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The MCPL Blog: Early Literacy

Ready for read-aloud chapter books? Here are five great series to start!

Boy reading book

December 2, 2021

Recently, my family has started to transition from reading solely picture books to a mix of picture books and chapter books, and my preschooler is loving it! If you have young children at home, here are some great early chapter book series to read either aloud as a family or for early readers to try on their own.All of these series include some illustrations and lots of humor, so they are great for keeping kids engaged and excited for just one more chapter!         

Authors Books Children Early Literacy Reading Recommendations

Celebrate literacy with MCPL programs and resources

girls reading book in library

November 24, 2021

It may seem obvious that libraries—public and academic alike—support literacy. They have books, magazines and other materials people can read, and provide programming like family story times, so that’s all there is to it, right?Yes and no: Yes, the simple act of reading helps keep the brain sharp and literate; and no, there’s more to it than that, at least as far as the Marathon County Public Library is concerned.November marks National Family Literacy Month, which began in 1994 through the efforts of the non-profit National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) and “offers an opportunity for practitioners to emphasize the important role that families play in the education of their children...

Children Early Literacy LENA On-Site Services Online Resources Reading Recommendations Story Times

Central Wisconsin Book Festival Children's Reading List

child reading a book

August 25, 2021

Next month is the Central Wisconsin Book Festival! This year, 11 fabulous children’s authors will be speaking at the festival. The majority of these events will be conducted virtually through Zoom, which means you can attend from anywhere! The following books are my recommended pre-festival reads for kids. The good news? They're all available for checkout from your local Marathon County Public Library! On Friday, September 17, via Zoom, Canadian artist Matthew Forsythe will read from his entertaining picture book Pokko and the Drum and also show participants how he created the illustrations. Forsythe’s artwork has been exhibited in Los Angeles, Japan, Italy, and Germany. A few of my...

Authors Books Central Wisconsin Book Festival Children Early Literacy Events Reading Recommendations

Who Was It? - Kids' Biography Book List

Girl reading a book

August 11, 2021

Do your children want to learn more about those who have made substantial contributions to history, and the world? We've put together a reading list of biographies for kids, arranging them by length - short, longer, and longest. We've also included links to two podcasts that also may interest them - Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls and The Past & the Curious. For additional recommendations, call the children's desk at the Marathon County Public Library's Wausau Headquarters at 715-261-7220. 

Books Children Early Literacy Education History Learning Reading Recommendations Tweens

The Power of a Book!

illustration of a child using his imagination with a book

July 8, 2021

For those fortunate enough to learn the joy of reading at a young age, books can be impactful, perhaps even life-changing. Accompanying book characters through life challenges and experiences can set a course for young readers for whom they want to be and how they want to live their lives, or can simply begin a lifelong interest in reading. With this in mind, I asked some adult readers what book they read in their childhoods that had a significant impression on their lives. The qualities of courage and fortitude were lessons some readers learned through their book choices. One individual loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie series, particularly the early books, relating how they...

Adults Authors Books Early Literacy Reading Recommendations

ALSC Summer Reading Lists for Children!

boy reading book on grass

May 28, 2021

Another summer brings a new selection of children's books compiled for your consideration by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)! Parents and caregivers are encouraged to explore the following lists to find books that may match or spark their child's interest: Birth–Preschool Kindergarten–Grade 2 Grades 3–5 Grades 6–8 Alternatively, paper copies of these lists are available at MCPL locations for a limited time, and PDF versions of these lists are linked on the ALSC website. For assistance requesting these books, or for a stack children's books hand-picked by library staff, please contact your local MCPL. For even more reading ideas, visit the...

Children Early Literacy Reading Recommendations Summer Library Program

More Fun For the Family!

Jen T. reading a children's book

March 4, 2021

Our MCPL staff is back with another fun mix of stories, play and crafts! For this occasional series, staff from nearly all of our nine locations contributed a mix of fun videos that we've pieced together for you to enjoy! We have stories, a couple of interactive segments to get you up and moving around a bit, and you can follow along as we make a fun polar bear craft! You'll also find on this page a link to directions to make an equally fun penguin craft using egg cartons! We hope you enjoy it, and feel free to watch as many times as you'd like!​  

Books Children Early Literacy Learning Library Branches Story Times

Winter Fun for the Family

melted snowman craft example

January 6, 2021

The Marathon County Public Library staff is back with more fun for the family and this time, it's all about winter! We've put together a series of stories, crafts and fun facts into one video for you to watch from the convenience and safety of home! We also have instructions for the melted snowman craft you'll see in the video, some ideas for healthy snowman snacks and a sheet for the "Five Little Snowflakes" fingerplay that you'll want to print so you can follow along in the video!

Books Children Early Literacy Education Learning Story Times

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten goes digital!

1000BBK Beanstack promo

December 2, 2020

If you’re a parent of a young child and have been missing the Marathon County Public Library's popular 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program, we have great news: you and your child can now participate in the program virtually via the Beanstack app! Never heard of Beanstack? It’s a web-based reading club platform that allows families to track the books that they read virtually. You can make a profile for each reader in your household, scan the barcode on books to add them to your virtual bookshelf, track the number of minutes each reader has read, chart your reading progress, join reading challenges, and so much more! The app is free to download in both the Apple App Store and in Google Play, and usually...

Adults Children Early Literacy Online Resources

Fall Fun for the Family

example of a handprint owl craft

November 12, 2020

Many of the leaves have fallen from the trees, but it's still autumn according to the calendar! To celebrate, and to give parents and families some fun things to do and see at home, we've put together a special "Fall Fun for the Family" video with stories and fun facts about animals that can be watched anytime! (Or, like our other virtual stories, multiple times if you really like it!) Before you watch the video, you'll want to download the "Animal Play-Along" sheet included below, and either print it or have it ready to view on your screen, so young ones (and adults) can follow along with Miss Lisa (we'll also tell you in the video when it's time for that part of the fun!) Also available to download...

Books Children Early Literacy Education Learning Story Times

Five Picture Books for Picture Book Month!

Picture Book Month logo

November 1, 2020

Doing a simple search online for “Children and Literacy” will bring up ample research tracing the positive impact of reading from an early age. Reading builds vocabulary, develops listening comprehension, and improves story telling. According to Reach Out and Read, an organization that promotes families reading together: “Children that are read to more often have improved language and listening skills, experience stronger emotional connections to their loved ones, and gain a lifelong love of reading.” All of these picture books are great books to share and read together!

Books Children Early Literacy Reading Recommendations

New Netflix Series Features Children’s Books

Laptop with Netflix on the screen and a teddy bear next to it

September 3, 2020

On September 1, Netflix launched a new 12-episode collection called Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices. The show, which you can watch with your Netflix account – or for FREE without a subscription on the Netflix Jr. YouTube page – features prominent Black celebrities and artists reading children’s books by Black authors about Black kids. Some of the featured celebrities include Lupita Nyong’o, Karamo Brown, Common, Misty Copeland, Tiffany Haddish and Jacqueline Woodson. For more about the series, click here or watch the trailer below!  Want to read the books that are featuring in Bookmarks, or check them out so you can follow along to the episodes at home? See the titles below and click on the...

Authors Books Children Early Literacy Reading Recommendations Video

New at MCPL: Playaway Launchpads!

Playaway Launchpads and tablet

August 15, 2020

Found in a bright orange case, you may have checked out Playaways or Playaway Views in the past, which are similar to audiobooks. Or maybe a Playaway Book Pack, that allows children to listen to a book while following the worlds on the page. Now, MCPL is offering a fun new technology from Playaway: Playaway Launchpads! Similar to a tablet, Launchpads contain pre-loaded apps on a variety of subjects, including math, animals, puzzles and logic, learning foreign languages and more. These apps contain a mixture of learning-based games and activities, helping your child learn important concepts while having fun at the same time. Each Launchpad is geared for different age ranges and grade levels, which helps make...

Children Early Literacy Education Language Learning Learning Technology

Raising a Diverse Reader

Visual representation of 2018 statistics re: representation in children's literature

June 9, 2020

With recent events in America, it is more important than ever to expose young children to people of all races and ethnicities. It is never too early to start talking to children about race and its place in our country. Parents, caregivers, and educators have the power and responsibility to broaden children's understanding of the world. Talking about race may be intimidating and uncomfortable, so check out this great article by embracerace.org that gives small talking points and advice on how to start the conversation with children. Representation in children's books is very unequal. Studies show that children need to see people that look like them in books and other media to form a positive self...

Authors Books Children Community Early Literacy Reading Recommendations

MCPL donates thousands of books to area kids

donated books boxed up in April 2020

May 11, 2020

Schools, libraries and other educational institutions have been closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but some Marathon County Public Library (MCPL) staff members found a way to get much-needed books into the hands of area students during the closure. Over the past several weeks, Stephanie M., a library assistant at MCPL’s Wausau Headquarters, has arranged for children’s books to be donated to local school districts, as well as to the United Way of Marathon County. The donated books were removed from the library’s collection and would normally have been donated to the Friends of the Marathon County Public Library to be sold at one of the group’s quarterly book sales. But since those sales won’t be...

Books Children Community COVID-19 Early Literacy Education Library Staff

"My Healthy Body" theme comes to MCPL's Early Literacy Center

giant mouth/teeth puppet in ELC

January 8, 2020

Pretend play is an important part of your child’s development. It encourages imagination and creativity and fosters social and emotional development, and playing with your child helps build language and communication skills as well as strengthening your bond with your child. Children learn by observing, imagining, and doing. Visit the Early Literacy Center at MCPL Wausau in January and February explore in our doctor’s and dentist’s offices and allow your child to decide who they want to pretend to be. Doctor? Dentist? Patient? Hygienist? Nurse? Receptionist? Encourage your child and play along! Ask at the children’s desk if you’d like to borrow...

Children Early Literacy Libraries

Dinosaurs in the Early Literacy Center!

photo of dinosaur toy puppet in ELC

November 6, 2019

Dinosaurs have taken over the Early Literacy Center (ELC) at MCPL Wausau! Follow the T-Rex footprints in the children's area and begin to explore the magnet wall, flannel board, volcano, activity play mat, puppet stand, and more. Pretending to play is an important part of your child’s development. Let your child’s imagination run wild as they explore the dinosaur world play mat with the realistic dinosaur action figures. Your child can also put on a show with dino puppets and create their own story from beginning to end! Imagine how the world looked back when dinosaurs roamed the earth by arranging the dinosaurs within the volcanic scene on the felt board! Playing with felt characters builds hands...

Children Early Literacy Learning

Fall harvest in full swing in MCPL's Early Literacy Center!

fall harvest veggies

September 11, 2019

Autumn has arrived at the Early Literacy Center (ELC) in the children’s area of MCPL Wausau, complete with crisp apples, colorful leaves and plump pumpkins! Visit us and enjoy fun, interactive autumn harvest learning with the young child(ren) in your life. Together at the felt board you can put apples, leaves, and acorns on the tree; compare the shapes and colors of leaves and make a pattern. Recognizing patterns and creating patterns help your child pay attention to details.The ability to notice simple patterns in colors or shapes prepares children to find patterns in letters and words when they’re learning to read. Try on an apron and pretend to sell fruits and veggies in the harvest market area....

Children Early Literacy Learning Books

Dig up some fun at MCPL Wausau’s Early Literacy Center

Photo of construction-themed ELC

August 1, 2019

Along with summer comes road construction, so our youth services staff at MCPL Wausau has designed a fun, interactive space in our Early Literacy Center for young children to learn all about construction! Throughout the month of August, children can dress up like a construction worker using goggles, a hardhat and more at our dramatic play center; build with wooden blocks; and drive model diggers and cars around the carpeted town. You can read the story Tip Tip Dig Dig (one of my personal favorites) and then re-tell the story using flannel pieces. There are plenty of construction puzzles, magnets, sorting activities and, of course, a vast array of construction books to enjoy together. The construction theme...

Children Early Literacy Libraries

Launch into outer space in the Early Literacy Center!

Photo of astronaut helmet on the

June 8, 2019

This summer, blast off with your child in the Marathon County Public Library's Early Literacy Center (ELC)! Throughout the summer months, you can help your child build his or her pre-reading skills in a fun, interactive outer spaced-themed environment!  Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before learning how to read and write. Early literacy skills include background knowledge (how the world works), vocabulary, phonological awareness (knowing the smaller sounds in words), letter knowledge, narrative skills (telling a story), and print awareness (knowing that print has meaning and how a book works). In the months of June and July, visit MCPL Wausau for a space-themed...

Children Libraries Early Literacy Learning

Transportation theme comes to Early Literacy Center at MCPL Wausau! 

Book cover of The Little Engine That Could

March 2, 2019

Parents and care givers, join your children in exploring the world of transportation in the Early Literacy Center (ELC) at the Marathon County Public Library's Wausau Headquarters! Throughout March, April and May, the theme for the ELC will be "Transportation." During these months, parents and children can: ·     Play on the magnetic board! Put together magnetic puzzles of trains, cars, and trucks; play a car color matching game; sort transportation pictures and words by type, and much more! ·     Re-create "The Wheels on the Bus" on the felt story board – and sing along! ·     Create patterned pictures of cars, trains,...

Children Early Literacy

Under the sea in the ELC!

photo of a tang unicorn fish taken by MCPL staff

January 8, 2019

Under the sea is an exciting place to be, so bring your young children to MCPL Wausau to experience the ocean-themed activities and books in the Early Literacy Center (ELC) during the months of January and February!  Some of the activities we have available include puzzles for learning colors and matching animal shapes, a fish felt board featuring the Dr. Seuss book One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (you can read the book together, too) and felt ocean animals paired with their names. Our magnetic boards have ocean animals and words kids learn together, too.  And, of course, there are a few nets, fish bowls with toy fish and other animals to play catch-and-release with! A fun...

Aquarium Children Early Literacy Learning Libraries

Let your child’s imagination run wild in the jungle!

Jungle-themed Early Literacy Center

November 15, 2018

In the months of November and December, you will find jungle-themed activities and books in our Early Literacy Center at MCPL Wausau. “Early literacy” is a term for what children know about reading and writing before learning how to read and write. They develop these skills by talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing with a caregiver. In the jungle, you can say hello to Gerald the Giraffe, a four foot stuffed animal alongside our safari jeep. Go on safari and talk with your child about what animals they see, what kind of terrain they are driving on, and more! Using the safari jeep is a great time to talk with your children and let their imaginations soar. You will also find a “matching animal halves...

Early Literacy Books Children

Pet-Themed Activities Offered at MCPL's Early Literacy Center

children's book covers

August 15, 2018

Come visit MCPL’s new Early Literacy Center at our Wausau Headquarters!  In September, we’ll begin offering a variety of pet-themed activities, which will be the first of many rotating themes planned for the Early Literacy Center.  One of the many pet-themed activities you’ll be able to enjoy with your child includes a veterinary dramatic play set, complete with a veterinarian costume and all of the equipment needed to take care of our (stuffed) furry friends! Dramatic play is an integral part of a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. In learning to follow the rules of dramatic play, a child learns to coordinate with others, make plans, and resolve conflicts. ...

Children Early Literacy

First LENA Start families graduate at MCPL Wausau!

:ENA Start Marathon County logo

July 3, 2018

Wisconsin’s first ever LENA Start sessions are complete! A wide range of Marathon County families participated in LENA Start, a program designed to measure how much verbal interaction a child hears in the first three years of his or her life. A total of 18 families graduated from the program this past May, making the first sessions of the program a success!  In order to graduate, parents had to attend nine parenting sessions where they learned how to talk with their child (as opposed to talking at them). The classes taught parents how to use more adult words, conversational turns, and less TV and electronic noise. In addition to attending classes, families also had to turn in eight audio recordings...

Children LENA Early Literacy Newsletter

Early Literacy Center to open at MCPL Wausau!

Early Literacy Center

June 14, 2018

The Marathon County Public Library is set to unveil its new Early Literacy Center, a special section in the children’s area of its Wausau Headquarters designed especially for children 0-5 years! The opening of the center will be commemorated with special ribbon cutting ceremony with the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce at 11 a.m. on June 20. Early literacy is a term used to describe what children know about language before learning how to read. This includes knowing what letters look and sound like, knowing words that rhyme, knowing how a book works and that printed text has meaning. These concepts are learned by children through talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing with a caregiver...

Children Early Literacy Libraries

MCPL Wausau to Become State's First LENA Start Site

mother and young child reading

January 19, 2018

The first three years of a child's life are vital to brain development. Children from birth onward learn through talking, singing, reading, and playing. During these interactions, children learn how the world works, acquire vocabulary, stimulate different parts of their brain, as well as many other benefits. While this may seem easy enough, some caregivers may simply not be talking enough or using a variety of words to build a child’s brain! This is where LENA Start can benefit many children in our community. LENA stands for Learning ENvironment Analysis. The LENA System measures the early language environment of children ages birth to 32 months. Using a “talk pedometer” that children wear in a...

Children Community Early Literacy Health Resources LENA

Raise Great Kids Parent Survey

April 2, 2015

If you are a parent, guardian, grandparent, or child caregiver, we would like your input! Raisgreatkids.org is a local website put out by a collaborative effort of community partners under the Early Years Coalition. Marathon County Public Library is a member of this coalition, and we need your help completing a survey. As part of our efforts to make RaiseGreatKids.org a better site for our users, we need your help. We would like to get both your thoughts and feedback on Raise Great Kids as well as gather more information about how you use the internet to search for information you find valuable about children. Thank you for taking the time to fill out this survey. Your feedback will be invaluable in helping...

Children Early Literacy Websites

Full S.T.E.A.M. ahead!

girl looking through magnifying glass

July 24, 2014

Beginning this fall, together with our usual literacy offerings, we are incorporating more S.T.E.A.M. into our children’s programs! What’s S.T.E.A.M.?  It is an approach to education that focuses on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics by providing kids with lots of hands-on activities and experiments. Each program will be designed to engage the imagination and stimulate the curiosity of our future computer programmers, scientists, mathematicians, artists and engineers. S.T.E.A.M. Exploration Stations are planned for preschool children (ages 3-5) at 10:30am on the second Wednesday and the following Saturday of each month at our Wausau headquarters. Occasionally, other Preschool...

Newsletter Early Literacy Children

Make music with your child

girl playing violin

July 23, 2014

Music has many benefits to children of all ages; it gives children an outlet for expression, it breaks down language so children hear the smaller sounds in words (also known as phonological awareness), and music stimulates brain development in specific areas including language and reasoning. So, what can you do so your child gets the most out of music? Encourage your child to make his or her own music with household items. Play music in your home and encourage your child to sing and dance. And, even if you have a terrible singing voice, sing to your child! Your child will not care what your voice sounds like, just be enthusiastic and expressive. Sing nursery rhymes, make up songs that rhyme together, and even...

Children Early Literacy Music

Building Blocks Series

Building Blocks logo

July 11, 2014

The first 1000 days of a child's life will influence his or her future academic achievement greatly. A child's brain is only about 25% developed at birth and develops to about 85% at age 3, or about 1000 days old. Marathon County's Early Years Coalition is taking proactive steps to ensuring parents have information and support for those first 1000 days so they raise great kids. The Wausau Daily Herald interviewed members of the coalition in the hopes of spreading the word about what parents can do to ensure their child is healthy, safe, ready for school, and great! Check out the links to other episodes and information to see how you can raise a great child in Marathon County. New episodes will air Fridays...

Early Literacy Children Magazines and Newspapers

Interact With Your Child With Wordless Picture Books

child and parent reading a book

April 28, 2014

Your child needs positive human interaction to fully develop physically, mentally, and emotionally. Human interaction includes simple tasks such as talking, singing, playing, writing and reading; the five suggested practices to get your child ready to read! Through human interaction, your child’s brain will develop to its fullest potential and he or she will feel loved and be more willing to learn, listen and grow. How can you interact with your child? Below are a few ideas: Play with your child outside, or play make believe inside Talk with your child about his or her day, favorite color, or anything you can think of! Sing favorite songs, sing sentences in books, or make up silly songs that rhyme...

Children Early Literacy

2014 Early Literacy Calendar

early literacy calendar

January 24, 2014

Helping your child get ready to read is easy! Just do one fun activity from this calendar each day: http://wla.wisconsinlibraries.org/images/yss/2014_Early_Literacy_Calendar.pdf Plus, sign up for our 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program! Ask your children's librarian for more tips and ideas to promote pre-reading skills in your child.

Children Early Literacy