Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Asking Questions with Informational Texts—with FREE Download

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on Sep 20, 2017 5:01:35 PM


This is a guest post by Lyssa Sahadevan of Marietta, GA. She writes a blog called My Mommy Reads, which is about motherhood and teaching-related topics.

Readers ask themselves questions as they read to make sense of the text. When readers ask their own questions, the reader learns to search for answers and find deeper understanding. Asking questions while reading informational texts is just as important as when reading fiction. Here are three engaging ways to encourage asking questions with our earliest readers.  

  1. Model, model, model! Use the projector or a big book to model asking questions before, during, and after you read a nonfiction book. Choose your book wisely as this lesson will anchor the others. One of my favorites is Lions by Alan Trussell-Cullen. It has beautiful pictures and the chapter headings happen to be questions.
  2. Keep it interactive! Make a large chart divided into three sections — before, during, and after. Place three sticky notes on each student’s desk. Explain that they will need them later. This will build excitement! During morning meeting or a transition time, show the cover of your next informational read aloud. Read the title and share the table of contents if applicable. Invite your students to write a question they have about the text. They may not have a question, and that’s OK. Repeat the process during your read aloud and after you read. You can spread it out over an entire day… if the sticky notes last.
  3. Bring it to their level! Use question cards to guide students during guided reading or small group time. I have included a freebie set I use in my classroom. I laminate and cut these so I can use them again and again with many levels. I have students who love animals (Amazing Otters) and some who want to know more about weather (Wind.) These cards will work for many topics. I also print them 12 to a page so I can create bookmarks for my students to take with them as they read independently.


Asking questions supports retelling, monitoring for meaning, and making connections. Scaffolding our readers by modeling and keeping it engaging makes the journey a little more fun.


Lyssa Sahadevan is a first-grade teacher in Marietta, GA. She loves reader's and writer's workshop, is a former Teacher of the Year, and shares ideas at www.mymommyreads.com.


For more information on the books mentioned in this blog post, click the series highlights images on the left below or click these links to visit our webpages for the Kaleidoscope Collection or Fables and The Real World series. To download the questioning cards, click the image to the right.

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Topics: Lyssa Sahadevan, Kaleidoscope Collection, Reading Comprehension, Scaffolding, Fables and the Real World

Visualizing Relative Words with Low-Leveled Books

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Apr 27, 2017 3:28:00 PM

Why is it so important to directly teach vocabulary to children? Children have an amazing ability to soak up new words every day from their environment without being explicitly taught. Many words in our English vocabulary, however, are relative and abstract in their meaning. With informational texts, you can teach your students about the meaning of relative words!


Directional words, such as “up” and “down,” are dependent upon the position of the speaker and the listener. The meanings of directional words are difficult to grasp without concrete visual aids. Going Up and Down, a new level B reader from the Kaleidoscope Collection, offers images of common activities such as sliding down a playground slide and climbing up a rock-climbing wall. The familiar images help the reader become situated and understand the spatial meanings of “up” and “down.” 


If you want to add a science twist to teaching the vocabulary, read Up and Down from the My World Series. Leveled at Guided Reading level E, the book features plants that grow up from the ground (like a sunflower) and plants that grow down underground (like a carrot).


Big and Little (Level D) from the Kaleidoscope Collection also uses adjectives with relative meanings. The meaning of the words “big” and “little” only make sense if the reader knows what the object is being compared to. The boy’s shirt is big compared to Baby’s shirt. Baby’s pants are little compared to her brother’s pants. Ask your students: Would the boy’s shirt be big compared to his dad’s? Would Baby’s pants be little compared to a doll’s pants?


Using photographs for reference will help your students distinguish between these relative words that are understood through context. Their vocabulary skills will go up, up, and up!


Click the left image below to download information about Kaleidoscope Collection. Click the right image below to download information about My World.

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Topics: Informational Text, Early Childhood, Kaleidoscope Collection, My World, Pictures

Engaging Readers with Literary Mirrors

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Apr 20, 2017 3:02:00 PM

“How can we engage children with books?” Teachers, literacy specialists, and publishers face this big question every day. Even if we teach young children about phonics and sight words, they will not successfully become independent readers unless they think that books are interesting.

One obstacle to reader engagement is that very few children’s books feature meaningful characters with minority identities. Classic children’s books feature white children living with two parents in a financially stable home. However, many children today do not fit this lifestyle, and they have trouble becoming invested in characters that seem so different to them. The library becomes an unwelcoming place that doesn’t accept minority identities—as a result, the children lose their interest in reading.

Rudine Sims Bishop describes this situation as a lack of literary “mirrors,” where readers can see their own lives and experiences reflected in the text. A mirror encourages self-affirmation and helps readers make connections between the book and their own lives. Thus, it’s essential that every child have access to mirrors in the books that they read.

Hameray is committed to featuring diverse characters and stories in our products. The Kaleidoscope Collection features authors of "diverse geographic and teaching backgrounds, [allowing] every student an opportunity to find the right books that best suit them":

  • Narratives such as Tortilla Sundays and The Hospital Can Be Fun feature stories about children with different cultures and abilities.
  • My Big Sister, The Tarp Monster, and The Friendship Shell feature protagonists of color.
  • Children of ethnic minorities will even find mirrors in nonfiction informational texts such as Here I Am! and Hot and Cold.
This blog only mentions a few of the many Hameray titles that will engage any child. All readers should have the right to be engaged with literary mirrors!



Bishop, Rudine Sims. “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors.” Originally published in Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom, v. 6, no. 3. 1990.


For more information about the Kaleidoscope Collection, click the image below.

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Topics: Leveled Readers, Kaleidoscope Collection, Diversity, Reading, Mirrors

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

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

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.

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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

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

Recognizing and Respecting Differences

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Feb 16, 2017 4:16:00 PM


February is Black History Month, which means that your students are reading about Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., and other black historical figures. Although it is important for your students to learn about important people who fought for racial equality, their stories can sometimes appear as isolated legends with the beliefs and actions frozen in time. Reading narrative books about individual differenes helps students understand that diversity is still relevant and valued today.

The Kaleidoscope Collection focuses on representing different cultural background and teaching social themes. Kit and Henry Like Different Things, leveled at Guided Reading Level D, follows two brothers that have different hobbies. They like different sports, food, toys, and indoor activities.

For each page, conduct an informal poll to see which students have similar hobbies to Kit and which have similar hobbies to Henry. For example, on page 3, ask students to raise their hand if they prefer riding a bike or a skateboard:


Conducting a poll will allow students to visually understand that not all people have the same preferences. Does this fact mean that we can't be friends with people that are different from us? No! "Kit and Henry like different htings. But Kit and Henry like each other" (8).

The Friendship Shell, leveled at Guided Reading Level K, is suitable for upper-elementary school students. Its illustrations feature ethnicallly diverse characters, which can help you relate the discussion back to Black History Month.

Focus on page 4: "'A shell is just a shell,' I said, 'see one and you've seen them all.'" Ask your students if they agree with the narrator's claim. Then, discuss how the narrator's views have transformed by the end of the book. How did the narrator learn to recognize and respect his classmates' differences?
Friendship Shell.Hi-Res-625596-edited.jpg

Both Kit and Henry Like Different Things and The Friendship Shell do not explicitly discuss issues of diversity, but they carry strong messages that value indivdiual differences in hobbies, personalities, and ethnicity. Use these titles to supplement your Black History Month readings!


Click the images below to learn more about Kaleidoscope Collection, which contains the books featured in this post.

Kaleidoscope Collection Info Sheet

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Topics: Narrative Text, Kaleidoscope Collection, Diversity

Reading About Reading

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Jan 12, 2017 3:23:00 PM

Your students are exposed to a multitude of texts every day—fairy tales, animal books, classroom signs, and more. Do your students ever read about reading? This “meta-reading” initially might not appear particularly helpful, but it can actually boost a reluctant reader’s confidence. When they read aloud, “I can read,” the textual content reinforces their accomplishment of reading that sentence. Sharing the following two books with a reluctant reader can also help you, as an educator, to identify ways to boost your student’s motivation.

The My World series focuses on providing emerging readers with real-world knowledge. Part of the Having Fun Theme, Reading is Fun explores the exciting world of reading.


Leveled at Guided Reading Level E, the book repeats two sentence structures: “Reading is fun” and “You can read ___.” The word “books” is also repeated seven times throughout the text. With this structured style, your student will gain confidence to read on his or her own.

After reading:

  • What is your favorite book? Use Reading is Fun as a guide to identify if the book is a story, a fact book, a cookbook, a scary book, an exciting book, a funny book, or a songbook. Can it be more than one of these things?

Where Can I Read? from the Kaleidoscope Collection also offers an opportunity for students to read about reading. Leveled at Guided Reading Level D, the text also utilizes a repetitive sentence structure.


After reading:

  • Why can’t we read in the shower? You can use this opportunity to conduct a science experiment examining which objects are resistant to water. Are plastics, crayons, and cotton balls resistant to water? Have them record their observations in a journal.
  • Ask the student where they enjoy reading the most. What do you like about that place? Is it cozy or quiet? Listen closely to the student’s answer so you can replicate this ideal reading environment in the classroom. For example, if your student likes reading at home because she can lie down on the couch, add some pillows to a corner of the classroom where she can read comfortably. A change in environment can greatly boost the motivation to read!

Reading about reading is beneficial for both the student and the teacher. Add a “meta-reading” title to your classroom library today!


Click the images below to learn more about My World and the Kaleidoscope Collection, which include the books featured in this post.

My World Series Info Sheet  Kaleidoscope Collection Info Sheet


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Topics: Kaleidoscope Collection, My World, Struggling Readers, Reluctant Readers, Reading

Helping Out During the Holidays

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Dec 16, 2016 1:42:00 PM


No matter what holiday you celebrate, one universal truth exists—the holiday season is busy!

Although December can be one of the most exciting times of the year, your students are definitely experiencing the hectic feeling in the air, too. With the cooking, cleaning, and shopping, their parents have very little time to simply sit down with their child and spend quality time. How can you assist your students during this busy but lonely time?

Hameray Publishing’s Kaleidoscope Collection includes a book titled Helping Mom. As the title suggests, the book follows ways in which the child narrator can assist his mother with errands. However, it also offers ways in which the mother can help the child, indicating a reciprocal and mutually productive relationship. Because the book is not explicitly tied around a holiday theme, the book’s subject matter will be accessible to all of your students!


Before reading:

  • Do you help out around the house? As a class, discuss the different chores that your students do.
  • What are different chores that your mom and dad do?
  • Introduce the book and explain that you’ll be reading about how a boy helps out around the house.
  • Look at the cover together. What do you think is happening in the picture?

During reading:

  • After every page, take a survey to see how many students have ever helped their parent out with the particular task. For example, on page 4 ask your students, Have you ever helped set the table?

After reading:

  • Have each child think of different ways that they can help their parents at home. Especially encourage them to think in the context of holidays. (Can your student help make latkes, like the boy on page 3? Can your student help by looking after younger siblings, like page 5?) In pairs, have your students share their ideas aloud.
  • On page 7 and 8, the roles are switched—the mother helps the boy with his homework. What are different ways that your parents can help you? Share ideas with the same partner.

Helping Mom can help students understand and cope with the holiday season and their busier-than-ever parents. This book can also be a spectacular book for students to take home for family reading.

Happy holidays, and happy reading!


Click the image below to download an informational sheet about the Kaleidoscope Collection, which includes the book featured in this blog post.

Kaleidoscope Collection Info Sheet


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Topics: Literature, Narrative Text, Holiday, Kaleidoscope Collection

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