I go to my local branch with my children to hang out in the FREE air conditioning.

MobyMax.Com (Grades K-8)

This website allows for students to practice skills in many subject areas – including reading! A free trial is available. Please contact me at if you need assistance with this site or would like a full membership.

Reading Is Fundamental Monthly Activity Calendars (Age 0-5, Age 6-15)

These printable calendars contain suggestions for daily seasonal activities and books. The calendars available in English and Spanish.

*Parent 2 Parent Tip: When I print out the monthly calendar, I visit to reserve the picture books for the month and pick them up at my local library branch.

Visit the Early Childhood section to find an annotated list of free and inexpensive apps for ages 3-6. Visit the Courses section to find a list of free technology classes (with the option to purchase a netbook computer for $50) available for children and adults at schools and community centers throughout Boston.

Reading from the Very Start: Establishing a Literacy Routine with Newborns

My daughters Sofia and Francine were born on June 1st, but their interactions with reading began from early in my pregnancy. Since I am a middle school literacy teacher,  the girls often heard me reading aloud to my students or heard my students reading aloud to me while still in utero. I noticed them kicking in reaction to read alouds during my second trimester. I remember when the librarian from the local library came to visit our sixth grade students, and I sat at my desk and felt the girls kicking me the whole time she read to the students. Also, I kept books in the car starting in the third trimester of my pregnancy, and I read aloud to the girls while their dad was driving.

It was much easier to keep up with reading to the girls when I was pregnant than it is now that they are actually here, but I am proud to say that I have found at least a few minutes every day to read to the girls. Below is an overview of the various reading materials I have tried in order to keep up with our reading routine.

Sing Along Books

I love the bilingual (Spanish and English) songbooks De Colores and Diez Deditos by Mexican-American educator Jose-Luis Orozco. The books are beautifully illustrated with colorful borders on each page, and background information as well as melodic notation are given for each song. I love the minimal arrangements of the music – mostly simple guitar accompaniment and vocals. Even if you don’t know much Spanish, these songs are so catchy that you will be singing along to them after only a few listens. Diez Deditos is especially fun for Sofia and Francine because I do the finger motions for each song on their bellies or arms when I sing along.

Sing Along Books by Mexican-American Author Jose Luis Orozco

Sing Along Books by Mexican-American Author Jose Luis Orozco


I have found two electronic resources for free audiobooks that are great for when I am holding a baby and have only one hand free. Or when I am just completely exhausted but want the girls to have a few minutes of reading.


Librivox is an amazing collection of over 15,000 audio books in the public domain. I have the LibriVox Audio Books app on my iPhone, and we are currently enjoying traditional tales by the Brothers Grimm and James Baldwin.

Reach Out and Read

The Reach Out and Read website is an unmissable resource for early childhood reading. I love the “Lola” audio books on their site because they are designed to get children excited about reading!

Children’s Chapter Books

My husband and I both enjoy reading chapter books to the girls. When I was still pregnant, I read The Little Prince to them just by having it in the car over a couple of days. We are currently about a third of the way through The Children’s Homer. The great thing about chapter books is that they really encourage me as a parent to keep reading to the girls because they hold my interest as well.  Also, they are easy to hold in one hand while holding a baby.

The Children's Homer: a chapter book for kids and adults as well

The Children’s Homer: a chapter book for kids and adults as well

Picture Books

Picture books are a little trickier to read alone with newborns because they are huge and not easy to hold in one hand. However, picture books are great when more than one adult is around or when the babies are in their bassinet or propped up on pillows.

Sofia and Francine received Take Two: A Celebration of Twins by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen as a gift from my friend Pat Harris. It is such an adorable collection of poems and pictures for twins!

Sofia and Francine received Take Two: A Celebration of Twins by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen as a gift from my friend Pat Harris. It is such an adorable collection of poems and pictures for twins!


Daddy Daughter Time: Reading a picture book after mealtime

Daddy Daughter Time: Reading a picture book after mealtime

Board Books

I enjoy reading board books with the girls when they are alert and awake (which is only for 20-3o minutes a few times per day), so they can look at the pictures. We usually will read 4 or 5 board books in one sitting.

Board books - all from my teacher friends

Board books – all from my teacher friends


Online Books has a wide variety of short online books for ages 0-3. These books are great for when I am holding a baby in one arm. Our favorite so far is Skippyjon Jones Shape Up because Skippyjon does a lot of different movements, and I move the babies to match them as I read.

A Goodreads of Their Own

If you would like to check out what Sofia and Francine are reading, you can visit their Goodreads profile online. I am really enjoying keeping track of all the books we have read together, and I think they will enjoy looking at the list when they are older.

My goal is to create as many positive associations with reading as possible for my daughters and to show them that reading is a fun family activity and a great way to bond together.