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When Marcus was an infant, his mother used to take him to story times at the library. She also read bedtime stories to him on a daily basis. Marcus’ eyes lit up every time he saw the books of his favorite characters – Maisy and Thomas the Tank Engine. His mom couldn’t count the times Marcus would quickly sit in the corner of the library or bookstore to look at books and pictures of his favorite characters.


Marcus now is a smart eight-year-old child whose love of reading is reflected in his grades and school performance.

Marcus’ story is one of many I’ve been proud to witness throughout my ten years of working with children. Not only that, but Marcus confirms many research findings that children who are read to daily increase their vocabulary and reading experiences.

From an educator’s perspective, Marcus’ story is the type we long to hear every day, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. A high number of kids still struggle with reading, and some don’t demonstrate any interest at all. Not surprisingly, a large body of research also indicates that children who have limited access to meaningful materials have difficulty in reading.

How can I boost my child’s interest in reading?

When it comes to books and reading, there is no magical formula. However, there are some strategies that, if instilled in children since their early years, give them a better chance to become interested readers.

1 | Language-rich environment

First and foremost, an environment that is favorable for children should be enriched with print material that includes books, collages, and alphabet letters, to name a few. When youngsters are immersed in a rich educational environment that offers meaningful context for learning, they show an increase in comprehension and language development.

There are ways – besides having stacked bookshelves in their bedroom or playroom – to make your child’s world rich while making it fun at the same time.

Who doesn’t like an alphabet mat? The little ones, especially when they are starting to recognize their letters, have a blast putting the mat together and tearing it apart (particularly useful to two-year-olds). What about some collages using old magazines in the arts and crafts corner? Besides the literacy aspect, this is a great fine motor skill project for threes and fours. Another smart idea is to add a chalkboard in the kitchen, playroom, or bedroom. The more engaged the family is with the child while using the chalkboard, the better. Let the child help you to make the grocery list and play around with the sound of letters in the alphabet.

2 | Storybook read-aloud

Another effective way to provide those rich experiences is through read-aloud time. This is a powerful tool recommended by researchers and educators, and is even used by pediatricians in their practice. It has shown overwhelmingly positive results in English language learners. Read-aloud fosters the development of oral language and raises literacy behaviors and reading attitude. Consequently, it leads to development in language arts.

But for one to understand the benefits of the read-aloud, one needs to grasp the meaning of it.

What is a read-aloud?

Read-aloud is a practice (often used by teachers and librarians) in which the reader reads expressively and engages the children in the context of the book. In other words, instead of only executing the act of reading and turning the page, the reader asks children open-ended questions and lets them predict what comes next. If there’s a new word the child is learning, the reader lets them repeat the word; if the child is starting to read, the reader encourages them to read a few sentences.

Read-aloud is a valuable way to encourage discussion and help children work on a word or words that can be used in the various contexts of their life. Besides, it’s one of the most fun techniques one can use.

3 | Rhyme/Poetry

As part of their developmental process, children can spot that some spoken word sounds seem familiar (phonological awareness) long before they can recognize individual letter sounds and put letters together to make words (phonemic awareness). That’s why rhyme is so popular and a valuable way to build oral language proficiency in children. It’s a simple way to instill a positive attitude toward reading, and children learn while being entertained.

Also, rhymes and poems not only give the child a chance to repeat words and work with terms from their everyday life (building vocabulary) but they also aid in forming complex sentences.

Try these books to start:

Kids are most likely to show a positive attitude toward reading the earlier they are exposed to books and book-related activities. The good news is that there is no shortage of resources available for families and caretakers. The more children are engaged with a rich environment and supportive network, the more parents will see a significant impact on the reading habits of their offspring, and that impact will last for a lifetime.

How have you encouraged your child’s interest in reading? Let us know in the comments below. 

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When you're feeding multiple kiddos and figuring out meals for your own lunch and dinner, it can be difficult to find options that fit the bill for everyone. Our secret? Great kitchen gadgets and basics that make meal planning a breeze.

From the Instant Pot (yes, it's *totally* worth it!) to a cast iron pan, we rounded up some of our favorite kitchen basics every parent needs in their kitchen.

Make sure to add them to your cart today before Prime Day ends at midnight PT!

Ninja blender

Okay, so you might already have a blender—but you don't have a Ninja. It does everything from crushing ice for cocktails to pureeing baby's food and making hearty smoothies for everyone else. We love the sleek design that won't be an eye sore on any countertop.

Ninja Blender, Amazon, $49.99 (regularly $86.95)

BUY HERE

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When model Mara Martin was one of 16 finalists selected to walk in the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swim Search show, she was thrilled to fulfill a lifelong dream. And when she woke up the day after the show to see that she and her baby daughter had made headlines around the world, she was thrilled all over again.

Martin breastfed her 5-month-old daughter Aria while walking in the runway, and the story spread quickly.


"It is truly so humbling and unreal to say the least," Martin wrote in an Instagram post Monday. "I'm so grateful to be able to share this message and hopefully normalize breastfeeding and also show others that women CAN DO IT ALL! But to be honest, the real reason I can't believe it is a headline is because it shouldn't be a headline!!! My story of being a mother and feeding her while walking is just that."

SI Swimsuit Editor MJ Day says the breastfeeding moment wasn't planned in advance, but it worked out wonderfully. Day was speaking with the models backstage when she noticed Aria was peacefully nursing away. Having breastfed her own two children, Day recognized this as a powerful moment in the making, according to SI Swimsuit.

"I asked Mara if she would want to walk and continue to nurse. She said 'Oh my gosh, yes! Really? Are you sure?', and I said absolutely! I loved the idea to be able to allow Mara to keep nursing and further highlight how incredible and beautiful women are," Day explained.

Martin hopes that her moment in the spotlight can help other mamas feel comfortable nursing when and where they feel like it, but she doesn't want to overshadow some of the other women who took part in the show.

"One woman is going to boot camp in two weeks to serve our country," she wrote. "One woman had a mastectomy (@allynrose), and another is a cancer survivor, 2x paralympic gold medalist, as well as a mother herself (@bren_hucks you rock) Those are the stories that our world should be discussing!!!!"

And thanks to Martin's powerful motherhood moment, now, people are.

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Dear Jeff Bezos and all who have anything to do with Amazon Prime Day,

I just want to start by saying—I know you are trying to be helpful. I love you all for that. I honestly do. But, you are kind of making me feel a lot of pressure today. Like, in a good way, but also, in an anxious way.

Let me explain…

On any given day, as a mother to three children, I have a certain level of anxiety. While it's not constant, I do have my anxious moments. Why? Because there are various versions of the following: Me asking my two older daughters to get their shoes on what feels like 500 times as I am changing my 9-month-old's very, very, very messy diaper while I am trying to figure out what I can throw on to wear in about five seconds while I am repeating brush your teeth, brush your teeth in my head so I, in fact, don't forget to brush my teeth.

Not even to mention the mental load that weighs on my mind every single day. Remember to flip the laundry, fill out the school forms, cancel that appointment, reschedule this appointment, order more diapers, figure out what we're having for dinner, squeeze in a shower, lock the basement door so the baby can't get down the stairs, find better eczema cream for my middle daughter, get more sunscreen...the list goes on and on and on.

But then you Amazon Prime Day me and I'm having a lot of feelings about that.

Because you're reminding me of things I need to order, to think about, to be on top of more.

The little potty that's on sale reminds me that I need to step up my potty training game for my 2-year-old. That super cute dollhouse reminds me that I need to think about my daughter's first birthday in two months (WHAT!). That face mask reminds me that I need to remember to wash my face before bed because I forget waaaay more than I remember which is terrible.

But then I realize, these deals are going to save my mental load by fixing my life. Right?

Like, I never knew I needed an Instant Pot until you told me it was only $58. Now I am scouring Pinterest for meals I want to prep in my own. THIS POT IS THE TICKET TO GETTING MY LIFE IN ORDER.

Do we need more plates and cups for the kids? I mean really they only probably need about two plates and two cups each but YES. Yes I do need more cute kids kitchenware. THESE PLATES ARE THE TICKET TO BEING A GOOD MOM.

What would I do if I had five Echo Dots? I don't know, but let's find out because they're only $29! THESE DOTS ARE THE TICKET TO EFFICIENCY.

If I order a Vitamix at 30% off, I know I'll lose the baby weight. Think of all the smoothies I'll mix up! I mean, I just lost a pound even thinking about the smoothies that thing can whip up. THIS VITAMIX IS THE TICKET TO A SEXY BOD.

Buying this trendy, floral dress will step up my mom style significantly. THIS DRESS IS THE TICKET TO KEEPING MY COOL.

Okay, then after I add all the fixers to my cart, I realize… I have 99 things, but necessity ain't one.

I mean, I have everything from waterproof band-aids to bras to dresses for myself and my kids to an alarm clock and books. I basically feel like Oprah—You get an Audible subscription! You get an Audible subscription!—but instead of these products magically being paid for by Queen O herself, the money is coming from my bank account, which is a lot less fun of a game, TBH.

And if I am being honest, I don't need much help with my order-things-from-Amazon-and-pretend-it's-being-paid-for-with-Monopoly-money game as I am quite often coming home to an Amazon package wondering what it could be, opening it with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning—even though I am the exact person who ordered whatever is inside of that Amazon box.

But today, on Amazon Prime Day, you tempt me with all the deals. And yes, my anxiety, blood pressure and adrenaline rise. And yes, my bank account might temporarily decrease—BUT if we are being fair, with the savings I'm getting on things I would buy anyway, I am basically making our account increase overall. Right?

And while these things aren't going to make me skinnier, or cooler, or more put together—I'm okay with that. I am doing a pretty good job on my own. But some of them will actually help my life in a few different ways at a reasonable price, and I am grateful for that—for real.

Now, Bezos, please end this 404 error nonsense and let me purchase all the things!

Thank you for all the savings and excitement,

Mamas everywhere

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Usually when celebrities post swimsuit photos on Instagram they don't exactly look like your average beach-going mom, but former Bachelorette (and mom of two) Ali Fedotowsky posted a series of bikini photos on Monday that are both beautiful and relatable.

"This might be my most vulnerable post on Instagram ever," she wrote in the caption for the photos which show a postpartum belly that looks like a real postpartum belly.

"At the end of the day, I know it's important to be open and honest about my postpartum body in hopes that it helps even one person out there who is struggling with their own body image," Fedotowsky (who just gave birth to her second child in May) wrote.

In the first photo of the series she's wearing a sarong around her stomach, but in the second and third photos Fedotowsky reveals the kind of stomach many mamas sport: It's not perfectly taut, she's not showing off any abs, but it is definity beautiful.

"If you swipe to see the second photo in this post, you see that my body has changed. My skin around my stomach is very loose and stretched out, I'm 15lbs heavier than I used to be, and my cup size has grown quite significantly," Fedotowsky writes.

The photos are a sponsored post for Lilly and Lime Swimwear (a line made for women with larger busts) but that doesn't mean it wasn't brave. In fact, the fact that it's an ad makes it even more amazing because research shows that when advertising only shows us bodies that don't look like our own, women become "generally more dissatisfied with their body and appearance".

Ali Fedotowsky

On her blog Fedotowsky notes that a lot of comments on her previous Instagram posts have been followers remarking how slim she looks, or how much they wish they looked like she does postpartum. By dropping that sarong and showing her tummy Fedotowsky is showing other mothers that there is nothing wrong with their own.

"While I appreciate the positive comments, you guys are always so good to me, I keep trying to explain that I'm just good at picking out clothes that flatter my body and hide my tummy," she wrote on her blog.

"I bounced back pretty quickly after I gave birth to Molly. But things are different this time and I'm OK with that. I'm learning to love my body and embrace how it's changed. I hope I get back to my pre-pregnancy shape one day, but that may never happen. And if it doesn't, that's OK."

Ali Fedotowsky

It is okay, because our bodies are more than our swimsuit selfies. They the vessels that carry us through life and carry our children and provide a safe, warm place for those children feel love.

Loose skin is a beautiful thing.


Thanks for keeping it real, Ali.

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