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!!


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)


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?


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


Empower Your Birth

I am incredibly excited to be part of Empower Your Birth in Murfreesboro, TN! My Usborne Books and I will be at the Lane Agri-Park Center October 1st, 9am to 3:30pm.

There will be conference give-aways classes, movies, snacks, baby wearing demonstrations from Baby Wearing International’s Middle TN chapter, exhibitor give-aways, and so much more!

I didn’t know as much about having babies when my first baby came around. What I would GIVE to know what I know now… do you ever say that?

I felt as prepared as I could be. I didn’t know what questions to ask or what to expect. I took a Hypnobirthing class with my husband, had the baby showers with all of the experienced moms sharing snippets of their experiences, etc. but I still look back and wonder how I managed to have a baby! God’s grace — it is a wonder!

So — do you know someone who is about to have a baby? It might not be their first, but maybe they weren’t super fond of their birthing experience the first go around. Or maybe it is their first. Maybe it’s YOUR first!

There is an amazing network of people who gather for a conference to empower women and their partners with a voice they didn’t know they had!

The Empower Your Birth is a non-profit event supported by the Nashville Birth Network.  It holds conferences that provide growing families local resources & education about the variety of options available to you as you venture through the journey of fertility, pregnancy, labor & delivery, postpartum, and parenting.  Whether you’re pregnant, recently had a baby, or looking forward to being a parent in the future (whether for the first or the 5th time!), the education, experiences, and resources shared at this conference will truly help you feel a greater confidence in yourself during this incredible experience.

I wish I had known about Empower Your Birth with any of my pregnancies! I didn’t though — not until my third baby was a week from joining us. I had a wonderful birthing experience with my 2nd and 3rd baby, but I find that I am still processing the first birthing experience. How about you? What has your journey been like?

Come join us, Saturday!

Register here with this discount code for $7 off any ticket: usborneEYB




Monthly Brain Bags

We love reading to our children. We love reading NEW books and seeing the joy spark over and over again as we dive into the books.
Books - no danger of overdose

My family and I love Usborne Books and More.

UBAM_logo_slogan_purple_CMYK_printUsborne Books and More | Rachael Harris

Just in time for the holidays, I am introducing a Monthly Brain Bag subscription plan for all of my fellow book lovers to receive books for 6-12 months (your choice) out of the year! The books are tailored to your child’s interests and age!
Monthly Brain Bags SubscriptionIf you’re interested in this, FIRST fill out my Google Form HERE!

I’ll send you a PayPal Invoice when I receive the form response.