Helping Grow your Child into a Successful Reader {EXPERT Guest Blogger}

Scottsdale experts
We at SMB are excited to announce a new little feature we’re adding to the blog!  In addition to our regular lineup of awesome Scottsdale mom contributors, we will be adding a monthly post by a LOCAL expert! We’ll cover all topics from discipline to reading readiness to carseats and sippy cups!  
Meet this month’s expert: Kristin Cetone, Education Specialist (Learn more about Kristin at the bottom of this post!) 

Spring is a time for growth, renewal, and new life!

You lay the foundation of your child’s future. I hope my insights will provide guidance as you plant your child’s seeds for becoming a successful reader.   I would like to plant two of these seeds here today aimed at pre-reader children.  Reading is a ‘learned process’.  We are not born with the innate ability to read; it’s an acquired skill.  So, like anything learned, practice, practice, practice is essential.

1st Seed: Launguage

We are born with the natural ability to speak.  Talking to your child starting at birth, will till the soil for their reading success later.  Sing to your child, mimic their sounds as they babble, READ ALOUD to them.  This will develop their vocabulary and understanding of the ‘sounds in words’ (phoneme awareness) and how our language fits together—sequence, pattern, number of sounds— All necessary skills for success with reading!

Launguage Building Activities   (from Transition Tips and Tricks by Jean Feldman)

Music to Read By:  Sing this tune when it is time to read with your child.

Please Come and Read With Me 
(Tune: “Mary Had a Little Lamb”)
Please come and read with me,
Read with me,
Read with me,
Please come and read with me,
For it’s story time.

Animal Crackers to teach reading skillsAnimal Crackers: Children love animal crackers and they are a great prop for reading skill development.  Use real animal crackers as you recite the poem, then pass them out for a snack.  Yum!

Animal Crackers as I Rhyme    
Animal crackers in my box
Open the lid, and out they’ll pop.
First comes elephant swinging his trunk.
He moves very slowly,
Thump, thump, thump.
Silly monkey jumps up and down.
He eats bananas and swings around.
Tall giraffe wrinkles his nose.
He has spots from head to toe.
Lion growls and paces around.
He’s the king of jungle ground.
Humpback camel blinks his eyes
And looks about with great surprise.
Hippo dives in the water deep.
He eats some grass and then he sleeps.
Catch them quick!
They’re on the run.
Eat them up.  Yum! Yum! Yum!

Variation:  Activity is a great reading buddy!  Have your child act out the characters!

2nd Seed: Self-Esteem

How to grow a reader

One of the most damaging conditions of a struggling reader is low self-esteem.   ‘Encouragement’ grows ‘self-esteem.’  The seeds of self-esteem are planted very early in life.  Parents can promote healthy self-esteem by showing encouragement.  As kids try, fail, try again, and then finally succeed, they develop ideas about their own capabilities, worth, and purpose.  

Self Esteem Building Activity:


Bubble Burst Paintings: (activity and photo from

Kids never lose their thrill for blowing bubbles.  Here’s a creative way to add more thrills!

  • Stir 2 tablespoons of tempera paint or 15 drops of food coloring into a ½ cup of bubble solution.
  • Tape a large piece of paper to a fence or between two trees or outdoor furniture.
  • Have your child blow the bubbles against it.

They will love watching the bubbles hit the paper and burst into colors and splatters!  They will also love having their creations proudly displayed in their home for all to see and enjoy!





Until next time…  “Discouraging Words…Discourage Dreams.  Encouraging Words…Sprout Dreams, Parents plant the seeds!”            

Kristin Cetone has lived in Scottsdale for 20 years with her husband. She currently shares her home with a very opinionated Pekingese named Teddy Bear. Kristin is the author of the children’s book Buckaroo Buckeye, A Little Nut with Big Dreams   In addition to raising her own two children, Kristin Cetone has had many years working with children as a Reading Specialist and particularly struggling readers.  She is excited to be able to share her insights and suggestions on the reading process to help parents help their children (birth-grade 3), strengthen the reading process and become successful readers.



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