5 Ways to Retell Stories

My middle child loves stories about herself to told and retold. My adult brain can grow quite weary of the repetition 😅 and I have to get creative with ways to retell the story.

5 ways to retell stories:

  1. Involve the child in the retelling: tell a bit of the story and pause to ask, “and then what happened?”
  2. Use stuffed animals as the characters: give them their names, each their own voice, and have a little fun with it!
  3. Have the child draw what happens in the story: “let’s draw the story!” and then draw what happened at the beginning, middle, and the end. If the child asks you to draw the picture, do that and let them watch so they can begin mastering the skill by watching!
  4. Use a story telling bracelet: see how to make and use one here.
  5. Create an easy homemade book: use pictures you have of the family or friends in the story. See how and why these are great here!

Share what you used on my Facebook page! Join us in my VIP group for a Reading Challenge with Reach for the Stars!!

Fun and Free Activities

Father’s Day Printable

Need a fun, personalized, and easy gift for your child to give to their Dad this Father’s Day? Click here to download my FREE printable! Simply print it out, work with your child to fill in the answers (or let them do it themselves if they can write!) and then put it in a frame. Perfect gift. Done. Share pictures on my Facebook page here.


Usborne Programs

Summer Reading Challenge


What are you guys doing this summer to keep your brains fresh for next school year?

My Literacy Loving VIPs are participating in a Summer Reading Challenge that will get FREE BOOKS in the hands of their children!

We are setting goals, getting sponsors, and reaching our goals this June! IT IS GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN!!! Click here to find out more!

We will be talking about how to empower children to set and reach for goals, what to do to make independent reading work, and getting excited for all kinds of FREE Usborne Books & More BOOKS of when we reach our goals!

One thing you’ll need for sure are these handy-dandy Usborne Books & More bookmarks and this awesome board of more printable bookmarks I found on Pinterest! Print, color, read, repeat!


Doodle Bookmarks 4toapage-1We are going to rock this reading challenge, aren’t we? I am so excited for you to join us!


Valentine’s Day Bookmark Printable

I love Valentine’s Day! I didn’t used to… but I think it is way more fun now that I have SO many people in my life to love on! Praise GOD, am I right?!

Print these out instead of heading to the store for Valentine’s for your children’s class OR for you to give to your children!

For extra measure — be sure to give them away with a book from your gift closet stash of books you got for FREE at your last party!

Vday book mark (1)

Usborne Programs

HOW TO Reach For the Stars!!


You will get new books from this equal to how much money you bring in.

You will get people to sponsor you to read for the next 3 weeks.


Maybe your parents would like to sponsor you! Maybe your grandma, maybe your aunts, maybe your neighbor.

Examples of goals for different grade:

K-3, 15 minutes for 5 days a week,

4-5, 20 minutes for 5 days a week,

6-8, 30 minutes for 5 days a week

9+, 60 minutes for 5 days a week


Each time you read, you’ll color in a star on your star sheet (See below). When the 3 weeks are over and your reading is finished – put the money from your sponsors in the mail to reach Rachael by Monday, June 26th!

By the end of June, after everyone’s money is in, then you’ll get to pick out which books you want, we’ll order them and 2 weeks later they’ll be delivered! If you are in town, we will celebrate at my house with a fun picnic lunch and anyone who reached $100 in sponsors or more will get their BONUS KID KIT!

Recap on the pledges and awards:

If you bring in $10 then you’ll pick out $10 in books

If you bring in $38 then you’ll pick out $38 in books

If you bring in $125 then you’ll pick out $125 in books

If you get 10 sponsors for $10 each then you’ll get $100 in books AND this awesome BONUS KID KIT!


GET STARTED! You will need the following from Rachael Harris (find her at rachael@rachaelsubam.com, 615-979-1615, or on Facebook.com/RachaelsUBAM):

1 – a letter for your parents or guardians that explains it to them

2 – reading log with stars to color in for each segment you read

3 – envelope to print and fold (or paste to another envelope you have) to collect your pledges in!

4 – your sponsor form!

Use this tonight! Ask your parents to pledge $ for you to read. Ask your grandparents to pledge $ for you to read. Ask your neighbor to pledge $ for you to read. You don’t have to remember all these details. All you need to do is tell everyone how excited you are about this and how much you want to do this and read!


“Grandma I’m doing the coolest reading thing this summer and I’m going to get new books from it and Foster kids in the area will get FREE BOOKS too!

I get pledges to read for 3 weeks. I take the money to my Usborne rep and pick out the books I want! If I get $10 to read, then I get $10 of books! If I get $50 to read, then I get $50 in books! AND if I get 10 people to sponsor me $10 each, then I get a BONUS KID KIT to use in my down time this summer!!

Would you like to sponsor me for reading?”


Start reading: NOW!

Money DUE to Rachael (suggested to have it mailed by Friday, June 23rd!): Monday, June 26th

Shopping list due to Rachael: Wednesday, June 28th

Books and awards due to you: Friday, July 14th

We will have a low key and FUN celebration picnic that Friday morning/afternoon!


Usborne Programs

Reach for the Stars!! Reading Incentive Program Summer 2017

I am launching a FUN reading-incentive program, Reach For The Stars!! This program is sponsored by the publisher Usborne Books and we ask that you encourage your children to participate.

The Reach For The Stars program will challenge students to read daily and reward them with exciting and fun books of their choice, to keep for their own. The student will also earn lots of books for their home library! We will begin Thursday, June 1, 2017 and carry on for THREE weeks (with a couple days of wiggle room to get yourself ready to encourage the children to read)!


Here’s how it works:

STEP ONE: Students will read as many minutes as they can for the next 2 weeks (if they are not reading yet, these are minutes that are read TO them). Students will record their minutes on the stars of the enclosed reading log. START READING TODAY!! We challenge them to read 300 minutes during the 2 week period!

STEP TWO: Help your child(ren) get sponsors to make a pledge to support their reading!! The more pledges they collect, the more books they will get to pick out. EVERY DOLLAR collected goes back to the student in the form of Usborne books. Your child will get 100% of his/her pledge money in Usborne books of his/her choice! The other 50% of the pledge money will go to a local non-profit for children in foster care. This is a 100% return and a win-win for everyone!!

STEP THREE: Go for the $100 Challenge!! If your child collects $100 or more in pledges, he/she will also receive a BONUS KID KIT (see page for details – link will be updated).

STEP FOUR: Turn in the reading log and pledge money from Monday, June 26th. (Reminders will be sent via email, text, and social media). Please make checks payable to: Rachael Harris.

STEP FIVE: Students will pick out their books (equal to 100% of the pledge money he/she collected) by Wednesday, June 28th. You and your child can view the books online at http://www.rachaelsUBAM.com and start a wishlist on the website (or a piece of paper). Please include at least three alternate choices on your wish list.

STEP SIX: Stay updated! 25% of what your children raise will go to children in foster care! (For those of you who have different information about how much will go to foster care, I had the number incorrect — this is the correct number! The kids are going to love their books!)

See more details and script here!

NOTE: Students will receive their books within 2 weeks of the shopping day!

Thank you for supporting this highly rewarding reading-incentive program! Together we can encourage the joy of reading in all our children!


Using Literacy Tools to Teach Diversity

We want our children to grow up loving all races, genders, partner choices, etc. We want them to be accepting of children and adults who are different from them, right?

We want them to know they have choices and voices for their bodies and lives. We want them to know that it is okay to see differences, but not okay to bully people for being different. We want to start showing them life tools for this NOW!

One way to do this is to allow them to take charge of their play and model the type of behaviors you’d like to encourage in your children (consider making a list or journaling about this to be intentional as a parent)! Here are some tips for how to support play.

(See also: “Children ages 3 and 4 are certain about their own gender and have firm beliefs about the differences between males and females. They develop a sense of acceptable behavior from the adults around them.”)

Here are six more tips for how to facilitate the learning of racial inclusion!

9. Plan for a marathon, not a sprint. Make race talks with your child routine. Race is a topic you should plan to revisit again and again in many different ways over time. It’s okay to say, “I’m not sure” or “Let’s come back to that later, okay?” But then be sure to come back to it.”

This means as long as you talk about and read storybooks to your children about sexuality, race, and other topics of diversity, you are doing enough!

Here are literacy tools to help this conversation:

Children’s Books about Families

Children’s Books that Include Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Families

Children’s Literature With Racially Diverse Characters and Themes:

  • Beautiful Moon (2014), by Tonya Bolden. Illus. by Eric Velasquez.
  • Black Cat (1999), by Christopher Myers.
  • Brothers & Sisters: Family Poems (2008), by Eloise Greenfield. Illus. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist.
  • Goggles (1969), by Ezra Jack Keats.
  • Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems (2002), by Eloise Greenfield. Illus. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist.
  • The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen (2014), by Thelma Lynne Godin. Illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.
  • Magic Trash (2015), by J.H. Shapiro. Illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.
  • Subway (2008), by Anastasia Suen. Illus. by Karen Katz.
  • Thanks a Million (2006), by Nikki Grimes. Illus. by Cozbi A. Cabrera.
  • Those Shoes (2007), by Maribeth Boelts. Illus. by Noah Z. Jones.

Tips for Selecting Diverse Children’s Literature:

  • Base your selection on quality. Books should not just teach a lesson but should have a good story, high-quality text, and engaging illustrations.
  • Choose books that help children see themselves. Include books that mirror different aspects of identity (e.g., race, setting, beliefs) of children in the class, so that they can imagine themselves in the story.
  • Choose books that help children expand their understanding of others in this multicultural world. Include books that introduce children to new people, places, and concepts that they may not yet have encountered.
  • Look widely for texts. Be alert to new titles related to diversity. In addition, the library can be a great source for out of print titles that appeal to children and relate to urban issues and diversity.
  • Use text sets. Expose children to different perspectives. These book collections may be organized by theme or may feature the work of a highly accomplished author or illustrator of color. Great picks for books by Black writers and artists include those by Christopher Myers, Floyd Cooper, Jacqueline Woodson, Ashley Bryan, Jerry Pinkney, Brian Pinkney, and E.B. Lewis.

What are some struggles you face in regards to diversity?

Expert Tips

SCREEN-FREE Week Activities

SCREEN-FREE Week Activities (and literacy suggestions from my Usborne bookstore!)



Here are some fun things to suggest this week when your littles are tempted to turn on the screened devices in your home!

We watch TV almost daily in our home. We do, however, try to set clear and consistent boundaries about how MUCH television is on during the day/week.

One thing I find super helpful is this website: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/. This helps us keep our screens safe. It isn’t a fail-proof method, but it HELPS!

I am excited to try some of these things out when my kids want to turn to the screen!

I hope you and the children in your life have fun this week!


Life & Literacy Tools for Childhood Emotions Facebook Class

When I was in community college for Early Childhood Education, I took a very intense class called Challenging Behavior. I learned many tools that go right along with the Positive Discipline tools Jane Nelson taught me.

When some of my repeat Usborne Books & More hostesses came back to host a party, their friends began craving more of the conversations regarding these tools. I now offer to host a “learning time” before the book party, where I share the tools I learned from this class and I enjoy every minute of it!

While we tend to be very thoughtful and intentional about teaching literacy, cognitive, and other skills, we need to be just as intentional about teaching social emotional skills. Give children lots of opportunities to identify feelings in themselves and others. Below are some links to tools I am unable to share in Facebook events due to the format of the file. These tools are mostly from The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) unless otherwise noted.

  1. I Can Use My Words” is a wonderful story you can print to remind children their words are powerful and can be used in place of other behaviors when experiencing big feelings.
  2. When teaching to take the time to think, use Tucker the Turtle printable story script and easy-to-make Homemade Tucker the Turtle puppet (use the printable template and plastic spoon) OR Turtle and Hare finger puppets.
  3. When there is a conflict between children, use this Solution Kit. Print, cut out and place in a container (whatever you have around is fine — basket, tray, pencil case). Give the child the power to choose their own solutions. Eventually you won’t need it!
  4. The Thinking Process for Problem-Solving Poster is a wonderful way to help children (and adults!) who need a step-by-step reminder for how one responds to a stressful situation.
  5. Mistaken Goal Chart from Jane Nelson’s Positive Discipline tools are helpful for guiding children with specific behaviors to what they need while encouraging them (using the reminder tools above, etc.) to behave appropriately when they feel a certain way or have a goal they’re unable to express verbally.

Thank you for being a part of the class and being willing to use better tools to support healthy social-emotional development in our next generation!

If hosting a party with learning time is something you would be interested in, I would love to help you! Email me at rachael@rachaelsubam.com.


7 Motivating Reading Statistic & Quotes

When I have so much I’d like to be doing, and my girls ask me to STOP to read, I am sometimes able to stop long enough to at least think about whether what I am doing can be paused or not and what might please God. Then, I remind myself of the ways I am helping my children: socially and emotionally, spiritually, and in other ways…

Here are some eye-opening statistics and quotes about literacy and reading:

1. “Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3 to 4 times more likely to drop out in later years.”
US Department of Education

2. “74% of children who are poor readers in 3rd grade are poor readers in 9th grade.”
Bob Chase, President, National Education Association

3. “So strong is the link between literacy and being a useful member of society that some states use 3rd grade?level reading statistics as a factor in projecting future prison construction.”
Bob Chase, President, National Education Association


4. Only 18.5% of state prison inmates are high school graduates.
Only 2.7% are college graduates.
National Institute for Literacy

5. Only 29.2% of children under age 6 living at poverty rate have a parent that was a high school graduate.
Only 2.8% have a parent with a college degree.
National Center for Children in Poverty

6. “To grow up reading is to grow up with power and freedom.”
Dr . Perri Klass, Director, Reach Out and Read

7. “If every child were read to daily from infancy, it would revolutionize education in this country.”
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley

More information from the National Institute for Literacy:

“To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence” is available as a book or free 98 page document from the National Endowment for the Arts website: www.arts.gov Publications, Literature