Every year at this time, people start thinking about gifts for their loved ones, and while advertisers inundate us with ever-more-sophisticated toys, the greatest gift we can give our children is the gift of reading. Not only does the gift of reading open up a world of great stories, but after we learn to read, for the rest of our lives, we must be able to read well in order to learn.
The Gift of Reading for Preschoolers
The gift of reading can begin from birth. How so? By building a solid pre-literacy foundation, priming our children to be ready-to-be-readers before they start school. Here are a few tips on how to do that.
Read together. Children that are read to regularly are far more likely to think of themselves as readers even before they are actually able to read—and that is half the battle.
Ask questions. Parents and early childhood educators can use my Cardboard Box Adventures (CBA) picture books to lay a foundation for literacy long before children can read. How? Read the books together with your kids and ask them questions to get them involved in the stories. You can make up your own questions, but as a teaching aid, all of my CBA picture books include questions for discussion. Some of those questions help make sure kids understand the story, but others let them discuss what’s on their own minds on topics related to the story.
Don’t shy away from big words. Kids love learning new, grown-up words, and my picture books contain an abundance of great grown-up words. Take time while reading together to stop and explain the new words. Help them use the new word in a sentence. Don’t be surprised in the following days if you hear your kids using the new “grown-up” words in their conversations.
Incorporate rhyming books into your read-aloud library. The meter and rhyming words build phonological awareness in kids, helping them predict upcoming words and teaching them to break words into syllables long before kids even know what syllables are. Draw kids’ attention to rhyme, alliteration, and any instances with repetitive sounds to help them recognize the sounds of different letters. By doing these things, you’ll be teaching kids essential skills that will make learning to read much faster and easier when the time comes. Many of my CBA books are written in rhyme.
Why CBA Picture Books Work
- All CBA picture books are great for shared reading with lots of fun pictures to help parents and kids interact.
- All CBA books include discussion questions. Sample questions from Chipper and the Unicycle: What did Chipper do to find a new act? Was riding a unicycle as easy as Chipper thought it would be? What is perseverance and why do people need it?
- All CBA books include fantastic vocabulary growth words. Sample words from Twitch the Squirrel and the Forbidden Bridge: daring, nerves, lunge, fleet, ravine, rapids, chasm, perilous, tattered, frail, banned, steady, stride, bounding, severed, strands, slack, hurtling, desperate
- All CBA books help teach phonological awareness through rhyme, poetic meter, and/or alliteration.
Click here to view a .pdf with a more detailed description of each of Don Winn’s picture books along with ways to utilize them to get the most out of shared reading time.
The Gift of Reading for Older Children
Once a good pre-literacy foundation has been laid, the gift of reading doesn’t end there. Children need to be presented with great stories that will engage their minds and keep them reading. This is especially important for reluctant and dyslexic readers. The Sir Kaye, the Boy Knight middle-reader adventure chapter books are just the ticket to keep even the most reluctant reader engaged.
The award-winning Sir Kaye the Boy Knight® chapter books (for ages 8 and up) follow the adventures of young Kaye Balfour and his best friends. This warmhearted, humorous adventure series shows how a twelve-year-old in the medieval land of Knox is knighted, becomes the most famous knight in the country, and has adventures as he strives to be a loyal and true knight.
“Books of adventure and challenge that still offer an emotional component are hard to come by for middle-grade readers—and even more so for middle-grade boys—yet Don M. Winn hits the mark dead center with The Eldridge Conspiracy.”
—Patricia Reding for Readers’ Favorite
Cardboard Box Adventures books make great gifts for even the most reluctant young readers. When you give a CBA book to a child, you are also giving them some of yourself as you take the time to read the books aloud together and talk about what you’ve read. Check out the list of available CBA books below.
Buying Guide: Featured CBA Picture Books
The Tortoise and the Hairpiece by Don M. Winn
A lonely little turtle is convinced that the reason he has trouble making friends is because he is bald—all the other animals have hair! He decides the way to fit in is to wear a fancy feathered wig! Does it solve his problem, or make him more of an outcast than ever before?
The Higgledy-Piggledy Pigeon by Don M. Winn
An ambitious young pigeon begins flight school only to discover that he has a learning challenge and can’t keep up with the other students. He’s so disappointed he’s ready to give up. Will he?
Superhero, by Don M. Winn
A boy imagines he’s a superhero who solves all sorts of problems for his town, until he confronts two scary villains he’s never met before. Superhero is overwhelmed! Who does he call for help? Who is Superhero’s hero?
Shelby the Cat by Don M. Winn
Shelby the cat lives a peaceful life of friendship with all kinds of animals, including mice, dogs, and bugs! But a gang of mean alley cats are angry that Shelby makes them look bad, so they try to bully Shelby into being like them. Will Shelby give in or be true to himself?
Other CBA Picture Books by Don M. Winn
Space Cop Zack, Protector of the Galaxy and Space Cop Zack, GARG’s Secret Mission — Zack and GARG have the best, most imaginative adventures in space!
Chipper the Clown and Chipper and the Unicycle — Chipper dreams of being a clown. He makes his dream come true, but learns the importance of perseverance and asking for help.
The Watch Cat — A cat bravely protects his house, even though all the neighbors laugh. Can he prove his worth?
The Incredible Martin O’Shea — Martin daydreams in school! His grades are falling and his parents are worried. Will he learn to pay attention? Can he have his dreams and his education too?
Twitch the Squirrel and the Forbidden Bridge — Twitch is not allowed to cross a dangerous old rope bridge, but there is a giant tree full of acorns on the other side. Does Twitch know better than his parents?
Buying Guide: CBA Chapter Books
Sir Kaye the Boy Knight Books
Click the book title to watch the book trailer on YouTube.
Book 1: The Knighting of Sir Kaye — Kaye is unexpectedly knighted at twelve. Now he has to compete in a surprise tournament against the other knights. Can he win back his honor? Will he even survive?
Book 2: The Lost Castle Treasure — Kaye must find a missing treasure or lose his knighthood forever. Can he beat the knight Melchor at his own game?
Book 3: Legend of the Forest Beast — Kaye must stop a rogue knight from sending a mysterious shipment into Eldridge before the entire country—and his beloved father—is engulfed in war.
Book 4: The Eldridge Conspiracy — Kaye must enter Eldridge to search for the only man who can save his father’s—and the king’s—life. The only problem? That man refuses to help Kaye.
Where to Buy
The Sir Kaye chapter books and the CBA picture books are available in softcover, hardcover, and eBook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Amazon Canada, and Amazon UK. Select titles are also available as audio books from Audible. Up to 40% bulk discounts are available directly from the publishers. For bulk discounts on the Sir Kaye books and CBA picture books, please email Don Winn with an inquiry.