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



The Carpenter’s Gift

Author:  David Rubel
Illustrator: Jim LaMarche


Henry and his out-of-work father have just finished a long day selling Christmas trees in Midtown Manhattan. Before heading home, they give away the last few trees to construction workers, who decorate the tallest one—the first Rockefeller Center tree! On Christmas morning, Henry awakes to a surprise. The workers have gathered outside his family’s drafty shack with enough lumber to build a simple, decent home. The gift of a hammer from one of the carpenters changes Henry’s life.


With renewed hope for the future, young Henry plants a pine cone he has saved from the Rockefeller Center tree. Over his lifetime, the pine cone grows into a towering spruce. But the circle of giving is not yet complete….


Written by children’s historian David Rubel in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, and illustrated by Jim LaMarche,The Carpenter’s Gift celebrates the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, an American tradition. Each year, the tree is milled into lumber that Habitat for Humanity uses to build a simple, decent home with a family in need.

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LaMarche conveys emotional resonance with gauzy, soft-hued paintings of the inspirational proceedings. An afterword highlights Rockefeller Center owner Tishman Speyer’s recent partnership with Habitat for Humanity, which earmarks the tree to be milled for lumber post-Christmas for a family in need.

My dad was a carpenter who built the house we grew up in, and this book brings to mind his gentle nature and generosity.
 —Garrison Keillor

The heartwarming tale told in The Carpenter’s Gift brings together—through beautiful illustrations and a moving, multigenerational story—two great traditions: the Rockefeller Center tree and the neighbor-helping-neighbor program of Habitat for Humanity.
—Jimmy Carter

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…

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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: