Archives for December 2015

Sugar White Snow and Evergreens

Author:  Felicia Sanzari Chernesky
Illustrator:  Susan Swan

For ages 2 – 6


The subtitle of this charming book is A Winter Wonderland of Color and it couldn’t be more appropriate.  Each page will have you collecting a winter rainbow of brilliant colors as you tap into the magic of the season!

“We’re going to the farm,” Dad said.

“You want to know the reason?

To hunt for winter’s hidden gold

It’s maple syrup season!”


The family finds themselves riding in a horse-drawn sleigh through rows of deep green pines, spotting a plump red cardinal overhead, and coasting down hills through trees casting long purple shadows.


But it’s what they find waiting for them at the farmhouse that is the “sweetest” sight of all!  Can you guess what they might enjoy with that golden maple syrup?

This book awakens the senses! And it may have you in your kitchen making a yummy breakfast in the morning!


Mary Kline



StoryTime: Blueberries for Sal

Welcome to our podcast series, Fireflies’ GLOW.

Enjoy Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Along with sharing great stories, one of our goals is to get you and your little ones from the front door of your home to the grocery store while we entertain the kids.  Just subscribe to our GLOW podcasts and listen to them in the car!  We know that sometimes you just need a trick up your sleeve to keep the peace in the car.  What better “trick” than story-time?

So in the future, you can expect GLOW episodes that are 15 – 20 minutes of great storytelling from someone on the Fireflies’ team, or a special guest storyteller.  (I hope grocery store is close!)


Please enjoy our first episode of GLOW, where Mary Kline shares one of her favorite books, Blueberries for Sal.  Soon we will be dedicating episodes to some of our little GLOW listeners.  A future Fireflies Blog post will share the details of how to submit names for dedications.

From the Blueberry Council
Activity sheets and kid-friendly blueberry recipes.

Subscribe to Fireflies GLOW Podcasts HERE.

Deni Corbett

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Building Positive Experiences with Reading


The Reading Tree SeriesFB pic sept

The early years of life are critical for brain development. By providing your child with positive reading experiences, you can help their brain make long-lasting, pleasurable connections with books and reading. What empowerment!!  Theresa Hawley, Ph.D, states in the article, ‘Starting Smart*,’ that “different experiences can cause the brain to develop in different ways because of the plasticity of the brain… its ability to develop and change in response to the demands of the environment.” If your child has negative reading experiences, their brain can signal chemicals of stress such as cortisol. On the other hand, if your child is exposed to positive reading experiences, their brain can signal chemicals of trust and happiness; such as dopamine and oxytocin.

It is our human nature to continue experiencing things that bring pleasure. Author Jim Trelease confirms this in, ‘The Read Aloud Handbook,’ when he explains that children are motivated to read more when they like the experience of it. To help your child build positive reading experiences, and feel motivated to read more, I believe they need to feel safe, comfortable, engaged, and included. So…

december clip art

Here are 8 EXCITING ways you can provide your child with positive reading experiences:

  1. When its time to read, be a role model and express your joy and excitement! We know our children are always watching our actions and reactions!
  2. Read a book or a magazine alongside your child. They will see someone they trust and love find comfort and joy in reading and that will increase their desire to want to read!
  3. Use props! For example, while you read, “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie,” find a mouse stuffed animal to join or share milk and cookies!
  4. Have a special ‘book box’ or ‘book bucket’ that you change out regularly to go with a holiday (Valentine’s Day, Christmas), season (fall, winter), or special event coming up (school starting)!
  5. Create comfortable and enjoyable spaces to read, like in daddy’s big reclining chair or mommy’s sofa by the window… or even under their favorite tree outside with a blanket!
  6. Visit your local library or bookstore! Your child can check out awesome books or listen to storytellers that help make books come to life. If you don’t have one close, book-borrow with friends who live near by!
  7. Plan engaging follow-up activities! For example, after reading a few zoo books, like ‘Good Night Gorilla,’ and ‘If I Ran the Zoo,’ visit a local zoo! Or after reading ‘A Very Hungry Caterpillar,’ go to your grocery store and pick out some foods that the caterpillar ate in the story and enjoy them yourselves!
  8. Let them have a flashlight to use when they are ‘reading’ in bed at night.

So share with me! As a child, was there a positive experience you had with a book that you still remember? I would love hear it… and maybe the person who provided that experience needs to hear a thank you!


Joanna Merideth


Keep an eye out for my soon to be published Sight Word books: ‘Mush Mush Readers’!

Previous posts in our The Reading Tree series:

* Download the Starting Smart Article @

Read more about brain development in the early years from Harvard Universtiy:

Tree of Cranes

Author and Illustrator:  Allen Say


Two cultures combine in a most interesting and unusual way as a young boy living in Japan learns of Christmas for the first time.  On a gray winter day, our young boy disobeys his mother and catches a chill.  But before being sent to his room, he notices that she has begun folding dozens and dozens of silver paper cranes. When he questions her, she simply replies, “Because I want to make a big wish.”

Her peculiar behavior continues when the young child peers out his window and discovers her digging up a small pine in their snowy garden.  It was the tree she and his father planted at the time of his birth so that his life, too, would live long, like the tree.

When at last the tree is brought into the house and the Mama sets it down, the young boy’s curiosity nags at him.  He asks, “What are you doing with my tree?”  “You’ll see,” she said, setting down the pot.  Then she fetched the silver cranes and some sewing things from the living room.

As Mama kneels by the small tree, she gently explains to her young son about her life before he was born, when she lived in a warm place called California where people celebrated a day called  Christmas.  As she spoke, she threaded the silver cranes on the tree, then added small candles.

Mama held me in her lap.  The cranes turned slowly, flashing candlelight.  There couldn’t be a tree more beautiful than mine, I thought.  Not even in the place where Mama was born. 

Mama did make a big wish on their lovely tree, and our young boy did as well.  But you’ll have to read this sweet story to find out just what those wishes were and if they came true.  I’m sure many people will be making the same wish “Mama” did this year.  It would make for a very Merry Christmas.

Mary Byrne Kline