Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Reading About Weather

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Apr 18, 2017 3:14:00 PM

Spring has sprung! Because spring is a transitional season, the weather outside often changes drastically from day-to-day—even if it’s sunny and pleasant today, it could be windy and raining tomorrow. Unpredictable weather fluctuations might be frustrating for your students, who are ready to play outside on the playground. On the other hand, though, since it’s possible to experience a vast range of weather during a short amount of time, the spring is the best time of the year to teach lessons about the weather.

Hameray offers a multitude of books, both narrative and informational, that discuss the weather and the changing seasons. On a rainy spring day, keep students engaged by reading narratives about puddles and umbrellas from the Kaleidoscope Collection:

  • In Puddles, a young boy frolics outside in the rain by jumping into puddles—he even sees a rainbow!
  • Whose Umbrella? traces a rabbit’s quest to find the owner of a lost umbrella.



On a sunny day, teach your students about the importance of sunlight with these titles from Fables Real World:

  • The Sun describes how the sun is so hot that “nothing can even get close to it without melting”!
  • Sun and Wind Energy discusses how the weather can be used for sustainable energy and for generating electricity.



On windy days, mix up the genres with one informational and one narrative book:

  • Wind, from Fables Real World, discusses the different words that we use to describe wind (breezes, gusts, gales, hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards). Students will be enthralled by the power of wind!
  • Hurricane Dog, from Kaleidoscope Collection, follows a dog that looks for a new home after a disastrous hurricane hits his town.


Selecting reading materials based on that day’s weather keeps your lessons relevant and engaging. Happy spring!


For more information about the Kaleidoscope Collection and Fables and the Real World, click the images below.

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Topics: Leveled Readers, Kaleidoscope Collection, Science, Fables and the Real World, Weather

A Better Path to Reading Success: Richard Gentry Discusses Kid Writing

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Apr 13, 2017 3:42:00 PM

Author Pages_Richard Getntry-1.jpgJ. Richard Gentry, affectionately known as "America's Spelling Guru," is an internationally acclaimed author, researcher, and educational consultant. He is also a co-author for Hameray's upcoming professional book, Kid Writing in the 21st Century: A Systematic Approach to Phonics, Spelling, and Writing Workshop, which will be released in May 2017.

Last week, Dr. Gentry published an article in Psychology Today, "Landmark Study Finds Better Path to Reading Success." The article proves that a young student's reading and writing skills go hand-in-hand. In other words, writing in the classroom will also boost students' reading scores!

In his article, Dr. Gentry cites a study by Gene Ouellette and Monique Sénéchal that was published earlier this year (2017). This study advocates for "invented spelling"—a young writer's "self-directed and spontaneous attempts to represent words in print" (Gentry). Through invented spelling, a student might incorrectly spell a word, like "KN" for the word "can." However, meaningful learning is still taking place—invented spelling requires the child to draw upon phonics and sound-symbol correspondence, which are two essential reading concepts!

Invented spelling even promotes a student's cognitive devleopment:

The human brain generally gets better at whatever it practices—including invented spelling. Reflection about how to spell a word allows the child to actively practice making decisions, rather than passively memorizing. This active practice likely results in synaptic changes in the child’s brain by strengthening neuronal pathways for long term-retention of spellings to be retrieved for reading and writing.

Dr. Gentry stresses the fact that writing exercises are win-win activities for a teacher—they improve writing AND reading skills!

Ouellette and Sénéchal found a direct line from invented spelling leading to improved reading scores at the end of first grade. In their carefully crafted longitudinal study, they found invented spelling to be “a unique predictor of growth in early reading skills, over and above children’s alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness.” Now that’s a huge finding! 



Kid Writing in the 21st Century further explores the research ideas stated in Dr. Gentry's article. In addition to explaining invented spelling in greater detail, the book also provides example lessons to encourage students to invent spellings. Dr. Gentry, Eileen Feldgus (Ed.D.), and Isabell Cardonick (M. Ed.), share their real teacher experiences and literacy lesson ideas. Incorporating the wisdom of its authors and the newest 21st-century research, Kid Writing is sure to become your go-to professional text!

Kid Writing in the 21st Century will be released in May, but you can reserve your copy today at this product link!







Click the image below to view a brochure about Kid Writing in the 21st Century!


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Topics: Kindergarten, Teaching Writing, First Grade, Kid Writing, J. Richard Gentry

Using Level A Books to Teach Children How to Read, Part 2

Posted by Paula Dugger on Apr 11, 2017 3:28:00 PM

describe the imageThis post is the second in a series that documents guest blogger Paula Dugger's experience of teaching her grandson how to read with Level A books. To read the first post, click here

In my previous post, I prepared my grandson, Carter, with literacy exercises in preparation for his first Level A book. After using the Letter Buddies Magnetic Letters to teach Carter about the words “me” and “my,” it was time for me to introduce the Guided Reading Level A book, Cowboy. 

3) I explained that both the words “me” and “my” are used in the book. I asked Carter to show me the word “my” on the first six pages of text and “me” on the last page. We also went back and looked at the pictures to see if he could tell me what he saw in each of those photos. This exercise encouraged him to use the pictures for textual meaning.


4) Now, it was time to model reading the book. Using my fingers, I matched each printed word with the word I said aloud to show one-to-one matching (“My hat,” ”My boots,” etc.). Next, I asked Carter to help me by pointing to the words while we read together. Finally, I asked him to read the book by himself, making sure he was matching one-to-one by pointing. The first six pages of text are patterned, but the text changes on page 8 and there are two lines (“Me! I am a cowboy”). Cowboy_v4 (dragged).jpg

In the following days, I asked Carter to read the book, but he sometimes would not use his finger to match one-to-one and would insert words that weren’t in the text. I repeated many of the steps listed on the first day to provide support, eventually dropping some of the activities until Carter was able to pick up the book and read independently.

The scaffolding and procedures set up on the first day can be used to introduce any book. A great follow up book to Cowboy is another level A book in the Kaleidoscope Collection called My Birthday. It is also structured and patterned much like Cowboy. The first two pages are “My friends” and “My present.” I would introduce the book and ask, “What would you have at your birthday party?” and then have the child look at the pictures and tell me what s/he sees to confirm meaning. Then I would say that there is a word on the pages that he (Carter) already knows from his last book, Cowboy. I would ask him to find it by framing it with his fingers or sliding his finger under it and reading it slowly. The word “my” should be a known anchor word that can be recognized and read, which provides confidence when reading a new book.

Some very important things to remember when teaching a child to read include the following:

  • Reading is a skill that takes time to develop.
  • A child should spend a minimum of 20 minutes a day reading or having books read to them.
  • Allow the reader to read the same books over and over to increase fluency and quick recognition of familiar words. Re-reading also provides confidence.

Hameray Publishing provides a wide variety of titles written for the beginning reader, many of which are found in their Kaleidoscope Collection. Thirty new titles have recently been added at levels A and B, providing a great selection of titles for aspiring readers!


Paula Dugger has a B.S, M.Ed. and Reading Specialist Certification from The University of Texas at Austin and Reading Recovery training through Texas Woman’s University. A former first grade teacher, reading coordinator and Reading Recovery Teacher Leader, Paula has served as an adjunct professor at Texas Woman’s University and Dallas Baptist University teaching reading classes for current and future teachers. She also does educational consulting and training through Dugger Educational Consulting, LLC, in addition to writing blogs and early literacy books for Hameray. She can be contacted at pdugger11@gmail.com 

Paula and her husband Neil have two married daughters and are grandparents to Carter, Blake, and Faye. She raises registered Texas Longhorns on the weekends. Her longhorn cattle are featured in her first book published by Hameray Publishing group, titled Longhorns. She has authored six additional titles in the Kaleidoscope Collection—Ben & Ruby, Buttons, Cowboy, Dinner, Going Up & Down, and Round, Not Round.


For more information about the Kaleidoscope Collection, which features many Guided Reading Level A books, click hte image below.

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Topics: Early Childhood, Leveled Readers, Kaleidoscope Collection, Paula Dugger

The Importance of Pictures for Reluctant Readers

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Apr 6, 2017 3:42:00 PM

Why do children’s books include pictures? Of course, colorful illustrations are eye-catching and pique any reader’s interest. Pictures in books don’t just exist for visual pleasure, though—they provide important visualization that deepen textual meaning.

The Common Core State Standards focuses on a reader's ability to gain meaning from pictures in both narrative and informational texts:

  • "Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, settings, or events" (RL.1.7)
  • "Distinguish between information provided by pictures or other illustrations and information provided by the wrods in a text" (RI.1.6)

Research shows that many students who struggle with reading comprehension also have trouble creating a mental image of what is happening in the text. With pictures to accompany the words, students receive a visual scaffolding that helps them understand the content of the story.

HRay_DoveKing_PAGES (dragged).jpgFor example, students might have never encountered "a flock of doves" (2) in their lifetime. This unfamiliarity would seriously hinder a student's comprehension of The Dove King from Fables and the Real World.

However, the illustrations on page 2 allow students to infer that a dove is a white bird. Furthermore, because many birds are pictured, a "flock of doves" must refer to a group of birds. In this way, the book's illustrations promotes understanding and allows the students to access a book through multiple avenues. 



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Pictures aren't just for "little kids"! Hameray's Extraordinary Files series allows students at higher reading levels to benefit from visual representation in their books. Leveled from Guided Reading Level T to Y, this series features graphic novel-style art, like the one shown in the opening page of Sleepwalker (3). Even older readers will find this series sophisticated and age-appropriate.

Every spread of these 48-page books contain illustrations that give clues about the setting, plot, and characters' emotions. Better yet, the pictures don't sacrifice the complexity and richness of the actual text. Students must pay attention to the words and the pictures on the page to gain full understanding of the story. Older students who don't gravitate towards reading will love reading this series like a graphic novel!

As described above, pictures are helpful reading tools for readers of all age, especially for reluctant readers that would benefit from comprehension aids. What student doesn't love looking at pictures?


The foundational concept for this blog's ideas are supported by Gomes and Carter's "Navigating through Social Norms, Negotiating Place: How American Born Chinese Motivates Struggling Learners" (2010). 


Click the left image below to download information about Fables and the Real World. Click the right image below to download information about The Extraordinary Files.

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Topics: Narrative Text, Extraordinary Files, Reluctant Readers, Fables and the Real World, Hi-Lo, Pictures

Using Level A Books to Teach Children How to Read, Part 1

Posted by Paula Dugger on Apr 4, 2017 3:28:00 PM

describe the imageThis is a guest blog post series authored by Paula Dugger, M. Ed. Paula is an educational consultant who has previously served as a Reading Recovery Teacher/Teacher Leader, first grade teacher, Title I and high school reading teacher, and a Reading Coordinator. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend six days with my four year-old grandson, Carter. I thought that it was a great time for him to learn how to read. I was especially excited, as I had a copy of a brand new Guided Reading Level A book, Cowboy, that I recently wrote for the Hameray Kaleidoscope Collection. Best of all, this book features Carter on the cover and throughout the book.

 Choosing the appropriate leveled book is critical when introducing a child to reading. Guided Reading Leveled books A -C (Intervention Levels 1-3) are called early emergent readers. They are perfect for children who are learning the basic concepts of books and print awareness. Books at these levels contain the following features:
  • Controlled and limited text per page
  • Repetitive patterned vocabulary and text
  • Strong picture support for meaning
  • Familiar language and concepts
  • Large print and wide spacing

cowboy.jpgBefore I outline my teaching procedures, let me provide some information about Carter’s literacy background. His parents, who appreciate the importance of reading, have read to Carter almost every day since birth, and he has an ever-expanding library of books. He attends a preschool and has learned letter names and most corresponding sounds. He is also aware that his cool name contains the words car, cart, and art. All of the books read and re-read to him have helped build his speech, language and listening skills while expanding vocabulary, imagination, curiosity, and background knowledge. Carter is often seen picking up a book and “reading” based on what he has heard and remembers from being read to.


I felt that Carter was now ready for the next step in learning how to read. Here is how we first prepared to read Cowboy:



1). I began by using magnetic letters from Letter Buddies to display the words me and my. I took my finger and slid under each word and said slowly “me and then “my pointing out that they both started with the same sound and letter but ended with a different letter and sound. After my modeling, we did the task together and then Carter did this independently. I mixed up the letters and had him make each of the words, telling me what they said.

         dugg1.jpg          dugg2.jpg

2) Next, I had Carter write the two words, using the model that the magnetic letters provided. Afterwards, I asked him to read the two words, sliding his fingers under each to make sure he was looking at all the letters and making the correct sounds.

         dugg3.jpg           dugg4.jpg

Now, we were ready to start reading CowboyNext Tuesday, I'll share how to model reading with a Guided Reading Level A book. Make sure to subcribe to the Hameray blog in the right-hand bar to receive my next post in your inbox!


Paula Dugger has a B.S, M.Ed., and Reading Specialist Certification from The University of Texas at Austin and Reading Recovery training through Texas Woman’s University. A former first grade teacher, reading coordinator and Reading Recovery Teacher Leader, Paula has served as an adjunct professor at Texas Woman’s University and Dallas Baptist University teaching reading classes for current and future teachers. She also does educational consulting and training through Dugger Educational Consulting, LLC, in addition to writing blogs and early literacy books for Hameray. She can be contacted at pdugger11@gmail.com


Paula and her husband Neil have two married daughters and are grandparents to Carter, Blake, and Faye. She raises registered Texas Longhorns on the weekends. Her longhorn cattle are featured in her first book published by Hameray Publishing group, Longhorns. She has authored six additional titles in the Kaleidoscope Collection—Ben & Ruby, Buttons, Cowboy, Dinner, Going Up and Down, and Round, Not Round.


For more information about the Kaleidoscope Collection, which features many Guided Reading Level A books, click hte image below.

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Topics: Early Childhood, Leveled Readers, Kaleidoscope Collection, Paula Dugger

Role-Playing Traditional Stories

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Mar 30, 2017 3:17:00 PM


Reader's Theater, where students perform a written book like a play, is a tried and true way of engaging readers. Guided role-playing is another highly effective way to incorporate dramatic play into your reading lessons!


In guided role-playing, the teacher prepares a role-playing scenario that parallels a situation presented in the book. Students improvise and act based on what they would do in that situation. By being placed into the scene of a book, students learn to empathize and understand the story from the characters' perspectives.

Role-playing can take place before of after an initial reading of the book, but doing it beforehand might help your students act authentically—if they read first, some students might feel tempted to simply mimic the character's actions instead of their own. While students subsume the role of a character in Reader's Theater, the purpose of role-playing is to act in a character's shoes. This increased agency leads to higher interest and more personal investment in reading the book. 



Choose a narrative book like The Little Red Hen from the Story World Real World series. Decide on a role-playing scenario. The scenario should be relevant and not specific to the book—for example, you don't want to ask students to imagine that they're a "little red hen." The following scenarios are an example:

  • Actor A: You love cooking and live in a house with a friend that loves to have fun. One day, you decide that you want to bake bread, but your friend doesn't want to help you. Role-play the conversation you would have with your friend.
  • Actor B: You live in a house with a friend that loves to cook. One day, your friend wants to bake bread and asks for your help, but you just want to have fun instead. Role-play the conversation you would have with your friend.

Have students pair up, with one student playing Actor A and the other playing Actor B. After a few minutes, have them switch partners and switch roles.

Students will be eager to compare their actions to the characters in the book. Furthermore, guided role-playing takes up less time than Reader's Theater—it's the same dramatic fun in a shorter amount of time!


The ideas in this blog post were adapted from Lisa Simon's "'I Wouldn't Choose It, but I Don't Regret Reading It": Scaffolding Students' Engagement with Complex Texts" (2008), which uses guided role-playing with adolescent students. 


Click the image below to download a series highlights about Story World Real World, which contains the book featured in this blog post.

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Topics: Story World, Narrative Text, Reader's Theater, Role-play

30 New Kaleidoscope Books!

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Mar 28, 2017 2:17:00 PM

 If you’re a frequent reader of our blog, you’ll be familiar with Hameray Publishing’s Kaleidoscope Collection. As our largest series, the Kaleidoscope Collection features both narrative and informational texts between Guided Reading Levels A – K. With its commitment to diverse representation, students have a kaleidoscope of options to choose a book that appeals to them.

We’ve just introduced 30 new titles into the Kaleidoscope Collection, which focuses on low-leveled readers at Guided Reading Level A–C. Books like My Birthday! and What Is a Pet? are sure to peak the interest of your beginning reader.

Many of the new books are complementary in topic or sentence structure, making them ideal for students to reinforce their reading skills. For example, students can familiarize themselves with the sight words “I” and “can” by reading I Can Read. Then, they can apply their knowledge to a new book, I Can Write. Using multiple books to reinforce a reading concept is crucial for developing confidence and fluency.



Other complementary titles from the new Kaleidoscope additions include the following:

You can browse all of our new Kaleidoscope titles at our website. Remember, a portion of the Kaleidoscope Collection’s profits goes to the Reading Recovery Council of North America. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!



Click the image below to download a series highlights about the newly-expanded Kaleidoscope Collection. 

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Topics: Kaleidoscope Collection, Kindergarten, Preschool

Teachers Read, Too!

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Mar 23, 2017 2:49:00 PM

 As a teacher, you are responsible for developing students' literacy skills and ensuring that they accomplish Common Core ELA standards. But does your job as a literacy teacher end there? Of course not!

As a teacher, you should also convince your students about the joy and value of reading. Motivated readers become successful readers, and a teacher's personal relationship to books can profoundly influence students' attitudes towards reading.

It is essential that students perceive you as a reader, too. Do you often use classroom silent reading time to take care of other teacher tasks? As much as it's tempting to grade papers or tidy your desk during quiet reading time, busying yourself with other errands implicitly tells your students that "reading is just for kids." If you also sit down and read with the students, you demonstrate that reading time is important for you, too.  

Treat your books with respect. Are you guilty of using books for a doorstop or a writing surface? Do you flip its pages with chalky hands? Children are incredibly observant, and small actions like these can shape a child's perception of how valuable (or invaluable) books are. Make sure to treat all your books with the respect they deserve!

child adult school_Monkey Business Images.jpg

Actively recommend books to your students. Allowing children the freedom to choose books boosts their enthusiasm, but that doesn't mean that youc an't make recommendations.

Try not to talk from a literacy teacher's perspective, like "You should try reading the Underwater Encounter series because it's just right for your reading level." Instead, make a recommendation as a fellow reader: "I just finished reading Scuba School and it reminded me of when you told me you wanted to visit Hawaii. Do you want to borrow my copy of the book?"


Personal recommendations convey that you value the student's identity as a reader. Moreover, students will have the opportunity to share their reactions with you—when chidlren know that they'll be able to share their thoughts about reading with someone else, they're much more likely to finish the book. Thus, recommendations tells students that a mutual love of reading can strengthen relationships with other people.

A teacher should model enthusiasm and dedication for reading. If stuents believe that you genuinely like to read (and you're not just teaching them because it's your job), they'll be much more likely to read with you!


Click the left image below to visit the website for Underwater Encounters, which was mentioned in this blogpost. Click the right image to download a fact sheet about the series. 

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Topics: Underwater Encounters, teachers, Teaching Reading, Reading

New Spanish Fables & Paired Texts!

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Mar 21, 2017 3:31:00 PM

Do you know about Hameray Publishing's newest series?

We're excited to announce Fábulas y el mundo real, the Spanish equivalent of the popular Fables & The Real World series. ELL and dual language classrooms will benefit from this 40-book paired-text series. The fables, such as La tortuga y el conejo [The Tortoise and the Rabbit] and El zorro y el chivito [The Fox and the Goat], impart universal lessons that are relevant in any culture.


The nonfiction titles are designed to support the Common Core State Standards in Informational Texts. Titles such as ¿Es un lobo o un coyote? and La energia del sol y del viento teaches comparing and contrasting skills (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.2.9). Each book also includes captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, and other informational text features (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.2.5).


With a variety of topics such as weather, community markets, and showing gratitude, Fábulas mundo real allows ELL teachers to include content area subjects into their literacy lessons, too.

Visit the Fábulas y el mundo real website to browse all the titles and view sample books.¡Vamos a leer!



Click this link to view sample books from Fábulas y el mundo real. Click the image below to download an English series highlights about Fables and the Real World. 

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Topics: Spanish, ELL, Fables and the Real World, Paired Texts, Fabulas y el mundo real

A Call for Contemporary Books

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Mar 16, 2017 3:50:52 PM


We all have our favorite chapter books from childhood. As we fondly remember Charlotte’s Web, The Secret Garden, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins, we encourage our students to read them, too. Although it’s wonderful to recommend books that we genuinely enjoy, classics are not always the best option for reluctant readers. For students who are unconvinced about the pleasures of reading, classics actually have the danger of prompting students to ask, “Why should I even care?”

As much as we’d like to think that childhood is timeless, we can’t deny that technology, social, and other modern inventions are fundamentally changing the way children grow up. The “classics” I’ve mentioned above are called classics for a reason—Charlotte’s Web, the newest out of the three books, was published in 1952. Colored television didn’t even exist in 1952!

Reluctant readers may find it difficult to become invested in books that seem "old"—they’re much less likely to be compelled by a 19th-century girl that practices needlework than an urban teenager that wants to become a pop star. Relevancy is crucial in order for stduents to learn that books are meaningful resources.

Hameray’s Download series is committed to providing high-interest books about contemporary topics such as skateboarding, motorcycles, and PlayStation. Behind the Scenes: Fashion features famous fashion brands such as H&M and ZARA. With style pictures of celebrities like Pharrell Williams and Justin Timberlake, your students will be eager to make their way through the book!


Fashion is a constantly evolving industry, where styles can change drastically within months. The best part of Behind the Scenes: Fashion is that it focuses on the fundamental aspects of fashion, such as fashion shows, jeans, and fashion advertising. Even though this book was published in 2008, its contents are still exciting and relevant for children today! 

Childhood classics will always remain dear to our hearts, and there’s nothing wrong with passing them onto the next generation. However, especially for reluctant readers, contemporary books are a great tool for boosting reader enthusiasm!



Click the image below to learn more about the Download series.

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Topics: Story World, Download, Reluctant Readers, Hi-Lo

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