Start with a Book

Ricky Rocket

Books, activities and ideas for summer reading and summer learning from Reading Rockets

Start With a Book

Summer Blog: Read. Talk. Explore!

Join us for a summer full of learning and adventures! Our guest bloggers will share how they use Start with a Book resources to dive into learning about new topics or dig deeper into things that kids already love. Go on a book-inspired scavenger hunt, listen in to some great audio books, jump into fascinating sports books, explore new cultures through art and architecture, start a family vegetable garden, learn about stars and the night sky, and more!

Water Words and Watersheds

July 27, 2018

This past week at aspire!, we have been implementing the River Rangers curriculum. Each of our three sites has focused on different aspects of the curriculum, but all of our students have had fun, learned new things about the world around them, and found some interesting new books. More >

We Are Water Explorers, Raft Builders, and Readers!

July 27, 2018

With all this rain in the weather forecast this week, how can we not talk about water?! Summer camp leader Becky Koons gets her River Rangers going by imagining a day without water. More >

Adventures of My Summer River Rangers

July 23, 2018

How can we teach children about one of our most important natural resources? Gaynelle Diaz combines lots of reading with art, hands-on activities, and field trips to jumpstart a summer full of learning about water and our local rivers. More >

Summer Harvest

September 19, 2017

How was your summer? Like most summers, it went by way too quickly for me. But there are a couple of things I think will be helpful to do to preserve this summer’s bounty of reading and learning. More >

Not Just for Kids: Our Journey to Turquoise Mountain

August 28, 2017

Retreating from a surprisingly cool and grey July morning, 60 parents, grandparents, and children poured out of a bus on Pennsylvania Ave. Together, we amble towards the entrance to the African Art Museum — our gateway to the Freer and Galleries. More >

Take reading outside

August 21, 2017

Story can do a lot to inspire kids to engage with the natural world. What can you do to get kids outside? Kit Ballenger has some ideas that all start with a book! Kit is a youth services librarian at An Open Book Foundation and a regular volunteer at the Library of Congress Young Readers Center. An avid hiker and backpacker, she always has a book in tow and reads every night before bedtime, even by headlamp in a sleeping bag. More >

Become an explorer in your own backyard or nearby park!

August 15, 2017

Strengthen your child’s powers of observation and imagination when you spend time together outdoors. You can find nature in a variety of settings within your community, giving children the opportunity to explore by touching, smelling, and examining things to make their own discoveries. Lulu Delacre, award-winning bilingual author and illustrator of children's books, offers engaging ideas to inspire children and their families to make artistic connections with the natural world. More >

Book-ing Your Child’s Summer Vacation

August 11, 2017

Even though it is already back-to-school time in some parts of the country, there’s still time for reading fun in the summer sun for everyone! Legendary children’s storytime performer and early childhood educator Sol Livingston has some great ideas for summer reading that will inspire reading road trips all year round. More >

Preventing the Summer Slide in Military Families: The Importance of Reading Aloud

August 8, 2017

Parents play a major role in stimulating developing minds and building literacy skills and children who read aloud with their parents reap numerous benefits. But for children and parents who are physically separated, it is difficult to read aloud together and build bonds around books. Our friends at United Through Reading share how establishing reading routines help support summer reading, particularly for those families who face the challenge of military deployment. More >

Score Big with Books

August 3, 2017

For many sports-loving kids, summer means heading to the field, court, pitch or pool. But a passion for playing a sport can also get kids reading. Author Fred Bowen shares how his own love of sports relates to reading and what parents can do to help kids connect their own sports experiences to all kinds of reading. More >

Hear Me Out About Summer Reading

July 31, 2017

Summer can provide the time to read that lots of kids need to strengthen skills. But summer also offers other warm-weather distractions that have more kid appeal than books. William Weil, Co-Founder and CEO of Tales2go, an award-winning kids' mobile audiobook service, shares his ideas for building reading comprehension skills and engaging young readers and families in summer reading and learning adventures. Listen up! More >

Learning Together: Summer Trips with Turning the Page

July 18, 2017

Kids benefit when their parents are active members of their community. When they feel their families are a part of the community, kids feel safer, valued, and more confident which opens up great opportunities for learning and exploration. Ellie Canter, Managing Director at Turning the Page, shares how real-life experiences and connections with books help build community in Washington, DC. More >

Join Little Free Library’s Action Book Club (And You Could Win Free Books!)

July 10, 2017

Sometimes we need a reminder that big changes in our world often start with small actions. Books can be that perfect reminder, especially for kids who connect with a particular character or find inspiration in fiction and nonfiction about ordinary people who stand up for what's right. More >

A Taste of Nature

July 5, 2017

The sense of wonder that nature provides is exactly the curiosity you want your child to bring to a book. Even if you are limited to exploring your backyard or the local park, there are many simple ways to spend enjoyable times reading and learning together in the great outdoors. More >

Summer Writing: It’s Cool to Collaborate

June 22, 2017

Here are Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang to tell you about how they paired up as co-authors and how working with a partner can help get kids excited about writing this summer. More >

Map Fun: Creating a Visual Itinerary

August 30, 2016

This summer we traveled to France for a friend’s wedding and the Tour de France. It was a trip that included a long road trip with multiple stops. I thought a fun way to get the kids excited about the trip would be a map exercise: creating a visual itinerary to help the kids understand where we were going and what we’d be seeing. More >

Making Reading Connections with Themes

August 23, 2016

For more than 25 years, The Reading Connection (TRC) has been making sure kids get read to and have books of their own. Our organization is dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk children and families by helping them create and sustain literacy-rich environments and motivation for reading. This year our overall theme was superheroes — specifically how you can “be your own superhero.” Kids were encouraged to reflect and consider what their own superpowers were — because not all superheroes have the same powers! More >

Sun versus Shade Experiment

August 22, 2016

We live in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, and it’s been hot. Really hot. And based on the weather reports we’ve seen this summer, much of this country has experienced at least one, if not many heat waves already. Addie and I have been reading about the topic of weather, and she was curious about how hot things can get under the sun. We decided to do a quick and easy science experiment to test the difference in the temperatures of objects sitting under the sun versus being in the shade using an infrared thermometer. More >

Do Architects Build Dollhouses?

August 15, 2016

When you ask my daughter Addie what she wants to be when she grows up, she’ll say a number of things, one of which is wanting to be an architect. When you ask her why she wants to be an architect, she’ll tell you that buildings come in all sorts of interesting shapes and designs. She may also mention that it’d be fun to build dollhouses. I wanted to help her explore the world of buildings (and dollhouses), so I tried out a framework for helping any child explore a job that they’re interested in. More >

Elevating Family Reading

August 11, 2016

A bunch of my teacher and librarian friends recently returned from a Reading Summit hosted by Scholastic. There, they spent a day talking about strategies to get kids excited about reading independently. I decided to host my own reading summit – at the kitchen table. The goal, I told my kids and husband, was just to figure out a few things that would get us excited about reading. What could we do that would get us reading more? More >

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go Olympics!

August 3, 2016

With the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics upon us, it was the perfect time to host our very own “Go Olympics!” event, and it also turned out to be a great activity to include our neighborhood friends in. The friendly competition gave the kids an opportunity to be active, practice good sportsmanship, and learn about inspiring athletes such as Wilma Rudolph. More >

A Summer Reading Scavenger Hunt

July 25, 2016

Set up a book-inspired scavenger hunt to help young readers discover new books and new genres — or look at an old favorite in a new way. Know a kid who loves books but doesn’t yet read? Start with favorite picture books, using drawings instead of questions so they’ll know to search for a ladybug, the moon, or a hairy, scary monster. Children's author Madelyn Rosenburg shows you how. More >

Catching Stars

August 18, 2015

In Carol’s final blog posting for the summer, the family embarks on another Start with a Book summer science exploration: The Night Sky. Unbeknownst to them, their exploration continues on in paradise, and wraps up at home in their own front yard. More >

We're Going on Five Planes!

August 10, 2015

Carol and her kids explore the topic of flight with a visit to the National Air and Space Museum. Their ongoing exploration of flight continues during their summer travels as they learn about Amelia Earhart, go on five planes, and make their own paper airplanes. More >

It’s a Tomato Warning!

July 16, 2015

Carol and her family share their gardening adventures. They learn the virtue of patience when it comes to gardening with some help from a book called And Then It’s Spring, and experience the satisfaction of growing their own fruits and vegetables from seed. More >

Madam President

July 8, 2015

Addie explores the idea of becoming President. With a visit to the Lincoln Memorial, and a candid “what if I were President” interview with her mom, we get to see the world through the eyes of a five and half year old. More >

Dear Mo Willems

June 30, 2015

Addie takes her mom on an exploration of her favorite author, Mo Willems. The exploration goes beyond his books and includes watching a Reading Rockets interview with Mo Willems and drawing him fan mail. More >

A Strawberry Farm-to-Table Adventure

June 25, 2015

Carol shares the delicious fun of strawberry picking at a local farm, and how a book and a Highlights magazine article lead to baking adventures in the kitchen with the kids. More >

A Bonfire, a Bookstore, and Whales: Our Cape Cod Adventure

June 19, 2015

Carol shares how she prepared for a beach trip to Cape Cod with a Summer Tip text, and discovers the fun of stopping by a local bookstore. She’s also discovering how the role of books in their lives is evolving, and making summer explorations more memorable. More >

We’re Going on a Bug Hunt!

June 11, 2015

Carol goes bug hunting with her three-year-old son Taylor, and realizes a great adventure can be had right at home, alongside bug-themed books and apps. More >

Our first exploration: money!

June 01, 2015

In Carol’s first blog post about her summer adventures with her kids, she uses the Start with a Book site for the first time. She shares the fun times (and mishap) they have exploring a topic Addie is learning about in school, money. More >

Meet Carol Shen

May 21, 2015

Meet Carol Shen, her daughter Addie, and her son Taylor. This summer, they will be sharing their Start with a Book summer adventures with us. Join the Shen family for a summer full of reading, talking, and exploring! More >