Category: Literacy


A recent article by Ryan Rahardjo, Public Policy and Government Relations Senior Analyst for Google Indonesia illustrated the value of reading to children using different voices for different characters. As an example, Rahardjo presented Siti Arofa, who teaches first grade in Gresik, East Java. Many of her students start the school year without basic reading skills or even an awareness of how fun books can be. She noticed that whenever she read out loud using different expressions and voices, the kids would sit up and their faces would light up with excitement. Developing this love for books and storytelling has helped Arofa’s students improve their reading and speaking skills as they mimic her style of reading.

How does this information impact your story time as a parent or teacher? Make story time more interesting in a variety of ways:

  1. Try the different voices recommended by Siti Arofa. A large bear might have a deep voice while a bird might use a squeaky voice. This also helps children to identify the speaker even if dialogue tags like “she said” are not used in the text.
  2. Use facial expressions. Read with a frown while describing a sad or worried character, or a smile while reading about a happy character.
  3. Add gestures. If a character flies over the rooftops, zoom with your hand over the child’s head. Or stomp your feet when the character walks into the room. Don’t be surprised if your child follows your lead with a giggle.
  4. Consider adding props. If you are reading What’s the Matter?, the EnteleTrons® story about Ice who doesn’t want to change into water, place an ice cube in a saucer to observe the change of state while you read.
  5. Ask children to add their own sound effects. For example, in Where’s Green?, another EnteleTrons® story, there are raindrops that refract the sunlight into rainbows. Whenever you see raindrops on the page, coach your child to say, “Drip, drip, drip.”

A monotone voice has a monotonous effect on children. They lose interest, fail to learn from the story, and are easily distracted. Stop reading like a robot and start reading like an spellbinding storyteller and your children will definitely have more interest in their books – now and for a lifetime. ~Renee Heiss, children’s author~


Children learn an average of 4,000 to 12,000 new words each year as a result of reading books. Research has shown that children who read even ten minutes a day outside of school experience substantially higher rates of vocabulary growth between second and fifth grade than children who do little or no reading.  Here are some suggestions for building your child’s vocabulary through a  home library:

  1. A child should have a wide variety of book themes – not just those he or she finds interesting.  Naturally, your home does not need to look like the children’s section of your local library.  However, you could have a rotating rack of books for your child’s selection at all times.  Rotating? How does that happen?  Easy – trade books with friends, go to a local book exchange, or set up a book exchange in your child’s school.
  2. A child should be encouraged to read at least half an hour each day.  How do you do that?  The best way is by role modeling.  If families set aside a Family Reading Time after dinner or before bedtime, the children will begin to expect this activity and plan for the next book they want to read.  The best part of this plan is that the “technology” is put down for at least part of the child’s day!
  3. A child should be encouraged to share the knowledge gained from reading a book.  You don’t have to have a family weekly book club discussion, although that might not be a bad idea if you can find the time!  Instead, you could have a family book bulletin board where family members post the title of book they just finished with a brief summary or a drawn picture.  Divide the bulletin board by age range.  Decorate it seasonally – make it attractive to encourage participation!
  4. A child should enjoy reading.  This is the single most important item in a Child’s Bill of Literary Rights.  If a child enjoys reading, he or she will develop a mature vocabulary that will help him to lead a successful life in school and beyond into adulthood.  Consider these statistics and then restructure your family time to include a time to help children enjoy books of all kinds – both fiction and nonfiction.

Visit your library frequently.  Get individual tote bags for each child to proudly carry books to and from the library.  Share your love of reading with other families, especially relatives. By the time your child reaches high school and beyond, that love of reading will be so ingrained, it will live with them forever.

The EnteleTrons® books are a perfect addition to family reading time.  Children learn intellectual STEM topics and moral lessons while they increase their literacy and love of learning through reading about the adventures of the EnteleTrons®.


It’s a snowy Sunday morning.  You get out the package of blueberry muffin mix.  You begin cooking some scalloped apples for added nutrition.  The kids are watching TV in the next room.  Your spouse is checking emails.  The household is quiet.  Sound idyllic?  Perhaps… but it could be better… much better, and much more educational.  Here’s what’s wrong with this picture:

    1. Do you know what your children are watching? According to a new study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, each additional hour of TV that children watch per week translates into poorer classroom behavior, lower math scores, less physical activity, and more unhealthy snacking by age 10. “Kids should be doing things that are intellectually enriching: playing with board games, playing with things that will improve their motor skills, and reading,” says the lead author of the study, Linda Pagani, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Psychoeducation at the University of Montreal, in Quebec.  Additionally, TV should be viewed as a family so you can discuss what your children are watching.
    2. Have you read the ingredients on the box of muffin mix?  Many have controversial ingredients such as partially hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, and BHT.  Hydrogenation of oil is unhealthy because of its unnatural use of hydrogenation which forms trans-fats that the body cannot break down and digest.  Artificial colors such as Red 40 may contribute to cancer and could trigger hyperactivity in children.  The FDA says that the possibility that BHT may convert other ingested substances into toxic or cancer-causing additives should be further investigated. BHT is prohibited as a food additive in the United Kingdom.  It’s best to start from “scratch!”
    3. Are you doing all the work? Just as teachers have turned from direct instruction to cooperative learning, families need to transform from the single-cook model to the cooperative cook system.  Everybody can help prepare the meal.  Everybody can help clean up.  And everybody can take pride in a job well done.  Distribute the load for an easier meal preparation experience.
    4. Have you missed an educational opportunity?  Kitchen activities are loaded with opportunities to learn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), social studies, and problem-solving.  When your children help prepare the muffins, they learn measurement, how to follow directions, nutritional lessons, kitchen safety, and depending on your recipe, food from a different culture.   Always look for teachable moments!


What can you do instead? First, tell your family that you’re going to have fun in the kitchen and ask the kids to temporarily turn off the TV (Don’t cut them off cold turkey at first – you’ll likely get opposition).  Next, assign tasks by age and/or ability.  Third, put on some music for added fun.  Surprise your family with the new way of preparing a weekend breakfast.  Let’s look at the introductory scenario again:

It’s a snowy Sunday morning.  Everyone eagerly puts on an apron and washes their hands.  You show them the recipe of the day, hand out assignments, and begin the muffin preparation.  Eight-year-old Amanda measures the ingredients and hands the measuring cup to Jack. Five-year-old Jack knows that his job is to carefully put the measured ingredients into the bowl.  Twelve-year-old Linda stirs the mixture and pours it into the muffin pan.  One of the adults turns on the oven and places the muffins into the oven.  While the muffins bake, everyone participates in cleaning up the utensils and setting the table for breakfast.  Twenty minutes later, everyone tells what they learned and how they are proud of their accomplishments.

In the second scenario, in addition to the intellectual lessons, this family is connecting on a personal level that does not involve electronics – no TV, no computer, and no phone.  Good old conversation and cooperation have replaced somewhat violent cartoon programs and the impersonal detachment that comes with reading emails and text messages.

It’s time to bring your family back together, even if only for one snowy morning when you’re stuck together anyway! Order Everybody Cooks! STEM Facts and Recipes for Family Cooperation and Healthier Eating – Holiday Favorites Edition to start the fun in your house!