Posts filed under ‘Books / Reading’

Book Spotlight: Gilberto and the Wind

Jumpstart’s sessions and its activities are inspired by 20 books, which we call core storybooks. Every session revolves around these books. They contain great vocabulary and there are many opportunities to apply to concepts in the books to learning that is happening in the classroom. I wanted to highlight one of my favorites today (along with some ideas for how to bring the book to life)!

Title: Gilberto and the Wind
Author: Marie Hall Ets
In this book Gilberto hears the wind whispering at the door and runs out to play. The wind teases Gilberto by carrying his balloon away and breaking his umbrella. The wind is playful too, racing Gilberto, lifting his soap bubbles, knocking down an apple for him to eat, and gently lulling him to sleep.

blur: something you cannot see clearly
clothespins: clips for hanging wash on a line
soft, mild, kind
making a long, loud cry like a wolf
a sudden tug
a toy that flies in the air, lifted by wind
a toy that spins in the wind
ready to eat
a cloth attached to the mast of a boat that the wind pushes along
not fastened, unlocked
speaking softly

Dramatic Play: Playing House
: Children can use vocabulary and comprehension as they engage in play about doing laundry, especially hanging clothes outside to dry in the wind.

Materials: Basic house-play materials including clothesline, clothespins, pillowcases, doll clothes and chairs to hang clothesline (if possible)


  • Observe children as they play and comment on their actions using rich vocabulary.
    • “Look at all the clothes on the clothesline! I wonder if they are going to fit on the clothesline. Do you have enough clothespins?”
    • “I notice you have washed the pillowcases and the apron and hung them up just as they were in the book about Gilberto.”

*NOTE: It can be helpful to string the clothesline between two childsize chairs so that the line is within easy reach of children.

Science: What Can Air Move?
Purpose: Children develop vocabulary and comprehension as they begin to understand that it is possible to investigate air and classify the results; observe an experiment and make predictions about the results, like similarities and differences.

Materials: Hair dryer (and extension cord if necessary); 3 shoeboxes with signs attached (Moved Easily, Moved at a Higher Speed, Did Not Move); Various objects to test


  • Use suggested vocabulary during discussion in ways that make their meanings clear: breeze, speed, wind, heavy, light, strong, weak.
  • Show children the hair dryer and turn it on the lowest speed to create a breeze. Tell the children that you will do an experiment together to test which objects the air from the hair dryer will move.
  • Read the signs on the shoeboxes and show children the collection of objects. Together, name each object you will test.
  • As you test each object, use rich vocabulary and make connections to Gilberto and the Wind when possible.
  • Have children select an object to test. Ask children to predict whether or not the object will move.
  • Place the object on the table in the path of the hair dryer.
  • For safety reasons only Corps members should use the hair dryer. Test at a low speed, then at higher speeds if necessary. Talk about what happens.
  • Have children place the object in the correct box.
  • Talk about how the objects in the same box are alike.

These are just a few of the possible activities that you could use with this book. Grab a copy…I’m sure you can find many more!


February 28, 2012 at 9:04 AM Leave a comment

Wordless Books and Reading

Here at ReadBoston, we’re strong advocates for reading aloud to children. In fact, research says that, “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”  In order to develop a love of reading, children need to hear stories, many stories, read aloud.  And, hearing books read aloud is fun, exciting and helps children connect with the magic and wonder of stories.

One way we love to read to babies, toddlers and young children is to use wordless books. We recently created a list of our favorite wordless books that adults and children can look at together to create their own stories to go along with the illustrations. Wordless picture books are a wonderful way to introduce young children to concepts they will later apply when learning to read, such as building vocabulary, comprehension skills and sequencing of events in a story.  Wordless books are also great for English language learners and adults whose first language is not English- families can “read” wordless picture books as a way of creatively sharing stories together.

Click here for a list of some of our favorite wordless picture books.

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We’re on Twitter! @ReadBostonMA

February 1, 2012 at 9:00 AM Leave a comment

Read, Read, Read!

At Jumpstart, we are constantly asking ourselves an important question: what more can we do for our preschoolers?  While visiting some Jumpstart sessions this week, I saw some fantastic reading strategies, language and literacy activities, and conversations around choice-time courtesy of Boston’s Community Corps (our older adult corps of volunteers).  But we all agreed that there is more we can do to make our four hours per week with these kids even more meaningful.

Recently we’ve been thinking a lot about our Reading CenterThe Reading Center is an option for kids to choose during choice-time, but is all too often never chosen at all.  We know how important early reading skills are, and know that we need to take every opportunity that we can to expose children to reading.  In thinking about what more we could do to sell our kids on the Reading Center, I came across some great ideas and resources, including some creative Reading Center set-ups from one of our very own Jumpstart Sites!

  • Jumpstart at Emerson College came up with these thoughtful and creative set-ups for their Reading Center:

By thinking creatively about their set-up, Jumpstart at Emerson College has made the Reading Center exciting and engaging so their kids will be more likely to make the choice to read with their Jumpstart friends.  Ideas like this make reading more of an experience than just reading words on a page–it becomes and engaging activity that kids can get excited about.

  • Reading Rockets also has pages and pages of tips and tricks for parents, teachers and even school administrators.  One of my favorite parent resources was “10 Things You Can Do to Raise a Reader–” this is a great list of quick, easy, every-day activities and reminders for how parents can get their kids off on the right foot when it comes to reading.  I also loved the “Themed Booklists” and the how-to on setting up a “Classroom Library,” because they reminded me of a lot of the things we are constantly thinking about at Jumpstart, and prove that there is a lot more that can go into teaching a child how to read then just handing him a book.

Do you know of any more great reading resources?  Share them here so we can come up with even more ideas to get our children invested in reading!

January 30, 2012 at 12:49 PM Leave a comment

Give the gift of books and reading!

Here at ReadBoston, we distribute over 100,000 books to kids in programs throughout Boston. While most of the books we provide are new, many of them are gently used and provided to schools, homeless shelters and preschools to replenish their libraries. In order to provide these books to the very deserving kids that read them, we rely on donations from the community. Schools, businesses, and universities often host book drives for us throughout the year, but there’s an even easier way for YOU to donate new or gently used books to ReadBoston.

We know it’s hard to part with books you love, but just think, your favorite copy of Goodnight Moon or Caps for Sale might continue to bring joy to a child in Boston. Donate these beloved books to ReadBoston through We’ve recently added tons of popular titles often requested by programs in the city.

Visit to browse the titles that we need. And give your books a new life!

To learn more about ReadBoston, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @ReadBostonMA .


December 22, 2011 at 1:48 PM Leave a comment

The Storymobile rolls on….for an extra week!

The ReadBoston Storymobile has been delighting children across Boston with stories and free books since July 5 of this year. We’ll continue to visit 78 sites each week through August 12, but the fun doesn’t stop there! New this year, we have added a week of special events from August 15-19. The brightly colored van will make stops at some very special Boston locations like Fenway Park, the Bunker Hill Monument, Spectacle Island, the Boston Common and Boston College’s Alumni Stadium. Not only will children hear stories and receive free, new books, but they’ll also get to participate in other activities at each location. This week of special events was designed to give kids an experiential session that will support new language and literacy skills in a new setting. 

All sessions are free and open to the public: 

Fenway Park– Gate D: Monday, August 15, 12:00 PM

Bunker Hill Monument–Charlestown: Tuesday, August 16, 11:00 AM

Spectacle Island–Boston Harbor Islands: Wednesday, August 17, 12:30 PM

 TADPole Playground –Boston Common: Thursday, August 18, 11:00 AM

 Boston College Alumni Stadium – Gate D: Friday, August 19, 12:00 PM

 For additional information, including a full schedule, visit Questions? Call 617-918-5289.


July 26, 2011 at 2:59 PM Leave a comment

Beep! Beep! Here comes the Storymobile!

It’s that time of year again! The ReadBoston Storymobile will be rolling through the streets of Boston visiting 78 sites each week from July 5-August 12. At each Storymobile session, children participate in a fun, interactive storytelling with a professional storyteller and receive a free, new book to take home. By the end of the summer, children will have received at least six free, new books to keep as their own!

The goal of the Storymobile program is to promote literacy as a year round endeavor that doesn’t end when school doors close for summer. Too often ReadBoston’s Storymobile provides the only literacy activities that Boston kids, especially ages 2-7, experience throughout the summer break. The summer slide, as termed by researchers, which many low-income children experience, might be avoided by providing as few as six books for them to read, and re-read, during the summer months. 

ReadBoston is very excited to include some new features in this year’s program:

  • Two weekly evening sessions:
    • Tuesdays, beginning July 12, 7 pm at Jamaica Pond
    • Thursdays, beginning July 14, 5 pm at the Franklin Park Zoo, outside of the Zebra Gate
  • Weekly session at the Leahy-Holloran Community Center in Dorchester(Tuesdays at 1:15) that is open to all and will include Autism friendly programming
  • A week of special events from August 15-19 including sessions at Fenway Park, Spectacle Island, Boston College and Bunker Hill 

The Storymobile program is open to all children across the city of Boston. Click here for a location near you! 

Questions? Call ReadBoston at 617-918-5289.

June 23, 2011 at 4:28 PM Leave a comment

Llama llama red pajama reads a story with his mama…

It seems like everything we do these days has to be efficient, convenient, and easily-accessible.  Dinner can be made in 5-minutes, appointments can be made online, and bills can be paid while simultaneously playing scrabble on your phone.

So why not take this one step further? We all know the importance of literacy and reading in a child’s early years, and this starts with having easy access to books.  We Give Books, an initiative of the Pearson Foundation, makes that possible by featuring children’s books that can be read online for free.  With the click of a few buttons, a child’s world can be open to words and illustrations by some of the best children’s authors, any time, for FREE.  

Even better, visit We Give Books to check out Jumpstart’s 2011 Read for the Record campaign book Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anne Dewdney.  Enjoy the book in full online, and help get our Read for the Record Campaign off to a great start–it’s that easy!

June 1, 2011 at 4:01 PM 1 comment

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