Snuggle Up for Early Literacy


Most people underestimate how early a child’s language development begins. Interactions with a child begin to impact language skills beginning not at 6 months, not at 3 months, but from the day the baby is born. That doesn’t mean you should try to recreate preschool in your home. Helping your child be ready to learn to read is as simple as Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing, and Playing!

JMRL’s Winter Reading Program is designed to help you do just that. Pick up a Winter Reading Activity Sheet at any JMRL location, or download it here: Activity Sheet. As you complete the fun activities, let your child color in the bunnies. When all 11 are complete, bring the sheet back to the library and your child can choose a free book. So brush off your memories of nursery rhymes and head to the library for some fun books to share. The program runs from February 1 to March 2 for ages birth to 5 years old.

For more early literacy activity ideas, check out the Family Literacy Calendar at DayByDayVA. Also, coming soon to JMRL – 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.


Weekend Reading – Something Outdoorsy

Outdoorsy BooksWhen you think of outdoorsy books for teens, is the first title that comes to mind the classic Hatchet by Gary Paulsen? Outdoorsy books can certainly be about wilderness survival. But they can also be so much more, from fantasy to murder mysteries to humor. Here are some titles you could read this weekend for the JMRL July Challenge of “Read something outdoorsy.”

Dan vs. Nature by Don Calame
Sent on a survivalist camping trip with his mom’s new fiance, all Dan wants to do is sabotage the trip and torment Hank to the breaking point. This book is for those who like their outdoors with heavy dose of teenage boy humor.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
The town of Fairfold lives in uneasy truce with the fae in the forest. The townspeople learn early how to protect themselves, but tourists aren’t so lucky. At the heart of the forest, a young man with horns and pointed ears sleeps in a glass coffin. Siblings Ben and Hazel both love the boy in the forest. When the coffin is broken and the boy disappears, it is up to them to find him and save the town. A must read for fans of tales of the dark fae.

After the Snow by S.D. Crockett
Set in a future Britain where climate changes have cause a steep drop in temperature, Willo Blake must set off through the snows to try to find his family. This book combines dystopian and post-apocalyptic themes with a good, old-fashioned survival story.

Peak by Roland Smith
Fourteen-year-old Peak is sent to live with his father who runs a climbing company in Thailand. He quickly learns that his dad has ambitious plans for him. He wants Peak to become the youngest person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. For a climbing addict, it’s the challenge of a lifetime, but one with significant dangers.

For more outdoorsy book options check out the JMRL Goodreads shelf: Outdoorsy Books for Teens

JMRL Summer Challenge – Read a Mystery

RAFridays Teen Mysteries

Have you taken the JMRL Summer Challenge yet? One of the June Challenges is “Read a Mystery.” As you decide what to read this weekend, here are some suggestions of books you could use to fill that challenge.

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Cassie has a knack for reading people. It makes her a natural at profiling. When she is recruited by the FBI, she finds herself part of a group of teens with unusual gifts similar to hers, investigating old, unsolved murders. Soon it becomes clear that there is a new killer on the loose and the danger is much closer than Cassie ever imagined. The descriptions of the murders from inside the killer’s head are not for the faint of heart.

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
Sherlock Holmes’ niece and Bram Stoker’s sister team up in an effort to solve the mysterious disappearances of some of English society’s most prominent young women. Can they save the missing girls before they become victims themselves? This book is a mystery set in Victorian England with some supernatural elements.

Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Tandy Angel was the last person to see her parents alive. The police have no suspects in their murder except Tandy and her three siblings. All of the children bear scars from being raised in a pressure cooker by parents who demanded absolute perfection. Who knows what they are capable of. Tandy only knows that she doesn’t trust anyone – maybe not even herself.

Jackaby by William Ritter
Jackaby is a sleuth whose skills rival Sherlock Holmes’, but with the added ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail Rook is Watson to Jackaby’s Holmes as they race to solve a series of murders that Jackaby believes were committed by a nonhuman creature. This is another great book if you like a little of the supernatural mixed with your mystery.

Visit the JMRL Reads wiki for more suggestions: Mystery Booklists

Learn more about the JMRL Summer Challenge at Read For the Win. You can pick up your June Challenge sheet at any JMRL location or download and print it yourself: English |  Spanish