Learn the Whole Book Approach with Megan Dowd Lambert!


On Tuesday, April 28th - 3:00-4:30pm EST, Megan Dowd Lambert will be hosting a Zoom webinar on Introducing the Whole Book Approach to help you learn how to Shake Up Storytime!

The Whole Book Approach is an interactive storytime model focused on the art and design of the picture book, which she developed in association with The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Traditional storytime often offers a passive experience for kids, but the Whole Book approach asks the youngest of readers to ponder all aspects of a picture book and to use their critical thinking skills. 

Active participation throughout the session will allow everyone to reflect on a diverse array of picture books in order to add Whole Book Approach tools and techniques to their own storytime practice.

If you can't make this event, but would like to receive updates about future events and Steps to Literacy updates, please click here.
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Introduce some NEW "heroes" to your guided reading collection!

Rigby is a valued and trusted partner to teachers across the country for high quality guided reading books. At Steps To Literacy we have been proud to include Rigby content in our guided reading collections for over a decade. Recently, Rigby expanded its offering to include a new series- Hero Academy!

True to the Rigby that we have grown to know and love, the Hero Academy titles are meticulously leveled, and offered in formats that range from early readers to chapter books. Each carries with them the predictable text and illustrations we would expect to see. What makes these titles extraordinary is their explicit focus on Social Emotional Learning within the context of guided reading. The recent push for federal funding for Social Emotional Learning means that this series couldn’t have been released at a better time. 

The first page of every book starts with an explicit introduction to the main and supporting characters along with some details about what makes that main character special. The attention to detail across this series is incredible as the format and trim sizes change and grow as the reader does. Titles at the Kindergarten levels have large square trim sizes that make it much easy for young students to hold the book and see everything in the spread. The Kindergarten leveled titles also contain a final page with picture support that facilitates the practice of retelling a story.

As we reach levels towards the end of Grade 1 and beginning of Grade 2, the trim size becomes more reminiscent of a chapter book but refrains from actually including any chapters. From there, once we reach levels in the middle of Grade 2, we finally see a chapter book trim size with a chapter book format to match.


Front and back matter is all about supporting the teacher/caregiver! Front matter includes bullet points to guide you in ways to motivate students to read, support on blending sounds, high-frequency words, and a call-out to the important vocabulary in the text. Additional bullet points provide tips on guiding children who may be struggling with skills such as decoding, fluency, and reading with expression. Back matter provides a list of open-ended questions to support children as they reflect on their reading as well as provides prompts to extend the learning outside of the text.

On-level collections for Grades K – 3 are available now! CLICK HERE to view our Hero Academy offerings. Looking to customize a guided reading collection? Please contact us directly or your local Steps To Literacy representative and join us in celebrating this wonderful release from Rigby!


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Universal Children's Day

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This international legal framework was a promise made by world leaders in 1959 to protect and fulfill the rights of children. Contained in this treaty is a profound idea that children are not just objects who belong to their parents and for whom decisions are made, or are adults in training. Rather, they are human beings and individuals with their own rights. Childhood is separate from adulthood, and lasts until 18; it is a special, protected time, in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop, and flourish with dignity. For more on this topic, you can lean more here:

Celebrating our children can be a great opportunity to introduce a special time for reading. Not only is it a great way to bond over a shared experience, you should not simply read to them, but share in reading duties to help them become stronger independent readers themselves.
There are countless other activities around reading that can be used to help your kids on their reading journey:
  • Create a comfy place for your students to crack open a favorite story.
  • Encourage buddy book reading in pairs.
  • Ask them to tell you and their peers about the books they’ve read.
  • How about you create a book club within your class by grouping 4-5 students together and assign the same book. Then after they're done you can show them how each group came to similar or different conclusions.
Any of the books that are chosen for these activities should be used to encourage conversation, such as the social issues that the content addresses. Make sure that your students learn that when it comes to reading, their experiences and feelings about the story are sometimes just as important as the text itself. 

For ideas on buddy book themes, check out our social emotional book collections. 

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National Nonfiction Day!

Nonfiction books can be a glimpse into another part of the world, a voyage to another era, or an introduction to new fascinating people.

On National Nonfiction day we celebrate all the all the authors and publishers who have brought high-interest, factual content into our classroom libraries.

Some of our favorite publishing partners for non-fiction books include:

 Our non-fiction collections feature a mix of all these publishers. We share in the same belief that students should have the opportunity to have exciting nonfiction adventures just as often as their fiction adventures. 

Check out our website for Nonfiction collections in:




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National Family Literacy Day


Families who read together succeed together. November 1st has been designated as National Family Literacy day since 1994 and for the past 25 years libraries, schools and educational programs have celebrated this day by spreading the message of the importance early literacy has on children. Studies conducted by NCES (1999) showed that children who were read to three or more times a week were more likely to know their letters than those who were read to less frequently. Furthermore, children who were read to more frequently were more likely to be able to count to 20 or higher, write their own name, and read or pretend to read. 

Tips for reading at home:             

  1. Create a quiet place for reading to happen
  2. Start collecting books for an at home library
  3. Carve out time each day to read to your child and have them read to you
  4. Join the local library for story time and other literacy activities
  5. Read EVERYTHING - lists, magazines, recipes, signs, user manuals, the more words children are exposed to the better
  6. Make reading fun let your child pick books
  7. Lead by example - be a reader


References: Nord, C. W., Lennon, J., Liu, B., & Chandler, K. (1999). Home literacy activities and signs of children's emerging literacy: 1993 and 1999 (NCES No. 2000-026). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Available:

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In The Condition of Education, 2003, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) describes survey results showing that literacy activities in the home contribute to early reading success For example, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study measured children's home literacy activities using an index that counted parents' reports of how often they read to their children, sang to them, and told them stories, as well as the number of children's books and audiotapes or CDs in the home.The children who ranked higher on this home literacy index also scored higher on reading and literacy skills when they entered kindergarten. The positive relationship between a home literacy environment and children's reading knowledge and skills held true regardless of the family's economic status (NCES, 2003, p. 74).

Another analysis of NCES survey data by Nord and colleagues (1999) read to them three or more times a week were more likely to know their letters than were children whose family members read to them less frequently.

In addition, their research found that children whose family members read to them frequently were more likely to be able to count to 20 or higher, write their own names, and read or pretend to read.

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National Comic Book Day

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Superman made his heroic debut June 1938 in Action Comics #1 where he rescued Lois Lane from a precarious situation and investigated a corrupt Senator for his newspaper The Planet. Since that publication, comic book appeal has continued to grow in popularity both because of the user-friendly format and because of the appealing content. While the comic world has had a more recent appeal on the big screen, their roots stay true in the written form. Thus, presenting the question: What is the difference between graphic novels and comic books? Although it might seem minute, knowing the difference can help in choosing a format that would work well for individual readers in a classroom.Comic Books VS Graphic Novels

For students who are striving readers either form (comic or graphic novel) could work… depending on his/her ability to recall information. Both graphic novels and comics have the comic strip artwork that help the reader visualize actions instead of having to interpret how the story is moving along. To get your classroom started with a graphic novel collection check out the link below.

Steps To Literacy's Graphic Novel Collection!

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Strategies for More Choice and Voice in the Classroom

Blog Header 2- Strategies for More Choice and Voice in the Classroom
How can our kids become better readers? Let them read.
What if the book is not at their level? That’s ok, let them Choose.


As lChoice and Voice iteracy educators our goal each year is to create a safe learning environment where students feel empowered to take risks, think outside the box, and walk away with a wealth of knowledge. One way we can achieve this is by giving our students Choice and Voice. What does this mean? As scary and hard as it might sound, it’s giving up part of the decision-making process and letting students pick the books they want to read. *Studies have shown that by giving students the independence to decide what is taught and how to present their knowledge, it gives them a greater sense of autonomy, competence, and achievement. The article below gives 5 ways to give students more Choice and Voice in your classroom.

Independent reading is a perfect time and place for teachers to have mini lessons about how to choose just right books, discuss the different genres, and what to do when a reader makes a wrong choice. Our Choice and Voice Classroom Libraries are filled with a mix of genres, high interest fiction and nonfiction titles, and model texts for teachers to use throughout the year.

Click here to read 5 Ways to Give Your Students More Voice and Choice!

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The Importance of Nonfiction Books in Classroom Libraries


“A non-fiction writer is a storyteller who has taken an oath to tell the truth”
   ~Russell Freedman, American Biographer

Independent reading time is becoming more and more prevalent in daily classroom curriculum. Having a large classroom library to support student book exploration is integral to maximizing this piece of balanced literacy. During independent reading students are tasked with choosing a variety of texts based on their own interests. Many teachers will try to tempt students to read heftier fiction or curriculum-linked nonfiction, but do we ever allow our students to browse the science section without direction?

Reading nonfiction for the joy of learning builds vocabulary, critical thinking, and analytical skills that are essential in our information-heavy society. Young readers are curious and love to share facts about information they are passionate about, so it is essential that a classroom library include a wide range of nonfiction texts on different levels and subjects.

In effort to keep reading for fun during independent reading… we’ve comprised a list of tips and tricks to help engage students with the all-important, nonfiction portion of the classroom library:

Tips to Keep Nonfiction Reading Fun:

1. Use narrative nonfiction picture books to help introduce topics that may be unfamiliar or difficult to comprehend – illustrations and an engaging plot can make all the difference!

2. Fill at least 50% of any classroom library with a wide-range of nonfiction subjects on many different levels including: science, social studies, history and biographies!

3. Be aware of your own biases – just because you find algebra a bit boring, one of your students might be obsessed with learning equations.

4. Highlight and recommend new nonfiction books that will appeal to student interests, the same as you would fiction titles. If a student loves fantasy titles, a nonfiction book on myths and legends will absolutely be of interest!

5. Share your favorite nonfiction text, even if it is an adult book, to explain why you wanted to learn about the subject and what new information you pieced from it.

6. Reference texts, atlases, and infographic books are excellent ways to foster curiosity in students who may have trouble picking out subjects they want to learn more about.

7. Graphic nonfiction is an excellent way to introduce more visual learners to subjects without sacrificing engagement.

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